If you're like most people, the idea of community solar or shared solar can be complex and confusing. You might have received a marketing flyer in the mail, or maybe someone knocked on your door trying to explain the concept of community solar to you. Signing up for free and receiving electricity bill credits? It seems too good to be true! Right? Well, we are here to certify that community solar programs, sponsored by local utility companies and states, are real and can save you big dollars on your electricity bill. In this article, we will explain what community solar is and how these programs are designed as a win-win for customers, utilities, and solar developers. Read more below...

Calling All Customers


Community Solar is defined by the US Department of Energy as any solar project or solar purchasing program where the benefits generated are realized by the participating customers. The customers for community solar can be individuals, businesses, or other types of groups like nonprofits. There are two ways a customer can benefit from community solar. The first is the customer purchases a certain number of solar panels that represent their portion of the entire project. They then receive electric bill credits/savings from the power produced by the panels they own. A second way customers can participate in community solar is to become a subscriber. By subscribing, the customer will pay a lower amount on their monthly electric bill than if they were buying electricity through their utility.

Through community solar projects, customers who are not able to take advantage of traditional solar savings, such as renters, multi-tenant building dwellers, or customers whose roofs cannot support traditional solar panels. Community solar provides equal access to all economic and environmental benefits.


Creating Community Solar Programs


As of December 2020, 39 states have policies that support community solar which is sometimes referred to as roofless solar, solar gardens, or shared solar. Project developers join forces with the utilities and, by following strict regulations, build community solar sites and work to build a customer base by offering money-saving options. The solar installations are generally built on leased land and are well designed allowing the land to be returned to its original state when no longer in use. 


The Goal of Community Solar


The goal of community solar is to harness the inexhaustible energy of the sun and use it to produce clean decarbonized electricity. Through expanded technologies, tax incentives, and a push from consumers to protect our natural resources and preserve our clean air and water, solar energy initiatives are growing. Community solar, in particular, provides solar opportunities for those who may not otherwise be able to take advantage of solar energy production. The results will be lower energy bills, reduced energy grid costs, local job creation, and economic resiliency in our local communities.