Buying into solar doesn’t require owning the roof above your head. With Arcadia Power, a company that launched a new nationwide community solar service earlier this month, renters across the country can now make direct investments in renewable energy and receive credits to use against their existing utility bill.
“We saw that 130 million people pay a monthly power bill, and will do so for the rest of their lives,” says Kiran Bhatraju, the company’s founder and CEO. “But many of those consumers weren’t able to engage and access rooftop solar.”
The concept behind the company’s new offering was to break down the barriers of access to those with the most common reasons not to choose renewable energy: they may be thinking of moving soon, they’re renters and don’t have their own roof, or perhaps they own but don’t have a good enough credit score to get the loans needed to purchase and install a rooftop setup.
Arcadia can provide that access due to a communal arrangement and advanced billing technology (engineers spent two years developing a system that integrated billing across dozens of utilities). The company will set up its own solar sites—the first installations are in Washington, D.C., California, and Massachusetts—which will generate power sold to the local utility. Arcadia customers purchase Solar Savings Subscription for a specific number of panels within one of the company’s community solar farms and will receive renewable energy credits, which can then be used to pay their local utility bill.
This way, local utilities on both ends of the system gets paid, while the user still “owns” a solar installation, all without need to purchase additional equipment or gear at their home or apartment.
While other existing services let consumers support renewable energy generation within certain geographic areas, Arcadia is nationwide, and since it can be utilized from anywhere in the U.S., the service can move with its customers.
Bhatraju believes Arcadia offers a different way of thinking about solar. It’s not just something for homeowners. It’s both modular and portable; a user can by a panel while living in Brooklyn, and then if they move to Chicago a few years later, Arcadia can just push the savings from their panels to a their new utility bill.
As solar power becomes more efficient and states pass better incentives for renewable power, Bhatraju sees the market continuing to grow. The company also plans to push smart thermostats and monitoring systems to help consumers cut down on their energy bills.
“We believe in the consumerization of energy,” says Bhatraju. “It shouldn’t be esoteric. I love that Elon Musk is bringing things down to a consumer level and making this industry understandable and sexy.”