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Community Solar: What It Is and Why It Matters

In a nutshell, community solar projects—or, solar gardens—are power plants whose solar generated electricity is shared by more than one business, household, or party.

It takes the benefits of solar programs and makes them available to people who are not able to install solar panels on their homes and buildings. For example, someone renting an apartment can participate in community solar projects, even if no one else in their complex is joining them. Or, if a person lives in a historic home or in a community with HOA restrictions where panels are not allowed, they can still get in on solar electricity through community programs.

Community solar also allows people and businesses to participate in solar projects who simply do not want to install solar panels on their property.
There are other benefits, too. When people move from one side of town to the other, they can take their solar investment with them without turning a single screw or reinstalling a thing. It’s like buying a share in the program, which allows the initiative to be funded and then the value returns to the investor in the form of solar-derived electricity, which is cleaner than traditional fossil fuel-generated energy and has the potential to be less expensive over time.

In 2018, Nashville Electric Service (NES) broke ground on its first community solar array. It goes by the name of Music City Solar and will produce an estimated 55 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of sustainable energy over its lifetime – which is enough energy for 2000 average homes for 25 years. The two-megawatt solar site is the largest solar system in Davidson County, where Nashville is located. NES has made it easy and affordable for people to participate in the project. Program participants receive credits, which are included on their bill each month as solar energy is added to the power grid. The vision is for Nashville to become “the greenest city in the Southeast”, and Music City Solar is making that happen.

MyMeter, from Accelerated Innovations, serves as the system of record for the Music City Solar array. From panel inventory, which allows the customer to sign-up, assign a beneficiary, and pay, to integration with the smart meter, MyMeter is at the core. Customers can view their subscription as well as power-generation specific to their account. They can also use MyMeter for calculating bill credits and reporting. MyMeter provides a single system of record for the Music City Solar program where each of the moving parts—from the solar array to subscription-specific information—are connected to the same IT architecture.

Community solar projects are growing more quickly now than ever and MyMeter is at the helm, helping facilitate key steps for successful programs that are changing the way we view and use solar energy.

At Accelerated Innovations, we are helping utilities around the world offer something more to their customers and their employees: progress, savings, and innovation. Our hosted customer self-service platform does it all, integrates seamlessly and delivers an outstanding digital experience for residential, commercial users of water, gas and electricity. With MyMeter at the core of all we do, the possibilities are limitless.