Behind the Scenes: How Our Community Solar Farms Are Built
Mar 18, 2021
Community Solar is a new way to receive some of the financial benefits of solar energy—without having to install your own solar panels. With Community Solar, renewable energy is more accessible than ever—allowing many communities to enjoy clean power.
The solar farms in our Community Solar program are groups of solar panels located in a field or on rooftops that leverage the power of the sun to produce renewable energy. Solar farms typically feed into the electricity grid and help to shift the fuel mix to clean, renewable sources—while helping customers save money on their electric bills!
Here’s a closer look at how some of our Community Solar farms are developed:
Before construction of our Community Solar farms can begin, our team must take several steps, including (but certainly not limited to): applying for electrical, construction, stormwater, driveway, and special use permits; ensuring the site complies with local and state environmental regulations; fine-tuning the site for the placement of each and every solar panel; performing community outreach; and working with the utility company. This whole process can take anywhere from 1.5 years to 3 years before construction can begin.
Once the site is prepared for construction, installation specialists put a racking system in place by driving stakes into the ground. (Imagine hammering a big aluminum post like a stop sign into the ground). From there, solar panels are secured to the racking system. Then they add the cables and connect them all together. Finally, the utility company performs one more inspection and plugs the farm in, and the farm is officially ready to produce power!
Here are some more interesting facts about our Community Solar farms:
Construction typically takes 3 to 6 months from start to finish (without delays).
Our farms are typically 10 to 20 acres in size.
Each farm includes thousands of solar panels that can produce clean, renewable energy for several decades.
Our farms typically have a capacity of 2-3 MW (megawatts). The average 2 MW solar farm has the same environmental impact as planting 47,000 trees each year!
There are two different types of racking systems used on our farms: one is fixed tilt, and the other rotates on a single axis so that the solar panels follow the sun—taking a cue from sunflowers in nature to maximize their efficiency.
Several of the solar farms in our program are pollinator-friendly, ensuring they are planted with local wildflowers and other plants to sustain and promote the local pollinator community.
Hosting solar projects enables landowners and farmers the opportunity to create predictable, long-term revenue, preserving their way of life and ensuring it for future generations. Solar farms are quiet and have little impact on the land. Learn more in this blog post!
Our Community Solar subscribers play a huge role in advancing renewable energy in the U.S. and reducing their own carbon footprint. Based on the average electricity usage for an American household, the solar energy generated for a subscription of the same usage would have the environmental equivalent of:
208 trees planted; or
9,766 fewer lbs of coal burned; or
19,638 fewer miles driven!
CleanChoice Energy currently offers Community Solar in Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Washington, D.C., with new projects becoming available soon in other states. Find your local Community Solar farm and sign up today to save money and the planet!