FAQ – Program Information
Alliant Energy® Community Solar program brings together people with a common interest in powering their homes and businesses with solar energy. Not every location is ideal for solar panels, nor is it always easy to install your own. Our community solar program was established to help make solar simple and accessible for everyone. For most of our customers, as an Alliant Energy customer, you can buy subscriptions to blocks of solar to cover up to 100% of your energy bill. Large commercial or industrial customers may be limited based upon the size of the solar garden and the availability of blocks.
With the Alliant Energy® Community Solar program, Alliant Energy builds, owns, and maintains a dedicated community solar garden for the participating subscribers. The renewable energy produced by the solar site is delivered to the grid, where Alliant Energy manages the sale of the energy on the market. All the energy credit is then passed back to all participating subscribers for the life of the project.
Solar blocks are 250-watt increments of the community solar garden. Depending on the size and type of panels used in a solar garden, one solar panel is approximately two solar blocks.
Customers subscribe to blocks allowable per subscriber in the nearest 250-watt increment that meets, not exceeding, their annual average usage. The customer’s most recent 12 months of electric energy consumption will determine average annual usage. If this amount is not representative of the predicted usage, or if the data is unavailable, then Alliant Energy can estimate.
When combined with other specific tariff offerings, the customer’s subscription may not exceed 100% of the average annual usage outlined in the Alliant Energy® Community Solar Terms & Conditions.
The solar project is a self-funded community program. The subscription fee per solar block is created based on the community solar garden’s actual costs, including land, installation, operating costs, and marketing. Using Alliant Energy resources, we work with our developers to determine the estimated design, location, and prices. These costs are then divided between the solar blocks of a community solar garden.
Marketing efforts inform and ask for customer commitment to a project. The upfront subscription fees are a necessary customer investment to complete the construction. Typically, construction will commence once 75% of the solar blocks have been claimed. Upfront payment also enables customers to take advantage of the solar bill credits when the community solar garden becomes operational.
We offer a monthly payment plan. However, participating subscribers will not receive the solar bill credit until paid in full, and the solar garden is operational.
The Alliant Energy® Community Solar program allows you to invest in solar energy with others in your community. All costs of the solar garden installation are shared. The program allows you to invest upfront at an amount that works for your budget and receive a bill credit from a community solar garden located in your geographic area.
Compare this program with a private system: The average system size for individuals installing solar panels on a home is 5 to 15 kilowatts (kW). To build a private system, you will need to have a contract with independent solar installers for the total installation cost. For 10 kW of panels, on average, the installation and system together can run between $30,000 and $40,000, according to the Center for Sustainable Energy before tax credits and incentives. You and the installer can agree upon a payment schedule with multiple years of monthly payments. At the same time, you may still have an electric bill.
Any government tax incentives for renewable energy have been incorporated in calculating our solar block subscription fee. Participants would not be able to claim on your state or federal taxes.
The bill credits for participating customers are an offset to the original subscription purchase price and would not be considered taxable income.
Subscribers should consult with their tax advisor to confirm the appropriate tax treatment.
The subscriptions directly fund the solar garden’s construction, so it is an additive part of the Clean Energy Blueprint in which customers can achieve their own green goals.
For additional information about Alliant Energy’s Clean Energy Blueprint, please visit alliantenergy.com/cleanenergyblueprint.
FAQ – Enrollment for Subscriptions & Payment
You determine how green do you want to be. Customers can purchase a single solar block or the maximum of solar blocks that do not exceed their average annual kilowatt-hours (kWh) or anywhere in between. Once a community solar site is identified, 25% of the solar blocks will be available specifically for residential customers. No single subscriber may have more than 60% of the solar blocks available.
We have created calculators to help customers determine how many blocks are equal to their energy offset goals. Calculators can be found on each solar project's webpage.
Two fees are part of the program: administration and subscription. Before community solar subscribers can receive bill credits, all upfront administration and subscription fees must be paid in full.
- Administration fee is a one-time, upfront non-refundable administrative fee. The amount will vary based on solar garden location.
- Subscription fee is the calculated upfront subscription fee per solar block. The amount will vary for each solar garden.
- Before the commercial operation date, the upfront subscription fee may be adjusted based on the facility construction's final actual costs, resulting in a true-up payment or refund to participating subscribers.
The Alliant Energy® Community Solar program uses an online subscription form. Participants agree to terms and conditions to become enrolled in the Community Solar program.
Once information is received, our staff will confirm your eligibility. If there are any questions, you will be contacted by an Alliant Energy representative. Alliant Energy will use the first-come, first-served approach to processing applications and assign each participating subscriber to an Alliant Energy Community Solar garden. In the event available capacity is limited, Alliant Energy may give preference to subscriptions from customers located in the same region as an Alliant Energy Community Solar garden is located.
With a one-time administration fee, solar block subscription fees will be sent separately from your monthly electric statement.
Community solar credits will appear on your electric bill once the solar site has been operational for one month.
Two options are available to pay the upfront fees. Subscribers will not receive the solar bill credit until paid in full, and the community solar garden is operational.
- Full payment option - In addition to the administrative fee, the full upfront subscription fee will be billed to the subscriber in the preceding month.
- Monthly payment option - If the customer does not want to pay the full upfront subscription fee, a monthly payment option is available.
Payments can be made in several different ways, from postal mail payments to using your My Account. Please visit alliantenergy.com for additional payment options.
