If you’ve been thinking about signing up for community solar soon, it might be because you’d like to reduce the environmental impact of your electricity use. Or, you might be hoping to save some money on your monthly electricity bill. More likely than not, it’s probably a little bit of both! When it comes to saving money through community solar, it’s important to remember that you will accumulate savings over the course of an entire year – meaning you may not see savings instantly. In this article, we’ll provide a breakdown of what you can expect to save by signing up for community solar.
- Community solar savings are not always instantly reflected in your monthly electricity bill – your savings depend on when you sign up due to the variability in solar production during different seasons.
- Most community solar customers see savings ranging between 5 and 15 percent of their annual electricity costs.
- Your community solar savings depend on a few different factors, including where you live, what projects are available in your area, and your current electricity costs.
- Ready to start saving with community solar? Get started today on the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace by comparing projects near you.
What’s in this article?
- What is community solar?
- How do you save with community solar?
- What does saving look like with community solar?
What is community solar?
Community solar farms are large solar projects that generate enough electricity to power a number of homes and businesses on the grid. These community solar farms, also known as community solar projects, allow subscribers to purchase a share of the electricity they generate at a discounted price to offset their electricity bills that they receive from their local utility.
As a subscriber, you’ll receive credits for the energy produced by your share of the community solar farm and these credits will be put towards your monthly electricity bill, reducing what you owe. For more details on the ins and outs of community solar and how it works, check out this article. If you’re a bit confused about how these savings work, don’t worry – we have you covered!
How do you save with community solar?
Community solar usually takes at least one billing cycle to be reflected in your electricity bill, but even then you might not see savings right away. When you subscribe to a share in a community solar farm, you aren’t signing up for a set discount on your electricity bill, but a set discount on the energy you are purchasing from the community solar project. Whether you have a fixed electricity rate structure or a fixed discount on bill credits, the amount you save is completely based on how much energy the community solar project generates. Solar panels produce more energy in the summer than they do in the winter and your community solar bill will reflect that.
Most people save between 5 and 15 percent on their electricity costs annually, but that will vary seasonally. You’ll always generate and pay for more credits in the summer than in the winter, and if you end your subscription before you are able to use excess credits your share generated in warmer months, you won’t get the full benefit of the savings potential of community solar. Through virtual net metering, community solar allows you to receive net metering credits for the electricity produced by your share of the community solar farm. Like net metering for rooftop solar power, virtual net metering policies allow households or businesses to receive the net metering credits associated with a renewable energy project installed at a remote location.
There are three different models of community solar – fixed discount on bill credits, fixed discount on electricity rates, and ownership – and your savings will differ depending on which you’re participating in.
Fixed discount on bill credits
With a fixed discount on bill credits structure, you will receive a set percentage discount on your electricity bill independent of how much electricity costs in your area. This is what is offered by the programs on the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace – most projects offer a fixed, 10 percent discount on bill credits. We’ll get more into what saving looks like with this model below.
Fixed discount on electricity rates
With a fixed electricity rate structure, your savings will depend on how much your community solar company charges per kilowatt-hour (kWh), and the current price of electricity from your utility company.
This model allows participants to purchase a select number of the panels or a portion of the community solar project. When you buy into a community solar project, you’ll get electric bill credits/savings from all of the power produced by the solar panels you own.
To learn more about community solar subscription structures, check out this article.
What does saving look like with community solar?
The community solar projects available through the EnergySage Marketplace are all fixed discount models, meaning you receive a fixed (usually 10 percent) discount on the total value of the solar bills credits you are purchasing to put toward your utility bill. Here is an example:
In this example, your share of the community solar project generated $100 worth of electricity credits, which were sold to you at a 10 percent discount, resulting in a $90 charge on your community solar bill. However, all $100 of those credits were applied to your $120 utility bill and subtracted from the total cost you were charged by the electric company, reducing your utility bill to only $20 and saving you a total of $10 on your electricity costs that month. These savings may increase or decrease based on the season and your electricity usage. To take a deeper look at what your bills will look like when you sign up for community solar, check out this article.
Let’s take a look at what a few different people could save with community solar, based on the the average electricity bills of typical home sizes and a fixed discount on credits model:
Average savings with community solar based on home size
|Yearly electricity bill||Yearly credits generated*||Fixed discount on credits||Total cost of yearly electricity bill||Savings|
|Apartment (1,000 sq. ft.)||$720||$576||10% ($518.4)||$662||$58, or 8% of annual bill|
|Condo (1,500 sq. ft.)||$1,080||$900||10% ($810)||$990||$90, or 8.3% of annual bill|
|House (2,500 sq.ft.)||$1,800||$1,320||10% ($1,188)||$1,668||$132, or 7.4% of annual bill|
*variable based on the project
When will my savings be greatest with community solar?
Remember: community solar is going to demonstrate its savings power over the course of multiple months and you’ll be able to note your actual savings from community solar once you have been subscribed for a year. Solar power in general produces larger amounts of electricity during warmer, sunnier months and has lower production levels during the winter – community solar is not exempt from this. Your community solar credits may accumulate during the summer, but they will roll over month to month if you have more than you can use, and you will be able to use them during months where solar energy production is not as high.
Get started with community solar today!
EnergySage is the nation’s leading online solar marketplace: using our Community Solar Marketplace, you can compare local options, get a quick community solar savings estimate, and seamlessly subscribe to an open project in your area. Over 10 million people come to EnergySage each year to learn about, shop for and invest in solar. Compare your community solar options today to see how much you can save.