By Michael W. Kahn
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
Strong showings from electric cooperatives, as well as greater satisfaction among all electric consumers, are among the highlights of a new J.D. Power report. The firm’s 2017 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study shows several co-ops with top-of-the-chart scores besting many investor-owned and municipal utilities. Read more here.
Facts from NRECA’s Website on Cooperatives and Renewable Energy
- Electric cooperatives across the country are actively expanding their future portfolios to include an array of renewable energy
- Currently, 95% of NRECA’s distribution members offer renewable options to 40 million Americans
- Co-ops own nearly 1.3 GW of renewable capacity and have long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for more than 7.3 GW – in addition to roughly 10 GW of preference power contracts with federal hydroelectric facilities.
Solar Deployment and Co-Op Solar
- By the end of 2017, the total solar energy capacity of America’s electric cooperatives will be five times what it was two years ago.
- This year, co-ops are on pace to add 480 MW of solar, which would bring their total capacity to 872 MW. This more than quadruples the 180 MW reached in 2015 and represents a 20-fold increase over the 37 MW capacity in 2010.
- In addition, over the last two years, cooperatives have expanded their solar footprint from 34 states to 44 states.
- 133 cooperatives in 30 states offer community solar programs
Prairie Business Magazine published an interview a while back with Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s CEO, Paul Sukut, that is still timely and of potential interest to everyone who enjoys reading about rural electric cooperatives and their role in community economic development, including investments in renewable energy projects. Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s nine-state service territory includes: Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. Below, is an excerpt from the interview.
Q: WHAT ROLE DOES RENEWABLE ENERGY PLAY IN BASIN’S POWER SUPPLY, AND WHAT KINDS OF RENEWABLES DOES THE COOPERATIVE USE?
A: Basin Electric is a recognized leader of wind energy development in the Upper Midwest. Through joint projects and purchase power agreements, we have added approximately 719 megawatts (MW) of wind energy to our energy portfolio in the past decade and have invested more than $1 billion in renewable resources. By year-end 2016, Basin Electric will have more than 1,570 MW of green and wind-generation capacity. Several of Basin Electric’s members have asked about incorporating solar as a resource option. The cooperative is considering how to best incorporate both small and large solar into its generation fleet. Basin Electric will work with the membership as it develops a solar resource strategy. As of March 22, 2016, Basin Electric purchases the output from 335 small wind and solar projects owned by member-consumers throughout the cooperative’s service territory.
Read the entire interview here.
Photo: Basin Electric Power Cooperative CEO, Paul Sukut