What do dairy cows and community solar have in common?

image of dairy cows in a field meant to represent the community solar projects that are coming online in Vermont using underutilized land and helping lower fixed costs for farmers there

Community solar is going to power six locally run dairy farms in Vermont thanks to two recently completed projects developed on underutilized land.

The Vermont dairy industry itself generates over $2.2 billion annually, but increasingly thin margins are leading local farmers to seek out new ways to compete without losing use of any of their land. Community solar projects are a great solution.

These community solar projects consist of two 500 kW (864 kWdc) ground-mount solar arrays on less productive land in Newbury and Jamaica, Vermont. The solar projects are designed to help reduce fixed energy costs so the farms can increase profit margins.

Solar Builder Magazine, May 2024, “Community solar saving Vermont dairy farms”

Community solar projects like this one have the potential to unite local communities through shared investment in clean energy infrastructure. By subscribing to a local solar farm, community members or local businesses can directly participate in the generation of renewable energy, reducing their reliance on fossil fuels and lowering electricity bills. This shared endeavor can foster a sense of collective responsibility and pride, encouraging collaboration and strengthening community bonds.

Moreover, community solar projects offer a unique opportunity to repurpose underutilized land for the benefit of the community. Vacant lots, brownfields or even rooftops can be transformed into solar farms, generating clean energy and revenue for the local economy. This not only maximizes land use but also revitalizes neglected areas, contributing to the overall aesthetic and economic development of the community.

Community solar projects also generate local jobs, from installation and maintenance to project management and education. This provides employment opportunities for residents and further stimulates the local economy. Additionally, the revenue generated from these projects can be invested in community initiatives, such as education programs, infrastructure improvements or social services, further benefiting the community as a whole.