Community Solar has been a great bridge for utilities and solar. While many utilities continue to resist rooftop solar, including relentless attempts to create unfavorable rate structures, community solar provides a way for these companies to offer their customers solar while keeping in on the game.
For some companies, like Georgia Power, it may be a way to really cash in on this interest.
The utility has introduced a community solar program for its customers, to will launch in January. The program will sell shares in 3 MW of new solar projects including a 2 MW facility under construction near Athens.
Participation will not be cheap. Georgia Power is selling shares at $24.99 per 1 kW block per month, for a maximum not to exceed a customer’s usage or 10 blocks.
Each 1 kW block will produce an estimated 130-240 kilowatt-hours per month, in the neighborhood of roughly 20% of a typical residential customer’s usage. This works out to a range of 10.4-19.2 cents per kWh, and if the average output is in the middle of this range at 185 kWh, then the cost to the consumer will be 13.5 cents per KWh.
Given that the levelized cost of electricity from utility-scale solar in the United States had fallen to a range of 4.4-6.6 cents/kWh in the first quarter of this year, even excluding the benefits of the Investment Tax Credit , this is a remarkably high price. It’s also higher than the average residential electricity price in Georgia, which was at 11.4 cents/kWh in 2016.