Every month, solar power is generated through your solar subscription. The amount of solar energy produced directly results in discounts to your monthly utility bill. This page explains how community solar interacts with your bill.
Utility Bill + Community Solar
This section will help explain your bill as it exists now (before community solar), and explains the changes that will be made once you are signed up for community solar. Check out the sample bill provided by your utility company for examples.
Sections of Utility Bill
- Normal Utility bill charges
These costs are based on your electricity consumption, taxes, fees, and adjustments—this does not include community solar! After signing up for community solar, you will continue to be billed for the amount of electricity you consume every month in the usual way.
- Bill Credits
These are monthly discounts that you earn based on the amount of solar energy (measured in kWh) produced through your solar subscription. Bill credit rates are determined by your utility company:
Portland General Electric
Use kWh Rate ($/kWh)
Bill Credit Rate ($/kWh)
Maximum Subscription Fee Rate ($/kWh)
Rates are rounded to the nearest cent
- Subscription Fees
Participants pay monthly fees that are based on the amount of solar energy (measured in kWh) produced through your solar subscription. Subscription fees are applied according to a per-kWh rate ($/kwh) determined by your utility company but are always lower than your bill credit rate. In general, subscription fees are calculated at 80% of your bill credit rate. The 20% difference between bill credits and subscription fees accounts for your monthly discount! Rates can be found in the table above.
- Total Utility Bill
Your total electricity bill is calculated by subtracting your solar discounts from your electricity costs.
Electricity costs (fees + normal utility charges) – bill credits = Total bill.
Total Annual Discounts
Most participants of the Oregon Community Solar Program can expect to save between 10-15% on their electricity bills every year. Your annual discount in dollars will depend on the size of your subscription and your utility. To learn more about how this works, please refer to our solar savings document.
In order to further understand your utility bill, it is important to understand how electricity consumption is measured and how charges are calculated based on that consumption.
1. How Electricity Consumption is Measured
Everytime you turn on a light bulb or plug in a device in your home, you are consuming electricity. The rate of power a device uses when it is turned on (or plugged in) is measured in watts or kilowatts (1000 W = 1 kW). The rate of power a device consumes over time is measured in kilowatt-hours (kWh). A couple infographic examples:
2. How does my consumption show up on my bill?
Your utility bill depends on a number of factors:
- Your electricity rate plan (Example: time of use (TOU) rate, fixed rate, tiered rate)
- Adjustments specific to your utility company and location
The simplest way to calculate your monthly utility bill is to understand that the charges and fees you pay are largely (but not wholly) based on the electricity you consume in a given month (kWh) multiplied by a per-kWh($/kWh) rate determined by your utility company.