How is Community Solar Operational?
The way people view gaining access to renewable energy is being transformed by Community Solar. 43 states have set up at least one community solar facility since community solar legislation was first passed in the United States. Education is becoming an increasingly important part of the community engagement process as its popularity grows and more homes and businesses become eligible to save money by using renewable energy.
Community solar is exciting, cost-effective, and available to anyone who pays their electric bill. We’ve talked to thousands of people from all walks of life, and every one of them has the same question: How does it function?
First and foremost: The physical framework
Let’s start with the basics: what is a community solar farm? Before we get into some of the more nuanced aspects of community solar, let’s define it.
A solar farm is a huge project in which a number of homes and businesses each own a piece of the larger solar project. Farms ranging in size from 350kW to 150+ MW are being constructed by developers all over the country. 1MW typically serves approximately 160 homes. More than 800 homes and businesses can be powered by an average 5MW site!
The ideal solar resource for these solar projects is one that will produce north of 1200 kWh per kW, or about 93% to 95% of the total solar resource in that area. Community solar can be 10-15% more efficient than roof-mounted solar, giving you more value for your money than some on-site systems.
A “host meter” helps the developer and the utility keep track of the production of a solar farm by aggregating all of the farm’s solar power. After that, this meter, like any other power plant, is connected to the grid. You get credit for whatever percentage of the farm you own, and you own a share of this total power production.
Energy in the Digital Age: Net metering from afar.
We can hear you thinking, “So, a solar power plant that isn’t on site.” That is logical. But how can they guarantee that I will receive the power generated on that farm by my panels?”
We need your help with one thing before we explain how everything works: The electron should be ignored.
There is no way to guarantee that every electron you use at home came from your solar farm unless a dedicated wire is run from the farm to your door. Physically, it’s impossible. That doesn’t matter, lucky you.
A single idea makes it possible to gain value from a solar farm; Net metering from afar.
An agreement between a state’s public service commission and our utility companies is known as remote net metering (RNM). Under this arrangement, customers whose electricity is generated by alternative energy systems like solar can transfer power that they do not use back into the grid in exchange for credits on their utility bills.
Any given farm’s energy output directly correlates with the amount of energy credits generated. Each state uses a different method to determine these credits. The process in New York, for instance, is known as the Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) Value Stack. To determine a rate for a given project, these value calculators take into account the value of electricity, the impact on the environment, and the value of demand reduction.
Customers in both commercial and residential settings benefit greatly from community solar. You can use a solar farm to offset your bill and eliminate your electrical costs using this “digital energy.” You can also use solar power in less-than-ideal locations (like rentals or shady areas) or move and transfer credits to your new home with this type of metering!
The Conclusion: Your expenses each month.
The conclusion is as follows: Community Solar is a flexible and affordable method of utilizing solar power to reduce your electricity costs. Although remote-net metering is a slightly different approach to solar deployment, the overall financial returns associated with owning a share of a solar farm are extremely compelling for customers who are unable to go solar on their property.
In general, customers have three choices when it comes to utilizing community solar: They can subscribe to a farm through shorter subscription-style contracts, purchase panels, or sign long-term power purchase agreements. Companies and developers frequently concentrate on a single type of solar access. In New York State, companies like Renovus Solar provide customers with all three options in one location; providing customers with the best deal possible.
Purchase customers typically save between 20 and 30 percent on their previous utility bills per month, whereas PPAs and subscription-style deals typically offer savings of 10 to 15 percent at their highest.