What an electric bill looks like with community solar

If you're considering subscribing to a community solar project, it's safe to assume that one of your primary motivations is to decrease your electricity bills. Fortunately, most subscribers see 5-15 percent savings on their yearly electricity costs with community solar. Whether you're starting your research or just signing a contract with a local community solar project, you're likely curious about what your monthly electricity bill will look like now. In this article, we'll answer that question and clarify some of the finer details of what being a community solar subscriber looks like.

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Key takeaways

  • After signing up for community solar, you'll receive a monthly bill from your project provider and your electricity bill.

  • Community solar will show its value through annual savings that may not be as apparent monthly. You'll see the most value from your investment in community solar after being subscribed for a year or more.

  • Ready to save on your electric bill? Visit our Community Solar Marketplace to compare quotes from solar projects near you!

After signing up for community solar, the most important thing to know is that you will see an additional monthly bill. You'll receive your regular electricity bill and a community solar bill from your project provider. Below, we'll dive a little deeper into how this works.

Overall, your electricity bill will look the same. It will summarize your electricity usage over the past billing period and tell you how much you owe for that energy consumption. However, you may find that the final number you are paying your utility company is lower than in the past. This is because your electricity bill now reflects the credits you are purchasing from your community solar subscription and putting towards the cost of the electricity you receive from your utility company. Your electricity bill will be the cost of electricity for that month minus the dollar value of the credits you purchased from the community solar farm.

Additionally, your electricity bill will probably not say "community solar" on it next to the new negative charge on your bill. While that would be the easiest way to find it, it's more likely labeled under "net metering" or some "credit" label. You'll recognize it as a negative charge on your bill, and once you know what it is labeled, you'll be able to see how much you're saving with community solar – just by looking at your electricity bill!

Are you interested in understanding your electric bill a little better? We look at the right way to read your bill in this article.

Community solar is the new bill you will get in addition to your electricity bill, charging you for the credits produced by your share of the community solar project. Depending on how your subscription is structured, you will receive either a fixed discount on bill credits or a fixed electricity rate from the community solar project. These two structures are calculated in the following ways:

Fixed discount on bill credits

Community solar bill charges =  monthly solar bill credit value * (100 – discount)%

Fixed electricity rate

Community solar bill charges = monthly solar electricity production from your share (kWh) * bill credit rate ($/kWh)

With the fixed discount structure, you receive a locked-in percentage discount no matter how much electricity costs in your area. With the fixed electricity rate structure, your savings primarily rely on how much your community solar company charges per kWh and how that compares to your utility company's current electricity price. For additional information on subscription structures, check out this article.

Once you start purchasing credits from the community solar project you're subscribed to, they will begin to be reflected on your monthly electricity bill. Fortunately, the community solar and utility companies do most of the heavy lifting when putting those credits toward your electric bill. The part of the process you don't see goes like this:

  1. The community solar company and utility company determine how much electricity the solar project generates for the grid and, specifically, how much electricity your share of the project produces.

  2. The community solar company calculates your credit value based on the production and sends you a bill (bill number one).

  3. Credits are applied to your utility account.

  4. The utility company sends you a bill with solar bill credits included (this is bill number two).

Remember: community solar will demonstrate its savings power over multiple months, and you'll be able to note your actual savings from community solar once you have been subscribed for a year. Solar power generally produces more electricity during warmer, sunnier months and lower production levels during the winter. Community solar is not exempt from this fluctuation. Your community solar credits may accumulate during the summer, but they will roll over from month to month if you have more than you can use, and you will be able to use them during months when solar energy production is not as high. 

To learn more about community solar and what you can expect from your subscription, read this overview of everything you need to know about community solar.

How does community solar work?

A community solar project is a large, central power plant whose electricity is shared by multiple properties. These projects generate and distribute renewable electricity for the grid, and subscribers purchase a share of this energy – usually at a discount – to offset their power bill. As a subscriber, you receive credits towards your monthly electric bill for any energy you buy from the project, reducing what you owe your utility company.

Will I still receive power from my utility company?

Yes – after subscribing, your utility company will continue delivering your electricity without interruption in service.

How does community solar billing work?

As a community solar subscriber, you'll likely receive two monthly bills: one from your utility company and another from your community solar provider. Your community solar bill will include charges for the energy generated from your project share. Then your provider will then coordinate with your utility company to apply project credits to your electric bill, reducing your overall cost.

What happens if I move?

It depends – if you're moving to a location in the same electricity service territory as your current home, you can usually transfer your community solar subscription to your new address. However, if you're moving further away, you may need to cancel your subscription or transfer your contract to another customer in that area. Cancellation, transfer terms, and applicable fees vary by project and provider, so confirm these policies with your developer before signing up.

Have more questions about community solar? We answer common questions in this article.

EnergySage is the nation's leading online solar marketplace: using our Community Solar Marketplace, you can compare local options, get a quick community solar savings estimate, and seamlessly subscribe to an open project in your area. Over 10 million people visit EnergySage annually to learn about, shop for and invest in solar. Compare your community solar options today to see how much you can save.

Get the benefits of solar without installing panels
Please enter a five-digit zip code.
  • 100% free to use, 100% online
  • Enjoy 5 - 20% off your annual electricity bill
  • Unbiased Energy Advisors ready to help
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