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Renewable Energy Options for Residents

Why Switch Renewable Energy Challenge?

The City of Takoma Park has long purchased 100% wind electricity through renewable energy credits for its own operations, and while residents and businesses have also been able to purchase renewable energy through a number of suppliers in Maryland, choosing the right supplier has been a barrier for many. Shopping the various suppliers, navigating confusing contract terms, misleading advertising, high rates, and unclear sources of power have led only a small percentage (est. 5% - 8%) of businesses and households in the city actually to choose clean power.

To make the process easier and help the city achieve its greenhouse gas reduction goals, the City of Takoma Park initiated an open proposal process and conducted research on rates, business reliability, power sources, and contract terms. In 2018, the City partnered with CleanChoice Energy, a locally based Certified B-Corporation and renewable energy company that sources 100% of its power from wind and solar.

Community Solar Option

What's the difference between community solar, solar co-op, and buying renewable energy?
A solar co-op involves a large group of neighbors buying and installing solar panels from one contractor in order to take advantage of bulk pricing. Community solar does not require any installation of solar panels on your property, and sources solar power from a local project. Renewable energy is any type of power that is not generated by fossil fuels, such as coal, oil, or gas. Solar, wind, hydropower, geothermal, and biomass are some examples of renewable energy sources. The difference between community solar and buying any kind of renewable energy is that some renewable energy may not be locally sourced or may be a different kind of power, such as wind. (However, CleanChoice and many other companies do source their power locally.)

What is community solar?
Community Solar is a way to buy locally sourced solar power that doesn’t involve installing any panels on your house. The company connects you with solar projects in your area and provides you with clean energy through your normal utility. One such company is Neighborhood Sun, a community solar organization based in Maryland.

How is it different from Pepco service?
Normally, the energy you purchase from Pepco comes from coal or other fossil fuels. Even though Pepco will still be your utility provider when you sign up for community solar, your power will come from renewable energy instead of fossil fuels.

Is it expensive?
Each project will be different, but many are around 5% below Perp’s average rate. Neighborhood Sun’s price discount is 5% below Pepco’s average rate.

Can I use energy from an energy supplier and community solar?
These two sources are compatible. Some residents have opted to use clean energy supplies as an alternative to regular energy in case they use more energy than their solar block generates.

What are some of the limitations of community solar?
Neighborhood Sun requires a 5 year contract and a credit check. If you have a lower credit score or don’t know how long you can commit, this may not be the source for you. There is no upfront fee to register, but there is a cancellation fee of $250. However, if you move out of your utility area and give at least 60 days’ notice there is no penalty.

What if I am interested in having my own rooftop solar installed?Awesome! In our area, the Capital Area Solar Switch program is the best place to start for a rooftop solar installation project. This program leverages the power of group buying, and the expertise of partner organization, Solar United Neighbors to ensure participants get a quality system at a discounted price. Members of Capital Area Solar Switch include Washington, D.C.; Arlington and Falls Church in Virginia; Prince George’s, Frederick. Montgomery County  including the Town of Poolesville and Maryland cities Bowie, Frederick, Gaithersburg, Rockville, and Takoma Park.

To get started, click here to register. Registration is free and there is no obligation to purchase solar panels


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Why wind & solar?

Unlike conventional electricity sources, wind and solar does not produce carbon dioxide or contribute to air pollution. Making the switch to renewable energy sources to power your home has a direct impact on provide better air-quality, improved public health, and greenhouse gas emission reduction.

Which clean energy vendors are offering  the lowest rate?

As the renewable energy market has grown, the great news is that there are lots of options to choose from! We recommend doing your research and making a comparison between rates, but here’s a partial list of clean energy retailers that operate in our area:

For a full list of providers, see this list from the Maryland Public Service Commission.

What about businesses and restaurants?       

Business owners can also purchase 100% renewable energy sourced from Maryland! Check the list above to compare offers.

Do I have to do anything to my home electric panel or roof?

No. In fact, you don’t have to change a thing. There’s no new equipment. There’s no interruption in service. Switching to clean energy is a simple thing you can do for the environment.

What about renters?

Whether you live in a single-family home, apartment, condo, or business, if you pay a electric utility bill every month, it’s possible to make the switch! Once you have a preferred vendor, complete the online registration, add your pepco account info, and you should be receiving clean energy in your next billing cycle.

How will I be billed? What about Pepco?

Once you switch vendors, you will still get your Pepco bill, and Pepco will still maintain the wires,  and provide the delivery of your electric service. The only thing that will change is the electricity your home uses will be replenished by clean, renewable wind and solar sources.

What if I move or change my mind?

Many clean energy vendors have no fees to switch. And often there are no cancellation fees, so you can switch back at any time.

How much extra is this going to cost me per month?                             

The average house will see an increase in their monthly electric bill of about $10 – 15.

I can’t afford this but I really want to buy renewable energy. 

Many companies offer a special rebate available for low to moderate income residents to help make up the extra expense of buying renewable energy.

How do I compare offers?

You can choose any supplier you would like. Be sure to compare rates, contract terms, and be sure the supplier you choose is approved by the public service commission

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