Community solar is gaining in popularity in the U.S. and as the demand grows you might consider opting into a local community program. There are many benefits to community solar but it is also wise to be aware of some of the negatives associated with these programs.
Solar Incentives Are Missed
When you elect to purchase solar energy there are incentives of which you can take advantage such as tax credits or rebates. This entices customers to install solar panels on their homes and businesses. However, with a community solar program, the incentives shift from the home or business owner to the community developer. This is because a community solar program does not allow individuals to actually own any of the solar panels at the community farm. Instead, the consumer receives energy credits on their utility bills each month. There are some models of community solar farms which offer ownership. The customer purchases and owns a specific share of the whole project. This model is rare but sometimes offers incentives to its customers.
Community Solar Projects Are Big
To install a community solar project the developers need large areas of land that receive sunshine for most of the day. Sometimes land is purchased that needs to be cleared which adds to the cost of the project and can create unintended environmental consequences. The best option for land purchase is land that can be leased from individuals or land that is unusable such as landfills or land that is contaminated in some way. It is a good idea to investigate the land type if you are considering involvement in a community project to be certain it matches your level of comfort with regard to sustainable land use.
Is Community Solar Available?
In order for states to offer community solar options to local residents, legislation needs to be passed. As of December, 2020 community solar projects were active in 39 states and Washington, D.C. If and when a solar program is offered it is best to enroll quickly since the number of participants is limited and you wouldn’t want to miss out on an opportunity to share in the savings offered by a community solar project.