The multifamily building sector is a large, yet untapped market for solar energy. Those who live in multifamily buildings do not have the option of simply installing solar energy on their own roofs. For multifamily residents (owners or renters), accessing the benefits of solar requires specific policies and programs.

A key policy is virtual net energy metering (VNEM), which allows credits from energy produced by a single solar project to be shared virtually among multiple utility customer accounts. 

IREC’s Multifamily Solar Access Work

From 2015 to 2017, IREC partnered with the Center for Sustainable Energy (CSE) and the California Solar & Storage Association on the Virtual Net Metering Market Development Project, which was one of 15 Solar Market Pathways projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative.

The three-year project, led by CSE, was designed to expand the awareness, effectiveness, and use of VNEM. Though focused primarily on the VNEM tariff in California, many of the resources and best practices developed under the project could be applied to markets in other states.

Multifamily Solar Access Resources From IREC

Expanding Solar Access: Pathways for Multifamily Housing. Developed in partnership with the Center for Sustainable Energy, this guide outlines two potential paths to enable greater solar access for renters and multifamily residents, and low- to moderate-income communities. The first is on-site shared solar, via an arrangement that allows energy generation credits from a single solar system to be shared virtually among multiple tenant accounts. The second is off-site/remote shared solar, which allows multiple dispersed customers to share the economic benefits of a single renewable energy system and receive credits on their utility bills for the electricity generated by that common system.

Access for All: Pathways to Expand Solar Options to Renters and Multifamily Households in the City of Seattle. Developed in partnership with Spark Northwest and the Center for Sustainable Energy, IREC’s guide outlines two potential pathways to enable greater solar access for renters and multifamily residents and LMI communities in Seattle.

Shared Renewables

Shared renewables programs are an important way to increase clean energy access in multifamily housing. IREC has been at forefront of the growth in shared renewable energy programs across the United States. We help lay the foundation for effective program and policy design, while also supporting the extensive growth underway across markets. IREC publishes the National Shared Renewables Scorecard, which evaluates state shared renewables programs using objective criteria based on best practices for program design.

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