Want to buy a Sun Slice? Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative launches

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The roof of the Frances Anderson Center, site of the community solar energy project.

Starting today, residents and businesses in Edmonds can purchase their own piece of the sun — or at least the energy generated from it.

Sustainable Edmonds, in partnership with Seattle-based Tangerine Power, announced the launch of the Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative that will install a 75-kilowatt community solar energy system on the Frances Anderson Center roof in downtown Edmonds. Membership in the Cooperative, the first community-owned solar cooperative in Washington state, is open to both residents and businesses with financial contributions to the project being returned to members by the year 2020.

According to a news release issued by both organizations, Tangerine Power will manage the installation of the solar energy system on the Frances Anderson Center, a City of Edmonds-owned community center located at 700 Main St. The system will produce 75,000 kilowatt hours annually – a significant share of the center’s electrical use – and is estimated to save the City of Edmonds more than $30,000 over the next 20 years.  Minimum $1,000 shares in the project – known as Sun Slices – went on sale today.

Sustainable Edmonds, a non-profit, volunteer-run citizens’ organization that was started in 2008, initiated the project and cooperative with support of the City of Edmonds. Sustainable Edmonds selected Tangerine Power as the developer and administrator of the project.

To jump start clean-energy projects, the State of Washington is now offering incentives for those who participate in community solar projects in which multiple owners or contributors provide the upfront capital funding, and then receive payments for the value of the electricity produced over time proportional to their stake in the overall project.

“This program allows everyone –home and condo owners, renters and business owners – an opportunity to participate in affordable solar,” said Chris Herman, a board member of the Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative who also sits on the Sustainable Edmonds board.

The average cost for bringing solar power to a home is $25,000 to $30,000, and eligible homes must meet other criteria, such as having an appropriate roof with minimal obstructions that block the sun. “Joining a community solar cooperative is a more affordable way to participate in clean energy projects that reduce greenhouse gases and generate clean energy,” Herman said. “You can purchase a solar panel or two, and then receive a share of the energy and incentives generated indirectly through a rebate to cooperative members.”

Tangerine Power CEO and founder Stanley Florek said his company created the “SunSlice” concept to describe the individual shares that cooperative members purchase. “Our mission is to generate clean solar energy across the nation, and make solar affordable by setting up and managing community cooperative solar gardens like the one in Edmonds,” Florek said.

Tangerine Power, founded in 2009, is a “for-benefit” company that develops community energy projects in partnership with local organizations like Sustainable Edmonds. Tangerine is bringing the successful European model for cooperative clean energy development home to the U.S.

Washington State currently offers a $1.08 per kWh incentive for solar electricity that is generated, if it is classified as a community solar project.  On average, City of Edmonds customers pay between $.06 and $.08 cents a kWh, so the state rebates a majority of the payments to community members who joined the cooperative and purchased shares in the project.

SunSlices are available for those interested in being part of the Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative. A minimum of 40 SunSlices must be sold by Dec. 24 to ensure the project is funded and can proceed. Visit www.tangerinepower.com/edmonds to learn more and join online.

60 COMMENTS

  1. So happy to see this project make it to this point. I can’t afford to put a large solar array on my house, but I can afford a little slice on Frances Anderson. Plus, a bigger array like this will further enhance the Green credentials of Edmonds, as the first city in Washington with a citizen-driven community solar project. Go Team!

  2. Todd,
    TangerinePower, TangerineSolar is a for profit company, is it not? It states on its website it is a “for benefit” company, but it looks like it is selling investments. Can you give some information on the financials of Mr. Florek and his company?
    You are a detail oriented guy, and have probably done much research on this project. Look forward to your information.

  3. Hello Diane, this is Stanley Florek, CEO and co-founder of Tangerine Power. Thanks for your interest in the project and the company. Tangerine Power’s mission is to help communities generate more power from natural sources. Tangerine is a taxable company because that status makes it easier to attract financing from sources that a nonprofit could not. We are helping Sustainable Edmonds develop a program for folks who want more solar power in Edmonds to make it happen. The primary purpose of the Frances Anderson Center program is to generate more clean energy locally. A group purchase by local residents makes that easier. We’re providing a set of rewards and rebates to sweeten the deal and make a large part of the money generated from energy production circulates locally, in and around Edmonds. If for some remote reason Tangerine Power or I individually don’t make it financially, it won’t affect the ownership of the solar array.The solar power system will be owned by a local Cooperative in which all participants have a voting share. I am eager to hear from you and others about how to make this program a success. You can reach me directly to continue the dialogue via the Contact Us page on TangerinePower.com. Thanks.

  4. @DianeT – I’m a detail guy when it comes to planning things, but I’m not much into company financial details. The details of this project, though – that, I do know. Tangerine is providing the service of handling all of the web hosting, advising on how to structure the solar co-operative group to comply with all of the rules, and helping to get the best deal on the proposed solar installation.

    The community solar team absolutely could not have come this far without them. As for being “for benefit”, Tangerine is not making a profit off of us, that’s for sure! Please come down to Frances Anderson, room 206, this afternoon at 1, if you can. The Community Solar team will be there, and they’ll have all of the detailed plans there to answer your questions. Unfortunately, I’ll be in Bremerton for work, but we can catch up later over coffee.

  5. I am just curious. Actually the idea of solar in Edmonds is intriguing, but I am having difficulty understanding Tangerine’s business model. It is a “for profit” company and I am having trouble understanding where Tangerine makes it’s money. The solar cooperative is easy to understand, but Tangerine exists to make a profit.
    Can’t make it today, but look forward to chatting about it. Thanks, Todd.

  6. In talking with the City of Edmonds, there is not a contract in place for the leasing of the roof at the Anderson center in place to date. The roof of the Anderson Center is certainly potentially a good fit for solar, I am confused what “SunSlices” are beside a membership in a Cooperative which may or may not be able to use the roof of the Anderson Center…
    Anyone care to “enlighten” me? (Pun intended…)

  7. Chris,
    I am all for profit, but when it called a “for benefit” company, I have issues. Profit is fine, but being “cute” with that fact is not. I am trying to find out what the business model is for Tangerine, and can’t quite figure it out. The Solar Cooperative is an easy thing to figure out.

  8. Hi again Diane. Tangerine Power is a Developer of energy systems. Like many other developers (real estate for example) we do hope to earn enough revenue to pay our expenses and have some left over for the risks we undertake. We negotiate a modest markup on the installed cost of the equipment to provide funding for our development services. This amount is available to any current or prospective member who asks.

  9. Hello again Mr Florek.
    Thanks for your explanation of the business model. I am a bit befuddled by the selling of “slices” before an agreement has been reached with the City regarding using the roof of the Anderson Center. Is there something I am missing? (and there easily could be)
    Thanks in advance for your reply.

  10. @DianeT: I can answer your question about the roof. The reason the roof hasn’t been leased yet is a chicken-vs.-egg problem. Without a Co-Op stood up, there was no way to submit a lease request. If you recall, a few months back, some Sustainable Edmonds leaders working on this project presented this proposal to the City Council, to get a tentative approval to proceed towards a roof lease. That’s all that they could do, at that point, as the Co-Op wasn’t established yet, and the Council did give them a go-ahead, after several detailed questions about the project proposal.

