Co-op Solar - We Built it Together!

Benton REA members are participating in the cooperative's first community solar project, called "Co-op Solar", located on Van Giesen Street across from Benton REA's West Richland office.

The original 550 solar units in the 30.96-kilowatt array sold out eight days after enrollment opened August 6, 2018. Solar units may be available if original participants left the program or moved away. Contact Benton REA for availability.

Co-op Solar Logo - A Benton REA Member-Supported Solar Project

Co-op Solar Participating Members

31 Benton REA members enrolled in Co-op Solar. They are now the proud recipients of the solar energy produced in proportion to the number of solar units they purchased. Some members have chosen not to be listed. 

Andrea Aldrich

Harry Bell

David Brown

Vicki Burton

Jillian & John Cadwell

Elain Chapman-Ballou

Paul Dowdy

Douglas & Evangeline Foster

John Hamilton

Kimberly Harmon

Nathan Hodas

Bruce Hugo

Cindy Jacobsen

James Jewell

Lloyd Kellogg

Brenda Kelmel

Gregory Keyes

William Magruder

Ken & Kirsten McCullough

Robert Morris

Jeff Neal

Fred Parton

Donnie Petross

Alan Schemer-Kohrn

Darrell & Sandy Shulins

Ann Tallman

Richard Weis

Co-op Solar Ribbon Cutting

Participants in Benton REA’s first community solar project, along with West Richland Mayor Brent Gerry, Troy Woody of Hot Solar Solutions, President of the Benton REA Board of Trustee Mike Freepons, Benton REA staff and trustees, cut the ribbon commemorating the launch of Co-op Solar on December 7, 2018.

Aerial photo of the co-op solar array
Aerial photo of the co-op solar array

Members Support Co-op Solar Because They:

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

Frequently Asked Questions

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

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.

PowerNET ONLY customers (those without a Benton REA electric account) are not eligible for Co-op Solar. 

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

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. 

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

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. 

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

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.

The 30.12 kW solar project is located 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. 

The project was completed in December 2018 with production scheduled to begin by the end of the year. 

5 p.m. on October 5, 2018, was the deadline to enroll. However, the solar units will be reserved on a first come, first served basis beginning August 6, 2018, and were sold out on August 13. 

Benton REA is still accepting applications, but not payment, and will create a waiting list of members interested in participating should the opportunity arise. 

Co-op Solar SOLD OUT on August 13. Benton REA is accepting applications, but not payments, for Co-op Solar and will keep a waiting list of members interested in participating, should the opportunity arris. 

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

Co-op Solar is Sold Out - Get on the Waiting List

Enrollment began Monday, August 6, 2018, and sold out on August 13, 2018. Although the project is SOLD OUT, Benton REA is still accepting applications, but not payment, for solar units. The cooperative will maintain a waiting list of members interested in participating in the future if the opportunity arises.  

The official Cooperative Solar Participation Agreement can be downloaded by clicking the red button below.

IMPORTANT NOTE: You must save the file to your computer before you are able to complete the form digitally.  Then save the file again before uploading it to this webpage.  The full instructions are below.  

Step #1: Download and Save Agreement

Click the red button below that says "Co-op Solar Participation Agreement". Then, immediately save the file to your computer's desktop or a file folder location of your choice.

Step #2: Complete and Save Form

Open the co-op solar participation agreeement in the file folder where you saved it. Complete the application in Adobe Reader. If you don't have Adobe Reader, you can download it here

Then, save the completed file to your computer. 

Step #3: Upload Completed Form

Upload the completed service application below by attaching it to the form below.

Forms can also be dropped off at any Benton REA office or mailed to: Benton REA, Attn: Engineering, PO Box 1150, Prosser, WA 99350.

  • Max. file size: 128 MB.

Transfering Solar Units

If, during the lifetime of the project a participant moves to another home that is served by Benton REA and receives a monthly electric bill, 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. Benton REA will not refund your Co-op Solar investment if you move out of the area. Any financial transactions between members will not be managed or arranged by Benton REA and are the full responsibility of the member.

To transfer your Co-op Solar units to your new Benton REA electric account, or to another member, you must complete and return to Benton REA the “Co-op Solar Transfer Request” and the new Co-op Solar participant must sign the “Cooperative Solar Participation Agreement”. Both documents can be downloaded on this page.