With the help of a CERTs Seed Grant in 2018, the city constructed its 26.4 kW community solar garden project that includes 80 solar panels available through a subscription model. Utility customers can purchase subscriptions for the electricity generated by one or more panels for a 20-year period, at a cost of $775 per panel. Customers then receive a credit on their electricity bill based on the relative output of their share.
The community solar model provides a simple and convenient way for customers to participate in local solar generation without having to install solar on their own roof or property—or worry about maintenance or repair costs.
Swenson spoke to the importance of engaging residents early in the process and setting realistic expectations for the sale of panel subscriptions, which can still be a significant upfront investment for many residents.
“It’s important to engage the public in the journey and ownership of a community solar project from the very beginning,” Swenson said.
With a majority of panels still available for purchase, the city hopes to attract even more subscribers and get those who have expressed interest to commit.