The Benefits of Knowing the Community Solar Programs by State

In the US, community solar has exploded over the past two years. SEPA expects this growth to continue, especially in states with expanding policies and project development opportunities.

These include Minnesota, New York, and Massachusetts, where state leaders have pushed beyond previous barriers to community solar growth. They have lowered project cap sizes and made it easier to participate.

Cost

In addition to lowering electricity bills, community solar programs by state benefit the local economy, promote energy independence, and strengthen the power grid. It is also a way to combat climate change by reducing fossil fuel needs. Moreover, it can create high-quality jobs for members of the local community. More than 2,500 community solar projects are operating nationwide. Some are located on brownfield sites, landfills, and even on farmland in agrivoltaic farms.

Community solar costs vary depending on the location, project size, and provider. The best way to find a project right for you is to enter your zip code in our Marketplace. You will then receive a list of open community solar projects in your area. The listing will include project details, annual savings, billing structure, credit score requirements, and cancellation terms. Some projects may offer a sign-up bonus or bill discount to new subscribers.

Several factors can impact the cost of community solar, including the state’s policy framework, electricity prices, and the availability of incentives and subsidies. For example, community solar can be more financially viable in states with higher electricity prices than in states with lower electricity rates. The program’s size and marketing budget can also affect subscription rates. The type of customer targeted can also influence the cost. For example, programs that target residential customers tend to have lower prices than those targeting commercial and industrial customers.

Community solar offers a better deal for low-to-moderate-income (LMI) households than rooftop solar. However, to reap the full benefits of community solar, LMI households need to be aware of these programs and be able to access them. It is challenging, as LMI households often need financial challenges that make them less likely to know about energy-saving programs and solutions.

To help these households benefit from community solar, there is a need for a holistic approach that includes advocacy, education, and engagement. Various partners can lead this effort, including states, cities, utilities, community organizations, and nonprofits. This partnership can help community solar reach the most people in need.

Reliability

Solar energy is a sustainable and clean alternative to the fossil fuels that power our nation’s electric grid. While solar energy systems are becoming more affordable and accessible, not all consumers can install rooftop solar panels in their homes or businesses. Community solar enables residents and businesses to benefit from solar energy without owning their systems. A growing number of states support community solar through their policies and regulations.

In addition to helping reduce energy costs, community solar can create local jobs and boost the economy. While regulated utilities administer most community solar programs, third-party developers also bring new projects to market. These companies focus on developing and managing community solar projects for individuals, corporations, and communities. In many cases, these projects are designed to bring a return on investment for all stakeholders.

Some state policies require community solar projects to include a certain percentage of low-income subscribers. Community solar is now accessible to all residents, regardless of income. Other policies support community solar through Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). This program allows a community to procure electricity from an alternative energy supplier offering more renewable energy than their default utility provider. It can help residents and businesses save money on electricity bills while reducing the grid’s dependence on fossil fuels.

Currently, there are more than 300 community solar projects across the country. The average project size is 3 kW and is expected to save residential customers 10% in electricity costs over the life of their subscription. These modest savings are especially significant for low-income households, which spend 3.5 times more on their electricity bills than other households.

While the potential for community solar to bring low-income residents substantial electricity bill savings is clear, barriers and nuances must be addressed. Whether it is access to credit checks, the ability to pay for community solar through an existing energy bill, or confusion around consolidated billing, these obstacles must be removed to ensure that community solar can genuinely benefit those who need it most.

Energy Savings

While there are several reasons why a person or business may not be able to install a rooftop solar energy system, community solar is an excellent option for them. It allows people, including renters and homeowners in co-ops or condos, to benefit from clean, renewable energy. It also helps businesses save money and help them meet their environmental goals. It’s good for communities because when the electricity is produced locally, it reduces the need to rely on large power plants during peak times.

Community solar projects are available to anyone who pays an electric bill, including businesses, schools, religious organizations, and not-for-profits. They are built and operated by companies specializing in building, financing, and working community solar farms. These solar companies provide affordable, transparent, and flexible options. And they can provide various payment options, including cash, upfront payment, and a 25-year subscription term.

The cost of electricity in a state, the availability of incentives and subsidies, and the overall demand for renewable energy influence how viable a community solar project is. In addition, the laws and regulations in a state affect how the program works, whether or not it is open to all electric customers, and how it integrates with utility infrastructure.

To make community solar more accessible, states need enabling legislation, which is the law that creates the program. They also need to have enough community solar facilities so everyone can sign up without getting on a waitlist.

In addition, states can also make community solar more accessible by focusing on education and outreach. It can include hosting community events, creating educational materials, partnering with groups that serve low-income households, and introducing community solar programs to local media outlets. These measures will help expand the reach of community solar so that more people can enjoy the benefits of clean, renewable energy. It can lead to a more sustainable and resilient electricity grid that provides a reliable power source for everyone.

Environmental Impact

In addition to the financial benefits of a community solar program, participants can also reduce their carbon footprint and support a greener energy future. Since community solar participants do not need their rooftops, these projects are accessible to all – including those without access to solar roofs (due to costs or constraints such as shade), landlords (who can’t install panels), and renters (who can’t install solar panels). Furthermore, the participants of a community solar project contribute to its overall success and can benefit from state renewable energy incentives.

Community solar is a new way for consumers to enjoy the advantages of solar power without installing panels on their property. With a community solar subscription, customers can save money on their electricity bills and receive credit on their utility bills associated with their solar share. The savings can help with other energy-related expenses, such as heating or cooling.

There are several different options for participants to choose from, depending on their individual goals and preferences. Community solar offerings can range from a fully-fledged ownership model to a “subscription” model where customers sign up for the right to buy and use a certain amount of electricity from the project over 20 years. Some programs allow for consolidated billing, where you’ll receive one bill from your provider with your community solar credits reflected. Others can be more complicated and require two separate bills, making tracking savings more difficult.

In states with a high cost of electricity, community solar can be a very affordable option. However, other factors determine whether a state is well-suited to community solar development. In particular, the availability of community-solar-friendly policies and the demand for renewable energy influence whether or not community solar is viable.

As more state governments adopt pro-community solar policies, the market is expected to grow exponentially. More than 22 states and the District of Columbia have community solar legislation enabling customers to participate in a program run by their utility or third-party developer. Additionally, various marketplaces have emerged that allow customers to enter their zip codes and find a tailored list of community solar farms near them.