Subscription-Style Community Solar and Shared Ownership: What’s the Difference?

Going solar is increasingly becoming a viable option for those interested in shrinking their carbon footprint. No longer is installing solar panels on your rooftop the only option, which is good news for those with unsuitable roof space or who rent their home.

Currently there’s the option of Community Solar. There are two types of Community Solar projects, Subscription-Style Community Solar and Share Ownership Community Solar. Many think they are one and the same; however there is a costly difference. Both involve a grouping of large solar arrays or panels in an optimally sited location often referred to as a solar farm. The panels are strategically situated remotely from homes and businesses. The solar farm’s arrays harvest energy from the sun the same way it is produced using a rooftop panel. The goal is to make solar technology available for homeowners and renters through membership or subscription. However, that’s where the similarities end.

Subscription-Style is open to anyone who lives in the utility billing zone of the Community Solar project. No upfront investments, down payments or long contracts needed. Participants determine how much (up to 100%) of their electricity they’d like supplied by solar and pay as they go during their contract length, normally 1 – 3 years.

Shared Ownership requires ownership in the project. Participants must purchase or lease a set number of solar panels, which if financed; savings won’t actually be realized until the investment is paid off. Cost of panels are typically anywhere from $500 to $1400 per panel, and can be higher in some markets. Customers must also live within proximity of the Community Solar project and same utility billing zone, just like the Subscription-Style model. If homeowners or renters choose to relocate out of the billing zone, they are able to sell their panels.

In both cases, customers receive a credit for the solar power they use, often at a variable rate per kilowatt-hour, which is then deducted from the energy portion of their electric bill.

If you’re interested in learning more about going solar, we currently have two Subscription-Style Community Solar Projects available in New York State. If you pay a NYSEG electric bill and live in Binghamton, Ithaca, Elmira, Auburn or Corning – visit to see how you can sign up. If you live in Western New York and pay a National Grid electric bill, you will be eligible to subscribe to the newest project after April 30th, 2018, and can visit for more information. Or, give us a call at 800-836-4923

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