By Paul Post
Community solar is a large array of solar panels at an offsite location that allows customers to access such power without installing panels on their homes. Developers build and operate community solar projects, and energy delivery companies like National Grid purchase and distribute credits generated by the projects to participating customers.
It’s an easy way for residential and small business owners alike to offset the current 8.5 rate of inflation by shaving up to 10 percent off their electric bills.
“There’s very little downside with this,” said Nathan Giebel, EnergyNext LLC vice president of energy services. “It’s a win-win, which is why they’re so popular. We partner with a lot of chambers of commerce. That’s how a lot of businesses come to interact with us.”
EnergyNext is a division of Chicago-based Satori Energy and has an office in Saratoga Springs.
There are three main issues the firm helps clients navigate when deciding which community solar project to enroll in.
“The biggest thing people care about is, How much am I going to save? What’s the guaranteed savings percentage? Most are 10 percent. Some are 5 percent. If you see something less than 10 percent, there’s probably something better available,” Giebel said.
Second, contracts are typically long term, perhaps up to 20 years. So clients might want to know if it’s possible to get out of an agreement without incurring any fees. Giebel said this is usually possible, with a 60- to 90-day advance notice window.
And third, customers want to know how they’re going to be billed. In some cases, they’re sent a second invoice in addition to their regular utility bill, a situation most people want to avoid. So Giebel suggested finding a project that involves just one invoice.