City of Ellensburg
In partnership with BEF, Ellensburg installed the first “community solar” project in the nation in 2006. The unique financial model designed by the City allows local individuals and businesses to participate directly in a solar-electric project, without having to lift a finger (except to write a check, perhaps).
The striking 57 kW solar-electric system sits just off of Highway 90 in Ellensburg, and piques the interest of nearly every passing driver. It also may represent the future of renewable energy project finance in the United States. The groundbreaking project allows local individuals and businesses to make essential financial contributions to the project. In return, these contributors receive direct credits on their electricity bills for the green power produced by the system. This “virtual net metering” arrangement produces a variety of efficiencies. The scale benefits that result from this financial model significantly reduce the cost of solar electricity. Just as importantly, because the City organizes the financial and technical details of project installation and maintenance, participation does not place an undue burden on the local citizens.