Neighborhood Sun is a grassroots clean energy provider.
Community members in Maryland and New Jersey can join Neighborhood Sun for free and choose a local community solar farm to join. A share of the farm’s energy output is assigned to each Neighborhood Sun customer. Then, the customers' share of the farm’s energy output is credited to their electricity bill each month, and they pay Neighborhood Sun for the energy they receive. According to the Neighborhood Sun website, the amount of a customer’s leftover electricity bill, plus the money they pay Neighborhood Sun, is less than the customer’s previous energy bill, saving them money.
Most solar companies offer solar energy through a new solar power system that gets installed at the customer’s home. This usually requires customers to own their home, and that their home is a single-family, freestanding house.
Neighborhood sun is available to anyone in the company’s service area with an electricity bill from a major utility company, even if they rent. This is because customers gets credit for energy produced at the community solar farm that they join, rather than energy produced on their own property.
There’s no cost to join Neighborhood Sun or to cancel. This lowers the barrier of entry for those who are interested in solar energy, compared to buying or leasing a new solar power system.
The free cancellation makes it easier to commit since those who find Neighborhood Sun doesn’t work for them can cancel without paying any penalty.
Certified B-Corporations are businesses that balance profits with generating a positive impact for their employees, communities, and the environment. Some of the purposes B-Corporations work toward include lowering poverty, improving the environment, and reducing inequality. Neighborhood Sun’s mission is to increase access to solar energy, thereby improving the environment. Part of that includes providing only online billing, which saves paper.
To be a Certified B-Corporation, a company has to obtain a minimum score on the B Impact Assessment, which scores the company’s effect on its employees, customers, community, and the environment. Certified B-Corporation is held to high standards of performance, legal accountability, and public transparency.
According to the Neighborhood Sun website, the company has the highest B-Corporation rating for community solar companies in the United States.
Neighborhood Sun is currently available only to customers located in certain areas of Maryland and New Jersey.
While many companies allow customers to choose between paper and electronic billing as well as between automated and non-automated payments, Neighborhood Sun customers have only the option of electronic billing and automated payments. This saves paper and prevents late payments, but some customers may prefer to receive a paper bill and choose when to pay it.
Neighborhood Sun is a solar company that operates differently than many others. Through Neighborhood Sun, anyone who lives in the company’s service area and receives a bill from a major utility company can pay for a share of a local solar farm’s energy output.
Neighborhood Sun’s unique business model makes solar available to people who aren’t typically served by the solar industry, especially those who rent their homes, or those who don’t want to commit to buying and installing their own solar power system. Unfortunately, the company’s service area is relatively small — currently, it only services regions of Maryland and New Jersey.
It’s free to join Neighborhood Sun, eliminating the high cost of entry that’s typically required for taking advantage of solar power. It’s also free to cancel, which should put customers who are on the fence at ease.
Another benefit of Neighborhood Sun is the company is a Certified B-Corporation, meaning it meets the highest standards of generating positive impacts for its employees, customers, community, and the environment. Neighborhood Sun is dedicated to increasing the availability of solar power and improving the environment, including by eliminating paper billing.
Customers who prefer paper billing and who have a problem with automated payments would be better served by another company, as Neighborhood Sun offers only automated payments and electronic billing.
However, Neighborhood Sun’s particular business model and free startup and cancellation make it an especially attractive option for those who don’t qualify to install solar panels on their own residence.
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