Representatives of NRTC and SoCore participated in Dairyland Power Cooperative’s and Richland Electric Cooperative’s May 23 groundbreaking event near Hillsboro, Wis., celebrating the start of construction of a unique two-system solar project. This project marked their first collaboration between NRTC and SoCore on a utility-scale electric cooperative request for proposal (RFP).
The project represents a unique collaboration among Dairyland, its members (including Richland), SoCore and NRTC. Dairyland is building a state-of-the-art system that achieves pricing economies of scale due to its size. Dairyland members have the opportunity to build adjacent community solar systems that piggyback on Dairyland’s volume pricing. Richland’s consumer members will be able to purchase residential-sized solar at prices that are similar to Dairyland’s large volume commitments.
One system is a community solar project being constructed for members of Richland Electric Cooperative. The cooperative announced its “Transition Energy” program at its annual meeting last month. The program provides an opportunity for interested members to purchase the energy output of solar panels and have it applied to the energy usage at their home, farm or business.
“This solar project is another example of how member-driven cooperatives work together to accomplish great things,” said Shannon Clark, Richland Electric CEO/General Manager. “Members had a need they wanted met and expected us to deliver a product that was safe affordable, reliable and sustainable. By working with fellow cooperatives and their partners we were able to meet those needs and more.”
Another system is the first of 11 major solar projects announced by Dairyland Power Cooperative in February as part of a power purchase agreement with SoCore to purchase 13 MW of renewable energy from multiple new utility-scale photovoltaic solar facilities in Wisconsin.
“Dairyland is a cooperative dedicated to providing safe, reliable and sustainable energy for our members. As Dairyland celebrates our 75th anniversary this year, we are excited to break ground on the first of many solar projects in our members’ service areas. Together, these projects far surpass current solar resources in the state,” said Barbara Nick, President and CEO.
SoCore will install, own, operate and maintain the 11 solar facilities, each 1-2.5 MW. These sites are expected to be operational over the course of the second half of 2016. This portfolio alone will represent almost a doubling of the amount of solar installed in Wisconsin in 2015, which was already a 17% increase from 2014.
“SoCore is proud to be a part of Wisconsin’s biggest solar rollout ever,” commented Rob Scheuermann, President of SoCore Energy in February. “This is an exciting opportunity for all of us, and we thank Dairyland and NRTC for collaborating with SoCore to make it happen.”
NRTC worked with electric distribution cooperatives in Wisconsin, who are all NRTC members, to become part of the SoCore proposal. The 11 sites will be distributed across 10 cooperative service territories, bringing economic benefits directly to their local communities. One site will be at Richland, co-located with their community solar project.
“We’re thrilled that Dairyland selected SoCore’s proposal to fulfill a significant part of its renewable energy plan,” said Tim Bryan, NRTC’s CEO. “SoCore has great experience and skill in developing utility-scale systems that are increasingly relevant to cooperatives. This is just the beginning of what our organizations, working together, can do to benefit both distribution and G&T members in the areas of solar energy, energy storage and demand response.”
The collaboration with the members enables them to launch community solar or augment existing community solar offerings, further increasing the deployment of clean, renewable energy throughout Wisconsin. The agreements include options for members to acquire all or a portion of the solar facilities in their service areas.
NRTC and SoCore have worked together on several other renewable energy and solar proposals for electric cooperatives since the two organizations began working together last June. The organizations look forward to announcing other successes in the coming months.