What is Community Solar?
Community solar installations—also known as community solar gardens and community solar projects—allow individuals and businesses to access the benefits of solar power that they could not achieve on their own. Community solar installations involve the placement of a solar array on unused land or property with ideal conditions. In Illinois, these large arrays are up to 2 Megawatts (MW) in size and contain a multitude of individual solar panels.
Community solar participants, also commonly called subscribers, contract for a portion of the solar array to supply power for their home, office, school, etc. These portions can be a small fraction of the overall kilowatt-hour (kWh) output of the community solar project or as large as 40% for a single subscriber.
In Illinois, the electricity market is deregulated and consumers can choose their power from a 3rd party power provider, and can therefore procure power from a community solar plant. Through a process known as virtual net metering, power generated by the community solar plant is metered and credited towards the energy supply portion of the subscribers’ electric bills.