NEW REPORT: COMMUNITY SOLAR IN WISCONSIN COULD GENERATE $2.5 BILLION IN ECONOMIC ACTIVITY AND 34,000 JOBS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 10, 2023
Analysis finds major economic benefits from building out community solar across the state
Madison, WI — A new study released today finds that community solar in Wisconsin could provide a major boost to the state’s economy, generating over $2.5 billion in economic activity and supporting 34,700 family-sustaining jobs statewide.
The analysis, conducted by Forward Analytics, looked at the potential economic benefits of developing 350 community solar facilities across Wisconsin, each with five megawatts of generating capacity.
Over a 33-year period, the cumulative impact to the state’s economy would be $2.49 billion. The projects would support up to 3,019 direct jobs during the construction period, providing a shot in the arm for Wisconsin’s renewable energy workforce. Once built, the community solar facilities would support hundreds of ongoing operations and maintenance jobs each year.
“This study shows the lasting and wide-reaching economic impact that a build-out of community solar could bring to Wisconsin,” said Dale Knapp, Director of Research and Analytics for Forward Analytics and the Wisconsin Counties Association. “Not only will community solar provide local tax revenue and jobs, but steady income and more economic certainty for Wisconsin farmers.”
Community solar refers to smaller-scale solar arrays located within a community where multiple customers can subscribe and receive a credit on their utility bill for their share of the power that’s produced, just as if the panels were on their roof. Households, small and large businesses, schools, religious institutions, and hospitals can save 10 to 20 percent on their utility bills once subscribed.
The report estimates that 350 solar installations across the state could power over 350,000 Wisconsin homes with clean energy. At their peak, the projects would generate 1.75 gigawatts (GW) of renewable power, increasing solar’s total share of state electricity generation to 13.7%. The construction and operation would contribute $1.4 billion in labor income for Wisconsin workers and families. The projects would generate over $223 million in economic activity annually during the 7-year construction period. This includes support for up to 3,000 direct jobs and tens of thousands more indirect and induced jobs.
In addition, because of the small project size of community solar installations, family farms will be able to financially benefit through lease payments for temporary use of their underutilized and underperforming acres. These lease payments can continue for 25 years after installations are built, economically invigorating rural communities and local tax bases. The Wisconsin Farm Bureau supports legislation that would bring community solar to the state.
“Community solar has tremendous potential to benefit local communities across Wisconsin, as this study demonstrates,” said Elizabeth Van Holt, Director of New Markets at Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA). “Once Wisconsin opens up for community solar, it will introduce competition and innovation into the marketplace, all while creating thousands of Wisconsin jobs and economic stimulus.”
The Wisconsin Community Solar Economic Alliance is working with policymakers and stakeholders to advance community solar for all Wisconsinites. Over the past decade, the number of states that have enacted policies to support community solar has expanded from only a few to 22 states including Washington, D.C. A collective 5.6 GW of generation capacity has been installed to date. Wood Mackenzie predicts that by the end of 2023 there will be 6.2 GW of community solar installed across the nation.
# # #
The Wisconsin Community Solar Economic Alliance is a group of Wisconsin organizations from across the state and all walks of life committed to pushing for a robust and competitive community solar market. For more information, visit https://wi4communitysolar.com/ and follow the group on Twitter.
The Coalition for Community Solar Access is a national coalition of businesses and nonprofits working to expand customer choice and access to solar for all American households and businesses through community solar. Our mission is to empower every American energy consumer with the option to choose local, clean and affordable community solar. We work with customers, utilities, local stakeholders and policymakers to develop and implement policies and best practices that ensure community solar programs provide a win, win, win for all, starting with the customer. For more information, visit https://www.communitysolaraccess.org and follow the group on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.