27 May Solar Communities: Bringing Solar to the People
Solar communities are the next big thing in solar. For people who live in apartment complexes or otherwise cannot install panels on their roof, building a solar community or joining one is a great option. What’s more, many local energy companies provide resources for communities looking to go solar.
What Are Solar Communities?
A solar community consists of a shared solar power plant that powers many homes within the area. This set-up allows many interested community members to access the clean and affordable energy source with less initial costs and no need for a system installed on their home. There are numerous reasons why solar panels may not be a good fit for your home, including less than ideal exposure to sunshine; you can read more about preparing your home for solar panels in this article.
A solar community can function in two main ways: ownership and subscription-based models.
With community ownership, each member owns a portion of the panels or a percentage of the entire solar farm. The primary benefit of ownership is that each member has full entitlement to the power produced by their portion of panels — they own the panels and all energy produced by the panels.
Alternatively, a subscription-based model allows community members to purchase the power produced by the solar farm at a discounted rate. They do not own any panels or portion of panels; they merely are buying the energy. While this model has its disadvantages, in practice, it is easier to administer and is less commitment for users.
What Are Not Solar Communities?
There are other approaches to purchasing solar panels and solar energy that do not fall within the definition of a solar community. Group purchasing, or buying solar panels in bulk at a reduced price for numerous homes, is not a solar community; additionally, neither is crowd-funding a solar project that may offer returns from your investment.
On the other hand, purchasing green energy from your utility provider could be a solar community. Typically, green power is offered to consumers at a premium price and the clean energy is sourced from solar, wind, and hydropower plants. This is not an example of a solar community. However, private companies and local governments may have solar farms and offer a subscription to community members or citizens. For example, Austin Energy offers a community solar program that sources energy from three solar farms across the city.
Solar Communities in Texas
Longhorn Solar has extensive experience coordinating and installing community solar projects. We believe solar communities are the future because they make solar energy more accessible to the increasing number of people interested in clean energy. You can learn more about our solar communities in Texas and our Community First Initiative here.