Plug into Solar!™ FAQs

  • WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO PLUG INTO SOLAR!™ WITH SOLAR GARDEN SERVICES?

    Until now, it has been difficult (sometimes impossible) for renters to support and benefit from solar power because they do not own their own homes.  Plug into Solar!™ makes solar production credits available to the residents of subscriber properties who lease their space without having to install solar panels on the roof of their property.  We do this by partnering with solar garden facility owners and rental property owners to provide Plug into Solar!™ unique solar energy subscription program.

    Rental property owners and or local solar garden owner-developers take on the community solar garden investments or up-front subscription costs making it possible for them to provide a solar subscription amenity to renters of participating properties.  Participation in Plug into Solar!™ is an included service when renting at subscriber properties.

    As part of Plug into Solar!™  renters will participate in Minnesota’s Solar*Rewards Community® (S*RC) program simply by paying their electric bill in two parts!

  • WHAT IS COMMUNITY SOLAR AND HOW DOES IT WORK?

    Community solar is a way for people to support and benefit from solar electric systems without owning a roof or installing their own stand-alone array.  Solar panels are installed in sunny locations to produce renewable energy.  The community solar garden generates electricity that goes directly into the local utility’s electrical powerlines and flows to where it is needed.   

    The Solar*Rewards Community® program is run by Xcel Energy and provides incentives meant to encourage development and participation in community solar gardens.  Xcel Energy consumers subscribe to a third-party community solar garden nearby as a way to show their support of solar energy and renewable[1] energy initiatives.

    When residents participate in subscription programs like, Plug into Solar!™ they are supporting local solar garden owner-developer investments in clean energy projects.  Clean energy projects support local jobs, cleaner air and better human and planet health by reducing dependence on fossil fuel – decreasing pollutants. 

    In Minnesota, the community solar program is mandated by the legislator and overseen by Xcel Energy.  The Solar*Rewards Community® program requires solar garden owners and or developers to obtain subscribers and to bill subscribers separately from the Xcel Energy bill for electric energy.  Consequently, electric energy fees are a combined fee owed to Xcel Energy and the solar garden developer and or owner.  



    [1]Plug into Solar! is a subscription service enabling consumers to participate in the Solar*Rewards Community program run by Xcel Energy.  Energy produced by participating solar gardens contributes to the overall energy mix that is distributed to all Xcel energy consumers.  No renewable energy claims are being made by ourselves, our subscribers or our solar garden producers.

  • WILL SUBSCRIBERS NOTICE A DIFFERENCE WHEN TURNING ON OR OFF THE LIGHT?

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    No. There is no change to how electric energy is received for day to day use. Participants in the program receive the additional benefit of supporting community solar and renewable[1] energy initiatives due to the subscriber properties system production.

    Residents will continue to have full Xcel Energy electric service[2] while living in a rental community whose ownership supports community solar programs and is doing something good for the community and environment.  Residents will maintain access to Xcel Energy electricity and billing information.  The Solar*Rewards Community Solar Production Credit from the Xcel Energy bill is now due on their rent or utility statement less anyapplicable participation discount and paid each month.



    [1]Plug into Solar! is a subscription service enabling consumers to participate in the Solar*Rewards Community program run by Xcel Energy.  Energy produced by participating solar gardens contributes to the overall energy mix that is distributed to all Xcel energy consumers.  No renewable energy claims are being made by ourselves, our subscribers or our solar garden producers.

    [2] Subscribers will need to contact Xcel Energy or when applicable, your property management company regarding power outages.

     

     

     

  • HOW MUCH ENERGY WILL THE SYSTEM PRODUCE?

    For a tracking system like the ones used in the solar gardens, each megawatt of capacity produces approximately 2 million kilowatt-hours of energy, or roughly the equivalent usage of almost 200 homes and over 400 apartments.

  • WHAT HAPPENS IF THE GARDEN PRODUCES MORE THAN WE USE?

