News & Updates
Is Community Solar Worth It?
Ampion Renewable Energy
May 23, 2022
Is Community Solar worth it? Yes. Community Solar almost always lowers the average cost of electricity for end users. Community Solar allows local communities and local businesses to benefit from clean energy without having to install panels or invest anything.
In particular, Community Solar is very much worth it for renters, those who cannot afford the cost of solar panels or their installation, and those who don’t have a property suitable for solar panels (e.g. they don’t get enough direct sun). Instead, local solar farms generate electricity from sunlight and send it to the utility grid where it becomes part of the overall power supply.
Community Solar subscribers generally save between 10-20% on their monthly electricity bills. See a state-by-state breakdown below.
How does Community Solar work?
Locally-operated solar farms, equipped with hundreds of solar panels, produce power which is then plugged directly into the already existing local grid. This means the end user isn’t burdened by hefty rooftop solar panel investments, home construction bills, maintenance bills, etc.
Plus, if you’re a renter, you can still benefit without convincing your landlord to install panels. Community Solar users are provided with energy the way they always have been – only now it’s a little greener.
Solar farms provide more than just clean energy to communities — they drive job growth, boost local economies, and keep more money in people’s pockets by delivering consistent utility bill savings.
Community Solar uses sunlight to generate electricity instead of dirty fossil fuels, making it the innovative, climate-friendly energy option. Dozens of states are encouraging Community Solar development through legislation, using tools like renewable energy credits, tax incentives and special funding packages to help speed up their states' clean energy transitions.
How much can I save with Community Solar?
It depends on where you are, but savings typically range between 10-20% off your monthly electricity costs. See our graph below for current average savings numbers. (Updated: March 2022)
- Massachusetts - Typical Savings: ~10% savings
- Colorado - Typical Savings: ~10% savings
- Maryland - Typical Savings: ~10% discount on bill credits
- Washington D.C. - Typical Savings: ~10% discount on bill credits
- New York - Typical Savings: ~5-10% discount on bill credits
- California - Typical Savings: Green energy for the brown rate, no added costs
- Minnesota - Typical Savings: 5-15%
- Maine - Typical Savings: ~15% savings from kWh reductions or discounts on bill credits
- New Jersey - Typical savings: 10-15%
- Illinois - Typical Savings: ~20% discount on bill credits for electric supply
How are Community Solar projects set up?
Community Solar projects come in a few shapes and sizes, but generally fall into two categories: on-site and off-site.
On-Site Community Solar Projects
On-site Community Solar projects are created when real estate developers integrate solar arrays into residential, commercial or mixed-use developments. These types of Community Solar projects are not connected to the local electrical grid; rather, the electricity generated stays within the development via a private power grid.
On-site Community Solar often provides better savings because its isolation from the local power grid allows it to avoid transmission and distribution fees to utility providers. One downside is that these projects and savings are only available to those lucky property owners or tenants in a community with an on-site Community Solar project. Projects are also expensive to build, and usually require a number of years to pay back the cost. Typically, these are newer developments.
Off-Site Community Solar Projects
Off-site Community Solar is created when a plot of land is developed solely for solar panel electricity generation. These projects typically serve a much larger number of consumers than on-site solar and are integrated into local electric grids. Consumers subscribe to a portion of an off-site Community Solar project that equals or is nearly equal to their property’s monthly electricity usage. Although most programs are subscription-based, ownership stakes are also sometimes available.
Though a subscription to an off-site Community Solar project does not mean that the electricity supplied to your house is generated entirely from solar, it contributes a percentage of green energy to your community’s overall grid. In essence, Community Solar works to reduce carbon emissions by incrementally decreasing the need for brown energy or fossil fuels. Who wouldn’t want that? Visit ampion.net/join to see if you’re eligible!