An electric cooperative in Minnesota is investing in a community solar initiative, hoping its members will benefit from it for years to come.
In December, Lake Region Electric Cooperative launched the program giving its members the chance to buy part of the solar output from the HQ Prairie solar project built at the co-op’s headquarters.
“We followed and liked what Wright-Hennepin Electric and what some electric co-ops in Colorado were doing with their community solar initiatives, but we wanted to do it differently by developing and building our own project,” said Dan Husted, vice president of marketing and communications for Lake Region Electric Cooperative.
The Pelican Rapids-based co-op insisted the project stay local. LREC’s plan involved a voluntary, market-based approach in offering solar electricity to its members. The intent was to keep as much of the financial benefit from developing and building the project in the community, and as a result provide a rate benefit to its members.
“Our board of directors was very supportive of us building our first solar array, and the fact that our employees built the array speaks volumes about our ability to adapt to a rapidly changing utility landscape,” said Tim Thompson, LREC CEO.
The Minnesota-made panels are available at two prices. For $1,500 a member can buy a full panel that will produce an average of 588 kilowatt-hours per year for the life of the project. A half panel will produce an average of 294 kwh per year and cost $750. A member has the option to purchase up to 10 panels, or the panel equivalent of their annual average usage, whichever is lowest. So far the co-op has sold 47 of the available 96 panels.
“It’s a great way for a member to pre-purchase a certain amount of their future electrical needs and lock in a price from a renewable energy source,” Husted said.
Sourced: Electric Co-op Today – By Marcia Gaysue | ECT Staf Writer
More Details on Program visit the LREC – Solar Section