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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Eau Claire Energy Cooperative Will Launch Wisconsin's Largest Community Solar Installation

Eau Claire Electric Cooperative is set to proceed with the largest community shared solar installation in Wisconsin. At 858 kilowatts, this project will surpass the combined generating capacity of the three shared solar arrays already operating in Wisconsin, all owned by rural electric cooperatives. River Falls-based Able Energy Company will construct the array and interconnect it to the grid. Read the full article here.

The FAQ that appears below can be accessed online.

 

FAQs – Eau Claire Electric Cooperative’s MemberSolar Project


What is the purpose of the MemberSolar project?

To provide interested Eau Claire Energy Cooperative members a viable and affordable option to purchase renewable solar energy on a voluntary basis.

What is the cost to participate in the project?

The project is 858 kW which will be made up of 2,816 - 305 watt solar panels. The output of each panel, a subscription unit, will be sold for approximately $650. Each ECEC account is eligible to purchase from 1 unit - up to a maximum of 30 units. Units will also be limited to the annual kWh usage per account. If you would like to know how many units you are eligible to purchase, please contact our office.

Is there any equipment installed at my home?

No, the community solar array will be built on a 4 acre section of ground along Highway 12 in Fall Creek. Eau Claire Energy Cooperative will be responsible for operating, maintaining, and insuring the array for the 20-year life of the project.

Do I own the solar panels if I participate in the project?

No, as a member you are not purchasing solar panels, you are purchasing the production rights (output) of a solar panel, or a unit, for the 20 year life of the project.

How much energy will the solar array produce?

Energy production will vary from month to month and year to year based on actual sunshine. Half of the energy is expected to be produced June through August. Each unit is estimated to produce an average of approximately 400 kilowatt hours each year over the 20-year life of the project.

How do I receive credit for participating in the program?

The total energy produced by the entire solar array each month will be divided by the number of units in the project. Each participating member's bill will be reduced by the number of kWh's their share of the overall project produced - priced at the current ECEC energy component of the member's retail rate. As the ECEC rate changes over time, the value of the bill credit will also change. If rates increase, the value of the credit will increase.

What happens if my share of production from the array is greater than my usage?

If your share of production exceeds your usage in any month, the excess will roll over to the next month. However, once per year, if there is any excess production it will be zeroed out and no credit will be given.

What happens if I move?

One option is to simply leave your solar energy credits on your account for whoever moves in, this is value added to your home the same as if you had physically installed panels. If you move your electric service to a different location within ECEC's service territory, you can transfer the credit to your new location. If you leave the area, you may elect to transfer or assign the unit production credits to another member, donate them to a member organization, or ECEC will repurchase on a declining basis of 10% per year.

What happens after the 20 year life of the project?

The project will be evaluated as the 20 year life approaches to determine if it is still a viable project. If it is deemed a viable project and is able to operate effectively, the cooperative has the option to extend the member agreement.

Will I receive renewable energy tax credits by participating in the project?

Since you own the rights to the energy production of the units and not the solar units themselves, you are not eligible for state or federal renewable tax credits. However, you are getting the benefit of the tax incentives in a reduced up-front cost. To determine any other tax implications, please contact your tax preparer.

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