July 9, 2021

Community Solar: Benefits & Pitfalls

Solar energy is hyped everywhere and people are going crazy over renewable energy options. People are really interested in getting solar panels for their homes. The typical trend is to have the solar panels installed over your home on the rooftops but in some places, you can’t install solar panels on your property but there is an option for a community solar program. A community solar project is an advanced program in which solar panels are installed in open land and clean energy is generated through a local solar source installation.

The community solar is just like the electric grid station. That facility is shared with the members of the community and built on public land.  The solar power in community solar is made available to the community members by ownership or subscription. In the ownership, members of the community can buy a portion of solar panels, so they can take advantage of their investment by consuming solar power. However, if they are consuming more solar power than the solar panel can produce, they will have to pay for that just like subscribers. As for the community solar subscription, all members of the community can apply for them.

Like anything else in the world, community solar has its own benefits and pitfalls. Here, we will be exploring some benefits and some pitfalls of community solar. So, get ready to have an objective point of view.

Solar not just for those who can afford large installations on their rooftop

One of the biggest advantages of solar communities is that they can allow solar power to every member of the community. Usually, people that only the rich and have big houses where solar panels can cover the rooftops with solar panels have access to the solar community but that is not the case. In solar communities, you don’t need to have a house with a big rooftop because you will have access to solar power via cables. The solar communities generate solar power in a grid station where solar panels are installed. It could be a public land or farm or fields where they install solar power. The people who own the land are usually compensated for allowing the community to use their land.

Great for renters

Another benefit of community solar is for renters. Usually, the renters need permission from their landlord for any kind of subscription but for solar power produced by community solar, you don’t need the landlord’s permission especially if you live within the proximity of such a facility. Some communities can even offer you solar power just because you are a part of the community.

Supports small family farms that host community solar projects

Solar panels are installed in an open space like a farm, fields, and public land where there are no buildings around the areas because buildings can block sunlight with their shadow. The idea is to get the sunlight as much as possible. The large farms and fields allow the solar panels to absorb sunlight and change it into solar power. The larger the field, the better.

However, if the community decided to use the farmland of someone, they will be compensated for sharing their land. The farm owners can support their families by hosting solar panels on their land.

Supports towns with solar energy through tax payments

Solar energy consumption is trending because it is environment-friendly, and people are inclined towards things that can are organic. Some people are interested in it because it is in trend. Eventually, the solar power industry is booming. And since it is becoming popular, communities are generating tax payments.

These payments can be used for the development of a town or local community. Communities can even have more solar projects if they have enough funds.

Watch out for community solar project contracts that escalate prices to slowly decrease savings

Community solar has some benefits as well as some pitfalls like contracts that are available only for a short time. Such contracts are offered to escalate prices but eventually, they decrease the value of the contract after you are signed up.  Don’t fall for such tactics because these people are only after your savings. It’s better to read the contract before signing up. Sometimes, they keep asking you to pay the heavy fee as an advance for the upcoming years but it is all for the time being.

This type of situation typically happens when you are newly moved to the town. Solar communities try to take advantage of your situation and you might be pressurized by some influential people in town but we suggest you lay low and don’t sign up for such contracts.

Watch out for contracts that lock in subscribers for 10,15, or 20 years

Solar energy is offering us a chance to reduce our electricity consumption and billing but if you really look at everything, it is not cheap at all. People who have lots of money, have no problem buying solar panels and investing in community solar. But people who are barely getting by with everyday expenses, have a hard time getting a subscription because it is expensive and very long. However, different programs have been made to facilitate a range of people in a community. Most of the community solar programs have long-term contracts that can long for 10, 15, or even 20 years and if you want to cancel the subscription, you will have to pay a hefty cancellation fee.

Such things make it difficult for some people to get a subscription and if they want to cancel it, they end up paying a large lump sum amount. This whole process was made to ensure the smooth delivery of solar power to all members, but high fees make it complicated. Thus, people who don’t have enough money don’t go for such technological advances.

Some of the solar communities are working to make smooth procedures that are easy for all people with low income. They are offering short-term contracts to people who want to have a solar power subscription.