Community Solar Explained
What is Community Solar?
Today, only a small minority of American households and businesses have access to solar because they rent, live in multitenant buildings, have roofs that are unable to host a solar system, are shaded by trees, or experience some other mitigating factor.
Community solar refers to local solar facilities shared by multiple community subscribers who receive credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. This model for solar is being rapidly adopted nationwide.
Graphic provided by Nexamp
Why is Community Solar Important?
Community solar provides homeowners, renters, and businesses equal access to the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy generation regardless of the physical attributes or ownership of their home or business. Community solar expands access to solar for all, including in particular low-to-moderate income customers most impacted by a lack of access, all while building a stronger, distributed, and more resilient electric grid.
Community solar works for anyone with an electric bill, including renters, residents in multi-unit buildings, municipalities, non-profits and businesses that don’t own their roofs. That means community solar can give ALL Americans equal access to solar for the first time.
Sunshine is free, which means solar offers reliable energy at a predictable rate for decades. And because community solar projects are optimally sited, professionally maintained, and built at scale, consumers can save even more money.
Customers can sign up to participate in a community solar project in a few minutes and begin receiving power production credits on their next utility bill. No contractor visits, permits, or maintenance means no hassle.
Community solar allows customers to move within the utility territory and still retain their participation in the community solar project, making it an easy, portable energy solution.
The community solar model is based on a mutually beneficial relationship with utilities, allowing them to provide a product their customers want—locally-made clean energy.
A 2015 NREL and DOE report estimates that nearly 50% of consumers and businesses are unable to host photovoltaic (PV) systems, but there are many reasons why shared renewables might be preferred for a home, business, or individual. Here are a few examples:
- Renters may be prohibited from installing solar on the property
- The roof may be too shaded or will need re-roofing during the solar warranty period
- The size, type, or orientation of the roof may be improper
- Some commercial buildings have equipment on the roof, obstructing an installation
- Multi-tenant dwellings or businesses may not own their rooftop
- A homeowner does not want construction or maintenance personnel on their property
- A homeowner is planning to move in the near to mid future
- The customer is not able to afford a residential system