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Partnership Brings Community Solar to Edmonds, WA
Cooperative, city, non-profit, and solar company team up
The first citizen owned solar cooperative in the state of Washington - Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative - was formed in Edmonds in 2011. That alone would be an achievement; however, this effort, spearheaded by community non-profit Sustainable Edmonds, is an extensive collaboration between the city of Edmonds, Seattle-based Tangerine Power and the residents of Washington State.
The innovative plan entails Tangerine Power installing a solar energy system on the roof of a city-owned community center which will then be owned by the community cooperative. In essence, the city provides the space for the solar array and agrees to purchase the power generated, Tangerine Power builds and maintains the array and organizes selling ownership shares for the cooperative, and the residents of Edmonds or any other locality in the state of Washington own the panels and supply the capital needed for this project by becoming members of this community co-op.
A person interested in becoming a shareholder in this cooperative can purchase an individual share, or SunSlices, for $1,000 through Tangerine Power. Annually over a course of 9.5 years, members will receive a $100 per each share they own, resulting in the total amount invested returned to that member. Any surplus funds existing at the end of that contract period will be directed to the cooperative for further local clean energy projects. And if you are wondering if Edmonds, Washington gets enough sun, considering the state’s reputation for gloomy weather, the answer is a resounding yes.
The first stage of the project was finished in October 2011, and already plans are underway for a second phase that will include a massive jump in generation from the current 4.2kW to 60kW. In addition to reducing the Edmond’s dependence on fossil fuels, the solar energy provided will save the city on energy costs for Frances Anderson Center, which is home to the city’s Parks and Recreations Department. The estimate is that over the next 20 years the city could save $30,000 while benefiting the environment and providing an innovative example to other municipalities. Edmonds Mayor Mike Cooper, an early backer of the project, maintains that “developing clean, renewable, solar projects like this one as well as other alternative energy sources like wind, tidal, biomass, and others, when combined with solid energy conservation strategies, will allow us to take a leadership role in a new energy future.”
This idea may be gaining traction elsewhere in the state. A proposal to place a solar array on the new Hands On Children’s Museum in Olympia is currently being discussed. The arrangement, if successful, would be similar to the project in Edmonds.