Frequently Asked Questions
A community solar project is a large solar project shared by more than one household. Its primary purpose is to allow members of a community the opportunity to share the benefits of solar power even if they cannot install solar panels on their property. Project participants benefit from the electricity generated by the community solar farm, which costs less than the price they would ordinarily pay for electricity. Through community solar programs, renters, home-owners, municipalities and non-profits can participate in clean energy projects and save money on their monthly electricity bill.
There are five virtual net metering (VNM) community solar projects and thirteen Community Remote Distributed Generation (CRDG) community solar projects for a total of eighteen projects. These projects are in various stages of development. Some are fully constructed and operational. Others are still under development.
Yes, this program is intended for customers that are not able to participate in traditional roof top solar. This includes renters and homeowners that are not able to place roof-top solar on their homes. In order to participate in community solar, you must have a National Grid electric bill.
Community solar saves you money by allowing you to invest in solar panels that produce electricity for your home, even if you may not have an ideal roof or access to your roof for a solar installation. When you subscribe to a community solar project, you are paying for access to less expensive solar electricity rather than buying electricity at National Grid's standard offer rate.
Each customer uses a different amount of electricity each month. You might use more or less electricity than your neighbor, for example. The community solar developer or subscriber management company will use your past electricity usage data to determine the portion of the electricity from the community solar project you will receive as well as the discount on your monthly electric bill. Your annual savings should be between 8-12% off your electric bill, but make sure to read your community solar contract for the specific discount rate.
If you move within National Grid's territory in Rhode Island, you may be able to move your subscription with you. If you move out of state or no longer wish to subscribe to your community solar project, check you contract terms for details. Some subscriber management companies or solar developers do not have a fee for cancellation.
There are a few questions you should ask before signing up for community solar.
- Is there a credit check required?
- What is the length of the term of the contract?
- Is there a cancellation fee?
- How long will it take to process the cancellation?
- Is there an email address or phone number for questions?
- What are the expected savings?
As with any contract, make sure to read it carefully and if you have questions, be sure to ask. Do some research regarding the company you are signing the contract with.
There are two community solar programs in Rhode Island - the Virtual Net Metering (VNM) program and Community Remote Distributed Generation (CRDG) program. Both programs are offered to community solar developers through National Grid and provide net metering credits or bill credits to community solar program participants. Make sure to review your community solar contract carefully to review what savings on your electric bill you can expect and what type of credits you will receive.
You must live within National Grid's service territory to participate in community solar in Rhode Island.
One available incentive program is the Community Renewables Program at the Renewable Energy Fund at Commerce Rhode Island. This first come, first serve program is available to community solar developers who will pass on the grants to subscribers in the form of a bill credit on their community solar bill.
Low-to-Moderate-Income (LMI): National Grid Rate Code A-60
Flat Rebate Grant Amount: $500/subscriber
Basic Residential: National Grid Rate Code A-16
Flat Rebate Grant Amount $300/subscriber
For more information please visit the Renewable Energy Fund webpage.