(Arlington, VA) — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) signed a cooperative agreement today for a multi-state 23MW solar installation research project that seeks to identify and address barriers to photovoltaic (PV) deployment at cooperatives. The DOE is providing $3.6 million, matched by a $1.2 million cost share from NRECA, the National Rural Utility Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC), Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange, PowerSecure International, Inc. (NYSE: POWR) and fifteen participating cooperatives.
As it stands now, a cooperative must start from scratch in deploying solar PV of more than one megawatt. For this project, co-ops will explore how standardization can help bring down the “soft” costs – labor, procurement, supply chain and other costs – of PV installations and also reduce uncertainty about the effects of these installations on a system.
Working with 15 co-ops that are planning from 250 kW to 5 MW of solar PV, NRECA will analyze the business-side of these deployments and develop “PV system packages” consisting of standardized, optimized and scalable technical designs for 250 kW, 500 kW, and 1 MW systems.
“We are excited to partner with the SunShot Initiative on research to accelerate solar PV deployments by rural cooperatives,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson. “This project leverages co-op leadership on residential and community solar that, in the end, will drive down costs for the co-op consumer-members.”
CFC is assisting the program by developing and deploying scalable financial solutions tailored to the unique not-for-profit structure of electric cooperatives.
“We are pleased to complement the initiative’s technical innovations with financial innovation,” CFC CEO Sheldon C. Petersen said. “This effort is wonderful example of cooperation among cooperatives, and CFC is proud to be working with participating cooperatives to help achieve their goals.”
Anza Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Calif.)
Brunswick Electric Membership Corp. (N.C.)
Central Electric Power Cooperative (S.C.)
CoServ Electric (Texas)
Eau Claire Energy Cooperative (Wis.)
Great River Energy (Minn.)
Green Power EMC (Ga.)
Maquoketa Valley Rural Electric Cooperative (Iowa)
Oneida-Madison Electric Cooperative (N.Y.)
Owen Electric Cooperative
Pedernales Electric Cooperative (Texas)
Plumas-Sierra Rural Electric Cooperative (Calif.)
Sandhills Utility Services, LLC (N.C.)
Tri-State Generation & Transmission Assn. (Colo.)
Vermont Electric Cooperative (Vt.)