The clean energy industry in Maine is moving fast. Many consumers and business owners have heard of community solar but have questions about how programs work and how to sign up. Our goal is to help people get the answers they need so we can move Maine toward a sustainable future.
Here is a collection of FAQs we’ve gathered from talking with hundreds of Mainers over the past year. If this page answers your questions, you can sign-up for a program right here on our website. If you still have questions, schedule some time with one of our energy specialists to get answers.
Who can join a solar farm?
The short answer is almost anyone! So long as you have an active utility account, you’re eligible. There’s no special equipment to buy or install. Don’t own your property? No problem. Homeowners, renters, places of worship, and businesses of all sizes can support clean energy and benefit from cheap solar power.
What does the program cost?
There is no cost to join the program. You pay for the bill credits applied to your electric bill at a 10 or 15% discount based on the program you join.
What is the sign-up process?
It’s super easy to sign-up for a program.
Residential customers need their utility account information.
Business customers need a copy of one billing statement for any meters they want to enroll so the solar farm can calculate the number of credits you need.
Complete the DocuSign form.
Enter payment information. You can pay with a credit card or link to your bank account.
How will I pay my electricity bill?
You will have the option of receiving one bill or two every month. With the one bill option, you will be billed automatically each month by your solar company. They take care of paying your utility bill. It’s that simple. With the two-bill option, you will be billed automatically each month from your solar company for your share of the solar electricity produced. You will also receive a separate bill from your utility company minus the solar credits you receive from the solar company each month. Both options will be less than your old utility bill.
What’s the catch?
There is no catch, that’s a common question but these programs are made possible by State laws and are rapidly expanding around the country. The savings guarantee is provided in writing by the solar developer to you. You can find many recent articles and news stories about community solar in Maine. Many local businesses and homeowners have already reserved their spot on a solar farm.
How are credits acquired?
Your subscription provides you with a percentage of the total output of the solar farm.
How are credits applied? To the entire bill or just the supply?
The credits from your solar farm allotment are automatically applied to your monthly utility bill, reducing the total amount due. Bill credits offset all electricity costs: supply and delivery and taxes.
If you use more electricity than was generated on your behalf, the utility will invoice you for the difference. Use less electricity than your allotment generated and you will not owe the utility any money that month. Any remaining credits will be banked for future use.
In New England, our seasons have an impact on solar energy production. In the summer months, with longer and sunnier days, solar farms produce more electricity. In the winter, solar farms tend to produce less. Over the course of a year, you can expect your share of the solar farm to produce roughly the amount of electricity you use.
What happens to unused credits?
Unused credits will be banked in your account and automatically applied to months where you’ve used more electricity than was generated on your behalf.
Can I opt out of the program?
Yes. You can cancel your subscription at any time.
Where will my community solar farm be located?
There are solar farms in development all around the state. Your farm will be located within your utility area. Your community solar provider can give you more information once they assign your capacity to a specific farm.
How am I matched up with a solar farm?
When you provide your utility information, the solar company reviews your past year of electricity usage so they know how much energy you need. They identify your service area and search for local solar farms that have the capacity available to meet your needs. In most cases, that’s it. A match is made and you’re offered a subscription to that solar farm.
How does my solar company know how large a share of the solar farm I need?
Referencing your utility bill, your solar company connects with your utility to determine how much capacity you’ll need then finds a solar farm that has matching capacity. Your allocation is the portion of the solar farm’s energy that is dedicated to meeting your needs. The goal is to make sure that the amount of bill credits you receive on your bill matches your annual electricity costs.
When will my savings kick in?
This changes all the time based on how quickly you enroll, when farms are coming online, and how much capacity you need. But, by signing up now you are reserving your space on a farm so you will start to receive credits as soon as it comes online.
How are you related to my electric utility?
We are not related to any electric utilities. Our role is to educate businesses and consumers about community solar and enroll those that want to take advantage of the benefits. Your utility provides delivery for all electricity supply in their service area so your 100% clean energy will flow through their lines.
What happens in the winter or on cloudy days when the sun isn’t shining as bright?
You will always receive your savings on the value of the solar credits you receive. Your total credits may fluctuate with the seasons but they rollover so sunny days and cloudy days even out over the course of the year.
How can I make sure I’m getting my discount each month?
You will still receive your electric bill that shows your total charges (supply, delivery, taxes) and the solar credits from your developer offsetting those charges. You will also have access to your personal portal where you can see the actual payable amount and confirm your savings.
Why don’t I pay my utility directly?
Your utility is paid with credits by the solar farm developer. You are paying the company that creates your clean energy.
How does this affect my current discount with my utility?
Any discounts you receive from your utility will be billed the same way and they will be paid in full. Community Solar discounts are applied on top of any other discounts you receive.
Why would I get a discount for free?
Maine passed legislation in 2019 encourage alternative energy growth and move the state toward 100% green energy. The community solar developers are offering a discount for people and businesses to enroll and commit to receiving energy from these community solar farms.
Can I enroll in a solar farm before it goes live?
Yes. Subscribing to a solar farm while it is being developed is a way to reserve capacity for yourself or your business. This commits the solar farm to meet your energy needs once it goes live. You won’t be charged a subscription fee during the construction phase. Neither will you receive any credits on your bill.
How do I know the solar farm is producing energy?
You will have access to a software portal that will allow you to view the solar production, monetary savings, and environmental impact that’s possible with your support of our program.
Will my electric company change?
No. Your current utility will still service your account and deliver energy to your home or business. Any energy consumption that isn’t covered by your energy credits will be paid to the utility at their price.
What happens if I move?
If you are moving to a residence that is still in the area of eligibility, you can take your subscription with you! As long as you reside in the same utility service territory, you can continue to be a part of your project.
My energy is provided by a third part supplier. Can I still join?
In most cases, yes. However, if you receive a bill for your third-party supplier that is separate from your utility bill, credits can only be applied to your utility bill. If your electricity charges appear in a consolidated bill, your credits can be used to offset the entire bill.
How can I keep track of my community solar bills?
In addition to showing you real-time information about the solar array you belong to, our software will also provide online records of your current and past bills.
Did we answer your questions? If so, you can sign-up for a program right here on our website. If you need more information, you can schedule some time with one of our energy specialists to get answers.