Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1

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Customer Service (M-F 8a-5:30p): 425-783-1000

Community Solar

Thanks to all who attended our Community Solar Open Houses at Everett, Mountlake Terrace, Smokey Point and Monroe. If you missed them, please check out the Open House Presentation pdf at right.


Community Solar FAQs

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What is Community Solar?

Snohomish County PUD is planning to launch its first Community Solar program in April 2019. Community Solar programs make it easier for customers to benefit from solar energy by purchasing “units” at a community site. This is a great opportunity for all customers, even for customers who rent, live in an apartment, or who would rather not put solar panels on their own home.

If I decide to participate, what can I expect after I complete and submit the reservation form? (Which will be available via a button on the right side of this page beginning April 22 at 8 a.m.)
  1. You will receive a welcome packet via email or mail based on preference (packet includes invoice and Participation Agreement). If purchaser is different from recipient, purchaser will receive the invoice and recipient will receive the Participation Agreement.
  2. Please fill out, sign and complete the Participation Agreement and return it to us within 30 days.
  3. Pay invoice(s) by check, cash or credit/debit card (up to $3,000) - A 30% down payment will be due within 30 days and full payment due within 90 days of the welcome packet being sent.
  4. When payment is complete, you (or your designated recipient) will receive confirmation. 
  5. Solar credits will be posted to the recipients monthly electric bill once the total invoice is paid in full, the participation agreement is completed and the program is active. Washington production incentive checks will be mailed annually to recipients. 
How much does it cost?

The Community Solar program will sell subscriptions in 76-watt units. 5 units equal 1 full panel. Each unit will be $120 (or $600 per panel).

Where does the money go?

Money collected from solar energy unit sales will offset the cost of construction and maintaining the solar array.

Who can purchase units in Snohomish County PUD’s Community Solar array?

All Snohomish County PUD customers with an active electric account may participate, except for those currently participating in the PUD’s net metering program.

Can units be purchased for others as gifts?

Yes! Units may be purchased for others. The recipient must be a PUD customer, but the purchaser of the unit(s) does not need to be a customer. 

Can non-residential customers (e.g. businesses, non-profit organizations, government agencies, etc.) participate in this program?

Yes, however we are capping total non-residential participation to 20% of the overall project.

What do customers receive?

Customers will receive a monthly credit of $0.06/kWh on their bill equal to their portion of the solar system’s production. In addition, customers will also receive an annual incentive payment provided by Washington state. We anticipate this payment will be $0.16/kWh per year of energy produced for the first 8 years of the program, or when the PUD reaches 50% of the total solar system cost, whichever comes first

Is the PUD energy credit ($0.06/kWh) fixed or variable?

The PUD energy credit for this project is fixed for the 20-year period. PUD staff forecasted the value of local renewable energy for 20 years and determined that the average value over that period is $0.06/kWh.

How many units should I buy?

You can buy as little or as much (up to 130 units) as works for your budget. We recommend purchasing up to the number of units that represent the amount of energy you consume annually. We estimate that each unit will produce approximately 75 kWh each year. 

How will I know how much energy is generated by the units I own?

Data showing how much energy is generated by the community solar system will be made available on our website, making it easy to see how much energy the number of units you purchase are generating.

How do the financial costs and benefits to participants of this community solar program compare to typical residential solar systems?

We anticipate that community solar participants will see a return on their investment in less than 10 years. With state and federal incentives, this is also generally the case with individual solar systems on buildings with good solar access. One of the advantages to participating in the Community Solar program is the ability to invest in smaller increments, requiring less money upfront.

Which is a better return on my investment, rooftop solar or community solar?

If you are interested in putting solar panels on your home or business, we recommend getting bids from a few solar installers to weigh the costs and benefits of this option. The financial return on rooftop solar is highly dependent on solar installer costs, available state and federal incentives, and the site’s access to sunlight (i.e. free from shading). A list of solar installers is available by clicking here.

Who pays for ongoing maintenance and repairs?

The $120 cost per solar unit is inclusive of estimated maintenance costs for the 20-year project period. Any additional maintenance or repair costs will be covered by the PUD.

What happens if the equipment breaks or is damaged in a cataclysmic event? Is it under warranty?

The PUD is fully insured and holds equipment warranties from the manufacturers. The PUD will maintain the array and repair it in the event of equipment failure or breakage.

Why is the project period only 20 years? I thought solar panels lasted longer.

Solar panels do usually last longer than 20 years. However, we anticipate that maintenance costs will begin to increase after 20 years. We decided to end the project at this point instead of including additional maintenance costs in the solar unit cost. 

What happens at the end of the 20-year project period?

At the end of the project period, contracts with participants, including the energy credit, will end and energy production will revert back to the PUD.

Is this Community Solar project eligible for the Federal Investment Tax Credit?

We do not think participants in this project would be eligible for the Federal Investment Tax Credit, as participants will not own the physical asset. However, we encourage participants who are interested in this incentive to consult with a tax professional.

Can I transfer the units?

Yes, you may transfer your units to another PUD customer.

What if my electric account is closed (due to a move, death, divorce, etc.)?

In the event you, or your representative, needs to terminate your electric account, we will allow 60 days for solar units to be transferred or sold to another PUD electric customer. If the units have not been transferred within 60 days, the units will revert back to the PUD. If you move within PUD’s service territory and continue to be an electric customer, the units will remain with you.

Where does the energy produced by the solar array go?

The Community Solar array will have a capacity of 500 kW. The energy produced by the solar array will send power directly to the grid as well as serve as a generating unit for energy storage and vehicle-to-grid systems incorporated in the microgrid in addition to buildings on site.

How will the solar array work with the new microgrid planned for the site?

The Arlington Microgrid will include the solar array, battery storage units and a vehicle-to-grid system. In an emergency, the system will be able to be “islanded” and run independently from the electric grid, powering the future North County local office. The energy storage and vehicle-to-grid systems will demonstrate how renewable energy can pair with clean energy technologies.

Can I go see the solar array?

Yes, the solar array will be located next to our Clean Energy Technology Center (to be built in 2020), at 17601 59th Ave, Arlington, 98223. The site is across from the Arlington Airport. Tours with PUD staff will be available by request.

Does the PUD anticipate building additional Community Solar projects in the future?

This community solar project is a pilot for the PUD. We will determine whether or not to pursue a future project based on the outcome of this project.

Community Solar is part of the Arlington Microgrid Project. To learn more about that project, please click here.


Documents


Solar energy unit sales begin April 22!

Would You Like to Receive Updates About this Program?

Send a request to join our Community Solar email list:
communitysolar@snopud.com


Energy Hotline:

425-783-1700
(M-F, 8am to 5pm) 
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