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SunSmart Ames: Solar Project Power Packs Available through Oct. 31!

Post Date:10/09/2017 5:00 PM

Ames Electric Services customers interested in getting involved in SunSmart Ames, a community solar project, are asked to return “Intent to Purchase” forms or fill out information on the City’s website to ensure the project moves forward. For more information, go to

SunSmart and Solar PanelSunSmart Ames is a community solar project designed to generate 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity by 2018 for purchase by Ames Electric Services. Ames Electric Services customers are able to invest in the project by buying generation shares or “Power Packs.” Each Power Pack represents a one-time investment and will entitle customers to a 20-year credit based on the amount of energy generated by the solar array and the market price of electricity. It is estimated a Power Pack will cost less than $350. Ames Electric Services is asking that customers commit to purchasing Power Packs no later than Tuesday, Oct. 31.

Establishing a community solar project is a priority of the Ames City Council and the Ames model is similar to a program offered by the Cedar Falls Utilities. The solar generation facility will be built and operated by a private entity, and Ames Electric Services will purchase all electricity provided by the solar panels and provide credit to SunSmart Ames customers. Although Ames Electric Services encourages solar power by offering incentives to customers who want to invest in individual systems, not everyone interested in renewable energy wants or is able to pursue this option.

“The initial investment in solar can be costly and not every property is a good candidate for solar generation,” said Director Donald Kom, Ames Electric Services. “A community solar project allows all electric customers to invest in renewable energy. This project will be a very visible reminder of how dedicated the citizens of Ames are to being green.”

What is Solar Energy?

Solar energy is energy provided by the sun. This energy is in the form of solar radiation, which makes the production of solar electricity possible. Electricity can be produced directly from photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells are made from materials which exhibit the “photovoltaic effect." When sunshine hits the PV cell, the photons of light excite the electrons in the cell and cause them to flow and generate electricity.

Ames Electric Services already generates up to 20 percent of its monthly electricity from wind turbines. Our Resource Recovery Plant makes refuse derived fuel from trash collected from Story County to supplement natural gas at the Ames Power Plant. Here are just a few reasons for adding solar to a well-rounded energy portfolio:

• Solar energy advances the City’s EcoSmart goal to decrease its carbon footprint.
• Solar energy is not only sustainable, it is renewable.
• Solar energy is silent. There is absolutely no noise made from photovoltaic panels as they convert sunlight into usable electricity.
• During operation, solar power produces zero emissions.

Where will the Community Solar Project be Located?

The primary site is a field on Airport Road, just north of the Ames Municipal Airport. This site has been evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for construction due to its proximity to the airport.

The SunSmart Ames project will begin construction when 80 percent of the available Power Pack shares have been purchased. For questions, more information, or to request a speaker for your organization, please contact Ames Electric Services at 515.239.5170.

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