Joint ownership enables cooperatives to maximize renewable energy investment
HILLSBORO, Ore., March 24, 2014 – Dragonfly Solar, a commercial solar developer based in Lakeville, Minn., and SolarWorld, the largest U.S. solar manufacturer since 1975, will partner to deliver a 517-kilowatt solar array to four electric utility cooperatives in the U.S. Midwest. The project is the nation's first and largest to be developed under a model of joint ownership among utility cooperatives, exemplifying how cooperatives can maximize their clean-power investment.
The solar array will be owned and managed by Minnesota-Three, an entity jointly owned by Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services of Albert Lea, Minn., People's Energy Cooperative of Oronoco, Minn., and Tri-County Cooperative of Rushford, Minn. – all utility cooperatives whose member-owners have joined forces to curb energy costs. Dairyland Power of La Crosse, Wis., the cooperative power wholesaler for the region, has signed an agreement to purchase the solar array's renewable-energy output.
"Utility cooperatives are leading the way in making clean power an integral part of their energy portfolios," said Mukesh Dulani, U.S. president of SolarWorld. "We're proud to support these uniquely American enterprises with an American-made solar solution to ensure their customers reap the benefits of sustainable energy for decades to come."
Dairyland Power selected Dragonfly Solar, a SolarWorld Platinum Installer, from a pool of more than 60 applicants to design, procure and construct the project. The installation will feature more than 1,800 of SolarWorld's high-performance, American-made solar panels manufactured at the company's U.S. headquarters in Oregon. Construction of the solar facility is scheduled to begin this spring in Oronoco, Minn.; upon completion, the array will be interconnected to People's Energy Cooperative's power delivery system.
"We are excited to have an opportunity to partner with a group of utilities that continue to demonstrate their commitment to their customer base by taking steps to complement their existing energy-delivery systems with solar," said Steve Peters, president of Dragonfly Solar. "We appreciate their confidence in our company."
"Going it alone on a project like this would not have been possible," said Elaine Garry, president and CEO of People's Energy Cooperative, on behalf of the three utility cooperatives comprising Minnesota-Three. "Electric co-ops have a rich history of working together, whether in restoring power following a storm or providing additional programs or services to their memberships. We couldn't be more pleased about working together to benefit our mutual members by bringing renewable energy to this area of Minnesota."
The project was funded in part by one of the largest solar photovoltaic grants awarded in 2013 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which helps small businesses, farmers and ranchers in rural communities to purchase and install renewable-energy equipment. Dragonfly Solar prepared the project's successful REAP application.
SolarWorld AG manufactures solar power systems and in doing so contributes to a cleaner energy supply worldwide. The company, located in Bonn, employs approximately 2,500 people and carries out production in Freiberg, Germany, and Hillsboro, USA. From raw material silicon to the solar module, SolarWorld manages all stages of production ‒ including its own research and development. Through an international distribution network, SolarWorld supplies customers all over the world with solar modules and complete systems. The company maintains high social standards at all locations across the globe, and has committed itself to resource- and energy-efficient production. SolarWorld has been publicly traded on the stock market since 1999. More information at www.solarworld-usa.com