Community Solar Perks

Adrienne SorensenOctober 10, 20183910

Community Solar Perks

People who rent or own places that have a shared rooftop can benefit from community solar. The panels can be on the shared roof or located somewhere else, and the homeowner or renter gets credit for their share of the community solar farm, showing another way people can join the clean energy revolution.


Residential rental agreements are usually short-term. In contrast, solar is a long-term project it is generally not possible for those renting to install it on the premises they rent, but the owners of the property can install solar for the project, and the renters can opt into the program or buy their power from the utility as per usual.


Nevertheless, legislators in some states have stepped in to provide a mechanism such that renters can get the same benefit from clean energy as a homeowner by installing solar panels in a solar community project. In a nutshell, community solar works are that you buy a small portion of the output of a massive solar farm. These solar farms are usually 1-5 MW, or (1,000 to 5,000 kW ).


You can buy a standard sized residential system from this community solar farm, say 5 kW and then you are credited with this percentage of the power created in the solar community project. Importantly, because community solar is a relatively new concept, new groups, companies and even utilities are entering this industry and building community solar projects.


For this reason, it is essential that anyone considering a community solar program comparison-shop across all available offers, including rooftop options, to find the one that offers the best value for them.

Community Solar Incentives

The hero of the story is Virtual Net Metering (VNM). Virtual Net Metering (VNM) in a growing number of states as the community solar power option is gaining steam as the primary means for those who are not in the market for rooftop solar to participate in the benefits that clean power systems offer.


In similar fashion with Net Metering for rooftop solar power, VNM allows a household or business to receive the Net Metering credits associated with a renewable energy project with which they do not share an electricity meter. These credits are worth as much or close to as much as what they would pay for electricity from their utility.


While VNM is currently helping to promote community solar projects across the nation, other models are already emerging to allow both consumers and developers to get involved in community solar without it. A report on the future of community solar by the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (DOER) suggests that other programs may supplant VNM as state Net Metering.


This schema does this supplementation as quotas are filled, and alternative models become more common. Although the report is for the Massachusetts context, its observations apply to other states as well.

Roof Space

Suitable roof area you need to install panels will vary with the size of panel system you need. This, in turn, will vary with the amount of power you consume and the utility company you are with. You can work out how many panels you need for your home using our design DIY panel calculator.


Also on a bright note, most homes have enough sun and roof space available for clean power, and local installers can work around shading issues, as well as issues about which way your solar panels are facing. Modern solar panel systems are designed with these variables in mind.

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