Customers of Berea Municipal Utilities will soon have the option to invest in a small solar farm. The Berea Solar Farm won't be a moneymaker for investors. A 25-year lease for one panel will cost about $700. The average residential customer uses an average of 600 kilowatt-hours of electricity per month, and a single panel would provide about one-twentieth of that energy.
If electricity prices increase by about five percent each year, like they have in the past, it will take 23 years for investors to recoup their money.
Steve Boyce is the chair of the utility's advisory board. He says the real appeal of the farm is the chance for energy-conscious people to start generating their power from renewable sources.
"They like the idea of being able to be part of a local community effort, to take some real responsibility for generating the energy that we use," he said.
Boyce says becoming a partner in the Berea Solar Farm will end up costing about $3 per watt cheaper than the costs of installing an individual residential system.
"It's pretty expensive at this point to install a rooftop system that would generate some significant portion of the electricity that you would use in a typical home," he said.
Lessees will see a credit on their utility bills for the electricity generated by their panel. Boyce says the utility company is still trying to figure out the best place for the panels, but he expects them to be up and running in the next 10 weeks.