  11. When we thought that the 1603 treasury grant was expiring at the end of this year we were scrambling to raise and spend $40k in order to qualify for a 30% grant of around $200,000 from the fed. We needed to get up and running online to take payments asap. Last week, 3 days before Christmas I did a thorough site assessment of the Frances Anderson Center with the likely installer, SnoPUD, City facilities mgr. Tangerine Power and Sustainable Edmonds folks. I took 27 sitings with my Solmetric Suneye to confirm that the intended roof has excellent solar exposure and to document that fact for the PUD’s cash incentive program. As it was getting dark, the board of the solar co-op climbed down off the roof and rushed to the bank and opened our account at WA Federal in Edmonds. We can now accept payments to Edmonds Community Solar Co-op. We needed to get our UBI number and business license before we could open a bank account. I bought my Sunslice that evening by putting my check in the night deposit during a walk with my wife to look at Christmas lights. We are now at 30% of our 1st phase goal for Sunslice sales. Thank you for your interest in clean, renewable, secure, reliable, locally produced solar power. I hope you will join us.

  12. Scrambling to get a federal grant, just now meeting with the City facilities people, just now getting business license, rushing to open bank account, just now checking solar exposure. Heck of a way to run a business. Good luck with that. Gotten an agreement on the lease of the roof at Frances Anderson yet?

  13. Can someone please explain to me how Sustainable Edmonds gets a free pass on misinformation and prematurely announcing they have permission to run a business on city property?

    This is the group that regularly get lots of space in the Enterprise, Forum section to spout their half truths and misinformation.

    1) They claim greedy oil barons were the cause of the oil spill in the gulf this year. When in reality it is groups like SE that force oil companies to drill in more costly, higher risk and more dangerous areas. There is not a business person in the world that would deliberately place a business in an area in which costs are significantly higher, risk for success are infinitely greater and danger to human, animal and biological life are substantially higher. SE takes no responsibility for forcing drilling to occur where it does.

    2) They claim China is the largest producer of green energy technology and the US should follow suit. Yet, they fail to mention China is not the largest consumer of green energy technology and China is one of the world’s largest producers of green house gases. China is the largest producer of many products, primarily because of how they control the value of their currency. Not because they have some overwhelming concern for sustainability.

    3) They claim that by eliminating plastic bags from use in Edmonds grocery stores, we will be making a significant impact on landfills and we won’t be using plastic that comes from the greedy oil companies. Although I agree, with the reduction in land fill consumption (contributing one less drop in the bucket, is at least a drop). But, the reality of the reusable bags is that every one we’ve bought and been able to find is made from polypropylene. Which still leaves us using petroleum based products and contributing to the production of green house gases from the manufacture and delivery of these bags. How much more machinery, electricity and fuel does it take to produce woven polypropylene bags, 5 times the density of their predecessors? How many more trucks does it take to deliver the same amount of reusable bags compared to their plastic predecessors? Its groups like SE that told us years ago we had to use the plastic bags because we were cutting down too many trees. It was ok then to use plastic and support the oil companies. Now it’s ok to support the oil companies, just not as much (supposedly)?

    4) Now they’re starting (recommending) a business that appears to have not done the due diligence and permitting every other business in Edmonds must do before announcing they are going to open.

    I’m all for being responsible stewards or our planet and doing the right thing. But, for SE to be constantly thrown in our face as some sort of savior and given free access to disseminate their propaganda without an equal amount of rebuttal is extremely aggravating.

    Thanks,

    Ed

  14. @DianeT- It does seem like the solar project is coming together in a hurry, but I don’t think your judgment is a fair one. The reason for the compression of events (doing things all in parallel), is due to the nature of legislative environment.

    – Community Solar rules didn’t exist until this summer, and weren’t finalized until the fall, so nothing could be on paper until then.
    – Compounding the financial issues, Congress had not extended the federal tax credit for solar (where you get your incentive money up front, rather than at the end), which had huge implications for a project of this size. That’s what Chris Herman was detailing above
    – The solar survey was done earlier, but only informally. Chris Herman did the detailed survey recently, but the results, while now official, were pretty well known – that roof has a clear view of the sky!
    – Still working with the City on the roof agreement. As you know, that work couldn’t even BEGIN until the Community Solar rules were in place, and the Co-Op was established (first in the State!), but these things take time. Nothing moves fast with the City, which is how we like it.

    Let us know if you have any more questions – you can ask directly at SustainableEdmonds@gmail.com, as sometimes we miss comments here.

  15. @Ed P.
    I’m hoping you’re looking for answers, and not just firing for effect. Assuming the best, I’m happy to engage you on any and all topics so that we both come away with a better understanding. First, I’d like to clear up some misconceptions about what you think of as “Sustainable Edmonds”.
    – SE is a 501.c.3 non-profit, with a goal of reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and reducing the vulnerability of our community to the potential effects of climate change. That first part can be summarized as reducing fossil fuel consumption and other waste. The second part, is far, far broader, but generally means making our local economy, environment, and infrastructure more self-sufficient. There’s more on our website, but that’s a start.

    As for your specific points, I think you apply “Sustainable Edmonds” rather loosely.
    1. “They claim greedy oil barons…” while there may be members of Sustainable Edmonds with such opinions, that does not mean the organization stands for that. There are over 200 people on our mailing list, and each has their own set of personal opinions. Our organizational position is that oil consumption must be reduced, so that we can stretch that vital resource as far as possible, reducing the need for drilling anywhere, and to reduce GHG emissions. Conservation of the resource, and reduction of the pollution caused by consumption, those are our goals. Advocating such conservation has nothing to do with where the oil came from. I could talk with you separately, as an engineer, about the real causes of the disaster – improper risk mitigation.

    2. China is not the example to follow, to be sure! However, there ARE certain programs that China has instituted that are good. It is the programs that are of interest, in that Sustainable Edmonds is working to find solutions that work – ways to balance economic, environmental, and health concerns in such a way that we achieve an outcome that is good for all. We’re looking for hints of things that work, so that we can try to emulate those elements. This is the kind of plagiarism that is encouraged, yes? China’s ability to set an emissions goal, and then track it to completion, is one example what we advocate following.

    3. The plastic bag ban is not a Sustainable Edmonds program, it is a City of Edmonds program. That said, Sustainable Edmonds endorses and supports this program. All of the arguments you have forwarded were presented during the hearings regarding the ban. I’d be happy to go over each in detail separately. The goal, from a SE standpoint, is to reduce consumption of new raw resources through long term use of re-usable bags. We think the plastic bag ban is a step in the right direction, but we must continue outreach efforts to ensure people use their reusable bags, and maintain them, in order to see the real benefit.

    4. The Solar Co-Op is indeed endorsed by SE. And you are free to join, or not to join. Calling it a business is a bit of a stretch, though. It’s a construct that allows people to help put solar panels up, without having to buy the whole system themselves. The goal is to promote the local generation of clean energy – this helps SNOPUD by reducing the load on their transmission lines, reduces GHG emissions, and provides a large, visible symbol of the commitment of the people of Edmonds to working towards a more sustainable future, which is a key part of our City’s branding. Oh, and the panels are made in WA state, so we’re supporting our local economy. If you read the previous response I wrote to DianeT, it explains how the regulatory environment is the tail wagging the dog on the timeline here. Would be nice to have a year to put all of this together, but the reality doesn’t allow such luxuries.

    I hope this answers your specific questions. I hope to hear from you directly, at SustainableEdmonds@gmail.com, any time you have any questions about Sustainable Edmonds. Also, if you have suggestions of what we could do to forward our goals, or how you’d like to help, we DEFINITELY welcome those!

    We too, are just looking to be responsible stewards of our planet. But you can’t do that sitting in your recliner; we have to take action to change things. And change, as you know, ALWAYS invites criticism. That’s okay, though… as long as we’re all honest about what we’re trying to do, and willing to listen to others, I’m confident we can all find a way forward. I’ll happily choose the controversy of action over the false security of inaction any day!

