From the consumer level on up to the city scale, solar power is expanding its share of electricity production. How can that be accelerated? A report finds a “peer effect” among consumers who install solar. And the U.S. Department of Energy publishes case studies of cities’ efforts to increase solar adoption.

A study of 10 years’ worth of data suggests there is a “causal peer effect” among consumers installing solar power.

Peer Effects in the Diffusion of Solar Photovoltaic Panels” is a report co-authored by Bryan Bollinger, NYU Stern School of Business, and Kenneth Gillingham, Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. The ten years of collected and analyzed data strongly suggest there is a causal peer effect. The authors include recommendations on how to price new installations so as to encourage their spread more quickly throughout a street or neighborhood.

The Solar America Cities program of the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy office at the Department of Energy has been publishing a series of Solar in Action eight-page brochures, one for each of 25 cities across the country, that describe that city’s efforts to increase solar as a portion of its energy portfolio.

Example: “Seattle, Washington: Solar in Action” highlights the efforts of the Emerald City to pursue solar despite the widespread belief that cloudy Seattle could not generate enough power from solar to be of much value. It includes case studies of Solar Works in Seattle! workshops, interconnection training for utility staff, and community solar financing program implementation.

As I’ve said for many years now, solar is a gateway drug for energy efficiency. When a solar installation makes a homeowner or business more aware of consumption, an energy audit is the logical first step. In “Saving Before You Start,” in Distributed Energy, Paul Hull provides the basic information needed to understand the value of an audit, to take advantage of new financing opportunities, and to choose among efficiency strategies to get the best fit for the facility and the pocketbook. Included are examples of how several companies used the information gained from their audits in different ways to achieve optimal energy and cost savings.

Thanks to the Washington State University Extension Energy Program for leads used in this post.

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