Guide to Maine Community Solar Program
Community solar is breaking down barriers.
The state of Maine promotes development of renewable energy projects. In 2019, a law was passed making it easy for residents to partake in solar energy. Customers can now share in the cost savings of community solar in Maine. Finally, you and your neighbors can use clean energy!
Communities in Maine want renewable energy, but there are often road blocks stopping them from accessing it. For example, location, available square footage and upfront cash often stop someone from moving forward. With community solar in Maine, you do not need to worry about any of that! You can subscribe and benefit from solar energy, regardless of it you rent or own.
What is Community Solar in Maine?
In Maine, community solar programs are a way for you and your neighbors to support solar energy. In exchange, customers receive a credit on their electric bill. Ultimately, community solar lowers electric costs over time, supports clean energy and boost economic growth.
Typically, community solar farms are installed in large, open areas. As a result, developers maximize the amount of power an array can produce. In order for you to sign up for a community solar farm, it must be in your service area.
Your utility reduces their use of fossil fuels through this program by using renewable energy. Because of this, community solar improves the the electric grid. Utility companies can now balance their generation with the use of clean energy. Additionally, the utility encourages you to explore community solar options. Not only are you supporting clean energy but now the utility is too.
There are two types of programs available in Maine that fall under Net Energy Billing (NEB). Both types are connected at the distribution level and allow subscribers to receive financial benefits associated with the solar array. Regardless, you can still have a third party supplier and subscribe to community solar in Maine.
NEB kWh Credit Program
This program is available to all utility customers across Maine. Customers receive a kWh credit on their electric bill. Participants in this program receive credits equal to the full retail rate.
NEB Tariff Rate Program
This program is only available to commercial customers in Maine. In exchange for subscribing to a project, customers receive a dollar credit on their electric bill. The dollar credit is equal to 75% of their transmission and distribution charges as well as the standard service rate. Tariff rates are determined yearly with the PUC. With the tariff program, the array operates as a generator meant to reduce load.
How does Community Solar work?
Solar energy is less expensive over time than fossil fuels. For this reason, the utility buys it in exchange for savings credits.
In Maine, subscribers sign up with an available solar project in their service area. Then, based on their kWh’s used over a year, a portion of the array is assigned to them.
Next, subscribers receive a credit for their percentage of solar on their utility bill. Based on their agreement, developers guarantee a percentage of that credit (i.e. 10-20%). With this in mind, the remaining portion of the credit is paid back to the array owner. This helps cover their costs with supporting the solar system. Owners of the array are responsible for all array costs and maintenance.
For instance, say a subscriber’s home used 1,000 kWh’s per month. Their subscribed portion of the solar array generated all 1,000 kWh’s this month. They would receive a credit on their utility bill equal to the tariff rate multiplied by 1,000 kWh’s. Based on their agreement, they would receive a bill from the owner for the difference of the agreed upon savings.
It is important to remember, your utility still delivers your energy. The discounts do not apply to your delivery charges from the utility. You will simply receive two bills. Your utility bill like normal will now have a net metering credit included. In addition, a bill from the developer to collect their portion of credits to cover their overhead.
First, a developer builds a solar farm in a central spot.
Then, the solar farm generates electric and supplies it to the grid for local residents & businesses to subscribe to.
Next, local homes & businesses subscribe to the program & receive a credit for their portion of the power produced.
Finally, the utility provides the subscribers with solar credits on their electric bill to reduce their overall electric supply costs.
How much can you save with Community Solar?
Typically, savings is 10-20% off your electric bill. Of course this depends on the utility in Maine. There is no cost to join!
Here are some benefits of Community Solar:
- First, it is quick to sign up and start saving.
- Second, NO installation costs.
- Additionally, there is NO panel maintenance since you are not responsible for the array.
- No cancellation fee options (depending on the customer’s usage profile and on the developer).
- Most importantly, you are supporting renewable energy in your neighborhood!
Still have questions? Below are our Frequently Asked Questions on Community Solar:
Am I eligible?
Community solar is limited to availability in your area. Once the array is full, there are no more spots available. EnergyPricing.com can help you determine eligibility by calling us at 800-225-3813.
Why will it reduce my power bill?
By subscribing to a solar farm, you are supporting renewable energy in your neighborhood. Most importantly, the utility understands the benefit of solar energy and provides a savings credit to subscribers for reducing toxic gases that are harmful to air quality. Those credits are savings off your monthly utility bill and guaranteed to be 10-20%.
I signed my agreement, what happens next?
Typically, there is a lag from the signed agreement to the start of it. Meaning, community solar projects fill up quickly. Enrollments usually start towards the end of the project being developed. If this is the case, once the project starts producing energy, it will reflect in credits on your utility bill within a few weeks. Your subscription payments to the developer will also start around the same time.
Does this cost anything out of pocket to EnergyPricing.com?
There are no costs with subscribing through EnergyPricing.com
How does EnergyPricing.com make money off Community Solar?
EnergyPricing.com is paid by the developer for each customer enrolled in their solar project. Because of this, there is no additional mark up to you as the subscriber.
What if I do not like the subscription?
Cancelation fees vary based on customer’s usage profile and developers available. We do have developers that offer no cancellation fee subscriptions. Cancellations can take a few billing cycles with the utility to process.
Why use EnergyPricing.com for Community Solar?
EnergyPricing.com has established a network of developers that provide our customers with community solar options.
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