Community Solar Project
5-1-18 Update on the Tanner Community Solar Project from GM, Steve Walter
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Community Solar FAQs
What is Community Solar?
Community Solar is a different approach to developing solar energy. Instead of putting solar on your own home (which requires home ownership, the right sunny location and a fairly large upfront investment), Community Solar lets many people come together to build one larger solar array. Tanner Electric has built a Community Solar project on behalf of our members. We chose a location that is a good fit for solar. The panels are in a sunny location, visible to the public and on property owned by Tanner Electric. Participants benefit through economies of scale, better siting and the opportunity to take part at a much lower entry cost level. Instead of paying many thousands of dollars for your own solar electric system, Tanner Electric members can get financial benefits and support solar in our community for as little as a one-time payment of $230.
How does Community Solar work?
The way it works is that Tanner Electric builds a solar array and then allows members to enroll in the project by paying upfront to be entitled to receive a portion of the energy and financial incentives from cooperative-owned solar modules. Participating members will receive a monthly credit through 2034 (life of the asset) for the amount of electricity generated by their portion of the project and Washington state production incentive payments until 2020.
Can solar power work in North Bend?
Yes. Tanner Electric members are adding solar power each year. Despite being as far north as we are, our area receives greater solar exposure than Germany, the world’s leader in solar energy.
Is Community Solar available to all Tanner Electric members?
All Tanner Electric members with a metered account can participate. Whether you are a business, nonprofit group, or household (rented or owned); living in a single family home, apartment or condo-you qualify to participate, with the exception of those members that are already or will be receiving Washington state financial incentives for their own solar installation.
Does this mean I don’t have to own my house or building to participate?
That’s right! One of the many benefits of Tanner Electric’s Community Solar program is that anyone who is an active member is eligible to purchase “solar units” which equal a portion of the project.
Why should I sign up?
Community Solar provides an easy and affordable way to participate in a solar energy project. Payback comes in two forms. First, you will receive a credit on your electric bill for the electricity generated by your portion of the project. Second, you will receive a Washington state production incentive until 2020. The annual production incentive is estimated to be between $50 to $60 for each $230 unit. The actual production incentive will depend on the actual electricity produced. We project full payback could be expected within three to four years. That means Community Solar is a good investment for the planet and a good deal for your wallet.
How much does it cost?
Each solar unit costs $230 and members can buy any amount of units between 1 and 10. A unit is equal to 55 watts.. Tanner Electric’s Community Solar project costs about $4.37 per watt to construct.
Where is this Community Solar project located?
Our first Community Solar array is located at our headquarters at 45710 SE North Bend Way, North Bend.
How much electricity will each Community Solar share produce?
Each $230 unit purchased equates to 55 watts of installed solar power. Each 55 watt unit is projected to produce 53 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually. This projection is calculated based on our experience with our existing solar demonstration array and others in our service territory but will vary slightly year to year. Participants will see an energy credit on their bill at Tanner’s current residential energy rate of $0.0998. This value will change if our rates change over time. We will true up the energy credit to total actual production of the whole Community Solar project once a year. On an ongoing basis you will be able to see how the project is doing by going to our website to view live solar production data.
Do I receive an incentive credit for the energy produced by my solar unit(s)?
Yes. Participants receive an annual incentive payment through 2020 from both Tanner Electric and Washington State for their portion of the electricity generated. Current production incentives are as follows:
Washington state: $1.08/kWh*
Tanner Electric: $0.0998/kWh*
Total Production Incentive of $1.18/kWh yields an estimated annual credit of almost $.96 per watt in a solar unit, or approximately $66 per year through 2020.
Why does the program end in June 2036?
The program ends in June 2036 as that is what Tanner Electric estimates the life of the solar array panels. The Washington state renewable energy production incentives are currently guaranteed until June of 2020 and represent the largest portion of energy credits. In 2036, the Community Solar project will end, correlating with the expected productive life of the solar panels.
How do I enroll?
We will be accepting members who wish to purchase units of our first Community Solar system beginning May 18, 2016. To give all members an equal opportunity to participate, actual purchase allotments will be done by lottery that includes the names, and desired number of units up to 10, of all qualified members who are interested in participating. This will be advertised on our website, and through direct mail. Members will have until Tuesday, May 31, 2016 to become eligible for the lottery. The members selected from the lottery will be notified on Friday, June 3 via email.
How do customers pay for their Community Solar units?
Community Solar purchases must be paid in advance of receiving any incentives. Therefore, participants will be required to return a signed agreement and full check payment to Tanner Electric by Friday, June 17.
Will I be publicly recognized for my participation?
Yes. However physical signage may or may not be available. We have many options as to how this will be handled and we are exploring how this will be done. Any environmental attributes generated by Tanner Electric’s Community Solar will transfer to the participants in the same proportion as energy credits.
Is my payment for solar unit(s) eligible for an investment tax credit?
In most cases your payment will be deductible for an individual taxpayer. Federal tax law is very complex and you should consult with a tax accountant to determine, for certain, if your payment for Tanner’s Community Solar units will be deductible for you.
Can I take the solar electricity benefits with me if I move?
Yes, only if you move within Tanner Electric’s service territory and continue to receive an electric bill from us; you may transfer all the solar benefits to your new account. If you move out of Tanner Electric’s service area, you can designate another Tanner Electric account to receive the benefits.
Do I have to apply for rebates or file for state production credits?
No! Tanner Electric takes care of everything so that you don’t have the hassle of filling out multiple applications. Tanner Electric takes advantage of the state’s Community Solar production incentive, passing on your pro-rata incentive payment once a year through 2020.
Will I have to pay additional fees in the future?
No. All of the insurance, warranty, management and maintenance for the system is included in the initial price. As a member, you will not have to pay any additional out-of-pocket fees.
How is the credit to my utility bill determined?
Due to the fact that your solar panels are part of a 40,000 watt array that shares one production meter, your bill will be credited back at a pro-rata portion of the entire array’s production. For example, each unit in the Community Solar represents a 55 watt piece of the entire system. We have projected that each $230 Community Solar unit could return about $350 in electricity bill credits and incentive payments to members by the time the Tanner Electric Community Solar project ends in 2036.
How does the state incentive program work?
Participating utilities pay production incentives to qualified solar-generating customers (including Community Solar participants) within their service territories and receive an operating tax credit equal to the cost of the payments. The tax credit that the utility may claim cannot exceed the greater of $100,000 or 0.5% of the utility’s taxable power sales. Utility-owned Community Solar can only be 25% of our maximum tax credit allowed. The incentive amount paid by a utility on behalf of the state may be proportionally reduced if requests for incentive payments exceed the tax credit cap available to that utility. Without a change in Washington state law, incentive payments to Tanner Electric’s Community Solar members could be reduced for the duration of the program, through 2020, if additional Community Solar projects are built. For Community Solar members, a reduction in incentive payments per unit would be small, but is dependent on Tanner Electric building additional Community Solar units; it is not possible to estimate the amount of reduction, if any. Therefore, Tanner Electric is planning to limit the size of the Community Solar project(s) so that incentives are not capped.
We’re Here to Help
You can also learn about Community Solar by talking with a member account representative at Tanner Electric. Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at: (425) 888-0623.
Attn: Member Services
PO Box 1426
North Bend, WA 98045