Front Porch Forum: Hosting Community Solar in Vermont

Community Solar

Here’s How It Works

We’ve figured it out so that all Vermonters, businesses and nonprofits have a solar option. Community Solar members receive solar credits produced by the group array to reduce or eliminate their utility bill. Since it’s not wires but the utility’s billing system that connects members to their Community Solar Array, members can be anywhere within the same utility as the solar system. We’re currently seeking CSA hosts in Morrisville, Stowe, Johnson, Northfield, Enosburg, Swanton, Barton and Ludlow municipal utilities. Unfortunately, folks serviced by GMP or VEC will need to wait until 2017 when those utilities reopen for community solar.

Hosting a CSA

Landowners who host CSAs build our clean energy future. Community Solar hosts help repower Vermont by providing an affordable solar solution for families, businesses and schools.

Creating value in our working landscape. CSA hosts dedicate a slice of their land or a large rooftop (or two!) to this clean energy use and are compensated.

Could you host Community Solar? A CSA covers an acre or so of unshaded land near a power line. Or, a large rooftop – a series of barns, a large office building, hockey rink, or the like. We’ll do all the legwork to figure out if you’ve got a good spot.

Rooftop Community Solar Array
As Vermont dairy farmers, it’s very important for us to budget our expenses to remain a viable business. Since milk prices are unpredictable, we were looking for ways to invest in our farm to maintain some predictable expenditures. This is why we chose to host a Community Solar Array (CSA) on our land. We looked into building and buying our own array but it was cost prohibitive. It would’ve taken up a lot of our purchasing power. So, when the CSA program at SunCommon was created we knew we had found a great fit. By hosting a CSA, not only have we secured predictable, constant electricity rates for our farm, but we’ve also developed a new form of the working landscape.
Molly Magnan, Fairfield CSA Land HostCommunity Solar

Got a few questions? Ready to get started?

Click the link below to fill out the form. That’ll give us the info we need to get up to speed on your possible CSA site!

What are RECs?

Renewable Energy Certificates document the environmental attributes produced by renewable energy sources, and can be sold to contribute funds needed to build a solar project like a CSA. Currently, Vermont does not have a renewable portfolio standard that provides a market to buy or sell RECs within Vermont. So, the RECs may be sold to utilities in neighboring states. Where SunCommon sells RECs associated with a CSA, the buyer of the Renewable Energy Credits may claim the environmental attributes. Given the way electrons flow, the power from the solar array typically flows to neighbors of the array. A CSA Member does not receive solar energy, but receives solar credits in the form of cash on her/his utility bill.

RECs are one of the financial attributes that are bundled together to make it possible to offer CSA membership at a low monthly payment and guaranteed savings. We expect Vermont to adopt our own renewable portfolio standard in 2017, after which the RECs associated with the electricity generated by CSAs will support Vermont’s clean energy goals.

Want to dig into the details? We’ve got you covered with this Q+A!


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