Frequently Asked Questions

Community solar isn’t complicated, and it’s easy to sign up for – but it may be new to you. We’ve got answers to commonly asked questions here. You can also check out this glossary of terms commonly used in the community solar space.

General

A community solar project, farm, or garden is a collection of solar panels called an array that supplies electricity to a local power grid serving the region. Community solar projects offer residents and small businesses a way to support clean, renewable energy without start-up costs, maintenance fees, or installation hassles. In addition to helping save the environment, people who subscribe to community solar projects can save on their monthly energy costs by receiving credit on their electricity bills for their share of the power produced. For more information, see How Does Community Solar Work?

Of course. We’ve created this glossary of terms commonly used in the community solar space.

Contact us to see if your project’s developer allows visitors. You can check your community solar dashboard to view photos of your project’s construction progress.

We partner with community solar developers and help them find subscribers for their projects – renters, homeowners, and small business owners like you who want to support renewable energy but can’t or prefer not to install rooftop solar. We connect you with a local community solar project and coordinate your solar service with your utility to ensure you receive solar credits that lead to savings on your energy costs. We invite you to learn more about us.

Yes, we’re continuing to add projects throughout the country. You can sign up for our waitlist and we’ll keep you in the loop as we offer programs in your area.

Savings and Billing

It depends on your solar project. As a subscriber, you may or may not be charged monthly for a portion of the project’s energy production. Either way, though, you’ll receive solar credits that help cover your energy bill payment and save you money on your monthly energy costs. Your subscription charge (if any), solar credits, and savings will vary depending on the state program or specific solar project. With community solar, your savings are locked in – with no hidden fees – so you’ll always pay less on your energy costs than if you hadn’t subscribed to community solar. Community Solar: How the Billing Process Works explains this really well if you’d like more information.

No, there are no upfront costs or fees.

Yes, if your project is on dual billing, we offer e-billing, one-time payments, and enrollment in AutoPay. If your project is on single billing, you won’t receive a bill from us. You’ll pay your utility bill using the payment options available through your regular utility provider. Learn more about billing in Community Solar: How the Billing Process Works.

No. You’re not responsible for any costs related to insurance, installation, or maintenance on your portion of the solar project.

Your utility account information helps us confirm that you’re in the project’s coverage area and that you’re the account holder. This also allows us to verify your annual energy usage. We use this information to calculate your allocation of the project’s total energy production and to make sure you receive your solar credits on your standard utility bill.

When you sign up for community solar, you’re allocated a portion of the project’s energy production. In exchange, you receive solar credits applied to your utility bill each month which result in monthly savings on your energy costs. The amount of your savings will depend on the state program or specific solar project.1 (You can watch your solar credits accruing in your community solar dashboard.)

No. We don’t use introductory rates. We set rates based on your contract and historical utility usage so that they continue to provide consistent savings throughout the lifetime of your solar project.

We’ll notify you when your project goes live. You can expect to see solar credits on your utility bill within 30-60 days after that, depending on where your enrollment falls within your utility billing cycle and the solar developer’s billing cycle.

You’ll always receive a bill from your utility company that will reflect the solar credits you receive for your portion of the solar project’s energy production. Depending on whether your solar project uses single or dual billing, you may get a separate community solar bill from us. Either way, community solar will save you money. You’ll always pay less on your energy costs than if you hadn’t subscribed to community solar. For more on single and dual billing, see Community Solar: How the Billing Process Works.

Graphic explaining the community solar billing process

You’ll still receive your utility bill, but you’ll see solar credits on it each month for your portion of the community solar project’s energy production.

Your community solar subscription will begin when your local project begins producing power. This generally happens within a month or two of subscriptions opening up, but the timing can vary. We’ll notify you before your project goes live to let you know when your subscription (and your savings) will begin.

Yes, you can. As long as the third-party ESCO supply charges are included on your utility bill, solar credits you receive from your community solar subscription will offset some, if not all, of the supply and delivery per kilowatt-hour charges on your residential utility bill. Let’s say you're billed and pay for your supply charges directly to the third party ESCO and not through your utility. In that case, the solar credits will offset only the delivery per kilowatt-hour charges on your utility bill. ESCO rates are slightly different from standard utility rates, but you’ll still receive savings on your bill from signing up for community solar. Still not sure if it makes sense for you? Give us a call, and we can talk through it together.

