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Community Solar


What is community solar?

Community solar allows homeowners, renters, and businesses to participate in a shared renewable energy project without having to install solar panels on their own property.

How does it work?

There are different types of community solar models. Some require customers to buy in directly, while others allow customers to subscribe and unsubscribe as they please, among other variations. Customers should seek information about community solar offers directly from the project owner or operator.

Versant Power enables a number of solar farm owners and operators to provide bill credits directly on customers’ regular electricity bills. The project owner sends customers separate bills for participation in the program.

How do I know if a community solar offer is legitimate?

You can verify if a company is registered with the Maine Public Utilities Commission by checking this list. The Office of the Public Advocate, which represents the interests of Maine utility customers, also has information available about community solar options.

Versant Power does not perform marketing on behalf of any community solar projects.

If I sign up for community solar owner, does that mean I’m changing electricity companies?

No.

If you sign up to participate in a community solar program, Versant Power still will deliver your electricity, maintain the wires and poles that transmit your electricity, send out your bill, read your meter, and restore power if an outage occurs.

Is community solar an electricity supplier?

Community solar is not a replacement for competitive energy suppliers or the default option chosen by the Maine Public Utilities Commission, known as the standard offer. If you sign up for community solar, you can continue to choose an electricity supplier or standard offer. The Maine Public Utilities Commission maintains a list of all electricity suppliers licensed to sell power in Versant Power’s service territory.

As long as Versant Power is billing on behalf of the customer’s supplier, bill credits from participation in a community solar farm can offset those supply charges.

Versant Power is not in the electricity supply business, is not a competitive energy supplier, and does not own any solar farms or other electricity generation plants. We deliver your electricity.

How would I save money with community solar?

Community solar developers and customers benefit from a program called net energy billing, which provides incentives to customers who invest in renewable energy projects. You can learn more about the details of net energy billing on Versant Power’s Net Energy Billing and Distributed Generation page.

If you have a solar system, you can “export” excess energy to the grid when you are making more electricity than you can consume, and you can “import” energy from the grid when you consume more electricity than you are generating. Even though you use the grid to import and export energy throughout the day, you are only charged transmission and distribution fees on the “net” amount that you consumed (what you exported minus what you imported). You can also bank excess energy credits for future use.

Community solar projects allow customers to similarly benefit from credits on their electric bills without the need to install solar panels on their rooftop or property. Community solar providers charge customers for the value of the credits applied to their Versant Power bill at a rate that is negotiated directly between customers and the solar provider.

If you are a business customer whose electricity charges are driven more by the overall volume or “demand” charges than on a per-kilowatt-hour basis, Maine’s net energy billing program now allows you to receive financial credits on your bill for the retail value of your solar energy instead of kilowatt-hour credits. The retail value is established by the Maine Public Utilities Commission.

How does this affect investment in the electricity grid?

Versant Power supports cost-effective ways to encourage renewable energy development. Moving towards clean, renewable energy has proven public health and environmental benefits.

Because participants in net energy billing programs receive credits on the transmission and distribution portions of their bills as well as the supply portion, increased participation in these programs means a decline in payments toward relatively fixed costs of maintaining and improving the electrical grid. Costs incurred by applying these credits to residential and business customers are included in the “stranded costs” portion of customer bills, which also puts upward pressure on electricity rates. These costs are offset to some extent by revenues Versant Power obtains from the wholesale energy market.

Versant Power will work alongside regulators, lawmakers and others involved with Maine energy policy to support Maine’s renewable energy goals continue to improve the safety and reliability of the grid to meet customers’ evolving needs. Versant Power shares costs and revenue accounting for incentive programs such as net energy billing so that they can be reviewed regularly, and policy makers can understand how they may be distributed fairly among electricity ratepayers.

Community Solar Farm

How will my bill look once I am a part of a live community solar project?

A section will be added to your bill that shows credits received by your account, the amount allocated toward your bill, and the amount remaining on the account. You may also see a change in your account’s billing cycle, which can reduce or extend your billing period for the first cycle on a community solar account.

Who should I contact if I have issues with my community solar membership?

If you have questions about your community solar account status, membership, billing, share allocation or similar issues, you should contact your project sponsor directly.

Who should I contact if I am having issues with my community solar credits?

If the issue you are experiencing is on your Versant Power bill (not the sponsor’s service bill), please call Versant Power’s Customer Contact Center.

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Versant Power provides electric delivery service to two areas – the Bangor Hydro District and the Maine Public District.

            The Bangor Hydro District includes Hancock, Piscataquis and Washington Counties and most of Penobscot County.
            The Maine Public District serves Aroostook County and a small piece of Penobscot County.

Because some information varies by District, please identify your District on the map above, or enter your town or zipcode. If you need information on both Districts,  switch back and forth at any time by selecting the district selector button.

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