MAY 6, 2019
Community Solar Development in Your Neighborhood
Common Concerns and Misconceptions Explained
Most of the solar projects now being built in agricultural or rural areas are producing power that will be used by local homeowners and businesses through the community solar program model. With community solar, residential and business customers subscribe to the solar project, receive a credit on their electricity bill for the solar energy produced, and pay for the clean energy that they receive for a lower cost than what the credit value is worth. Subscribers are able to save money each month and know their energy supply is coming from a renewable, local source. These community solar projects are built on land in the same utility zone as the subscribers and usually the same counties or towns. The size of these projects are typically between 2 and 5 megawatts depending on the state they are located in (or around 12 to 30 acres in size), so not the large sprawling utility projects that are often located in the desert.
Increasing demand for power requires more distributed energy facilities (community solar-scale facilities) vs. larger power plant developments in order to diversify the grid so it doesn’t continue to rely on large single power plants. Power consumption is going to continue to rise over time and we need to be able to feed electricity into the grid during parts of the day when electricity is most heavily consumed, which typically coincides with hours in which the sun is out. These solar projects usually also upgrade the utility’s infrastructure making the grid a more reliable, modernized infrastructure we can all rely on. These projects won’t affect your household’s power on a day-to-day basis and are monitored remotely with live data acquisition occurring.
Because it’s only been in the past few years that solar projects have started appearing in America’s rural areas, there is still a lot of misinformation, misconceptions, and concerns about them. Especially among local community members who are welcoming it into their towns. To help those community members better understand why solar projects are a good and beneficial addition to the landscape, we’ve put together an explanation of some of the most common concerns and misconceptions we hear. In this handout we discuss:
- What happens upon decommissioning?
- Where does the energy produced actually go?
- Will it cause construction noise and congestion?
- Are panels recyclable? Are they hazardous?
- Does the system emit radiation or voltage? Is it noisy when operating?
- Whether or not the system impacts property values
- Can the system harm wildlife or farm animals?
- How are any potential impacts to farming activities and farmland addressed?