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SunSmart Ames Community Solar Workshop

Ames Electric Services customers interested in learning more about SunSmart Ames, a community solar project, are invited to attend one of several scheduled public workshops. Workshops are planned for 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 18, and 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. on Wednesday, July 26. All workshops will be held in the second floor meeting rooms of the Ames Public Library, 515 Douglas Ave.

SunSmart Ames is a community solar project designed to generate 1.5 to 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity by early 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 future bill 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 $500. 

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 a bill 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 residents to invest in renewable energy. This project will be a very visible reminder of how dedicated the citizens of Ames are to being green.”

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