Many People, One Array ~ Shared Solar

There are still many situations where solar is not yet cost-effective: renters, full shade, no available space, HOA restrictions, and etc.

Thankfully, there is a solution: install solar panels somewhere else, send electricity to the grid, and get a credit on your monthly electric bill. Put all those panels in one place and enter the ‘community array’* and so-called ‘virtual net metering.’

How Does A Community Shared Array* Work?

* Note: Community array, shared solar, shared array, and community shared solar are all used interchangeably here. These programs are often also referred to simply as community solar or solar gardens. However, those terms overlap with other types of group solar endeavors and don’t sufficiently describe a community shared solar array.

Individuals get “virtual electricity” from the shared array

in one of four ways, depending on how their specific community array is managed:

  • Buy the actual panels
  • Lease those panels
  • Purchase just the electricity the panel produces, or,
  • Purchase a percentage of the total arrays production.

 

Each of these four so-called ‘subscriptions’ has pros and cons. But in most all cases you sign a legally binding agreement, receive a credit on your monthly electric bill equal to your contracted portion of the array, achieve lower per kilowatt-hour pricing over time, and directly contribute to environmental protection. (It may even help save the bees! **)

**see http://www.beeculture.com/can-solar-sites-help-save-bees/ and https://fresh-energy.org/19302/  for some great insight.

If you think about it, there are some real advantages to going solar this way:

Lower cost and less labor per panel due to volume and installation efficiency
Spares the homeowner’s time as the installation isn’t happening on their property
Generates revenue from brownfields and other non-revenue producing open spaces
One of the most environmentally effective ways to rely on renewable energy.
Why Haven’t I Seen Community Arrays in Missouri or Illinois?

Despite the clear advantages, billing and and regulatory complications can pose a significant challenge and so adoption has been slow … until now.  

In December 2016, Illinois’s Future Energy Jobs bill was signed into law. This authorized the Illinois State rulemaking needed to move past the large ‘paperwork’ obstacles, as well as seed funding to place community arrays around the State.

The new law is a so-called omnibus bill, meaning it addressed a very broad range of issues well beyond solar. So there are a lot of details still to be worked out. It promotes energy efficiency (electric) of all sorts and touches virtually every source of electricity, all under the umbrellas of creating real new jobs.

And so we don’t have any details yet about how the shared array program will be designed, how to pursue a community array in your town, and where the arrays might go around the state. However, the plan is for the first community arrays to launch in 2018.

We will provide regular updates via our blog.

In Missouri, there are legislative proposals that likewise are designed to overcome some of the regulatory obstacles. And surveys show public support for community arrays is there now. Our StraightUp Solar team is optimistic and you can do your part by calling your legislator.

This blog will keep you up-to-date on the latest legislative and regulatory activity in MO.

Don’t want to wait for shared array? Get your own.

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StraightUp Solar’s Role With Shared Solar
StraightUp Solar plans to serve as full partner in the design and installation of the actual arrays. We are ideally suited for this:
  • Hard-won expertise and experience, design and installing more than 700 solar installations, under the same ownership in the same region for over a decade;
  • Existing Library of StraightUp Solar informational presentations to educate the public;
  • Installed largest agricultural solar system in Illinois at Home Nursery (588kW).
  • Member of the invitation-only, national Amicus Solar cooperative - a network of over 30 local, quality-conscious, and clean energy-committed installers around the nation, sharing lessons learned, best practices, and cooperative buying power
  • StraightUp Solar’s own 10-year workmanship and production warranties, in addition to panel manufacturers’ 25-year production guarantee
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StraightUp Solar is a fully insured, licensed, & Illinois state-certified, turnkey solar EPC firm staffed by our own in-house licensed electrician and NABCEP-certified professionals to provide the highest quality residential, commercial and community solar energy systems.