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Community Solar

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Battery Storage Project: Check out the details of our very own project on Decatur Island.

FAQs

How do I sign up for Community Solar?

Contact us! Email us at solar@opalco.com with your contact information so we can keep you up to date on the project. We are collecting names and email addresses of members who are interested in purchasing Solar Units and will use that list to keep you updated as the next project takes shape.

How are OPALCO’s Community Solar projects funded?

Individual member investors. Our 2017 Community Solar survey results clearly demonstrated that members prefer the project is funded by those who participate, and not through rates. The Decatur Island Community Solar Project was paid for 100% by member investors.

Are there tax credits, or other incentives?

Members are advised to speak with their tax advisor to determine their own tax situation.  There are state and federal incentives that are available to individuals who install solar on their own properties which are not available through this Community Solar project. We continue to advocate for solar initiatives with our elected officials in Olympia.

How will I be able to monitor the array?

We will have a camera stationed at the site to record the construction and completed array in real-time. We will also create a time-lapse video of construction once completed. Array production statistics will also be incorporated into the Community Solar area of the OPALCO website (see Decatur Community Solar Project).  We also hope to provide on-site tours of the array once construction is completed.

What happens to the solar energy after it’s generated?

From an engineering perspective, the energy produced by the array will be consumed by the power grid or stored in a battery storage system where it will be held until we need it (e.g. for immediate consumption, to curtail future peak demands, or potentially for emergency services during major outages).

Why is OPALCO doing Community Solar?

To give more people access to the benefits of solar energy for a fraction of the cost, compared to rooftop.  Community Solar lets individuals invest in smaller units of local renewable power. As outlined in OPALCO’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), this is just one step in providing increased redundancy, and the capability to re-route power for emergency services through use of local renewable energy and energy storage systems. Please note it will take multiple projects and a host of system upgrades to fully accomplish this goal.

Will I own my piece of the Community Solar array?

No. Participants will own the output of their proportionate share of the array for the term of the Participation Agreement. OPALCO will operate and maintain the array. Member participation is an investment in the project with a return on investment but no legal ownership.

What can I do with my Solar Unit/s if my membership status changes (if I leave)?

f you are no longer an OPALCO member, you can transfer your Unit/s to another active OPALCO member. If you move within the service territory you can transfer them to your new location. You can’t take ‘em with you if you leave the County. If you do not designate a recipient your shares will be donated to the OPALCO Energy Assistance Program.

Does Community Solar offset my energy usage?

Yes, this will vary depending on how many units you participate in. For most participants it will offset a small portion of your usage. The specific calculations will be developed as the 2021 project progresses.

How much will a unit of the next Community Solar project cost?

The economics of the 2021 project have not been finalized. The Decatur Community Solar project cost was $150/unit. Stay tuned for more information as the project progresses.

Can I finance my investment in Community Solar?

Member financing is not available for community solar. However, check out the Switch it Up! program for energy efficiency measures that can be financed on your OPALCO bill.

Who can participate in Community Solar?

Any OPALCO member in good standing with an active meter can participate.  Non-members can also participate by donating Solar Units to an active member or OPALCO’s Energy Assist Program to help low-income member households, similar to OPALCO “Gifts of Power” certificates.

How do I invest in community solar?

The project will be ready for member participation in 2021. Send an email to solar@opalco.com and we will let you know when it’s open. Members will fill out an application online and request the number of units they want to purchase. Staff will confirm the number of solar units granted based on the total number of requests received. Once your number of units on your Participation Agreement are confirmed, the charge will be added to your monthly electric bill and payment for the solar units can be made by check or credit card.

Who can participate?

Any OPALCO member in good standing with an active meter can participate.  Non-members can also participate by donating Solar Units to an active member or OPALCO’s Energy Assist Program to help low-income member households, similar to OPALCO “Gifts of Power” certificates.

How does Community Solar work?

Participants purchase the right to the production output of a number of units of the project. A unit represents a set amount of watts, and participants get a credit on their bill each month for the production of those solar units. In addition, participants will get a check, annually (for as long as the funds last), for WA State Production Incentives credit, which is administered through Washington State University. OPALCO will take care of operating, maintaining, upkeep, and administration of the array and community solar program.