WHAT IS COMMUNITY SOLAR?
Community solar gives customers the opportunity to share in the cost of building a solar electric project, making it more affordable. Customers also don't have to worry about weighing down their roofs, finding ideal sun exposure on their properties, following building codes, paying for ongoing maintenance or other concerns associated with owning their own solar energy system. Although we don't have all the answers yet on this project, here are a few other frequently asked questions:
Why is Okanogan County PUD doing community solar?
Our customers have expressed their desire to take advantage of the sunny Okanogan Valley and generate electricity here at home. But doing individual rooftop solar can be cost-prohibitive and complicated, so that very few are able to own their own system. It is also a way to take part in renewable, carbon-free energy, adding to the PUD’s portfolio currently at about 96 percent carbon-free.
How big is the Sunny Okanogan Community Solar project? How much energy will it produce?
The project is approved for 74.4 kilowatts, which is about enough to power 6-8 average homes.
Where will the project be built? Will it power my home?
The project will be built at the Ophir substation, on PUD property. It will not directly power any individual home or business, but will "feed" the entire electric grid instead.
How can I participate?
Units are now available for sale at $100 each (about 1/11th of a panel). Only Okanogan County PUD customers can buy units. The cost will be required upfront in a lump sum:
Now until 5 p.m. PST March 18 for those who filled out an interest form (interest forms are no longer being accepted);
From 8 a.m. PST March 19 to 5 p.m. PST March 27 for any interested PUD customer.
All payments must be accompanied by a signed participation agreement. Payments with signed agreements can submitted via drop boxes at PUD offices, or can be mailed to the Okanogan office at 1331 Second Ave. N, PO Box 912, Okanogan, WA, 98840. A copy of your participation agreement and receipt will be mailed back to you. Because we must also receive the signed agreement, no online or phone options are available for the solar payment.
How much will the full project cost?
We will factor the site preparation costs, construction costs, and ongoing maintenance of the project, which brings us just over approximately $262,000.
Who pays for ongoing maintenance and repairs?
The per-unit upfront cost includes maintenance and repair costs.
How will I benefit from this project?
Those who participate in the project by purchasing units will see payment come in two ways:
1. A $0.05 per kWh production credit on their bill annually, based on their proportional share of the energy produced by the project, continuing as long as the project is in operation, and
2. An annual production incentive through Washington State at $0.14 per kWh, available for 8 years and capped at $5,000 per year, per customer.
Payback is anticipated in 16-17 years, based on estimated solar production.
Will participants be eligible for federal tax credits?
Consult your tax advisor to determine if you are eligible.
Can I monitor the production of the project?
Yes! You will be able to see the project’s current and past production on our website once the project is up and running.
What happens when the project reaches the end of its lifespan?
The project is expected to last 20 years, the point at which solar panels tend to start failing. We will continue to produce as long as we can, but maintenance might prove too expensive, or efficiency might be too poor to continue. Options will be discussed more when we are closer to this point in the project.
Can I transfer my units to another person or organization?
A participant can transfer units to ANY other Okanogan County PUD customer. One might do this if:
1. A participant moves out of our service area, making them ineligible to participate in the community solar program (if the participant just moves to another residence within our area, the units go with them).
2. A participant wants to give someone an awesome gift of renewable, carbon-free energy and allow them to get both the bill credit and state incentive.
3. A participant wants to support a charity or non-profit organization by allowing it to get both the bill credit and state incentive.
4. A participant passes away and leaves their units to another Okanogan PUD customer.
Does the PUD plan on building additional community solar projects in the future?
At this time, we do not have plans for additional projects, partly due to the end of state incentives and the uncertainty of customer interest. However, if the community shows enough interest and incentives return, we could consider future projects.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.