Have you finally decided to go solar but something external hampers your transition to green?
As a matter of fact this could happen for different reasons:
- you are a renter or you live in a multi-tenant building and it is prohibited to install solar panels on the property
- the roof type, the size, the fact that is too shaded, or in case of commercial buildings some equipment can obstruct the installation
- you cannot afford the costs for a residential system
These issues are not problems anymore thanks to community solar. You can actually benefit economically and environmentally from solar energy regardless of these apparent obstacles.
How Does it Work?
Basically, the purpose of community solar is to allow the participants of the project to benefit from solar power, generated by the community solar farm, without installing solar panels on their property.
Business and local residents, including low income customers, through a subscription can take advantage of the power produced by a shared solar power grid.
There are two kinds of community solar program offered:
- Ownership-based projects. It is very similar to purchasing a rooftop system, apart from the fact that the installation is not built on the member’s rooftop. In a nutshell, the participant can purchase panels either up-front or finance them through a loan by the bank or the project developer. You can also choose to purchase a set number of panels or certain number of kW of the total installation capacity.
- Subscription-based projects. The owner is the utility or a third party, which develop the project and the opportunity to participate is extended to the public. The participation is flexible, usually these programs allow to entry into and exit out of the scheme much easier. However the most important requirement is for the members to reside in the utility’s network area. If this is met, they can subscribe to the community solar project, paying a lower price for the electricity. A great example of this is the recent community solar project that we installed at the Monastery of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Northeast DC. 50 families are able to subscribe to the project through the cooperative effort of Sunlight General Capital and Groundswell‘s Share Power subscription. Even better, 12 low-income families will get their power for free!
The members benefit from the electricity generated by the community solar farm, which costs less than the price they would ordinarily pay to their utility.
In fact the customers receive a credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced as a reward by the utility.
It is possible to mix a traditional system with the subscription to a solar community in order to offset power derived from non-renewable sources. Considering that the rate for the subscription is lower than the credit, the final net of a traditional electric system combining with a solar subscription, will be cheaper than one with just the traditional grid.
Community Solar is a great answer if a traditional solar system isn’t possible. There are different options and regulations depending on where you live. Give us a call anytime at 703-249-6594 and learn more about what’s possible in your area!