  16. @Todd
    My comments have been more than fair. The presentation of the project has not been one of full disclosure and has omitted facts like the lack of an agreement about the publicly owned roof of the historic Anderson Center. The press (including the article above) make the project appear much more certain than it is. The company Tangerine Power is in it for profit and is selling something which may or may not actually get City approval. The co-op is non-profit and will, subject to City Approval be responsible for the hardware on that publicly owned historic roof.
    Had full disclosure been present, I would have been silent. Had this been a project using a private roof, it would not have interested me. But selling something for which there has been no agreement or even memorandum of understanding is simply disingenuous at best. Were this not a “green” project, but a different private partnership with a cooperative utilizing a publicly owned building, you would have the same questions and concerns that I do. Tangerine Power and Sustainable Edmonds should enjoy no exemptions from full disclosure because it is a solar project. That is fair.

  17. @DianeT:
    – I respectfully disagree on the level of disclosure, as we have been pushing info as fast as we can in as many avenues as we can, including public meetings.
    – If you recall, we had chatted earlier, in detail, about the roof agreement. There is a tentative agreement, with City Staff and City Council approval, for using the roof of FAC for this project. The contract is not signed, nor could it be in such a short period of time. You can check the Council minutes to verify this again, if you like.
    – A private roof would be against the law. The Community Solar regulations that we’re operating under require the project to be installed on a City, County or Utility owned property (or other <State level gov't property). The goal of the law is to promote highly visible demonstration projects to show the feasibility of solar, even here in the PACNW.
    – The project is underway, it is not a fly-by-night operation. Now, the scale of the project is entirely up to the number of members who participate, but there is a Co-Op established. If, for some strange reason, the City Council reverses itself and doesn't go through with a roof lease, then all funds go back to their contributors, and the deal is off. I think that was made pretty clear. Seeing how we already ran the project by the Council, in detail, and answered a battery of questions from them, I don't see this as being the greatest risk in the project.

    The confusion and consternation all come back to a driving force that caused this pile-up of events: the legislative timetable of the approval of the Community Solar incentives by the WA State Legislature, and the failure of the US Congress to extend federal tax credits for solar projects until the last week of the year. We could not officially form a Co-Op until the WA State rules came through. Then, we had to race to get SOME funding secured in order to be able to utilize the federal tax credits (which could be up to around $200k if the project goes to the max size). Without the fed tax credits, the entire project would be economically infeasible, so we could not afford the luxury of waiting for perfect clarity in 2011.

    I'm a submariner, and we like to progress slowly, safely, and steadily – but this is one of those cases where such an approach only guarantees complete failure of the mission. We had to move quickly, and accept things like not having a paper contract in hand for the roof, or risk not being able to do the project at all. And we really think that this project is good for Edmonds, in several ways, so we went for it.

    Now, with the federal tax credits extended thru 2011, some of the urgency is no longer present. Thankfully.

    But there was never, ever, any intent to hide any aspect of this project. If I/we failed to make something clear in a press release (which is where these articles come from), then I apologize. We can never write a 100% complete article, we have to choose what we say, to keep it brief. We feel secure in the roof deal with the City – as we spent months working through it already, and their questions were all answered to their satisfaction.

    Hope I've been able to answer all of your questions better this time. If I seem a bit defensive, I apologize – it's challenging to maintain calm when it seems your integrity is under assault, after hundreds of hours of well-intentioned volunteer time. I don't think that's your intent, though, so I'll just have to get over it!

  18. @Todd,
    Solar power is an interesting idea. Solar power in Edmonds is downright intriguing, but when presenting a project which involves a publicly owned building, requests folks to buy into it, and which is being presented as a done deal, I believe that rather than brushing passed inconvenient facts (no lease) those inconvenient facts should have been addressed in the press release.
    The fact that it was presented in the press release as a done deal (and my friends who read the article thought there was a date certain for the project to start) when it isn’t doesn’t serve anyone well.
    You have been forthcoming, have answered my questions promptly (and without getting dismissive or rude). Obviously this project is important to you and you have spent considerable time, effort, energy putting it together. Perhaps you couldn’t see how it looks from an uninvolved person’s perspective. Thank you for your willingness to defend the project and provide answers in a factual manner.
    I believe I owe you a drink! Happy New Year!

  19. Having done some more research discovered that:
    The solar panels are technically manufactured in Washington. The “cells” themselves are manufactured “overseas”. When I asked where, I was told either Europe or Asia.
    In California (specially Newport ) there have been problems with glare from large arrays.
    The City is doing its due diligence currently regarding the project, and it is not yet a done deal.
    There are many questions that should be considered before the City agrees to lease the historic roof for the venture.
    Is there an environmental risk if the panels are damaged?
    Will the glare be an issue for the surrounding neighborhoods, views?
    Will the City have any financial liability should the Co-Op not have the funds to do the maintenance of the panels?
    Will the Co-op provide proof of adequate insurance for natural disasters, and damages caused by the panels (including any environmental issues)?
    The obvious questions are the weight of the panels and supporting structures on the historic roof.
    Hopefully the City Council will look at all the issues before making any decision.

  20. I really appreciate Todd answering so many questions and concerns. I will do what I can to answer some of the above. Solar cell manufacturing is a very delicate process and a very expensive undertaking. Most panel manufacturers don’t grow their own crystals and cut their own cells. Silicon Energy uses a special non reflective low iron glass to increase light getting to the cells and reduce glare. We had a 2 panel array on display at the press conference on 12/15. We are all doing our due diligence and have been since our first meeting with Sr. City Officials back in May. Since none of us have gotten paid a penny, we are doing what needs to be done when it needs to be done so we don’t waste time on things that don’t need finality yet. It IS a done deal in concept as evidenced by the unanimous vote of the Council on 10/5, where they asked many questions and gave us the go ahead to proceed developing the project. There are other roofs we considered but the FA Center seems to be the best choice. Ther part of the building where the panels are planned was built in 1947. It is no the oldest tall section built in 1928. The panels contain no hazardous chemicals and are rated to withstand golfball sized hail at 50 mph. The building is 1-1.5 stories and the panels will sit up about 18″ above the roof, well within the height restriction. There is no maintenance required for the system but the co-op will have reserves built in for any required repairs (inverters maybe). The dealer/installer most likely to install the system includes a yearly check up in their price, for the first 3 years. The co-op will have full insurance on the system. The worthiness of the roof relating to weight of the panels and racks will be confirmed by a structural engineer and the system will be designed to withstand 120 mph winds (exposure C) without moving. I hope this answers your Qs.
    Best energy,
    Chris Herman, Interim president & Board chair, Edmonds Community Solar Cooperative
    Founding Board member, Sustainable Edmonds
    Founding treasurer & Past-president, Solar Washington Association
    Founding member, NW Eco-Building Guild
    Owner, Winter Sun Design est. 1987

  21. Mr. Herman,
    Assuming that Winter Sun Design is not a non-profit, you seem to have not only much knowledge about the use of Solar Panels in Washington state, but a Company which is financially invested in such projects which may (or may not) skew your objectivity in this particular project.
    http://www.wintersundesign.com/

  22. DianeT;
    Looks to me like there is a small group of people trying to do something that they think is good. Looks to me like you are making as many hurtful accusations as you can – without anything to back any of it up.
    You are not enhancing our town with your bullying. And you don’t offer any alternative, only criticism. Tsk tsk.

