Whether you’re a Texas homeowner or renter, you may have the option to participate in a community solar project, depending on your location and the style of your home.
These projects grant you an eco-friendly, convenient, and affordable way to use the right amount of solar electricity you need in your home while still being conscious about the planet’s energy resources. As the years go on, community solar programs are becoming more popular and easily accessible for residents.
Use these facts and considerations to help you decide if a community solar project could be right for you.
What Are Community Solar Projects?
Community solar projects occur when two or more households share electricity generated by off-site solar plants. Multiple community subscribers can typically share energy coming from local solar facilities. Many of these community subscribers can also earn additional credit on their electricity bills for the amount of power they produce.
According to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, “In addition to the more popular off-site model of community solar, there is also an on-site multifamily community solar model where occupants of apartment and condominium buildings each benefit from the energy produced from the rooftop array.”
Some homeowners may choose to participate in ownership-based projects. Ownership will allow them to purchase a set number of panels or a certain amount of energy from the community solar project. There may be incentives and tax credits available for ownership plans.
Subscription-based projects are typically the most popular types of community solar participation models. To successfully participate in this project, you must reside within a certain distance from the solar project you’re participating in and ensure it’s within your utility’s coverage area. Check with your utility provider to make sure you live close enough to receive the proper coverage.
Several residential homeowners can choose to share solar power generators from a centralized source. They can opt in to use the exact amount of energy they need. Community solar projects allow residents to enjoy using solar power without worrying about purchasing solar panels.
Image via Vote Solar
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy states that 49% of households cannot install solar panels effectively. Households that are best suited for community solar projects typically include the following:
- Homes with shaded roofs
- People who consume energy but can’t afford to pay for solar installation upfront
- Renters who don’t own the home they reside in
Community Solar Benefits
Deciding to participate in a community or traditional solar program can offer several benefits for consumers.
- Replenish energy naturally: Solar energy is renewable. Rather than emitting carbon into the atmosphere and potentially harming the environment, you can reuse it to reduce waste. This practice also allows you to reduce your environmental footprint, which can decrease any global warming impacts.
- Save money: If you’re concerned about saving money on energy bills, community solar electricity could be an effective, cost-saving option for you. It doesn’t require steep upfront installation charges. Additionally, when some companies learn that you’re consuming less energy, they may offer discounts or deals on your monthly energy bills. These incentives may allow you to receive significant savings down the line.
- Enjoy a more effortless moving experience: Some traditional solar energy users often purchase their solar panels, meaning they usually deal with the hassle of transferring them from one home to another. With community solar, you share a panel with others, meaning you can transition solar shares from one location to the next, rather than worrying about moving and installing an entire panel every time you move.
- Gain unlimited access quickly within whole communities: Many underserved customers who need affordable energy sources can gain access with community solar projects. These resources can reach all families throughout a community instead of having a clean energy source only for those with individual solar panels or larger budgets.
Texas Community Solar Projects
It’s becoming more and more common for Texas residents to use community solar projects. There was an initial surge in Texas community solar projects during 2015 and 2016. Since then, the number of projects has improved significantly.
The Texas Solar Energy Society shared data from 2021 states that currently 499 solar companies operate in Texas and 205 installers and developers work in the state. According to Go Solar Texas, “Texas is poised to further expand community solar, thanks to its permissive regulatory environment, falling solar costs, and availability of financing.”
In February 2023, Avantus, a company committed to promoting clean energy, broke ground on their new solar project in Concho County, Texas. The project will serve as a 147 MWDC/110 MWAC resource for Texas’ energy grid, generating enough clean electricity to provide power for 60,000 Texans.
You can find a community solar project near you here.
Expansion of Community Solar Projects
Community solar programs should continue expanding over the next few years. These projects could bring the possibility of solar power to approximately half of the households in the country. Not only are homeowners and renters continuing to participate in community solar projects, but small businesses, schools, churches, and other community organizations are taking part in these environmentally friendly options as well.
According to The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, as of 2020, about a third of states have enabling policies for community solar. This includes passing legislation that created a third-party market for community solar requiring project developers and utilities to follow certain customer-enrollment and installation regulations.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory reported findings that community solar is likely to net from approximately $8.2 billion to $16.3 billion worth of cumulative investments. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, “The U.S. solar industry grew at least 43%, as a record of 19.2 GWdc of capacity was installed in 2020. Over the next decade, the U.S. solar industry projects to install around 324 GWdc of new capacity. This should reach a grand total of 419 GWdc within the upcoming 10 years.”
Many states have enabled more policies for community solar over the years. Most have passed legislation allowing third-party markets for these projects. Utilities and project developers follow specific guidelines to effectively implement community solar installations and sign up customers for these services more efficiently and conveniently.
Choosing the Right Solar Electric Option for You
The constant progression of solar energy across the state of Texas and the United States is clear. If you’re a Texas resident interested in sharing solar energy with community members and other homeowners, now could be the right time to get started. Participating in a community solar opportunity could be a more effective, convenient, and beneficial renewable energy option than simply installing solar panels or participating in other traditional solar methods.
Community Solar Frequently Asked Questions
What is Community Solar?
Community solar projects involve two or more households sharing electricity generated by off-site solar plants or farms. Several residential homeowners can choose to share solar power generators from these off-site plants to use the exact amount of energy they need.
Many of these participants can also earn additional credit on their electricity bills for the amount of power they produce.
What are Community Solar benefits?
Community solar projects have many benefits including cost efficiency and they allow participants to reduce their carbon emissions by using renewable solar energy. Community solar projects allow residents to enjoy using solar power without the costs of purchasing solar panels. Opting into a community solar project also ensures an easy transition if homeowners decide to move as they are not required to have solar panels installed to use community solar power.
You can learn more about community solar on Home Energy Club.