A Community Website by Lopez Island
Community Solar (Electrical and Communication Services)
Orcas Island
June 9, 2017
Posted by Suzanne Olson (Opalco), Orcas Island

OPALCO has more than 220 Co-op members who generate their own power. With Community Solar, the rest of us will get a chance to purchase a piece of a big solar generator - at a fraction of the cost to install your own panels - and get a small financial return on our energy investment as a credit on our power bills.

While the financial return isn't big, the member rewards are significant. Benefits include the opportunity to participate in growing our own local power, building toward more energy independence in the islands and helping to take the first step in creating a Co-op energy storage system in case of emergency.

The first Community Solar project will be built in 2018 on Decatur Island at OPALCO's substation. OPALCO wants to hear from members about what is most important to them on funding, member participation and communication. Members are encouraged to take an online survey (www.opalco.com/survey) - and the deadline has been extended to June 23rd.

OPALCO will build and own the Community Solar array, which will generate enough power each year (about 5,800 kilowatt hours) to meet the equivalent needs of 5-6 average island homes for one month. It's small compared to our whole Co-op's demand for power, but a big first step in building local, community-owned power. A battery storage bank will be located next to the solar array to store surplus energy and could be used, in a limited capacity, to provide back-up power in case of emergency. Once this first project is up and running, OPALCO may build additional projects and will be looking at the best locations throughout the County. Learn more at www.opalco.com.


Comment

Agree
6

Disagree
1

Inappropriate
0

Jay Kimball (Orcas): Community Solar

2

0

0
Dan, Tom's suggestion of SunPower is excellent. Nice panels. If you are looking for panels for yourself, and want a range of prices and quality, here are a few more example prices. Depending on the quality and quantity you want, you will find pricing.... Read all
Tom McDaniel (Lopez): Community Solar

3

0

0
Dan,

I looked into solar a few years ago. At the time Sunpower panels were the most efficient out there. Here is an ebay listing for the panels.

.... Read all
Dan Post (Lopez): Community Solar

0

5

0
Please show me where you can buy a solar panel for close to the dollar amount you are talking about. Who sells them?
Jay Kimball (Orcas): Community Solar

6

0

0
Hi Dan, I encourage you to meet so we can dive in to the details. OPALCO costs are different from your costs. When you build a large array, the total cost is lower than you will pay, thanks to economies of scale, especially in the reduced installation.... Read all
Julienne Battalia (Lopez): Community Solar

2

1

0
Hey Dan, would you please meet with Jay and post the results here?
Thanks
Dan Post (Lopez): Community Solar

0

4

0
Hi Jay, You say an installed panel to include mounting, inverters, labor, testing, and commissioning is about $2 per watt. That would be about $500 for a completely installed panel. So how much does a single panel cost and where can I get one for the.... Read all
Jay Kimball (Orcas): Community Solar

3

0

0
Hi Dan, That calculator doesn't compute cost per watt. You tell it what cost to use and it calculates things like "Cost After All Incentives and Taxes,"Lifetime Return on Investment" and NPV. Right now, the industry average for.... Read all
Dan Post (Lopez): Community Solar

0

5

0
Hi Jay, I used the calculator that you provided and it tells me that the cost is 3.48 cents per watt. So using your calculator I get a cost of $870 per solar panel. $870 times 800 units is a cost of $696,000. With a yearly income of $20,000 it would.... Read all
Jay Kimball (Orcas): Community Solar

4

0

0
Chris, The economics are improved with storage. OPALCO's battery storage has several important benefits. OPALCO received a $1 million grant because we innovated a way to use the storage beyond intermittent solar conditioning, by time shifting and.... Read all
Chris Greacen (Lopez): Community Solar

0

5

0
Hi Jay, Suzanne,

Why batteries?

What needs the backup power on Decatur given OPALCO's excellent reliability?

Batteries are expensive and wear out. Can economics be improved by dropping them?

Thanks,
Chris
Dan Post (Lopez): Community Solar

0

3

0
Hi Jay, at $2 per watt that would make a solar panel cost about $500. So take the 800 panels times $500 and you get a cost of $400,000. With an income of $20,000 per year that is a payback of 20 years if there is no maintenance costs. Still a bad deal..... Read all
Jay Kimball (Orcas): Community Solar

2

0

0
Dan, Adding to my comment below...

Community solar is paid for by the subscribers, with zero impact on rates & costs for non-participants.

Though it's a lower cost alternative to rooftop solar, each subscriber will look at their.... Read all
Jay Kimball (Orcas): Community Solar

2

0

0
Dan, Solar installed cost these days is about $2 per watt. Payback is less than 10 years, on a system that lasts 20+, with 30% Federal tax credits, production incentives and such.

There are some good calculators out there to explore cost and.... Read all
Dan Post (Lopez): Community Solar

0

5

0
Can someone check my math on this project. A 199 KW array would be about 800 of the solar panels that you see on peoples roofs. At about $700 each the total cost for just the panels would be $560,000 and not include the batteries. If an average house.... Read all
Suzanne Olson (Orcas): Community Solar

5

1

0
Suzanne Olson here - from OPALCo. Thanks for your comments. First of all, here's an update to the article: the production cited was for a typical co-op project - we calculate our 199KW array will produce about 200,000 kilowatt hours each year - which.... Read all
Julienne Battalia (Lopez): Community Solar

2

4

0
It would seem possible that if OPALCO did a County Wide Assessment of all homes and County and Community Buildings that had above certain number of solar gain hours
and offered all those buildings a great deal for placing panels on those roof.... Read all
Robert Simms (Lopez): Community Solar

2

5

0
Suzanne, if I'm following this correctly, the proposed Community Solar project will only generate enough power for the needs of one island home for 6 months. How can this project be considered "a big first step in building local, community-owned.... Read all