What is community solar?
Community solar refers to a large solar facility shared by various community subscribers. These subscribers – residents, businesses, or government organizations, etc., will receive credit on their electricity bills to the extent of power produced by their portion of the community solar array.
Many people and organizations are unable to install their own solar panels. Community solar is an excellent opportunity for them to get affordable, locally produced, and clean energy.
What are the benefits of community solar?
There has been a growing interest in community solar across the country due to its manifold benefits:
- Individuals or organizations purchasing or subscribing to a share in a community solar project can get electricity at a lower cost.
- Those who cannot install solar panels on their own can still take advantage of solar energy.
- Community solar benefits a diverse customer base as many people may not have the financial means to install their own solar solution. By participating in a community solar project, they can buy a small share or subscribe to it according to their budget considerations.
- Individuals and organizations that purchase a share in the community solar project can avail themselves of the federal solar tax credit.
- You can be free of the maintenance of solar panels and need not worry about part replacement when you participate in a community solar project. The project developer will manage these things.
How do I sign up for it?
Community solar programs are usually offered in two formats:
Ownership Model: You can purchase a certain number of the panels or a portion of the community solar project to be a community solar participant. You will receive an electric bill that includes the credits/savings from the power produced by the solar panels you own.
Subscription Model: In this model, you enroll as a subscriber and pay a lower price on your electric bill each month compared to the amount you pay for electricity from your regular utility.
Sign-up is a pretty straightforward process. First, check if there is an active program in the area that you stay in. Typically, you will be able to sign up through your utility or sign up online with the community solar project developer.
How does it work?
It is based on virtual net metering. The solar energy generated by the community solar project offsets the electricity bill pulled from the regular utility grid either by a certain amount for a subscription model or to the extent of ownership by you in the project. So, for example, if a community solar array produces 5,000 kWh of electricity and you own 2% of the project, you get credit for 100 kWh for that billing period.
Are there any disadvantages of community solar?
- The financial incentives will not be as good as you have for your installation. For example, if you subscribe to community solar, you will not gain any federal tax incentives, cost benefits, etc. and the state-specific solar incentives are not always guaranteed for community solar.
- It has been proven that houses with solar system installations command a premium value as compared to homes that do not have them.
- All areas do not have community solar projects. Even if there are such projects in the surrounding area, there are limits to the number of people who can sign up for them.
With growing awareness of the harmful effects of using non-renewable energy sources and increasing production of solar energy, it has never been easier to make a difference – to your electricity bills and the planet. Contact us to get more information on solar energy and get a quote on a solar installation.