Thursday, September 29, 2022

How Does Community Solar Farms Work

How Much Control Do I Need

How Do Community Solar Gardens Work?

Having a personal solar energy unit gives you the ability to customize your system to suit your lifestyle. Shared solar is managed by a cooperative or private firm, for the benefit of all members. This may be an issue for households that use a large amount of power.

  • Install solar panels: If you want additional features or customizations – backup power being a prime example
  • If you are able to run your home using whatever solar power is being offered to subscribers

What Are The Benefits Of Community Solar

A community solar initiative offers all the benefits of a renewable energy project: theyre good for the environment, diversify the energy supply, generate economic activity, and create new jobs.

Community solar has many distinct features that offer unique benefits to participants and host communities, including:

  • Its great for renters
  • No problem if you have an unsuitable roof
  • Easier option if you plan to move
  • It wont affect your homes aesthetic
  • Zero maintenance

How Seasonality Affects Your Community Solar Credit Billing

It is possible that in a given month your Perch bill will be higher than the credits you receive. This is due to the seasonal factors of energy generation of solar farms. During sunny summer months, your farms generating a ton of creditspotentially more than you actually need to offset your own electricity bill that month. But the excess credits are saved for you, and then utilized once the colder months arrive to make up for the fact that the solar farm is generating less, due to fewer sunny days.

The video below explains how seasonality affects your credit billing. But no matter what, the whole program is designed to deliver savings on an annual basis, so long as you remain on your subscription.

Your browser does not support the video tag.

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How Does Community Solar Work

Community solar business models vary depending where a subscriber lives. As of 2020, about a third of states have enabling policies for community solar. That means they have passed legislation that created a third-party market for community solar requiring project developers and utilities to follow certain regulations in order to enroll customers and develop community solar installations. Community solar programs that exist outside of those states are developed and managed by the local utility .

In addition to the more common off-site model of community solar, there is also an on-site multifamily community solar model where occupants of apartment and condominium buildings each benefit from the energy produced from the rooftop array.

When it comes to subscribing to community solar programs, theres no one-size-fits-all approach because of varying laws and regulations. Each subscriber organization presents the economic opportunity differently to its subscribers. In states with enabling policies, most community solar subscribers receive two billsone from the community solar program for their portion of solar energy, and the other from the utility for the portion of traditionally generated electricity theyve consumed. Some states are looking to simplify the process and combine the bills.

Community Solar Vs Rooftop Solar: Which Is Better

Maine Solar Farms by ReVision Energy

Should you subscribe to a community solar project, or buy solar panels? The answer would depend on your personal requirements and preferences. Below is an approximate comparison of the two.

Community solar subscription vs. owning a system

No Yes

So, is a community solar project the best way to bring solar energy to your property? Or is a private solar installation a better option for you?

Find the answer by asking yourself these questions:

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Why Choose Community Solar

Community solar provides New Yorkers with the opportunity to:

  • Go solar without installing solar panels on your roof or property. Everyone who pays their own electric bill, including renters and co-op/condo owners, can participate in a community solar project. You can even subscribe to community solar if you live in an apartment or your home is in a shady area that isnt suited to solar panels.
  • Little to no upfront costs. Since you wont need to install solar panels, the upfront costs of going solar with a community solar provider are minimal.
  • Save money every month on your electric bill. Youll see credits every month on the electric bill you receive from your utility. The amount credited each month will depend on the amount of solar energy generated by your selected project.
  • Lower your carbon footprint and support your local economy. When you choose community solar, youre not only helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, youre also supporting clean, locally generated electricity.
  • Minimal commitment. Community solar subscriptions also have shorter term options and many offer pay-as-you-go payment terms.

While much less common than subscription plans, some community solar projects offer purchase plans that allow you to own a portion of a community solar project. While ownership is a long-term commitment, it can result in greater savings potential overtime and allow you to take advantage of tax credits.

What Makes Community Solar Possible

Community solar takes advantage of laws similar to the ones that give savings to households with rooftop solar panels. Net metering allows people who produce their own solar energy to sell that energy back into the grid. For community solar, utilities use a process called virtual net metering, which means that when your share of the community solar farm produces energy, you get the credit on your utility billjust as if you had produced it on your own roof.

In a perfect world, your solar share produces exactly as much energy as you need for your home use. In reality, sometimes youll produce a little extra, so for every extra watt you produce that you dont use, your utility will give you a credit that you can use to pay for your future energy use. Whenever your solar panels dont produce enough to cover 100% of your energy use , you can use those banked credits to maximize your savings.

This Massachusetts solar farm produces enough solar energy to power several hundred homes.

Read Also: Is An Ein Needed For A Sole Proprietorship

Understanding Community Solar Billing

Community solar is still a fairly new concept to the clean energy industry, and thus, not every state implements it in the same exact way. One inconsistency is with billing.

