Community Solar and Community Choice Aggregation

Exploring Alternatives to a Roof-Mounted Solar Array

By   |     |  Clean Power Guide

How does NYSERDA define community solar and community choice aggregation?

Community solar involves a large array of solar panels, typically at an offsite location, which allows homeowners and renters to access solar clean power without installing panels on their homes. Energy is still delivered through their regular electric provider while the power produced from the community solar array is fed directly back to the electric grid and customers receive credits on their electricity bill. For more information on community solar, NSYERDA’s community choice aggregation (CCA) allows local elected officials to choose where the energy comes from for their community. It’s a program to purchase power in bulk for virtually all homes and small businesses within the participating jurisdiction. 

How do they appear on a customer’s electric bill?

Community solar benefits typically appear as bill credits on a customer’s electric bill. In Central Hudson Gas and Electric territory, these are displayed in the “Payments and Adjustments” section under the heading “COMMUNITY DISTRIB GENERATION CREDIT.”

CCA for electricity supply (CCA-Supply) shows as a single line item in the Supply Charges section of a utility bill—as would any third-party ESCO (energy services company) arrangement a customer may have. The line item includes the fixed rate ($/kWh) and the customer’s usage that month (kWh) with the product of those two values. The degree to which the supplier and/or participation in a CCA program varies. For example, in Orange and Rockland Counties, the utility specifically identifies the name of the program in which the customer is participating and the selected supplier (for example, “You are part of the Rockland Community Power program with Constellation Energy as the program supplier”)—while in Central Hudson territory, there is only identification of the program supplier with no indication of the program (Hudson Valley Community Power).

Can a customer subscribe to both? Are there benefits or drawbacks of doing so?

CCA customers can still be Community Solar subscribers, and doing so can lower a customer’s electric bills and maximize their support of clean energy and local job growth in their community.

What are the primary benefits to customers of Community Solar and of CCA?

Community solar provides New Yorkers with the opportunity to:

Go solar without installing solar panels on your roof or property. Everyone who pays their own electric bill, including renters and co-op/condo owners, can participate in a community solar project. You can even subscribe to community solar if you live in an apartment or your home is in a shady area that isn’t suited to solar panels.

Absorb little to no upfront costs. Since you won’t need to install solar panels, the upfront costs of going solar with a community solar provider are minimal.

Save money every month on your electric bill. You’ll see credits every month on the electric bill you receive from your utility. The amount credited each month will depend on the amount of solar energy generated by your selected project.

Lower your carbon footprint and support your local economy. When you choose community solar, you’re not only helping to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, you’re also supporting clean, locally generated electricity.

Take on minimal commitment. Community solar subscriptions also have shorter-term options and many offer pay-as-you-go payment terms.

A CCA can allow whole communities to participate in the clean energy economy by ensuring that a greater percentage of electricity is coming from renewable sources. CCA has the potential to simultaneously deliver fixed-rate electricity prices and cleaner energy for customers. NYSERDA’s Clean Energy Communities Program recognizes and rewards local governments for their clean energy leadership. By completing four high-impact actions—one of which is CCA—communities can earn the Clean Energy Community designation as well as grant funding to support additional clean energy projects.

For more information on Community Solar and Community Choice Aggregation, visit NSYERDA’s website:

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