Greenbank solar energy project remains incomplete

Racks that are supposed to hold solar energy panels stand empty at the Greenbank Farm. The Port of Coupeville is on the hunt for new investors interested in capitalizing on the state-incentive program and funding the additional panels.

The clock is ticking for a solar energy investment project at Greenbank Farm.

The publicly-owned farm has one acre of land devoted to a community solar energy project; however, years after the first panels were installed, half of the racks remain empty and it’s unclear when the remaining panels will be installed.

The community solar energy project is based on a state incentive program. Local investors provide the money to pay for installation of the solar panels and their return comes through a state-funded incentive that lasts until 2020.

The Port of Coupeville, which owns the farm, paid for the infrastructure needed for the installation of the solar panels.

The price tag for the small port district was about $30,000.

Because the panels and the inverters were manufactured in Washington, investors receive $1.08 per kilowatt hour generated by the panels.

Once the incentive program expires in 2020, power would be sold to Puget Sound Energy at around a nickel per kilowatt hour.

Two companies, Island Community Solar and Cascade Community Wind, are operating three of the arrays at the farm. California-based Newport Equity Fund holds a lease on the three remaining racks that are awaiting panels.

Attempts to contact a representative from Newport Equity Fund for this story were unsuccessful.

Port of Coupeville Executive Director Jim Patton said the California-based company had difficulty meeting the state department of revenue requirements for the community solar program. The port hasn’t come up with a group of investors to participate in the project.

The first list of investors the company submitted were from California and the second list of investors contained people living together, thus not considered different investors, Patton said.

Patton said it’s been about six weeks since he’s heard from Newport Equity.

The company currently has a lease for the three arrays at the farm. The Port of Coupeville is a small beneficiary, receiving $200 plus 1 percent of the revenue generated from power production.

Payment for the lease is due by the end of the year.

Patton is hoping something can be worked out to allow another entity to take over the three remaining racks so the panels can be installed.

He pointed out that seven years remain for investors to take advantage of the community solar power incentive.