If paying with a credit card, there is a $4,000 limit per transaction and/or per month for residential customers and a $10,000 limit per transaction and/or per month for business customers.
If the maximum subscription capacity is met, you will be added to a waitlist. As blocks come available after the solar garden’s operational date, customers will be contacted for the opportunity to subscribe.
When a new community solar garden is available, electric customers on the waitlist will be offered the opportunity to subscribe.
FAQ - Benefits & Bill Credits
Depending on the number of blocks subscribed by a customer, Alliant Energy allocates that percentage of the kilowatts (kW) capacity to the total monthly amount of the kilowatt-hours (kWh) energy produced by the Alliant Energy Community Solar garden. Due to the nature of solar, solar production is impacted by the seasons and the weather. Below is an example of the estimated solar energy production over the year.
Solar production credit rates are based on a combination of the marginal cost of energy in the wholesale market and production capacity costs, as calculated in a cost-of-service study.
Alliant Energy conducts a cost-of-service study annually to determine if credits increase, decrease, or remain the same. See project-specific information for guaranteed minimum bill credits.
Subscribers who are also participating in budget or fixed amount billing will receive bill credits but not monthly. Customers participating in budget or fixed amount billing may see a difference in their bill calculation.
For budget billing, subscribers will not see monthly impacts to their bill, but it should impact their billed amount every six months when the account reviews.
For fixed amount billing, subscribers will not see any benefits from community solar for a year. They will see the impacts on their following contract amount a year later.
Customers can visit a dashboard for daily solar production information when the solar garden becomes operational and generates power.
The dashboard will show the amount of energy being produced and the total over the life of the solar garden, plus display a dynamic solar production graph that shows solar production in 15-minute intervals, daily, weekly, monthly, annually, and lifetime.
The energy equivalents section shows the conversion of greenhouse gas emission numbers into different equivalent units. The calculation methods can be found on the EAP website:
The RECs associated with the Alliant Energy Community Solar garden will be bundled and retired on behalf of all subscribers annually (Jan – Dec) and tracked in the Midwest Renewable Energy Tracking System (MRETS). The retirement of the RECs is on behalf of all subscribers of the facility but not transferred to individuals.
The retirement can take several months to process, so we plan to inform our subscribers of the RECs in April of each year of the previous year’s performance.
So what does this mean for our subscribers? Individual residents and businesses can make renewable statements they are reliant on the environmental attributes and benefits associated with the solar garden and the RECs issued. Example: Subscribing businesses that are offsetting their overall energy usage with renewable energy will make a renewable claim toward their company’s sustainability goals.
FAQ – Subscription Management
If you move to a different location in the same state and remain an Alliant Energy electric customer, you can keep your solar blocks with you. If you move outside of the Alliant Energy service area, there are several options:
- Transfer your solar blocks to the new owner, or
- Transfer to an extended family member in the same service area, or
- Give the solar blocks to a local non-profit as a gift, or
- Request a pro-rated subscription refund.
The original subscriber must notify Alliant Energy within 90 days of no longer being a customer of your address, as described in the Terms & Conditions. After 90 days, a subscriber’s Community Solar contract will be considered canceled and not eligible for a refund of the pro-rata share. Contact Alliant Energy Customer Support to assist with any changes.
If a subscriber is deceased
- If there is a surviving spouse, the existing account can be updated with the spouse’s information. Credits will continue to be issued to that account.
- If the estate is in probate, court documents will need to be provided to grant the power to oversee the estate to the Personal Representative (WI) or Executor (IA). Once we have received the documentation, the Personal Representative or Executor can request to transfer (see criteria) or cancel the subscription for a pro-rated refund.
- Anyone other than the surviving spouse who contacts Alliant Energy regarding community solar will need to provide specific documentation per Alliant Energy’s Confidentiality Policy before any actions can be taken.
If the subscriber no longer has an account in their name (but still lives at premise)
- The original subscribing customer must contact Alliant Energy to request a transfer to the premise’s new account.
A participating subscriber, who is paid in full, can cancel their subscription and receive a refund of a pro-rata share of the upfront subscription fee for only the following conditions:
- The subscriber is moving or relocating outside Alliant Energy’s service territory,
- The subscriber ceasing to be a customer of Alliant Energy for other reasons, or
- For reasons outside the control of the subscriber (referred to as a force majeure event in the terms and conditions).
The solar project is a self-funded community program. The upfront subscription fees are used to pay for the solar garden’s land, installation, operating costs, and marketing. For this reason, cancellations are limited to established situations.
Subscribers who do not meet the cancellation criteria will not be able to receive a refund.
The original subscriber must notify Alliant Energy within 90 days of no longer being a customer to their original address, as described in the community solar terms and conditions. After 90 days, a subscriber’s Community Solar contract will be considered canceled and not eligible for a refund of the pro-rata share.
FAQ – Miscellaneous
Alliant Energy has a maintenance and repair budget built into the program to cover repairs. It is possible generation could be reduced in a given month until repairs are completed.
Typically, solar panel manufacturers test their panels to withstand up to 25 mm (1 inch) diameter for hailstones.
The types of solar panels used at an Alliant Energy Community Solar garden can include bifacial panels, monofacial panels, or both. Bifacial panels can collect light on both sides of the panel (front and back). In contrast, monofacial panels only collect light on one side.
Typically, solar panels are made of crystalline silicon-type solar cells along with glass, aluminum housing.
The solar panels are mounted with metal clips that hold the panel’s frame to a racking structure during the solar garden construction.