Our

Resources

Co-Ops’ Cooperative Spirit Taking The Lead With Solar

By Peter Manos | March 31, 2020

 

Cooperative spirit and unexpected benefits of community solar go hand-in-hand now more than ever

Rural electric cooperatives, as well as several utilities in the municipal and public power district categories, were among the national top ten winners in recent U.S. utility solar rankings.

 

Solar power leadership continues co-ops’ tradition of cooperation

Collaborating is a core value for every co-op, so it should come as no surprise that the leadership of co-ops in the solar power arena continues to involve the same sort of community-based, widespread cooperation present for us from the start.

 

Co-ops’ ten-fold increase in solar in five years

Solar Sunrise,” an article in the February 2020 issue of Tennessee Magazine, refers to the community-based source of the amazing increase in co-op solar, an increase that NRECA consultant Debra Roepke, a solar energy specialist, described as involving a “ten-fold increase in electric co-op solar capacity in the last five years.”

 

The community-based origin of co-op solar is just one of the latest in a long line of great examples of co-ops’ foundational local grass-roots way of getting great things done.  Along these lines, Paul Wessland, the author of the recent Tennessee Magazine “Solar Sunrise” article, has traced the origins of co-op solar and the role of G&T wholesalers such as TVA. He says, “Members of local electric cooperatives started asking their co-ops if solar energy might be worth a try. As more and more solar panels started appearing on the front lawns of electric co-ops across the country, their G&T partners said, ‘We can help you out with those.’”

 

Co-ops and munis among top ten for solar

Rural electric cooperatives, as well as several utilities in the municipal and public power district categories, were among the national top ten winners in recent U.S. utility solar rankings.

 

The Smart Electric Power Association (SEPA) performs the annual rankings and bases them upon actual measurements of the level of utility solar watts-per-customer.

 

Chickasaw EC among leaders nationwide in cost-effective growth for solar power

Achieving its place among the top ten U.S. utilities for solar, at 829 watts per customer in SEPA’s rankings, was Chickasaw Electric Cooperative (CEC). A co-recipient of the award was CEC’s wholesale electricity provider, Tennessee Valley Authority.

 

Utility solar projects at CEC and at most other electric cooperatives have involved collaboration between the co-op and its G&T—the Generation and Transmission entity from which the co-op purchases electricity on a wholesale basis.

 

At its most recent Annual Meeting, Chickasaw Electric Cooperative’s General Manager John Collins highlighted the importance of this recognition the co-op recently received from the Solar Electric Power Association, for its accomplishments in adding solar power to its system.

 

Continuing to grow steadily while also maintaining low electric rates for its members, the Somerville, Tennessee-based co-op was ranked number seven in the entire U.S. This ranking, in fact, was prior the completion of another major solar site in CEC’s service area: The 2.7 MW Community Solar Project, the largest of its kind in Tennessee, was recently completed at the Fayette County Landfill in Somerville.

 

We look forward to our industry continuing to grow in this cooperative spirit.