Beyond the Meter - Episode 16

Beyond the Meter - Episode 16: The State of Community Solar

The State of Community Solar with Terri Dalmer and Owen Grant


This episode is made in partnership with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions.

In this episode of Beyond the Meter, host John Failla is joined by Terri Dalmer, Vice President of Solar Business Development at CleanChoice Energy, and Owen Grant, Business Development Manager at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions. They discuss the broad impact community solar can have on businesses and diverse communities nationwide. You won’t want to miss the insights and reflections they have to share from their over 30 years of experience.

You will want to hear this episode if you are interested in...

  • Growth of community solar [03:52]
  • Massachusetts’ Rowtier project [08:27]
  • Duke Energy and CleanChoice [11:28]
  • Requirements unique to Massachusetts [13:29]
  • What involved Duke Energy in solar? [15:35]
  • The benefits of community solar projects [19:25]
  • The future of community solar [24:23]

What is community solar?

Community solar consists of facilities that produce less than five megawatts of electrical capacity. It allows residents, small businesses, and other organizations, such as municipalities, to receive credit on their electricity bills for the power produced by these solar arrays. It differs from residential solar in that it is an off-site project with no financial investment from a consumer and serves multiple levels of subscriber offtake. 

The impressive growth of solar is due to the diligent policy work at the state level, where legislation is being supported to expand the renewable market. The dynamics of state programs are a significant influence on solar’s success. Currently, about 19 states and DC have a wide variety of programs. Some of the newest markets coming on board currently are Virginia, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania. Solar is a dynamic and growing market that offers a lot of opportunities.

Community solar projects in Massachusetts

Massachusetts provides an excellent opportunity to work on ground-mount, front-of-meter projects. A nice feature of the Massachusetts program is that these projects can be operated either as community solar or by directly selling electricity to utility companies. Duke Energy found this quite an attractive project, deciding that the community solar route made more sense financially. That’s how Duke came to work with CleanChoice as a subscription management company to bring in small customers.

Duke Energy and CleanChoice

Duke Energy is a best-in- class company, so they needed a best-in-class collaborator to help with their community solar pilot project. They’ve been pleased with the relationship with CleanChoice and their ability to help Duke Energy navigate the ins and outs of the community solar program’s SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) element as well as the utility coordination. Together they’ve created a model project that other companies should consider.

One of the values of Duke Energy is serving its communities. With community solar, the benefits are kept local. It’s an opportunity for both the small and large customers in a community to participate in the project. Having a large anchor tenant allows the project to open up to customers that might not otherwise be qualified to participate in a solar project. The local element of these projects provides a kind of equity of access to renewables as part of the energy transition.

Resources and People Mentioned

Connect with Our Guests

Terri Dalmer - Vice President of Solar Business Development at CleanChoice Energy

Terri Dalmer is Vice President of Solar Business Development at CleanChoice Energy, responsible for overseeing a community solar management services portfolio as well evaluating market expansion opportunities and partnerships with solar as it relates to both management services and project development. Ms. Dalmer has over 20 years of experience in the energy and commodities fields with sales roles at Morgan Stanley and ConEdison Solution.  She led the commercial renewable energy retail sales departments for both Crius and CleanChoice, encouraging mid-to-large-sized organizations to embrace green products and advance corporate sustainability initiatives. Terri is a graduate of Trinity College, CT, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in History. 

Connect with Owen Grant

Owen Grant - Business Development Manager at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions

Owen Grant is Business Development Manager at Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions where he is responsible for the development and acquisitions of small utility and community solar projects. Mr. Grant led Duke Energy’s first commercial community solar project which came online in 2020. This effort included project acquisition, internal pilot program approval, and external stakeholder engagement. His prior experience includes institutional equity sales at Oppenheimer, and over 13 years of experience in renewable energy including wind and solar energy development, and financial management. Owen has a B.A. from Hamilton College and an MBA from IESE Business School in Barcelona, Spain.

Connect with Duke Energy Sustainable Solutions

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