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