Subscription

If you move and your new address is in the same project territory, you can remain subscribed to the same project – but please let us know so we can update your information. If you move outside the project coverage area, please call us. We may have another project available in your new neighborhood. If you change your mind, there’s no fee to cancel. Notice is often required, and the length of any notice needed is explained in your agreement.

No. You’re not responsible for any costs related to insurance, installation, or maintenance on your portion of the solar project.

You may be eligible for several solar projects - and different projects have different contract terms. The specific terms of your community solar subscription will be presented during sign-up. Contracts are flexible so if you move or change your mind, there’s no fee to cancel.

No. We don’t use introductory rates. We set rates based on your contract and historical utility usage so that they continue to provide consistent savings throughout the lifetime of your solar project.

Enrollment

First, we must determine if there’s an available project near you. To find out, enter your ZIP code, county, and utility provider here. If there is, we collect basic information to set up your community solar account. We ask you to provide your estimated average monthly utility usage (or you can log into your utility account instead) and then select your plan. Lastly, if your project uses dual billing, you set up your preferred payment method; if it uses single billing, you’ll be billed and pay through your utility company. It all takes just a few minutes. For more on single and dual billing, see Community Solar: How the Billing Process Works.

We’re glad you asked! Yes, your business can save up to 10% on your monthly energy costs with a subscription to one of our community solar projects. We make it easy for a business of any size to support environmental sustainability - and to start seeing monthly energy cost savings. Contact us to get started.

Your utility account information helps us confirm that you’re in the project’s coverage area and that you’re the account holder. This also allows us to verify your annual energy usage. We use this information to calculate your allocation of the project’s total energy production and to make sure you receive your solar credits on your standard utility bill.

When you sign up for community solar, you’re allocated a portion of the project’s energy production. In exchange, you receive solar credits applied to your utility bill each month which result in monthly savings on your energy costs. The amount of your savings will depend on the state program or specific solar project.1 (You can watch your solar credits accruing in your community solar dashboard.)

We’ll notify you when your project goes live. You can expect to see solar credits on your utility bill within 30-60 days after that, depending on where your enrollment falls within your utility billing cycle and the solar developer’s billing cycle.

You’ll still receive your utility bill, but you’ll see solar credits on it each month for your portion of the community solar project’s energy production.

We’ll link you to your community solar account dashboard, which will show you the project’s energy output and impact on the environment – and eventually your portion of the project’s output. If your project isn’t yet completed when you enroll, you can track its progress on your community solar dashboard. We’ll link you to your community solar account dashboard, where you can track your project’s energy output (and your portion of it) and see your impact on the environment. If your project isn’t yet completed when you sign up, you can track its progress and see photos here, too.

Some community solar projects require credit checks while others do not. The specific terms of your community solar subscription will be presented during sign-up. If a credit check is required, it will be a soft credit check which doesn’t affect your credit score in any way.

Some projects require a credit check, while others do not. If you don't pass the credit check for the project and plan you've selected, we may show you other projects or plans that you qualify for. If you don’t qualify for any at this time, we’ll let you know that. We encourage you to check back with us if your credit score improves to see if you qualify for a plan. And again, our soft credit check doesn’t affect your credit score.

Yes, you can. As long as the third-party ESCO supply charges are included on your utility bill, solar credits you receive from your community solar subscription will offset some, if not all, of the supply and delivery per kilowatt-hour charges on your residential utility bill. Let’s say you're billed and pay for your supply charges directly to the third party ESCO and not through your utility. In that case, the solar credits will offset only the delivery per kilowatt-hour charges on your utility bill. ESCO rates are slightly different from standard utility rates, but you’ll still receive savings on your bill from signing up for community solar. Still not sure if it makes sense for you? Give us a call, and we can talk through it together.

Yes, we’re continuing to add projects throughout the country. You can sign up for our waitlist and we’ll keep you in the loop as we offer programs in your area.

Environmental Impact

Unlike some other types of energy, solar energy doesn’t emit greenhouse gases that create climate change and harm the environment, plants, animals, and people. Once you subscribe to a community solar project with Nelnet Renewable Energy, your community solar dashboard shows the environmental impact of your project. For more about the environmental benefits of community solar, visit this page.

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