City of Ashland - Solar Pioneer 2/Community Solar
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The inspiration for Solar Pioneer II is to allow citizens and businesses of Ashland, Oregon to bring renewable energy to the community in a way that is both affordable and doesn't require home installation.
Solar Pioneer I was launched in 2000 and included the installing of a combined 30-kilowatts photovoltaic (PV) systems onto the Oregon Shakespeare Festival Administrative Building, Southern Oregon University and the City of Ashland Civic Center. This first project was designed to familiarize and educate the Ashland community about this technology.
Solar Pioneer II built on the earlier program giving citizens an opportunity to purchase locally-generated renewable energy via a community-funded model. The City of Ashland has installed a 63.5-kilowatt community solar photovoltaic system on the City service center, a facility with excellent solar exposure.
The system consists of 363 solar electric panels. Residents and businesses "adopted" one or more solar panels through the community-funded model; in turn lowering their electric bill. Ashland utility customers who participate in the program purchase the output of panels for the remaining 17 years of the project. Each year the City will credit the electric bill of participants for the amount of renewable electricity their panels have generated. The City will be responsible for the maintenance of the system.
To further extend the educational value of this unique project, the City of Ashland worked with Solar 4R Schools™ to make the live system performance data accessible to the community. This step transformed the system into an interactive educational resource for classrooms throughout Southern Oregon. Students and educators reviewed and analyzed the system's performance data online to study the science and benefits of solar power generation.