If you’re looking to save some money on electricity costs, community solar is a great option. While you’ll save less over time than if you install solar on your property, signing up for community solar allows you to enjoy some of the benefits of going solar without any upfront investment – it’s also a great option if you’re a renter or don’t have a suitable roof for solar!
When you subscribe to a community solar project, you’ll pay your project’s provider a discounted rate for the energy generated through your subscription – but who are these project providers? And how do you choose one? In this article, we’ll explain how to evaluate community solar companies and some of the companies you should know about.
You can compare community solar companies based on savings percentage, cancellation terms, credit score requirements, organization affiliations, and ratings and reviews.
Some community solar companies to know include: Solstice, Nexamp, Ampion, Arcadia, PowerMarket, Common Energy, BlueWave Solar & Perch Energy, and Clearway Community Solar.
Besides the provider, you may also want to evaluate a community solar project based on the time until it goes live and its proximity to your home.
To explore community solar projects in your area, visit the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace.
What’s in this article?
How to evaluate community solar companies
If you live in an area with many surrounding community solar projects, it might be difficult to decide which one to choose! Here are some ways you can compare project providers near you:
If you’re subscribing to a community solar project, odds are you’re looking to save money – so the savings percentage should be top of mind! This number indicates the fixed discount on energy that you’re receiving from your project provider. The savings discount will vary depending on the community solar company and the specific project you choose, but generally, you can expect a bill credit of about 10-20%.
Keep in mind this isn’t exactly what you’ll save each month because the amount of electricity you consume (and are subsequently charged for by your utility company) will vary. Additionally, the amount of energy generated by your share of the community solar project varies – in some months, you’ll probably save more, and in other months you’ll save less.
If you’re a renter or aren’t in your forever home, you may need to cancel your community solar subscription at some point. While subscriptions can sometimes be transferable to new properties, it depends on whether you’re moving to a location in the same electricity service territory as your current home.
Most community solar companies will allow you to cancel without penalty fees, but you’ll need to give minimum notice (about 30 to 90 days).
Credit score requirement
Some community solar companies require a minimum credit score in order to sign up for their projects. They set this requirement because the project’s investors want to see a return on investment, and a credit score is one factor they often use to determine how likely you are to default on your bill payments.
However, your credit score isn’t the only (or even most accurate) indicator of your ability to pay your bills and it can hinder many people – especially those in low and moderate income (LMI) communities – from signing up for community solar. So, if your credit score is on the lower side, you’ll want to examine your provider’s credit score requirements.
The Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) is a “national Coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand customer choice and access to solar for all American households and businesses through community solar.” You may want to check if your community solar provider is a member of CCSA because these companies are all working together to improve the industry. The CCSA has four categories of members: leadership members, general members, utility-affiliate members, and non-profit members.
Ratings & reviews
One of the best ways to get a feel for a company is to check out ratings and reviews by current or previous customers. For any community solar companies on the EnergySage platform, you’ll be able to check out reviews from people who have subscribed to projects through them in the past.
Sample review on the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace
What are some community solar companies you should know?
There are a number of community solar companies out there, and those available to you will vary substantially depending on where you live – but we’ve compiled a list of some of the most widely known community solar companies and will explain how each of them compare:
Community solar companies compared CompanyProject locationsSavings percentageCancellation termsCredit score requirementOrganization affiliation SolsticeIL, MA, MN, NJ, NY, D.C.10-20%No feeSome projects min. score 650CCSA non-profit member NexampAcross the country10-15%No feeNo credit check requiredCCSA leadership member AmpionAcross the country10-15%No feeMin. score 600CCSA general member ArcadiaAcross the country5-10%No feeNo credit check requiredCCSA leadership member PowerMarketNortheast & CO10-15%No feeNo credit check requiredCCSA general member Common EnergyAcross the country0.1%No feeMin. score 650Not a CCSA member BlueWave Solar & Perch EnergyUnclearUnclearNo feeUnclearCCSA leadership members Clearway Community SolarIL, MA, MN, NY0.2%For a limited time no feeRequires credit check, no min. score listedCCSA leadership member
Solstice is a community solar provider established in 2016 and currently operates in five states (Illinois, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, and New York) plus Washington D.C. Here are some things to know about Solstice:
On EnergySage, savings for Solstice projects range from 10-20%.
