BONNER COUNTY, Idaho — The first cooperative community solar project in Idaho has been launched by Northern Lights Cooperative electrical utility company Monday.

So, instead of installing their own solar panels on their roof, Community Solar allows many people to share the cost of one large solar array.

Then they will get energy credits on their monthly bill. The project will run for the next 25 years.

Company officials sadi it's a big step forward in figuring out renewable energy sources.

Northern Lights Cooperative officials said the 50 kilowatt system is expected to produce approximately 165 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, per unit. Officials said there are 386 units.

The utility companies power supply currently comes from the Bonneville Power Administration and Lake Creek dam. Officials said the community solar project is a step in examining additional renewable energy sources.

“In response to our members, NLI always is looking for cost effective sources of energy that we can develop and own ourselves, similar to our Lake Creek hydro project,” Northern Lights Board President Steve Elgar said.

Out of the original 386 units, Northern Lights officials said there are 172 units left for members to purchase.

“The NLI Board is committed to this project. Every NLI director is purchasing shares in the community solar project,” Elgar said.

The utility company celebrated the solar project with a ribbon cutting ceremony at their headquarters in Sagle, Idaho.