During a Nov. 24 meeting, the Orcas Power & Light Cooperative (OPALCO) Board of Directors passed several measures, including one that will support a self-funded community solar project. The 2021 Co-op budget focused on helping OPALCO customers during the ongoing pandemic, with measures that guarantee no rate increases for the time being included in the budget. Additionally, the budget was tuned to educate the community on renewable power as San Juan Island, WA, looks to shift toward clean resources.
Though few details were provided about the self-funded community solar project, the OPALCO Board of Directors noted it is the second opportunity for homeowners to participate in such a program. The push for community solar is intended to deliver affordable clean resources to residents of San Juan Island. According to the budget approval, the project is expected to become operational in late 2021, though no site has been chosen.
Like the currently-running Decatur project, the San Juan Island community solar option will be funded through local government grants and investments from members. When the project is operational, it will allow OPALCO customers to subscribe to a unit of energy generated by the farm. In exchange, they’ll receive a credit on their monthly utility bill, typically equal to the amount of that unit or at least 10%.
The self-funded community solar project is expected to be a solar and energy storage microgrid built on San Juan Island. There are no specifics as to its size or when construction will begin, but the installation is just one project funded to help promote a healthy and sustainable future for the island. The Board of Directors is at the head of several decisions intended to increase the availability of renewable resources, which will allow San Juan Island to reduce its carbon emissions.
Currently, OPALCO’s electricity is 97% greenhouse-gas free and is generated through hydroelectric plants.