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Buying into solar an option for Peninsula Light customers

The Harbor History Museum located at 4121 Harborview Drive will have 216 solar panels installed on its roof as part of the Peninsula Light Company’s community solar project. The museum is seen here from the water in this file photo from Sept. 13, 2010.
The Harbor History Museum located at 4121 Harborview Drive will have 216 solar panels installed on its roof as part of the Peninsula Light Company’s community solar project. The museum is seen here from the water in this file photo from Sept. 13, 2010. Staff photographer

Peninsula Light Co. is looking for customers to buy into its first community solar project.

The Gig Harbor area utility is installing a 60-kilowatt system on the roof of the Harbor History Museum. Money generated from the sale of 1,850 energy units expected to be produced from the project will help pay for the installation of 216 solar panels.

PenLight initially said units must be bought by Friday (Nov. 6). Project leaders assumed more people would be interested than units available and had planned a lottery for Nov. 13.

That hasn’t been the case. The company still had 250 units available at $100 apiece as of Wednesday. Customers can buy up to a maximum 100 units.

Utility officials will discuss Friday whether to extend the purchase deadline to guarantee the sale of all units.

$33 annual incentive payment community solar participants are expected to receive

So what’s the benefit?

People who want the incentives of solar but don’t have the means to install a system on their own property can benefit from community solar programs, said PenLight project manager Jim Bellamy.

“You’re pretty much guaranteed if you put $100 in you’ll get $150 back” over the life of the program, he said.

The more you put in, the higher the return, he said.

The state offers incentive payments to encourage community solar projects. It pays $1.08 per kilowatt hour for the energy units generated from these projects. That’s twice the amount it pays for single-family residential projects.

Participants can expect an incentive payment of around $33 a year for one energy unit under current state incentive rates, according to PenLight projections.

But only until 2020. That’s when the state incentive program ends.

The Harbor History Museum, however, will continue to reap the rewards. The local nonprofit will take over ownership of its solar array in July 2020 and is expected to save roughly $95,000 in utility costs over 20 years.

For more information about the project visit penlight.org or email solar@penlight.org.

Brynn Grimley: 253-597-8467

brynn.grimley@thenewstribune.com

@bgrimley

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