What is community solar?

What Is Community Solar?

Community solar enables renters, homeowners and businesses to benefit from solar energy without installing solar panels. 

Over 30 states in the U.S. offer community solar through a utility billing mechanism called virtual net metering (VNM). which allows subscribers to receive a credit on their utility bills for their share of the electricity produced by a utility scale solar project.

What Is Community Solar?

Approximately 50% of American households and businesses lack the rights and/or proper roof orientation to install solar energy. 

Community solar programs, also called shared solar programs, enable renters, homeowners or businesses to benefit from renewable energy if they are otherwise unable to do so.

Community solar offers an alternative way to access clean energy if there is no on-site renewable energy where you live or work. 

In addition to subscriptions, some shared solar programs may allow you to physically own a piece of a utility scale solar project.

What Is Virtual Net Metering?

Community solar programs utilize a billing mechanism called virtual net metering, which is a form of “net metering“. 

Net metering allows you to generate your own electricity from on-site solar power to send excess renewable energy back to the grid as well as utilize energy from the grid. 

As described in the video above, the rate payer receives a bill that is the “net” of the electricity used. 

In other words if your rooftop solar system generates more electricity during a month than you use from the grid, you will receive a credit on your utility bill.

Community solar projects rely on virtual net metering to credit customers for the electricity generated by an off-site solar farm.1

Community Solar Is A Win-Win

Community solar programs are taking off throughout the U.S. because they allow people who are otherwise unable to benefit from solar panels to buy clean energy and save money on their electricity bills. 

The programs are a win-win for the subscribers, the developers and IPPs who are investing their time and money to make them happen.


  1. Net metering - and virtual net metering policies - are under attack by utility lobbyists in some states, such as Florida and North Carolina, because net metering allows rooftop solar customers to receive credit against their utility bills for the electrons they produce.