  23. I’m not only a firm believer in solar power but also wind generation. I have looked into both and found them to expensive at this time for me. Buying slices looks interesting.
    Being in construction for 38 years though, I have never been a fan of putting something on a roof. Diane has some good questions. Roof load needs to be accessed, responsibility for damage caused by wear and tear by anything placed on the roofing and people walking on it. When it comes roof replacement who covers the extra cost to take the panels apart and any damage to the roof?
    I hope the city is looking into all possible questions raised.

    One of the other reasons besides cost that I didn’t pursue Solar is that I personally would not put a panel array on my roof.

  24. Dear Ed P.
    Your comments on this website saddens me and many others I’m sure. As one of the writers for the Enterprise Forum, by their request, I present my personal views and I indicate that I am a member of Sustainable Edmonds, but not its spokesperson.

    Your strong sentiments against S.E. surprised me in light of your ending statement of “I’m all for being responsible stewards or our planet.” In my mind, that means having consideration for our planetary environment, conserving resources, recognizing humans may (though I believe we do) have an affect on Earth’s climate and everything else in our biosphere.

    Stewardship means changing ones lifestyle as needed for the benefit of future generations. I clearly don’t understand your statements of spouting “half-truths and misinformation.” I am not in the business of either nor do I disseminate “propaganda,“ that you said “without an equal amount of rebuttal.” That is what the editorial page is for, but I have never received any criticism.

    Todd responded very well to your comments, but I would like to add a little bit more. In regards to BP’s oil disaster, Todd said the problem was with risk mitigation, and I explained it was due to not having operational safety back up systems. Greed in my mind means choosing not to spend the necessary money “to do the right thing,” in this riskier environment just because it’s expensive. I also don’t believe that S.E. is forcing anyone to do anything. We are an educational organization presenting alternatives in the way we humans have been living on our planet and suggest changes we could and should consider.

    I agree with your point that many reusable bags unfortunately do use polypropylene, which I encourage changing. However, I don’t know your shopping habits, but there are stores that do carry cotton reusable bags, like Puget Consumers Coop.

    Lastly, I too would be glad to connect and discuss/clarify what I feel are misconceptions you have of what Sustainable Edmonds is about.

  25. Richard and Todd,

    Thank you for your insightful replies and I truly appreciate your willingness to discuss the issues I brought up during my post.

    I’ve replied and been in private conversations with Todd to gain more clarity as to SE’s mission, messaging and how I might be able to participate with an org. like SE to make a difference. Todd has been extremely helpful and encouraging.

    Richard, rather than debate on a message board, I’d prefer Todd connect you and I. He has my contact information and we will be meeting for coffee when I return from my trip out of country.

    All I’m after is clarity. Often when one writes thoughts, opinions and expresses a desire for more information, things get misunderstood. I may have misunderstood the personal views you have contributed to the Enterprise Forum section and am more than willing to accept responsibility for that misunderstanding. I truly hope for the same open mindedness and willingness to have a civil discussion with you. You are not my enemy.

    Best to you, Todd and SE!!

  26. Diane,
    No human being is objective and I have not hidden anything about my background or my involvement in the solar industry. I would like to know a bit more about you. If I am spending time answering Qs, I think it is reasonable to know who is asking. If you are a flat earther, then I am wasting my time and would appreciate knowing that so I can not waste any more. Do you believe that climate change is real and caused by human beings? If so, would you be willing to discuss any further Qs you have on the phone? I am slow at typing and prefer real time discourse. This forum is too limiting and leaves lots of room for misunderstanding. Thank you for your itnerest in clean, renewable, secure, reliable solar power.
    Best energy,
    Chris H

  27. Hi Paul,
    The beauty of community solar is that we are eligible for incentives that individuals are not, such as the 30% federal grant in lieu of the tax credit and the double state production incentive. These 2 benifits of community solar make it much more affordable.
    I don’t have your length of experience in construction. I have 29 years total with 2 in building (+2 summers) and 27 in design. And I also don’t especially like flat roofs or putting things on roofs. However, the ballast tray system that we used on SnoPUD’s 8 kW system on their headquarters building in Everett has no roof penetrations. We are looking at a similar system for Edmonds and the Co-op will certainly hire a structural engineer to verify that the building can take the extra weight. When I wrote the RFP for the SnoPUD system I did research on non-penetrating ballasted systems and found that it is extremely rare that a building cannot carry the added weight of the panels, racks and ballast. In fact, my contact at SolarDock said that of the more than 1,000 systems he had supplied, there was only 1 building that wasn’t structurally capable of carrying the system. And that building was almost 200 years old build with hand hewn timbers and no engineer or lumber grader would stand behind the materials in the building. The Frances Anderson Center has full drawings and modern construction materials. And the Co-op will carry insurance to protect the Center, the City and the owners of the system (Co-op members). The roof is only 2 years old and has a life expectancy far longer than the contract with the Co-op. The roof will actually last longer under the array due to the lack of UV degradation. At the end of the 10 year contract, the City will have the option of re-negotiating with the Co-op or buying the system at a huge discount, or the Co-op will remove the system.
    I am happy to answer more Qs in a phone call. This is very time consuming. Thanks for your interest and I invite you to join the Co-op and attend our first members’ meeting on 1/31. We are doing a very good thing for the City, the region, the planet and our Co-op members. We will continue to prove it. I hope to meet you in person.
    Best energy,
    Chris Herman

  28. @Mr Herman
    I am a long-term resident of Edmonds (20+years). I belong to no political party, belong to no special interest groups, and have no agenda politically at all. My questions (#22) are project specific and are reasonable questions about a project using an historic public building, and who stands to gain from that project.
    It seems that to ask questions makes me a “flat earther” ( don’t know what that is but since I have a college degree I am assuming it is a buzz word of some kind) and don’t see what believing or not believing in global warming has to do with this project. I have friends in CA who have had solar panels on their houses for years, and they do have some drawbacks.
    I am not selling anything to anyone. You are. The City Council will decide if the project goes forward, I believe, next week. Either way they decide is fine with me but at least I ask the questions.

  29. DianeT –

    Keep it up. You must be closing in on the truth because they are going after you personnally now and want to go offline with the discussion.

  30. @ Scott H.
    Funny how that works. Things may not have gone well in the 1/11/11 Committee meeting where it was discussed on Tuesday Night, since I hadn’t posted anything since January 4th.

    The proposed lease agreement and materials are here: (hope the link works)

    http://agenda.ci.edmonds.wa.us/agenda_publish.cfm?mt=ALL&get_month=1&get_year=2011&dsp=agm&seq=3654&rev=0&ag=493&ln=11622&nseq=3655&nrev=0&pseq=3661&prev=0#ReturnTo11622

    If anyone is interested in it.

  31. Here’s a thought. How about the City install some solar panels on one of its roofs, arrange to have the output of the panels reported on the City Website? No long term leases, no legal fees, no giant installation. Just a neat experiment in passive energy generation which the whole City could watch on the website! If it goes well the City could expand the program, if not then they could try something different.
    Much less expensive than the “Solar Tangerine/Coop” plan. If It works it will benefit all of Edmonds, and it will be a very positive project for the City to take on without the financial risks and long term commitment should it not work well.

  32. I like that thought, I get a bad feeling about that coop tangerine thing , I don’t what it is but something is not right with that whole thing.

  33. Wow, I really appreciate this dialog. I know Stanley as a fellow MBA grad from Bainbridge Graduate Institute. I’m interested because socially responsible investing is a focus area of mine. I looked at Tangerine early on as an investor but the truth is it doesn’t really make money compared to a CD or a stock fund. Thus the “community benefit” angle – raising dollars from people who can enjoy non-financial benefits (direct impact in their community through electric savings to a taxpayer-supported-organization, promotion of solar) to make up for the minimal financial benefit. Though there is a formal definition of a “community benefit” company: a B Corporation. When I talked to Stanley at the time it was his intention to become a B-Corp but I don’t see anything on their website (www.bcorporation.net). So Diane, that’s something you can poke him about.

