What is Community Solar ?
Community Solar is a way of bringing the benefits of solar power to people who can’t put it on their own properties – homeowners with shaded or older roofs, condo dwellers, renters, businesses and institutions. It’s a cooperative arrangement that lets groups of people use electricity generated by a solar array built on a location that makes sense in their area. A portion of the electricity is attributed to each participant (“subscriber”) according to the terms of their particular contract. Just like rooftop solar for your home or business, community solar is provided by developers who are motivated to save you money.
How should I evaluate my options?
You should first look into the business background and track record of the project developer. Then, look at the ownership or subscription model for a given project – do participants actually own some of the panels and pay an up-front cost then save going forward, or do you pay just for the electricity that you use? If a project offers an option you like, then review the contract carefully – including options in case you move or have to cancel for any other reason.
What about those options for moving or cancellation?
Typically, when you move, you can keep your share of the community solar project as long as your new home is within the same service area. If you move outside of the service area, you will have to sell your share (if you own it), transfer a subscription to another account, or potentially pay an early cancellation fee. Cancellation terms vary by project and provider.
How will it appear on my electric bill?
If you own a share of or subscribe to a community solar project, you will receive virtual net metering credits on your electric bill from your utility. Each credit is equal to one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity. For example: you use 1,000 kWh at your home in one month, and your community solar share produces 800 kWh. The 800 kWh in credits from your share are applied to your electric bill, and your utility bills you for the remaining 200 kWh. You pay your community solar provider directly for the cost of your share or subscription.
How close do I need to be to a host to subscribe?
Subscribers must be in the same utility service area as the solar array.
Who pays for the array to be built?
Solar developers spearhead the construction of these systems, pulling together the financing, insurances, technical expertise and other resources they need. They are repaid over time by the revenues flowing into the project from subscribers. Because the cost of solar power is falling sharply, customers and developers can both benefit financially.
What about warranty and insurance?
That is the developer’s responsibility. You subscribe to the service of the Community Shared Solar Program – electricity at an affordable price, from the sun.
What Community Solar options are being offered by RenewableNY?
Visit www.renewableny.org and its local partners Solarize Hudson Valley (www.solarize-hudsonvalley.org), Go Solar and Southern Tier Solar Works to request more information online or meet us at a workshop or festival. We are excited to be the first Solarize program in New York to roll out Community Solar with guidance and support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).