On Tuesday, January 30, REC, along with three fellow Virginia electric cooperatives, began seeking formal approval of a pilot program to provide additional solar energy to interested members. If approved, the Community Solar Pilot Project will allow members of the cooperative to subscribe to solar energy generated from two facilities in Virginia.
Currently, a portion of all power supplied to Cooperative members comes from solar. The new program will allow members who want a larger percentage of solar power to receive a dedicated, predetermined amount of solar power each month. By doing so, participating members can further support the development of solar energy in Virginia, while also locking in the price paid for the dedicated solar portion of their generation service during the three-year pilot period.
"The Community Solar Pilot project will allow REC members to receive many of the benefits of having solar panels on their home without the expense of installing panels," explains David Koogler, REC's vice president of member and external relations. "It also provides a solar option to members whose homes may not be suitable for solar panels due to shaded roofs or other restrictions. Another benefit is that members renting their homes or living in multifamily dwellings can share in the benefits of solar."
The cooperatives participating with Rappahannock are A and N Electric Cooperative, Tasley, VA; Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative, Chase City, VA; and Northern Neck Electric Cooperative, Warsaw, VA. All four are members of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), which provides wholesale electricity to the local cooperatives. ODEC's generation portfolio currently includes 30 MW of solar from two Virginia solar facilities; 20 MW from the Cherrydale Solar farm on Virginia's Eastern Shore, and 10 MW from the Clarke County Solar farm in White Post, VA.
The pilot programs must be approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The 2017 Session of the Virginia General Assembly approved the "Community Solar Act," which allows for such programs. The cooperatives expect to receive approval of their Community Solar pilot programs later this spring, and hope to begin offering solar subscriptions this summer.
A fifth cooperative, Central Virginia Electric Cooperative, Lovingston, VA, is seeking approval of a similar program. That application was submitted in December.
REC provides electric service to over 165,000 connections in parts of 22 Virginia counties. With its general office in Fredericksburg, Va., Rappahannock maintains more than 17,000 miles of power lines through its service area, which ranges from the Blue Ridge Mountains to the tidal waters of the Chesapeake Bay. For information about REC, please visit www.myrec.coop.