December 01, 2015

How does Community Solar Work?

  • Posted in:   Blog
  • Written by  Isabel McCan

We get asked a lot about community solar, and how it works. So how does community solar work? We want to not only provide details about how it functions, but also how it benefits you and your community.

Most of us inherently know how solar works. Maybe not the scientific details, but overall we know that solar energy is the transforming of light and energy from the sun into useful energy such as electricity that can be used to power our home. The way the sun’s energy is transformed into electricity is through solar modules, more commonly known as solar panels. This method is actually called “photovoltaics” or PV. Many people probably envision this occurring in the modules on top of someone’s house, providing that home with clean electricity.

Having to put panels on one’s home can be problematic for most people. According to the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), only 22 to 27% of U.S. residents have roofs that are suitable for solar modules. With community solar, there is never the need to install solar panels on a roof of a home. It’s like taking panels off of roofs and putting them in a field. The fields of solar panels are called community solar gardens and are built on land near existing electricity grid infrastructure with good sun exposure. The solar garden then generates clean, renewable electricity and feeds it into the utility grid, displacing fossil fuels.

What makes this “community”? Community solar is a program for the community! Instead of the solar garden creating revenue by selling the energy to the utility, local residents and businesses buy the energy through a subscription. People subscribe to the energy created in the solar garden that offsets the brown power used at their home. The utility recognizes each subscriber as providing clean power to the grid and rewards them by giving them community solar credits on their bill. In many cases, the credits zero out the existing utility bill.

Subscribers pay the community solar company for the electricity produced by their subscription at a cheaper rate than the credit. The net of both electricity bills is less than a bill without solar credits.

sunshare info graphic no type

Think of it as a change machine that pays you. It works like putting a $1-dollar bill into a change machine and getting a $1.05 back each and every time. SunShare gets that $1 bill and the utility pays you back the $1.05. Sound too good to be true? It’s not. It’s real, and it’s happening now… and quite possibly in your community.

Is it just the savings that matter? Not necessarily. Not only is community solar smart, simple, and a cost savings, it is also green.

More Sun Energy = Less Brown Energy = Better Planet

So, not only does community solar save you and your neighbor’s money every single month, but businesses and citizens like you are creating a cleaner and better future for the next generation. Now you and everyone have the power to choose…and make a difference.

If you have further questions about community solar, please call us at 800.793.0786 or email us your information by CLICKING HERE.
Watch the video below that further shows how community solar works.