When was the last time the factors you had to consider in a business decision were lower operating costs, zero change to infrastructure, supporting the local economy and no capital investment? Add in “doing the right thing,” an act of corporate social responsibility, and it’s an easy call, right?
That’s community solar. We sometimes hear, “That’s too good to be true” when we lay out the advantages. It is true. Let me explain.
Save Money, Grow the Business, Support Jobs
Community solar is a new option for businesses of all sizes and models, homeowners and renters to save money on electricity while supporting local solar energy projects. The fundamentals are fairly simple. The developer of a solar garden in your area provides electricity to a participating utility that supplies power to your community. The utility adds it to their mix of energy sources, and they track the value of each watt of that energy. The value of the energy is expressed in “solar credits.”
That’s where you (and we) come in. You can enroll your business in a community solar program through Onesta Community Solar and earn solar credits that get applied to your company’s regular electric bill. The amount of credits is determined by studying your average monthly electricity usage over 12 months; that enables establishing your subscription which, like all subscriptions, remains the same each month.
Those credits appear as a line item on your electric bill and are subtracted from your total costs. Your company is automatically billed by Onesta each month for the solar credits received the previous month. If there aren’t enough solar credits to cover the entire bill, the remaining balance is paid to the utility company. If your credits exceed your bill, you roll the extra credits to the next month.
Here’s how you cut expenses. Your subscription earns you solar credits that reduces your monthly electric energy spend by an average 10% less than the cost of the equal amount of electricity that you would pay your utility provider. Think about how much 10% could mean over one, three or five years, and what you could do with that money.
Enrolling costs nothing. And, you don’t need to buy solar panels or the supporting system, so there’s zero capital outlay. Power comes to your utility just like it always has, so there’s no change to infrastructure.
Providing Community Solar Information
Businesses can participate wherever community solar is offered. A sometimes-overlooked impact of community solar is that regional jobs are created through solar farm development, strengthening the local economy while supporting alternative energy. That’s corporate social responsibility in action.
If you haven’t heard about community solar in the context of business, you’re not alone. One of the prime objectives for Onesta is providing information on subscribing to community solar for businesses. I recently spoke at a lunch-and-learn for the Rockland Business Association, a not-for-profit organization in Rockland, New York (and the “voice” of business in Rockland County), to do just that. I welcomed the chance to expose some of the audience to community solar and offer information on community solar programs in their area. I’d love to put together an event with you to describe subscribing and partnership options for your business as well.
I hope I’ve sparked your interest to the point where you would like to learn more. We’ve provided a few links to resources as well as my address to the Rockland Business Association in this post and are always ready to answer any questions – just get in touch and we’ll help you think through a pretty easy decision.
Community Solar Resources
Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) – Industry news and facts
NREL Report – Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation
Community Solar Locator – Just enter your Zip Code
Rockland Business Association – 3-minute overview video