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Community Solar FAQs - Business

Community Solar FAQs - Business

What is community solar?

Community solar is a renewable energy source available to OPPD customers. Instead of installing solar panels on your own home, which can be very costly, energy is produced at a solar farm located right here in our community. This solar farm is comprised of several solar panels which will produce 5 megawatts (MW) of renewable energy.


What is the benefit of a community solar program?

“Community solar business models increase deployment of solar technology in communities, making it possible for people to invest in solar together. Shared solar falls under the community solar umbrella, allowing multiple participants to benefit directly from the energy produced by one solar array. Shared solar participants typically benefit by owning or leasing a portion of a system, or by purchasing kilowatt-hour blocks of renewable energy generation.”

Source: https://www.energy.gov/eere/office-energy-efficiency-renewable-energy


Is community solar available to all OPPD customers?

Yes. Any OPPD customer can participate including residential and commercial accounts, and non-profit associations.


Where will the solar panels be located?

This solar farm will be located in Fort Calhoun, NE, near the retired OPPD Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station.


How much electricity will the solar project produce?

The solar farm will have the capacity to produce up to 5 megawatts of electricity.


What are the solar panels made of, and are there any hazardous materials?

The solar panels are primarily made of monocrystalline silicon, glass, aluminum, and small amounts of other materials common in household electronics. The panels do not pose a chemical hazard to the public, underlying soil or groundwater.


How large is the site and how much space will be used for the panels?

The site is 77.5 total acres. Thirty-five acres will be used by the panels.


What are my options for purchasing solar energy?

Electricity produced at the solar farm will be divided into shares. One share equals 100 kWh (kilowatt hours) of solar energy, and costs $0.79 per share. Participants can choose the number of shares they wish to purchase. The monthly bill will show the number of shares and corresponding price. 


What is the cost of one share?

One share equals 100 kWh and costs $0.79 per share. 
For example, if you purchase 5 shares, or 500 kWh of energy, your monthly cost would be $0.79 x 5 = $3.95.


How do I enroll/sign up?

Contact your account executive to enroll. If you do not have an account executive, please email ProductsandServices@oppd.com for further instructions.


Are there up-front costs to this program?

There is a one-time, refundable deposit for all commercial customers. The amount is dependent on the commercial rate you are currently billed under. During the enrollment process, the deposit will be calculated based on your rate and consumption level. The deposit will be charged on the first OPPD billing statement after you receive enrollment confirmation.


Why do I need to pay a deposit?

The deposit helps OPPD offset the initial cost of the solar farm which enables our customers to have the option of solar power. Once the terms of the agreement are met, the deposit will be fully refunded.


Are there monthly subscription fees?

Yes, a monthly fee will be applied to your OPPD bill based on the number of shares you purchased. The price per share is subject to change each spring. 


Can I change the number of shares I originally signed up for?

Yes, but only in March and April. Every March, OPPD will analyze the solar rate and adjust as needed based on the current market price for solar. During that time, you will be able to change the number of shares you own.


How much or how little will the solar rate be adjusted each March?

The rate adjustment will be based on the current market value of solar energy. The expectation is that the rate will not increase or decrease more than $1 per share.


After enrollment, when can I expect to see community solar charges on my bill?

You will see the refundable deposit on your first bill after enrollment. The share charges will appear on your monthly billing statement once the solar farm begins generating energy in the fall of 2019. 


What happens after I complete the terms of my contract?

The deposit will be refunded and will appear as a credit on your account. If you choose to continue participating in the program, your shares will continue to be billed monthly.


How will this affect the charges on my bill?

Your bill will go up depending on the number of shares you purchase and the price per share.
For example: If one share costs $1 and you purchase five shares, your monthly bill will increase $5.  


Will the solar costs affect my level payment plan?

Yes, your level payment plan will increase based on the number of shares you purchase and the price per share.
For example: If one share costs $1 and you purchase five shares, your level payment will increase $5 each month.


What happens if I move?

Moving will not affect your participation in community solar as long as you continue to be an OPPD customer. Your subscription will move to your new property or rental with you. If you move outside of OPPD’s territory, your account will be closed and you will no longer be eligible for OPPD's community solar.


Are there any additional fees or costs such as surcharges or taxes?

There are no additional surcharges. Taxes are applied to the total bill just as it is currently.


Will I receive Renewable Energy Credits (REC’s) for participating in community solar?

At this time, there are no REC’s available for participating in community solar.


Is the renewable energy I support through this program delivered directly to my business?

The power generated through renewable energy sources is mixed with the power from conventional generation sources in OPPD’s electrical system. It may not necessarily be delivered directly to your location. However, your contribution will support renewable energy generation overall, and have an environmental impact throughout the entire system. By participating in community solar, you are supporting the bigger initiative of green energy in OPPD’s service territory. 


Does the weather and change in seasons affect solar production?

Both the weather and seasonal changes will affect the amount of sun reaching the solar panels. During the summer, the panels will produce more energy because the days are longer and the sun is higher. On a cloudy day, the panels will produce less energy. During the winter, there is a potential for less energy production because days are shorter and there is less sunlight, and solar panels may be obstructed due to snow cover. 


What if OPPD runs out of shares?

Once all of the shares for this project are purchased, a waitlist will be available for future projects. Customers on the waitlist will be notified when more shares become available.  


Can I participate in the community solar program if I also participate in other OPPD products or programs?

There are no restrictions on the community solar program that does not allow you from participating in other OPPD products and programs.


Is there a contract and can I choose to opt out?

A contract of 10-20 years is required for commercial participants of community solar. If the contract is canceled prior to completion of the term (excluding approved hardships), the one-time deposit is forfeited.


How do I cancel my contract?

If you choose to terminate your contract, notify OPPD of your intent to cancel in writing to:

OPPD
444 S 16th St. Mall
Customer Care, E/AR/EP2
Omaha, NE  68102


Don't see your question listed above?

If you have other questions about OPPD's community solar program, email customerservice@oppd.com.