Community Solar Farms
Community solar farms (CSFs, or, solar gardens) make going solar possible for those who want clean energy but don’t have the ability to put it on their own roof (or on the ground in their own yard).
ReVision Energy provides an ownership model of community solar, meaning, each participant in one of our solar farms actually owns a share of solar in one of the community projects. This is in contrast to models of community solar that are investor-owned, where the solar customers change over time and do not have a stake in the actual solar generation asset.
Member-Owned Community Solar
In our model, a group of homeowners are paired up with a host and invest together in a large solar array which is built on the ground in an ideal solar location (typically an open field, or business park, or brownfield). 100% of the generation from the solar farm is sent to the grid and automatically credited to the accounts of the solar shareholders based on their stake in the solar farm. This billing function is called “Virtual net metering.”
A great advantage of the solar farm is that the share is portable – if you sell your house (and move to another home within the region of the same utility company) or if you move to another apartment, your community solar share comes with you. If you need to move out of your utility’s service territory you can sell your share to another person.
Unlike leasing, or purchasing electricity from a competitive energy provider, you actually own the share of the solar project. This means you have access to all the same financial incentives as someone who purchases solar and puts it on their own roof, including affordable financing.
Simply put, solar farms are a way to bring solar to the great number of people who do not own their home, own a home that is unsuitable for solar, or have maximized the solar potential at their existing home and want to generate more solar electricity. It also is a cooperative model that puts energy production into the hands of a small group of people and decentralizes the energy grid.
Video Clip of Maine’s First Solar Farm, in Paris, Maine
Hosting a Solar Farm
If you have a piece of land where you might wish to host a farm, ReVision Energy is very interested in speaking with you.
There is currently very strong interest in sites for solar farms so good hosts are critical in helping this cooperative model of solar expand throughout Maine and New Hampshire. Some important things for potential solar farm hosts to know:
- There is some, but not significant, financial opportunity for hosting a solar farm. As such, ideal hosts will have a strong desire to help realize a solar farm for environmental and social reasons and not just financial motivation.
- Ideal sites are unshaded open fields with reasonably easy access to utility electrical service.
- While the landowner is required to maintain insurance for the property, the maintenance of the solar farm is provided by a mutual benefit corporation that is created in the process of organizing the solar farm.
How a Community Solar Farm Works
1) Sunshine Hits Panels
CSF is located in a location with ideal, unobstructed solar access. The solar array is optimized for maximum production year-round. Generally, the CSF project is a fixed ground-mounted solar array which may be attached to the ground in one of a number of different ways depending on site conditions.
2) Power is Banked with the Grid
All electricity generated by the community solar array feeds to the grid, where it powers the local utility grid. The power generated is tracked by the utility and reconciled monthly.
3) Credit Automatically Applied to your Electric Bill
Unlike an on-site solar electric system, where some of your solar energy is consumed ‘behind the meter,’ 100% of the electricity from the community solar array is banked with the utility. Through virtual net metering, your share of the community solar farm’s production is automatically applied to your bill. So for instance, say a farm generates 10,000 kilowatt-hours in a month, and you have a 10% share. You will automatically receive a credit of 1,000 kilowatt-hours on your electric bill.