    The community solar garden generates electricity that goes directly into the local utility’s electrical power lines and flows to where it is needed.   There is no change to how electric energy is received for day to day use. The energy produced by participating solar gardens contributes to the overall energy mix distributed to all Xcel Energy customers. No energy is wasted!

  • WHAT TYPES OF PV MODULES DO YOU USE AND WHY?

    The modules used in the solar gardens are high quality modules from reputable tier one vendors.  The most common type is polycrystalline silicon, but monocrystalline silicon and thin-film modules are also common.  Each type has small variations in price, efficiency, and other operating characteristics, and all work very well in Minnesota. 

  • WHAT HAPPENS IF A PANEL BECOMES SHADED OR STOPS WORKING?

    Shaded modules output less energy, which can reduce the output for other modules on the same electrical circuit.   A certain amount of shading is expected based on the typical weather patterns of a given area and is accounted for in the construction of the solar gardens. 

  • IS RESIDENT PARTICIPATION IN THE SOLAR PROGRAM OPTIONAL?

    Participation is limited to residents who are living at a property participating in Plug into Solar!™ a community solar energy subscription program. New residents or residents renewing their lease will complete community solar garden subscription paperwork as part of their ongoing lease agreement. All residents are highly encouraged to participate.

  • WHO DO I CALL IF I HAVE QUESTIONS?

    Most questions can be answered by property management or subscription enrollment team where you live.  When questions cannot be answered by them, contact Solar Garden Services. 

    To contact Solar Garden Services call (651) 291-5201 or click contact us to send a message.

    Solar Garden Services will not disconnect the electric power.  In the event of a power outage, contact Xcel Energy or, when applicable, your property management company.

  • HOW DOES A RENTER PLUG INTO SOLAR!™?

    To be properly enrolled, there are forms that renters will need to complete with your property management team or subscription enrollment team where you live. A complete copy of your Xcel Energy Bill is also needed.   For more information or to participate visit your property manger today!

  • INFORMATION SHARING

    The information Solar Garden Services will use and access are: name, account number, premises number, service address, telephone number, and email address, meter read/usage data, solar production accounting information – please defer to the SAA form for details.  This information is needed to run the solar program for each garden, property, and subscriber.  Information will be shared between Solar Garden Services and Xcel Energy for accounting and tracking purposes, Solar Garden Services and local solar garden owner-developers for accounting, tracking, and billing purposes, and when necessary as is required by law.  

    Solar Garden Services is sensitive to the release of personal information and request only what is required to comply with Solar*Rewards Community™ (S*RC) program see 1st Revised Sheet No. 91-93 4a-h of the SAA for complete details.

    For more information or to participate visit your property manger today!

  • WHAT HAPPENS WHEN THE SUBSCRIBER MOVES?

    Participation in Plug into Solar!™ a community solar energy subscription program is limited to residency in Plug into Solar!™ subscriber properties.  When a renter moves out, participation ends and electricity service is transferred back to local solar garden owner-developers. Residents will be sent a final energy bill and are responsible for usage and participation charges incurred during the lease period.

  • WHAT HAPPENS AFTER A RESIDENT COMPLETES THE ENROLLMENT PAPERWORK?

    Once the garden begins producing solar energy and the program is active participating residents will receive two statements every month with their electric energy costs.  One bill will come from Xcel Energy and will now show a Solar*Rewards Community Solar Production Credit on their bill. This credit for solar production decreases the amount they pay to Xcel Energy each month. The other bill will appear on the renter’s monthly rent or utility statement as a community solar production charge less any participation discount offered by the solar garden owner(s) and is paid each month with rent. 

  • WHAT ARE THE COSTS TO THE RENTER?

    There are NO additional costs!  There are no upfront payments or deposits associated with renter’s participation in Plug into Solar!™. There are no termination fees.  Subscribers will continue to have full Xcel Energy electric service[1] while living in a rental community that is doing something good for the community and environment.  Residents will maintain access to Xcel Energy electricity and billing information.  Electric energy bills[2] will now be paid in two parts.



