Community Solar Farm FAQ
Community Solar Farm FAQ
Does my solar farm have to be in the town where I live? Where will my solar farm be located?
You do not need to live in the same town as your Community Solar Farm (CSF), you simply need to live in the same utility territory that it is located in. ReVision works with landowners all over the state of Maine to provide future CSF members a cost-efficient and viable location for the solar array.
The exact location of the array is not always determined at the time that you sign a contract. Rather, the number of contracted members and the size of those individual members’ systems helps determine the location of the solar farm based on our pool of available sites.
Do I own the solar panels that make up my solar farm share?
Though you won’t own the physical panels, you are an outright owner of your share of the farm itself. As an owner of a portion of the CSF you can take advantage of the federal tax credit for residential solar investments.
How many solar panels do I need?
The number of panels in your CSF share will depend on your existing electrical usage, your potential future usage, and your appetite for investment. You could offset some or all of your electrical usage with solar power, or you may opt for a larger share if you are planning to expand electrical usage with an electric vehicle, heat pumps, etc.
How much does it cost? Is there financing available?
Cost depends on your share size and share size is dependent upon your budget and the amount of electricity you use or want to offset with solar. A firm number can be produced after a solar designer sees your electric bill. Typical shares range from $15,000-$30,000 before the 26% tax credit. We have financing options that require no money down, and allow you to go solar for a monthly payment comparable to your old utility bill. There are shorter loans that may increase the monthly amount you typically paid your utility, but would increase the overall return on investment. This flexibility makes it possible for anyone to stop renting their electricity from the utility and go solar.
Do I get to take the federal tax credit on my CSF share?
Yes, since you own a share in the CSF you are eligible to exercise the residential solar federal tax credit. ReVision Energy does not provide tax advice, and we strongly recommend you work with a professional tax preparer.
Will my power bill be zero dollars?
While it is possible to offset 100% of the cost of the kilowatt-hours that you consume at your home or business, there are still small, monthly connection fees that you will owe to the utility.
Why would I choose to own my panels at a solar farm vs. on my roof or in my yard? (Is it less expensive than putting panels on my roof or in my yard?)
Solar farms are the most democratic form of solar, as they are available to people who live in apartment buildings or homes that have poor solar exposure. The economies of scale renders CSF power less expensive than rooftop solar power, however, rooftop solar has advantages related to battery storage and home resale value. Some people simply prefer to see their solar array every day.
Is this less expensive power than I currently buy from my utility?
Yes, as well as being clean and produced in Maine! You can think of investing in solar as pre-buying your electricity for the next 25+ years. The panels have a 25-year power output warranty so you can be very confident in the stream of electricity coming to you for the next 25 years.
If you add those clean units of electricity (measured in kWh) up and divide by the net cost of the system (after factoring in the tax credit) you will see that your 25-year solar electricity rate is roughly half of what you currently pay your utility per kWh and a third of what your utility rate is expected to be in 25 years.
What happens if I want more solar panels down the road (to offset usage of a heat pump, EV, etc…) — can I buy more panels at my solar farm? Can I join a second solar farm?
You can’t expand your share within a completed solar farm, but you can join a second farm.
As a CSF member, what role do I play? What role does ReVision Energy play?
The members of a Shared Ownership Community Solar Farm own the solar equipment at the farm which lives on land that is leased to Community Solar of New England LLC (CSNE LLC). The members of all Community Solar Farms developed by ReVision Energy in Maine join together as owners of CSNE LLC. ReVision Energy designs, sells and builds the solar farms for the members. ReVision Energy also manages and maintains the solar arrays at a small cost to CSNE LLC.
Does the solar farm require maintenance?
The primary maintenance needed is mowing around the array. This maintenance is built into the annual operating cost structure that all shareholders contribute toward. The annual operating costs are paid to CSNE LLC, which covers the maintenance taken care of by the host.
What do annual operating costs go towards? How much are they?
The host is paid annual fees for use of the land and its upkeep. This includes insurance expenses, tax filings, and maintenance in the form of mowing and land upkeep. A sample of annual expenses will be provided with your CSF system proposal. Annual operating expenses for the CSF are based on each member’s individual system size. In the first five years, the cost per kilowatt for each share is $22. In years 6-10 the cost is $22/kW plus a 2.5% increase each year. In year 11, the Membership (shareholders) and the Manager (ReVision Energy) will collaborate on a budget for future operating expenses. We expect the cost change to be minimal and would likely follow the small 2.5% escalation each year.
The sale of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) will be used to offset annual expenses after the first 10 years. REC values can fluctuate significantly from one year to the next and the future values of RECs cannot be predicted. Since REC values cannot be predicted, ReVision Energy is taking on the risk of REC value fluctuation for 10 years and allowing members to know exactly what their annual membership costs will be for the first decade. Starting in year 11, REC values could offset 0% of expenses, or their value may offset 100%. The goal of ReVision Energy and the membership’s collaboration on future expenses will be to keep those expenses as low as possible in order to maintain the highest return on investment for the membership.
What the heck is a REC?
A Renewable Energy Certificate, or REC, represents the intangible value of the clean energy you produce with your solar panels. Most of the New England states require utilities to acquire a certain percentage of their total electricity portfolio from renewable sources – called the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). But since electricity follows the path of least resistance (like water), it’s generally impossible to know the source of any given electrons on the grid. That’s where RECs come in. Renewable power plants (PV solar arrays, wind farms, etc.) are awarded 1 REC for every 1,000 kWh (1 MWh) of electricity they generate. States with stronger renewable portfolio standards typically have higher REC prices and RECs can be bought and sold throughout the New England ISO grid. CSNE LLC will take care of the selling of RECs, so all you really need to know about them is that they add value to the solar investment and we expect them to cover some or all of the operating expenses in year 11 and beyond.
Can I offset multiple power bills with one CSF share? How many? Do they all have to be in my name?
Yes, you can offset multiple utility accounts with a single CSF share, but those accounts must all be in your name.
How long will my solar farm last? What happens after that?
There is a 25-year lease agreement with the landowner. The members then have the option for two 5-year extensions, for a combined total of 35 years. At the end of the system’s useful life, we can remove all of the equipment (easily, since we are not using any concrete), salvage it to cover the labor expense, and return the field to its natural habitat.
What happens if I move? Can I transfer ownership of, or sell, my CSF share?
Yes, if you move within the utility territory then you can still offset your electric bill at your new location. If you move to a different utility territory you will be able to transfer or sell your share. There will be a nominal paperwork fee from CSNE LLC to facilitate this transfer (on the order of $100), but if you find the buyer/grantee and arrange the deal, that is all.
If ReVision’s help is needed to find a buyer, a higher flat fee will be charged.
How many other members of my solar farm will there be?
The total membership is to be determined, but will be approximately 100 people, limited by the land and how many panels can be installed.
What happens if the PUC changes net metering rules in the future – can I still get energy credits from my solar panels?
Historically, existing net metering agreements are grandfathered any time there are changes made.
Sounds great! How do I sign up?
If you have already met with a ReVision representative, reach back out to them. You can also contact the Liberty, Maine office at (207) 589-4171 or the South Portland, Maine office at (207) 221-6342.