Top Ten FAQ’s About Community Solar
1 Does a community solar member (subscriber) buy a solar panel or the power produced by a panel?
Community solar programs can, and are, set up with either option available. Buying a panel in a community solar program is much like purchasing a roof-top system on your own home. Subscribing to buy power generated by a community solar project is like leasing a home solar system from a solar services provider.
In either case financing options, such as monthly billing, the upfront costs of switching to home solar power may be greatly reduced or eliminated
2 What happens if subscribers move?
In most cases when a community solar member moves they will retain their share in the system if they move within the same utility district or service area. If for some reason the community solar subscriber is not able to keep their share there are usually options to sell or transfer membership to another subscriber
3 How many people can share a single solar project?
How many people can share a solar program varies from state to state, or even between utility districts. A shared solar program can be as small as 2 members, as in the case of neighbors sharing one system. Currently the average number of residential members in utility led community solar programs in the United States is 281
4 Can low income rate payers participate in a shared solar program?
Not only can low income rate payer participate and benefit from the savings offered by a shared solar program, some states actually require that a certain percentage of the energy produced by a community solar program be reserved for low income partners. In some areas low income participation is encouraged by coupling shared solar programs with other weatherization and rate subsidy programs.
5 Who can host a shared solar project?
Utilities, businesses, local governments, community groups and individuals can host shared solar projects.
6 Where are shared solar facilities located?
Community Solar programs can be situated anywhere that has the right orientation to the sun. Any public building, private land or other location that is legal and big enough to accommodate a system may be used.
7 Is net metering required to make a shared solar project possible?
Net metering is how owners of distributed solar systems are monitored and compensated for the electricity they put into the grid. If net metering is not available in your area, some alternate methods are often available for community solar projects.
8 What is virtual net metering?
Virtual net metering is an offset for electricity usage that is not produced at the same location that it is used. In the case of actual net metering of a home solar system, the electrical meter will actually run backwards when a solar system is creating more power than is being used. In the case of virtual net metering more people can share the output of one solar power system through energy credits to their monthly electric bill based on their share of the total output of the shared system.
9 Does the federal tax credit apply to community solar systems?
As of this writing, individuals that participate in community solar projects have not been able to qualify for the federal tax credit.
10 Does shared solar benefit the local economy?
Community solar projects do help the local economy. Jobs are created through the planning, construction, operation and maintenance of any shared solar system.