Perch raises $30M from Nuveen to expand access to community solar savings for all Read >
FAQs /

Community solar

What is community solar?

Community solar with Perch is a clean energy subscription program that exists in some U.S. states. It’s a great way to take advantage of government-funded solar incentives without installing rooftop panels. You—and other community members like your friends, neighbors, restaurants, schools, businesses, and more—all “subscribe” to a local solar farm that’s owned by a third party. It's connected to your utility company and sends clean power to the electric grid. This is great for the utility and your state, as it lessens dependence on fossil fuels that are highly pollutive to the environment. As a subscriber, you earn credits from the power your farm generates. The credits get applied directly to your utility bill, like a discount reducing what you pay to the utility each month. A single solar farm can have anywhere from dozens to thousands of subscribers depending on its size. Learn more about how community solar works.

How much can I save?

Community solar projects managed by Perch typically offer subscribers between 5%-15% savings! Those currently on government assistance programs may be eligible for even higher savings, including up to 20%. Community solar is meant to provide savings over time; your exact monthly breakdown of savings will vary due to the seasonality of solar power generation. Savings are dictated in part by your state’s legislation, the project you’re subscribed to, and your own monthly electricity usage. When we match you to a solar farm, you’ll know what your expected savings rate is.

What’s a solar farm?

A solar farm is a big array of solar panels that supplies electricity to the grid. These facilities can also be called solar parks, solar gardens, solar power stations, or more formally photovoltaic (PV) power stations. Some solar farms make use of space on top of apartment buildings or public buildings like parking garages, though most are in big open fields. Some solar farms are on actual agricultural farms with panels sharing space with animals and crops (referred to as “agrivoltaics”). Solar farms can also go on former industrial sites or capped landfills, turning otherwise barren, unproductive land into something that’s good for the environment. Learn more about solar farms.

Why isn’t there a cost to join?

Joining your state’s community solar program is free! Think of it as a reward for supporting renewable energy. States receive funding from the government and are incentivized to increase their clean energy generation to meet America’s aggressive carbon-zero goals. Community solar developers and solar farm owners get a piece of those incentives in the form of tax breaks, while subscribers like you, receive a discount off your bill. This entices more people to participate in community solar and ensures everyone is benefiting from clean energy. It’s a win for you, a win for states, and a win for the planet.

What states are included?

States with pro-community solar legislation include Maine, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Washington DC, Illinois, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Maryland, and California*. Other states like Pennsylvania and Michigan are currently discussing community solar legislation, but it is still to be determined when a proper bill will pass. Perch operates in a subset of these states; to see if we can serve you, input your zip code.

*Information up to date as of October 2023

Am I using electricity from the solar farm?

Not directly. Instead of your home or business being powered by the solar farm, your subscription helps support the farm’s operations so it can produce clean energy for the overall electric grid. From there, the utility distributes it as needed throughout their service territory.

How does this compare to rooftop solar?

Rooftop solar is, of course, installed directly on one’s roof. If you’re a renter, a homeowner, or business owner without a suitable roof, or you just don’t want to spend the money, rooftop solar may not be right for you. Rooftop solar is a big financial decision, often costing upwards of $15,000 or more (ConsumerAffairs). It’s a long-term investment and estimates suggest it takes anywhere between 8-15 years or more to pay off the upfront cost (EcoWatch), though there are many factors that could shorten or prolong that. The benefit is that you can dramatically reduce your electricity bills, or even sell excess energy back to the utility. But for many years, those savings are just going toward offsetting the installation cost. Community solar is free to get started, it doesn’t require a rooftop or home ownership, has no cost to cancel, and it brings consistent, incremental savings to you!

Is it good for the environment?

You bet. The expansion of renewable energy makes the grid less reliant on fossil fuel sources like coal, oil, and gas. Those energy sources can pollute the air, land, and drinking water of the communities they're located in, all while spewing CO2 into the atmosphere. Solar, on the other hand, doesn’t pollute and has significantly fewer emissions. Learn more about the benefits of community solar.

How do you estimate the environmental impact of my solar farm?

We use the latest data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator.

Is this a government assistance program?

While not considered a government assistance program, community solar is enabled by both federal and state legislation, and it’s designed to explicitly help you lower your energy costs. States incentivize developers and provide financial relief to subscribers (you)—because it means more solar farms producing clean power for the grid, helping states meet their carbon reduction goals. So, it’s really a win, win for everyone. Perch is not associated with any government entity but maintains licenses and registrations in states as applicable.

Who can sign up?

If you pay an electric bill, you may be eligible to sign up! This includes renters and homeowners, businesses and franchises, universities, municipalities and civic buildings, hospitals, institutions, non-profits, commercial and industrial enterprises, and more. Eligibility factors may depend on your state and the specific solar projects.

Does a solar farm have to be near me?

A solar farm does need to be within a certain vicinity of where you live because it must be connected to the same electric utility that you use. But utilities service large territories, so it’s possible your local solar farm is not in your exact city or town. It also must have a spot open to take on new subscribers. When you sign up with Perch, the first thing we do is check if there’s a solar farm available to you.

Why isn’t community solar more widespread?

Community solar programs have existed in some states for years; as far as back 2010 in Colorado. But many other states have only recently started to adopt community solar, having seen the benefit it brings to people and local communities. But even still, it’s only available in a handful of U.S. states today. Utility participation and consumer awareness both remain low. Perch hopes to change that! And the government is pouring funding into solar development and increasingly passing pro-solar policies, so we expect major growth in the coming years.

Are community solar spots unlimited?

No. While solar development is growing rapidly nationwide, right now there are still just a small fraction of community solar farms compared to what we expect in the coming years. And once a farm’s subscription spots fill up, it can no longer take on new subscribers. So if there’s a solar farm in your area—lucky you!

Is this like Uber, except for solar panels?

Sort of! The sharing economy changed the world, with Uber and Lyft allowing anyone to access easy, convenient transportation without needing to own a car. Airbnb gives travelers the at-home vacation experience without owning a vacation home. And WeWork allows companies to get all the benefits of an office without owning or leasing an actual office. We like to think community solar is where the sharing economy meets clean energy—where people and businesses can access the cost-saving and planet-friendly benefits of solar, without owning panels.

Is this another electricity scam?

Definitely not. Community solar programs are created and implemented by state governments, in collaboration with the utility companies, solar developers and owners, and companies like Perch to bring savings to residents and increase clean energy production. To meet America’s renewable energy goals, states receive federal funding to incentivize more solar development—allowing solar project owners to pass on energy bill discounts to residents and businesses as a reward for helping reduce carbon emissions. Unlike retail energy and some third-party electricity suppliers, community solar has no long-term commitment, no cancellation fees, no price hikes—just simple savings month after month, year after year.
Solar Farm

Solar power is the most abundant energy source on Earth. It's time everyone benefited.

Everyone has a place on this Perch. Get started now.