Dunn Energy Cooperative
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-op Officials Voice Concerns to EPA Administrator
The Electric Co-op Today(4/17, Cash) reports that leaders of electric cooperatives told EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy that “the agency’s pending carbon dioxide limits on power plants will burden the lowest-income consumers and threaten electricity reliability for all.” Co-op officials said that under the rule, “a large portion of coal-based generation that co-ops rely on would be shut down before their debt is paid off,” requiring them to pay down the debts of prematurely closed plants and for replacement energy.