Community solar involves the installation of a solar electricity system that is built in one central location with the costs and benefits distributed across voluntary investors who choose to subscribe and receive credits based on the generated energy. Community solar is gaining attention because of its potential to increase access to renewable energy and to democratize energy governance. This paper reflects on community-engaged research experiences in two rural community case studies in Michigan, USA, focusing on obstacles that were experienced during the research process rather than empirical findings from the research. We highlight difficulties we experienced to help advance a conceptual argument about incorporating collaborative governance strategies to improve community-engaged research for community energy projects. Our reflections illustrate challenges in community-engaged research that are associated with identifying who should be included in the decision-making process, sustaining participation and avoiding exploitation, establishing and communicating final decision-making power, and giving attention to outputs and outcomes of the research. We argue that collaborative governance strategies can help to address these challenges, as we experienced firsthand in our project.
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