Community solar provides access to solar for residential electric customers who otherwise would not be able to install solar panels on their property. To date, though, community solar has not seen the same levels of adoption as residential rooftop solar. We conducted a Q&A with Arcadia Power to learn more about how their new community solar offering helps lower barriers to participation.
While more traditional community solar options require long-term commitments and contracts, Arcadia Power’s community solar programs in New York, Maryland and the District of Columbia offer a guaranteed discount on your electric bill and the ability to cancel at any time with no fee.
What is community solar?
As a residential electric customer, you may not be able to install solar panels on your rooftop or property for any number of reasons: perhaps you’re a renter or perhaps your property or home is not suited for solar. Community solar programs provide an alternative option for electric customers to still obtain some of the myriad benefits of solar. A community solar program builds a large solar array close to a center of residential customers, typically near an urban area, and aggregates many residential customers who are all interested in going solar. Each customer purchases or rents a portion of the solar array sufficient to meet their monthly or annual electric demand.
Arcadia Power’s community solar program
The Arcadia Power community solar program guarantees a reduced energy bill, requires no long-term commitment and integrates with utility billing systems so you only pay a single bill per month.
The clearest benefit of Arcadia’s community solar program for residential customers interested in solar is the ability to cancel at any time. No longer do you have to sign a 20-year contract, risk a termination fee, or be obligated to transfer the commitment to the next tenant in a rented apartment.
Beyond this primary benefit, Arcadia Power’s ability to integrate with utility billing systems provides an innovative method to ease other possible pitfalls of community solar programs. First, it allows Arcadia to send you a single bill each month. Second, it provides Arcadia with the information about your usage necessary to appropriately size your allocation from a solar array, removing any need for your own calculations. And, finally, it allows Arcadia Power to offer a guaranteed bill reduction every month – in New York, it’s a 5 percent discount on your electric bill.
Availability of Arcadia Power’s community solar program
At present, the Arcadia Power community solar program is available to customers in New York, Maryland and the District of Columbia. All three have governments with favorable laws towards community solar.
Don’t live in those three regions? In the near future, Arcadia plans to expand their community solar program to Illinois, Massachusetts, California and New Jersey, where the state legislatures have added robust community solar goals to the state’s renewable portfolio standard.
Historical barriers to entry for community solar
Arcadia Power’s new community solar program seeks to remove a few key historical barriers to entry for residential customers interested in community solar programs.
In order to ensure that there will be residential customers to buy the solar power from these developments for years to come, community solar programs typically offer long-term (20 year) contracts. If you are a renter or expect to move in a few years, a long-term contract can create an obstacle to joining a community solar program.
Offset billing cycles
Another potential hurdle for community solar is that the billing cycle for the program and for your utility can be out of sync. In other words, you may pay for your portion of the community solar program a few weeks before you see the credit from that solar generation appear on your utility bill. While the savings ultimately even out, the discrepancy in timing between the two bills could become difficult to keep track of.
Sizing your purchase
Finally, buying into a community solar program can require you to independently determine the portion of the array to buy into on a capacity, or kilowatt, basis. This adds complexity to the process by requiring you to research your average monthly electricity consumption, determine what portion of usage you’d like to offset, convert that consumption to solar capacity, and then request a certain allocation of the array.
Discover your community solar options on EnergySage
If you’re considering community solar, EnergySage’s Community Solar Marketplace can help you make an informed decision. Discover the community solar programs available in your state and explore our educational content to ensure your solar needs are met.
EnergySage is committed to unbiased, accurate representation of programs, policies and pricing in the solar industry. To verify the benefits of Arcadia Power’s community solar program, we reviewed publicly available documentation on the New York Department of Public Service website. Please be in touch if you’d like to learn more!