    [1]Subscribers will need to contact Xcel Energy or when, applicable your property management company regarding power outages.

    [2] Accounts are subject to late fees, removal from the program, NSF fees, and reinstatement fees.

  • WHAT IS THE DURATION OF PARTICIPATION?

    Participation is an amenity associated with living in a rental community that is participating in Plug into Solar!™ a community solar energy subscription program.  The duration of participation is typically limited to residency in Plug into Solar!™ multi-family housing community subscriber properties.

    For example, if a rental agreement is for one year, the subscription is also for one year.  When a lease renews on a month to month basis or annually, Plug into Solar!™  participation continues along with the lease.  Participation ends when the resident moves out or with termination of the lease with PLUG into Solar!™ subscriber properties.

    Participation helps local solar garden owner-developers ongoing work to provide environmentally conscious rental communities.  Residents will need to complete subscription paperwork enrolling them into the program. 

    Visit your property management or subscription enrollment team where you live to properly complete, update, or end lease addendum paperwork with every move.

  • HOW DO SUBSCRIBERS PAY THEIR BILL, WHAT ARE THE TERMS?

    Just add solar!  The Solar*Rewards Community Solar Production Credit from the Xcel Energy bill is now due on the rent or utility statement less any participation discount offered. 

    Plug into Solar!™ subscribers pay-as-you-go each month.  Accepted payment methods and fees are subject to change and vary by garden owner(s) subscription and or any additional subscriber properties utility agreements.

    Each month residents pay the community solar production charge less any participation discount offered and when applicable the rent and other utility fees.   

    Each month the subscriber receives two statements:

    1. Xcel Energy Bill – Only Pay Balance Due

    Continue paying the Xcel Energy bill each month.  Notice that by participating in Plug into Solar!, the subscriber will now see a Solar*Rewards Community Solar Production Credit on their bill. This credit for solar production decreases the amount they pay to Xcel Energy each month.

    2. Monthly Utility or Rent Statement – Pay full Amount

    Just add solar!  The Solar*Rewards Community Solar Production Credit from their Xcel energy bill is now due on their monthly rent or utility statement less any participation discount offered.  Just follow the instructions on your statement.

    Statement types offered vary by rental community.  Check with property management to find out which statement type is provided where you live.

    Rent Statement: When the community solar production charge is collected with the subscribers monthly rent statement the property management company collects the fee on behalf of  the solar garden energy producer with the rent.

    Utility Statement: When the community solar production charge is collected as part of a monthly utility statement the fee is collected by Solar Garden Services on behalf of the solar garden energy producer.

  • HOW IS THE COMMUNITY SOLAR PRODUCTION CREDIT DETERMINED ON THE XCEL ENERGY BILL?

    Each month, Xcel Energy records the solar production from a community solar garden in kilowatt-hours (kWh). The production amount is then allocated, based on subscription size.  This is calculated by multiplying the number of kWh by the credit rate ($/kWh)[1]. These credits are applied to the Xcel Energy final bill amount, after all electric charges, adjustments, riders, taxes and fees are added in.

    The timing of credits depends on meter read dates, and varies according to individual billing cycles which mean the credits appearing on the bill will not correspond to the usage period on the bill. 



    [1] Detailed information on the calculation of the bill credit can be found in the published tariff on Xcel Energy’s website.

  • WHEN IS THE COMMUNITY SOLAR PRODUCTION CREDITS POSTED TO THE XCEL ENERGY BILL?

    On the ninth of every month, each subscriber's share of energy production from the community solar garden is posted to their Xcel Energy account as a bill credit. Because individuals are on different billing cycles, the timing for when each subscriber will see the credit depends on the day their meter is read.

    While the credits are reflected differently based on the timing for each subscriber’s Xcel Energy statement the Solar*Rewards Community bill credits will be posted regularly to Xcel Energy customer accounts on the ninth of each month.

  • WHEN IS THE COMMUNITY SOLAR PRODUCTION CHARGE POSTED TO THE RENT OR UTILITY STATEMENT?

    The community solar production charge information is typically posted to the resident ledger 15 to 45-days after the credit appears on the Xcel Energy statement and is due with the subscriber’s monthly rent or utility statement.

    For more information or to participate visit your property manger today!

  • WHAT IF THE BILL CREDIT AMOUNT EXCEEDS THE ENERGY USAGE BILLED FOR THE MONTH?

    Solar Garden Services takes steps to prevent solar production bill credit amounts that exceed annual usage levels.  Working off of information such as the square footage of the subscriber’s rental unit, electric energy usage history, and or information from Xcel Energy necessary to run the program, allocation amounts are set at levels to match solar production levels to annual usage levels.

    When a subscriber has a net credit balance on their Xcel Energy bill because of community solar bill credits, those credits will be carried over and applied to the next month’s balance. If a credit balance remains on a subscriber’s bill for at least 12 consecutive months, a check will be cut by Xcel Energy following the bill cycle including the last day in February to pay out the balance on the Xcel Energy account. Subscribers with consistent credit balances every month would then expect those to be balanced once each year, in late March or April.

    Solar Garden Services provides the community solar production charge less any participation discounts to the subscriber’s monthly rent or utility statement.  Since we are billing the production charge there is no expectation of a net credit balance on the subscriber’s monthly rent or utility statement pertaining to solar. 

  • WHAT IF RESIDENT PARTICIPATES IN AN XCEL ENERGY BUDGET BILLING (AMP) PROGRAM?

    Xcel Energy consumers who have elected to participate in the Averaged Monthly Payment (AMP) program are billed monthly on a basis which is separate from their current actual usage.  Actual energy usage and associated charges are still tracked and shown on the monthly bill, but the amount due is averaged over a 12-month period based on the previous year’s energy usage.

    Subscriber’s participating in Plug into Solar!™ a community solar subscription program may choose to remain on Xcel Energy’s AMP program, though it will affect how bill credits are applied and it is not necessarily recommended to participate in both programs.

    Community solar bill credits will still be posted to their Xcel Energy bill each month while on the AMP program, but the credit falls into the same category as the actual usage amounts.  This means that though they are continually tracked, customers will not necessarily see the effect of their bill credits on the amount they owe until the end of the 12-month cycle.

    Subscriber’s participating in Plug into Solar!™ will want to stop participating in Xcel Energy’s AMP program until actual energy usage and associated charges while participating in a community solar program can be tracked to average a new budgeted (AMP) amount due.  A new average can be estimated in as few as 3 months or as many 12 months.

  • WHAT IF A RESIDENT HAS LOW INCOME AND UTILIZES ENERGY ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS?

    Residents utilizing Energy Assistance programs can still participate in Plug into Solar!™ a community solar garden subscription program. Energy Assistance programs do vary and most[1] are not affected by participation, please let your property manager know if  you are on an Energy Assistance program and they will help guide your subscription process.

    As a matter of equity, solar energy programs should be designed in a manner that allows ALL contributors to participate in community solar programs.  Solar Garden Services along with the garden owners and subscriber properties have developed a program where we work together to reduce up-front costs that enable low income residents to benefit even when utilizing energy assistance programs.

    Rental property owners and or local solar garden owner-developers take on the community solar garden investments or up-front subscription costs making it possible for them to provide a solar subscription amenity to renters of participating properties.  Participation in Plug into Solar!™ is an included service when renting at subscriber properties.



    [1]Households utilizing Xcel Energy’s Power On energy assistance program or energy assistance participants living in a household using electric heating may see a reduction in energy assistance when also participating in a community solar program.  While savings and benefits still occur it is NOT recommended that Power On participants and or electric heat households on energy assistance participate.

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