AMES, Iowa -- The City of Ames is hoping for lots of sunshine for the possible launch of a solar farm on the south side of town.
The city is offering Solar Packs that can be purchased as shares, which cost approximately $330 each, that could later result in a $1-2 credit on residents' electric bills. So far, around 60% of the needed funds have been raised, thanks to participation from organizations like Iowa State University and a large retirement center.
"Our project's been going on for about a year now,” said Ames Electric Utility Director Donald Kom. “Unlike most of our generation where we build it and it get socialized across all of our customers, with this particular project we can have customers opt in. In other words, they can participate directly in this solar farm."
The monthly returns to customers would depend on the market value of electricity.
Kom said he will approach the Ames City Council about proceeding with construction once 80% of the funds are raised, and he hopes construction can begin this year.
“Ames is somewhat unique in that we don’t have a landfill here, so we do burn the county’s garbage and make energy out of people's garbage,” said Kom. “We call it refuse-derived fuel. We burn that in the power plant here and produce energy. We also purchase energy off what we call the grid.”
The city also has a stake in a wind farm, which puts power onto Ames' grid.