Consumer’s guide to community solar

Have you heard the good news? Community solar is totally revolutionizing the energy landscape, enabling the mass adoption of clean, locally-generated power. So what is community solar? The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Coalition for Community Solar Access recently released a Residential Consumer Guide to Community Solar that explains in detail this new solar option. While you’re certainly encouraged to read the whole thing, here’s a summarized version of the main points.

What is Community Solar?  

Development and installation of solar energy systems in the U.S. have increased exponentially in the past decade. Solar technology is tried and true, it’s a wise investment, and community solar is now creating unprecedented access for many who haven’t been able to go solar. Community solar is a large, centrally-located solar photovoltaic (PV) system with numerous subscribers who receive credit on their utility bill for a portion of the electricity it produces. Everyone who pays for residential electricity (including all homeowners & renters) can choose solar and reduce or even eliminate their electric bill.  

Legislation regarding these projects varies from state to state, so there are a few different models for how community solar works. We’re in luck here in New York, where the climate for renewable energy is very encouraging. Governor Cuomo’s bold, multi-pronged energy strategy ‘Reforming the Energy Vision enables the development of new energy products and services, while helping millions of residents make better energy choices through ensuring access to affordable, clean electricity, with options like community solar.

Stay tuned, next week’s blog post will discuss the different kinds of community solar products we offer at Renovus Solar.  

How to be an informed consumer 

  • Know your electricity usageStep one is: check out your utility bills. They will show your electricity usage in kilowatt-hours (kWh) and the amount you pay for that electricity. Your electricity usage determines how much solar you’ll need and the corresponding number of panels to meet that usage.  
  • Do your homework & evaluate your options! Chat with your friends and neighbors about their experiences. Consider getting multiple offers so you can compare costs and subscription agreements, gather references, customer reviews, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! It’s also important to understand your state’s tax credits and any other incentives. A good solar provider should talk through any questions you have so you feel totally comfortable about your decision. 
  • Take time to understand the agreement. Your solar consultant will walk you through all the terms of your contract so that you understand the products involved, pricing structure, length of agreement, warrantees, and so on. And again, don’t hesitate to ask questions! The best transactions are ones where the consumer and the community solar company both fully understand the deal.  

Key Questions to Ask You Solar Consultant 

Here are some common questions to think about and discuss with your solar provider 

  • What size project is right for me? What if I want to buy an electric vehicle? 
  • Can I have solar on my property, or would I be better suited for a community solar plan? 
  • Do I have to buy solar in certain increments? 
  • What is the total project cost? 
  • Are there incentives and rebates are available? 
  • What will my total out of pocket expenses be and what do I pay upfront?  
  • What rate of return on my solar investment can I expect? 
  • How much energy should my system produce?  
  • What is the length of the agreement?  
  • How does investing in solar compare against the cost of doing nothing?


If you have questions or would like to connect with one of our solar consultants, give us a ring today at (607) 277-1777.