By Michael W. Kahn | ECT Staff Writer
Electric cooperatives are embracing solar energy—and the White House is taking notice.
Representatives of seven co-ops recently attended the White House Solar Summit. The event was held to honor what the administration called “cross-sector leadership on solar.”
“We appreciate the White House recognizing electric cooperatives’ commitment to solar energy projects,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson.
“I applaud our co-ops for leading the nation in community solar activities and other utilities rightly have taken note of our solar projects and often emulated them.”
One topic prompted by co-op participation at the summit was a discussion about how utilities and community organizations can partner on cost-effective solar projects to meet community and consumer needs.
Dairyland Power Cooperative was among the co-ops at the April 17 summit. Bill Berg, president and CEO of the La Crosse, Wis.-based G&T said they were honored to participate.
“For many years, we have been steadily adding renewable resources to our system while balancing reliability and affordability,” Berg said.
Berg noted that Dairyland recently announced the addition of two commercial solar projects to its renewable portfolio. Several of Dairyland’s member distribution co-ops also have established “community solar farms,” which allow their consumer-members to have solar power without having to install a setup at their homes.
At the summit, the administration urged both the private sector and nonprofits to make new commitments supporting solar deployment and jobs.
Federal officials said the amount of solar power installed nationwide now stands at an estimated 13 gigawatts, which is enough to power more than 2 million homes. In 2008, it was just 1.2 gigawatts.
The other co-ops that were represented at the White House Solar Summit were: Anza Electric Cooperative, Anza, Calif.; Eau Claire Energy Cooperative, Fall Creek, Wis.; Green Power EMC, Tucker, Ga.; Owen Electric Cooperative, Owenton, Ky.; Poudre Valley REA, Fort Collins, Colo.; and Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Hughesville. Representatives of NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network also attended.