Solar project pays off for Clark Public Utilities investors – The Columbian

For Peter Greenfield, investing money in Clark Public Utilities’ community solar project was a “no-brainer.”

More than four years ago, the Vancouver resident spotted an item in his utility bill seeking investors for a solar project. Customers would receive state incentive checks and credits on their electricity bills.

Greenfield said his eagerness was partially based on the forecasted 60 percent return on investment after five years.

“Even though the estimates were a little optimistic and the state rebates were not quite as high, they are still very, very high,” he said. “If that were not enough, we also received payment for the electricity that our share generates.”

For every $100 put into the project, investors have received incentive checks for nearly $30, plus energy credits worth about $2.

The good news for the approximately 700 utility customers who invested is they all will recoup their investments when they receive state incentive checks this summer. The bad news is the state program will provide one final check in 2020 before it goes away. The utility’s less valuable energy credit is expected to continue for another 20 years.

$10,000 maximum

The $1.4 million solar project was financed solely by community investors who, on average, invested $2,000.

Greenfield is one of about three dozen utility customers who invested the maximum, $10,000, by purchasing 100 units, each costing $100. The utility also had customers who purchased the minimum, a single $100 unit, including those who made $8.33 monthly payments spread over the year.

The solar project was built in 2015 on the northwest corner of Padden Parkway and state Highway 503, at Clark Public Utilities’ operations center, 8600 N.E. 117th Ave., Vancouver. The location was chosen for its solar exposure, community visibility and proximity to electrical infrastructure.


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