Community solar is the ultimate energy win-win: you get to enjoy solar power's financial and environmental benefits without the hassle of installation and at little to no upfront cost. Between looming climate goal deadlines and rising utility electricity rates, it's no wonder that community solar markets are adding new capacity and new members across the country. In this article, we break down the current leaders of community solar in the U.S.
New York, Minnesota, and Massachusetts are the current community solar leaders in the U.S.
Because community solar programs must be supported by legislation at the state level, community solar markets vary from state to state.
At least one active community solar project exists in 41 states and Washington, D.C.
Use the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace to explore and compare community solar farms near you.
Community solar allows you to enjoy the benefits of solar energy without installing anything on your property and often without paying anything upfront. It works like this: a large-scale solar array, called a solar farm or solar garden, connects to the local electricity grid. Residents, businesses, organizations, and municipalities serviced by the cooperating utility company can subscribe to the solar farm and receive credits on their electricity bills. Every community solar program is different, but you can expect to save 5-15 percent on your electricity bills annually as a subscriber.
As of 2022, the U.S. has installed 5.6 gigawatts of community solar and is projected to add more than 6 gigawatts of total capacity in the next five years. That's enough electricity to power almost 9 million homes! There is at least one active community solar project in 41 states and Washington D.C., but most of this power is currently produced in just a few states: New York, Minnesota, and Massachusetts.
Community solar generation isn't distributed evenly across all 50 states because its markets are regulated at the state level, not federally. In other words, community solar can look completely different from state to state. Today's most successful community solar states are some of the most established markets, but with so many states adopting shared solar, this list is bound to evolve in the coming years.
Top States 2022
Operating Capacity (MW)
1. New York
New York is the largest community solar market in the country by far. With 782 completed projects, New York comprised 52% of the national community solar market in 2022. The Empire State's success with community solar is thanks to generous incentive programs and a large population of residents not qualified for rooftop solar. New York has one the highest rental rates in the country, and many homeowners lack roof space for solar panels. According to NYSERDA, active community solar projects are available through Central Hudson Gas & Electric, Consolidated Edison, National Grid, New York State Electric, and Gas, Orange and Rockland, and Rochester Gas and Electric utilities.
Explore community solar in New York.
Minnesotans have seemingly always been eager to participate in shared solar. Between 2013 and 2015, the utility Xcel Energy installed 20 times more capacity than initially planned due to local interest. In addition to Minnesota's incredible public support, the North Star State's public utilities commission (PUC) has worked to create an accessible, well-incentivized community solar system for homeowners and renters across the state. As of the end of 2022, 462 community solar projects were completed in Minnesota.
Explore community solar in Minnesota.
As one of the first in the country to offer community solar options, the Bay State has a fitting history as a community solar revolutionary. In addition to being one of the oldest markets in the country, Massachusetts was the first and only state to offer solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) in community solar contracts. The SREC II Carve-Out Program has since been replaced with Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) but includes additional incentives for qualifying projects. As of 2022, Massachusetts has 472 completed solar farms and counting.
Explore community solar in Massachusetts.
The top community solar markets have a few things in common: support from the state government, strong incentive programs, and public buy-in. Now, states across the country are developing community solar programs with these factors in mind, including:
New York, Minnesota, and Massachusetts are the leaders today, but as the benefits of community solar start to reach the ears of more mainstream audiences, expect more projects across the U.S. to become available. Keep up to date with your local community solar market on the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace. Sign up today to explore, compare, and receive unbiased guidance from our energy experts. Start your journey today and go solar with confidence.