How Does Community Solar Help Our Community Create Clean Energy?

Solar FAQ


Solar energy is a free, natural, and inexpensive renewable energy source. Individual property owners have been taking advantage of solar power’s cheaper costs for years. Now, community solar offers a step up in the fight against climate change and in the effort bring solar energy to a larger portion of the population. Read below to learn exactly how community helps bring clean energy to our communities.


How Community Solar Works

First, to understand how community solar brings clean energy to a community, it is important to have a basic idea of how community solar works. Normally, when the owner of a property (typically a homeowner) decides to have solar panels installed, they are located somewhere on that property (most of the time on the roof). The owner’s solar panels are dedicated to meeting the needs of just that property. However, there are times when a property owner discovers that their property is not suitable for solar panels. By the same token renters are unable to have solar panels installed on properties they don’t own. In either of these cases, there now exists another option for enjoying the benefits of solar energy—community solar.


Instead of a solar-panel installation dedicated to just one property, a community-solar site (often called a community-solar farm or garden) is built on a piece of unused land in a community. The community-solar site can range from a few acres to several hundred acres of solar panels. This massive collection of solar panels, instead of being dedicated to powering just one home, can provided many residents with clean, renewable energy.


Participating local residents, known as subscribers, purchase energy credits from the community-solar program. The solar subscribers continue to receive electricity bills from their conventional power provider. But instead of paying their conventional providers with money, subscribers pay with their solar credits instead. Because solar energy is cheaper to produce than is electricity sourced from fossil fuels, subscribers are able to pay their electricity bills at a significantly discounted rate. Join Solar puts these savings at 10 to 15 percent over conventional billing. The specific rate you earn will depend on where you live.


Less Individual Investment Means High Solar Participation

After tax credits, the price of installing dedicated solar panels can cost a property owner between $10,000 and $25,000, depending on the size of the system and the resident’s location. These figures can be non-starters for many homeowners. With community solar, the cost of building a solar farm or garden is shouldered by the solar company, so more people can afford to subscribe to community solar than can afford to have their own systems installed. Once a community-solar farm or garden has been constructed, it can serve the needs of thousands of subscribers in an area, making clean energy affordable and widely available to a large portion of the population. The more people who subscribe to community solar, the greater the cost savings to the community and benefits to the environment.


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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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