    I sympathize with the Edmonds Community Solar folks because I know this has been a labor of love and I greatly appreciate their repeated efforts to be transparent and answer all questions. I also respect the hard questions – loss of trust for corporations is a big driver behind the social/sustainable investment movement. Paul Herman of HIP Investor (HIP= Human Impact + Profit) identifies 5 key areas an organization should be measured in: Health, Wealth, Earth, Equity and Trust. In mainstream investing we don’t talk enough about trust.

    B Corporation certification is one effort, but I’ll admit as a social investor I’m still pretty dissatisfied with the tools available to me. So far the best we have is building trust through direct relationships and transparency. In this case, I know Stanley, but you don’t. I’m impressed with the amount of transparency I’m seeing here, and if you know the Edmonds Community Solar people as people with reputations to protect in your community, and they’re transparent about what they’re doing,that’s about as good as it gets right now.

    Unfortunately, after all this reading up (I went to the website) – I can’t buy a Sun Slice! I live in Seattle and am not a customer of the Snohomish PUD. Next project!

  34. My point was that the City would do better to just buy solar panels and install them as a City project. There would be no private entities to deal with, no legal fees or long term commitments. The City Could choose the best location it has available and could have the project included on their website to shoe the electricity captured by the panels.
    The City would control all aspects of the project so that all the citizens of Edmonds would benefit, since it is public property that will be used.
    There is no need for Tangerine Power to “manage” a massive project on the Frances Anderson Center and no Co-Operative membership who will be directing the project and getting monetary benefits.
    The City can do the project, and the tax payers will not be subsidising the financial liabilities created by the currently proposed project which is driven as much by capturing the tax incentives and rebates as capturing solar energy.
    The City can do all of this cleanly, simply. If there are issues with the panels , the City can deal with them without going through a co-operative board and a lease agreement.

  35. I went to the council meeting and listened to those guys tangrene power . I also called mr Williams with the city , he filled me in on some details. First of all the cost on this project according to mr williams is close to $650.000 . The city will contract with the coop and buy the solar power somewhere around 5 cents a kwh there paying 8 cents a kwh now. Heres the deal thats confusing the coop is selling shares or sun slices as they call them for $1000.00 a share so they will have to come with 650 shares to finance this thing. When you go to the edmonds solar co op web site they claim that the shareholders will get $100.00 a year back and will have all the $1000.00 back in 9.5 years. When I do the math thats $950.00 $50.00 short per person. When you put that Fifty bucks into 650 thats $32,500 short right out of the gate. I see all kinds of problems with this co op all the way through, The city doesn’t have much to gain $32000 in 9 years thats less than 4 thousand a year. The city hasn’t even signed on and they have probably spent a couple thousand dollars on this thing. I say the only people gaining on this project are the people doing the project tangrene power and the edmonds solar co op.

  36. @DianeT, Mike;
    Wish it were so easy, for the City to just fund the whole project. They can fund their own project, but the financial outlook would be much, much less appealing. The way the Community Solar bill works, a project must be funded by individuals, not by the government.
    So, the City can’t take advantage of the double-incentives that WA state is offering, they’d only get the same incentives you and I would get if we put panels up on our homes. (and I’m not even 100% sure that a City gov’t would qualify for those – any experts out there know?)
    I leave the math to the solar co-op folks, so I can’t help clarify anything in Mike’s post (#38) above. But I do know about this particular incentive program in some detail, and I know the City can’t do it. Besides, where would the City come up with $650k?
    One thing I can add to the discussion of financials though, is that using a figure of 8 cents/kW-hr out for the next 10 years, is a pinch more than optimistic. BPA (our hydro power authority) is looking to raise local rates by at least 25-30%, according to PUD, which puts the price at a possible 10 cents/kW-hr. (yes, I realize this is speculation at this point)
    And finally, there’s the real, but not financial, benefit of getting it done and showing it off. Power getting made right here in Edmonds, at a place where just about every kid in town visits at least once. And the first citizen-owned array in the State.

  37. Todd,
    Solar power isn’t cost effective. The current rush to projects like the Tangerine Power/Co-Op plan is due solely to the federal and state incentives.
    Where would the City come up with $650k is an excellent question, but the wrong one. The City is not chasing those incentives. Tangerine Power and the Co-Op are. As I heard the presentation, once the incentives expire so does the Co-Op. At which point the City (under the proposed project) would have to negotiate to remove the arrays from the roof, purchase the 10 year old panels ( which will likely be legacy equipment with the technological advances in those 10 years). To negotiate will cost the City money ( legal fees). Just the proposal is costing the taxpayers legal fees eating into any fiscal benefits to the City. On of the clauses in the lease proposed by Tangerine Solar/Co-Op was an early termination clause where outside of reasons allowed Tangerine power’s proposed lease agreement would obligate the CITY to $75,000 per year. All for a lease for which the City will receive around $235 per year.
    If you are interested in doing a demonstration project alone, a small solar array could be done by the City alone for considerably less than even the penalties to the City in that clause of the lease alone.
    This is more about “crowd funding” (avoiding SEC filing requirements for selling investments), and transferring the financial risks for the project to the City while keeping the benefits from the Federal and State incentives for the investors and TangerinePower.

  38. @DianeT – your point about the incentives was exactly the point I was trying to make. Glad you agree.

    I hate arguing over silly details, so I’ll keep this part short. Your estimate of $235 per year benefit to the City doesn’t match even the most pessimistic estimates of benefits due to the power generated (at LEAST $3500 per year). No, that’s not big money.
    The City can’t do a demonstration project that would cost them less. It doesn’t pencil out. Plus, a small array doesn’t have the secondary benefits of a larger project.
    I’d like to ask you to please not try to explain the motives of others, that makes it very hard to discuss the issues in a civil manner. Please stick to the points of the project.
    ——-
    I think we’d be better off if we were all trying to answer the same question:
    The question: is this project good for Edmonds? THAT is the metric I’d like to use. And not “good for Edmonds City Government”, as that’s too small – think of all of Edmonds. Will there be a net benefit to having a clearly recognizable large solar array on one of our most visible buildings? Is that good for business? Is that good for our children? Yes, there are financial considerations, too – but it’s not for profit, it’s a measure of “is it worth the cost?”

  39. Todd,
    My posts and questions have all been to ferret out if it is “Good for all of Edmonds”.
    I have no monetary interest in the project, aside from being an Edmonds Tax payer for over 20 years.
    Let’s be clear. This project isn’t purely a civic project. Tangerine Power is a business. The Co-Op is a business. I am a capitalist, and believe in making a profit. I don’t have a problem with a profit motive, do you?
    Without the Federal and State Incentives and tax credits, this project would not presently under consideration (that is the chasing the incentives motive to which I referred”.) And here is the citation for my statement:
    “Promoters of community energy projects can use the co-op structure to bring in a diverse group of investors without having to register a public offering.”
    http://katovichlaw.com/2010/03/14/stanley-florek-of-tangerine-solar-successfully-lobbies-to-include-co-ops-in-the-washington-state-community-solar-project-investment-cost-recovery-incentives/
    http://cuttingedgecap.ning.com/profile/StanleyFlorek

    A $235/year/10 years lease does encumber the public facility and the City should there be an early termination of the lease beyond what Mr. Florek’s lawyers included in the terms, to the tune of $75,000/year for the remainder of the lease. I don’t find that “silly” or inconsequential.
    There is no experience with a large solar array in Western Washington and certainly none run by a Co-Op on public property. Edmonds is not comparable for the arrays in use in Eastern WA or California. We don’t know what the downsides are.
    A small project owned and operated by the City would reduce the downside risks and provide the same benefits as a large privately owned system would, for all of Edmonds. Does it “pencil out”? Probably not, certainly not in the short term. Without the financial incentives
    the current private proposal doesn’t “pencil out” for the City either, but it does for the investors and Tangerine Solar who will disappear after those incentives expire. A small project would be “sustainable”. Eventually, well managed it could pay for itself and could be scaled up if warranted.
    There is an alternative. It is a good one and it makes sense for all of Edmonds. It is also “sustainable for Edmonds”.
    I have been accused of being a flat earthier, a global warming denier by Mr. Herman, silly and uncivil by you. Although incendiary, it begs the issue of whether this business transaction (and it is a business transaction) truly makes sense for all of Edmonds.

