Also known as solar gardens or solar farms, Community Solar facilities are larger-scale solar plants that provide clean power and cost savings to nearby homes and businesses which might not otherwise be able to generate their own solar energy.
How Does It Work?
A community solar plant provides electricity to both its site host as well as other users anywhere on the local electric grid. People within a community solar plant’s supply area can then choose to purchase clean energy generated from the plant, often at a lower price than current utility providers are offering.
Switch to Solar serves as your Community Solar project developer, handling the following aspects of the project:
- Evaluate and secure your solar installation site (we may also consider leasing the space from you)
- Design your solar energy plant
- Organize the solar financing
- Secure the solar energy customers
- Procure the solar power equipment
- Build the solar energy plant
- Negotiate all required contracts
- Maintain and operate the solar energy facility
How Does Community Solar Benefit My Home or Business?
Community Solar installations turn unused land into a revenue generator, providing you with generous tax incentives that lower the cost of solar panel installation along with State Renewable Energy Credits that pay you for the excess solar energy you generate that is sold to into the utility grid. In essence, you become the owner of your own local power station.
Community Solar projects are an investment. Fortunately, Switch to Solar has ten years of experience navigating the complex processes required to design and install a large-scale solar plant. The property owner houses the actual equipment and installation, and in return, receives the benefit of reduced energy costs and financial incentives (tax credits, etc.).
Solar energy is proven to provide electricity at a lower cost than a typical utility company, but only approximately 20% of homes and businesses in the United States are good candidates for solar panel installation (due to climate, shading, etc.) Community solar allows these homeowners and businesses to purchase clean energy from an alternative provider at a lower price than what they pay on their current electric bill.
Our off-site collections of solar installations connect to your energy grid and provide you with all the benefits of clean, renewable solar power: reduced energy costs, reduced carbon footprint, and tax credits and incentives from the federal and state level.
If your neighborhood or business community is interested in solar, but solar installations on your property aren’t feasible, then Community Solar is the best option for you.
Community Solar plants also benefit existing utilities (and their customers) by reducing capital expenditures for new generation/transmission capacity and by helping stabilize the country’s electricity grid.
How Can I Get Involved in a Community Solar Project?
We’re always on the lookout for sites where a community solar plant can be built. Large commercial space, such as warehouses, farms, or brown fields can all make excellent solar installation sites, and we may be interested in leasing the space from you. If you are interested, there might even be an opportunity to purchase some of the electricity or even invest in the project. If you believe you have a suitable location and are interested in discussing a solar installation on your property, please contact Switch to Solar.
Depending on the Community Solar opportunities available in your area, you may be able to either purchase solar electricity directly from a local Community Solar plant under a long-term power purchase agreement or invest in the plant itself, providing you with the same benefit as if you’d installed the solar panels on your own roof.
Potential solar customers may also be able to participate in a Community Solar plant’s ownership as upfront investors, enjoying a return on equity as well as low-cost, clean energy.
If you represent a community or business interested in purchasing solar electricity from a local solar installation, please contact Switch to Solar. We may already have a facility in development that may fit your needs, and can also work with you to develop a local solar plant.
Frequently Asked Questions About Community Solar
Q. What if my church/mosque/synagogue/school/work/etc. wants to invest in Community Solar? How would that work?
A. First, we’d need to do a solar evaluation of your site to understand if it would be a good candidate for installed solar. If so, you may be a good candidate for a solar co-op, which is a group purchase plan from Switch to Solar for residences and businesses that are able to install solar power directly on their own properties.
If Community Solar is a better option, we’ll work with you and the other members of your community to begin the process of selecting the right site for a solar plant.
Q. What’s the minimum investment in a Community Solar plant?
A. Individual investments would start at the price required to generate 1 kilowatt of solar energy. This price varies by project.
Q. What’s the difference between Community Solar and Solar Gardens or Solar Farms?
A. They’re one in the same. We like the term Community Solar because it really states what solar power is about: bringing communities together.
Q. Building a solar power plant seems extremely complicated. How would it work on my property?
A. Community Solar projects are an investment. Fortunately, Switch to Solar has the years of experience necessary to navigate the (sometimes) complex processes involved with solar energy system design, financing, permitting, and installation.
Q. If I install a Community Solar project on my property, do I own the solar power plant?
A. As the property owner, you would house the actual solar energy equipment. Depending on the plant’s ownership structure, you may receive all or part of the benefit of reduced energy costs and financial incentives (tax credits, etc.).
Q. Is anyone else doing this?
A. Yes! The Clean Energy Collective (CEC) in Carbondale, Colorado, illustrates a unique approach to financing a Community Solar project. Their RemoteMeter is a custom solar energy software package that provides remote metering capabilities for their Community Solar project’s customers. The system integrates with utility billing systems, tracking and applying clean energy production credits directly to the customer’s bill. Customers and the utility can monitor real-time energy production and account information via the Internet or mobile devices.
RemoteMeter uses real-time meter and telemetry readings to track the solar energy production of each individual owner/member’s portion of the Community Solar facility. This data is reported to the utility, and customers are credited directly on their utility bills for the energy their portion of the PV system produces.