Dunn Energy Cooperative
Later this summer, the Dunn Energy Cooperative will be building a community solar facility. Below are a number of questions, and answers, that you may have about the community solar facility and how you can get involved.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why is Dunn Energy Cooperative building community solar?
Numerous Dunn Energy Cooperative members have expressed a significant interest in renewable energy. The purpose of the solar facility is to provide Dunn Energy Cooperative members with an affordable option to acquire locally-produced renewable energy.
How do I participate in the community solar project?
You must sign a Solar Subscription Agreement and make a one-time payment for a subscription unit(s) in the amount of $890* per unit.
Are there any restrictions or limitations on who may subscribe to Dunn Energy Cooperative’s community solar project?
The subscribing member must have a single- or 3-phase account with Dunn Energy Cooperative. Owners and Renters are eligible.
What size is the solar array and where will it be located?
The Dunn Energy community solar project will be a 100 kilowatt (kW) array located near Menomonie.
Why doesn’t Dunn Energy Cooperative just install solar without payment from members?
Obtaining power from small scale renewable generation sources costs more today than traditional sources. Many of our members have indicated they do not want to pay more for renewable generation. However, some of our members are willing to invest in this technology. This project was identified as a way to meet the needs of members that want some of their electricity generated from a renewable resource without increasing costs for other members.
What is a subscription unit?
A unit is 280-watts of electricity producing capacity. Dunn Energy’s community solar facility will be comprised of 360 280-watt units
How much will each 280-watt subscription unit cost?
The cost is $890* per 280-watt unit based upon on a 100 kW installed system.
Is there a limit on how many units a member can buy?
Yes. During the initial subscription period, we will limit members to three units (840-watts). If we don’t sell out, we will open it back up to members who want to purchase additional units.
Do I pay the full $890* per unit price in advance?
During the subscription period, members who want to subscribe to the Dunn Energy community solar project will be asked to pay a deposit of $300 per unit. The balance will be due within 60 days or before receiving any output of the system. The deposit will be refunded if the project does not proceed as anticipated or if the subscriber requests the deposit refunded within 10 business days of paying such deposit.
If I participate in more than one unit, is there a price reduction for additional units?
No. Since the benefit of each unit purchased is equal in energy production, and to make available the best pricing for every member, there will be no discount for multiple unit purchases.
How can I pay the deposit and final payment?
Cash, personal checks or money orders will be accepted. Credit cards will not be accepted for this payment.
Can I file and collect the federal tax credit for the cost of each production unit in the solar array I purchase?
No. The Cooperative owns the solar array.
By participating, will I own part of the Dunn Energy community solar project?
No, members are purchasing the capacity to produce renewable energy, not the hardware or components of the actual solar array. There are no direct rebates or tax benefits for participating. However, members are seeing the benefits of the tax credit in the upfront costs. All Green Power credits stay with the Cooperative.
Are there additional annual costs to participate in the Dunn Energy Community Solar project for the first 20 years?
No, not directly. For a period of 20 years following the in-service date, no additional fees or charges will be assessed to the member participants. The cost of insurance and maintenance will be paid from a separate account established by the Cooperative.
How is the monthly energy production attributed to a subscribers account calculated?
The total monthly energy production from the solar array shall be allocated to the participants in proportion to their share of participation in the 100 kW array. The resulting amount will be the credits in kilowatt-hours (kWhs) allocated per subscription unit. Each participating member’s account is credited the kWh for each unit they own, in effect lowering the monthly electric bill by the amount of renewable energy produced per unit. For example, let’s assume the array produces 12,000 kWh during the month, and you have purchased 2 subscription units totaling 560 watts of output. Your credit offset on your electric bill for that month would be 67 kWhs (560/100,800 x 12,000). If the electric meter at your residence for that month shows you used 1,000 kWhs, you would be billed for only 933 (1,000-67).
What happens if I purchase 100% of my past years average and my usage drops to less than the output of my purchased subscription units? Do I still get the credit for the number of units I purchased originally?
You will continue to receive credit for the monthly output of your full share of the total array, however, any kWhs in excess of the amount shown as used by the meter at your account location will get rolled over to the next month. However, at the end of the year if there is still excess production over use on your account it will be credited to your account at “avoided cost” which currently averages about .03 cents per kWh.
