City of Ames Utility Discussing Possible Solar Power Generation Project

AMES, Iowa- The City of Ames is considering options as a possibility to pursue some type of city-owned solar project.

A meeting was held with the Electric Utility Operations Review and Advisory Board, and the City Council to hear a consultant’s presentation on options for a solar generation project for the City of Ames.

“We've had a large growth in customer-owned solar, that people are putting them on their homes, people putting them on their businesses, and things like that,” said Donald Kom, Director of Electrical Services. “There's a whole group of citizens with the names that maybe don't have a roof, or it is facing the wrong direction, so the other side of that, we would like to do a community solar project."

Consultant Tom Wind of Jefferson presented three options to the council and board regarding ways to do a solar project. One would be entirely owned and run by the city, a second would be public/private ownership, and the third would be done by a private for-profit venture.

“One of the things I really heard from the group in the audience was they'd like to see the city of Ames do a community project and they like to be directly involved in the participation,” said Kom. “That's kind of the direction I think that we're going to be leaning to in the weeks and months to come."

Wind said that as a municipal entity, Ames would not be eligible for the tax breaks offered for solar projects to private developers.

One example used was a solar farm constructed by Cedar Falls utilities. So far there is not enough data to determine if that project will break even over the long run.

As a part of the meeting, it was reported that interest in solar projects is growing in Ames, both for residential users, and commercial buildings.

The City of Ames leaders said they would hold more public meetings as the project processes.