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. While the cost of going solar is decreasing, not everyone has a qualifying 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 project can expect to save money on their energy bill, although how much they save 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 solar panels, investing in an overall project, or simply buying-in as a subscriber to purchase energy produced by the solar garden.
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 remainder of the equipment’s life. As a community solar program is generally a large system size intended to power multiple homes, the cost will be divided among the shareholders. In sharing the cost though, you also share the production. Generally, the main operator of the Community Solar program will quote the annual fees and upfront fees, and you can weigh them with your current electric bill.
Lower Electric Bill
A subscription to a community solar garden may not cover your full electric bill, but there will still be significant savings with solar-generated power. 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
The option to lease or PPA (power agreement) would allow you to use energy at a lower cost than with your current utility provider. 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 in the market and locked into a lower monthly rate. Any increase in your solar 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. If that still leaves you unsure, we are happy to answer any other questions by giving us a call at 800-860-6932.