Can Arcadia help you save money on your electric bill? Is the company legit? And can you get clean energy cheaper than the price you’re paying today?
I signed up to see what the company offers and put together this Arcadia review to answer my own (and readers’) common questions.
Arcadia provides a simple way to help increase the demand for renewable energy while potentially saving you money. Their community solar program, available in seven states, saves you up to 10% off standard utility rates by applying solar credits to your bill for no extra cost. Residents who don’t live in a state that supports community solar can join their wind energy program — for a $5 per-month fee — and effectively cancel out their carbon footprint. So, while the service has the potential to save you money, most people will pay slightly more to support a good cause.
- Residents of certain states can save up to 10% off their electric bill at no extra cost.
- Increases the overall demand for renewable energy.
- New users can get $20 off their next utility bill.
- Does not send renewable energy directly to your home.
- You can only save money if you live in a state that is compatible with Arcadia’s community solar program.
What Is Arcadia?
Arcadia (formerly known as “Arcadia Power”) is a company that gives consumers throughout the country the ability to support clean, renewable energy sources — such as those provided by solar panels and wind farms.
Arcadia has a somewhat unique — and at first, hard to understand — business model. It doesn’t help that many Arcadia reviews online are outdated and that Arcadia has switched up its pricing models quite often over the past few years.
So, to help clear things up, let’s go over some key facts about Arcadia.
- First things first: Arcadia is not a power company or an energy supplier. They do not produce or sell electricity.
- As an Arcadia customer, you are not getting green energy sent directly to your home. That’s impossible, because all energy sources — whether from fossil fuels or clean power — get pushed to the same power grid, mixed, and distributed evenly via power lines.
- What you’re effectively doing as an Arcadia customer is increasing the demand for renewable energy.
- Arcadia has two offerings. First, their community solar membership saves you up to 10% off your total bill with no start-up costs or contracts. Savings depend on your utility provider, in addition to factors like weather. However, this is only available in seven states. Their wind energy membership (which is available everywhere else) charges a flat $5 per month fee. This fee allows your energy consumption to be matched with Renewable Energy Credits purchased from wind farms. This increases the amount of clean power your local utility company has access to and, theoretically, also increases the long-term demand for renewable energy sources.
Arcadia Community Solar Projects Overview
If you’re eligible for a community solar project, you can sign up through Arcadia at no cost. This doesn’t mean you’re consuming clean energy. Rather, it means that more clean energy is flowing into your local power grid.
Once you’re signed up, you’ll then pay your utility bill through Arcadia. You’ll get a monthly bill credit (applied to the amount you pay Arcadia), which corresponds to the local solar farm’s amount of energy. This can range from month to month based on the weather. Arcadia then guarantees that your bill will be lower than what you would otherwise pay directly to your utility provider (between 5% to 10% due to these credits).
So how does Arcadia make money?
Community solar farms pay Arcadia to find people like you who are interested in supporting clean energy to put on their farms. Plus, community solar farms can often generate more than a 10% savings by supplying the power grid with clean energy.
For example, according to citizenscommunityobard.com, in Illinois (the state where I live), some community solar companies offer up to a 20% savings. As such, it’s worthwhile to look for other community solar programs where you may be able to potentially save more money than by going through Arcadia.
This potential 5-10% savings is by far the most intriguing aspect of Arcadia. Unfortunately, it’s only available in a select few states, and there’s only a limited number of energy providers within those locations.
As of the most recent update of this article, Arcadia community solar programs are available to select residents of:
- New York
- Rhode Island
- Washington D.C.
We update this article periodically throughout the year to add any states that become newly eligible for the program.
Arcadia Renewable Wind (RECs) Program Overview
For those who live outside of a community solar state, joining Arcadia allows you to increase the overall demand for renewable power by using something called Renewable Energy Credits.
We’ll touch on those in a minute. But first, it’s essential to understand why the company doesn’t physically supply you with electricity from a renewable energy source.
In short, there’s no way for them to do so because all sources of power — coal, nuclear, wind, solar and natural gas — eventually end up mixed in the same place: the national power grid.
This energy may be derived from different sources, but it all looks and functions the same.
For example, there’s no way to tell the difference between wind energy and coal energy.
Once energy is pumped into the grid, it gets distributed to individual homes and businesses.
Arcadia’s goal is to increase that figure.
Only around 20% of our energy comes from renewable sources because it’s more expensive to produce (although this is changing fast, as renewable energy is becoming cheaper). And that makes it more costly to consume.
In the long-term, clean energy will be much more cost-effective. But that’s not until we have the infrastructure to generate and store it. And what’s going to help create that infrastructure is consumers demanding clean energy.
Renewable Energy Credits (also known as Renewable Energy Certificates or RECs) are a way for people and businesses to subsidize renewable energy generation by paying extra for their electricity.
How RECs Work
Every time an energy provider produces one megawatt-hour of clean energy — such as a wind farm or solar panel — they get one renewable energy certificate.
