Do you want to power your home with clean, renewable solar energy but can’t or don’t want to bother with a rooftop installation? Community Solar may be for you!
Companies managing community solar arrays approved by the Illinois Power Agency in early 2019 are now actively seeking customers for community solar subscriptions. Here are few things to keep in mind if you are interested in pursuing community solar.
What is community solar?
A large solar array in your utility territory (in central Illinois that means Ameren) that feeds the electricity it produces directly to the power grid. Customers sign up for their own shares of the array, the size of the share is based on your home electricity usage. Subscribers receive credits on their utility bill for the energy generated by their share, and they purchase those credits at a discounted rate from the company managing the community solar array.
As an example: you use 600kWh of electricity in a month, and your community solar subscription generated 500kWh worth of electricity. Your Ameren bill will show the 600kWh usage, with a 500kWh credit. You will pay your Ameren supply rate for the remaining 100kWh. You will pay your delivery fees and taxes to Ameren for the full 600kWh. You will receive a subsequent bill from your community solar provider for the 500kWh – but the rate you are charge for that energy is 20% lower than the Ameren supply rate charge.
Who is eligible?
Anyone who receives electricity services from Ameren Illinois can be a community solar subscriber (Corn Belt customers do not have community solar options available to them). Community solar is a great option for homeowners who have heavy shade making on-site solar nonviable. Renters can also participate in community solar so long as they are responsible for their own utility bill (and electricity is not included in their rent). Community solar is also a great option for people who might not be able to afford the upfront investment required for a home solar installation. However, the Illinois Solar for All program provides rooftop solar options with no upfront costs and community solar options with increased savings for income-eligible residents. Check with the EAC for details about these options! Community solar subscriptions for income-eligible residents offer the energy supply at 50% lower than the Ameren supply rate.
Interested in signing up?
The Ecology Action Center recently signed up for a community solar subscription through Nexamp for our building. The subscription offers a 20% savings on energy supply (the fee they charge per kWh of energy produced by your portion of the solar array would be 20% less than Ameren’s supply charge), has no sign-up fee, and no cancellation fee (important to remember, you can take your community solar subscription with you if you move to another home that is still in Ameren territory).
Residents in Ameren territory interested in signing up witht NexAmp can do so here. This referral code at this link will give both you and the EAC and extra bonus when you sign up. NexAmp will ask you for 12 months of your energy usage to determine what size portion of the community solar array will cover your energy needs. The community solar array won’t likely start producing energy until next year. Before your community solar service begins, residents participating in Bloomington and Normal’s municipal aggregation will need to opt-out of service. If you are unsure whether or not you are getting your energy supply from an alternate energy retail supplier, look at the energy supply section of your Ameren bill. If you are enrolled in municipal aggregation, Homefield Energy will be listed as your supplier (see picture below). To opt-out of aggregation just call their number at 866-694-1262 and cancel.
Please contact Larissa Armstrong at [email protected] or 309-454-3169 x15 with questions or for more information.