- The Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative will join the growing number of Midwestern electric cooperatives developing community solar with a 100 kw system that will be the first for a Missouri co-op. Leadership at the company decided if it did not offer solar, its customers would “provide it for themselves.”
- Three recent member surveys showed strong support for renewables in general and solar in particular. From 54% to 63% of members advocated for renewables, 31% to 50% said they would pay more for electricity to reduce their carbon footprint, and 67% supported community solar.
- Construction will begin in mid-February and be completed by the end of March. Testing will run through the end of May. Applications will likely be accepted around June 1. The co-op will own the panels, but has not finalized its ownership model.
Community solar is “a program through which individual members of a community have the opportunity to ‘buy in’ to a nearby solar installation…[and] receive a proportional share of the financial or energy output of the system,” according to the to the Solar Electric Power Association. “Community solar programs may be offered by electric utilities or through third-parties or community groups.”
The Platte-Clay leadership opted for community solar after concluding a single solar array would be easier for them to manage than distributed residential installations.
Members of co-ops support community solar for many reasons. Some want to own solar but do not have the upfront cost or don’t want ownership responsibilities. Others rent, live in subdivisions that don’t allow it, or have shaded or improperly oriented roofs.
Community solar options expand access to solar. “Only 22% to 27% of residential rooftop area is suitable for hosting an on-site photovoltaic (PV) system,” according to the 2010 Guide to Community Shared Solar from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory .