Solar Gardens is a community solar program. Community solar or shared solar programs allow utility customers to support the development and generation of solar energy without having to own their own installations. While more and more utilities across the United States are developing these programs for their customers, each shared solar program differs in structure.
Solar Gardens was a first-of-its-kind program for Michigan.
We’re seizing a once-in-a-generation opportunity to eliminate coal, embrace renewable resources and provide innovative, affordable energy solutions for customers. It’s all part of our commitment to protect the planet, empower people and help Michigan prosper. By 2040 through our Clean Energy Plan, we will meet customers’ needs with 90 percent clean energy resources and, with your help, create a bright, sustainable energy future for our state.
Participants will receive a monthly bill credit for the value of solar energy actually generated, based on their subscription level. This credit will vary month to month.
Participants tend to see larger credits in the summer when there is more sunshine and smaller credits in the winter. In 2018 the average monthly credit was $4.54 per SolarBlock.
For years 1-5 of the program, the credit will be based on a fixed energy and capacity credit of $0.075/kWh; and years 6-25 of the program, the credit will be based on market value of energy and capacity produced. Solar energy credits will be provided for the program duration of 25 years. Customers enrolling after the first year (2016) of the program will have reduced subscription payments and reduced years of solar energy credits, pro-rated based on the date of enrollment.
Please note this program is not designed to reduce your electric bill. Rather, it offers an opportunity to voluntarily participate in a program that generates clean, renewable energy, therefore reducing greenhouse gas emissions by displacing fossil-fueled generation.
Although the value of the solar energy credit may increase over the life of the program, there is no guarantee the value will be greater than the subscription payment and customers should not participate in this program with any expectation of profit or financial gain.
You will see your subscription amount on your monthly energy bill starting within two billing cycles from your approved application date. Customers enrolled in budget plan will receive a separate bill each month for their Solar Gardens subscription. The exact amount of your monthly subscription payment will be based upon the number of SolarBlocks you chose when you enrolled.
Your monthly subscription cost will be offset by your solar credit. This credit is based on your subscription level. It is calculated from the solar energy produced and the current value of energy and capacity. If the monthly solar energy credit is greater than your bill, the excess credit will be rolled over and applied to the next month's bill.
Monthly subscription payments cover the costs of solar energy, which include the cost of construction, operation and maintenance, property taxes, financing, insurance, required interconnection and electric system modifications costs, and program management costs.
To continue our environmental commitment, we send communications regarding the program electronically via email. Communications may include information regarding your subscription, quarterly program updates, and news about solar.
You may elect to cancel your enrollment at any time by calling the Program Administrator at 517-788-2139, emailing email@example.com, or by writing to Solar Gardens Program, 530 W. Willow St, LAN-206, Lansing, Michigan 48906.
There is no fee to cancel your participation in the Solar Gardens program. If you choose to leave the program, you forfeit all payments made up until that time. Customer enrollment will be discontinued without refund if three consecutive subscription payments are delinquent. Partial payments still constitute as being delinquent. If moving out of the Consumers Energy service territory please refer to refund policy below.
In the event Consumers Energy is unable 1) to secure adequate solar resources to serve applicants, or 2) to secure sufficient customer interest in the program, we will provide notice to any affected applicants.
If you wish to change your participation level after initial enrollment in the Program, you can do so by calling the Program Administrator at 517-788-2139, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to Solar Gardens Program, 530 W. Willow St, Lansing, Michigan 48906
Customers moving within the Consumers Energy electric service territory can transfer their Solar Gardens subscription to their new address by requesting this change when transferring your energy service, by calling the Program Administrator at 517-788-2139, emailing email@example.com, or by writing to Solar Gardens Program, 530 W. Willow St, Lansing, Michigan 48906
Customers moving outside the Consumers Energy electric service territory, please refer to refund policy below.
Customers relocating outside of Consumers Energy’s electric service territory may elect to receive an equitable pro-rated refund of the subscription payments. The customer must notify Consumers Energy within 90 days of relocating in order to receive the refund. The pro-rated refund will be calculated in accordance with the tariff.
Refunds will not be provided to customers that voluntarily choose to discontinue enrollment.
The refund will be calculated as follows:
Total subscription cost paid to date - (Total subscription costs * (number of bill credits received to date / number of bill credits available in program subscription))
As a Solar Gardens participant, you are subscribing to solar energy across Michigan.
Subscription payments made through this Program are not charitable contributions, and therefore should not be tax deductible.
For more details, we recommend that participants consult a tax professional in order to determine exact eligibility for any tax benefits.
No, due to the complexity of the power grid that serves this region, we are not able to send a specific energy source directly to your home. The great news is that every time you flip on your switch you will have the same reliable electricity service that you have now. This program is perfect for customers who support renewable energy but who cannot install solar panels on their own home.
When renewable energy is produced, in this case from solar panels, there are two outputs. The first is the actual electricity that gets delivered to the power grid. The second is the Renewable Energy Certificate, commonly known as a ‘REC’, which represents the environmental benefits of 1 megawatt-hour of renewable energy generated. RECs turn the environmental benefits into a tangible product that allows the owners of those RECs to take credit for the offset of the carbon produced from their conventional energy use. All RECs associated with the Solar Gardens program are retired on behalf of the customers per the tariff.
Despite all the jokes about weather in Michigan, we actually do have sunny days. Although the amount of solar energy produced is affected by cloud cover, generation does still occur. On extremely cloudy days, the panels may produce only 5-25 percent of their rated capacity.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Michigan has the potential to produce 4.0 to 4.5 kWh/m2/day on average. That’s a lot sun power waiting to be harnessed!
You’re welcome to drive by and take a look! Because these are generating facilities public access is generally not permitted, but tours may be arranged under special conditions for large groups and must be arranged in advance. To arrange a tour, you can do so by calling the Program Administrator at 517-788-2139, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or by writing to Solar Gardens Program, 530 W. Willow St, LAN-206, Lansing, Michigan 48906.
In the meantime, stay tuned in to all Program updates at ConsumersEnergy.com/solargardens.
Solar panels are friendly to wildlife and the environment in general. Solar facilities are silent, do not pollute and do not obstruct views. The Audubon Society encourages a move to solar power because it helps protect and preserve our wildlife. In addition, many of our facilities have been enhanced to create habitat for butterflies, bees and other pollinators.