OurSolar Community Solar
The Our Solar community solar program for residential Members, which makes renewable energy easy and affordable, is here and now fully subscribed! To learn more about the OurSolar subscriber wait list, call 800-445-4840.
The array is fully functionial and the energy output can be seen here.
This OurSolar program provides Members the opportunity to purchase a subscription to clean energy from a the solar array located at the corner of U.S. 224 and Marion T.R. 215, east of Findlay.
Members can subscribe to the energy output of up to 10 panels for an average cost of less than $2 a month per panel. Hancock-Wood will measure the green energy produced by each panel every month and calculate it into the Member’s bill.
Review the OurSolar contract. See an example of what your bill will look like with OurSolar here. See the solar panels output here.
OURSOLAR FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:
Can OurSolar save me money?
OurSolar is not intended as a cost savings initiative but as an alternative to pricey rooftop solar. Cost-effective coal-fired fuel is a large percentage of our generation portfolio but we encourage the use of renewable energy sources as they become more practical and affordable. In time, solar may become more affordable (see How does OurSolar work). We already offer wind, solar, biomass and hydro as part of your power mix, but some Members requested more green energy – OurSolar fills that need. Want to save energy costs in other ways? Visit hwe.coop/save-energy
How does the OurSolar program work?
On a first come, first-served basis, you can subscribe to the energy output of up to 10-3’x6’ panels at an average cost of less than $2 per month, per panel. You sign up for a 5, 10 or 20-year agreement. You can stop subscribing before the contract is up for a fee, but there is no fee if you move or in the event of a Member’s passing. Future costs may rise for traditional energy sources but, for the contract duration, the rate will remain the same – a nice benefit. Hancock-Wood does not profit from OurSolar as an energy distribution co-op. Construction costs were covered through an initiative of Buckeye Power, Inc., our generation company – another great benefit!
How do I track the output, cost and credit of my OurSolar?
Your monthly bill will provide the same information with an addition of an Our Solar charge - for the energy you are puchasing, and an OurSolar credit - for the amount of traditional energy sources you did not use.
Here is the best part - you have the power to choose.
You can choose how or if you wish to participate. If you are not interested – you don’t need to do anything. If you are, you have the opportunity to subscribe to OurSolar. Agreement details are not yet finalized, so there still is time to find out more – and to choose.
What is the subscription cost?
9.44 cents per kWh. That’s about 2.4 cents more than today’s average generation cost. There is no per-panel or fixed fee. Subscribers purchase energy output, not panels.
What is the construction cost?
Approximately $2 per watt for the entire project, before tax subsidies. The 30% tax credit lowers this to $1.40 per watt.
Are you using a single contractor or a diverse group?
Our generation supplier Buckeye Power selected Integrated Solar as general contractor. Subcontracting may be regional to the entire Ohio OurSolar project.
Do these panels track the sun?
Not actively. They are fixed-tilt, arranged to balance energy production and snow shedding.
Is the solar cost fixed for the next 5 years?
Cost is fixed for 5, 10, or 20 years, depending on the contract.
What was the generation rate for the last 5 years?
Approximately 7 cents per kWh.
Are you planning to install more panels after this project?
This will depend on Member interest because Hancock-Wood and the OurSolar project is Member-driven.
If there is enough interest for a phase II, will it cut costs if you add it now?
No. Panels and equipment were purchased together as a single 2.1MW project to achieve the lowest possible price. A phase II would need to be planned and executed separately.
Will this offset use of coal?
Will you track the power produced from each panel?
No. The entire site will be metered at a single point, and subscribers will be allocated their portion of the array’s output (i.e. 10 / 300); however, there are alarms built into each power optimizer. If a pair of panels fails to operate as well as the surrounding panels, maintenance crews will be alerted.
What is the total statewide project MW? What is HWE’s OurSolar project?
2.1MW total statewide; Hancock-Wood’s is 100KW.
What percent is the solar output for HWE in a year?
In 2015, total energy = 364M kWh, so 120k ÷ 364M = 0.03%.
Are you considering storage with solar?
Not at this time.
If you move forward with a phase II, will you have capacity or field space to add more solar panels?
Yes, but there is no requirement that Phase II be located at this same site.
Are you using any subsidizing from the state or government?
Not from the state but a Federal 30% tax credit is included.
Is the goal of this project to provide a lower cost option versus rooftop?
Absolutely. Aside from being lower in cost, not all rooftops can accommodate solar panels. OurSolar provides an off-site option with all the benefits and none of the hassle or maintenance.
Will this lower my bill?
No, OurSolar is not intended as a cost savings initiative but as an alternative to pricey rooftop solar; however, it will allow you to lock in a portion of your purchased power at a fixed rate. It is expected that wholesale rates will exceed the OurSolar rate sometime during the project’s lifetime and at that point you may realize a savings.
Is this similar to the net metering program?
Net Metering is another co-op program that allows members to purchase, install and own their own solar or wind generation. OurSolar is a community solar program, which translates to lower costs and more opportunity for participation than rooftop solar. Hancock-Wood offers both.
At what point will there be a "breakeven" in cost?
That is difficult to project precisely but our average wholesale rate is expected to match the OurSolar rate within 16 years. This depends almost entirely on federal policy. The Clean Power Plan and other EPA rules have supported have the potential to raise wholesale energy costs for everyone, in effect, forcing the break-even with solar to occur sooner.
Is this a fad? Will I save money installing rooftop?
Community Solar is certainly not a fad. In comparison, if you were to factor in property taxes, insurance, maintenance, economy of scale and capital costs of rooftop solar, centralized solar arrays like OurSolar make more economic sense than multiple rooftop arrays.
If you expand the program, will you build in other locations to help with transmission reliability and costs?
Solar alone does not improve transmission reliability. Reduction in transmissions costs were factored in to OurSolar.
What percentage of my bill is generated by this solar project?
For the average residential Member subscribing to 10 panels, about 25%.
How do solar panels convert the sun's rays to generate useable power?
Most kinds of energy generation need some kind of burn, like coal or gas, to create steam, which turns turbine blades to create rotational energy to a rotor – and energy is generated.
Solar panels skip the burn process by allowing particles of light, called photons, to knock electrons off atoms, generating a flow of electricity. Each panel is made up of photovoltaic cells. Each cell is made up of two layers of semiconducting material, usually silicon at the top and a thicker boron layer at the bottom.
Phosphorus is added to the top layer which adds electrons, providng a negative charge. The bottom has fewer electrons, producing a positive charge. That establishes an electric field between the layers. The field pushes electrons out of the layers at a junction where they meet. The released electrons flow from the junction into conducting plates on the sides, which transfer them to wires where the energy can flow like any other source of electricity.
Solar panels can produce even on cloudy and rainy days and prices have become more affordable - allowing the co-op to offer the community solar service. Lack of efficient battery storage remains the barrier to cost effectiveness in comparison to coal. Solar is only 30 percent as cost effective as coal but remains a renewable energy source at the center of much research and development.