Last September, EPB announced it would build a community solar project, the first of its kind in Chattanooga. This is great news for the future of renewable energy in our community. I know you have questions, so let’s see if I can answer some of them here.
What’s community solar?
In a community solar project, someone builds a solar array, and a number of households use the power it produces. There are many ways to structure the arrangement, financially speaking. For example, the households could pool their resources to build the solar plant, and then share in the power produced. Or an organization, like a utility company, could build the plant and sell the power to interested households. EPB hasn’t yet provided details of how people can participate in its community solar pilot project.
Is this like the Green Power Switch?
With Green Power Switch, you paid a premium to support renewable power production. You didn’t receive power produced directly by solar, wind, or hydro – you just signaled your support of EPB’s use of these technologies by paying a little more on your monthly electric bill to help in their development.
If you participate in a community solar program, on the other hand, you get power directly from the solar plant, and the whole point of it is to save you money on your electric bill (while helping save the planet, too, of course).
Why would I want to participate in community solar?
There are many reasons why you might not be able to have your very own solar plant. Maybe you don’t have the cash to install an array on your roof. Maybe your property is too shady. Maybe you rent your house. With community solar, you can benefit from a solar plant that is not on your own property, making solar power — and its savings — accessible to many more households. And did I mention the saving money part? And the saving-the-planet part?
Where will EPB’s community solar plant be, and how can I learn more?
EPB is building its community solar pilot project, called Solar Share, at the Distribution Center located at the intersection of North Holtzclaw Avenue and Oak Street. It’s expected to generate about 1.35 megawatts of renewable electric power, which is enough to meet the needs of about 200 homes. EPB says the pilot project could be the first of many. If you want to know more, call EPB at (423) 648-1372 and ask to be added to the contact list for future updates.