SunSmart Ames Community Solar Update
Ames Electric Services encourages customers to get involved in our newest green energy initiative: SunSmart Ames. This community solar farm project will ensure any customer wanting to take advantage of solar-generated energy has the ability to do so by purchasing part of the solar panel output.
The solar farm would be built on public land north of the Ames Municipal Airport along Airport Road.
SunSmart Ames is designed to generate 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity for purchase by Ames Electric Services. Ames Electric Services customers are able to invest in the project by buying generation units or “Power Packs.” Each Power Pack represents a one-time investment and will entitle customers to a future bill credit. The credit will be based on the amount of energy generated by the solar array.
A Power Pack will cost $333. Each Power Pack is expected to return a credit of $1 to $2 each month
for 20 years.
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.
How do I participate in the SunSmart Ames solar farm project?
Investing in SunSmart Ames supports the community's ongoing efforts to be sustainable. The solar farm will produce renewable and clean electricity, which will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Ames Electric Services will sign a power purchase agreement (PPA) with a private solar energy provider. This sets up a 20-year contract with Ames Electric Services that locks in a price for the electricity generated by the farm. This price cannot increase. Customers participate by purchasing Power Packs.
A Power Pack is a unit of electricity produced by the solar farm. Each Power Pack represents a portion of the total electricity produced by the solar farm. Each month participants will receive a credit on your bill equal to the energy produced by the number of Power Pack purchased. The Power Packs will cost $333 each. When we have achieved 80% Power Pack subscription, the entire project will be presented to the Ames City Council for approval to move forward with construction.
Interested in Purchasing a Power Pack?
There are several ways to complete your intent to participate form.
- Complete a "print and mail' form
- Complete an online form: 'SunSmart Ames: Community Solar Project',
- Call Energy Services Coordinator Kayley Lain at 515.239.5177.
- Email Kayley Lain at firstname.lastname@example.org
Please include your name, address, how many Power Packs you want, and your email address.
PLEASE NOTE: An Intent to Purchase does not obligate you to anything but helps us understand how many are interested in investing in the solar farm.
Once the project receives City Council approval, those who filled out an "Intent to Participate" will receive a letter reminding them of the number of Power Packs they want along with terms and conditions and a contract. At that time, customers will be able to alter the number of Power Packs they want or opt out of the program.
After the contract is signed, payment can be made in full or spread over twelve separate utility bills. 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.
The monthly credit must go to an Ames Electric Services customer. You can purchase a Power Pack for your home or another property such as a church or non-profit organization, or as a gift.
The amount credited will be somewhere around 6 cents per kilowatt-hour (you currently pay 12.13 cents per kilowatt-hour in the summer and 10.05 cents per kilowatt-hour in the winter for your electricity). Most people purchasing one Power Pack would see a small monthly credit of $1 to $2. 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.
Due to the proximity of the solar farm to the Ames Municipal Airport, the project requires FAA approval. FAA has approved the site in 2018.
ForeFront Power was selected as our developer/installer.
The SunSmart Ames project will begin construction when 80 percent of the available Power Packs have been claimed. We currently stand at 70 percent.
Ames Electric Services will seek approval from the Ames City Council to move forward with the project with 70 percent of the panels subscribed.
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:
- each year produce enough electricity to power 440 Ames homes
- 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.
Steps to 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:
NOTE: 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 email@example.com.
For rebate information call 515-239-5177.