Guide to Community Solar
Community solar makes clean solar energy accessible and affordable to everyone. It’s another way for people who cannot, or don’t want to, install solar panels on their rooftops to receive solar power. This guide will explore how community solar works, its benefits, and how you can join a local community solar program.
Community Solar Explained
As many as 75% of Americans still cannot put solar panels on their rooftop. They rent, they move a lot, their roof doesn’t get enough sunlight, or they can’t afford to pay the initial $10,000 or more for a rooftop solar panel system.
Community solar projects are designed to benefit everyone -- households, businesses, or community organizations. A solar developer like Nautilus Community Solar builds and maintains a solar farm in a nearby location. Households or organizations can subscribe (for free) to receive the energy produced by the solar farm. By choosing clean energy, subscribers earn solar energy credits on their electric bills. This is based on the energy produced for their share of the solar farm. Subscribing to community solar can lower their electric bills by a guaranteed 10% a year.
What’s special about community solar is that neither a person’s income nor place of residence prevents them from saving money while using energy in a more environmentally friendly way. As long as they live in an area serviced by community solar, anyone is eligible to join. Choosing community solar makes going solar so simple and affordable that anyone can do it.
Benefits of Community Solar
With community solar, subscribers receive cleaner energy and save money on their electric bills. However, the positive impact of community solar goes even further. Residents, communities, and the environment all benefit from community solar, including:
- Increase access to solar energy: Anyone can participate in community solar, including people who cannot, or do not want to, install solar panels on their rooftops, such as renters or homeowners with shaded roofs.
- Save money: Subscribers receive solar energy credits on their energy bills based on the energy produced by their share of the solar farm. These solar energy credits can lower their energy bills by 10% or more.
- Help the environment: Generating electricity with solar power instead of fossil fuels can dramatically lower greenhouse gas emissions. By going solar, subscribers can shrink their carbon footprint and create healthier communities and a more sustainable planet.
- Build community: Community solar farms bring people together to work towards a common goal of becoming energy independent and reducing their reliance on centralized, utility-scale power plants.
Community Solar in Action
Solar power is generated on an off-site community solar farm that is connected to the grid. The utility company delivers cleaner energy to the subscriber’s home. In return, subscribers receive a discount of 10% or more simply for choosing clean energy. Here’s what it looks like step-by-step:
- Farm: The local community solar farm harvests the sun and generates clean renewable energy. Residents and businesses subscribe to a section of the solar energy generated based on their annual electricity use. Hundreds of households can subscribe to a single community solar farm.
- Utility: The local utility company connects the community solar farm to the grid.
- Home: The local utility company then delivers the electricity to power subscribers’ homes or businesses. There is no change to the way energy is sent to subscribers or its reliability. The only difference is subscribers can save on energy and get cleaner electricity.
Community solar is a win-win for everyone. It’s a way for everyone to go solar, save money on their electric bills, and support clean, renewable energy -- without panels on their roof. And utilities win because these solar farms help them reach their clean energy targets without having to build their own installation.
To learn more about how community solar works, click here.
Where to Find Community Solar
Today, community solar projects are in 39 states, plus Washington, D.C. But only 22 states have programs that support community solar. Nautilus Solar Energy owns and operates community solar farms in six states. To find out if a community solar farm is available in your area, visit Nautilus Solar here.
Joining a Community Solar Farm
Subscribing to a local community solar farm is simple to do and only takes a few minutes to enroll. The Nautilus team is currently inviting customers to subscribe to one of its community solar farms. There are no upfront costs, long-term commitments, or cancellation fees. Spots are limited, so residents who are interested in subscribing to one of the community solar farms should sign up at enroll.nautilussolar.com. Businesses may enroll by emailing email@example.com or calling 207-518-8466.
The Sun’s Energy Doesn’t Stop
A common question about solar is what happens when the sun doesn’t shine. To answer, the sun’s energy doesn’t stop. The solar panels on community solar farms generate electricity in direct and indirect light. So even when it’s cloudy, solar energy can still be produced.
However, solar energy production varies seasonally. Solar panels produce more when there is more sunlight. You'll see the amount of solar credits, and your bill, fluctuate over the year based on the solar energy produced, but it all evens out, giving you at least 10% savings vs. fossil fuel generated electricity. Solar energy credits are earned based on your share of the solar energy produced, not by the electricity you use.
To learn more about how Nautilus Community Solar gets the most out of harvesting the sun, click here.
Future of Community Solar
Consumer demand for residential solar remains stronger than ever. Community solar is also one of the fastest growing segments of the clean energy industry. The future of community solar depends on more state policy and programs as well as consumer education about its benefits. Consumer education is the key to the growth of the renewable energy market.
Community solar provides a way for everyone to go solar, save money on their electric bills, and support clean, renewable energy without solar panels on their roof.
Have more questions about community solar? Click here to our FAQ page.
Are you ready to get community solar?
By joining a Community Solar project, you've chosen an easy way to support renewable energy, create local power projects that increase regional grid resiliency, and reduce emissions. And you don't have to maintain or optimize your own residential panels yourself or pay someone to do it for you. Subscribing is simple and you will save money on your electric bills with no upfront cost. All that is needed is five minutes and a utility account. To learn more about how you can go green and keep your green with community solar, go to NautilusSolar.com.