Community Solar Phase II
Flathead Electric Cooperative’s Community Solar Phase II is made up of 198 solar panels located on one of the Co-op’s buildings, just west of the Kalispell FEC office at 35 Terry Road.
How Does Community Solar Work?
- Co-op members purchase panels in the Community Solar project.
- The sun creates energy which is captured by solar panels.
- Energy is transferred to the electrical grid and distributed to participating members.
- Panel owners receive bill credits for the energy created by their panel.
Frequently Asked Questions
Instead of putting a complete solar system on your own home (which requires home ownership, the right sunny location and a fairly large upfront investment), this program lets many people come together to build one larger solar array. Flathead Electric Cooperative, Inc. is building Phase II of the Community Solar program right here on one of our buildings at 35 Terry Road. Participants benefit through economies of scale, better siting and the opportunity to take part at a much lower entry cost level. Instead of paying thousands of dollars for your own solar electric system, FEC members can get financial benefits and support solar in our community for as little as $750.
Flathead Electric Co-op builds a solar array and then allows members to purchase a panel. Each month participating members will receive a credit for the amount of electricity generated by their panel. At the end of the contract time period, which FEC expects to be through 2043, the ownership of the panel reverts back to Flathead Electric Cooperative.
Please note that all financial projections set forth herein are merely Flathead Electric’s best estimate, under current law, of the financial consequences of a member’s purchase of solar units. Many things could cause the financial results to differ from and to be materially less than, those described herein, including but not limited to a change in either federal or state law, a failure of the technology, FEC’s decision, in its discretion, to terminate the project prior to the end of its anticipated life, or other factors. FEC is providing this information so that each member may make a more informed decision with respect to participation in the project, but FEC does not warrant that the financial results of participation will be as described herein, and expressly disclaims any such warranty.
Yes. FEC’s members are adding solar power each year. Despite being as far north as we are, our area receives similar solar exposure to Germany, the world’s leader in solar energy.
The vast majority of our members can participate. Whether you are a business, nonprofit group, or household (rented or owned); living in a single family home, apartment or condo – you qualify to participate.
That’s right! One of the many benefits is that anyone who is an active member is eligible to purchase a panel.
This program provides an easy and affordable way to participate in a solar energy project and support renewable energy development. You will receive a monthly credit on your electric bill for the electricity generated by your portion of the project.
Each solar panel has a rated output of 345 watts and costs $750. Phase II of Flathead Electric’s Program costs just over $2.00 per watt to construct.
It is located on a building we lease to Anixter Supply at our office location in Kalispell.
Each $750 panel is projected to produce 373 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity annually. This projection is calculated based on our experience with our existing solar array and others in our service territory, but will vary slightly year to year. At FEC’s current mid-tier residential energy rate of $0.0799 the annual total of the monthly bill credits should equal about $29.80. This value will change if our rates change over time. We will apply the energy credit based on actual production of the whole system each month.
The project ends in November 2043, in conjunction with the warranted life of the panels.
Participants will be enrolled on a first come first served basis beginning Nov. 5, 2018. Members having an interest in participating can sign up by completing the application and emailing it to Penny Brambrink, in-person at Flathead Electric’s Kalispell office, or by calling 406-751-1875.
Each participant can buy enough panels to offset their entire load.
Each $750 panel can be paid for in advance or we can add the 12 monthly payments of $62.50 to your bill. We accept cash, checks, and or debit/credit cards.
Based on language contained in the Internal Revenue Service’s Notice 2013-70 dated November 18, 2013 it appears that participation in a community solar program may be an expense that is eligible for a federal tax deduction if there is a tax obligation. However federal and state tax law is very complex and often changes. You should consult with a tax accountant to determine if your purchase will be deductible for you or if you are eligible for any credits.
Yes, but only if you move within FEC’s service territory and continue to receive an electric bill from us; you may transfer all the solar benefits to your new account. If you move out of FEC’s service area, you can designate another FEC member to receive the benefits.
No. All of the insurance, warranty, management and maintenance for the system are included in the initial price. As a member, you will not have to pay any additional out-of-pocket fees.
Due to the fact that your solar panel is part of a larger array that shares one production meter, your bill will be credited back at a pro-rata portion of the entire array’s production. If you are able to utilize the individual income tax credit the financial scenario would look like this:
Initial investment $750 – $225 tax credit = basis of $525
Initial Annual Energy Credit $29.80 (at mid-tier rate, then projected to escalate at 2% per year)
Simple Payback: $525 net investment divided by $29.80 annual billing credit = 17.6 years which is very representative of solar energy systems. However, the value of the annual credit will increase along with our rates.
Another way to look at it is that you are locking in today’s rates by prepaying for a block of renewable energy. You should receive approximately 8,800 kWh (kilowatt hours) with a net cost of $525. You are prepaying 6 cents/kWh. This is already less than our mid-tier rate.
To install a system of your own you would need to purchase the panels, racking system, inverter, and connecting equipment. In addition, you would have the installation expense and ongoing maintenance. Also, you would need an unshaded southfacing roof or a suitable location for a pole mounted system. And, it usually is not feasible to take it with you if you move. A system of your own would likely cost several thousand dollars even for a small system. We encourage our members to install their own but this is a great way to invest in solar in a small way that is portable!