What’s the Difference, and What’s the Best Fit?
Clean energy has been taking off in recent years, and solar has been leading the way. In 2020, solar represented 43% of all new electricity generating capacity installed in the United States. That’s more than any other technology for two years in a row! With this boom in the solar industry, the benefits of solar arrays to residential electricity users have become more broadly available than ever before in Maine. However, navigating the variety of different programs and incentives can be confusing at first. Deciding what the best option is for your situation can be tricky, so we’ve put together a guide to walk through the benefits of different choices! And remember, whatever you choose will have both environmental and financial benefits – it’s just a matter of picking the best fit for your home.
What is Community Solar, and how is it different from rooftop Solar?
You’re probably generally familiar with the idea of rooftop solar. Rooftop solar panels produce energy that directly powers your home or business. The panels are usually placed on the building’s main roof but can also be installed on outbuildings, a garage, or even in your yard on a ground mount. The generated energy then offsets the property’s electricity consumption and sends excess electricity back to the grid or stores it in an onsite battery storage system. Thanks to net metering, even if your system produces more energy than you are consuming, you benefit from that energy because your utility gives you credits for that energy that you can use at a later date.
Community Solar, or shared solar, is a blanket term that refers to any solar array which allows community members to participate in its benefits. The model can vary some, but nearby residents and businesses typically subscribe to a share of the farm’s output. Unlike rooftop solar, community solar does not require participants to install anything, own their property, or invest in the equipment.
What are the benefits of Community Solar vs. Rooftop Solar?
Though either option will support clean energy growth and will save you money, there are differences. The table below examines the main differences between community solar and rooftop solar. Keep in mind that program criteria and payment models vary between companies, so it’s essential to understand the advantages and disadvantages of options available to you before making a decision.
Which is the better choice for me?
Community solar does not require an investment, and takes away the need for having any equipment on your property. For renters, lower-income residents, and those whose roofs or land simply won’t accommodate solar panels, community solar installations offer a chance to take advantage of this cost-effective, renewable energy source. If you own your home or property, have a suitable site, and plan to be in the house for a bit, then purchasing your own solar array will save you more in the long run.
Whether you prefer a community or rooftop solar panel system, Maine Solar Solutions can assist you with your solar energy needs. We offer free solar site assessments and have partnered with Relay Power to make the benefits of community solar more accessible to our customers. Still, have questions? Contact our team, and they’ll be happy to walk you through your solar options.
|COMMUNITY SOLAR||ROOFTOP SOLAR|
|PROGRAM MODELS||Subscription: A utility or the solar company owns the system, and you subscribe to a portion of the solar production.||Promotes energy independence. You own the system and it is installed on your property.|
|COST AND BENEFITS||Requires no investment.||You purchase outright or through a low-interest loan.|
|Contract with community solar supplier.||No long term contract.|
|Will typically save 7-15% off your monthly electric bill. With our CS program you save 15%.||It could potentially offset 99%of your electricity costs.|
|Consistent monthly savings, no responsibility or fees for the upkeep of equipment or repairs.||Maximum long-term savings. After your system is paid for, your electricity will be free for the remaining life of the system (Warranties are 25+ years).|
|FINANCIAL INCENTIVES||All tax benefits go to the owner of the community solar project.||You enjoy the tax benefits (a 26% tax credit on your system through 2022).|
|LOCATION OPTION||No need to own your home so you can be a renter or part of a condo association.||Must be the home or property owner. Must have a suitable site for solar to be effective on your property.|
|No roof or property is required.||Must have a suitable site for solar to be effective on your property.|
|PROPERTY VALUE IMPACT||The benefits can be transferable if you move within the utility service area. No impact on the value of your home or property if you sell.||Rooftop solar has been shown to improve property values, and homes sell at a higher rate.|
|MAINTENANCE||Not responsible for repair or maintenance costs of the solar array.||Depending upon warranties with your installer and equipment, you could be liable for maintenance and repair costs.|
|CUSTOMIZATION||Not able to customize or add components like battery backup.||Able to add additional features or customizations - battery backup power being a prime example.|
|ENVIRONMENTAL CONSIDERATIONS||Energy is produced off site and still needs to be transferred to the home.||Energy is produced and used on site or nearby.|