  40. @DianeT;
    – Your “small demo project” idea would be fun and easy, if we had the money to throw at it. About $200k would get us something we could at least see up there. But why have taxpayers shell out big money to see a small project? Why not make a little money while hosting a big project, and not burden the taxpayers?
    – Do YOU want to explain to taxpayers why you want to spend $200k of their money on what you think is a good idea? We’ve got a pool to replace, a crumbling Senior Center, and a budget hole to fill. New money for discretionary projects isn’t going to come easy. A review of the Skippers property purchase fiasco would be timely.

    – Why don’t we ask our Citizens to come together to fund this project themselves, voluntarily? And have the City host the project instead of purchasing it? This is exactly what is happening before your eyes. I think I simply don’t understand your objections. Let me itemize a bit on what I think I understood as your concerns:

    1. Solar in Western WA has over a 30 year track record. The performance specs for the proposed array are based on observed performance in our area (even an array located < 1 mile away), not an imaginary spreadsheet. Visit the SNOPUD website at http://snopud.com/home/green/solarexpress.ashx?p=1207 for more info. They have an annual tour of solar installs in our area – for free. There are arrays that have operated for decades in our area.
    2. Long term lease agreements always have penalties for early termination in order to discourage parties from violating the agreement. To argue that all potential penalties should be figured into the financial assessment is folly. The real focus of our efforts should be on thoroughly scrubbing the terms, to ensure the City has the latitude it needs to properly manage their property.
    3. Talk of a "small demo project" is a red herring. See above. It isn't fiscally prudent, produces less impact for more cost, and fails to take advantage of the increased incentives for a Community Solar program.
    4. There are no peculiar challenges with scaling up an array to 75kW. That's not a particularly large array, really. Big for a house, yes, but not for FAC. The engineering analysis is rigorous, to ensure that the electrical system in the building can handle the theoretical max output of the array, and that has been done. Weather concerns, also done. Fire concerns, done. Equipment installation configuration, done. Do you have any specific concerns regarding this array on this building? It's hard to address your concerns when they're expressed only as "potential downsides".

    I'm not even on the board of the Solar Co-Op, and can't afford a sun-slice of my own yet, but I'm happy to keep fielding your questions as a friend. I think this project is a good idea, for all of the reasons I've enumerated above.

  41. Todd,
    It seems you are making my points for me. Thank you.
    From the “Co-Op Estimated Financials” presented at the last Council meeting:
    Total Inflows for the project over 10 years are $1,734,199
    Total Outflows $1,595,336
    Net Cash $ 138.863
    Included in the “outflows”
    Administrative expense $ 22,500
    Operating Fee $ 22,624
    Materials Installation and Design $ 651,131
    Development Fee $ 115,125
    Payment to SunSlice Holders $ 767,000

    Included in the “inflows”
    Sunslice Sales $767,000
    (assumes fully sold, currently on $12K of Sales per Chris Herman at the Council Presentation)
    Federal Grant $196,339
    State Production Credit $ 702,006

    Net projected Cash if fully sold, $138,000.
    (yes, I did cherry pick the numbers to include before anyone goes ballistic about it…but anyone can request the PowerPoint Presentation from the City)

    1. There is already demonstration project within our area, with annual tours…for free.
    2. Projects of this size ($1.7 Million) should be carefully scrutinized as to the risk/reward for all parties, the Taxpayers of Edmonds would be paying through state taxes, the subsidy (as they are for the Federal subsidy). It is a larger project than the Skipper’s property purchase was. Remember that the costs to the City should there be a problem will be considerable. The Reward to the City is only $40,971 projected reduced electricity costs. Once the project ends, the City will have expenses in negotiating what to do with the installation.
    3. A small project makes more fiscal sense than the above, though I am not sure there is the need or desire of the City to spend $200K on such a project. According t Mr. Herman only 12 “sunslices” have been sold. Commitment to the Sunslice project could easily cost the city more than the $200K simply in legal fees should there be a problem. As you noted, there is already a demonstration project in the vicinity…in place, paid for by SnoPud customers and free to tour.
    4. Sand bags on a flat, wet roof for 10 years? Seagull (and other bird) stuff in addition to the saltyness of our air would require cleaning to keep the panels at peak efficiency more water on the flat roof. Glare? If I had a fabulous view of the Sound, I would be worried. The lease agreement discussed at the last Council meeting required a “subject to” structural engineer’s approval, which hasn’t yet happened because it is expensive. Having a large array on the roof would impede any firefighting efforts…just by virtue of them being on the roof. These are simply, realistic concerns not amorphous “potential downsides”.
    5. The reason you cannot afford to put solar on your roof, is that it isn’t cost effective. If it were, I am sure you would have them. It doesn’t make financial sense to do it. Same here, just on a larger scale and using “other people’s money”, (taxpayers).

    Good for All of Edmonds is the issue. The proposed $1.7 Million project benefits a few, while exposing the rest of us to very real potential downsides. I cannot for the life of me see how that is “good for all of Edmonds”.

  42. Dianne, I was wondering if anyone was ever going to pick up that mone fromthe State and Federal Governments is not “free money” as taxpayers, that money still comes from us. Don’t like governmental boon doggle projects, well this would be one of them.

    My further concern is that without full subscription of investors up front what happens? It might prove exceedingly difficult to raise $756,000 in investment from Edmonds residents. If only $100,000 is raised, is money spent on studies and administration and rhen if the project is cancelled as unfeasable? I am certain the investors won’t get all of their money back as no one else has put money in.. I think it should be subscribed by a large percentage before the City gets involved.

    I do think that solar is a cool idea and it would be great to get a project like this off the ground. I am just afraid that too much of the burden for this one falls on Edmonds citizens as both taxpayers and investors with too little return and too high of a risk level.

  43. @DianeT;
    I recommend you go back and check your numbers a bit. There are no $1.7 million dollar projects proposed here! That would be the priciest per kilowatt system ever.
    The rest of your armchair analysis warrants no further comment. Every single one of those concerns has been addressed. This isn’t about demonstration alone, it’s also about generating a real amount of power here in Edmonds. A 4kW demo system is cute, but doesn’t cut it.

