Community solar allows individuals to support clean energy without the upfront costs of installing panels on their own homes. By participating, they receive electricity bill savings and help to make their local energy system more resilient.
Many programs include carve-outs for low and moderate-income customers to receive additional discounts on their subscription rates. This is a great way to increase energy equity and environmental justice.
Reduce Your Carbon Footprint
What is community solar? Community solar is a great way to reduce your carbon footprint because it allows you to support renewable energy without requiring any rooftop installation. You subscribe to a project at a solar farm or “solar garden” and pay for a share of the clean energy generated by those panels through your electric bill. This subscription helps crowdfund the project and gives you a financial return, reflected in monthly lower energy bills.
Your monthly savings will vary depending on the season. Because of seasonal variation in solar production, subscribers will receive more credits in the summer months and fewer in the winter. However, unused credits will roll over and continue to help you save each year.
The community-based community solar model also allows more people to participate in renewable energy than if they were to purchase or lease their rooftop systems. This is critical to achieving environmental justice, as communities with low incomes are disproportionately burdened by the health issues associated with fossil fuels.
Investing in community solar projects can support local economies and communities by generating jobs during construction and ongoing maintenance. In addition, communities can become more self-sufficient in their energy needs and contribute to a more resilient grid by using the power they generate on-site.
Save Money on Your Electric Bill
With community solar, you buy into a project and get monthly electric bill credits based on your subscription percentage of the project’s energy generation. These credits are applied to your utility bill – similar to how net metering works on rooftops. Your savings will vary monthly due to seasonal weather, but many community solar programs roll over unused credits into the next billing cycle.
Most community solar projects use a subscription model where subscribers sign up for a set amount of energy from a shared array without installing panels on their home or business. This allows everyone in a community to benefit from renewable energy, save money and lower their carbon footprint.
Community solar projects also benefit the local economy and help build a more resilient power grid by creating local jobs to design, construct, and manage these projects. They can be built on formerly unusable lands like industrial sites, landfills, and brownfields.
In addition to helping bolster the local economy, community solar provides access to affordable and clean energy for low-income residents in their communities. Community solar projects aggregate user demand and supply to achieve economies of scale and make it cheaper for developers to build the project. Unlike rooftop solar, which requires an upfront financial investment that some may not be able to afford, community solar uses a one-bill payment model that makes it easier for low-income customers to participate in and see the benefits of solar energy.
Support Your Local Economy
Community solar allows everyone, including renters and condo owners, to join a community energy project by subscribing to clean power in place of their local utility. They receive credits on their electric bills for the power they contribute to the community solar project.
This enables people to save money on electricity bills and protect themselves against rising rates. It also provides a way for communities to control their energy and not be at the mercy of big utility companies or their prices.
Additionally, local jobs are created for planning, installation, and maintenance when a community solar array is built. This is a great boost to the economy. In addition, local property values often increase when a community solar farm is nearby.
Additionally, community solar can be paired with battery storage to offer frontline communities resiliency benefits during extended electricity outages. It can help to reduce energy costs and provide access to backup power for critical loads, such as cooling and cooking appliances.
Help Make the Electric Grid More Resilient
As community solar expands to include more households, it helps create a distributed, resilient electric grid that reduces fossil fuel needs. It also benefits all communities by lowering energy costs, creating job opportunities, and generating local tax revenue.
When you subscribe to a community solar project, you don’t own panels on your roof but instead receive credits on your utility bill for the electricity your share of the solar farm generates. These credits act as a discount on your electricity cost, and the more subscribers go solar, the greater the project’s savings potential.
Your monthly savings are calculated by multiplying the credit value of your project with your electricity usage. This is done to account for seasonality and is usually a simple calculation on your provider’s website or app. Projects sometimes offer consolidated billing that reflects your energy savings on a single, combined bill from your utility company and provider.
Many community solar projects offer a sign-up bonus to attract new customers. These can be as simple as a bill discount or gift card. In addition, most projects allow subscription transfer and termination without penalty if you move or decide to cancel your service. This flexibility is particularly important for low-income earners, who typically rent their homes and may not be able to benefit from the long-term savings residential solar can provide.