Town of Winthrop Community Solar Project
Construction began on Wednesday, June 15th, when Doug Haase Excavating made
trenches for the electric conduit, which Norwil Electric installed the next day.
During the week of June 20th Cascade Concrete set ecology block footings, and
Bart & Co Construction installed 5 support structures. The solar equipment, 120 solar modules and 5 inverter systems,
manufactured by Silicon Energy in Marysville, WA, was installed by Norwil Electric. On June 30th, 2011, the system was announced as fully operational by project designer and manager Ellen Lamiman of Energy Solutions.
This is the second community solar project to be built in Winthrop WA by members of
the Okanogan County Electric Cooperative (OCEC). In less than a year after the first
project began generating power at the OCEC headquarters, members of the co-op
built this community solar project on land owned by the Town of Winthrop.
Project administration by the Partnership for a Sustainable Methow (PSM) allowed any
OCEC members who have participated in PSM activities to invest in this community solar project in amounts from $500 to
In just 6 weeks 49 co-op members invested a total of $220,000 in the 22,800
watt solar electric system. Getting the final electrical inspection on June 30th allowed
the investors 9 full years of participation in the Washington State
Renewable Energy Cost Recovery program.
Based on the kilowatt-hours (kWh) the community solar systems produce, Lamiman
estimates that the investors will get all of their investment in solar energy back, plus
about 24 to 30% more, by the end of the incentive program in 2020. This remarkable return comes from the efficiency of the Silicon Energy solar modules and the abundant sunshine enjoyed most of the year in the Methow Valley. (Chart showing the return on investment)
During the incentive program Investors are annually paid $1.08 per kWh for their
share of the energy generated. The cost recovery program funds come from part of the retail
excise tax the OCEC would normally pay to the State General Fund, but is allowed
instead to spend locally to boost the economy and build renewable energy systems
by paying for the kWh produced.
The Town of Winthrop will be paid by the OCEC for the wholesale value of the kWh
generated, and in 2020 the Town will become the owner of the solar system located
in the field next to the Town’s wastewater treatment lagoons.
OCEC members were the first to install a community solar system under the rules of
the WA incentive program. To veiw a realtime readout of the energy production from the Winthrop CSP go to http://home.solarlog-web.net/102.html .