    @Harry;
    I don’t like government subsidy projects, unless they’re warranted. Sometimes its the only way to get something done. In this case, I’m not going to argue with anyone on whether there should or shouldn’t be a pot of money set aside for Community Solar projects, as that’s already a done deal. The funds are allocated, and are going to be spent on those projects that get off the ground and apply. Arguing principle of the program at this point is wasted effort. The money is obligated. There is nothing you can do to save the taxpayers this money.
    Without a full subscription of investors, I’m not sure what the threshhold is, I think (I’m not on the Solar Co-Op board) the intent is to install an array with whatever funds are invested. Your certainty about investors not getting money back is interesting – I asked at the outset of the project, and all of the money for installation of the array is set aside, and hasn’t been spent at all. And won’t be, until there’s a project to spend it on. If there is no project, the money goes back to investors. Oh, and that’s in the agreement posted on the website, too.
    Then, the chicken and egg. Getting a large percentage of subscriptions before the City agrees to lease the roof doesn’t appear to be the best business model. There are several investors waiting to see what the City does.
    And Harry, you mention a burden on Edmonds citizens and taxpayers, but you don’t follow that up with any specifics. That’s not like you! What specific concerns do you have? Where are the risks that you see, that could actually come about by the construct of this project?
    And finally, this project is not about earning a net return in cash. It’s about bringing solar within reach of our citizens, and generating some of our own power locally, just because we CAN, and we SHOULD. Solar is not intended to be profitable power generation, but it is clean, reliable and local. You know I’m personally a fan of nuclear power, but that just won’t fly here in Edmonds!

    I’m going to have to get back to real paying work, unfortunately, and won’t be able to keep up with posts here. (And Diane, I didn’t say I couldn’t afford an array on my house, that is WAY out of my league, I can’t even afford a sunslice at this point!) I’m going to get one, though, just can’t pull it off quite yet.

    It seems a Sisyphean task to attempt anything bold in Edmonds. I wish the Solar Co-Op team the best. Speaking of bold, can’t wait to hear what the neighbors have to say at the Westgate and Five Corners meetings this week!

  44. Todd I know this is a little off the subject but , I don’t know how anybody can be concerned about the planet like yourself and be a fan of nuclear power and all the dangers it presents , the waste, the leaks it has it is one of the or the most dangrous things we have on this earth. Just wondering

  45. Hi Mike. I appreciate the question, and I understand how you may have reached your conclusion based on media hyperbole, but I disagree. There are good reactors, and there are bad reactors. There are good fuels with little waste, and there are bad fuels that make tons of toxic byproducts and waste. I’m not a fan of EVERYTHING nuclear, as that would be irresponsible (see Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island for how not to do things).
    But, for cost per kW, and carbon reduction, there is no other feasible answer for replacing our large coal plants. Here in the PacNW, we forget this, as we are living in a dreamland of cheap hydroelectric power. The rest of the country burns coal, they don’t have the choices we have. Solar and wind are great ways to augment large generators, and are the real answer for the long-term future, but we don’t have anything else that can put coal plants off line in the short term other than nuclear.
    I think this is doubly important now, as our world is looking to reduce fossil fuel usage for cars and such, and pushing to use more electricity instead. We need to generate huge amounts of power, but without the carbon footprint of coal or oil. Nuclear is the only large scale alternative. So, when judging a source of power, it is more realistic to judge it in comparison to what it replaces. I believe nuclear power to be preferable, by FAR, to coal-fired power, for carbon, damage to the environment, and hazards to people (health effects).
    If you’d like to read more about modern reactors, I’d recommend surfing the internet for Thorium-232 fueled reactors, or Uranium 238 reactors. These are fuels that we have in abundance, no mining or processing required, it’s all leftover material from decades of bomb making. We can either bury it, or use it to provide a few hundred years worth of electrical power while we work on more advanced methods of harnessing renewable sources, like Solar and Wind.
    In the interest of full disclosure, I have spent the greater part of the last three decades operating nuclear reactors (some just across the water on Kitsap Peninsula), so I admit my perspective may be a bit different than that of the general public.

  46. Todd,
    The presentation given by Tanerine Power (available from the City) shows the projected inflows at $1,734,199 for the 10 year project. That is a fact.

  47. A big problem with this project is that it requires a lot of people to be willing to “donate” $1000 each to the program. I don’t think they’re going to find many more. Here’s why I say donate: If you read the agreement, the cooperative will give each share “a package of rewards which may be a combination of cash, gift certificates, products and services that support the local green economy”. That could mean a $100 gift certificate each year (good for one year) towards a home photovoltaic installation. Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars to spend on a system that may never pay for itself, you would effectively get nothing in return.

    In addition, every analysis of solar economics I’ve seen ignores the time value of money (or opportunity cost if you prefer.) If I spend $1000 on a ten year project, the real cost to me is more than $1000. That’s because I could have invested it in something else with greater payback. Despite our current dismal economic situation, it is reasonable and conservative to assume a 5% return per year over a long term period like 10 years. If you do the math, you’ll find that even if you get $100 cash back in each of the next ten years (a wildly optimist assumption), you’ve still lost $371. A real investor would demand at least 10% for a risky investment like this. If you could’ve invested that $1000 in something that yields 10% per year, you’d be $1000 richer investing in that vs this project. And these numbers use the conservative assumption that you reinvest the $100 you get each year from this project.

    Also Western Washington is one of the worst places in the country for solar photovoltaic. There are four big reasons for this:

    (1) We have overcast skies most of the year (yes I know you can still squeeze some power out of photovoltaics on cloudy days, but not much.)

    (2) We have very few hours of daylight during the winter when electricity needs are the greatest.

    (3) We have just about the cheapest electricity in the nation, meaning it takes that much longer for any system to recoup it’s costs.

    (4) You generate the most electricity when you need it the least: on our long sunny summer days. Most of us don’t have air conditioning, and during those summer days we’re probably at work or outside enjoying the weather. So you’ll pump the electricity backward through your meter and it’ll get used by someone else. That’s great, but you lose some of that power when you send it over a long wire. It therefore has less value than the electricity you can use yourself.

    For all these reasons, very few homeowners will be inspired by this project to do their own installations. For the vast majority of us, we’re not going to do solar unless it make sense financially. That’s not going to happen for a very long time in Western Washington.

    I love solar energy. I really believe that it is going to be a big component that gets us out of the energy crisis. If you want to invest in solar energy, consider an Arizona cooperative. Photovoltaic is practical there today (even without incentives) so pilot projects can make a difference by inspiring homeowners to install one.

    If you prefer to invest locally, consider supporting organizations that promote conservation of power through heat pumps, weather-stripping, insulation, energy efficient lighting, and other simple things that will save homeowners money AND conserve power. These things all save money and energy today without government incentives.

    If you want to invest in local generation of clean power, wind and tidal power show great promise in this region.

    I really do wish all the best to everyone involved in this project. But a careful analysis shows it just doesn’t make sense. I don’t think the city should spend any more time or money on it.

  48. Todd I can appricate where your coming from. I helped build that base some 30plus years ago. MY concern is the waste its a big problem and I believe it will come back and bit us sometime maybe no in my or your lifetime but I think the way they get rid of the waste is going sometime fail and be a huge problem.

  49. @Joe Morgan;
    Thank you for clear perspective on the need for a comprehensive view of energy needs, vice throwing illogical chaff.
    I agree with almost all of your points, and have a bit of personal experience to lend to the discussion, by way of a few years of volunteering in this area here in Edmonds.
    – The cheapest power producing alternative is conservation. Homes in Edmonds are extremely wasteful of power. Even with government subsidies of insulation installation, which brings the payback period down to as low as two years, people refuse to take the initiative to insulate their homes. My theory on this is that they don’t like being told what to do, so they show their power in the easiest way possible; doing nothing.
    – tidal power shows great promise, but doesn’t exist. Also, it’s not in Edmonds, is not visible, draws no-one here, and prompts no discussions with our children about the importance of energy in our lives.
    – Wind power is another vital piece of the puzzle for the region. But, here in the Sound, the average wind speed is about 8mph. Turbine cut-in speeds are usually no lower than 15 mph, so wind is a no-go here in Edmonds.
    – You missed geothermal, another potential generator in our region, but, unfortunately, not in Edmonds.

