What is a Sunscription? What am I paying for?
A Sunscription is designed to save money by allowing you to subscribe to a portion of a Solar Garden, rather than owning the actual materials. Through the community solar program, Xcel Energy purchases the energy from the Solar Garden through monetary Bill Credits applied right to your electric bill.
US Solar designs, constructs, and operates Solar Gardens. US Solar also organizes the financing for the Solar Garden, so that you have no up-front costs. Your monthly payment to US Solar goes towards covering those initial project costs and the planned maintenance of the Solar Garden.
How does my Sunscription save me money?
$ Bill Credits – $ US Solar Payments = Savings
Your savings are equal to the difference between the Bill Credits you receive from Xcel and the payments that you make to US Solar. We don’t know the exact amount you’ll save, but we estimate the energy production and corresponding Bill Credits to give you an idea of what to expect. Actual savings will vary based on a variety of factors, including actual weather conditions and how fast Xcel’s rates increase each year.
How much does it cost to sign up?
There are no up-front costs or annual fees. You simply make monthly payments for your Sunscription, based on the amount of energy produced.
How long does the Sunscription Agreement last?
The Agreement lasts for 25 years. Your Sunscription is portable and transferable – your savings move with you as long as you are eligible. See below for additional details on transferring your subscription.
What happens if a year is very cloudy or energy production is low?
You only pay based on energy that is actually produced. This means that if production is low, you may not save as much money as expected, but you are not harmed financially. This structure incentivizes us to use quality materials and to properly maintain the solar garden. Keep in mind that not all years will produce the same amount of energy. Some years may produce less energy, and some years may produce more.
BILL CREDITS & SUNSCRIPTION PAYMENTS
How much Bill Credit will I receive?
Xcel will apply Bill Credits directly to your electricity bill. The credit amount will be determined by how much energy is produced that month and the credit rate for that year. The credit rate starts at $0.1531 per kilowatt hour (kWh) in the first year. Each year that Xcel increases its rates, the credit rate will increase about the same amount. Actual Bill Credits will vary based on actual energy production and how fast Xcel’s rates increase each year.
How much will I pay?
Our pricing is set to provide you with real value. Your Sunscription Payments are based on three things:
How will my electricity billing change?
Now you will have two bills instead of one. You will receive your usual Xcel electricity bill, but it will be reduced based on your Bill Credits for that month. (In the first year, your Bill Credit amount will typically cover most of your bill. As time passes, the panels will produce slightly less energy, so your Bill Credits may no longer cover your whole bill.)
You will also receive a separate bill from US Solar for your Sunscription Payment. We have provided a visual example of this on the fourth page of this Overview.
Will my credit and payment amounts be the same each month?
Your Bill Credit amount and Sunscription Payment will vary each month. In Minnesota, solar panels produce more energy in the summer months and less energy in the winter months. You can expect higher credits and payments in the summer, as these amounts reflect the amount of energy produced.
If there is excess credit on your bill, the credit will roll over to cover your charges on the next month’s bill. Once per year, Xcel will zero out any excess credits on your account and pay you the excess amount directly.
TRANSFER & TRANSFORMATION
Can I transfer my Sunscription to someone else?
Yes, you can transfer your Sunscription to another eligible person. There is no Transfer Fee.
What happens if I move?
You can bring your Sunscription with you to your new residence. Just be sure to notify us in advance. There is no fee to transfer your Sunscription to a new address.
What happens if I move and am no longer eligible?
You can either transfer or terminate your Sunscription Agreement. We recommend that you transfer your Sunscription to another eligible person because the fee is smaller. The full Cancellation Fee for subscribers that are no longer eligible is $200.
In the event of death, the Termination Fee will be waived.
Can I end my Sunscription Agreement early if I’m still eligible?
Sunscription Agreements are intentionally structured to be long-term commitments, providing the greatest savings for subscribers. If you are still eligible but no longer wish to participate, we recommend you transfer your Sunscription to another eligible person. Otherwise, the fee is equal to your remaining Sunscription Payments or will be reduced to no less than $500 if the US Solar team finds a replacement subscriber for you.
What does US Solar need from me?
To confirm your eligibility and set up your Sunscription, you need to: provide your contact and Xcel account information, sign the 25-year Sunscription Agreement and Xcel Consent Form, perform a soft credit check, and set up your ACH or Credit/Debit automatic payment information within our secure platform.
What information is available from US Solar?
Along with your Agreement, we provide your Xcel Consent Form and our Solar Garden contract with Xcel. After the Solar Garden is constructed, you can request copies of the panel warranty, certificate of insurance, and maintenance plan. You’ll also be able to view your payment history and monitor the solar production at any time.
Why is the Price Escalator important?
The lower the Price Escalator, the slower your price will increase – and the more secure and predictable your savings will be. On average, Xcel’s rates have increased 3.5% each year between 2000 and 2014. In recent years, the increases have been even higher.
We base our savings estimates on a projected 2.5 % average increase of Xcel's rates, and our Price Escalator is set significantly lower than Xcel’s historical average.
When do I start seeing Benefits?
You will not make any Sunscription Payments until you start seeing Bill Credits on your electric bill. We expect to have your Solar Garden online within a year of signing your Agreement, but it could take up to 24 months.
Who is eligible for a Sunscription with US Solar?
If you are an Xcel customer and have a FICO of 680 or higher, you are eligible for a Sunscription. To participate in a specific Solar Garden, you must be located in the same, or an adjacent, county. Go to our Sign-Up page to see what counties have projects available.
Will you share my personal information?
Your privacy and security is important to us. We will not sell or rent your contact information. We do not store any data necessary to check your credit; you will submit this data directly to the credit organization. We do not store any banking information; your financial data will be submitted directly to the financial transaction organization.
Do I get to pick which Solar Garden my Sunscription is at?
No, we will select an eligible Solar Garden for you and assign your Sunscription to it. This will not affect your pricing.
Do I own the renewable energy or RECs from the Solar Garden?
No, Xcel will own all renewable energy and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) associated with your Sunscription. This is part of the reason you receive a Bill Credit.
Don’t worry though – your Solar Garden is still producing clean, renewable energy!