With community solar, you can subscribe to a share of a solar farm near you. If you have an electric bill, you can support renewables without installing anything on your property – and save money!The Bay State was one of the first in the country to offer community solar options. Much of this is due to the passage of the Green Communities Act in 2008, which established the state’s first solar carve-out. This piece of legislation also helped form MA’s virtual net metering policy that allows electricity customers to receive bill credits for energy generated at community solar farms. According to the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR), Massachusetts had roughly 208 community solar projects as of late 2020.
Savings differ from program to program, and also vary by month. On average, most community solar subscribers in Massachusetts receive a 5-10% discount off of traditional electricity costs over the course of a year.
Electricity bill savings differ from program to program, and also vary by month. On average, most community solar farm subscribers receive a discount between 5-10% off of traditional electricity costs over the course of a year.
After subscribing to a community solar program, you will start receiving two separate bills: you’ll continue receiving a monthly bill from your utility company, but this bill will include any applicable credits from the community solar farm. You will also receive a separate bill from your community solar provider for the cost of your share or subscription.
Sign up or membership fees vary depending on the project, provider, and payment model – many community solar providers offer $0-down subscription options, while others may charge a small, initial sign-up fee to get you up and running.
It depends – if you’re moving to a location that’s still in the same electricity service territory as your current home, you may be able to 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 utility customer (whether that be the new homeowners or someone else in the project’s service territory). Cancellation and transfer terms and applicable fees vary by project and provider, so confirm these policies with your provider prior to signing up.
Before signing a contract with a community solar provider, it’s important to compare estimated savings, cancellation terms, project location, payment model, subscription fees, and more. Using the Community Solar Marketplace, you can compare multiple local options and find the best project for you.
Community solar programs help support local renewable energy jobs and project development in Massachusetts, connecting you directly to clean energy projects in your community.
You can save 5-10% off of your annual electricity costs with community solar.
Unlike rooftop solar, you don’t need to own your property to take advantage of community solar (you just need an electric bill!)
Many community solar farms have no subscription fee and are easy to opt-out of. Plus, you don’t need to install or maintain any equipment on your property.
There are 6 community solar developers offering 8 active projects in Massachusetts.
Which option is right for you?
Here are some of the main differences to keep in mind as you’re deciding between community and rooftop solar:
|Community solar||Rooftop solar|
|Cost||No upfront cost||Does have an upfront cost; $0-down financing available|
|Savings||Lower savings||Maximum long-term savings|
|Accessibility||Available to renters & property owners||Only available to property owners|
|Maintenance||No maintenance required||Maintenance may be required and is the responsibility of the system owner|
|Incentives||Not eligible for most solar incentives||Eligible for state and federal solar incentives (e.g. the federal tax credit)|
|Property value benefits||Has no impact on property value||Increases property value|
There are plenty of misconceptions out there about community solar, but luckily we’re here to help clarify. Here are some of the truths about community solar:
Back in the day, community solar often cost more than what you’d otherwise pay your utility – so it’s understandable if you still think that’s the case. However, it’s the opposite! By signing up for community solar, you’ll actually save money on an annual basis.
Ever received a letter in the mail urging you to sign up for a clean electricity plan? Or had someone knock on your door asking you to sign up for a green power plan? Community solar is not the same thing! Here’s a breakdown of how community solar compares to other electricity options:
|Community solar||Community choice aggregation||Green power||Standard utility offering|
|Generates savings||Typically yes||Sometimes||Typically no||No|
|Supports local renewable energy development||Yes||Sometimes||Typically no||No|
|Has consolidating billing||Typically no||Typically yes||Sometimes||Yes|
|Do you get renewable energy certificates (RECs)||Typically no||Typically yes||Yes||No|
To learn more about these electricity plans, check out this article.
Community solar can take up a lot of space, so it’s easy to be confused about how it’s environmentally friendly – don’t these projects clear trees? While some solar farms will require the cutting of trees, many don’t! In fact, a lot of community solar projects are built on otherwise unusable land like landfills or brownfield sites. Some states even provide financial incentives to developers who choose to build projects on these sites. And overall, even if some trees need to be cleared for a community solar project to be developed, the net environmental benefit is still worth it in most cases.
Many people think that signing up for community solar means a long-term commitment – and we understand why! In the past, community solar subscriptions were often structured similarly to power purchase agreements in which you’re locked in for 20 or even 25 years. However, today, community solar subscriptions are much more flexible. Most companies don’t require a long-term agreement and you can cancel your subscription for free.
Signing up for community solar is extremely simple – especially when you do so through the EnergySage Community Solar Marketplace! Here’s a list of the steps you’ll need to take through our Marketplace in order to sign up: