Community Solar FAQ
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What is a solar farm?
Community Solar is defined as a large centrally located solar-electric system that benefits multiple subscribers in the community. This voluntary program allows customers to participate in a solar project without the upfront costs or hassles of installing a solar system on their home or business.
Where is the OUC Gardenia Community Solar Farm?
The Gardenia Community Solar Farm is located at OUC’s Gardenia Facility on 3800 Gardenia Avenue, Orlando, Florida 32839. View map
What are the benefits of participating in the OUC Community Solar Farm?
Purchasing all or a portion of your energy from the OUC Community Solar Farm allows you to utilize solar power without incurring the costs associated with installing solar panels on your home or business. It also allows you to lock in electric rates, protecting against future rate increases.
What exactly am I subscribing to? Do I own part of the solar array? Will there be maintenance costs?
You are not purchasing physical equipment, but rather subscribing to the output from a solar project built to supply energy on your behalf. The solar equipment is installed at our centrally-located Gardenia Avenue facility and provides you with the amount of solar energy to which you’ve subscribed while enrolled in the program. You only pay your special fixed solar rate to participate – no maintenance fees or installation costs.
Do I get to choose how many blocks I want or am I required to subscribe to a specific number of blocks?
The minimum number of blocks a customer can subscribe to is 1 kilowatt (kW) block, while the maximum is 15 kW. Customers may subscribe to any number of blocks between those limits, however, fractional blocks are not available.
How can I calculate how many blocks I will need to offset my monthly consumption usage and the associated cost? 1 kW solar block produces a monthly average of 112 kWh for a cost of about $14.56 each month. That means you would be paying about $2 more per month based on OUC’s current rates to have access to solar energy instead of our normal generation mix. The kWh generated by your blocks would replace the amount of kWh that you pay for on your bill. If your blocks generate more power than you use in a month, you get a credit on your bill for the surplus energy, just like you would if you had installed a solar array on your building and it produced more than you used.
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How many total blocks are available?
The OUC Community Solar Farm contains 400 kW blocks.
How does the power I purchase get to my house?
The power provided by the Community Solar Farm is not directly fed into the customer’s individual household, but rather goes straight into OUC’s electric grid. Instead of having it physically on your roof, we use a virtual method of calculating how much of the energy produced at the farm gets credited toward your actual energy usage. OUC compares the customer’s energy usage with the energy production of the customer’s kW solar blocks to determine how much of the usage is offset by the blocks’ production. We do the work and you get the solar credit!
What if a storm or hurricane damages the solar panels? What if it is really cloudy and the solar panels do not generate enough electricity? Will I lose power?
Damage to the solar array will not cause you to lose power at your home or business. You’ll never have to worry about having enough energy. OUC will continue to meet all of your energy needs with other resources as long as there is no damage to the electrical system feeding your home or business.
OUC will do everything we can to keep the solar panels well maintained and operational to maximize the amount of solar energy you receive from your portion of the farm. If it is cloudy, the solar panels will produce a little less than they would on a sunny day.
Sounds great! When can I sign up?
Customers can subscribe by visiting www.ouc.com/communitysolar
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How much does it cost to subscribe to a block of solar power? Will OUC raise the solar rate? Is the cost ongoing?
Customers subscribe to kW blocks at a special fixed solar subscription rate of 13.0¢ per kWh for as long as the customer remains in the program up to a maximum of 25 years. A 1 kW block produces a monthly average of 112 kWh, costing about $14.56 each month at the special fixed solar subscription rate. Blocks have a minimum subscription period of two years. You pay for the solar output of your block(s) each month on your utility bill based on how many kWh were produced from the system.
Are there any initial costs? Does the initial cost change if I buy more than one block?
As with all OUC services, there is a deposit fee of $50 that will be charged when a customer signs up. The fee is refundable after a two-year participation period provided the customer maintains a good credit rating with OUC. The deposit is $50 regardless of how many 1 kW blocks you choose.
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What happens to my deposit if I leave the program prior to the two-year participation period?
If you elect to leave the program prior to the end of the required two-year participation period, you forfeit the deposit, but any interest earned on the deposit will be credited to the account. If you move out of OUC’s electric service territory prior to the end of the two-year period, your deposit will be credited to the account on your final bill
How and when will OUC collect my deposit?
The subscription deposit of $50.00 will be charged to the OUC account for the address listed on the application on the next monthly bill after the application is approved by OUC.
When do I have to pay the deposit?
Subscribers will be charged the deposit upon acceptance into the program. The deposit is due on the normal due date of the first bill after joining the program.
What if the project is fully subscribed?
Once the project is fully subscribed, interested customers will be placed on a waiting list and contacted when additional blocks become available.
Do I still have to pay the deposit if I am on the waiting list?
Customers on the waiting list will not be charged a deposit until blocks become available and they are accepted into the program. The deposit is due on the normal due date of the first bill after acceptance into the program.
What if I sign up for this program and then sell my house?
Moving will not affect your participation in the Community Solar Farm as long as you remain within OUC’s Orlando electric service territory, as your subscription can move to your new property with you. If you close your account and do not move within OUC's Orlando electric service area, the deposit and interest will be credited to your final bill. If you elect to end your participation prior to the end of the required two year participation period, you will forfeit the deposit. Any earned interest will be credited to your account.
How do I pay for my solar blocks each month?
Each month your utility bill will show the charge (and any credits, if applicable) for the solar output of your blocks based on how many kWh were produced from the system.
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How does the solar rate compare with my current OUC rate?
Right now, the solar rate of $.13/KWH is about $.025/KWH more than your current residential rate and about $.015/KWH more than your current non-demand commercial rate, but the solar rate will remain fixed for the 25 year life of the program which reduces your risk to changes in future energy prices.
What happens if I don’t buy enough kW blocks to cover all of my energy needs? Will the power go out at my house?
If your kWh solar production is less than the kWh you used that month, OUC will bill you for the difference at the standard electric rate. You are not at risk of losing power by using solar because you are automatically backed up by OUC’s other sources of power generation.
Is the solar kWh purchase in addition to my normal electric cost?
No, it is not in addition to your normal electric cost. The solar blocks you purchase through the program each month offset your normal electricity usage. OUC will bill you for the solar kWh at the solar rate and any remaining normal electric consumption at your current retail rate.
What happens if I buy more kW blocks than I currently need?
If the kWh solar production is greater than the kWh you used that month, OUC purchases the excess energy at the customer’s retail rate just as if you had produced the energy from a solar array on your own building.
What if I want to buy more blocks later?
As long as the solar farm is not sold out, additional blocks may be available for purchase. OUC is anticipating strong demand for this program, so we encourage customers to buy the right amount of blocks initially. If the program is sold out, your name will be added to a waiting list and you will be notified when more solar blocks become available.
If I am not an OUC customer, can I still purchase blocks in the community solar farm?
No. The program is only available to OUC’s residential electric customers and General Service Non-Demand commercial customers.
What are the eligibility requirements for participation?
Customers must be a Residential or Small Commercial electric customer in OUC’s service area, and have an acceptable credit rating with OUC. Customers who are currently participating in OUC's solar PV program, pre-paid billing or Budget Billing are not eligible.
Can I sign up for the program if I live in an apartment or condo?
Yes, as long as you are an OUC electric customer.
What kind of paperwork is required for participation?
Participating customers must submit a simple application that can be accessed at: www.ouc.com/communitysolar.
For additional questions not included in the FAQ, please contact OUC’s Conservation & Renewables Department at firstname.lastname@example.org or 407-434-2263.
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