Community solar is a growing market with a lot of customers shopping for providers. There are 120 million homes with power in the US, but up to 80 percent of them are unable to install rooftop solar for one reason or another. Currently, twenty-two states have passed legislation establishing community solar regulations. These regulations are in place to help ensure a positive consumer experience and fair rates. Community solar projects exist in nineteen more states that have not passed related legislation. In some areas, there is limited competition still, making it difficult to tell whether available providers are benefiting from and responding to market competition, especially in the states where legislation has not yet been passed. If you are thinking about signing up for community solar but still have questions, it’s important to make sure that your potential provider is reputable and reliable. Below are some ways you can tell that your community-solar provider is a good choice.
Sales and The Warning Signs
If your community-solar company engages in aggressive sales tactics, it could be a warning sign. You shouldn’t feel pressured to sign up for a community-solar program, and there shouldn’t be a contract involved. Rather, signing up for community solar should be just like signing up for any other kind of utility. The process should be easy, straightforward, and painless. If a sales representative can’t answer your questions in a clear and understandable manner, this could be a sign that the arrangement won’t work.
How Does Billing Work With Community Solar?
Billing should be a clearcut affair with any reputable community-solar project. When you sign up for community solar, you pay money monthly or up front to help maintain the community-solar site. In turn, you receive credits from the community-solar company for the energy that it generates. At the same time, you continue to receive a monthly electricity bill from your conventional service provider. Your community-solar credits get used to pay the conventional bill. These amounts should be clearly stated and easy to read on your bill.
Word of Mouth
Do you know someone in your area who is or has been a community-solar customer? Ask them about their experience with the local provider. They should be able to confirm to you that the billing practices are predictable and straightforward and that the service is dependable. Another way to gauge a company’s reliability is through online comments and reviews. While these reviews tend to be anonymous and skew toward the negative, they can give you insights into any troubling patterns that you should be made aware of. The same can be said of complaints submitted to the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
While online complaints are normal, it’s important to see how a business responds to these complaints. Is there a direct response from the company? Does the company make any attempt to correct the subject of the complaint? Does the company apologize? If there is a good-faith effort on the part of the company to address the complaint, then this could be a sign that it is a reputable community-solar provider.