Will one subscription unit cover my entire electric bill?
Doubtful, as each unit will generate approximately 367 kWh annually. Energy production will vary based on total sunshine and time of year.
Can the subscriber sell his/her subscription units?
Yes. Subscribers may sell their subscription units to the Cooperative at a surrender value to be determined according to the number of years elapsed from the start-up date at the time of repurchase. The unit can also be transferred to another one of your accounts, or sold (or given) to another qualified Dunn Energy Cooperative member.
What if I move?
Subscribers will have 4 options:
- Sell the solar unit back to the Cooperative
- Keep the solar unit with existing home if the new member wants to purchase it.
- Sell (or give) the unit to another qualified member that is already served by the Cooperative.
- Transfer the unit to another one of your accounts.
What is the term of the agreement?
The agreement will continue 20 years from the in-service date, subject to early termination.
What is the life expectancy of the system?
20 years. The modules are warranted for the same duration. Over time, the electric production will decrease approximately 0.7 % per year according to the manufacturer.
Will the panels be upgraded as the technology changes?
This project is a stand-alone project. It will have an up-front investment to install 100 kW of solar panels. Since the cost of the panels will have already been incurred at the time of construction, it is unlikely that future enhancements to solar panel technology will be great enough to economically justify discarding what was already purchased and installed. Hopefully, any future Dunn Energy Cooperative community solar projects will be able to take advantage of the newest technology available at the time of construction.
Where does the electricity go when the system is producing energy?
This system is interconnected with the grid, so its output goes directly onto the Cooperative’s distribution system.
What company will install the solar facility?
Able Energy, River Falls, Wisconsin
Is there another option for supporting renewable energy?
Yes. You can enroll in Dunn Energy Cooperative’s Evergreen Program. For as little as $1.50 per month added to your electric bill, you can support renewable energy by helping offset the additional generation costs.
*cost of the saleable units subject to change between the date the article was submitted and the first day of the subscription period.
Dunn Energy Opens Exhibit at Dunn County Historical Society
For the past year, Dunn Energy Cooperative employees have been working with the Dunn County Historical Society to bring the history of electricity and, especially, rural electrification alive. With help from past and present employees of the cooperative, the historical society was able to stitch together not only the story of the cooperative movement and the REA (Rural Electrification Administration), but also another rich part of Dunn County history.
The exhibit has old lineman tools and an original overhead line display with some of the first poles set by the cooperative; with history repeating itself as cooperative employees “set” the poles in their final resting place. Retired from actual service to teach younger generations why the cooperative movement started in the first place.
“The development of the electrical grid in America was one of the greatest engineering achievements of the 20th century. Thanks to the Rural Electrification Act, the Dunn Energy Cooperative was formed and electricity was brought to rural Dunn County,” said General Manager, Jim Hathaway. “The exhibit helps preserve some of the history of the Cooperative. Today, almost 80 years after being formed, Dunn Energy Cooperative still provides vital electric service at cost to our members.”
What was started by the families in this area 80 years ago is still relevant today. It is important to acknowledge the hard work that it took to get power to the farms of rural Dunn County. Digging holes and setting poles by hand and stringing wire with teams of horses were grueling work. And in the first year, members installed several miles of wire. Today, with all of the advances that have been made in the field, we can still only do that much. What they accomplished was extraordinary.
The overhead lines in the exhibit are complemented with an array of early electric appliances, photos from nearly 80 years ago when Dunn County Electric Cooperative started stringing wire, facts and stories about electrification in Dunn County, and a small activity area for children and adults alike.
The Grand Opening of the exhibit was Tuesday, May 19. The exhibit will be open, however, for the next several years. If the history of the cooperative or Dunn County in general is something that interests you I highly suggest you stop by the Russell J. Rassbach Heritage Museum at 1820 Wakanda St. NE, down in Wakanda Park, Menomonie. Their summer hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday (May – September). While there you can also peruse the many other exhibits on display including the Golden Age of American Auto Design – The Doane Collection, The Kraft State Bank Robbery, and Harry Miller: King of the Race Car Builders.