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EDMONDS, WA — The city of Edmonds has moved one step closer to having the first co-op solar project in the state.

In a 6-1 vote March 22, City Council authorized Mayor Mike Cooper to sign off on a contract allowing for the installation of a 75-kilowatt community solar energy system. The system’s location would be atop five flat rooftops of the Frances Anderson Center. 

Lora Petso cast the dissenting vote. 

The citizen’s group, Sustainable Edmonds, designed the project for which they are selling membership shares through Seattle-based Tangerine Power. That company develops community energy projects with local organizations, such as Sustainable Edmonds.

Memberships in the cooperative are being sold as SunSlices, a Tangerine Power trademark term, to individuals and businesses. Shares are being sold for $1,000 through Tangerine Power’s website,

The city would lease the roofs to the co-op and would be the system’s customer, paying a discounted energy rate with rate hikes capped at 3 percent over 20 years.

Chris Herman of Sustainable Edmonds forecasts that the installation will produce up to 75,000 kilowatt hours annually. The installation would provide a significant portion of the center’s electrical use. The solar system could save the city more than $30,000 over the next 20 years.

Following some fine-tuning of the contract, the measure will up for council’s final approval April 5.

Construction is expected to begin in October and be completed by year’s end.

Last October council unanimously endorsed the notion of having city-owned rooftops be put to work as solar electric generation sites.

Stanley Florek is trying to get people to see the light.

His company, Fremont-based Tangerine Power, is looking to spark interest in “crowd-funded clean energy systems” — solar-panel arrays funded by local community members.

Florek is working on Tangerine’s first co-op project, a $40,000 solar-panel setup on the roof of the Frances Anderson Community Center in Edmonds.

To finance the solar system, Tangerine Power is selling interested parties $1,000 chunks of the project — Florek calls them SunSlices.

Once the system is running, the solar power will be paid for, and used by, the community center, replacing around $4,000 of traditional electricity purchases annually. Florek said the initial investment should be returned within 10 years, at a rate of about $100 a year per SunSlice.

Chris Herman, chairman of the group Sustainable Edmonds, initiated the partnership with Tangerine after looking into greener alternatives for city energy use. Sustainable Edmonds hopes to have all the necessary permits and agreements finalized by mid-February, he said.

The solar panels should last at least 30 years, Florek said. After the initial 10-year deal expires, investors could reach a new agreement with the city.

Florek and his team at 2-year-old Tangerine — CFO Andrew Boyd and Chief Customer Officer Marc Pollard — hope to facilitate more such deals.

Edmonds resident Carlo Voli was the first person to buy a SunSlice. Voli said that his interest in green power began with a few solar panels on his own roof to offset his energy usage. When he heard about Herman’s plans, he decided to invest in the co-op model, rather than adding more to his own system.

“The idea of combining renewable solar power with a cooperative model like this was extremely attractive,” he said.

PCC Natural Markets also pledged money for a SunSlice in the Edmonds project.

Although Tangerine won’t begin actively marketing the project until all of the arrangements with Edmonds are finalized, the Frances Anderson project has already raised $14,000 solely through word-of-mouth.

Voli said the chance to jump-start the effort was inspiring.

“I think it’s just a wonderful example that can be replicated by a lot of other cities and communities and organizations around the state,” he said.

A Colorado Cooperative for Community Solar

August 5th, 2011

CRES OfficeHabitat for Humanity Building, 
3245 Eliot Street, Denver, Colorado

Learn about the latest developments in community solar in Colorado – newly built projects and a new cooperative to help local communities go solar.  Explore easy ways for your citizens’ group or solar company to get involved in Colorado’s growing community solar movement.

1:00 Becky English, Moderator - Rebecca English and Associates, CRES, Sierra Club

            - Greetings and introductions

1:10 RJ Harrington - Colorado Solar Energy Industry Association (Denver, CO)

– Update on XCEL / PUC Solar Gardens Program

1:20 Stanley Florek - Tangerine Power (Seattle Washington)

– Starting a Cooperative for Community Solar

1:50 Lauren Martindale, Clean Energy Collective (Carbondale, CO)

– Customer Owned Solar Gardens Toolkit

2:20 Break

2:30 John Covert - Colorado Harvesting Energy Network (Denver, CO)

– Distrubuted Generation for Agricultural Producers

3:00 Joseph McCabe, SRA International / Governor’s Energy Office (Lakewood, CO)

– The Renewable Energy Development Team

3:30 Joy Hughes, Solar Gardens Institute (Moffat, CO)

Open Source Tools for Solar Gardeners + the “Open Garden” RFP

Solar panels considered for museum, City Hall

MATT BATCHELDOR; Staff writer 

OLYMPIA – Olympia’s new City Hall and under-construction Hands On Children’s Museum may get energy-saving solar panels.

The city is considering a proposal from Tangerine Power of Seattle to install the panels on the buildings at no cost to the city. The city would lease rooftop space to Tangerine for nine years for $1 per year, said Assistant City Manager Jay Burney. In turn, Tangerine would be responsible for installing and maintaining the systems, and get paid in state incentives.

“There’s no cost to the city,” Burney said. He expects to bring the topic to the Olympia City Council, which would make the final decision, in early September.

The city would pocket the savings on electricity bills, estimated at $12,000 to $18,000 per year for City Hall and $5,000 to $7,000 per year for the children’s museum. Tangerine, and its investors, would be paid by the state based on how much power the project generates, up to $1.08 per kilowatt hour. The state would get its money from Puget Sound Energy, which saves utility tax money on electricity it doesn’t have to generate.

At the end of the nine-year lease, the city could either sign a new lease or buy the panels from Tangerine at their depreciated cost. If Tangerine were to dissolve or default, ownership of the panels would go to the city, Burney said.

He said the city considered putting solar panels on the new City Hall but didn’t because of the expense.

Depending on how many panels are installed, the project could cost into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. But with Tangerine bearing the expense, Burney called the project “kind of a no-brainer.”

The solar panels would be among the first community solar projects in the state, enabled by legislation passed in 2005 and amended in 2009 and 2010.

There are 16 completed community solar projects statewide, said Phil Lou, solar-energy specialist at the Washington State University Extension Energy Program. Among them is Olympia’s first such project, at the Olympia Farmers Market. There, a dozen market vendors and customers are investing in the panels, which were installed this year.

The biggest incentives for solar developers come from those installed on public buildings and using panels manufactured in the state, said Stanley Florek, CEO of Tangerine Power. His company, which started three years ago, is proposing to do just that, with panels manufactured in Snohomish County. He expects local people to invest in the project, which will pay them yearly. Investors could range from a few to hundreds, he said.

He said he couldn’t say exactly how much the rate of return is for regulatory reasons, but that it would exceed returns on CDs or corporate bonds.

Florek said his company decided to approach Olympia after being approached by local construction company Berschauer Phillips.

“My passion is about creating more local energy, and I think one of the best ways to do that is … for folks from the Thurston County community to be able to own some of these energy systems as they go up in the next few years,” he said.