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A Guide to Managing the Seasonal Energy Costs of Community Solar

A Guide to Managing the Seasonal Energy Costs of Community Solar

Have you ever noticed how some months your energy bill is surprisingly low while others it seems unusually high? This is quite typical in community solar programs due to the seasonal nature of how sunlight is harvested on solar farms. This seasonality also impacts the way solar energy credits are accumulated and utilized by subscribers. Understanding the ebbs and flows of solar production and how solar energy credits work is important for managing expectations and realizing the cost-saving benefits of community solar energy.

The Basics of Solar Energy Credits


The key to understanding community solar savings lies in the concept of solar energy credits, like a token or voucher. Subscribers earn solar credits on their monthly energy bill based on how much energy the solar farm produces at that given time. Sometimes the amount of energy generated does not match how much electricity will actually be used in that same month. Solar energy credits help to manage the ebbs and flows of energy production versus usage, so you always have the right amount of energy you need. This is called the seasonality of solar. Here’s how it works:

  1. Accumulating Credits in Sunny Seasons:

In the brighter months of summer when the days are long, the solar farm is at peak production, pumping out more energy that you will likely use at that time. The extra solar credits earned in that month are rolled over and applied to future electric bills. You will not be billed for these banked credits until you use them.

  1. Using Credits in Darker Seasons:

As winter rolls around, the shorter and cloudier days mean your solar farm won’t produce as much electricity. This is when those banked credits from the summer come in handy. They’re used to offset the lesser amount of energy being produced, which can help keep your winter energy bills lower than they might otherwise be.

  1. Balancing Out Over a Year:

The program is designed so that over the course of the year, the energy credits you accumulate during sunny periods should roughly cover the times when the solar farm's output is lower. This should help stabilize your energy costs throughout the year, avoiding big swings in what you pay monthly.

What This Means for Your Wallet

Even though community solar can help save on energy and potentially save you money, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Expect Bill Variations:

Your monthly bills might fluctuate more than they used to—almost no charge in the summer versus higher charges in the winter when you use up your credits. This is normal and balances out with the seasons.

  • Track Your Usage and Production:

Subscribers to Nautilus Community Solar can easily track how much energy your share of the solar farm is producing, your cumulative savings and as well as your environmental impact directly on the self-service portal. Keeping an eye on these can help you understand how your bills will be impacted throughout the year.

  • Think Long-Term:

The real benefits of joining a community solar program are seen over a longer period. Year by year, you should notice that your total energy costs are lower than they would be if you were buying all your electricity directly from the utility company.

Joining a community solar program can be a wise move if you’re looking to make an environmental impact and save on energy costs without having to install any equipment at home. By understanding how solar credits are earned and applied, you can better manage your monthly bills and enjoy the benefits of renewable energy. Just remember, the goal is to even out your payments across the year, taking advantage of the sun’s generosity in the summer to prepare for the winter chill.

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