Improving the Community Solar Billing Experience
Community solar – the sharing of solar energy power across properties – is one of the fastest-growing segments of the solar energy industry. As more people seek access to clean energy options, the adoption of community solar projects is growing. With over 2,000 megawatts installed in the U.S. in 2019, competition is rising, prompting more programs to innovate – particularly with the customer billing experience. Here’s how technology is contributing to the improvement of community solar billing.
Community solar is one of the fastest-growing segments of the solar energy industry, with 2,056 megawatts installed in the U.S. in 2019.
Changing regulations open the door
In 2011, Colorado led the way with the first pilot community solar projects. But other states quickly caught up: Minnesota has installed the most projects to date, hitting a record 699 megawatts of operational capacity in June 2020. In total, 19 states and Washington, D.C. have also authorized it.
As states like New York and Minnesota work to expand community solar into new communities, state legislatures have made changes to regulations to help boost adoption. New York recently greenlighted consolidated billing for community solar projects, while solar groups in Maryland and New Jersey began seeking state support for consolidated billing last year.
With consolidated billing, community solar project subscribers receive one bill containing both their solar usage and charges and their utility usage and charges (if any). Demand for consolidated billing has been growing for years, prompting states to more closely study the customer experience and the benefits that better community solar billing can generate for both customers and suppliers.
Advantages of consolidated billing
So, why the push for consolidated billing in community solar? Community solar makes clean energy more accessible and affordable for everyone; consolidated billing could be an important step to expand its appeal even further. Without consolidated billing, solar projects often have to outsource the billing function, resulting in higher operational costs.
With consolidated billing, customer-interface costs can be reduced by as much as 85%, allowing more community solar project financing costs to be recovered and lowering the barrier to entry.
By consolidating the process, community solar projects can reduce customer-interface costs by as much as 85 percent. Plus, simplifying to one bill often leads to more successful payments from customers, and thereby more project financing costs recovered.
Another potential benefit is more avenues for participation. Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) programs enable local communities to leverage their collective demand for purchasing renewable energy and other services. Unfortunately, high customer acquisition costs often prevent the CCA customer base from opting into community solar. Reduced community solar billing costs increase the chance of projects being included in CCAs.
Reducing the billing process to one bill makes it easier to show customers how much they save with community solar, ultimately boosting customer satisfaction and retention.
Perhaps most importantly, receiving multiple bills can be overwhelming for the customer. Reducing the billing process to one bill can vastly improve the customer experience. It also makes it easier to show customers how much they save with community solar, encouraging them to stick with the project and ultimately boost customer satisfaction and retention. As an added bonus, consolidated billing gives community solar projects better access to consumers on the bill itself, allowing them to drive more revenue and offer additional products and services.
How to upgrade community solar billing
Taking on consolidated billing could seem like a challenge, without the right technology to help. Fortunately, the Urjanet Utility Data Platform can help. Urjanet provides a simple, customizable user interface through which customers can connect their utility accounts. Then, Urjanet delivers customer utility billing data monthly, generating a seamless experience for the end user.
To learn more about how to get started, speak with one of our data experts today.
You might also be interested in:
- Partnering with Utilities in the New Energy Era
- 5 Solar Technologies Changing the Energy Landscape
- What Is Summary Billing?
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About Ma-Keba Frye
Ma-Keba Frye is a Content Marketing Associate at Urjanet, assisting with content development and execution. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and volunteering.