What is a Community Solar Garden & how does it work? A community Solar Garden is a solar PV array that is built at one location, also knows as a “host”, and the value of the power is shared with participants, also known as a “group member”.
What law allows this to work in New Hampshire? In the summer of 2013, NH signed the SB-98 into law to allow for community solar gardens to be built. This is also referred to as Group Net Metering.
How large of a Community Solar Garden can be built on a property? The law allows for up to a 99 kW solar array per electric meter; however, the best option is to use a 33 kW & 66 kW array because it maximizes the rebate value and shows the best return, while staying below the 100 kW “small generator” cap.
Can we install more than 100 kWs on a property? The public utility commission (PUC) is finalizing the rules to confirm if this was in the spirit of the law, but we are in hopes of being able to install multiple 66 kW or 99 kW arrays as long as there are multiple meters on site or a new meter(s) is(are) installed to offset a customer generator’s onsite electrical load.
How many square feet of space does a Community Solar Garden take up? A 99 kW array will take up approximately 1/3 of an acre (100 x 150 ft, or 15,000 square feet). A 66 kW array needs about 1/6 acre of land (about 7,000 square feet). How many panels are used in a Community Solar Garden? Approximately 240 panels for 99 kWs 160 panels for 66 kWs & 80 for 33 kWs. Each panel is 410 watts.
Can a Community Solar Garden be installed on a roof? Yes. We typically need about 7,000 square feet for rooftop projects.
How much weight does it add to a roof? It will depend on the type of roof, pitch of the roof and height of the roof, but typically it ranges between 2.8-5.5 lbs/ft2.
What is the process to approve a roof installation? We start with the age of the roof, type of roofing material and structural integretiy of the roof to be able to get the local inspector to sign off on it.
Who do I pay for my power if a Community Solar Garden is installed on my roof or property? For all the power you consume onsite, you will pay us a contracted kWh rate and you will still be connected to the grid and pay them if there is ever a time when the solar is not producing.
Do these arrays have batteries? No, these are “grid tied” systems, so if the power goes down, so too will the array.
How close does a utility pole need to be from where the solar array is installed? Maximum distance is roughly 300 feet.
If a parcel of land is further than 300 feet from a utility pole, could that still be a feasible location? If the land is an open field, then possibly. But if the land is a wooded lot and far from the utility lines, it can get costly. If those lines are only single phase, there is even more of a concern if you were to do anything larger than a 150 kW array, because the lines might have to be upgraded to handle the energy load.
If the parcel of land is nearby large transmission lines, can the array be tied into that? Unfortunately not…it usually takes about 2 years to get a new substation installed and costs about $1.5m to build before you even start the array construction.
Can we install Community Solar Gardens within all the utility service areas? Yes, but we are waiting on feedback from the Unitil to understand their process. We are not able to install them in municipal utility areas at this time, unless they initiatate the conversation.
Who takes care of any increased taxes on the property? That is our responsibility. If the land has to come out of Current Use, that would be the responsibility of the land owner prior to our construction.
Does having a solar array installed solar garden change the land usage? We always haveto speak to the town to see how it’s zoned to determine if we need a variance. Each town will be different, so our first priority is to make a call into the town once a land owner is seriously interested.
Does the State rebate get taxed? Yes, the Commercial & Industrial rebate does have a federal tax implication at the LLC level. But there is no state tax on the income.
As a host of the Community Solar Garden concept, can I receive both a cash payment for a land lease AND a solar greenhouse? No….it is an either/or proposition. The greenhouse value is about $5 – $7k, so the host needs to choose between the two options.
If an array is installed on a piece of land, can livestock still graze near it? Grazing animals are not a concern unless the animals are very destructive by nature; animals like sheep are a good option inside the area where the array is. We may want to fence off the array from the cows with an electric fence if the town does not require a physical fence.
What about the grass that grows under the solar array, how is that maintained? It is our responsibility to maintain the land space under the array.