By Mia Ambroiggio
Solar energy is a reliable, cost-effective, renewable source of energy for our buildings and homes that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, which contribute to climate change. This month, we’re focusing on community solar: what it is, why it’s beneficial, and how to join a community solar program.
What is community solar?
Community solar programs produce electricity and send it to the grid for distribution and consumption. Homeowners affiliated with solar farms get a credit on their utility bill for the energy generated by the solar farm.
Why community solar?
The benefits of subscribing to a community solar farm include investing in solar development across Maine. As solar farms continue to pop up, participating in one of these programs supports local jobs and the production of renewable energy. Another benefit is opting for clean, renewable energy. Solar energy produces a massive amount of energy (between 250 and 400 watts of power per panel). In addition, solar energy is one of the least carbon-intensive forms of energy. Finally, solar saves money. Community solar programs save homeowners between 10% and 15% on electric bills. There is no upfront cost to joining a community solar program.
How do I join?
Community solar is completely free and works in tandem with your utility provider. When homeowners participate in a community solar program, they may pay their utility bills through the program administrator, who then pays the utility bill on the homeowner’s behalf. In some programs, homeowners get a credit on their utility bill which can then be used to pay a community solar program. Either way, community solar programs make it easy to reap the environmental and financial benefits of solar.
Community solar farms are becoming more and more popular in Maine. Choosing a community solar program that is right for each family can feel overwhelming. To get started, explore the community solar programs that serve your area. Then, pick the program that is the best fit for you. The Maine Office of the Public Advocate (MEOPA) provides useful community solar information and resources on their website, including a list of all registered community solar companies. View MEOPAs resources at www.maine.gov/meopa.