How to get a good deal on community solar

By Fatima Ghani on April 1, 2024

The sun shines everywhere, but that doesn’t mean everyone can go solar where they live. Fortunately, this doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from solar energy, thanks to community solar.

Community solar — what is it?

Community solar lets you buy or lease a share of a solar array. You earn a credit on your electric bill based on how much your share produces. In this way, community solar lets you benefit from solar energy the same as if the panels were on your roof.

It’s becoming more common. Nearly 2 million households currently participate in community solar. This number could grow to 5 million just this year.

This growth is not without its challenges. That’s why I was glad to participate in recent panel to share what needs to be done to protect consumers who go solar in this way. The panel was part of a day-long summit about community solar, hosted by the Department of Energy.

Community solar can transform the way we generate electricity

 The day of the summit, the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) released a new report on community solar’s potential. The NREL report found that community solar could provide electricity to more than 53 million families and 300,000 businesses that cannot currently go solar on their own rooftops.

That’s a lot of solar, and a lot of solar customers. My panel discussed what we must do to ensure these customers have a good community solar experience. Here are some things I shared.

Being informed helps you make smart choices 

Rules for community solar vary by state and by utility. It’s important to know what to look for to make sure you get the best deal.

Some things to look for in a community solar project:

  • Joining community solar should help you lower your electric bills.
  • Or, it should offer a good return on your investment. Ideally, you should be able to invest in or own part of the system.
  • The community solar program should make it easy for you to subscribe and unsubscribe.
  • You should be able to transfer your share if you move within your utility’s service territory.
  • Your community solar program should make it easy to understand what you are paying for as well as any on-going charges that apply to your participation. 

SUN has resources to help you make a smart community solar choice

We have developed extensive community solar resources for consumer education. This includes:

  • A guide that lays out how community solar works
  • A recorded webinar on community solar basics
  • A platform to help you find and subscribe to a community solar project

I hope these resources will be useful in your community solar search. You can also contact us directly at our Solar Help Desk. We provide free 1-to-1 support for all your solar questions. This way, you can join the millions of Americans who are benefiting from solar energy.