Published on March 26th, 2014 | by Glenn Meyers0
Solar Farm Will Feed Four Midwestern Utility Cooperatives
Dragonfly Solar and SolarWorld Will Develop 517-kW Solar Farm of Renewable Energy
Expanding on a valuable renewable energy network distributing sustainable energy to utility cooperatives, SolarWorld and Dragonfly Solar have announced the two companies will partner to deliver a 517-kilowatt solar array to four electric utility cooperatives in the U.S. Midwest.
Dragonfly Solar is a commercial solar developer based in Lakeville, Minn. and SolarWorld is the largest U.S. solar panel manufacturer. The companies report this project is the nation’s first and largest to be developed under a model of joint ownership among utility cooperatives.
To renewable energy champions, this arrangement provides a model for how cooperatives can optimize investments in clean energy.
The solar array will be owned and managed by Minnesota-Three, an entity jointly owned by Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services of Albert Lea, Minn., People’s Energy Cooperative of Oronoco, Minn., and Tri-County Cooperative of Rushford, Minn. – all utility cooperatives whose member-owners have joined forces to curb energy costs.
Dairyland Power of La Crosse, Wis., the cooperative power wholesaler for the region, has signed an agreement to purchase the solar array’s renewable-energy output.
In a press announcement, Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld, said, “Utility cooperatives are leading the way in making clean power an integral part of their energy portfolios.
“We’re proud to support these uniquely American enterprises with an American-made solar solution to ensure their customers reap the benefits of sustainable energy for decades to come.”
The installation will feature more than 1,800 of SolarWorld American-made solar panels manufactured at the company’s U.S. headquarters in Oregon.
Construction of the solar facility is scheduled to begin this spring in Oronoco, Minn.; upon completion, the array will be interconnected to People’s Energy Cooperative’s power delivery system.
“Going it alone on a project like this would not have been possible,” said Elaine Garry, president and CEO of People’s Energy Cooperative, on behalf of the three utility cooperatives comprising Minnesota-Three. “Electric co-ops have a rich history of working together, whether in restoring power following a storm or providing additional programs or services to their memberships. We couldn’t be more pleased about working together to benefit our mutual members by bringing renewable energy to this area of Minnesota.”
The project was funded in part by one of the largest solar photovoltaic grants awarded in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps small businesses, farmers and ranchers in rural communities to purchase and install renewable-energy equipment. Dragonfly Solar prepared the project’s successful REAP application.
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