Clean Energy Collective (CEC), the nation’s leading community-owned solar developer, revealed today that two weeks after announcing the development of the Vernon Electric Community Solar Farm—Wisconsin’s first community-owned solar PV facility — the 305-kW array has been fully reserved.
Reservations for the 1,001-panel array, developed in partnership with Vernon Electric Cooperative (VEC), a member of the Dairlyland Power Cooperative, began at VEC’s Annual Meeting on March 22. Open to any utility member in the VEC service area, the shared array was quickly embraced by residential and commercial ratepayers in western Wisconsin. Once complete, the energy generated by individual panels will be credited directly to each member’s monthly utility bills. A waitlist has been established for those without a confirmed reservation.
VEC CEO Joe McDonald expressed the rural cooperative utility’s satisfaction with how well the project has been received. “Initially, we considered testing the community-owned solar model with a smaller array, but we ultimately determined that a larger facility would deliver better efficiencies and economies of scale, and better demonstrated our support for renewables in Wisconsin,” McDonald said. “Clearly, our members have provided a strong signal they’re interested in locally-made renewable energy.”
Wisconsin Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) also shared her enthusiasm for the program’s success. “We should be encouraging projects like this across the entire state,” she said.
CEC’s community solar solution focuses on long-term solar ownership because it delivers the best value for customers. These facilities are more efficient to build and deliver a significantly faster payback for individual owners than most other renewable energy solutions. It has proven to be particularly attractive for renters, those with shaded properties, and people with modest incomes since purchases in the community-owned array are scalable from a single panel. For utilities, it delivers clean, reliable, long-term, in-network power at reasonable rates; the system is ultimately paid for by participating ratepayers and the clean power produced contributes to a utility’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), all outside the limitations of net-metering.
As a result of the high demand, CEC is in conversations with several other Wisconsin utilities to integrate the community-owned solar solution in the near future. “It’s exciting to see Wisconsin embracing community solar with such enthusiasm,” said CEC President Paul Spencer, “and we are encouraged by the demonstrated interest in advancing solar accessibility across the state.”
The original article was posted on the Clean Energy Collective blog.
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