Whether you rent or your roof just isn’t suitable for solar panels, community solar brings the benefits of renewable energy to those traditionally excluded from the rooftop solar market. Electric bill savings, lack of upfront costs, and a boosted local economy are a few things that make community solar a worthwhile investment. So, how do you sign up for community solar once you’ve decided you’re ready to tap into those energy savings? In this article, we explain what you can expect when enrolling in a community solar project.
Signing up for community solar is quick and easy; simply fill out an enrollment form, provide your utility account information and credit check if necessary, then sign the agreement.
Each company has its own enrollment process – an advisor or specialist should be available to guide you through every step of the way.
In addition to a project’s pricing model and location, things like the management company, cancellation policy, and development timeline all impact your experience and the overall value of your investment.
Use the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace to see how your local community solar options stack up against each other before you commit to a project.
1. Compare community solar projects
Usually, the actual sign-up process for community solar can be done online and takes only minutes. That’s the easy part! But of course, you want to make sure you know what you’re signing up for before you commit to the terms and conditions. Prior to signing on the dotted line, decide which project you should subscribe to by comparing things like the pricing models, eligibility requirements, and cancellation policies of solar farms in your area.
Although community solar is truly a win-win – subscribers save money on their electric bills while supporting local, clean energy that requires no installation and little to no upfront costs – it’s a contractual commitment that must align with your needs. If you’re planning on moving out of state in the future, for example, subscribing to a project with a flexible cancellation policy may save you a headache (and a cancellation fee) down the line. Luckily, the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace provides side-by-side comparisons of community solar projects based on your zip code, including estimated savings and reviews of providers.
2. Establish a point of contact to understand your options
Once you’ve shopped around on our Community Solar Marketplace and determined which solar farms you’re interested in, it’s time to connect with an expert. EnergySage Energy Advisors are always available to help you through the entire process, but you can also work directly with community solar providers. Typically, you’ll have access to a representative from either the organization that owns the project or an outsourced customer management company. Both offer talented experts to answer your questions and guide you throughout the enrollment process.
3. Ask your community solar advisor outstanding questions
Once you’ve established your point of contact, you’ll want to ask them any outstanding questions regarding your investment, the terms of subscription or ownership, and what to expect at each stage. Here are some questions you’ll definitely want answered before selecting a project:
When is the solar farm projected to be constructed?
Oftentimes, community solar projects are filled with subscribers before they are constructed. This impacts when you will start seeing bill credits.
When will I start seeing bill credits?
No matter the development status of a project, there is generally a waiting period of a few billing cycles between when your community solar subscription launches and when you start seeing credits on your energy bill.
What is the discount rate?
Community solar discount rates vary – anywhere from 5 to 15 percent is standard.
What is the term of my subscription?
Community solar subscription terms range from as short as one year to over 25 years. Your personal situation and preference determine which term makes the most sense for you.
What if I move before the term ends?
Some community solar farms offer free cancellation, others simply require notice within a specified amount of time, and a small subset charge cancellation fees.
4. Fill out an enrollment form and provide your utility account information
When community solar providers advertise that signing up “takes minutes,” this is the step they are talking about. After you choose a subscription offer, all that is left to do is fill out an enrollment form that includes basic information (your name, address, etc.) as well as your utility account number.
While you likely don’t know your utility account number off the top of your year, it’s a crucial piece of information that your community solar provider will use for a few key things. To start, the community solar developer or independent power producer works with your utility company to ensure you receive bill credits. Additionally, your energy consumption history is used to accurately size your share of the solar farm – which is important for optimal savings.
Depending on the project, a credit check may also be required. While credit score minimums are common among community solar providers, there are still opportunities for those with lower credit to participate. Income-eligible community solar programs often forgo credit checks, and are available to explore right on our Community Solar Marketplace!
Start the community solar enrollment process today!
The best way to start your community solar journey is to compare local projects on the Community Solar Marketplace, speak with one of our trusted Energy Advisors, and fill out an enrollment form – all on EnergySage! As the nation’s leading online solar marketplace and one-stop shop for community solar, our mission is to connect you with the best-fit community solar farm in your area. For more information on community solar, visit our community solar FAQ page.