Most people will agree that solar energy produces countless benefits – from conserving the environment innovatively to saving companies considerable utility costs over time. However, realistically, the transition to solar can be difficult or even infeasible for certain individuals, like tenants renting a property or residents of an apartment complex. That’s why community solar projects – also known as solar gardens or shared renewable energy plants – have been gaining serious heat and traction. This elegant solution allows the larger community to reap the rewards of going solar, while simultaneously eliminating financial deterrents, property and size restrictions. It offers a more effective method for sustaining this kind of energy model longer-term in a way that directly impacts more people.
Community solar projects can be broken down into two available formats: ownership and subscription. The ownership model gives participants an opportunity to physically possess part of the communal solar system, whereas subscribers pay a reduced rate to access power generated from the community solar farm. While owners have more say in managing shares, subscribers enjoy more flexibility. Not to mention, most ‘subscription’-based projects don’t entail any fees upfront to join and immediately result in savings. This arrangement gets rid of risks while boosting your gains right off the bat. You’re granted an easy, no-strings-attached entry and exit from the agreement. However, unlike subscribers, owners are afforded the option of purchasing up-front or through a loan and can exceed the annual electricity usage allowance in shares.
Solar gardens can yield significant financial savings and potential incentives for all parties involved. These are in large part because of Virtual Net Metering, or VNM for short. Essentially, under this structure, solar systems are installed externally and shared as billable credits amongst multiple subscribers. As a result, a household and businesses can still receive Net Metering credits linked to a specific renewable energy project, without directly overseeing its implementation. Experts estimate that participants’ power bills will be reduced on a one-for-one basis for every kilowatt-hour or unit of electricity the community solar farm produces.
Additionally, there may be some tax incentives involved with solar gardens. For instance, communities that don’t generate enough tax to qualify for a tax credit could benefit from Federal Investment Tax Credit or ITC. As a result, the cost of installation could be lower for owners, potentially making any solar PV system-generated energy more affordable to subscribers as well. To learn more about solar gardens and how to participate in your own, visit Renewable Energy Partners online at http://renewepi.com/