Clallam PUD to offer solar as a pilot project

You won’t need solar panels on your roof to harness the sun’s energy if you live in the Clallam County Public Utility District come November.

The PUD is building a 30-kilowatt community solar project and will offer its customers investments in the renewable energy.

Participants who purchase 15-watt units from the community solar array at a former PUD substation in Sequim will be eligible for financial incentives from the state.

“Community solar is for individuals who don’t have the financing to put a full solar system on their roof,” Utility Services Coordinator Mattias Jarvegren told PUD commissioners in late March.

“Through a community solar model, they could buy a small piece of the solar array.”

Jarvegren said the $115,917 project must be “in the ground” by Nov. 15 for the PUD to receive a tax credit.

“We believe we can meet that deadline,” Jarvegren said.

Once the system is up and running, customers will be offered up to 125 units from the array at 410 E. Washington St.

Each unit will cost $57.96 and will provide an estimated $61.46 benefit over the life of the 25-year project, Jarvegren said.

“It’s important to note, though, that the actual payment will be based on what the actual generation is of the solar system,” Jarvegren said.

“We obviously can’t guarantee certain generation. So we’re assuming that the payments will be more, but if it generates less, the payments will end up being smaller.”

The PUD estimates that the project will generate $122,928 over 25 years.

Customers will receive solar generation credits on monthly bills and an annual production incentive of about 14 cents per kilowatt hour, PUD officials said.

PUD spokesman Nicole Clark said the district would post more information about the community solar program on its website, www.clallampud.net, in the coming weeks.

Community solar is one of three renewable energy projects slated for the property on Washington Street, Jarvegren said.

The PUD is working with the city of Sequim to install an electric vehicle charging station at the site, and the utility has applied for state Department of Commerce funding to integrate solar batteries.

“The exciting thing for us and for our community is that this is a pilot-type program,” PUD General Manager Doug Nass said at the meeting.

“We’re going to integrate solar and EV (electric vehicle) stations and a battery microgrid if we get some grants for that.

“The idea behind it is to make it a kind of a PR spot for the city of Sequim and for us to show how you can integrate all three of these technologies,” Nass added.

“Our engineers will design this whole project, too, and watch over the project, so it will give us more experience and more knowledge about solar.

“It’s just a first step in a project that we’re kind of excited about.”

Rob Ollikainen is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group. He can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

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