HomeWorks Tri-County Electric Co-op has installed the first panel in their new Community Solar Garden, located next to their Portland office.

“We already have 25 people signed up for the two informational meetings being held on March 18 (Portland) and 19 (Blanchard) and we have an additional list of members interested in a solar panel,” reports HomeWorks general manager, Mark Kappler.

At the informational meetings, members are offered a light supper, a short presentation, and Q&A with staff from HomeWorks and Cascade Renewable Energy, the Grand Rapids company that is supplying the panels.

Members can sign up for a panel(s) on a 25-year lease, at a cost of $500 each. The panels actually cost $650 each, but $75 Energy Optimization and Touchstone Energy rebates make them affordable. In exchange for leasing a 270-watt panel, members get a monthly bill credit for their share of the project’s average monthly production, at the co-op’s prior-year wholesale rate. Payback is about 18-20 years at current electric costs, and members have access to a website that charts real-time power production from the Solar Garden.

Photo Credit: Nick Rusnell