Iowa’s Largest Community Solar Project

Iowa Community solar
Cedar Falls Utilities Simple Solar project.

More than 1,200 Cedar Falls Utilities (CFU) customers have invested in a new 1.5 MW dc community solar project near Prairie Lakes Park in Cedar Falls, Iowa, now completed by SunLink Corporation and RER Energy Group. The project utilized SunLink’s GeoPro mounting system and was installed by the company’s PowerCare installation crews. RER Energy Group (RER) and partner company Sunvestment Energy Group (SEG) provided project development, project management and financing for this unique community solar array.

“Community solar projects have been identified as the next largest solar growth market in the U.S., and SunLink is at the forefront of helping to accelerate this movement with flexible mounting solutions and installation services that extend our partners’ ability to take on a larger volume of small commercial and community solar projects like this one in Iowa,” said SunLink CEO Michael Maulick. “RER and SEG made the development of this community solar project simple, from project design to installation and financing, and we commend their ability to advance this project on such a rapid timeline.”

From its inception, the CFU Simple Solar community solar initiative was met with enthusiasm from CFU customers. The solar unit price was decreased from $399 to $270 thanks to economies of scale. Customers who purchased units will receive a monthly credit on their CFU electric bills for 20 years based on the output from the solar panels, and all of the clean energy from the solar project will be used within the community.

“We are proud to help provide a community asset to the people of Cedar Falls that will not only provide savings benefits for the next few decades but also create a cleaner environment for the entire community,” said Jim Kurtz, president of RER Energy Group.

According to Mike Barnes, project manager for RER, “The partnership with SunLink was a main driver in this project’s overall success. Their installation service was excellent.”

Trusted in connection with GWs of PV projects, SunLink’s GeoPro fixed tilt solution solves a wide-range of challenges associated with ground-mount projects, including irregular site boundaries, steep or uneven terrain, last-minute module changes, pile driving refusals and snow loads of up to 50 psf. The system provided the PowerCare team with maximum flexibility during a fast-tracked installation in the height of Iowa’s winter.

“Installing solar in harsh environmental conditions, such as wintertime in Iowa, requires collaborative and adaptive on-site management to uphold the quality and safety standards the PowerCare team is known for. For the CFU install, accurate on-site troubleshooting and rapid engineering responses were critical to mitigate post refusals in frozen soil, for example, illustrating the effectiveness of our team to get the job done right and on time,” added SunLink Senior Manager of Field Services Keith Beisner.

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