Community Solar Garden

SolarSolutions

A community “solar garden” makes a solar energy option possible and affordable. It’s good for the environment, good for the community, and good for business.

Interest in renewable energy has grown beyond just environmentally-conscious companies and individuals. In fact, Muscatine citizens and businesses have specifically inquired about alternative energy sources.

MP&W has been researching community solar options for Muscatine and has developed an initial concept!

We call it MP&W Solar Solutions.

Our team is currently gauging consumer interest in this concept to determine how to proceed. Along with our South Fork Wind Project, community solar will help provide MP&W a diversified mix of energy sources. By sharing the power of the sun, a community solar garden takes advantage of economies of scale over an individual, private system. And it’s easy… MP&W takes care of the installation, the interconnection with the electric grid, and all ongoing maintenance.

MP&W Solar Solutions allows both residential and commercial/industrial customers to participate in a renewable solar option without the expense of their own rooftop or on-site system, and without the maintenance or aesthetic concerns.

MP&W Solar Solutions Shares

When you buy MP&W Solar Solutions shares, you choose your investment level. You make one simple investment up front, and enjoy lower energy bills going forward. You can add shares at any time, when it's convenient for you.

Why Community Solar is the Answer

In exploring solar energy options, MP&W like many electric utilities, has found that a “community solar garden” — a large-scale photo-voltaic array – is the best way for customers and businesses to add a solar power option. There are many benefits of a community solar garden:

  1. Everybody can participate! It doesn't matter if you own or rent, if your property has good sun exposure or not. If you want to help support renewable energy in Muscatine, you can.
  2. It's simple! All you need to do is determine what participation level is right for you. No contractors, no installation hassles, no leaky roof.
  3. It's low cost! By constructing a solar garden at a community-wide scale, we can take advantage of significant economies of scale. Plus, since you can participate at any level, you aren't facing a $10,000 invoice like you would for a roof-top system.
  4. Community Pride. By working together to bring solar to Muscatine, residents can take pride in a community driven project.
  5. MP&W covers the ongoing maintenance. Once you're in, there are zero ongoing costs to support your share(s) of the community solar garden.
  6. You save going forward! You simply pay the share price as a one-time, upfront fee, and then sit back and watch the monthly credits roll in for the next 20 years!
Solar Solutions Update, May 2018

We appreciate your interest in the Solar Solutions project and want to provide you an update. Since kicking off Solar Solutions, we've had a small number of customers express an interest in about 100 kW of the project. Unfortunately, this is far less than what is needed to support a viable cost-effective project. To get the benefit of significant economies of scale, we targeted a minimum project size of 500kW and to date we only have interest in about 20% of the targeted minimum project size.

While we are disappointed that the project is not moving forward at this time, the MP&W Solar Solutions concept could become a community option if the effort gains enough support. Therefore, if you want to see a local community solar project become a reality in Muscatine, please talk with your friends, neighbors, and employer and have them sign-up. We seek to have enough interest to support about 80% of the target minimum project size to make it viable. If interest levels begin to reach these levels, MP&W may reactivate the project.

The cost of Solar Solutions shares is dependent on this project qualifying for federal tax incentives, referred to as the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The ITC for utility solar facilities begins to phase out for projects commencing construction after December 31, 2019. After that time, the effective cost of a solar project will likely increase, thus increasing the price of the individual Solar Solutions shares. If you would like to see this project move forward, the time to rally support is now!

You might ask why MP&W doesn't just add solar power to its local generation portfolio. We looked at that option, too. MP&W evaluated numerous proposals from solar developers and various options (size and location). Staff compared the cost of building a solar project ourselves and different options involving developers and power purchase agreements. These options were compared to the current and projected cost of power generated from our current assets - the local power plant with 293.5 MW capacity and the 13 MW wind project added in December 2016. Our current generation portfolio can generate much more power than our community needs on a given day. Currently, it does not make economic sense to move forward with adding solar to our local generation portfolio.

Utility Loan Program

Interest-free financing is available exclusively to MP&W customers for eligible home and building improvement projects which improve energy efficiency, reliable distribution of services, and community beautification.

Additional Information

Carbon Calculators

Carbon calculators illustrate how personal choices in electricity consumption, transportation, travel, diet, waste reduction and recycling impact carbon emissions. Three carbon calculators to try: