Shiloh FAQ

 


What’s happening at Shiloh?

In the coming months, one of the first Community Solar Gardens in Minneapolis will be built on the roof of Shiloh Temple International Ministries at Broadway and Fremont. The system will be about 202 kilowatts, and will create enough energy to power about 40 households. Congregation members, neighborhood residents, and local businesses will be invited to subscribe for solar power at Shiloh first. Then other residents and congregations will be invited to subscribe. The solar array will be designed and constructed by professional installers who are required to hire local community members for labor through a jobs training program. The system is warrantied to operate for 25 years, providing affordable power to subscribers.


Who is running this project?

The solar garden on Shiloh is being launched by a coalition of local groups. Cooperative Energy Futures, a Minneapolis energy cooperative owned and controlled by community members across the Twin Cities, is developing the solar garden and maintaining it long term – all community members who subscribe join the co-op as members and have a vote and share in the profits from the project. Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light is a Minnesota coalition of faith communities working for climate solutions that is helping engage congregations and people of faith in the project. Shiloh Temple International Ministries and Kwanzaa Community Church are helping engage members of their congregations in these projects. Representatives from the environmental justice programs of Sierra Club Northstar and Neighborhoods Organizing for Change are helping with the community organizing. Renewable Energy Partners, a Northside business training residents for solar installation jobs, is running the training program that will hire Northside residents to work on this project. Our coalition has come together to create CSGs that cut home energy costs, are open to low-income families, create jobs in communities of color, and are managed in a democratic, transparent way.


Why is Shiloh Important?

Most other community gardens being developed are being built on open fields in rural areas by large corporate developers. Many of them only allow large corporations or local governments to subscribe, and those that do allow residential subscribers usually only allow residents with high credit scores to participate. The solar garden at Shiloh Temple will demonstrate a model for community solar gardens that advances economic and environmental justice by locating clean energy in a low-income community of color, creating green jobs for local residents, and making sure that low-income families have access to saving money from community solar. This project will be a role model for more socially just community solar gardens across Minnesota.


Who can subscribe?

To subscribe, you need to:

  • Live in Hennepin County or a neighboring county (Ramsey, Anoka, Dakota, Wright, Carver, Scott, or Sherburne). You do not need to live next to Shiloh, or even in Minneapolis.
  • Pay an electricity bill to Xcel Energy, the utility that is required by state law to provide bill credits. Renters, homeowners, businesses, non-profits, and local government entities like schools or park buildings can all participate if they pay an electric bill.  If your landlord pays the electric bill, you can get them to subscribe for you.

For this project, residents of North Minneapolis and members of Shiloh Temple International Ministries (even if they do not live in North Minneapolis) will have first priority. After an initial period open only to these subscribers, the project will open up to others.


What does subscribing mean? What do you get from subscribing?

You can subscribe for the energy from part of the solar array. A minimum subscription is 200 watts, enough to power 2 100-W incandescent light-bulbs or. The largest subscription you can get is enough solar to provide 120% of your every use – and no one subscriber can have more than 40% of the whole project. The average Minneapolis household needs 3-5 kilo-watts of solar to cover their full energy usage.

Xcel Energy is required to give a bill credit to anyone who subscribes to for the power produced by their portion of the array. You’ll get a credit on your electric bill for whatever amount of solar you subscribe to. The monthly credit will depend on the amount of sunlight – usually production is highest in June and lowest in December. If you subscribe for your full use, you will on average zero out your bill! The amount of credit you will get on your bill per kilowatt-hour produced by your part of the solar array is roughly $0.03/kWh more than the amount you pay per kilowatt-hour:

  • $0.15743/kWh for residential
  • $0.15431/kWh for small businesses (not demand metered)
  • $0.12914/kWh for large businesses (demand metered)

The bill credit you receive will increase to match any increases in electricity costs, so you will be protecting yourself from rising energy costs.


What are the options for subscribing, what do they cost, and what will we save?

There are two options for subscribing:

  1. Subscribe pay-as-you-go: In this option, you sign up for a certain portion of the solar garden and pay monthly for the actual energy produced by that amount of the solar garden. For the Shiloh community solar, the subscription payment offset by your bill credits will start off creating a savings of roughly 5% in year 1, and the savings will increase each year. The average savings on energy costs over the 25 year project life is over 15%, and by the end of the project life, the annual savings will have reached over 40%.
  2. Subscribe upfront: In this scenario you pay one-time for your subscription. The amount you pay upfront will depend on your subscription size, but in general it is amount the cost of 10-12 years of your power consumption – for an average home, around $6,000-$10,000. This cost is roughly ⅓ of what it would cost to install an equivalent solar array on your own home. Once you are subscribed, you will get energy for 25 years without making monthly payments (there is an annual fee of $6/200 W subscription/year. This option is basically like pre-buying 25 years or energy for the price of 10-12 years of energy – and you save much more over the long-run than when subscribing pay-as-you go.

In both cases, subscribing reduces your energy costs, and protects you from Xcel Energy prices that have been rising 4.6% every year for the past decade. The pay-as-you-go model delivers less savings overall but spreads it out so you don’t need to pay anything upfront. The upfront model delivers more savings overall, but requires a large initial investment.


What if I move? What happens to my subscription?

One of the benefits of community solar is that you don’t lose your value if you move. If the location you move to is still eligible (served by Xcel and in Hennepin or a neighboring county), you can take your subscription with you and apply it to your electric bill at the new address. If you leave the area and are no longer eligible, you can transfer your subscription to someone else or the co-op can do it for you.


How is this benefiting the community?

Shiloh community solar will reduce energy costs for about 50 households, keeping more of our energy dollars in the community. In addition, it will hire local residents as solar installers, providing them with on-the-job training to be able to install more solar arrays in the future. The project will also reduce dependency on dirty energy. Dirty energy is the leading cause of asthma and several other health threats and fuels climate change, which causes heat waves and severe storms that damage our communities and health.


How do we know the community is getting the benefit?

Unlike many community solar gardens, this project will be developed, owned, and operated by a democratically controlled member-owned business, Cooperative Energy Futures. Everyone who subscribes will become a member of Cooperative Energy Futures. Members control the organization by voting and running for the Board of Directors and can set the direction for the organization by participating in optional member meetings. It is a democratic organization governed by 1-member, 1-vote. As a cooperative, members also share in the profits the co-op generates – at the end of each year, all profits are either reinvested in other programs to help members save energy, own renewable energy together, and cut energy costs or are distributed directly back to members.

Currently, the energy dollars we pay on our utility bills make money for someone else by paying them to invest in energy sources that are causing problems for our community. Through a cooperative community solar garden, we use our energy dollars create community solutions that make money together.

Interested in subscribing to our first garden? Click Here!

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