Sunday, June 16, 2024

Community solar project panels available

| May 15, 2024 12:00 AM

The electricity generated from solar panels in Flathead Electric Cooperative’s newest community solar project is now available for purchase by co-op members to offset electric bills.  

The solar array, known as Community Solar III, is made possible by grants from the United States Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy Program for America program and the Bonneville Environmental Foundation. Community Solar III is being developed in partnership with the city of Whitefish near the Whitefish Wastewater Treatment Plant and will feature over 400 580-watt solar panels capable of cumulatively generating 200 kilowatts (kW) of carbon-free electricity. Construction will begin early summer 2024 and the project is expected to begin generating electricity in the fall. 

The cost for each panel is $700, and purchasing one requires a $75 down payment now with the balance due later this fall. Grant agreements require Flathead Electric Cooperative to maintain ownership of the solar panels and retain any associated tax credits. Members purchasing “panels” in Community Solar III are purchasing a panel’s generation, not the panel itself. Each member may purchase the generation from up to five panels. On-bill financing is available for qualified members.  

Each panel is projected to generate approximately 700 kWh of electricity per year. Based on today’s rates, and depending on which rate tier the generation offsets, residential co-op members who purchase the output from one panel can expect a reduction on their electric bill of between $40 and $70 per year. Solar generation varies widely each month due to seasonal weather conditions, and solar project owners should expect their actual monthly generation and bill credits to fluctuate accordingly. 

Members who are interested in learning more about the project can visit