TwispWorks Community Solar Installed
Thanks to PUD customers and a grant through the Seattle Foundation, the Partnership for a Sustainable Methow has completed installation of 4 solar photovoltaic arrays on the roofs of two TwispWorks buildings. On May 23rd the system began producing electricity.
About the project
Approximately 40 Okanogan PUD #1 customers invested in this community-owned solar-electric system that is estimated to generate 44,000 kWh of energy each year.[i] Investors own the system and can expect to get their full investment back over eight years—PLUS an estimated 46% total return on their investment.[ii]
Investing in Community Solar
Okanogan Public Utility District #1 (PUD) customers became Owners in this solar project by investing $500 to $15,000, in $500 increments. These investments paid for the purchase and installation of the 180 made-in-Washington solar modules now installed on the roofs of two buildings at the TwispWorks campus in downtown Twisp.
The total project cost to Owners was $257,000. Remaining project costs, including building structure improvements and landscaping to accommodate the project were paid by a grant, which will also allow for monitoring the energy produced and provide funds for educational programs.
Annually from 2012 to 2020, each Owner will receive a cost recovery incentive payment based on the amount of energy the system produced that year times the percent of the system owned. The average annual incentive payment is estimated to be $91 per each $500 invested, for a total return on investment of about 46% over the eight years. (ii)
What is Community Solar?
Community solar means that individuals, households, businesses, and non-profits build and own solar-electric systems that are installed on local public property. For systems built with solar modules and inverters manufactured here in Washington, a State incentive program pays $1.08 per kWh of energy generated through June 30, 2020.
The program is funded by the Utility Use Tax the Okanogan PUD would normally pay to the WA State General Fund. Instead, the PUD may spend some of your tax money as incentive payments to stimulate investment in locally produced renewable energy.
Helping Our Community
Energy generated by the solar system will reduce TwispWorks’ electric bills leaving more funds be for use in community and educational programs. On July 1, 2020, ownership of the system will be transferred to TwispWorks. The solar arrays will continue to generate energy for many years.
The clean power generated by the system over 30 years will be the equivalent of taking 178 passenger cars off the road for a year. The energy produced can save TwispWorks at least $70,000 at current energy prices.
The team members involved in the TwispWorks CSP have collaborated on two other successful Community Solar Projects in Winthrop—one activated in September of 2010 at Okanogan Community Electric Cooperative, and other in the Town of Winthrop began producing power July 1, 2011.
The non-profit Partnership for a Sustainable Methow administers the project, handling the Owners’ investments and processing the incentive payments from the PUD.
Project coordinator Ellen Lamiman, owner of Energy Solutions, has 17 years of experience in the solar energy field, and successfully completed the two Community Solar Projects for OCEC members.
Electrical contractor Pat Norwil, Norwil Electric, has installed numerous solar arrays including those in the Winthrop and OCEC Community Solar Projects.
TwispWorks, a project of the Twisp Public Development Authority, hosts the solar project and will conduct educational programs to inform the community about the benefits of solar.
For more information
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[i] Estimated average annual kWh. Power generation depends on daily hours of sunshine and grid stability.
[ii] Total return on investment is based on actual kWh generated x $1.08/kWh WA State cost recovery incentive x times percent ownership.
[iii]Estimates of annual energy production are based on 10 years of local data and 30 years of regional data. As with any investment, there are risks; the annual energy production will vary from year to year depending on weather and other factors. Solar module degradation is estimated at less than 1% per year. The calculations are based on a system size of 34,580 watts in 4 arrays. Two Community Solar Projects in Winthrop have outperformed expectations in their initial years of operation.