By Phil VanHorne
President Trump recently imposed stiff tariffs on imported solar panel components, after determining that increased foreign imports of these products are ‘seriously detrimental to domestic manufacturers.’ According to reports, the 30 percent tariff will be imposed on imported solar panel components, with the rate declining to 15 percent within four years. The first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells will be exempt from the safeguard tariff in each of those four years.
This recently imposed tariff will have an immediate impact on pricing. As a result, large-scale Community Solar projects will take a hit – as this will increase construction costs for project owners. This could then cause projects in the planning stages to no longer move forward in the short-term, or alternatively, become more expensive for the homeowner or renter tapping into the Community Solar project.
With that said, now more than ever is the time to consider tapping into an existing Community Solar project. By subscribing to one that is already constructed, installed and operating – like one of ours, you will not be affected by the new tariff whatsoever!
For the estimated 85 percent of U.S. residents who can neither own nor lease systems because their roofs are physically unsuitable for solar, or because they rent through a complex, Community Solar projects are the only way to access renewable solar energy.
So what exactly is a Community Solar project? These “farms” are a cluster of large solar arrays or panels, housed in an optimally sited location (wide open spaces), and strategically situated remotely from homes and businesses. The solar farm arrays harvest energy from the sun the same way it is generated using a rooftop panel. The energy produced is sent to the utility company and then made available to subscribers of these solar farms through solar credits on their bills. Consumers who live in the same utility billing zone and region as the solar farm can sign up to become a subscriber to the project.
Subscribers pick a plan that meets up to 100 percent of their electricity needs with solar, and then receive credits directly to their utility bill for the solar power they use. Some companies, like ours, offer a 10% rate discount from historical utility pricing and require no upfront fees or a credit check. Our customers do not pay to install or maintain solar panels — we take care of all of that. They simply sign up to become members, with contracts as short as one-year, and pay as they go for the amount of solar energy they choose to use.
Our first project was the first completed and operational “Pay-As-You-Go” or “Subscription-Style” Community Solar project in New York State. This project was launched last April in Millport, New York near Watkins Glen – and with pent up demand, the project was fully subscribed within a short period of time.
Working with our partners, we’ve completed a much larger Community Solar project located on 13.5-acres of land in Ithaca, New York. The first 300 homeowners and renters across the areas of Ithaca, Binghamton, Elmira and Auburn will receive a 10% rate discount on electricity – as compared to the local utility company rates. Residents in these areas paying a NYSEG electric bill are eligible to subscribe to this current project.
We are forging ahead, working with our partners to offer Community Solar projects —despite new tariffs or tax laws, so that our customers have the power to go solar without having to incur the costs of doing it themselves. At the end of the day, it is our goal to help individuals reach their renewable goals. Community Solar helps to make this possible.
If you’re interested in participating in our current or upcoming community solar projects, go to bluerockenergy.com/solar to learn more and better yet, hedge the tariff and sign up today!