community solar GARDEN and program analysis

Community solar gardens, also called community shared solar, are projects where participants buy or lease a portion of a large distributed solar system and are able to utilize the solar generation from the system against their electricity bill.  Community solar gardens have the potential to greatly expand the market for solar by providing customers who cannot or do not want to host solar on their own rooftop the opportunity to benefit from a solar installation.  In return, community solar gardens can provide a host of benefits to participants including, but not limited to, increased electricity rate stability, potential bill savings, and a cost-effective way to reach sustainability goals. 

We have evaluated the feasibility of community solar for various municipalities, and vetted the success of community solar for low-income constituents. We were also selected to provide technical assistance to teams across the country participating in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar in Your Community Challenge. Through this effort, Lotus provided research, recommendations, and support for integrating community solar garden programs into opportunities to increase energy efficiency and support reduced energy burden for low-income populations.

Our expertise has also been highlighted on NREL's community solar working group and in the award-winning Natural Gas and Electricity Journal where we wrote an article titled Community Solar Presents Rewards and Risks. 


Each community solar garden program and project is designed differently and offers its own benefits and risks to stakeholders and subscribers. For this reason, it is important that subscribers and stakeholders fully understand program design elements based on their particular situation before committing.  Lotus provides cost-effective technical reviews of community solar garden proposals for public and private sector clients to ensure that all risks and rewards are fully understood.  

We have completed community solar project analyses for:

  • City of Lakewood

  • City of Wheat Ridge

  • Town of New Castle

  • Highlands Ranch Community Association (multiple proposals)

  • Town of Carbondale (multiple proposals)

"Lotus provided the technical expertise we needed at the City of Wheat Ridge to assist us in evaluating solar garden proposals. Emily presented her analysis to staff and the City Council in such way that the average person could understand the very complex intricacies of this technology. I would highly recommend Emily and Lotus Engineering and Sustainability to assist your organization with your sustainability and energy efficiency goals."

- Patrick Goff, City Manager of Wheat Ridge

Low-Income Community SOLAR 

Lotus completed a study for the Colorado Energy Office to see how the 5% low-income carve-out rule in House Bill 10-1342 was being implemented and identifying ways that the process can be improved. Our report and recommendations were used to guide policy that will increase access to community solar and improve its management and administration.

We supported the Colorado Energy Office in evaluating the effectiveness of eight low-income community solar demonstration projects across the state. The intent of this effort was to identify best practices that nonprofits, government agencies, utilities, and policy-makers can consider when developing and customizing low-income community solar gardens. The report is available here.