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Co-op Solar - Let's Build it Together

This summer, Benton REA members can participate in the cooperative's first community solar project, called "Co-op Solar", to be built on Van Giesen Street across from Benton REA's West Richland office.

Enrollment begins Monday, August 6, 2018, for 550 solar units in a 30.12 kilowatt array.

Co-op Solar Logo and photo of woman standing next to a solar farm

The solar array will be built only if the project is 100% enrolled by October 5, 2018. Solar units will be reserved on a first come, first served basis.

Co-op members may reserve up to 55 blocks at $200 each and will receive both a monthly credit on their bill for the solar energy produced and an annual Washington state incentive for the first 8 years or 50% of their investment costs.

What's Your Reason for Enrolling?

Protect the Environment - 85% of our electricity comes from renewable resources. Adding solar to your mix only helps our planet.

Look out for Future Generations - Your kids and grandkids depend on you and your choices. Be there for them today and tomorrow.

No-Stress Solar Opportunity - Let Benton REA take care of the construction and maintenance while you soak up the sun. 

Invest in Tech - Solar technology is ever improving. Take advantage of the current efficiency at a low cost.

Everyone Can Enroll - Renters, homeowners and businesses can benefit because the solar panels are on Benton REA's land. Members must receive a monthly bill to participate.

More Powerful Together - Local electricity powering your community. As co-op members, it only makes sense. Let's Build it together! 

The Numbers and Payback

1 Solar Unit  = 

  • 54.8 Watts
  • 79.5 kWh estimated annual production

You pay:  $200 per unit, one-time, non-refundable payment by check or credit/debit card

You receive:

  • A per kWh credit from Benton REA on your unit(s)'s monthly production. In 2018, that will be $0.078/kWh
  • $0.16/kWh credit from Washington state your unit(s)'s monthly production up to 8 years or 50% of your investment
Chart showing payback for solar panels occurs before 15 years

Learn More at an Upcoming Co-op Solar Class

Join your neighbors at one of three upcoming Co-op Solar classes hosted by Benton REA:

Co-op Solar In-Person Class

Tuesday, July 31 from 6-7 p.m.

Benton REA West Richland Office (6095 W. Van Giesen St.)

Limited to 50 people, Register by calling 509-786-8265

Co-op Solar Online Webinars

Wednesday, August 1

Choose either Noon-1 p.m. or 6-7 p.m.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Co-op Solar? And how is it different than Benton REA's Renewable Energy Inventive Program?

Benton REA’s Co-op Solar is a community solar project where members of the cooperative work together to bring solar energy to their community.  Members who enroll in Co-op Solar will receive credit on their monthly bill for the electricity produced by the solar units. Benton REA will own and maintain the solar panels and sell the electricity generated back to the members based on the number of solar units they’ve each reserved.

Our Renewable Energy Incentive Program is administered through Benton REA and the state of Washington. It is different from Co-op Solar in that the solar panels in our residential program are owned by the member and placed on the member’s property.  The member pays for the full cost of the solar system and reaps 100% of its electricity. 

Co-op Solar is a shared project among many members who benefit from the energy production without the construction and maintenance costs. 

Benton REA members may not simultaneously participate in both Co-op Solar and the Washington state Renewable Energy Incentive Program

Who can participate in Co-op Solar?

Renters, homeowners and businesses can participate.  Almost every member of Benton REA can enroll in Co-op Solar with the exception of those who have seasonal accounts (who do not receive a monthly bill) and those who already participate in the Washington state Residential Energy Incentive Program. According to Washington state law, members may not participate in both solar programs simultaneously.

How much does it cost?

Each solar unit can be reserved for a one-time cost of $200. 

When will I get a return on my investment?

Once the solar array is constructed and is producing energy, you’ll immediately benefit by receiving your portion of the electricity generated from renewable, carbon-free energy.  It is estimated that in less than 15 years you will receive your full investment back in the form of credits on your monthly Benton REA electricity bill. After this time, any electricity produced from your solar units will continue to be credited to your Benton REA electric account at your profit. 

How many solar units can I reserve for myself?

Each Benton REA membership may reserve up to 55 solar units. 

Do I own the solar units that I purchase?

No. By enrolling in Co-op Solar, and reserving your solar units, you are purchasing the electrical generation those units produce, not the actual solar panels. The solar panels and all equipment at the solar project will be owned and maintained by Benton REA. 

How much electricity will 1 solar unit produce?

Each solar unit is estimated to produce 79.5 kWh per year.

What if I move?

If you move to another home that is served by Benton REA, your Co-op Solar units will transfer to your new Benton REA account. If you move to an area served by another electric utility, you can choose to transfer your solar units to a current Benton REA member or back to the cooperative. Benton REA will not refund your Co-op Solar investment if you move out of the area.

Where will the Co-op Solar project be located?

The 30.12 kW solar project will be built at 6102 W. Van Giesen Street in West Richland. This is on Benton REA’s property directly across from the Benton REA West Richland office.

When will the Co-op Solar project be built?

The solar project will only be built if all 550 solar units are reserved and paid for by members by October 5, 2018. When the project is 100% reserved, construction may take 6-9 months to complete before electricity is being produced. 

What's the deadline to enroll in Co-op Solar?

5 p.m. on October 5, 2018, is the deadline to enroll. But, waiting until this date does not guarantee your subscription. The solar units will be reserved on a first come, first served basis beginning August 6, 2018.

How do I sign-up?

Members must submit to Benton REA a completed “Cooperative Solar Program Participation Agreement” and full payment to enroll in Co-op Solar. Once these are received, your Agreement will be time-stamped to ensure members’ subscriptions are accounted for in the order they were received.

Agreements can be picked up at either Benton REA office or downloaded on this webpage on August 6, 2018.