Mason County’s Public Utility District (PUD) No. 1 recently unveiled a new community solar project during a special ribbon-cutting ceremony. The Mason County community solar project was unveiled during a July 28th drive-in ceremony at PUD’s Potlatch warehouse. The newly opened project was initially met with significant construction delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic but was ultimately completed without a significant loss of time.
According to the project’s manager, Julie Gray, organizing the ribbon-cutting for the Mason County community solar project was made difficult thanks to Safe Start guidelines that outline COVID-19 safety procedures. The idea to cancel the event entirely was floated, but the decision for a drive-in ceremony ultimately prevailed. More than 24 customers, members of the community, and PUD employees attended the event.
Known as the Community Solar II project, the new program was implemented as part of customer requests. The Mason County community solar project generates 50 kilowatts, which is more than double the electricity generated by Community Solar I. The first of PUD 1’s projects launched in 2016 and was met with a positive response. Community Solar II already has 965 units purchased by just over 40 customers, with an additional 500 purchased with a $50,000 Bonneville Environmental Foundation grant for low-incoming customers.
According to PUD 1 general manager Kristin Masteller, the Bonneville Environmental Foundation grant was enough to enroll 10 households, which will enjoy the program’s benefits through 2024. At that time, another 10 participants will be chosen. Masteller believes that the grant should allow for 50 low-income subscribers over 20 years.
Julie Gray revealed during the event that, from its start in May through June 30th, Community Solar II produced more than 14,000-kilowatt-hours. She states that customers should start seeing their first round of credits in the next few weeks.
Customers can follow the energy generated by Community Solar I and II at this link.