From the Manager
By Jim Hathaway
Last year we surveyed our membership to determine how much interest there was in a community solar facility. Almost 30% of our members expressed interest.
What is a community solar facility and why would we build one?
Well a community solar facility is a large solar array built by an organization, like Dunn Energy, where the individual solar panels, or the electrical output of the panels, are owned by people, like our members.
There are a number of reasons why we would build a community solar facility and sell the panels. One big reason is that not every member can put solar panels where they live. Some folks rent where they live. Other folks live on heavily wooded lots or on the north side of a hill. The sun has to shine on solar panels for them to produce electricity and trees and hills block the sun.
Then there is the issue of cost. Building a 5 to 10 kW solar array on your property is going to cost $20 to $40,000. Investing in a community solar facility can cost less than $1,500.
Ok so like I said, I was hoping to announce that solar panels for the co-op’s new community solar facility are now for sale. Well the co-op still plans on building a community solar facility, we have just encountered a few delays. The biggest issue is getting county approval to locate our solar facility. We have plenty of land around our office building but the building is served by Xcel Energy so we can’t put it there. We have a couple of sites selected. It’s just a matter of getting zoning approval from the county. We have been working on that and we think that final approval will come next month. So look for our announcement soon.
We are pretty excited about this and we think that our members will be too.
Now even though the panels aren’t for sale yet, some of you may be wondering what the plan is and how much it will cost to buy a panel in our community solar facility. Right now our plan is to build a 100 kilowatt facility. That will cover about half an acre of land. So it’s going to be pretty big. We will be selling around 200 panels. The cost hasn’t been determined yet, but it will probably be between $1,000 and $1,500 a panel. For that, a member will get a credit on their electric bill every month for the next 20 years. The credit will be based on the amount of electricity the solar array generates every month.
Like I said we are pretty excited about this and, hopefully, in a month or so we will have information on what a member needs to do if they want to buy a solar panel.
Co-ops Raise Reliability Concerns at FERC Conference
(ARLINGTON, VA) — Speaking to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on behalf of America’s more than 900 not-for-profit electric cooperatives, Jay Morrison, Vice President of Regulatory Affairs at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), outlined concerns that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Clean Power Plan (CPP) could affect the cost of and reliability of electricity.
In comments submitted for the record (http://bit.ly/1zR5ETn), Morrison reiterated “NRECA believes that the CPP is well outside the EPA’s legal authority under the Clean Air Act, and that the CPP should be withdrawn in its entirety. NRECA maintains that, at its core, EPA’s proposal is illegal and imprudent.”
Responding to FERC’s request for suggestions, Morrison noted, “FERC has a crucial role to play in ensuring that environmental regulation does not impair or impede grid reliability. … NRECA urges the Commission to adopt a Policy Statement through which the Commission will provide guidance and advice to EPA … The proposed CPP represents a considerable challenge to electric rates’ affordability and a conceivably overwhelming impact to reliability for the industry and especially rural electric cooperatives.”
If EPA does not withdraw the proposal, NRECA requests FERC to forward the following modifications to EPA to help mitigate the potential negative impacts to grid operations, reliability and affordability as states and regions develop their compliance plans.
- Eliminate the interim goal reduction requirements
- Adopt a dynamic (as opposed to static) reliability safety valve – one that provides states the ongoing flexibility they will need to ensure affordability and reliability
- Provide flexibility to extend the 2030 compliance deadline (to at least 2035) as required to preserve reliability, and to prevent the stranding of assets or unreasonable rate increases
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.