Article by:
Nikki Chi and Austin Young
July 13, 2023
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How to Ensure Equitable Distribution of Solar Power for Multi-Unit Properties

The demand for sustainable energy solutions continues to rise, resulting in an increasing number of multi-unit properties harnessing the power of solar energy. Solar power offers numerous benefits, including reduced carbon footprint and long-term cost savings. However, ensuring the equitable distribution of solar power and energy expenses among residents within these properties is crucial for management and securing a return on the investment in solar.

In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of solar power in multi-unit properties and delve into effective strategies to achieve equitable distribution, promoting transparency, accountability, and harmony among residents. By implementing these strategies, property owners and managers can create a thriving community that not only benefits from solar power but also shares the associated costs in a fair and balanced manner.

The Challenges of Solar for Multi-unit Properties

Managing solar billing and determining an equitable way to distribute solar power and energy costs are key challenges for multi-unit properties.

One major hurdle is the significant variations in energy consumption among individual units. Some residents may have larger living spaces or different energy-intensive lifestyles, resulting in uneven energy usage. For example, a resident who works from home will generally use more electricity than one who goes to an office for the day. Additionally, heating and cooling preferences make a big difference in energy consumption. 

Another challenge stems from the lack of clear guidelines or regulations governing the fair distribution of solar power and energy expenses among residents. This ambiguity can lead to confusion and disagreements among property owners, managers, and residents. Moreover, potential conflicts and disputes can emerge as residents question the fairness of the allocation methods and express concerns about the accuracy of energy measurements.

Why Flat Discounting Isn’t an Equitable Solution

In the past, property managers opted for flat discounting to avoid complicated tracking of resident energy consumption. However, with flat discounting, a resident that tries to be mindful of their energy consumption will question the fairness when they see their neighbor leaving the lights on and blasting the AC. Furthermore, a resident in a studio or one-bedroom space will feel it’s unfair to receive the same discount as someone in a larger two-bedroom or more space. More space generally means more energy consumption. This leaves you trying to solve the issue of variable energy consumption without adding a mountain of work and complicated solar billing for your property management team.

Virtual Grid: Your Solution for Equitable Solar Power Distribution

Imagine a billing platform specifically designed to ensure fair and efficient management of shared clean energy within multi-unit real estate communities. That's exactly what Ivy Energy’s Virtual Grid offers. With our proprietary turnkey shared solar billing engine, property owners can achieve their ROI goals while equitably distributing benefits to residents.

How We Calculate Equitable Resident Solar Bills

To demystify the process, let's start by breaking down the three key categories of energy that form the basis of our calculations.

  1. Live Solar: The electricity generated in real-time by the onsite solar system, primarily during daylight hours when the solar panels have ample sunshine.
  2. Solar Credit: The surplus of electricity exported to the grid for credits from the utility company.
  3. The Grid: In instances where the electricity demand exceeds the onsite solar generation, power is drawn from the traditional electrical grid.

Now that we've explored the three energy categories, let's dive into how Ivy's Virtual Grid software calculates your multifamily resident solar bills:

  1. Our software calculates the total kilowatt-hours consumed and the gross utility cost without solar, based on the actual utility rates that apply to your community.
  2. We determine each resident's specific time-of-use intervals and compare them to the real-time availability of onsite solar energy. This analysis enables us to distribute the Live Solar and Solar Credits appropriately.
  3. Finally, we convert the Live Solar and Solar Credits into a percentage discount that is applied to the gross utility cost. This discount reflects the savings generated by harnessing solar power.

By leveraging our proprietary algorithm and utility-grade monitoring data, Virtual Grid ensures accurate calculations and equitable distribution of solar energy expenses. With Ivy's comprehensive approach to solar billing, you can have confidence in the transparency and fairness of your resident solar bills.

Benefits of Virtual Grid Solar Billing Software

Streamlined Operations and Resident Support

Managing a resident solar program can be complex, but Virtual Grid simplifies the process. Our robust operational management platform handles every aspect of your program, reducing your team's workload and ensuring resident satisfaction. We take care of user subscription management and provide dedicated support to address any concerns or questions.

Seamless Integration with Rent Ledger Billing

Virtual Grid seamlessly integrates solar accounts payable into your existing rent ledger billing system. As part of our comprehensive managed support service, we provide customized data access for your management team, making it easy to track and manage solar-related expenses.

Transparent and User-Friendly Billing

We understand the importance of clear and easy-to-understand billing statements. With Virtual Grid, residents receive digital statements that clearly outline their solar energy savings. They can see exactly how much they're saving each month through direct solar consumption and energy exports to the grid. We believe that creating a consumer-friendly solar experience is key to fostering engagement and satisfaction among residents.

Intelligent Savings and Solar Asset Optimization

Virtual Grid goes beyond just billing. Users gain access to intelligent and guaranteed solar savings based on their individual energy consumption patterns and the overall value of the solar system. We leverage machine learning and applied data discovery in our growing data warehouse to optimize solar asset performance. This includes activities such as solar value credit optimization, updates to user incentive frameworks, battery optimization logic, and insights to enhance user engagement.

Transforming Solar for Multi-Unit Properties: Equitable Distribution and New Net Operating Income

In conclusion, ensuring equitable distribution of solar power and energy expenses in multi-unit properties is essential for fostering a sustainable and harmonious living environment. By addressing the challenges of variations in energy consumption, lack of clear guidelines, and potential conflicts among residents, property owners and managers can create a fair and transparent system. Ivy Energy's Virtual Grid offers a turnkey solution that streamlines operations, integrates seamlessly with existing billing systems, and provides user-friendly equitable billing statements. Additionally, Virtual Grid creates a clear path to ROI by generating an average of $500 to $1000 per unit in annual NOI.

With Virtual Grid, equitable distribution of solar power and energy expenses becomes a reality for multi-unit properties. Embracing Virtual Grid empowers multi-unit properties to harness the full potential of solar energy while promoting fairness and sustainability. Experience the benefits of efficient billing, resident support, and optimized solar asset management. Join us in shaping the future of clean energy in multi-unit communities and book a demo today.