What is Community Solar?
Community Solar is a solar PV installation that provides energy, financial benefits, or both to several members or "subscribers" through a voluntary program. Community Solar isn't built on your own roof, but rather in your community.
How Does It Work?
Under Illinois’ community solar program, “subscribers” can enter into an agreement to support a solar energy installation in their community—on the rooftop of a local school or community center, for example. Subscribers can buy or lease a share of the Community Solar installation; this share is typically measured by a number of solar panels or by the capacity of the solar you need (in kilo-watts). In exchange, subscribers receive a credit applied to their utility electricity bill, offsetting any kilowatt-hour charges 1:1 based on the production of your share of the community solar project each month.
There is no restriction to who can participate. Subscribers need to be located in the same utility service territory as the Community Solar garden.
Local Jobs and Job Training
Many local jobs are created throughout the lifecycle of a Community Solar project. The Future Energy Jobs Act allocates money for local job training to expand the Illinois solar industry.
Lower Electric Bills
Customers who subscribe get credits on their electric bills for the electricity generated by the solar installation. Homeowners involved in solar tend to be more aware of and conscientious about their energy consumption, which leads to less energy usage.
By encouraging generation near the point of consumption, solar reduces strain on the grid, and that reduces system maintenance and repair and prevents costly “line losses,” in which electricity is lost along the transmission and distribution system.
Community solar installations make efficient use of space that would otherwise be wasted, such as the rooftop of a school, or an eyesore, such as a “brownfield”—a former industrial site that remains vacant because it has environmental contamination. In fact, a community center could use the financial benefits of such a program to help fund a new roof to hold the solar panels.
Adding renewable energy to the power grid increases electricity supply, lessens the need for expensive, polluting power plants.
Community Solar offers a way for virtually anyone to go solar without having to install on their roof or property while power their community with clean, renewable sources!
Community solar allows interested customers, or “subscribers” to help fund a community solar garden in their area, and in return get credits on their electric bills. Many people can’t afford solar panels, don’t have space or enough sun, or they are limited by local zoning laws. But Illinois’ new community solar program allows utility customers across Illinois access to the benefits of solar energy, even if they can’t install panels on their own property.
All subscriptions are portable and transferrable within the same utility territory. If a subscriber moves within the utility territory they can transfer their subscription to the new address. A subscriber can also give a portion of their subscription to another utility account number within the same utility.
Subscriber Financing Options
The subscriber agrees to make a fixed payment ($) for a predetermined period of time to the operator in return for a set percentage or quantity output of the solar project.Example: The Chicago Church contracts to pay Solar Operator LLC $100 per month for 10 years in return for a credit on their utility bill of 5% of the monthly produced output of the solar project.
The subscriber agrees to make a fixed payment ($) upfront to reduce their monthly payment ($) to the operator in return for a set percentage or quantity output of the solar project.Example: The Chicago Church pays Solar Operator LLC $2,000 dollars upfront, and then contracts to pay $20 per month for 10 years in return for a credit on their utility bill of 5% of the monthly produced output of the solar project.
The subscriber agrees to pay a per kWh price for a certain percent production of the solar project and predetermined period of time.Example: The Chicago Church pays Solar Operator LLC $.06/ kWh for 10 years in return for a credit on their utility bill of 5% of the monthly produced output of the solar project.
The subscriber pays a lump sum in cash ($) or with a loan for a number of panels to be installed as part of the solar project. On turn, the subscriber owns a portion of the panels on an array.Example: The Chicago Church pays Solar Operator LLC $5,000 for ownership of 6 solar panels on the solar project. The Chicago Church gets credited on their utility bill for the generation from those 6 panels.