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Business and the Economy

CU Announces Start of Pre-Enrollment for Solar Program

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City Utilities

Springfield electric customers can now pre-enroll in a voluntary solar power initiative that is pending approval by city officials.

The service is offered to both residential and commercial customers, who can reserve from between one to 200 kilowatts of energy. A six kW subscription would fulfill all of an average customer’s energy needs, according to City Utilities Director of Pricing and Forecasting Ray Ross. Given a 4.04 cents per kW surcharge for subscribers, that’s an extra $45 a month.

The surcharge first needs clearance from the Board of Public Utilities and the Springfield City Council.

The increased fee has drawn the ire of the Missouri Sierra Club, which claims it could prevent those interested in renewable energy to sign up.

Officials say it is passing on the cost to produce solar, estimated at twice that of using coal and 1.5 times that of natural gas. CU says it not making a profit on the program.

While base rates are subject to change, solar rider participants can lock in the solar energy rate for 20 years. A $100 fee would apply to customers who opt out of the program before two years.

The 40-acre solar farm northeast of town was constructed and will be operated by North Carolina-based Strata Solar. It consists of nearly 22,000 panels, making it the largest solar farm in Missouri. Officials held a dedication ceremony earlier this month.

If approved, the program is expected to begin October 1. Information on pre-enrollment in the CU Solar Initiative is available at cityutilities.net or by calling the Energy Services and Renewables office at 417-874-8200.

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