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Community Solar: Anyone With An Electric Bill

Living Rhinebeck — By Jeff Irish, President, Hudson Solar

ground mounted community solar installation

Ground mounted solar installation

“Solar power will soon be an option for anyone with an electric bill. You don’t need to be a property owner or even have a rooftop to subscribe to a Community Solar project. You just need to have an electric bill, and a desire to save.” So states a new flyer from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

So how exactly will this work? Most community solar arrays (“CSAs”) will be larger ground-mounted solar systems, located in a sunny spot near utility lines and screened from view. Electricity generated by the CSA goes into the utility company’s grid every day. The utility will meter the energy generated every month, and apply credits directly to the utility bills of customers participating in the CSA. For example, if a CSA has 1,000 solar panels in total and you own 10 of them, you get 1% of the energy generated by the CSA credited to your utility bill every month. The effect is essentially the same as if those 10 solar panels were on your roof, unshaded and facing south.

Under the CSA ownership model, customers can purchase a minimum of 3 solar panels in the CSA, or as many as they want or need, up to the quantity necessary to offset 100% of their demonstrated annual electricity usage. Customers who move will be able to take the monthly bill credits with them to their new home or apartment. They can also sell the panels, give them to family or friends, or donate them to a charity if they move out of their utility’s service territory.

New York State set up this program so everyone could save on their electric bills. So the next question is, how much could someone save with community solar? Looking at it one way, a residential electric customer could do nothing and just pay the utility $25,000 for electricity over the next 25 years. Or they could invest about $10,000 in solar panels in a CSA and spend next to nothing on electricity.

Contact Hudson Solar at CSA@hudsonsolar.com for the latest on community solar in Dutchess County.

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