Guest Post: Co-ops Receive $3.6M in Solar Funds

This guest post was obtained from CFC’s Solutions News Bulletin, Vol. 15, No. 40 (Oct. 28, 2013).

Co-ops Receive $3.6 Million in Solar Funds
Last week, the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative awarded $60 million to support solar energy research and development across the country; $3.6 million was awarded to an electric cooperative initiative. The multi-state, 23-MW cooperative solar research effort will seek to identify and address barriers to solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment at electric cooperatives. 

The SunShot funds are being matched by a $1.2-million cost share from NRECA, CFC, Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange, PowerSecure International and 15 participating cooperatives that plan to install solar PV systems between 250 kW and 5 MW. (A full list of participating cooperatives is available in the online version of Solutions News Bulletin.)

As it stands now, a cooperative must start from scratch in deploying solar PV of more than one megawatt. For this project, cooperatives will explore how standardization can help bring down the soft costs of PV installations and reduce uncertainty about the effects of these installations on a system.

CFC will assist the program by developing and deploying scalable financial solutions tailored to the unique not-for-profit structure of electric cooperatives (see “CFC, Federated, NRCO Launch Community Solar Program, Solutions News Bulletin, Sept. 9, 2013). NRECA will analyze the business side of these deployments and develop “PV system packages” consisting of standardized, optimized and scalable technical designs for 250-kW, 500-kW and 1-MW systems.

A report recently released by CFC and the Solar Electric Power Association provides an overview evaluating solar power options within the cooperative business model. “Electric Cooperative Pathways to Solar Engagement” is available for CFC member-owners at www.nrucfc.coop; log into the Member Website and click on the Library tab.

Participating Cooperatives:

  • Anza Electric Cooperative (Calif.)
  • Brunswick Electric Membership Corp. (N.C.)
  • Central Electric Power Cooperative (S.C.)
  • CoServ Electric (Texas)
  • Eau Claire Energy Cooperative (Wis.)
  • Great River Energy (Minn.)
  • Green Power EMC (Ga.)
  • Maquoketa Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (Iowa)
  • Oneida-Madison Electric Cooperative (N.Y.)
  • Owen Electric Cooperative (Ky.)
  • Pedernales Electric Cooperative (Texas)
  • Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (Calif.)
  • Sandhills Utility Services (N.C.)
  • Tri-State Generation & Transmission Assn. (Colo.)
  • Vermont Electric Cooperative (Vt.)

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