Community Solar Projects
Policy and market overview
22 states and Washington, D.C. currently have community solar programs in place and there are more than 3 gigawatts of solar projects providing clean, pollution-free energy to communities across the United States. Community solar has been growing steadily over the last five years as states continue to enact programs and recognize the mutually beneficial nature of community solar: clean energy is added to the grid and energy savings delivered to subscribers, while providing revenue opportunities to local businesses and landowners.
How it works
Community solar projects deliver clean, local energy to the community. By hosting a community solar project on their land, landowners are helping green the grid, save subscribers money and earning long-term reliable income.
Community solar provides carbon-neutral, pollution-free clean energy to local energy users. Replacing carbon and pollution-emitting sources of power with renewable energy reduces climate change and results in cleaner air and water..
Polluting power plants are often located in disadvantaged communities of color. These communities face high rates of pollution as a result. Building clean energy local to where it will be used helps transition the grid to cleaner, and thus more equitable, sources of energy.
Energy that Benefits All
Community solar increases access to the benefits of solar energy generation – namely energy savings and a cleaner source of energy. With community solar, regardless of credit, income or owning a homes local residents can save on energy costs with solar.
Considerations When Siting a Solar Project
Our projects are sited, constructed, and maintained consideringcentering the ecology of the surrounding area, the needs of the local community, and advancing progress against climate change. We also prioritize siting solar on brownfields and capped landfills, turning unusable land into a source for clean, renewable energy.
Utilize land management strategies that protect habitat connectivity and natural resources. First seek to preserve, replicate, restore, or improve ecology within the solar siting area. Leverage native plants, grasses, and shrubs to preserve the character of the surrounding area. When necessary and available – consider conservation easements to ensure proper screening and setbacks.
Protect water quality and design projects to prevent current and future erosion. Use stormwater best management practices taking into consideration change climate and extreme weather events. Mitigate potential risk from extreme weather events, therefore contributing to the resiliency of the larger local ecosystem.
Lightstar is committed to being stewards of the land and will consider the best area of the parcel that will have the least environmental impact, but highest co-locational benefit for the land. This may mean offering a solar design that accommodates both solar and farming in between and around the array.
During construction Lightstar’s team takes care to minimize soil compaction by construction equipment and site staging areas with this mind. Lightstar is familiar with and has implemented Massachusetts and New York solar construction guidelines and partners with subcontractors with vast solar construction experience. We will make sure to leave the construction staging area better than we found it.
Dual Use: Solar + Crops
Lease your land for harvesting solar while continuing to farm with Lightstar.
Hosting a community solar project with Lightstar doesn’t mean you need to retire your land from farming. We can design and build projects to accommodate livestock grazing with higher, stronger racking or to allow for cultivating crops with wider spacing between the rows of solar panels. Our team also understands that considerations around farming needs, such as crop rotation and regenerative agriculture, may need to be built into the solar project’s design.
This arrangement enables landowners to not only reap more income from their land, but to also continue to support farming, either by them and their family or by other farmers in their community.
Our Holistic Approach
We see solar as not just about energy generation, but as a tool for conservation and preservation of land and the health of communities.
We design solar projects that maximize energy production while preserving agricultural or ecological activity in and around the array. We want landowners to harvest more than just solar.
Whether it is active or fallow farmland, consideration for the surrounding ecology is at the heart of how we design and construct our projects.
We plant pollinator mixes, native shrubs and deep-root grass mixes to promote carbon sequestration and robust food production for the local area.
We also design dual-use systems that allow for rotational grazing and crop growth, which can increase carbon sequestration and improve soil health.
Our landowner-centric approach takes into account the financial pressures they may face and their concerns around the longevity and health of their land. We offer solar land leases as a method for landowners to meet financial or environmental goals they have for their land, legacy, and community.
Each Lightstar solar project leaves a clean energy footprint in the community, and in our eyes, makes each neighbor a clean energy pioneer. Together, we’re contributing to cleaner air and water for our children.
Dual Use / Agrivoltaics
When applicable, Lightstar enables landowners to double the productivity of their land through dual-use community solar projects. Farmers can continue to raise crops or graze livestock and landowners can continue to offer farm leases while also receiving reliable, long-term income from a solar lease.
Our team works with farmers and landowners to understand specific needs, such as crop rotation, regenerative agriculture, wells and farming infrastructure.
Our goal is to build solar projects that maximize benefits for the landowner while respecting and protecting the land.