A small group of innovative commoners in Phoenix is closing in on an innovative breakthrough: a commons-based revenue model for photovoltaic solar energy development in cities. It’s called the Solar Commons, which sports the tagline, "The sun shines for everyone."
The idea is to use the public rights of way in cities and towns to collect solar energy, and then channel the revenue to a community trust. The trust will manage the solar panels and electricity sales, and distribute the revenues to help the community. In this case, the Solar Commons will support low-income housing and commons education efforts in Phoenix.
It sounds simple enough, but the Solar Commons has taken considerable out-of-the-box thinking and operational innovation to get on track as a demonstration project. Among the challenges: the city-commons relationship, legal liability and project maintenance and management. At this stage, the Solar Commons is on track to becoming a demonstration project.