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OKANOGAN - More people are needed to express interest in the Sunny Okanogan Community Solar project or the Okanogan County Public Utility District may have to pull the plug on the project.

PUD staff said at least a few hundred participants are needed to build the project; as of last week, 74 interest forms had been turned in.

The community solar project has been approved for state incentives at 14 cents per kilowatt-hour of production. The incentive program has since closed, so if the project is moved to a later date, incentives will no longer be available, said a PUD announcement.

If there is enough interest from the community, the project could be as large as 74.4 kilowatts, which is about the equivalent of powering seven to nine average homes.

PUD customers, including both residents and businesses, can buy units of the project. The buy-in contribution will include the costs of both constructing the project and maintaining it.

Those who participate will receive an annual check from the state for the incentives, plus a credit on their utility bill for their share of production. Participants could receive a federal tax credit.

Although participants will see a total return on their initial cost in several years, the project can also enable people to participate in clean, renewable solar, but otherwise would not have the opportunity because of the large initial costs, poor solar production on their property or other reasons, said the PUD.

The minimum buy-in has not yet been determined. There may be a program for low-income participants because of grant funding. More details will become available once interest has been determined from the community.

More information is available at www.okanoganpud.org/community-solar or from communitysolar@okpud.org. An interest form is on the page or can be obtained from PUD offices.

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