City of Ames

In response to a local desire for improved access to renewable electricity, the City of Ames set out to develop SunSmart Ames, the City’s first community solar project. Ames selected ForeFront Power to develop and operate the community solar project. SunSmart Ames now represents 2 MW of solar energy dedicated to the City of Ames community.

SunSmart Ames allows any municipal electric customer unable to install solar panels on their own property to purchase shares of the solar energy’s production and get a credit on their electric bill. ForeFront Power utilized local labor throughout the project’s development to help boost the local job market and economy. Despite the challenges of COVID-19, SunSmart Ames was constructed and completed in 2020.

“We had over a dozen different companies submit their proposals and ForeFront quickly came to the top as the company that we wanted to develop our solar farm. Within three months they went from bare ground to having a solar farm up and running” said Don Kom, Director of Electric Services for City of Ames.

The City of Ames plans to incorporate native shrubs and pollinator plants and use sheep grazing for natural vegetation management. This way, the SunSmart ecosystem can better support local agriculture as it advances the City of Ames as a livable city and connected community. Over the next 20 years, the SunSmart community solar program is expected to produce enough electricity to power 440 Ames homes each year, offset 113 million car miles and reduce the city’s CO2 emissions by about 57,000 tons.

“It was great to work with ForeFront Power,” said Kayley Lain Barrios, Energy Services Coordinator for the City of Ames. “They worked with us with a lot of special requests, including planting pollinator species plants and choosing sheep grazing as a vegetation management strategy. ForeFront helped us a lot in making sure that this site and this project really came together the way that our community envisioned.”

In 2021, Environment + Energy Leader awarded SunSmart Ames Top Project of the Year, indicating that the program’s expert judges consider SunSmart Ames an example of excellence in the fields of renewable energy and environmental management. Read more on what the judges had to say in the July 2021 press release.

CustomerCity of AmesSegmentPublic SectorTypeGround MountCapacity2,183 kWYear2020LocationAmes, Iowa


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