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Renewable energy from the sun
Superior Solar is a simple, flexible and convenient way for customers to save money over the long term and support clean energy. Construction is underway and we expect our first community solar garden to be generating power in late 2023. The 470-kilowatt array will be large enough to power about 115 homes. The site at 2828 Hammond Ave., near Heritage Park in Superior, also will feature a pollinator garden.
Superior Solar is a great choice if you want to go solar but don't want to install or maintain a system at your home or business. Program costs are fixed over the 25-year life of the program, which gives you protection against changes in energy costs.
As a part of this clean-energy project you can:
- Choose how much solar energy you want—enough to cover a portion or all of your monthly energy use.
- Lock in rates for your solar energy for 25 years.
- Choose one of three ways to pay. You decide what's best for you.
Check out our Superior Solar Fact Sheet
Community solar garden FAQ
What is a community solar garden?
A community solar garden is a shared solar array where subscribers receive a credit for the amount of solar energy produced by their share of the array. Superior Water, Light & Power's solar garden is divided into 1-kilowatt blocks, allowing customers to choose the portion of their energy they want to come from solar energy. Subscribing to a solar garden is a simple way for customers to participate in solar without the need to install a system on their own home or business.
Does the energy from the solar garden actually power my home or business?
Electricity produced by the community solar garden will feed into the power grid and flow directly to the nearest load. So the electricity actually generated by the solar arrays probably won't go directly to your home or business, but you will receive credit for this energy on your monthly bill. There is no need to change or add equipment at your home or business in order to participate. In addition, all the construction, maintenance and operations are performed by the solar developer and SWL&P. There will be no requirement to pay for ongoing costs of the system.
Who can participate?
Any SWL&P residential or commercial customer in good account standing may participate in the solar garden program.
How much does it cost to participate?
Based on our proposed project estimate, customers can choose from three options: an upfront one-time payment, a fixed monthly subscription fee or a fixed charge per kilowatt-hour. All customers will pay a one-time reservation fee of $122.04/per kW block.
All three options are designed to have an equal value based on the expected 25-year life of the program, although each payment option has a different set of considerations to take into account. In all options, customers have the flexibility to leave the program at any time without penalty.
- Upfront payment: $2,318.78 per block. An upfront payment for the solar garden subscription will decrease future monthly bills for the customer. However, there is an opportunity cost for that initial outlay and many customers cannot afford to prepay for the entire subscription amount. The subscription payment is pre-set, regardless of how much solar energy is ultimately produced.
- Monthly subscription fee: $16.25 a month per block. The monthly payment option includes a pre-set fixed charge on each monthly bill regardless of the amount of solar energy produced and credited to the bill. Therefore, there is greater value during months when more solar energy is produced, than during low energy production months, when less energy is credited to the bill.
Fixed charge per kilowatt-hour:
14.30 cents per kilowatt-hour produced by your block. In the fixed charge per kilowatt-hour option, the customer pays for all of the solar energy produced by their subscription in any given month. This means that the monthly subscription payment will fluctuate, with higher subscription payments during higher production months (such as in the summer), and lower payments during lower production months (such as in the winter).
How will a community solar garden subscription affect my bill?
Solar garden participants will receive a credit on their monthly bill for the energy produced by their subscription of the solar garden. The credit will be applied to both the energy charges and the majority of the fee adjustments on your bill. In addition, customers who choose a monthly subscription fee or fixed charge per kilowatt-hour will be billed for their subscription each month.
How will I benefit from the community solar garden program?
Subscribers will receive credit on their monthly bill for the energy produced by their share of the solar arrays. While participating customers may initially pay more than their current SWL&P bill, the solar garden rates will be fixed for 25 years. This means that participating customers can “hedge” against possible future increases in base energy costs by locking in the solar garden subscription rates for 25 years.
Participating customers may also benefit from achieving their green energy goals and supporting renewable energy in the region by partnering with SWL&P to bring about the first solar garden in Superior, Wisconsin. Customers who require solar renewable energy credits, commonly referred to as SRECs, for their energy goals should note that SWL&P will retire SRECs in the subscriber's name associated with the community solar garden on an annual basis. SRECs represent the renewable energy attributes associated with a solar array.
How do I size my subscription?
When determining the size of your subscription, consider your energy goals, budget, and historical energy usage trends. Each solar garden subscription represents 1 kilowatt (kW) of capacity. Each 1 kW block is estimated to produce an average of 1,500 to 1,800 kilowatt-hours per year. We encourage you to size your subscription to meet your renewable energy goals, but be aware that your total subscription will be capped at 100 percent of your average usage in the previous 12 months.
What happens if I use less energy in a month than my solar garden subscription produces?
Solar gardens typically produce more energy in summer than winter so there might be times when a subscriber has more solar energy than can be used in a given month. In these cases, the extra solar energy credits will be “banked” or carried over into future months. Banked energy credits can be used when less solar energy is produced or when more energy is used by the customer.
What if I move or want to leave the program?
Subscribers who move to another location within SWL&P's service territory may keep their solar garden subscription. Customers who move outside our service territory may gift their subscription to an eligible customer at any time with no penalty.
Customers may leave the program at any time without penalty. Because customers who choose the upfront payment option have made a significant investment, they have the option to sell their subscription to SWL&P based on a predetermined depreciation schedule.
Are there rebates or tax credits available to help lower the cost of participating in the program?
No. SWL&P used federal tax credits, a competitive bidding process, and economies of scale to achieve the lowest possible price for participants.
Do I own the panel?
As a subscriber to the solar garden you do not own any of the equipment at the solar facilities. By participating in the solar garden, you are supporting the advancement of solar energy in Superior, Wisconsin, and receiving the benefits of the solar arrays in the form of an energy credit applied to your monthly bill for 25 years.
How much electricity will a solar garden subscription produce?
The community solar garden is divided into 470 blocks. Each block is equal to 1 kilowatt of capacity. Each 1 kilowatt block may produce between 1,500 to 1,800 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year.
Solar arrays will produce different amounts of energy depending on weather conditions, length of the day, and other factors. Therefore, your subscription will produce less energy in the winter than in the summer. Solar arrays also are expected to degrade over time and will produce less energy as the system ages.
What’s the buzz on Superior Solar’s pollinator garden?
We’ve been busy preparing the site for Superior Solar, our community solar garden near Heritage Park in Superior. With construction on the 470-kilowatt project beginning in June 2023, we’re also removing grass and weeds in anticipation of planting native grasses and flowers for a pollinator garden near the solar panels.
What is a pollinator garden?
A pollinator garden is a space filled with native plants that create habitats for bees, butterflies and other insects where they can live and gather food. Purple coneflower, black-eyed Susans, and butterfly milkweed are among the more than 60 varieties of plants that will be included in the garden.
How does this help our community?
This garden doesn’t just help our pollinator pals, it helps our whole community. The vegetation will provide erosion control and storm-water filtration, which improves soil and water quality. The native plants also provide oxygen and improve air quality.
When will the garden be completed?
Soil preparation will continue during the summer and seeds will be planted in late August and September. It will take three to five years before the garden is fully established.
What can you do to help our pollinators?
- Eliminate the use of pesticides.
- Provide nesting spaces such as a bee house and leave dead branches, stems, and logs.
- Plant native grasses and flowers.
- Leave native flowering plants in ditches and roadsides.