Ravalli Electric Co-op is pleased to announce that plans to move forward with its proposed 88-unit community solar project were solidified last month. The Co-op was notified in August that it was selected to receive a Rural Energy America Program (REAP) Grant from the USDA to offset the cost of construction.
REC members will now have the opportunity to participate in the program by purchasing the output from a single solar panel. The electricity generated by the solar array will then be credited back to participating members on an annual basis for 25 years (the anticipated life of the panel).
There are several benefits to a community solar program over installing panels at home, with the most obvious being cost. Consumers can often participate in community solar programs for less than $1,000, whereas a home system can cost 20 to 30 times more to install. Other factors including aesthetics and low sunlight conditions can also make installing panels at home less than ideal.
Community solar projects are becoming popular with many electric cooperatives throughout the country as member interest in alternative energy sources continues to grow. REC found this trend to be consistent locally as well when a survey earlier this year found nearly 30% of respondents in favor of community solar.
REC also understands the majority of members are sensitive to the potential for fee increases. That’s why the program is designed in such a way that construction will be paid for in full by grant funding and those members who choose to participate in it. As of now, members will be eligible to purchase the output from a single solar panel in the 88 panel array only if they do not currently have a solar system installed at their home. Members may be permitted to purchase additional panel output at a later time.
A single panel is expected to generate +/- 350 kWh per year, depending on sunlight and panel performance. That’s enough to power an EnergySTAR refrigerator/freezer for an entire year.
The Ravalli Electric Co-op community solar project will be constructed in a high-sun area along Highway 93 adjacent to the Woodside Substation in Victor. To learn more about the project and to reserve your panel output, visit ravallielectric.com or call 961-3001 to speak with Member Services.