Community-solar programs are gaining in availability and popularity. Conventional solar means buying your own solar panels and having them installed on your property. Those solar panels function to meet the energy needs of only your home and come with significant upfront costs. Conversely, community solar is an off-site solar development that serves the needs of many subscribers all once. Property owners (and even renters) can subscribe to a local community-solar site (known as a community-solar farm or garden) without having to purchase solar panels. Below is an explanation of how to enroll in a community-solar program, and an explanation of some of the benefits of doing so.
How to Enroll in a Community-Solar Program
First, contact a community-solar company that operates in your area and ask for free information about its community-solar program. When you decide to enroll with a community-solar company like Join Solar, you become a subscriber to your local community-solar farm (or garden). These farms or gardens are acres of previously unused land that have been developed to hold between hundreds and thousands of solar panels. Your local farm or garden is maintained by the solar company. The farm provides enough energy to power the homes of all its local subscribers. As a subscriber, you buy solar-energy credits from the solar company. At the same time, you will continue to receive a bill from your conventional power provider. But instead of paying off your electricity bill with cash, you use your energy credits to pay your bill. Because the solar credits you purchase are cheaper than the rate at which your power company bills you, you will most likely see a savings on the cost of your electricity each month.
How Much Can You Save on Electricity Bills?
Savings on your electricity bills can be significant if you subscribe to a community-solar program. By purchasing solar credits from a community-solar farm, Join Solar estimates a savings of 10 to 15 percent on your electricity bills. Your savings will depend on a number of factors, especially on where you live.
To get a sense of your potential savings, you can take a look at how much the average American household spends on electricity per year. As of October 2021, the US Energy Information Administration estimated the average rate at $.1411 per kilowatt-hour (kWh). The average US household used 10,649 kilowatt-hours of electricity. When you multiply the two figures, you get a total average expenditure of about $1500 per year. By Join Solar’s estimates, if you subscribe to a community-solar farm, you will save between $150 and $225 per year over your conventional energy bill. Remembering that rates and usage vary by region, you additionally have to account for rising electricity prices in making the comparison with community solar. Industry experts put the rate of energy inflation at 1.3 percent annually, which means a reliably higher conventional energy bill year over year. The higher the rates that your energy provider charges you, the more money you stand to save by switching to community solar.