The year 2016 marked a new era for solar power in our community when Lincoln Electric System unveiled the state’s largest utility-scale solar array, and then shortly after, a virtual net metering program to go with it. The program allows customers who don’t have access to solar for one reason or another to participate in renewable energy.
Before then, it had never been so easy for LES customers to participate in renewable energy. As of 2020, the facility has generated nearly 25 gigawatt-hours of sustainable energy (that’s roughly 900 homes a year!).
So, what is LES’ Virtual Net Metering? It’s a program available to residential, general service and heating service customers. It rewards you as if panels from our community solar project actually sit on the roof of your home or business, reducing the amount of energy you purchase from LES. You’ll receive energy credits every month for the remaining life of the 20-year program, ending in 2036. If you’re enrolled in this program and move somewhere else within LES’ service territory, your virtual panels will automatically follow you to your new service address. If you move outside of LES’ service area, the program allows you to receive a refund, generally equal to 75% of the panel’s purchase price at that time.
Community solar has grown tremendously over the last five years – and LES has been part of that movement. Continuing LES’ reputation for innovation, the community-owned utility gave its customer-owners another ecofriendly initiative to participate in.
Community solar projects help homeowners and renters enjoy the benefits of renewable energy without having it installed where they live. This allows them to invest in solar even if they have a shaded lot or are otherwise unable to install panels. Through a central solar array, several customers can reap the rewards of clean power.
LES’ virtual Net Metering Program exemplifies community solar, allowing LES customer-owners the same benefits to owning solar virtually that traditional net-metered customers experience. All while removing the barrier of being directly connected to the solar facility.
You can help spread the word about LES’ Virtual Net Metering
Joining the program supports LES’ ability to bring renewable energy to our community, but currently, only a small portion of the facility’s capacity has been purchased by LES customers. You can help change that by spreading the word.
Despite best efforts, most LES customers still do not realize their utility offers an easy way to invest in solar power. Plus, it’s affordable to enroll and equates to real bill savings. Enrolling and paying for one virtual solar panel could reduce your electric costs by as much as $32/year.
Customers can stay enrolled and receive bill credits from Virtual Net Metering even as they transition between different residences during the life of the program. They’ll avoid the cost and hassle associated with insuring, installing or maintaining solar panels on their property or home.
Because of the payment plans and the only requirement being an LES customer, anyone – no matter their income level – can participate and reap the rewards of renewable energy.
Other ways to support community solar in the Lincoln area is with a monthly donation of $3 or more on your electric bill via LES’ SunShares program, or by simply spreading the word to your family, neighbors, friends and colleagues.
If you, or someone you know, are interested in supporting solar in the community by purchasing a virtual panel from the community solar facility or contributing $3 a month as a SunShares supporter, more information can be found at LES.com/solar.