Solstice doesn’t have cancellation fees.
Some Solstice projects on EnergySage include a credit score requirement of 650; others don’t require a credit check.
Solstice is a non-profit member of CCSA.
Nexamp was founded in 2007 by two U.S. Army veterans and serves as both a community solar developer and provider, building and operating projects across the country. Here’s what you should know about Nexamp:
On EnergySage, savings for Nexamp projects range from 10-15%.
Nexamp doesn’t have cancellation fees.
No credit check is required for Nexamp projects on Energysage.
Nexamp is a CCSA leadership member.
Ampion was established in 2014 and is a community solar provider for projects across the country. Here are some things to know about Ampion:
On EnergySage, savings for Ampion projects range from 10-15%.
Ampion projects don’t have cancellation fees.
Ampion projects on EnergySage require a minimum credit score of 600.
Ampion is a CCSA general member.
Founded in 2016, Arcadia acts as a community solar provider in states across the country. Here are some facts about Arcadia:
On EnergySage, savings for Arcadia projects range from 5-10%.
Arcadia doesn’t have any cancellation fees.
No credit check is required for Arcadia projects on EnergySage.
Arcadia is a CCSA leadership member.
PowerMarket was established in 2014 and currently provides community solar throughout the Northeast and in Colorado. Here’s what you should know about PowerMarket:
On EnergySage, savings for PowerMarket projects range from 10-15%.
PowerMarket projects don’t have cancellation fees.
No credit check is required for PowerMarket projects.
PowerMarket is a CCSA general member.
Started in 2018, Common Energy already serves as a community solar provider to projects across the country – and is quickly adding more states to the list. Here are some facts about Common Energy:
On EnergySage, savings for Common Energy projects are about 10%.
Common Energy projects don’t have cancellation fees.
Common Energy projects on EnergySage require a minimum credit score of 650.
Common Energy isn’t a CCSA member.
BlueWave Solar & Perch Energy
BlueWave Solar was established in 2010 as a community solar developer. In 2021, Perch Energy spun off BlueWave Solar as a community solar provider – though they don’t mention in which states they operate. Here’s what you should know about BlueWave Solar and Perch Energy:
BlueWave Solar and Perch Energy don’t have projects on EnergySage.
Perch doesn’t have information about savings, cancellation fees, and minimum credit scores readily available on their website.
Both BlueWave solar and Perch Energy are leadership members of CCSA.
Reviews are not available on EnergySage or Google yet for Perch Energy, but check out BlueWave Solar’s reviews on Google.
Clearway Community Solar
Founded in 2015, Clearway Community Solar serves as a community solar provider in four states: Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and Illinois. The separate, but affiliated, Clearway Energy Group is one of the largered developers and operators of clean energy in the U.S. Here are some things to know about Clearway Community Solar:
Clearway Community Solar doesn’t have projects on EnergySage.
On its site, Clearway Community Solar guarantees 20% savings.
Clearway Community Solar states on its site that for a limited time, projects don’t have cancellation fees.
Clearway Community Solar conducts a soft credit check, but it doesn’t list a minimum credit score.
Clearway Community Solar is a CCSA leadership member.
What are some other ways to choose a community solar project?
Beyond the project provider, there are some other things you’ll want to consider when choosing a community solar project. For one, you’ll want to know timing or how long until that project goes live – some community solar projects might be available now, while for others, you’ll have to wait until the project is completed, which could take a few weeks to several months.
You may also care about the location of the project: the closer the project is to you, the more it supports local jobs in your community. If this is something important to you, you might want to prioritize projects within a certain proximity of your home.
Search for community solar projects near you on EnergySage
Want to check out the community solar projects near you? EnergySage’s Community Solar Marketplace helps you explore, compare, and sign up for projects in your area. Many of the projects come from the providers we’ve discussed in this article! If you don’t see any projects in your state, don’t worry: more and more states are passing legislation to support community solar projects.
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