Community Planning for Solar: Conducting Focus Groups for Solar Planning

Alison Bates, Sara Farrar (NREL Technical Monitor)

Research output: NRELSubcontract Report


This guide is designed to assist community officials, volunteers, and regional planning agency staff in conducting preliminary community meetings to learn about attitudes towards solar energy in your community. The guide will provide the key steps, timelines, facilitators' guide, and tips for hosting successful focus groups. Focus groups are meetings with a small group that represent a diversity of perspectives in your community. These differ from an open meeting in that focus groups include very specific questions that are prepared in advance, and all participants are given time to respond and understand various perspectives about solar energy. The guide concludes with a suggested template for reporting the results of your focus group or community meeting to your community more broadly. Holding community focus groups is part of assessing community preferences, as part of the Community Planning for Solar toolkit ( This guide is designed to help municipalities in Massachusetts and other states proactively plan for solar development in their communities. For more information, visit the UMass Clean Energy Extension (CEE) website (
Original languageAmerican English
PublisherNational Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)
Number of pages29
StatePublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Work performed by Colby College, Waterville, Maine

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/SR-7A40-90088


  • action plan
  • clean energy extension
  • community
  • community planning
  • education
  • financing
  • Massachusetts
  • municipalities
  • outreach
  • ownership
  • PV siting
  • rural
  • SEIN
  • siting
  • solar photovoltaics
  • toolkit
  • UMass


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