Community Solar is a concept that is developing across the country and in Michigan. It is a viable alternative for citizens, communities and businesses seeking to utilize and reap the benefits of solar power.
Michigan citizens who are interested in utilizing solar energy may face a number of obstacles, including:
- Not having access to a proper site for a renewable energy system
- Not having ownership of the space (renters, condominium owners)
- The complexity of installing the solar panel system
- Unable to afford the large, up-front costs of some systems
Basically, Community Solar allows groups of people to invest in a solar energy system built in and by their community. Project members receive a return on their investment either through a reduction in their energy bills or in the form of a periodic payment for the value of the energy produced by the members involved in the project.
With Community Solar, residents, organizations and businesses receive a number of benefits:
- They are investing in a site that is optimal for their renewable energy goals
- The costs and the benefits of the project are shared by the participants
- Shareholders can take advantage of economies of scale—they can help build larger systems at a lower cost-per-installed-kilowatt (kW)
- Members see their investment benefiting their own community
One of a number of successful Community Solar project in Michigan is the Solar Up North (SUN) project developed by the Cherryland Electric Cooperative near Traverse City in 2014. Co-op members are credited on their monthly electric bills for the energy produced by their solar collectors, which they lease for 25 years. The program has been so successful that Cherryland has expanded it twice since its inception.
For more information, see “A Guidebook for Community Solar Programs in Michigan Communities.”
Oak Electric Service is one of southeast Michigan’s leading electrical and renewable energy contractors. Give us a call at (800) 964-7070. Our solar experts are standing by to answer all of your questions. We invite you to visit our website at www.oakelectric.com to learn more about us.