Community Solar: How to go Solar Without Rooftop Panels


| 10/6/2016 9:34:00 AM


Tags: solar power, community solar, solar financing, solar panels, Massachusetts, Vikram Aggarwal,

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Solar adoption is surging across the U.S., and it isn’t just limited to rooftop solar. The newest innovation in the solar industry: community solar, which offers many of the benefits of a home solar energy system without the need to install solar panels on your roof. To understand whether community solar is right for you, you’ll need to learn about the process and technology, when you should consider it, and how you can find local community solar projects near you.

How Community Solar Works

Community solar, also known as “shared solar” or a “solar garden,” is a solar power plant whose electricity is shared by more than one home or business. A third party, such as a municipality, utility, or project developer, will construct a large solar panel array and sell shares of that project to members of the community. In exchange, project participants receive the benefits from their share without having to install a solar panel system at their property.

Community solar projects offer both environmental and financial benefits. If you own or subscribe to a community solar share, you receive credit for the electricity that your share produces through a policy called virtual net metering. The credits appear on your electric bill and are counted towards your total monthly electricity use. Each credit is equal to one kilowatt-hour (kWh) of electricity.

For example: you use 1,000 kWh at your home in one month, and your community solar share produces 800 kWh. The 800 kWh in credits from your share are applied to your electric bill, and your utility then charges you for the remaining 200 kWh. You pay your community solar provider directly for the cost of your share or subscription.

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