While rooftop solar power systems have become more commonplace, community solar in is relatively new. Here are answers to common questions about this alternative way to go solar.

Q: What is community solar?
A: Community solar, sometimes referred to as shared solar, is an easy way to go solar using energy from a local solar garden instead of requiring panels to be installed on your roof. Energy is produced at an off-site solar garden and homeowners purchase credits which offset some or all of their existing electric bill. Community solar is a maintenance-free managed solution available to all types of homeowners, including condo owners and homeowners whose rooftops are not right for solar photovoltaic panels.

Q: Why community solar instead of rooftop solar?
A: Community solar allows you to convert almost all of your electric usage to renewable solar power and production isn’t restricted by the size and shape of your roof. Community solar is a renewable solution for the 80% of residents who would like to go solar but can’t because their roof isn’t suitable (shaded, too small, too old, etc.). It creates equal access to solar power. While democratizing solar, community solar also helps prevent carbon dioxide emissions and reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. It also helps grow the solar power industry and creates more jobs.

Q: Can I get community solar?
A: Qualified National Grid or Eversource rate payers in Massachusetts may have access to community solar. We may not have space on a project in your utility service area, but can let you know when space becomes available. Please click on the “Get Started” button at the bottom of the page to find out if community solar is available in your area. In addition, Relay Power also requires community solar customers to have an electric bill of more than $50 at the time of activation.

Q: What’s so special about community solar?
A: Community solar gives the majority of residents the opportunity to go solar without having to make an upfront investment or install any solar panels on their roof.

  • Expands Access. Any qualified National Grid or Eversource ratepayer in Massachusetts can access community solar. This includes condo owners in multi-unit dwellings and homeowners with a roof facing the wrong direction or with too much shade.
  • Improves Production. The locations of solar gardens are selected and the panel arrays are optimized for maximum production (i.e. panels are angled perfectly in sunny areas).
  • Offers Portability and Transferability. When consumers who have purchased community solar moves, they can take it with them to another location in their load zone, or transmission area. If you move out of your load zone, community solar can be transferred or gifted to a friend, family member or neighbor.

Ease of Use

  • Doesn’t Affect Aesthetics. A homeowner doesn’t have to worry about how solar panels would look on his roof or about the need to take down any shade trees blocking the sun.
  • Requires No Installation. For those who don’t want to (or can’t) have rooftop panels on their home, community solar is a perfect solution. All of the installation takes place off-site—all a homeowner has to do is sign up, and Relay Power will find a suitable garden based on where you live.

Q: How much does community solar cost?
A: The good news: You can get started with no upfront investment. Even better, community solar power is delivered to you at a rate lower than you’re paying today.

Q: How much can a customer expect to save?
A: In general, a customer can look forward to the certainty of lower electricity costs and the satisfaction of using renewable energy. The total amount of savings depends on how large your electric bill is and the solar garden available in your area.

Q: What would my electric bill show? 
A: Community solar production is linked to a ratepayer’s bill via a process known as virtual net metering. Virtual net metering credits the ratepayer with their share of the entire array’s production.

Q: How does the customer see this on his or her bill?
A: With virtual net metering in Massachusetts, these credits will be applied directly to the customer’s utility bill. Virtual net metering enables energy produced in a solar garden, miles away from a ratepayer’s home, to be credited on his or her bill.

Q: Who maintains the solar panels?
A: You do no work, we make sure that’s taken care of for you.

Q: What is the lifetime of the system?
A: The solar systems produce for 20 years.

Still have questions? Contact our team at CommunitySolar@RelayPower.com.