By Nina DeSilva
What if you could sign up for solar energy without paying any extra costs?
Millions of Americans can't afford the upfront costs of a rooftop solar array, and thousands of others have been disappointed by the pricing schemes of third-party energy providers (or ESCOs). After thousands of conversations with residents from across Massachusetts and New York, we know that many have written off solar altogether—little knowing that they could enroll in a local community solar garden for free.
Community Solar Brings You Reliable Savings on Your Electric Bill
A community solar garden is an array of grid-connected solar panels, like the one pictured above, that allows renters and homeowners—regardless of the how much sunlight hits their roof—to support local, clean energy. Community solar also brings subscribers a discount on their electricity costs, putting dollars back in their pockets.
Is Community Solar Really Free?
There aren't any extra costs associated with community solar. When you subscribe to community solar, you get credits on your utility bill for the energy your panels produce. We allocate you just enough to zero out your NYSEG bill with these credits, and then you pay for that energy—and here’s where the savings come in—at a discounted rate.
It’s almost as if the panels were up on your own roof, except for the fact that you don’t have to worry about any installation or ongoing maintenance—that means no costs for hardware or installation. And with community solar developers increasingly leaving behind cancellation fees (or most recent projects have none), community solar customers are free to come and go as they please.
So, how much do you pay? You won't see any extra costs associated with community solar—not when you switch, and not further down the line. Though the amount you pay for your energy will fluctuate from month to month (depending on how much energy your panels produce), you’ll see annual savings of around 10 percent, year after year.
How Do Bill Credits Help You Save?
Your utility will grant you energy bill credits in proportion to the energy generated by your share of the solar garden. In other words, if your share produces 8 kilowatt hours (kWh) of power, you will see a corresponding amount of credits go to your monthly electric bill.
If your credits are greater than your electricity charges for a given month (like when it’s sunny and in months when you use less energy), then the credits will carry over to reduce your next month’s bill. On the other hand, if you use more energy than your share produces credits, you will use up any roll-over credits, and then the rest of the energy you use will be regularly priced.
In the end, though, there’s no need to worry about these fluctuations, because we use your energy usage history to give you just the right amount of solar production. That way, your share is just enough to cover your electric bill, and you’re paying the discounted community solar rate for as much of your energy supply as possible.
Paying it Forward
The movement for universal access to affordable, clean energy depends on your support. When you make the choice to put your bill towards your local solar garden, you directly support our shared transition to renewable energy.
So, tell your neighbor. Spur the transition. Joining a solar garden will bring you utility bill savings, but bringing sustainable solar energy to every American resident—regardless of that resident’s housing location or financial limitations—is priceless.