A community solar program refers to a project in which electricity made from a big solar farm is shared with a community. The purpose of establishing such a project is to allow people to share the benefits of community solar energy. These benefits can be extended to businesses and offices as well. This option is great for those who don't have proper rooftops to install solar panels. People can get a subscription to community solar programs and enjoy solar power benefits. This renewable energy will cost less than the regular electricity used by people.
New York is a big place. There are so many people living in apartments and doing businesses from their offices in the city. Given the size of Big Apple, there is a big potential for developing community solar programs there. Although the city government has always been open to accepting environment-friendly solutions, but the first community solar project in New York was launched in 2015. The first program was a part of Shared Renewable Programs that basically addressed making clean and affordable energy accessible to all New Yorkers.
This Community Distributed Generation Program project is administered by New York State Energy Research & Development Association (NYSERDA) through NY-Sun. Under this program, homeowners, low-income residents, renters, schools, and businesses will have access to clean and affordable power.
The subscribers of the Shared renewables project must have at least ten members, and each individual cannot own over 25 kilowatts of renewable energy. In short, no one is allowed to use more than 40% of the project’s output. That is the rule for consumption.
However, things have improved over the years and as of 2020, New York has become one of five states in the USA that have the most community solar programs, all thanks to NY Sun Initiative and Reforming the Energy Version Plan.
Now there are so many community solar farms that serve the collective interest of the community and that's why the ownership could be flexible. However, every user gets to earn credits and these credits can further benefit them to save money. These benefits could be different from program to program and also vary each month as well.
When any New Yorker subscribes to any Community solar projects, he or she will have access to local renewable energy. This renewable energy can be used in various offices to support startups, Saas companies, and even established businesses to support the idea of using clean energy. When more people and businesses will subscribe to community solar projects, there will be more development opportunities in this sector. More people will be able to get jobs and eventually, clean energy projects will flourish.
Normally, most community solar subscribers in New York can have a 5-10% discount off on traditional electricity bills annually. Solar renewable energy is an affordable alternative to traditional electricity. Not only do people get to save money by using solar, but there are no other costs for this subscription. Subscribers will only have to pay for the community solar program, not for solar panels. Some programs don't even have a subscription fee. The community solar company will send a monthly bill and that would be all.
One of the greatest advantages of a community solar project is that you don’t need to install or maintain any solar energy equipment on your rooftop. The community solar provider can give you access to solar energy benefits even if you are operating from a basement. New York is a bustling city where getting a small office space is a big deal, so it doesn't matter if you have rooftop access or not, you will be able to earn solar credit. Unlike rooftop solar, you don't have to worry about the equipment. You can put your focus on your work and let the community solar developers worry about that. Lastly, anyone can have access to renewable clean energy.
So many people get confused with these terms and don't know what to decide. Here is a little detail that could be enough to understand the difference and help you decide which option works for a startup or business company in New York.
The community solar program doesn't require people to install solar panels on their roofs. Instead, community solar company in New York like ClearPath Energy community solar have their own community solar garden where thousands of solar panels collectively produce energy and then this energy is converted into electricity.
On the other hand, the rooftop solar option will require you to install solar panels on your rooftop, but you have to own the property to install them. The same goes for business entities. If you have bought space for your commercial venture, then you qualify for the rooftop solar program, otherwise no.
The rooftop installation equipment comes with the responsibility of maintenance. It may work for homeowners or big businesses, but it could be difficult for small business entities, especially startups because they need to focus on their business more rather than solar panels on their roofs. So, community solar is a better option here.
One will get ownership of solar energy produced through the rooftop solar option, but people are required to spend a lot of money to get the whole rooftop solar setup, community solar doesn't require any of that and is a considerably good option when you are running low on your budget. Rooftop solar can be great if you own your business property but for a rented space, community solar seems a good option because you can unsubscribe anytime you want.
Lastly, rooftop solar can add value to your property and people could be eligible for several state or federal incentives. A community solar subscription doesn't make you eligible for such incentives, nor it has any impact on your property. Besides the discount on electricity bills and credits, there is nothing else.