SunSmart: Ames' First Community Solar Farm

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What is SunSmart?SunSmart and Solar Panel

SunSmart is a 2MW community solar farm between Airport Road and Highway 30, currently in the design process. It will be constructed in Summer 2020. The project makes clean, solar energy more accessible to customers with shaded roofs, those 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 of generating capacity.

Owners of Power Packs will receive monthly credits on their utility bill. Bill credits are expected to average around $1 per month and are based on the actual production of the solar farm 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. 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.


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, both found 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 any questions, please contact Energy Services Coordinator, Kayley Barrios Lain, at  515.239.5177 or

Power Packs are fully transferable and can be donated or sold to another Ames Electric customer, applied to your new home should you move within Ames electric service territory, remain with the home should you move outside the service territory, or sold back to the utility.  The only requirement is that the credit remain inside the Ames Electric Services electric utility territory.


Project Milestones

 October 10, 2017
 The FAA approved the Environmental Assessment and FONSI for the solar site. Due to the proximity of the solar farm to the Ames Municipal Airport, the project requires FAA approval.
July 23, 2019  City Council voted unanimously to sign a contract with ForeFront Power to begin development of the community solar farm.
Winter 2019-20  

Site surveying and engineering design of the solar farm.

Spring 2020  

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

Summer/Fall 2020 Expected completion of the solar farm.


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