Interest in solar energy has increased in the last couple of years, particularly in Texas, where sunshine is ample in many locations. However, not every home is a good candidate for solar panels. Some houses are simply in cloudy areas that prevent a high energy return. Others face north instead of the south or have trees obscuring the roof.
The substantial costs associated with the rooftop solar installation make another reason why some homeowners can’t take advantage of this renewable energy source. The good news is that many projects known as community solar power have emerged to help people invest in clean energy without using a home roof to generate it.
This article will tell you more about community solar power and how you can use it to your benefit. As an energy empowerment company, Power Wizard shares with you all the essential details about solar programs, so you can make an informed buying decision.
What is community solar power?
Community solar is a broad category of projects that create large-scale solar arrays. It usually contains a central solar power plant that shares generated electricity with individual households. A single community solar project can usually power many homes.
How does the process work? Households either buy ownership shares or become solar subscribers to get a credit on their energy bill. In the first case, participants can purchase some solar panels or a portion of the entire project and save on electric bills from the power produced by those panels they own.
When you subscribe to the project, you get to pay a lower price on monthly electric bills. The solar community generates energy, sells it to the electric grid, and gives credit to the subscribers.
If you’re considering community solar programs for your household, check electricity plans that include solar or other renewable energy. Power Wizard can help you find the best ones at a competitive rate. You can use our DIY shopping tool to find, compare, and shop for plans all from a single place. We also provide premium services for those who prefer expert help in the matter.
Benefits of community solar programs
Homeowners and renters who want to save money on their electricity bills and invest in renewable energy can highly benefit from community solar programs. Although solar plants are expensive to build and run, they save a lot of money in the long term and provide other notable benefits to utility customers. With community solar programs, you get to:
Save money with a community solar project subscription
A subscription to a community solar company will often come with a discount on your electric utility. Even if your electricity rates go up over time, the solar portion of your electricity will always be discounted at least a little bit compared to conventional electricity.
Some subscriptions also give you a set credit on your bill for monthly usage. Generally speaking, every solar project is designed to save customers money while also, over time, generating enough revenue to offset the costs of the panels and upkeep.
If you’re facing difficulties with your monthly electricity bills, Power Wizard can help you decipher them and choose the best electricity plan according to your annual electricity usage. You can use our DIY shopping tool to compare and pick plans or opt for our advanced services if you want us to handle all the hard work.
Harvest solar energy without rooftop solar panels
The biggest benefit of a community solar garden or farm is accessibility. Many homes aren’t ideal sites for solar panels, and if you have too much cloud cover, tree cover, or a weird angle on your roof, you’ll lose efficiency in the solar panel’s energy generation. Lack of efficiency means it takes longer for solar panels to pay for themselves.
Community solar plants are optimized and located in places that receive the most sunlight. Those investing in community solar are essentially buying or subscribing to a small fraction of the solar project, all without having to have the panels on their property.
Avoid maintenance and upfront costs
Community solar programs have their maintenance and operational costs, but they aim to pay for themselves throughout time by selling the generated energy. As an owner of shares or a subscriber, you don’t have to worry about upfront costs or management tasks. The program takes care of everything.
That’s not the case when you buy solar panels for your household. As an only owner, you have to do everything on your own, from managing upfront costs to evaluating and repairing your panels. Solar programs are very beneficial here as they relieve some stress from your shoulders and save you precious time and money.
Service territory and why it matters to community solar
To participate in a particular community solar project through ownership share or subscription, you and the solar array need to be in the same electric utility service territory. However, the legislation on community solar may change as more states are opting for these energy alternatives.
Talking to a current electricity utility company is the best way to learn whether a given community solar project is being proposed or currently existing in your service territory. Some regions may also have renewable energy projects that aren’t community solar but affect your local power grid.
Community solar tends to save people money through “virtual net metering.” As you probably know, net metering allows you to offset the electricity you use from the grid on cloudy days with the solar energy your roof panel produces when the sun is shining. Virtual net metering does the same, only from a remote location of your solar community.
As the community solar sells energy back to the local power company, you can save money on electricity bills just like you would with a panel installed on your roof. However, most current energy policies require solar power to get generated in the same service territory where the homeowner or renter lives.
How to subscribe to solar through local solar farms
If there is a solar farm in your neighborhood, you may be able to purchase a share from someone who is moving out of the area or subscribe when a free spot comes up. Some solar farms choose to expand due to increasing demand, so you may be able to join in an upcoming expansion.
When a solar farm gets proposed in your service area, you can inquire to discover how to become a community solar subscriber or owner of the farm under construction. It will save you time and probably secure a position early on.
You should also know that some programs require you to pre-pay for many years of electricity use. In some cases, if you move away before a farm has produced the electricity you committed to buying, you may be able to sell your share to another customer and have them receive the solar energy.
With other programs, you may receive electricity bill credits or a certain amount of discounted kWh per month, depending on your subscription agreement. In this case, according to the number of people involved and the amount of output, the farm may occasionally bring on new subscribers; contact the solar farm to be informed if this is the case.
Are you ready to be a part of renewable energy?
Most customers are looking to shift toward renewable energy sources to help preserve the environment, lower their electricity bills, and avoid price volatility. Community solar is a feasible option for all those who can’t fit a solar panel on their roof yet want to reap the benefits of renewable energy.
“But how do I find and join a community solar near me,” you may ask? Power Wizard can help you locate and pick the best option for your home without much effort. We offer you the information, tools, and services to make an informed decision from a single platform.
Check out our services today and see how we can aid you in making a better energy choice for you and the environment.