Customers of electric cooperatives across Georgia are now enjoying the benefits of solar energy without the costs and complications of rooftop solar panels through a new program known as Cooperative Solar. Developed by the electric cooperatives (co-ops) and their renewable energy provider, Green Power EMC, Cooperative Solar simulates rooftop solar systems by giving customers access to power generated by off-site solar facilities. In addition to receiving clean, renewable solar energy at an affordable cost, home-owners and renters can subscribe to energy shares from their electric cooperative at a nominal rate. Because rooftop panels are eliminated, system maintenance, roof age and condition, orientation and shade-providing trees are no longer an issue.
The Cooperative Solar program offers customers of participating electric cooperatives the ability to subscribe to available solar capacity at a competitive price from their co-op’s solar energy resources. These resources may include large off-site solar facilities as well as smaller community solar projects. Customers can subscribe to blocks of solar energy and receive on-bill credit for energy generated from solar facilities. The price, terms and conditions of the solar energy produced and credited to subscribers is set by each participating cooperative. Customers should check with their local electric co-op to find out whether Cooperative Solar is available in their area.
“By working together with Green Power EMC, the electric co-ops have been able to take advantage of economies of scale, resulting in lower-cost solar power,” said Jeff Pratt, president and CEO of Green Power EMC. “It’s exciting that almost 4,000 customer members from 11 electric co-ops across the state now receive renewable solar energy through the Cooperative Solar program, with more co-ops set to launch the program in the near future.”
Among the resources used by the Cooperative Solar program are a 20-megawatt (MW) solar project developed by Green Power EMC and its partner, Silicon Ranch, last year near Hazlehurst, Ga. A second phase, which will begin operating late this year, will provide an additional 52 MW of environmentally friendly solar generating capacity. Cooperative Solar is also offered through several electric cooperatives that have developed community-based solar developments to serve their customers.
“We are pleased that Green Power EMC and its member cooperatives have been instrumental in Georgia’s rapid emergence as a solar energy leader,” Pratt said. “This strategy-based solar program has increased the solar capacity by electric co-ops in the state from 7.5 megawatts (MW) to 240 MW. By giving more customers the ability to receive solar energy through the Cooperative Solar program, we are confident that we will bring long-term benefits to consumers across Georgia for many years to come.”