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Tuesday, March 10, 2020

What is Community Solar?

Solar panels as part of a Community Solar farm

The benefits of solar power are clear—cleaner energy and a more sustainable electrical grid. But not everyone who wants solar energy can put a solar panel on his or her roof. 

What’s a good solution? Community Solar.

Community Solar (sometimes referred to as shared solar or roofless solar) is a new way to receive the financial and environmental benefits of solar energy—without the hassle of installing your own solar panels. With Community Solar, renewable energy is more accessible than ever—allowing many communities to enjoy clean power. 

How It Works

With Community Solar, the energy generated by one solar installation is shared by more than one community member—it is shared by homeowners, renters, businesses, churches, and schools in the local community who “subscribe” to that solar farm. 

The electricity produced by the solar farm goes on to the local power grid. When people sign up for Community Solar, they pay a monthly subscription fee while also receiving credits on their utility bill for their “share” of the electricity produced by the farm. Since the credits are generally worth more than they pay for them, the average subscriber can expect to save on their electricity costs.

Community Solar subscribers still use electricity exactly as they did before, and the same utility company still maintains the wires and delivers reliable service. 

Community Solar vs. Rooftop Solar

Community Solar doesn’t have the limitations of rooftop solar. If your roof is shaded, faces the wrong direction, or can’t support solar panels, you can still access solar power. Plus, you don’t need to own your home. Renters can also participate. 

Community Solar subscribers receive the financial benefits of solar power without worrying about the hassles of ownership like maintenance. With Community Solar, you pay as you go with no upfront payments, unlike rooftop solar—making it easier for lower income consumers to participate and receive the benefits of solar power.

Community Solar—Taking Off in the U.S.

Community Solar is one of the fastest-growing solutions in the U.S. for people who want clean energy:1

  • 40 states in the U.S. have at least one Community Solar project.
  • 19 states and Washington, D.C. have policies and programs to encourage the growth of Community Solar/shared renewables. 
  • By 2025, Community Solar in the U.S. will grow enough to power 700,000 more homes.
  • Florida regulators recently approved a $1.8 billion plan to create the largest Community Solar program in the country, with 20 solar plants to be built by mid-2021.

Environmental Impact of Community Solar

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
  • 9,766 fewer lbs of coal burned
  • 19,638 fewer miles driven

Financial Benefits of Community Solar

Typical Community Solar subscribers save about 5 to 10% off their annual electricity costs by participating. For example, a typical subscriber who pays $90 for their monthly subscription could expect to receive about $100 in bill credits for that period. Over time, this can really add up.

Community Solar also offers landowners and farmers the opportunity to receive additional, steady revenue by installing solar panels on their property. Learn more about hosting solar projects

Community Solar with CleanChoice Energy

CleanChoice Energy currently offers Community Solar in Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Illinois, and Washington, D.C., with new projects becoming available soon in other states. 

Enrolling in Community Solar with CleanChoice Energy doesn't change your utility provider, so subscribers still receive and pay a monthly electric bill from their utility. Their Community Solar bill is for the solar credits they earn based on the amount of solar energy generated by their subscription. The solar credits earned are applied to their utility bill to reduce the balance. CleanChoice Energy bills our Community Solar subscribers for credits after they receive them on their electric bill. 

Interested in Signing Up for Community Solar?

Find your local solar farm and sign up for Community Solar today to help save money and the planet!


1 Community Solar - SEIA



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