Many individuals would like to install their own solar generated electricity systems, but for various reasons are unable to do so. The roadblocks vary from poor solar access, to being a renter, not being able to afford a stand-alone solar system, etc. The primary goal of this project is to provide a means for these individuals to buy a portion of photovoltaic (PV) system using the community solar model and to take advantage of Washington State’s renewable energy incentives (SB 5101 and SB 6170). Other goals for this project include education of the public about the possibilities of producing electricity using solar resources, highlighting the feasibility and the practicality of PV systems, and to show alternatives to using fossil fuels to produce electricity.
The Skagit County Community Solar Project will be a photovoltaic array(s) with an initial size of 18kW using made in Washington equipment to maximize the Washington incentive payments. The goal will be to reach break even before the incentive payment program expires in 2020. The project will solicit a partnership with Skagit County government, port authorities, and/or school districts located in Skagit County to provide candidate buildings suitable for roof mounted solar arrays. Thirty-five shares of the initial project will be available for approximately $3,500 each, buying 0.5kW of generating capacity. An individual may purchase up to eight shares. Each share should produce 500-600kWh of electricity per year, avoiding approximately a quarter of a ton of carbon-dioxide emissions from PSE’s supply.
Individuals will contribute funds towards the purchase, installation, and operating account of the PV system(s) and receive an annual payment from the incentive payment program in an amount proportional to their share of the PV system. Individuals will not be eligible for the 30% Federal tax credit under this program but also would not owe any taxes on payments received. The electrical power produced by the PV system(s) would be given to the government partners. While individuals will own their share of the project directly, other expenses will be handled by putting a portion of the purchase price into an association account to cover costs such as insurance, startup, and project management. Through the association, an administrator would also market the projects renewable energy attributes (or “green tags”) to secure additional funds to cover costs.
Under the WAC definitions, this project will be setup as a group-owned “Type 1” project. The current concept is to form as Tenants in Common and have individual participants under this umbrella. All of the annual incentive payment should flow through individual owners, estimated to be in $500 to $600 per share per year. The project’s operations will be paid by the association, which will not impose additional expenses on owners. After seven years, the project investors have the option to sell the PV system to the government partner, remove the panels for installation elsewhere, or negotiate a new power selling arrangement. The option chosen will need to be determined through discussions with the hosting partner and the investors.
The incentives expire in 2020, which means that time is of the essence for community solar. If there was enough interest, this concept could be scaled up or down, producing projects as large as 75kW or as small as 9kW. Please let us know your level of interest as soon as possible, and if you anticipate purchasing share(s), whether you have the ability to do so within the next two or three months. Thanks!
This project is coming out of Anacortes and the opportunity to invest ends in three days, but applies to any Washington PSE member (even outside of Skagit). Eric Shen, of Fidalgo Transition, is the contact person for it. He can fill in any information and answer questions. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org