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Community Solar Education

Sometimes homes can’t support solar panels. If yours is one of them, Community Solar is an easy way to help local clean energy and save up to 15% on electricity. Just like with our rooftop solar customers, we offer a transparent and consultative approach with a focus on communicating clearly and providing the information that you need to make an informed decision. Below, you will find answers to some of the most common questions we get about community solar.

About the Community Solar Program

What is Community Solar?
At some point, you’ve probably passed a field full of solar panels called a solar farm. Community Solar is a solar energy sharing program where solar energy is produced by the solar farm and is supported by local residents and businesses that subscribe to a portion of the farm. In turn, the community members receive solar credits. The program allows for more people to benefit from solar energy and support clean energy generation while also saving some money in return.
How does Community Solar work?
The solar farms are supported by local residents and businesses that can subscribe to a portion of the farm, relative to the size of their home or business’s annual electrical usage. The solar energy generated by the solar farm is sent directly to the power grid, and the subscriber receives solar credits, or Net Metering Credits, based on their allocation.
What are the benefits of Community Solar?
Community Solar offers a convenient and practical way to support locally-produced, clean energy generation. When you go solar, you actively help send renewable energy to the power grid, reducing our dependence on fossil fuels. Because Syncarpha builds and maintains the solar farms, your roof is taken out of the equation, so it is perfect for renters, condo owners, and those whose homes are not solar-friendly. There is no rooftop installation and no home inspection requirement. Additionally, there are no upfront costs for Community Solar, and you’ll save money on your home’s electricity costs. Lastly, the construction and maintenance of local solar farms provide new local jobs for your community.
Should you subscribe to a community solar project, or buy solar panels?
The answer would depend on your personal requirements and preferences. While perks like the 26% Solar Energy Tax Credit make recouping your costs for solar installations quicker and a better financial investment, the shape and size of your roof, the layout of your property, and its surrounding vegetation can limit your potential solar yield. Renters and those who must comply with neighborhood association restrictions may also have a hard time getting proper approval. In these cases, a community solar farm is the better option. If your primary goal is to maximize the financial benefit of solar, then purchasing your own rooftop solar electric system is a better investment. The good news is that our team can review both options with you, so you have all the information you need to make an informed decision.
Will this program replace my current utility company?
No. Syncarpha is not a utility company and does not replace your utility company. When you become a customer, you will continue to receive a bill from your utility company for your standard energy charges. Additionally, you will receive a separate bill from Syncarpha for the credits generated by your share of the solar farm. They discount those credits at 15% so that you save on your electricity cost while tapping into solar energy
What areas do you service?
Community Solar Farms currently service Central Maine Power and Versant Power (formerly Emera) customers only and they are unable to service customers who reside on islands at this time. To find out if you are in the serviceable footprint, contact a solar advisor at 207-871-7191.
I have more than one property in Maine with separate meters and addresses. Can I register both?
Yes! As long as your additional property is in the network. Because solar farms fill based upon interest and location, we ask that you complete the sign-up process separately for each site.

Environmental Impact

What is solar power?
Solar power is energy generated by sunlight. The sun is a renewable energy source. Sunlight is converted to energy by solar cells on solar panels, through the photovoltaic effect. The energy captured by solar panels will deliver energy to an individual home or business in the event rooftop panels are installed, or directly to the power grid via a solar farm.
How does Community Solar help the environment?
Solar energy production adds clean, renewable energy to power distributed by the electric grid. With Community Solar, you can help be part of a shift to increase renewable energy use. When the average American household switches to solar energy, around five metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions are offset each year–the equivalent of 5,335 pounds of coal not burned.

About Your Local Community Solar Farms

Where are the Solar farms located?
The Solar farms are located in Central Maine Power and Versant Power territory.
Who maintains the Community Solar farms?
Your solar developer is responsible for maintenance and taking care of any repairs. Of course, it’s in their best interest to ensure that the system is providing as much energy as possible, so they are motivated to respond to any issues quickly.
Is there a maintenance fee?
No, you only ever pay Syncarpha for the credits generated by your share of the solar farm. There are no upfront costs and no added fees.

