After survey results indicated that a large portion of Fremont residents are interested in solar energy, the Fremont Department of Utilities is moving forward with planning a community solar farm in Fremont.
More than 70 percent of Fremont’s residential population responded through an August, 2016, survey saying that they were interested in getting power from a community solar farm. The first step in the process will be to present information about community solar at the Fremont Home and Builders Show held Friday through Sunday at Christensen Field Community Center.
Anyone interested in learning more about a community solar farm is encouraged to attend one of the presentations held throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday inside of the center’s community room. Information, as well as times of the presentations, can be found at the City of Fremont’s booth at the Home Show, released information says.
“One of the things we learned from the survey was that Fremont residents want a community solar farm built in Fremont, but they want more information about where it will be built and how much solar energy will cost before joining in on a community solar farm,” said Brian Newton, interim city administrator. “This weekend, Fremont residents will be able to get that information and more at the presentations during the Home Show.”
Newton said that the farm – which he estimates would be approximately 5 acres – would likely be erected near Fremont Municipal Airport or somewhere alongside Jack Sutton Drive.
One advantage of a community solar farm is that all residents, whether they own or rent their home, can receive a share of solar power from the farm built right here in Fremont. Other benefits include getting green power without having to install panels on their roof or their property and the ability to get green power at a lower cost because of the economies of scale offered from the farm.
Current plans for building a community solar garden include holding informational meetings to spread the news about a farm, selecting a suitable site for the project, and signing participants up. If it all goes as planned, construction of a community solar farm could start as early as this spring, with an anticipated ribbon cutting by late summer.
Newton said that residents can subscribe to be on the solar grid on an individual basis, and that doing so won’t be much of a financial burden.
“It’s almost a wash,” Newton said in regard to the financial impact of paying for solar energy and lowering certain utility expenses. “You can participate and trade other power for solar power for about the same price.”
Residents’ reception toward utilizing renewable energy in Fremont was uplifting, Newton said.
“It was a surprise because we know renewable energy is popular and it’s in the media, but we were just surprised so many Fremont residents would support renewable energy,” Newton said. “It was a very pleasant surprise.”