Solar Energy

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(Interested in installing solar panels on your property? Scroll all the way to the bottom of this page for more information!)

Link to the Map of Solar Installations in Ames

SunSmart Ames Community Solar Update

Ames Electric Services encourages customers to get involved in our newest green energy initiative: SunSmart Ames. This 2MW community solar farm between Airport Road and Highway 30 makes clean, solar energy more accessible to customers with shaded roofs, who live in apartments, rent their homes, or for any other reason cannot install solar panels on their own property.

Customers of Ames Electric Services can buy shares in the solar farm, called “Power Packs.” Each Power Pack is a one-time investment of $300 and represents 175W generating capacity. Owners of Power Packs will receive monthly credits on their electric account based on the production of the solar farm.

Power Packs cost $300 each and are expected to return average monthly credits of $1 to $2SunSmart Ames Community Solar Logo for the duration of the 20 year contract.  Achieving a payback is possible, depending on how much the sun shines, around years 16 - 18 of the contract period of 20 years. People typically are not going to sign up for SunSmart to make money, but they do sign up to participate in a green, renewable, sustainable energy resource.

Establishing a community solar project is a priority of the Ames City Council. The Ames model is similar to a program offered by the Cedar Falls Utilities.

How do I participate in the SunSmart Ames solar farm project?

As of October 16, 2019, you can purchase your SunSmart Power Packs with a paper or electronic purchase form using the links below. Before purchasing Power Packs, click here to read the Terms and Conditions of the Power Pack Purchase Agreement.

If you have an questions, contact Energy Services Coordinator, Kayley Barrios Lain at  515.239.5177 or

Power Packs are fully transferable and can be donated, sold to someone else, remain with the home should you move, or sold back to the utility.  The only requirement is that the credit remain inside the Ames Electric Services electric utility territory.

Project Milestones

Due to the proximity of the solar farm to the Ames Municipal Airport, the project requires FAA approval. FAA approved the site in 2018. 

ForeFront Power was selected as our developer/installer.

The SunSmart Ames project will begin construction in the spring of 2020!

Each Power Pack, over the 20-year life of the customer contract, could:

  • produce enough electricity to power one average Ames home for about nine months
  • offset 10,000 miles driven by car
  • take one car's emissions off the road for a year
  • reduce CO2 equal to about as much removed by one acre of trees
  • reduce CO2 emissions by about five tons

The SunSmart Ames solar farm total could:   

  • produce enough electricity to power 440 Ames homes each year
  • in 20 years offset 113 million miles driven by car
  • in 20 years take a little more than 11,000 car's worth of emissions off the road
  • in 20 years reduce CO2 equal to that removed by about 11,000 acres of trees (an area the size of Boone, Story City, and Huxley combined)
  • over 20 years reduce CO2 emissions by about 57,000 tons


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, generating electricity.

Why Solar Energy?

• Solar energy advances the City’s Eco Smart 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 electricity power plants produce zero emissions.

Check out all of the residential and commercial solar sites in Ames, click here.


Smart Energy now offers a rebate for the installation of photovoltaic systems.

Get a Photovoltaic Rebate form by clicking here. Roof with solar panels

Steps to Installing Your Own Renewable Generation (Process Guide)

To view the guide, click here.

To view the Solar Interconnection Agreement, click here.

Anyone interested in installing a photovoltaic system will also need to work closely with Planning & Housing and Inspections. Here are links to information you will find helpful:

Planning & Housing



Electrical Permit Application

Building Permit Application

Because the City's photovoltaic program has the potential to change, it is recommended you contact the utility to ensure you are taking into account current rebate, metering, and excess energy payment information.

For technical help, call Lyndon Cook at 515-239-5174 or email
For rebate information call 515-239-5177.




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