Many People, One Array ~ Community Solar Array

There are still many situations where solar is not yet cost-effective: apartment renters, condo owners, and homes with a fully shaded roof, 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 solar array’* and so-called ‘virtual net metering’.


How Does A Community Solar Array* Work?
* Note: CSA, community shared array, community solar array, community shared solar and community array are all used interchangeably elsewhere. These programs are often also sometimes referred to as solar gardens, solar farms, or just community solar. Use of these last 3 terms can be confusing because the also refer to other types of solar arrangements .

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.
It may even help save the bees! **
Community Solar Arrays Are Coming to Illinois!
  • In December 2016 Illinois lawmakers took decisive and nationally recognized action on the state’s policies regarding electricity, with the governor signing Illinois’ Future Energy Jobs Act into law. As a result, for the first time in Illinois, investor owned utilities (the state’s 3 biggest utilities - Ameren, ComEd, and Mid American) must purchase the electricity generated by community shared arrays.
  • The new law is a so-called omnibus bill, meaning it addresses a broad range of issues regarding the generation & conservation of electricity beyond just solar. It does so all under the umbrella of maintaining existing and creating new jobs. So several state agencies are working collaboratively right now to accept public comment and iron out the guidelines and rules on how the entire law is to be implemented. The result is expected to be published this spring in the nondescriptly named - Long‐Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan.
  • The details of the CSA portion of the law are starting to take shape. Check back here regularly for more information, including where you can expect the first CSA’s to be located.

Would you like to purchase your electricity
from a community shared array in your Illinois community? Let Us Know!

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What About Community Shared Arrays in Missouri?

Despite the clear advantages, billing and and regulatory complications can pose a significant challenge and so adoption in Missouri has been slow. There are just a handful of CSA’s around the state.  These have been sponsored by either a rural electric coop or a municipal electric utility.  Ameren MO is planning one, but as of January 2018 is not planning to start construction until all subscriptions are sold.  

The good news is that there have been legislative proposals in Missouri that are designed to overcome some of the regulatory obstacles.   And surveys show public support for community arrays is here in Missouri now.  

You can do your part by calling your legislator and let him/her know that you want the choice to go solar even if there’s no room on  your property.   So you want the MO legislature to make the necessary legal changes to allow you to join with others in your area to share a community array.

 

StraightUp Solar’s Role In CSA
StraightUp Solar plans to serve as full partner in the design and installation of community arrays. We are ideally suited for this:
  • Hard-won expertise and experience, design and installing over 1100 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 about community solar arrays;
  • Installed largest agricultural solar system in Illinois at Home Nursery (588kW);
  • Member of the invitation-only, national Amicus Solar cooperative - a network of over 40 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

Have a good location for your own array? No need to wait for CSA!

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Learn more about how community array programs operate elsewhere in the country:

Elsewhere in the nation individuals get “virtual electricity” from a community 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 the individual signs a legally binding agreement, receives a credit on their monthly electric bill equal to their contracted portion of the array, achieves lower per kilowatt-hour pricing over time, and directly contributes to environmental protection.

Guide to Community Shared Solar- Util, Priv, NP May 12 NREL graphics summary.pdf

Michigan_Community_Solar_Guidebook_updated 2014 GLREA.pdf

Community_Solar_Report MN June2013 MRES.pdf

**see http://www.beeculture.com/can-solar-sites-help-save-bees/ and

 https://fresh-energy.org/19302/  for some great insight.

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.