Community solar provides clean energy to communities that otherwise wouldn’t have access. As the fastest-growing form of solar energy, community solar allows households to subscribe to a solar farm in their area and see savings on their electric bills. Sounds great, right? Let’s see if you’re eligible!
We might be a little biased, but there’s no reason not to sign up for community solar if you’re eligible. You get guaranteed savings on your monthly electric bill, avoid fees or installation costs, and help the environment by offsetting carbon emissions!
So what are the eligibility requirements for a typical solar farm, and how can you find out if you’re eligible for community solar?
Sadly, community solar isn’t available everywhere (but we’re working on it!). Three main criteria determine whether you can get the benefits of community solar: you have to live within a service territory that offers it, meet a certain credit requirement, and some businesses are unable to sign up.
The good news? Solstice offers community solar to all Orange & Rockland, Central Hudson, and National Grid customers throughout New York. If you are a New York resident with one of these three utilities, you could qualify!
Still have questions? Read on for more info.
1. You Must Live Within The Same Service Territory As Your Solar Garden.
State laws divide the state map into different “service territories” to help clarify utilities’ responsibilities and ensure a reliable electric grid. Utilities use these service territories to set geographic boundaries for community solar projects to help ensure that the benefits of community solar stay local.
For example, the areas of New York that are under the control of NYSEG are divided into nine service territories, labeled A-I. Solar gardens are located throughout the NYSEG area but are only accessible to residents that live in their same service territories (Residents of NYSEG A can only subscribe to projects also located in NYSEG A).
The good news is, more and more solar farms are becomes “internal,” meaning they can serve customers from all load zones within a give utility’s service area. Today, all of Solstice’s community solar farms are available to any customer of their utility – including Orange & Rockland, Central Hudson, and National Grid customers in New York.
2. Most Community Solar Gardens Have Credit Score Requirements.
Most community solar projects have minimum credit score requirements in the 650-700 range. This is because solar investors want to make sure that they will see a return on funds that they dole to develop each new project. Solar developers use credit scores as a way of giving them this assurance—even though credit scores are a highly imperfect way of predicting households’ energy bill payment behavior.
FICO credit score credentials are an eligibility factor that Solstice continually strives to challenge. We push all of our developer partners to lower their credit score requirements or to get rid of them entirely, we are currently working under a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop and implement a new, more accurate, and inclusive form of qualifying people for community solar, We call this new metric the EnergyScore, and our analysis of over half a million consumer records suggests that it is significantly more inclusive and more accurate than FICO scores.
The Ultimate Guide to Community Solar
Unsure of where the nearest community solar offering is in relation to your home? No worries! Get in touch with one of our solar experts to see if there are openings in your area!
3. You (Often) Can’t Get Community Solar For Big Businesses
It is important to note that some states limit the type of customers that can enroll in a community solar project. In New York, for example, there are regulations set up to ensure that community solar primarily serves residential users—and businesses that are demand-metered can’t participate. Small businesses and shops may still participate in many cases.
On the other hand, some states do allow for participation by even large commercial establishments. Under California law, for example, shared solar farms serving households can also generate energy for commercial and industrial clients. In Massachusetts, large commercial clients often serve as “anchor tenants” that take up 30-40% of a garden’s capacity and help developers to make it more secure for investors.
Businesses that can’t sign up their own meters for solar often go with different strategies to participate. For instance, some of our partner businesses use community solar as an employee benefit to give extra savings to their team.
Cool! What’s Next?
So, how do you know if you are eligible for a local solar garden? Click the link below or reach out to our team of solar experts to set up a call! Don’t worry, we won’t ask you to commit to anything right away, and we won’t bug you if you decide you’re not interested.
We take an educational approach to our mission of spreading solar energy. Thanks for looking into clean energy with us!