What is the Waverly Community Solar Garden?

The Waverly Utilities Solar Garden is a community solar project, or a large collection of solar panels. With customer support, WU will build and maintain the solar panels in the South Industrial Park in Waverly. The project will give citizens an affordable and flexible way to use solar energy. WU customers can invest in individual solar panels and subscribe to a portion of the energy output from the project.

Who can participate?

Waverly Utilities residential or business electric customers can buy solar panels. The solar panels are sold on a first-come, first-serve basis.  Participating customers must receive a Waverly Utilities electric bill to be eligible.

How big will the Waverly Community Solar project be? 

Customer interest will determine the final size, but the project will likely be in the neighborhood of a 500-kW array or roughly 1,680 individual panels.

Why should I choose to buy solar shares versus installing a rooftop system?

While individual rooftop solar installations may make sense for some customers, the Waverly Utilities Solar Garden offers multiple advantages:

  • You choose your investment level. When you purchase a panel in the community solar project, participating customers won’t have the large up-front cost of adding solar panels to your roof.
  • You have no ongoing maintenance costs. WU will maintain the equipment and solar panels. No worry or hassle for you. 
  • No rooftop is required.  There is nothing to install or change at your home or business. Waverly Utilities Community Solar Garden is great for customers whose rooftops are shaded by trees and renters can participate.
  • When you choose solar, you are playing an active role in preserving the environment for future generations. The use of solar energy directly displaces the need for fossil fuels like coal and natural gas.

What is the cost of a Solar Panel?

The current estimated cost of a solar panel is $480 - $515 per panel.  The purchase of one solar panel may be spread over 12 monthly installments on a customer’s utility bill.  Additional panels may be purchased; however, the additional panels must be paid for in full at the time of signing the customer agreements.

Participating customers will receive a monthly credit on their bill for their portion of the electricity generated by the entire solar array. The credit will be paid over a 20-year period. Our estimate is each solar panel potentially could be paid back in 20 years.  However, WU makes no guarantees on this estimate.  If WU’s cost to purchase electricity increases or decreases in the future, the solar bill credit will also change and your payback time could vary.

How is the monthly credit on my utility bill calculated?

The project’s size is expected to be approximately 500 kilowatts. The project may be expanded to a larger system, at lower cost, if there is enough participation.  To allocate among subscribers, the project output will be divided into approximately 1,680 panels (if a 500-kilowatt project is built), each panel representing the output of 302 watts.

The actual electric production generated will be metered in kilowatt hours monthly. This electrical production will then be allocated with each panel receiving an equal proportion of actual garden output, in kilowatt-hours (kWh).

The credit for each billing period is calculated as follows:

Customer credit = Total Mo. Solar Garden Production / Total # of Panels X Customer Panels Owned X Current Avoided Cost Value (in $/kWh)

The Avoided Cost Value will be determined by WU, and is representative of market energy supply costs for the billing period. This value will be determined annually and will change in January of each year.

How do I calculate how many panels to buy to cover my energy needs?

Waverly Utilities estimates each panel will produce between 400 - 440 kWh during its first year of production, with a total of 8000-8800 kWh over 20 years.  WU’s customer service department can help customers determine individual average household or business electric usage and how many panels are needed to offset varying levels of usage.

How many solar panels can I purchase?

Customers may not exceed their highest twelve-month kWh consumption.  An example would be if your highest monthly consumption in one month of the previous twelve months was 1000 kWh, the maximum panels you would be allowed to purchase would be twenty-eight solar panels.

Avg. Yearly kWh production 420kwh/12 months = 35kWh per panel (Avg.)

Highest twelve-month usage 1000kWh/35kWh per panel = 28 panels

What if a storm damages the solar panels? What if it is cloudy?

WU will maintain the solar panels to maximize the amount of solar energy you receive from your portion of the project. In the event of equipment damage or failure, WU will bring the equipment back to working order as quickly as possible, at no additional cost to subscribers. The panels should be able to handle hail storms which are typical for the climate in Iowa. Every major panel manufacturer accounts for hail in their warranties and conducts rigorous testing of their products for a variety of hail scenarios. If it is cloudy, the solar panels will produce a little less than they would on a sunny day. Changes in your amount of monthly solar energy production are normal since the amount of sunlight changes with the seasons.

How big is each solar panel and how many panels will there be? 

Panels vary in size depending upon make and model, but the typical panels range from 275-340 watts. They are approximately 3.25’ x 6.5’. The number of panels depends upon the final size of the project.  We estimate the number of panels could range from 1600 to 1700 panels.

What happens if I move? 

Your solar panels move with you to another residence in WU’s service territory and buyouts are available if you relocate outside our territory.

Should we wait to build the project when solar panels are cheaper? 

No.  Many electric and solar industry experts are predicting solar photovoltaic costs to slightly increase in the next few years.  This is largely due to the fact that after 2019, there is a substantial drop in available federal tax credits.

How is the Federal solar tax credit applied? 

Participants who purchase a solar panel or panels MAY be eligible for a 30% tax credit from the Federal Government.  Customers should consult a licensed tax professional to determine their ability to claim available tax credits.  Additional tax information may be found here for reference purposes:   https://energystar.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/216375477

Disclaimer:  Waverly Utilities is not making any representation, nor can Waverly Utilities staff discuss the applicability, of federal or state tax credits with customers.  Participating customers are solely responsible for researching their tax liabilities and applicability of any potential tax credits pertaining to the Waverly Community Solar Garden.

What is the project timeline? 

Customers may begin to pre-register for panels in March and April 2018. In May 2018, a formal campaign will be launched to begin the formal contracts and sign-up.  At the end of the sign-up period in early June 2018, WU will determine if the project has enough customer support and can be built. At that time, customers will receive notification if the project will proceed.

Construction should be completed sometime in the fourth quarter 2018.