Ashland, Oregon, will soon become one of the first cities to offer solar energy shares to its residents. Initially, the city will offer shares of a municipal solar array to be built on top of a state-owned storage building. The first investment package will be worth $500,000, and will be allocated in renewable energy bonds. An additional $300,000 will be made available through tax credits to businesses. Each share will cost around $1,000, and there will be some 375 available in this first phase. Each citizen will be able to buy up to ten, and the revenues produced by the facility can be deducted from their energy bills. Pending city council approval, the solar array can be online by summer, 2007. The initial system will produce 130,000 kilowatt hours/year or 0.75% of city power needs.
Ashland residents proved to be strong supporters of solar energy, buying shares when the city put up solar arrays on other city-owned buildings -- Southern Oregon University and Oregon Shakespeare Festival. But if enough residents don't buy into the new system, City Electric and Telecommunications Director Dick Wanderscheid asked that the city be the default purchaser of the shares.