With the Fremont City Council unanimously approving a resolution during its Tuesday evening meeting authorizing $1.5 million in financing and allowing the Department of Utilities the authority to obtain participation commitments, it appears that the City of Fremont is moving ever closer to building its Community Solar Farm.
Brian Newton, Department of Utilities’ general manager and interim city administrator, said that the two aspect of the resolution passed Tuesday go hand in hand.
“I can’t lease the project unless I know I have commitments, and I can’t get those customer commitments unless I know I have financing, because that financing cost is built into the rate for solar,” Newton said during a Wednesday interview with the Tribune.
The plan as of now, Newton said, would be to construct the one megawatt solar farm on a 10-acre plot of land located south of Jack Sutton Drive. The farm itself would encompass approximately 5 of those acres. The Community Solar farm would consist of approximately 3,900 panels.
Anybody who is a customer of the Fremont Department of Utilities would have the opportunity to purchase solar shares that would cover up to 80 percent of their used Kilowatt-hours, Newton said during a prior interview with the Tribune.
With most residents averaging 1,000 kilowatt-hours monthly, the city plans to divide shares into 150 kilowatt-hour blocks, with one share equaling 150 kilowatt-hours. One share is the minimum amount of shares people can buy each month after paying a $30 enrollment fee, obligating them to participate in one month of solar power service.
Newton said that he is in the process of sending out commitment confirmation letters to the 325 DU customers who’ve shown real interest in the project over the past several months.
People involved with the farm will have one of two options: They can buy their own panel(s) and get a 30-percent tax credit, or they can simply buy the energy that comes out of the farm through solar energy, meaning there is no upfront commitment.
Utilizing solar energy also doesn’t have to break someone’s bank account, Newton said.
“It really is very affordable,” Newton previously said. “What we really were trying to do was make this so affordable that anybody’s income can allow them to sign up at least one share. For $1.60 (added on to utility bill) a month nearly anybody can afford that. That’s like holding out on – not even – one cup of coffee at Starbucks. And by just doing that you can get part of our solar farm.”