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SunShare Sheds Light On Solar Project

SunShare Sheds Light On Solar Project

SunShare Sheds Light On Solar Project

The sun will soon be put to work in Pope County powering homes and businesses across Xcel Energy territory.
This fall, SunShare Community Solar will be installing the first solar garden in the area, one mile north of Starbuck on Highway 114 and 190th St.
Representatives of SunShare were on hand Thursday evening at the Starbuck Community Center to talk with area residents about SunShare and the community solar garden concept.
SunShare, LLC is a Colorado-based company that builds solar gardens on large pieces of underutilized land and connects them directly to a local power grid.
Locally, SunShare will be working with Xcel Energy to offer customers the option of purchasing solar energy through the community solar garden. Any Xcel customer in Pope County or an adjacent county is eligible to subscribe to the Pope County solar garden, allowing them to use clean, locally produced solar electricity without installing their own solar equipment.
“I think that’s exciting,” said Ken Bradley, director of business development for SunShare. “It’s a model that takes away a lot of the barriers [to solar] for consumers.” He reiterated that there is no capital investment to sign up—no equipment to buy or install.
Karen Gados, SunShare director of business development and communications, added that community solar “allows people to choose solar energy no matter the configuration of their residence. This is really making solar energy accessible for the first time.”
Gados said that SunShare would be able to serve about 1,400 individual families along with its larger accounts. She said the Starbuck community was really gracious about hosting the meeting, and thanked Starbuck Mayor Gary Swenson for his support.
Bradley said one of the purposes of the meeting was to give local residents a chance to sign up before all the shares are spoken for. “We want to give them [local residents] the first opportunity to subscribe,” he said.
During the meeting, Bradley explained that the SunShare contracts are for 25 years, locking in the electricity rate instead of seeing it rise by about 5 percent per year as with normal electric companies. “The average customer will save thousands of dollars over the 25-year period,” said Bradley.
He said he expects Starbuck shares to be sold out by August.
Fielding questions
Residents had plenty of questions for SunShare representatives, several of which dealt with the output of the panels, their reliability, and how they stand up to weather like snow or hail.
Bradley said the Starbuck site is a seven-megawatt site. As far as weather and durability, he said, “In general PV [photovoltaic] systems, the rain and snow is good for cleaning off the panels. They are angled so the snow will slide off and not build up on them.” Bradley added that the solar panels are built for weather and come with a 25-year warranty.
Financial and billing questions were also fielded.
On average, SunShare customers see a rate of return of 5 to 10 percent savings on their energy bill, it was stated. Sarah Casper, SunShare residential field manager, explained the nuts and bolts of how customers would receive their Xcel bills, and the savings they would see on them.
Other questions were directed at the 25-year length of the SunShare contract. If someone signs up for SunShare and passes away before the 25 years are up, Bradley explained that a transaction would occur in that case; a person could send the deal to a son or daughter or put it in their will.
The question was raised, “If I sell my house am I selling the shares also?”
“You can if you want,” Bradley said. “It [the SunShare subscription]will go with you if you are in Xcel territory.” Casper added that if you move, you can sell the SunShare subscription with your house, or you can gift it as well.
Several residents signed up for SunShare subscriptions at the meeting, including Mayor Swenson.
For more information about SunShare and the subscription process, visit mysunshare.com.

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