    The only power generating capability we have in Edmonds is solar. So, let’s address the drawbacks you mentioned.
    1. overcast skies. Concur! But, we know that. In the summer months, though, Edmonds can beat southern california for generation, due to our longer days, and usually clearer days. (see “June gloom” in LA). The generation estimates are solid, and account for this
    2. Concur that electricity needs are greatest in the winter. But we don’t have a problem in Edmonds of substations operating near limits, and needing some local generating capacity to keep from having to build more infrastructure. So, this point, while correct, is irrelevant. Another way to look at it, is that hydro is at its greatest risk in late summer, when solar is at its maximum output.
    3. Our cheapest electricity in the nation is due to subsidized hydro power. You may have missed it in earlier discussions, but BPA knows this, and is looking to raise rates to better match other markets, because they can. That would be about a 25-50% rise in rates, though likely applied gradually. When speaking of the time value of money in a project, it’s good to keep the operating environment in mind – our special exemption from paying market rates for power may be coming to an unpleasant end.
    4. Most of this is addressed in #1 above. As for line losses, the power generated will not need to get fed backward as far as a substation, as there are plenty of loads (homes) very close to the site, so losses are minimal.

    I am tempted to comment with comedy on your opening discussion of how the solar co-op is going to pay its members, but I’ll leave this to your imagination, as I think we’ve had a good civil discussion of energy here. I do recommend you do a little more talking with people who have worked in or with a co-op structure about how members receive benefits. The numbers pencil out to break-even, and that is even with the use of quite pessimistic numbers.

    My conclusions are much the same as yours, except that I am committed not only to a balanced energy portfolio (especially conservation, as unromatic as that is), but also to having a meaningfull, visible, energy generation project here in Edmonds. I believe that solar is currently the only technology that allows us to generate power here, in Edmonds. And, I believe that the Community Solar model, (which is backed by state money that has already been allocated, and will be spent somewhere), brings the costs to near-zero, and that’s assuming cheap hydro forever. I also believe that there are benefits to having this visible energy generation project in Edmonds, outside the financials. If you don’t agree, I respect your opinion. Your civil and straightforward discussion points were most appreciated.

  50. Todd:
    Thanks for your kind and civil reply. I have no reason to believe anybody involved this project has anything but the most honorable intentions. I hope my tone reflects that. I have a few comments on your response.

    You make a good point about hydro being weakest in the summer. I can see that solar power in areas served by hydro could eliminate or delay the need to use fossil fuel generated power during that time of year. But solar power in Eastern Washington would do an even better job at this by providing more power in the spring when reservoirs are first being drawn down. Of course solar there has to compete with wind power, and so far wind power is significantly cheaper.

    I certainly agree that our costs for power from the BPA are going to go up, and that will make solar power more practical over time. But I think that power rates in parts of the country not served by hydro will go up at an even faster rate, so my point about where solar is most effective still stands.

    I agree that wind, tidal and geothermal power generation are not practical within Edmonds city limits. I should have used the word “regional” rather than “local” when referring to those technologies. My only excuse is that PCC refers to produce grown in Oregon as “local”. 🙂

    I’ll pass on the recommendation that I talk with co-op members about benefits. The burden is on them to make the case in public that the numbers “pencil out to break-even”. They have been unpersuasive so far. As an aside, I actually like co-ops and the philosophy of “act locally”, which is why I became a member of PCC.

    I also agree that there are significant benefits to this project outside the financials that I discussed. If this project happens, I’ll enjoy watching it, and I’m sure that our schools will organize field trips so our kids will benefit. I do remain skeptical that this project would inspire significant investment in solar by homeowners.

    If this project can find enough contributors to fully fund it, and the cost to the city really is zero, I wouldn’t oppose it. But I think it should be tabled by City Council until then so that they can focus on our serious financial problems.

    Again, all the best to you and Sustainable Edmonds for all the good work you do.

  51. fromTodd’s comment 54, above:
    “- The cheapest power producing alternative is conservation. Homes in Edmonds are extremely wasteful of power. Even with government subsidies of insulation installation, which brings the payback period down to as low as two years, people refuse to take the initiative to insulate their homes. MY THEORY ON THIS IS THAT THEY DON’T LIKE BEING TOLD WHAT TO DO, SO THEY SHOW THEIR POWER IN THE EASIEST WAY POSSIBLE; DOING NOTHING.” (Capitalization is mine).
    Wow. Just wow. And on that note, I am out of here.

  52. I installed 18 solar panels on my house roof last year and can speak to Joe Morgan’s reasons for “not having solar in western Washington. He is not correct on all four counts.:
    1. It is overcast too many days. Germany creates 20% of it’s energy needs with solar power. Our part of the world has nearly identical weather conditions. During overcast days my panels are still producing 60% of top production.
    2. SThere are too few hours of daylight. My electrical meter runs backwards most of the time. I produce 166% of what I use.
    3. We already have cheap electricity. Yes, but it is produced using coal which needs to be replaced as an energy source.
    4. Highest production is during the periods when we don’t use electricity. Maybe so but the excess produced can be sold by the PUD and everyone wins. I am paid 15 cents for every kWH I produce, no matter what I use. I am producing power that Joe Morgan is using. I say to all of you “You are welcome” I am a power producer.

  53. Your comments are all about the technical details of photovoltaic panels, and I agree with almost everything you said. (The sun is below the horizon half the hours of the year, so you’d have to be producing power in the dark for your meter to be running backwards most of the time.)

    I also understand the satisfaction that comes from doing solar on your own home and seeing your electric bill diminish. It sounds like a very satisfying hobby.

    But my argument was about the economics. Let’s say you spent $20,000 on a solar system here in Edmonds. I can spend that same $20,000 in places with a better climate and save more money, and displace more burning of fossil fuels.

    My message is to those who want to save the planet by investing in large scale solar in Edmonds. You can invest that same money elsewhere and do even greater good.

    I’d love to see large scale solar in Eastern Washington where you’re going to generate a lot more kilowatts than here in Edmonds. There’s a lot of land there that’s too hilly for farming or anything else. You don’t need to pay for insurance against damaging the building they’re on because they’re not on a building.

  54. I am sorry I had to leave this conversation after my post to Diane T. I have a business to run in order to feed my family. I would like to apologize for using the term flat-earther. In my defense I did not call Diane that, I stated that if she was, I would like to know. The term is used to describe folks that believe our current belief systems are true and that anything diverging from them is necessarily false. And wishing to take her questions offline was purely for time reasons. It is much easier to connect and get to the heart of a discussion on a human level with real time communication. And I have found from 24 years in business that speaking real time removes many misunderstandings, if both parties are interested in hearing the other. This is essentially e-mail and is really inadequate for discussing matters of importance. And I do believe answering questions about the community solar project is important. Although we got approval on the roof lease and power purchase agreements Tuesday night from the City Council, we still have a long way to go to realize the successful completion of this project, and see any real benefits for those involved. I do not wish to ailienate anyone but need to be judicious with my time. We will be having a members and friends meeting within the next 2 weeks and will be glad to include open minded people with questions.

  55. Mayor Mike Cooper and I signed the agreements today and put to bed this phase of the project. We have a members and friends mtg. set for this Friday 4/15 from 7-10 PM at the PUD building on Aurora. Folks who are interested in the project may attend, but the mtg. is intended to accomplish necessary items with the members so there will be limited time for curiousity questions. Anyone genuinely interested is invited to attend.

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