"This is really the year that community solar becomes mainstream," said David Amster-Olszewski, CEO of Denver-based solar garden developer SunShare LLC, which runs two operations in Colorado and is developing more with Xcel Energy Inc., including in Minnesota.In an e-mail to Colorado Springs Utilities officials and others, Amster-Olszewski writes, "Does anyone remember a lunch several of us had 4 years ago next month? Discussing a crazy new idea called Community Solar, and planning for Colorado Springs to have the first program open by September that year? We were all on the ground floor in Colorado Springs 4 years ago, so I thought i'd share. You were all part of making this reality!"
Rooftop solar panels are becoming more popular among homeowners as the cost comes down, but that market is limited to only about one-fourth of U.S. residences, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, an arm of the U.S. Department of Energy. Community solar opens the door to many more, including renters, customers with shaded roofs and those who can't afford solar panels.