Now introducing an option to lease at $3/W! Call 802-869-2500 or e-mail vcs(at)soverensolar(dot)com for more information.
Soveren Solar and Vermont Community Solar are Proud to Announce membership in the National Community Solar Partnership!
We are thrilled to be members of the National Community Solar Partnership. The National Community Solar Partnership is a league of companies and organizations nationwide committed to making solar energy accessible to all Americans. The partnership includes specific emphasis on serving low and moderate income (LMI) households, in collaboration with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), and key representatives from solar companies, non-profit organizations, state and community leaders, and financial institutions. To learn more about the Partnership and to see a full list of members, click here.
Soveren Solar is thrilled to announce we are now offering Community Solar in Vermont!
The basic idea of Community Solar is to build a one- to four-acre solar farm on an open and unobstructed piece of land in the Green Mountain Power (GMP) electric utility’s territory. Individuals and businesses will purchase solar panels in that ‘farm’ and the credit that the panels generate will show up on their electric bills. Use of all of the other infrastructure needed to generate the solar electric credits (land lease, racking structure, inverters, wiring, maintenance, taxes and insurance) are included in the buy-in price. In addition, Soveren Solar will donate up to 10% of the total credits from the solar farm to a local not-for-profit organization.
Community Solar Lease Program
The leasing program is a great option for anyone looking to join the solar community but does not have the means to use the tax credits incorporated in the residential purchase. The lease program allows customers to buy in for $3/W instead of the original $4/W. This includes site licensing and maintenance for 30 years. On the seventh anniversary of the commissioning date, the leasers have the option of outright purchasing the system. The system can be tailored to your needs; however many panels you need, we will reserve for you in a community solar project.
How we compare:
– Many lease agreements do continuous payments throughout the lease time period, our program is one upfront cost.
– Because of this, after only 7 years you can buy your panels if desired. The lease program is an excellent opportunity for you to affordably get solar panels and to save on your electrical bills.
What This Means for You
Until now, solar generation has only been an option for people with open land or south facing roofs. And for many people, it’s only been an option for those with deep pockets. Neither of these are true anymore! With this new community solar program, ANYONE can offset their electric bill with solar net metering credits. And for most people, their loan payment to the bank will be the same amount as their current payment to GMP. So instead of paying GMP $x per month, you’re paying the bank about the same $x per month. And after at most 15 years , you will stop paying the bank and will receive your electricity for FREE*.
Cost to Join
The buy in price is $4.00 per Watt, sold in 250 Watt increments or higher. The system qualifies for a 30% Federal tax credit**. After the tax credit and incentive the net cost is $2.80/W. That gives the owner a roughly 10% rate of return. Each 1 kW (1,000 W) unit will generate a credit of approximately $250 per year. There is no further cost to the homeowner or business to maintain the system, for at least 30 years. To figure out how large a system one would need, simply divide your yearly electric bill by $250.
It is possible for a household or business to borrow the money and pay close to the same in loan payments that they currently pay to GMP for electricity. Financing can be arranged through the bank of your choice, or through Green Mountain Credit Union. They have been providing Vermont Community Solar Participants with loans secured by the solar panels in one of our Community Solar Projects. You can visit their website for more information. Also, Vermont State Employees Credit Union is now offering a special Solar Loan program. To find out more about the Windham Solar Loan program at VSECU visit their website.
Community Solar Panel Purchase Example
Let’s say your annual electric bill is $1500. In order for us to know how many kilowatts you need, we divide this number by $250. So, you would need a 6kw system.
Here’s the cost breakdown:
|System Size: 6kw||$4,000||$24,000|
|Federal Tax Credit||30% of cost||-$7,200|
So, with a 6kw system with a net cost of $16,800 you are looking at a cost per watt of only $2.80!! With a minimum yearly return of $1,500.
The panels have a 25 year production warranty – they will produce 80% of their nameplate rating 25 years from now or the manufacturer will replace them. And in 25 years, the electricity that the panels generate should be worth significantly more than it is today as electricity prices go up! In a Community Solar project all scheduled maintenance and repairs are free of charge for at least 30 years!
The Choice Is Yours: Own or Rent
Essentially you can continue to ‘rent’ your electricity from GMP and pay them forever, or pay about the same amount to a bank for 15 years or less and then own your own production. Or if you finance a system yourself, it can be a great investment — not only economically, but by producing clean, locally-produced energy, small farms and local jobs.
For Businesses, Too**
Any business in GMP territory that pays taxes can purchase a solar PV system, depreciate the panels on an accelerated five-year schedule and receive a Vermont investment tax credit of 7.2% in addition to the federal tax credit of 30%. Depending on one’s tax bracket, that can bring a rate of return on a solar investment of 20%-30%!
The Advantages of Adjustable Ground Mounts
The community solar arrays that we install are built by Soveren in Dummerston, Vermont on ‘seasonally adjustable racks.’ Adjustable racking allows us to tilt the panels seasonally to maximize power generation and shed snow in the winter. This feature means that owners of panels in our solar farms will produce 15-20% more power per panel than the average roof-installed system. Make sure to note this when you compare different options!
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 Vermont Community Solar sells RECs associated with community solar, the buyer of the Renewable Energy Credits claim the environmental attributes. Given the way electrons flow, the power from the solar array typically flows to neighbors of the array. A Community Solar 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 Community Solar 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 the Community Solar array will support Vermont’s
For another explanation of RECs, please click here to read an article written by Alan Betts, a leading climate scientist with Atmospheric Research in Pittsford.
“The selling of RECs is a common and legal practice that gives the provider an additional source of income…Remember, unless you pay us to retire your RECs, technically, according to the FTC, you are not buying solar power, nor are you buying renewable energy, you are simply buying solar panels and lowering your utility bills through emissions-free solar generation” -William Sorrell, Attorney General.
To find the Attorney General’s guidance for third party solar projects please follow this link.
For more information visit our FAQ page.
To speak with someone about Community Solar fill out the form below or call us at 802-869-2500.
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You can read about our Vermont Community Solar projects in the Brattleboro Reformer
* The exact figures depend on your financing terms.
** Soveren Solar is not a qualified tax advisor. Please consult an accountant.