As you know now, subscribing to community solar means you can save on your electricity costprograms are designed explicitly to bring you annual savings, so long as you remain on your subscription. However, not every month will look the same.

How Long Am I Committed

How Exactly Do Solar Gardens Work?

You may enroll in an initial 12-month subscription, which automatically renews on a month-to-month basis unless canceled. You may cancel at any time but are required to provide 30 days’ notice to Georgia Power. There are no termination fees. However, you must wait 12 months after cancellation before becoming eligible to rejoin the program.

Recommended Reading: Can I Install My Own Solar Panels In California

Example : How Much Money Does 1 Acre Of Solar Panels Make

A 1 acre solar farm is considered a community solar farm and they usually earn their revenue a little differently than a utility solar farm.

Community Solar Farms generally operate under 5 MW in size and they tend to serve individual consumers who subscribe for a share of its power.

Community Solar Farms sell their electricity to utilities to reduce bills of subscribers.

The amount of revenue that a Community Solar Farm generates will depend on the rate for power and the number of subscribers.

How Do I Know What A Good Deal Is

The Illinois Commerce Commission and the Illinois Power Agency have to sign off on community solar contracts, so there are consumer protections. But some offers might be better for you than others.

Here are some questions to ask when deciding between community solar offers:

How long is the term of your contract with the community solar provider?

Does the company charge a fee if you exit the contract early?

How do you pay for your community solar subscription? If it is per kilowatt hour, what is the rate? Can that rate increase over the time of the contract?

Do they require a credit check?

How will the company bill you? Electronically? A paper bill? How do they accept your payments? Can you choose? Do they require automatic payments?

How much will I save? So far, people are expected to save anywhere from 10 to 20 percent on theelectricity produced through their community solar subscription. Keep this in mind when looking at offers.

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Utility Solar Vs Community Solar Farms

There are two types of solar farms and the main difference is that Utility Solar Farms are usually much larger than Community Solar Farms.

Utility Solar farms can have a capacity of anywhere between 1 MW to 2,000 MW while Community Solar Farms generally operate under 5 MW in size.

They also provide power to different consumers.

Because of their large scale, Utility Solar Farms provide energy to utility companies and their customers as part of the energy that is carried on its power lines.

Community solar farms tend to serve individual consumers who subscribe for a share of its power.

All Other States: Non

What is community solar and how does it work?

Unfortunately, due to various regulatory reasons, every other U.S. state that has community solar has not yet implemented UCB.

Instead, there exists a two-bill process. Rest assured youll still save! There is just an extra step each month.

Non-Universal Consolidated Billing works like this:

  • Each month, Perch will send you a bill for your portion of credits based on your solar farms energy generation.
  • Youre paying Perch for these credits, but thanks to the government and state incentives, we charge you for them at a discounted rate.

For example, if your subscription produces $100 worth of solar credits per month, Perch bills you $90. However, your utility then reduces your electric bill by the full $100since thats what your subscription portion generatedsaving you $10 each month.

Recommended Reading: Is Solar Energy Really Free

Final Word On Community Solar Vs Private Installations

Community solar requires little to no initial investment and takes away the need for having any equipment on your property.

For renters, lower-income residents, and those whose roofs or land simply wont accommodate solar panels, community solar installations offer a chance to take advantage of this cost-effective, renewable energy source.

Private solar panel installations, however, can provide more solar power and greater financial benefits. Buying rooftop solar panels continues to be the best option for homeowners looking to save money and practice clean energy generation.

See how much you can save by installing solar panels

A Rooftop Thats Unsuitable For Solar Panels Is No Obstacle

About 50% of all homes arent suitable for a rooftop solar installation, either because they lack the required square feet of roof space, are shaded, or they do not have an orientation towards the south.

Unlike rooftop installations, community solar projects usually have the freedom to choose a location that will maximize solar energy output.

Find out how much you can save with solar

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Is My Property Suitable For Solar Panels

The shape and size of your roof, the layout of your property, and its surrounding vegetation can limit your potential solar yield.

Renters and those who must comply with neighborhood association restrictions may have a hard time getting the proper approvals. In these cases, a community solar garden is the better option.

  • Install solar panels: If your property is well suited for a solar array. Check your roof solars potential using our solar calculator or by talking to a local solar company
  • If you have constraints preventing placing solar panels on your property, such as a lack of space

Community Solar Participation Models

How Farmers Can Make Money with Solar Farms and Community Solar (2021)

Community solar projects and programs are typically offered in two formats:

  • Ownership: This model allows participants to purchase a select number of the panels or a portion of the community solar project. When you buy into a community solar project, youll get electric bill credits/savings from all of the power produced by the solar panels you own.
  • Subscription: This model allows participants to become subscribers and pay a lower price on your electric bill each month. Instead of owning panels or a share of the project, you are just purchasing electricity at a lower rate than you would pay to purchase electricity from your utility.
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    Nrg Community Solar Vs Rooftop Solar: Which Is Right For You

    Rooftop solar gets a lot of attention, and for good reason when you buy a rooftop solar panel system, it pays for itself in just seven and a half years. However, not everyone can or wants to install a solar panel system on their roof.

