What is Community Solar?
Groups of ground-mounted solar panels are popping up across the country to support communities with clean energy generation. Each portion of the ground mount is “owned” by a different resident that subscribes. While the cost of going solar is decreasing, not everyone has a qualified unshaded roof. Community-owned solar gardens provide urban residents with an option to financially and environmentally benefit from solar power. Participants in a solar community can expect to save money on their energy, although savings will depend on their location and program choice.
We have written about net metering before, and as you may already know this is a key element in community solar programs: it helps residents save money. Net metering provides the user a credit for energy they produce, equal to the market rate of buying it from the grid. If your location does not support Net Metering, a solar farm may not be the right option.
However, if your location does have Net Metering, there are several ways to get involved with community solar. Depending on your local availability, options may include purchasing a share of the panels, investing in a project, or simply subscribing to a solar garden payment plan.
Shared Initial Investment
It is important to understand the return on your initial solar investment. Like a classical rooftop residential install, after your solar investment is paid off, all the energy produced from your share is ‘free’ for the life of the equipment. As a community solar program is generally a large system size, the cost will be divided among the shareholders. In sharing the cost, you also share the production. The main operator of the Community Solar program will quote you annual and upfront fees and production to compare them against your current electric bill.
Lower Electric Bill
A subscription to a community solar garden may not cover your full electric bill, but you will still see significant savings. You’ll also be reducing your dependency on local utility companies and the upfront expense of the equipment will be disbursed.
Insulated from Fluctuating Energy Rates
A PPA option (Power Purchase Agreement) allows you to use energy at a lower cost than your current rate. That’s the point, right?! However, there are additional benefits as well. As with any solar product, you will be insulated from energy rate hikes locked into a lower monthly rate. Any increase in your administration fees over time would be predefined in your lease agreement.
Has your community started a solar garden? Have you wanted to start a solar garden in your area? Leave us a comment and tell us about it!
Are you ready? To find out how you can go solar and become less energy independent, request a free quote from us at SAVKAT Solar. Still have more questions? Check out our Solar 101 page or our FAQ page. Giving us a call at 800-860-6932 and get your personalized solar quote today.