This project is very interesting as it takes advantage of recent IRS policy allowing each customer to claim a 30% federal tax credit. This eliminates the transaction costs associated with tax equity financing. Unfortunately, this model will only be available until the end of 2016.
The project is also unusual in that it uses meter aggregation rather than virtual net metering. Each customer has a separately metered physical array on site.
The 1 acre Bearskin Solar Center in Scott is also the first of many planned community solar centers in Arkansas, said Bill Ball, CEO of Stellar Sun, an Arkansas renewable energy services company and one of the project’s organizers. He said two others are currently in the works, but could not yet provide details.
Initial setup fees for consumers buying into the Bearskin center can be $3.25 to $3.65 per watt for residential properties, he explained. A 30 percent Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit is typically available for homeowners with a solar array located on their properties, but Ball said the Internal Revenue Service has issued specific rulings allowing customers that have purchased community solar arrays to also claim the credit. He said this is explained to customers seeking to buy into the Bearskin project.