    If youre a renter, plan on moving soon, or dont have a good roof for solar, youre a great candidate for community solar. Additionally, some homeowners who already have solar panels on their roof, but arent able to cover all of their electricity needs with rooftop solar, choose to sign up for community solar to achieve 100% renewable energy.

    According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, there are 25 states with at least one active community solar project, and the market is expected to grow significantly in the next five years. EnergySages Community Solar Marketplace has community solar projects from NRG and other providers across the country. You can also submit a request to be notified when a new project in your area is added. Different project owners offer different bill structures, prices, and savings comparing your options is the best way to find the community solar project thats right for you.

    Ownership Vs Subscription Faqs

    What is the difference between ownership community solar and subscription community solar?

    Both community solar options provide clean solar energy to the members of the CSFs, regardless of whether you are an owner or a subscriber. Each model offers different benefits, the main difference being that in an ownership model the members receive the financial benefits of solar, while in the subscription model those benefits go to the third-party companies that own the solar farm.

    In a subscription model, the solar farm is owned and operated by third-party developers or investors, meaning they will receive the financial incentives. Subscribing to community solar is much like renting electricity, with the benefits of it being cleaner and typically cheaper than electricity from a utility. Since it is a pay as you go system, leaving and joining the farm is relatively easy. Not everyone is ready to make the commitment to purchasing solar, which is where solar subscriptions fit in. You can sign up for subscription solar regardless of whether you own your home or have the financial means to pay upfront or access a loan product.

    How does a subscription community solar farm work?

    You can sign up for the ReVision-Arcadia solar farm through Arcadias site.

    Does an ownership model mean I own the solar panels that make up my solar farm share?

    As a CSF member, what role do I play?

    What role does ReVision Energy play?

    Does the solar farm require maintenance?

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    The Largest Solar Farm In The World

    As of July 2020, the largest solar farm in the world is Bhadla Solar Park in Rajasthan desert region of India.

    The solar farm covers a mammoth 10,000 acres. It has an energy generating capacity of 2,245 MW, or 2.2 gigawatts. It is nearly four times the capacity of Americas current biggest solar farm, Solar Star.

    The 2.2 GW Bhadla Solar Park is on the fringes of the Thar Desert in India temperatures there go up to 126 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Solar Panels & Solar Cells

    Maine Solar Farms by ReVision Energy

    Before we begin to explain the overarching process of the solar farm, let us first define the nuances of solar panels, a.k.a. Photovoltaic panels since theyre the most crucial and necessary component in capturing and harnessing the power of the sun.

    As with any electrical circuit, solar cells create electricity by generating a flow of electrons, but how does it begin?

    Simply put, a solar cell is made up of four layers, with the two outmost layers being conductive plates from which the electrons will flow to the power source.

    However, its from the two innermost layers where most of the solar-electrical magic happens.

    The two innermost layers of a solar panel are two different types of silicon one which has been positively charged , and one which has been negatively charged .

    Its with these two layers of silicon that the particles of light react.

    When the sun shines on a solar cell , it knocks an electron out from the layer of negatively charged silicon.

    Then, due to the inherent charges with the two layers of silicon, the newly removed electron is forced to the outer conductive plate.

    From the outer conductive plate, the electron then flows to the connecting wires and then further on to its destination in the form of direct current.

    While one cell might only generate up to 0.5V, if you string multiple cells up together in one panel, the energy output will increase accordingly.

    For example, 12 solar cells together will be enough to charge your phone directly.

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    How Much Do Solar Farm Leases Pay

    Landowners who rent out their land for a solar farm can earn between $250 and $3,000 per acre a year, according to top solar land lease websites.

    This is an option for those who dont want to build their own solar farm, but rather lend out their property to an external solar developer.

    You might be wondering why theres such a big range of lease rates. Its because there are many different factors based on where you area which can affect the going price for a land leases these include:

    • Land prices in your area
    • Electricity transmission infrastructure near your land
    • Substitute uses of your land
    • Demand for renewable energy in your state
    • State and municipal incentives to solar farm operators

    In short, the amount you can earn by leasing out your land for a solar farm really depends on market conditions in your area.

    Agreements are generally long-term, between 15 and 20 years, with options to extend for as long as 50 years. They also include annual escalators 1.5 to 2.5% to account for inflation.

    Some developers even offer to pay for the leases as a large upfront payment.

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