Xcel Energy’s Ashland solar garden is sprouting up quickly and will soon be feeding energy to customers — and give them a bit of a break on their bills to boot if they subscribe to the company’s community solar program.
The 1-megawatt solar garden has been growing over the past two weeks along Highway 13 on the southern edge of the city.
Contractor OneEnergy Renewables first erected the framework to hold the project’s 3,000 3-foot by 6-foot panels. Those arrived Wednesday morning, and crews intended to finish stacking them two-high along long rows of metal framing stretched out on a 7-acre lot within two days.
Once online, hopefully by the end of the summer, the project will join Xcel’s two other solar gardens harvesting energy from the sun to produce electricity in Eau Claire and the La Crosse area.
The solar energy program represents Xcel’s commitment to renewable energy and provides it with another source of power, said Michael BeBeau, community service manager.
By subscribing to the program, customers can say at least some of their energy comes from a renewable source without having to install their own solar power systems, BeBeau said. They also can skip upkeep and maintenance headaches.
The program is open to residential and business customers. After paying a one-time fee, subscribers receive a credit on their electricity bills based on the solar garden’s energy production.
Subscription amounts run from $320 for 200 watts up to the maximum of 400 kilowatts at $1,600 per kilowatt. Subscribers will not receive a refund if they end the contract early, but if they move out of Xcel’s service area before the end of the 25-year-term contract, they can receive a prorated refund.
Subscriptions also can be donated to a non-profit in case the customer needs to cancel their participation.
For more information call 800-824-1688 or email SolarConnectComm@xcelenergy.com.