Community solar project sets open meeting dates

Maggie Curry

The first of three public workshops for those interested in learning more about SunSmart Ames, a community solar project, is scheduled for this week.

Ames Electric Services customers

Workshops are planned for:

Tuesday, July 18 @ 7 p.m.

Wednesday, July 26 @ 11 a.m. and 7 p.m.

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, according to a release.

Solar energy is supported by 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, the release said.

There are currently two sites for SunSmart Ames under consideration, the release from the city said. The primary site is a field on Airport Road, just north of the Ames Municipal Airport. This site must be evaluated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for construction due to its proximity to the airport. The secondary site is between the Ames Animal Shelter and Billy Sunday Road, just south of U.S. 30. This location will require clearing and some fairly significant moving and leveling of earth.

The SunSmart Ames project will begin construction when 80 percent of the available Power Pack shares have been purchased. Those attending the SunSmart Ames meetings will be able to sign a form indicating intent to purchase Power Packs or take a form with them to send in later.

For questions or more information, contact Energy Services Coordinator Steve Wilson at 515.239.5177