Pricing

What are solar credits or Net Metering Credits?
Solar credits represent the value of the electricity generated by one of Syncarpha’s community solar farms. This value is applied to a subscriber’s utility bill in the form of a kilowatt-hour (kWh) credit. These credits offset a subscriber’s utility charges and reduce the amount due to their utility. Community solar credits can be referred to by many names, like net-metering credits, alternative on-bill credits, or community distributed generation credits (CDG credits). Still, they all serve to reduce the subscriber’s electric bill.
What happens if my utility company changes its rates?
You will continue to pay 10% less for the credits you get from the solar farm, regardless of your electric utility rate.
Will I get the federal solar tax credit?
No, you are not eligible to receive the solar tax credit. You must purchase a system and have installed it on your property to receive the current 26% solar tax credit. You can learn more about the current solar tax credit here.
How does billing work?
Community solar subscribers receive two monthly bills – one from their local utility with solar credits listed and one from Syncarpha for the credits applied to their utility bill. Syncarpha will discount those credits, by 15%, so that you save on your electricity cost while tapping into solar energy. The good news is that your payments are processed via automatic bill pay, which helps alleviate any extra work and makes paying your bills a little easier.
When will I start receiving a bill for my Community Solar subscription?
You will not receive a bill from Syncarpha, or any solar credits until the farm is activated and begins generating credits for you. You will be billed for the first full month of production upon the farm’s first meter read. You will be billed on the 15th or 30th each month, depending upon which farm you are on. That billing date will be the same each month, and they will notify you two weeks before the program starts or automatically deduct payments from your account.
When will I receive my first solar credits?
You’ll start to see credits produced by your share of the solar farm approximately 2-3 months after your project is live.
Do credits vary seasonally?
Yes. The amount of credits you receive will directly reflect the production at the farm.
The amount of energy produced changes with the seasons and weather, but solar panels produce electricity even when it’s cloudy and in the winter. Because the solar farm produces more energy in the summer, you might find your summer bills higher from Syncarpha. The good news is for many solar farm customers is your winter bills tend to be lower. And as a reminder, you’ll always have the power you need because you are still connected to your electrical utility. In the unusual event that the solar farm produces less energy than you’ve subscribed to, you will only be billed for the produced energy.
What will happen with my utility bill?
You will continue to be billed separately for your home’s electricity use by your local utility company. Your bill will include your energy supply charges, delivery charges, and associated fees and taxes. Your solar credits will automatically be applied to your utility bill.
What if I use more or less solar credits then I subscribed for in a month?
If you use less energy in a given month than you’ve subscribed to from community solar, then your remaining solar credits roll over to your next month’s utility bill. If you use more energy in a given month than you have solar credits for, simply pay your utility the balance.
Do you offer paperless billing and AutoPay?
You must set up payment immediately to complete your solar farm application and automatically be entered into AutoPay. Syncarpaha accepts credit cards and debit cards. There is a 2% processing fee for using credit and debit cards. To avoid the 2% fee, you can also set up your automatic payments using your bank account (ACH). You can always change your payment settings in your online customer portal later.
Why are you asking for payment information before the program starts?
Providing Syncarphas with your secured ACH/Credit Card information triggers “auto-enrollment,” which is important because there are a limited number of subscriptions available. We all want to be sure that you get credit for your support from the first day of the solar farm’s operation or the first day that your subscription is activated. Keep in mind that you can change your payment method anytime through their customer portal.

Enrollment

How do I enroll?
Our enrollment process is easy and secure. Your solar advisor will guide you through the process. To start the process, you can submit a request online, schedule directly at https://calendly.com/nicole-mss, or call 207-871-7191. Your consultation is free and includes a custom proposal for you to review. As part of your enrollment, you will need to provide a past utility bill and undergo a soft credit check. Finally, your solar advisor will review the terms and help you to sign and complete your customer Agreement, which is all done safely and securely online.
Why do you need my utility bill?
During our enrollment process, you will be asked to provide a past utility bill. This allows us to evaluate your historical energy usage and rate to calculate your solar farm share. Your information is confidential and secure.
How do I know if I qualify?
To determine if you qualify to enroll, your property must be within the serviceable footprint and pass the credit requirements of a 680 credit score or higher. To learn more, you can fill out our contact form or call 207-871-7191.
Is a credit check required?
Yes. To qualify for community solar, a soft credit check for enrollment is required to ensure credit qualifications of 680 or more, similar to many other companies with customer agreements. This credit check will not impact your credit score.
Do I have to sign a contract?
Yes, it is for 20 years.
What happens if I change my mind?
You can cancel within 3 days of enrolling.
What happens if I move?
If you move within the same service territory, your agreement can move with you, but you must give Syncarpha a 30-day notice. Solar Farms fill up very quickly, and we all want to be sure there is still space available on the farm. Syncarpha will coordinate with the utility to have your solar credits redirected to your new account. If you move outside of our service area, a 90-day notice is required, and you will not be charged any cancellation fees.

Still have questions?

Our team is here to help answer all of your questions. Contact our solar advisors at ‍(207) 464-8073, fill out our contact form above, or schedule with our team directly here.

491 US Route 1 Suite 20
Freeport, Maine 04032

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