Community Solar program underway

Submitted by sheilac on Fri, 09/13/2019 - 16:32
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The Okanogan County PUD is pursuing a community solar project for its customers, which allows multiple participants to share the costs and benefits of a solar project.

Called Sunny Okanogan Community Solar, the project has been approved for state incentives at $0.14 per kilowatt-hour of production. If there is enough interest in the community, the project could be as large as 74.4 kilowatts, which is about the equivalent of powering 7-9 average homes. It will be built near the Omak substation.

PUD staff are working on details now, but the project cannot move forward without community buy-in. Residents or businesses who are PUD customers can buy units of the project. Their contribution will include the costs of both constructing the project as well as maintaining it, so that the project is built and maintained by the participants’ contributions.

Those who do participate will be eligible for an annual check from the state for the incentives, plus a credit on their bill for their share of the production. There is also the possibility for participants to receive a federal tax credit.

Although participants will see a total return on their initial cost in several years, the project can also help those who have wanted to participate in clean, renewable solar, but would not have the opportunity because of the large initial costs.

The exact amounts of buy-in have not been determined, but there will be a program for low-income participants because of grant funding. The total cost of the project is yet to be determined; quotes are being prepared.

The PUD will not be able to construct the project unless enough of the community participates. The project must also be constructed by the end of June in order to receive the state’s incentives.

Staff are asking any customers who are interested in participating to go to the webpage, www.okanoganpud.org/community-solar, and fill out an interest form through a link on the bottom of the page. More information on the project is also posted on the webpage.

Project organizers can also be reached at communitysolar@okpud.org.