Two Rural Electric Retail Co-operatives Boost Commitment to Solar Power in the U.S.
More Co-ops Boost Solar Commitment
By Derrill Holly | ECT Staff WriterPublished: March 21st, 2012
Electric cooperatives in two of the nation’s smallest states are turning to solar power to supply more renewable energy to their consumer-members.
Hawaii’s only electric co-op has announced plans to increase its commitment to photovoltaic generation, while Delaware’s lone co-op is preparing to break ground on its first solar project.
“We desire to expand our portfolio of KIUC-owned solar PV resources to lower our dependence on fossil fuels,” said David Bissell, president and CEO of Kauai Island Utility Cooperative.
The Lihue, Hawaii-based co-op is soliciting proposals from landowners for development of eight to ten megawatts of additional solar capacity, and hopes to begin construction by early 2013.
“We have the unique opportunity to invest heavily in renewable projects and lower energy costs on Kauai, reducing our heavy reliance on expensive oil,” said Karissa Jonas, KIUC’s chief financial officer.
The co-op will pursue Rural Utilities Service financing for the project. Coupled with the previously announced 12-megawatt Anahola solar project, member-owned solar facilities could meet about 10 percent of the co-op’s demand for electricity, at a fraction of the costs of fossil fuel generation.
“KIUC is well on our way to reaching our target of 50 percent renewable [energy] by 2023,” said Phil Tacbian, KIUC board chairman.
Meanwhile, Delaware Electric Cooperative
is weeks away from breaking ground on a 20-acre photovoltaic development near Georgetown, Del. The four-megawatt solar park is expected to generate enough power to meet the needs of 500 homes, said Bill Andrew, president and CEO of the Greenwood-based co-op.
Delaware Electric has partnered with SunEdison, a renewable energy developer, to build the $14 million project. It could eventually be expanded to 40 acres, effectively doubling its output as the co-op works to meet a state-mandated goal of producing 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025.
“We are dedicated to providing the highest value to our members while building the park at the lowest possible cost,” said Andrew, adding that it could be producing power by early 2013. “The park will feed power directly to the co-op’s electric distribution system.”