More than a dozen members of a local Quaker group met in a large meeting room at its Meeting House just north of downtown Frederick, to discuss switching to solar energy without installing panels.
That group, Frederick Friends, mostly spoke about Common Energy, a New York-based renewable energy company that will be the company charging residential customers for their 2,000 kilowatt solar array in Williamsport.
The array is estimated to power up to 350 homes, and Common Energy will offer yearly contracts estimated to save consumers $10-20 monthly, The Frederick News-Post previously reported.
Bob Hanson of Jefferson and Carlotta Joyner of Middletown presented the company and fielded questions from other Frederick Friends members Sunday afternoon.
Hanson said before the meeting the goal of encouraging people to buy energy from companies like Common Energy is to get them to depend less on fossil fuels, like coal.
Many Frederick Friends members already do so, whether it be through buying wind energy from other companies or having solar panels installed on their house, Hanson said.
“We want to see local solar being produced here, so our use of fuel for our energy is a renewable energy source,” Hanson said.
Hanson and Joyner both explained the billing model to members during their meeting: Common Energy, based on its estimates of power generation from the Williamsport array—known as the Rockdale Solar Array—should be able to provide 90 percent of a residential customer’s power on a monthly basis, for up to 350 homes.
The other 10 percent would come from Potomac Edison, the primary energy provider for the region, they added. Consumers would see roughly a 10 percent on the Common Energy portion of their bill, they said.
Joyner told members one of her favorite aspects about the program was that it was only a one-year commitment, and you could cancel with 90 days’ notice to Common Energy.
“To me, it’s like, what’s the risk?” she said.
Some asked whether the energy being produced was actually going to be sent to their homes. Joyner and Hanson said there’s no way to specifically ensure power from the grid would be directly sent—but that by buying energy, they were “starting” the trend of switching to renewable energy.
Joyner said before Sunday’s meeting she already signed up for Common Energy, and was impressed by its customer service.
“In general, when I do the chat room ... they’ll usually answer pretty quickly,” Joyner said. “And then, they’ll send a follow-up email and I can follow up with other questions ... it seems to be staffing 24/7 with them.”
When she used its chat service Sunday, a customer service representative answered within five minutes, noting the company would power 350 homes or until the amount of power from the 2,000 kilowatt grid had run out.
The representative added the grid will go online even if the company can’t recruit 350 customers.
Ultimately, joining Common Energy is a good move for the environment, Hanson said.
“It’s one of those choices that has big advantages,” he said.