By Ken Pedotto, CEO, Solar Simplified
Solar power has long been discussed in the mainstream media, but there is a significant lack of understanding among everyday consumers about how they can personally benefit from it. Even for those who do understand, many come to find out that installing their own solar panels is not a viable option for many reasons, whether it be due to multi-family housing restrictions, unsuitable housing infrastructure or prohibitive costs. This is the case for an overwhelming 70% of Americans, given that almost half of all residential dwellings are not fundamentally suitable for solar panel installations.
This acts as a major obstacle for many people who would otherwise prefer to use renewable energy. With a lack of public education on alternative options like community solar, many potential participants don’t make the switch.
As it stands, community solar projects can be found in 43 out of 50 states, either via public policy support or through private group initiatives. In addition, community solar programs are subsidized, creating savings up to 20% in some areas on consumers’ electric bills.
While community solar is beneficial for everyone, it is especially helpful for people who couldn’t otherwise afford to use solar power. Low-to-moderate income customers can benefit the most from community solar, which enables them to utilize clean renewable energy, saving them additional costs and promoting the use of solar energy infrastructure. Approximately 10 U.S. states have implemented programs to further incentivize community solar participation for low-income households including Colorado, New York and New Jersey.
A new web-based program aims to spread awareness of community solar and simplify the process for both subscribers and developers. Solar Simplified acts as a liaison or “matchmaker” between solar developers and solar consumers. The program matches customers with local solar farms, allowing them to use the community solar project’s energy without the hassle, cost and complications of installing panels. Customers can virtually subscribe to receive solar energy credits, which then offset a portion of their monthly electric bill.
Solar Simplified uses customers’ addresses, basic personal information and utility account information to match them with a community solar farm in their region and utility territory. Based on their profile, the consumer is then automatically matched with a solar farm, the name and location of which is revealed once the customer officially enrolls in the program. This service eliminates a major barrier that exists for many customers who may be interested in solar power, and takes the hassle out of figuring out how to match with a solar farm on their own.
Solar Simplified also helps solar project developers fulfill a crucial piece of the puzzle by helping them cut down on some of their substantial soft costs, such as recruiting subscribers. This reassures developers that the energy they produce each month will be fully taken advantage of. The reduction of these soft costs is essential for continued capital investment in renewable energy and solar energy in particular. As solar continues to rise in popularity, services like Solar Simplified will be crucial for both informing the public about how they can get involved in renewable energy and supporting solar farm developers by providing them with a consistent stream of customers.
Ken Pedotto is the CEO of Solar Simplified. Ken received his Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering from Colorado State University and earned an MBA from the University of Chicago – Booth School of Business. Ken began his career in the United States Navy as a Nuclear Trained Submarine Officer and has also served as a senior VP of business development and strategy for Enova International.