Superior Water, Light and Power is looking for subscribers for its first community solar garden.
The company is accepting subscriptions that allow customers to participate in the renewable energy project without having to install or maintain a system at their home or business.
The 470-kilowatt solar garden is large enough to power 115 homes and will be built on company-owned land near Heritage Park in Superior.
Subscribers receive credits on their electrical usage equal to the energy generated by the sun based on their participation in the program.
So far, 75 subscriptions have been sold of the 470 available, said Harper Brickson, manager of customer experience for SWL&P.
“We don’t have anything mandated by us to dictate how many subscriptions we have to have to build the garden,” Brickson said. “Our internal goal before we broke ground on the project is about 75% of the project subscribed. So, we have some work to do.”
For each kilowatt people subscribe to, Brickson said people can expect to receive credit for about 1,500 kilowatts of energy generated over the course of a year. She said the average electrical customer uses just under 9,000 kilowatt hours per year and subscribing to five 1-kilowatt blocks would cover 100% of their use.
“The benefit in that is that for the life of the project, which is 25 years, the rate is locked in,” Brickson said. She said that will fluctuate over the course of the year because the solar garden will produce more energy in the summer but would leave a balance of credits into the winter months, when less energy is produced.
SWL&P is urging customers to sign up for the program by Sept. 30. People can explore their options by calling customer service at 715-395-6200, emailing email@example.com or visiting swlp.com/solar.
Online, Brickson said, customers will be asked to enter some basic information and a company representative will reach out to discuss their solar usage, how solar could impact them and what their interest level may be.
“We know every customer’s situation is going to be different, and we have one of our reps ready to look at our customers' usage and go from there,” said Joscelyn Skandel, solar project manager. “We have some customers that just want to be involved in renewable energy and they just subscribe to a block regardless of what their usage is, and we have some who have tried to cover their usage for the entire year. There’s multiple options and it’s really up to what our customers are looking for.”
The solar array is expected to be built and generating power in 2022.
“The energy we deliver today is 50% renewable but both business and residential customers tell us they want more clean, carbon-free energy,” said Rob Sandstrom, SWL&P president. “Our community solar garden is a simple, no hassle way for them to access power from the sum and stabilize their monthly bills over the long term.”