Did you receive a mailing from Arcadia Power, touting community solar? Have you seen Arcadia’s advertisements online? Consumers from across Illinois are asking CUB lots of questions about Arcadia’s offer. We’ll try to break it down below.
What is “community solar”?
Community solar is an exciting new program in Illinois that can help reduce your electric bill while supporting the development of new solar projects. Thanks to a 2016 law, the Future Energy Jobs Act, community solar allows ComEd and Ameren customers to now “go solar” without actually installing panels on their property. Under the program, you can subscribe to a portion of the electricity produced by a solar installation—called a community solar garden—and in return, receive credits that reduce your electric bill.
Community solar is just getting off the ground in Illinois, but we expect many projects to come online later in 2020. Before community solar developers can connect the garden to the grid, they need to secure a certain number of subscribers. Community solar companies are signing people up in advance for when their solar gardens go live later this year.
Arcadia’s website talks about more than just community solar. What type of company are they?
Arcadia is an energy brokerage company—a for-profit business that offers to manage your electricity supply needs. They offer a variety of products like retail supply brokerage, wind energy offsets (provided via Renewable Energy Credits), and they now offer community solar.
How will signing up for the Arcadia community solar offer affect my electric bill?
To participate in Arcadia’s offer, you must first connect your utility and billing information. To do that, you must have an online account with your utility (ComEd or Ameren) and enter your login info (username and password) into Arcadia’s online system. Once you’ve signed up with Arcadia, your bill email will be redirected to Arcadia, and you will stop receiving bills from your utility. Instead, you will receive a monthly statement from Arcadia. This monthly statement will combine your utility bill and the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) that Arcadia purchases on your behalf.
Arcadia will use your energy usage history to determine your community solar subscription size. You can think of your subscription size as how many panels you are subscribing to, and it is measured in kilowatts (kW). Each month your subscription will produce solar energy, measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh).
Once the community solar project you are assigned to is completed, your monthly Arcadia statement will also indicate the amount of money you are saving from your community solar subscription. The total amount you are saving monthly will vary as the solar production of your subscription varies. Until your project is completed, Arcadia will estimate your community solar savings and apply credits to your bills based on that estimate.
All Arcadia members receive wind RECs (Renewable Energy Credits) to cover 50 percent of their electricity usage at no additional cost. A REC represents the environmental benefit of renewable energy.
Is the deal any good?
Although CUB has not yet spoken with anyone who has signed up, we have had discussions with Arcadia and learned details of its offer.
|Questions about Arcadia’s offer:||Answers:|
|How much will I save?||Arcadia offers 10 percent savings compared to the default utility supply rate for the solar energy produced each month. This will not necessarily reduce your full supply cost by 10 percent, as some months you may use more energy than your community solar subscription generates.|
|NOTE: Other community solar deals offer 20% savings. Visit www.SolarInTheCommunity.com to see CUB’s analysis of other deals available in Illinois.
|What are the sign up requirements?||You must have online account credentials with your utility and enter those credentials into Arcadia’s website. To add community solar to your Arcadia account, you must sign up for automatic bill-pay.|
|Is there a credit check?||No|
|How will I be billed?||Arcadia’s statements will replace your utility’s bills. When you are with Arcadia, you will no longer receive an emailed version of your bill from your electric utility (ComEd or Ameren).|
|What’s the contract term?||No contract term, you can cancel at any time.|
|Is there an “exit fee” for leaving the contract early?||No|
What does CUB think about the Arcadia offer?
Community solar allows more Illinois consumers to enjoy the benefits of renewable energy, and CUB is pleased to see these offers hit the market. However, we think that requiring customers to turn their utility account credentials over to Arcadia will be a barrier for customers who don’t have online accounts. Additionally, Arcadia promises 10 percent savings over your utility’s energy supply price, but other community solar companies are offering 20 percent savings.
Visit www.SolarInTheCommunity.com to see CUB’s analysis of other deals available in Illinois.
What if I am with an alternative electric supplier?
Alternative suppliers are almost always overcharging you and will compromise your community solar savings. If you are with an alternative electric supplier, Arcadia will walk you through how to cancel that plan before you are enrolled in community solar. Even if you aren’t on community solar, alternate supplier deals are almost always bad deals. (Read our fact sheets on electric competition, for ComEd customers and Ameren customers.)
When will my subscription go live? When will I start to see credits on my utility bill?
This depends on which community solar garden Arcadia assigns you to and when it is completed. The Community Solar Standard Disclosure Form you receive from Arcadia includes the month your subscription is expected to go live in the “Subscription Specifications” section. Once you sign up with you can also check your customer portal for updates on your project.
Can I sign up for Arcadia’s offer and ComEd’s Hourly Pricing program?
No. If you are enrolled in Arcadia’s community solar program you cannot participate in hourly pricing with ComEd or Power Smart Pricing from Ameren.
How do I sign up?
To enroll in community solar with Arcadia visit this website.
Have you signed up for Arcadia’s community solar program? Let us know about your experience!