Community Solar Frequently Asked Questions
How do households qualify for community solar gardens?
Your household qualifies if it meets the following requirements:
- Your household’s income is at or below 80% of your county’s area median income (AMI) OR you have qualified for LEAP or participated in an EOC program within the last 12 months.
- Your household receives electricity from Xcel Energy or Black Hills Energy.
What is a community solar garden?
A community solar garden is a large collection of solar panels that benefit multiple households. Your subscription means you are assigned a portion of those panels, and you receive credits on your electric bill for the electricity they produce. Because the solar panels are located elsewhere, there is no equipment installed in your home.
How much will I save?
The credits provided on your electric bill will vary each month, as solar gardens produce more electricity in the summer than in the winter months. Your annual electricity bill savings is estimated to be 50%, or over $600 per year for the average household. If you are concerned your enrollment in community solar is not producing significant savings, please contact us.
What do I need to apply?
To complete an application, you will need:
- Your utility account number
- Proof of Income (LEAP or participation in EOC programs within the last 12 months count as proof of income, see below for other options)
- Household Size
The application packet includes:
- Solar Application This allows us to verify your income. (Not required for participants in EOC programs.)
- Data Consent Form This form must be signed by the utility account holder. This allows us to view your usage so we can size your solar subscription.
- Subscriber Agency Agreement This form must be signed by the utility account holder. This form allows Xcel to put solar credits on your bill.
What forms can I submit for income verification?
- Proof of benefit from the following programs: Aid to the Blind (AB), Aid to the Needy Disabled (AND), Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), Temporary Aid to Needy Families (TANF), Old Age Pension (OAP), Low Income Energy Assistance (LEAP), Housing Choice Voucher (Section 8), Medicaid, OR
- Most recent Tax Return – IRS 1040, Wages or Tax Statement W2, most recent income (3 most recent paystubs), retirement benefits letter, letter from employer, Social Security Income (SSI), Social Security Disability Income (SSDI), Supplemental Security Income (SSI).
Does it cost anything to enroll?
There is no cost to participate in this program. Each month, you will see your savings provided under “OTHER RECURRING CHARGES DETAILS” typically on the last page of your bill. Although it says “charges”, you will always see a credit on your bill. See the example below for how to read your bill.
- Your subscription size (in kW) will be determined based on your electricity usage.
- Your Allocation of Total Solar Energy (in kWh) will vary month to month, based on how much sunlight there is and how much solar energy the project generates. So, your credits may be higher in the summer months and lower in the winter.
- The Production Credit is the allocation multiplied by the solar tariff ($0.07510/kWh).
- Your total savings from Community Solar, will be applied to your total bill.
What can I expect after I apply?
- EOC staff will verify income eligibility and send application forms for you to sign if you haven’t already.
- We’ll submit your signed data consent form to your electricity provider (Xcel Energy or Black Hills Energy) for approval.
- If your data consent form is approved, once the solar garden starts to produce, you’ll receive an enrollment letter from our team letting you know when you can expect to see savings on your electric bill and how to read the bill.
What if I fall behind on my bill?
Customers who fall behind on their bills are encouraged to apply for Energy Assistance and to call their electric utility to start an affordable payment plan.
What if I move?
Your community solar subscription will not automatically follow your account if you move. If you are planning to move, please contact EOC at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.226.7069 and we will help enroll you at your new address, as long as you remain in Xcel Energy’s or Black Hill’s service territory.
How is this program different than other solar offers?
Unlike for-profit programs that are selling subscriptions to a solar garden, the subscriptions for this program are donated. This means your community solar subscription will be completely free and doesn’t require any commitment, fees, financing, or down payments.