What is Community Solar?

When you hear the phrase “solar energy,” what comes to mind? If you’re like most people, it’s likely that you’re picturing solar panels installed on the rooftop of a home or building. But that’s not the only way to harness the powerful potential of solar energy – community solar power is a flexible option that makes renewable energy far more accessible. 

SunShare is proud to be America’s original community solar company, making us the most experienced and longstanding provider of community solar in the nation. In our home state of Colorado, community solar is transforming the way the people approach renewable energy. 

We believe that because of its ease and accessibility, community solar can be a catalyst for change and a simple way to move towards a better, more environmentally conscious way of living. But in order for the biggest possible impact, community solar projects must go mainstream. That’s why we’re so dedicated to providing educational, factual resources about solar energy and how community solar works – just like the one you’re reading right now!

What is Community Solar?

Community solar, or a community solar project, is a large, centralized solar power plant that powers many properties. These solar power plants are often referred to as “community solar gardens,” and can provide electricity for hundreds or even thousands of connected homes.

A community solar garden can eliminate many of the most common obstacles that may stand in the way of making the switch to solar power, including:

  • The expense of personal solar energy system installation
  • Roofs that are not suitable for solar panel installation
  • Individuals who rent their homes and are unable to install solar panels

How Does Community Solar Work?

Rather than being installed directly on your roof, community solar panels are situated in large projects called community solar gardens. Thousands of panels can be contained within a single garden, depending on the project size.

When you become a subscriber, you are essentially joining a “community” of other energy users who want a cleaner alternative to fossil fuels, and claiming a portion of the energy the solar garden produces. Because utilities need to buy power to deliver to their customers, they now can buy that energy produced on the subscriber’s behalf. You will continue to receive your energy from your utility provider, but your subscription provides you with solar credits to apply to your electricity bill. 

Benefits of Community Solar Power

Odds are, you’re already familiar with the benefits of solar energy. And when you join a community solar garden, those advantages only increase:

A renewable source of energy that supports the environment

Solar energy is a clean, 100% renewable source of electricity. Unlike coal-powered energy, solar doesn’t require anything other than simply “harvesting” infinite energy from the sun. Every person that joins the community solar efforts helps make a difference in our society’s carbon footprint while also reducing dependence on fossil fuels.

Easier access

A community solar garden side steps both of these issues and makes sustainable energy more accessible to all. 

Rooftop solar panels typically come with a high upfront cost, forcing many homeowners to take out loans just to get started. At the same time, many structures can’t have solar panels (whether due to structural issues, regulations, shading, or roof orientation). Average cost is $13,302 to $17,998 in Colorado for 2021 according to Energy Sage. Colorado rooftop solar owners can expect a savings after 11.5 years (on average) (EnergySage). Low energy users often face an even longer payback period.

How to Sign Up for a Community Solar Program

While community solar is NOT available in all areas, if you do live where it’s accessible, signing up for community solar energy is often relatively simple. For example, in Colorado and Minnesota, community solar programs are available through our SunShare Community Solar program. We currently maintain 22 active solar gardens, with several more in development – and we’re always happy to help you learn how to join us.

Our goal has always been to make solar simple. So, you can subscribe to SunShare Community Solar in just a few minutes, and the entire process can be done online or via phone with one of our friendly community solar consultants. We’ll give you the details to make a confident, informed decision, and then be ready to get you all set up as soon as possible.

Make a Smart Investment in Your Future and Our Planet with SunShare Community Solar

There’s no doubt that one of the most common questions that people have about solar energy is, “How much do solar panels cost?” And unfortunately, the answer to that question often makes solar power an impossibility for many.

But SunShare has set out to change that. Using an innovative approach to solar energy, we’re making it easier and more affordable to make the switch once and for all. So far, our SunShare Community Solar subscribers have helped us stop more than 2 billion pounds of coal from being burned for energy – because they’re using renewable energy straight from the sun instead.

If you’re interested in learning more about how community solar gardens work and how they can change the world, reach out to the SunShare team today. And once you’re ready to make a change that will benefit you, your family, our planet, and generations to come, sign up to become a subscriber to SunShare Community Solar!