Are There Downsides to Community Solar?

Community Involvement


There are numerous benefits to community, as well as a few downsides that you need to consider before signing on. To understand the downsides to community solar, it’s important first to have a basic understanding of how community solar works. Below is a brief explanation of how community solar works, and its benefits, followed by some of its downsides.


How Community Solar Works

Community solar is an energy-distribution model in which a solar company develops anywhere between a few acres and several hundred acres of unused land with solar panels. Instead of being dedicated to the energy needs of just one property, as is the case with solar installation at a home, these acres of solar panels—known as community-solar farms or gardens—generate enough solar power to carry energy to many customers in the area of the community-solar farm. These customers, known as subscribers, pay the solar company for energy credits that they then use to pay their electricity bills from conventional power companies.


Benefits of Community Solar

This emerging model carries with it many benefits. For one, the more subscribers there are, the more homes access and use clean, renewable energy to run. Additionally, Join Solar estimates that subscribers will save between 10 and 15 percent on their conventional bills by using solar credits. That figure will depend on the resident’s state. Other blogs in this series have looked in more detail at the advantages and benefits of subscribing to a community-solar farm.


Downsides to Community Solar

When a private property owner decides to have solar panels installed on their property, they are eligible in many states for incentives, tax credits, or rebates that can considerably reduce the overall cost of purchasing the solar panels and having them installed. In the community-solar model, a resident is not buying solar panels. Rather, the resident is subscribing to the community-solar farm, to receive solar power produced through community solar. In that case, the resident is not eligible to receive incentives, tax credits, or rebates that might otherwise come of purchasing solar panels for their private residence.



As a community-solar subscriber, how much you can potentially save on energy costs will depend on a number of factors, including your state of residence, the community-solar farm’s pricing model, the cost of the power you receive, and the output of power by the community-solar farm. Depending on your circumstances, there is the possibility that community-sourced solar power could be more expensive than the energy you receive through your conventional power company. Given these variables, it is important that you thoroughly research the potential cost/savings ratio when deciding whether to subscribe to a community-solar farm.


Finally, just like state-specific variables will determine how much you stand to save by subscribing to a community-solar farm, your state of residence will also determine whether community solar is available to you in the first place. Join Solar is rapidly expanding, and emerging markets hold great potential to bring community solar to your area.

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Community solar works a lot like a community garden. Local utility customers sign up for subscriptions to a central solar facility—known as a community solar garden—and receive credit on their utility bills for energy produced..

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