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Shanti commented on Solar Gardens

Mark, thanks for this post! I've been thinking about this concept a lot (of unhinging solar from roofs - allowing people to own solar panels that are hosted in another location) and started to research examples. One potentially relevant state level policy is "Net Metering"/"Virtual Net Metering"/and "Neighborhood Net Metering". Net metering is nothing new, it allows customers of a utility to generate their own electricity to offset their own electricity usage. But net metering is regulated differently in each state and in some states like MA, "host customers" can decide to allocate their solar benefits to other people within the same utility service area. So if I have 10kW installation on my roof but only really need 3KW worth of installed capacity for my family, I can decide to allocate the extra energy generated via the utility to anyone within the network. This makes it a lot easier for benefits to be shared and potentially opens the path for some interesting business ideas for people owning panels that are hosted on other people or institutions' roofs. I think the biggest challenge is that right now each community or business has to do a lot of work to find others interested in investing & figure out the legal issues around ownership/leasing etc. Its one by one. I think there is a need for an efficient way for people looking for roof (or land) space can find hosts who are renting roof/land space - to use an overused analogy it would be a little like an airbnb for solar hosts - but with long term agreements and with the 'guest' owning the solar panel . If a platform like that existed, then an idea like solar gardens could potentially spread more efficiently. People within a neighborhood (defined widely as the utility network rather than people who know each other) can invest in 'planting' solar gardens around their city.