Laura Stern, co-founder and president of Nautilus Solar Energy, was a guest on The POWER Podcast. Founded in 2006, Nautilus is a leading acquirer, developer, and operator of community solar projects. During the past five months, the company has acquired community solar projects in Minnesota, Massachusetts, New York, Maryland, and Rhode Island.

Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. This solar power model is being rapidly adopted throughout the U.S. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association—the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry—there was 1,294 MW of installed community solar capacity at the end of June 2018, with at least one community solar project online in 42 states. Furthermore, the group says the market will add as much as 3 GW over the next several years.

Community solar allows homeowners, renters, and businesses to have equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their homes or businesses. It’s particularly beneficial for low-to-moderate income customers most affected by a lack of access, and it helps build a stronger, more-distributed and -resilient electric grid.

“It’s kind of the best of both worlds,” Stern said. “It is the best physical configuration of a solar plant, and it’s the best kind of off-take in terms of diversifying your risk among a number of subscribers, not being captive to an on-site customer, and being able to update that list of customers as your project advances.”

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Aaron Larson is POWER’s executive editor (@AaronL_Power, @POWERmagazine)