That renewable energy certificate (a unique serial number) can then be sold.
This allows the buyer to signify that their money directly supported clean energy instead of fossil fuels. It will enable the producer to sell their clean energy into the grid at more competitive rates.
In other words, RECs are a way to distinguish between the types of energy that get pumped into the grid. They allow you to choose to pay for one type of energy over another. And by doing so, you can claim to “use” clean energy.
Long-term, as a consumer, the goal is to increase the demand for this type of energy by making it more cost-competitive with so-called dirty power.
Arcadia essentially acts as an energy broker, identifying and partnering specifically with wind farms and utility companies by purchasing RECs.
Once you’re signed up for the program, Arcadia will show you the exact amount of wind credits they’re purchasing on your behalf (and demonstrated in the screenshot below, from my Arcadia account).
So, as an Arcadia customer, you’ll still be using the same electricity company and power source you were using before you signed up. But those wind farm RECs allow you to effectively cancel out your carbon footprint and support renewable energy projects.
Thus, Arcadia gives ordinary citizens a way to make a positive environmental impact without taking more expensive and difficult steps like installing their own solar panels.
Arcadia Membership Options
Arcadia has two separate membership plans, which differ based on whether you have access to their community solar program.
If you have access to community solar, you pay nothing upfront and are not required to sign a contract.
However, the $5 per month wind energy program is what most customers will find themselves in.
With this plan, you’re paying a flat fee of $5 per month to Arcadia to ensure that 100% of your energy use is matched with clean energy. There is no surcharge assessed based on your electricity usage — it’s just a flat $5.
With both plans, you no longer pay your utility company directly. Instead, Arcadia essentially takes over the management of your electric account. You’ll link your energy provider account to your Arcadia account and then pay Arcadia your electricity bill plus the $5 membership fee.
Is Arcadia More Expensive?
It depends. This answer can be yes or no.
Arcadia’s community solar program is a guaranteed savings product. You’re not charged to join, there are no contracts, and you get guaranteed savings off your bill — likely between 5% and 10%.
Those on the wind energy program pay a $5 per-month fee. The amount of energy you use will “retire” RECs purchased from wind farms on your behalf for this fee. No credits are applied to your bill. In this case, you will pay more by signing up for Arcadia.
How Does Arcadia Make Money?
Arcadia charges you a monthly fee of $5 per month with a 30-day free trial; while a portion of the fee is used to purchase RECs, Arcadia does operate as a for-profit business.
Arcadia also generates revenue through:
- Earning money by connecting you to community solar power projects.
- Sales of products they partner with, like the Nest thermostat.
Arcadia Pros And Cons
Like any other service, there are good things and not-so-good things about Arcadia.
- Community solar members get a guaranteed savings off their utility bill of up to 10%.
- It’s a cheap way to make a difference compared to buying your own solar power panels. You’ll (indirectly) reduce your carbon footprint and help lower CO2 emissions.
- It gives you an easy-to-see dashboard. The tools available in your Arcadia Power utility account are light years ahead of those provided by most local utility companies. If you’re an online type of person who loves using cutting-edge tools, this will be a great perk for you.
- It can save you on credit card transaction fees. A lot of utility companies charge fees to customers who pay their bill with credit cards. That can be a nuisance for people who like the ease of paying with credit cards. If you have a cash-back credit card, or are trying to earn a credit card bonus, you can earn money back for paying your power bill with your card every month (assuming you’re on the wind energy program).
- It’s free to cancel. You won’t be locked into a long-term contract or have to pay a fee if you change your mind about the membership.
- You’re not getting clean energy delivered to your home, but instead, increasing the overall demand for clean energy indirectly.
- If you’re on the wind energy program, they only offer auto-pay options. If you’re cutting it close on having enough in your bank account to pay your utility bill, you can delay your auto payment with a three-day grace period. The bad thing is that you have to take extra steps to do so.
Is Arcadia Legit?
If you’re worried about doing business with a fly-by-night company, you can relax. Arcadia is a legit company with a solid 4.5 rating on Trustpilot. Last reported in 2019, they have over 300,000 members. In May of 2022, J.P. Morgan led a $200 million investment round, valuing the company at $1.5 billion.
Arcadia Review: Final Verdict
Should you join Arcadia? That depends on you, your personal values and your individual situation.
If you’re fortunate enough to live in one of the states where community solar is offered, joining Arcadia is a win-win decision. Not only will you save a few dollars per month, but even better, you’ll be saving while simultaneously supporting clean energy.
Though I would make sure to shop around to see if a different community solar provider can save you more money.
If you’re not in a community solar state, then the decision is more difficult.
If you care deeply about cutting your carbon footprint and have the room in your budget to potentially pay a little more as a regular member, then consider the $5 per-month wind energy plan.
I’m a big fan of the concept behind Arcadia, and appreciate the opportunity to support wind power, solar farms and other green energy projects over fossil fuel plants that pump CO2 emissions into the atmosphere and contribute to climate change.