Community Solar Project
Riverland Energy partnered with Dairyland Power Cooperative and SoCore Energy to develop local solar energy. SoCore Energy, a solar developer from Chicago, will build, own, maintain, and operate the array. Riverland Energy and Dairyland Power will purchase the energy output. This renewable energy project will provide clean, solar energy to meet the energy demands of the local population. Renewable energy diversifies the region’s energy mix and maintains a fixed energy rate for 25 years, helping to provide long-term, stable energy prices.
Riverland Energy is leasing the land to SoCore Energy and will purchase the energy output from an estimated 150 KW of the array. Dairyland Power will purchase the output of approximately 1M of the array.
The solar array is located behind the headquarters building in Arcadia, just east of the pole yard.
Dairyland Power Cooperative, headquartered in La Crosse, provides wholesale electricity to 25-member distribution cooperatives, including Riverland Energy Cooperative. Dairyland issued a request for proposals to add up to 25 MW of solar power generation to their renewables portfolio. Dairyland finalized agreements with two developers, SoCore Energy and groSolar, for 12 new solar facilities to be sited in Wisconsin. The solar installations will range between 0.5 MW to 2.5 MW in scale and will generate over 15 MW. Riverland Energy’s site is one of these sites.
As a cooperative initiative, the solar facilities will be built in the service areas of Dairyland’s member electric cooperatives. The advantages of multiple projects in separate locations include: diversified weather, distributed grid infrastructure impacts and locally-based renewable energy. The developers will install, own, operate and maintain the solar facilities and Dairyland will purchase the power generated from them. Then, Riverland Energy purchases power from Dairyland on behalf of our local members. Many of Dairyland’s member cooperatives, including Riverland Energy, will add their own solar sites in combination with the Dairyland project to take advantage of the cost savings of the larger project.
September 2016: The solar project is under way at our office headquarters in Arcadia. After researching cost and rates for the project, we feel it would best serve the membership to not sell off portions of the project as originally planned, but to keep it for all the members to be a part of.
By working with Dairyland Power Cooperative as part of this project, we were able to get a Purchase Power Agreement (PPA) that the cooperative can use as a hedge against future wholesale power costs. This way all members of the cooperative can share in the low pricing and take part in environmental stewardship. This arrangement also removes the administrative burden of tracking individual ownership changes. Over time, this can become cumbersome to the cooperative.
We want to share the benefits with all of the members of Riverland Energy Cooperative.
August 2016: We finalized an agreement with the developer (SoCore) of a 150 KW community solar project to be constructed at our office headquarters in Arcadia. It will be built alongside the Dairyland Power 1M utility-scale solar project on our site. Construction will begin later this month. Members will have the opportunity to participate in the project by purchasing a share of the system production and receiving bill credits based on the output of the system. We hope to open up subscriptions by early September.
February 2016: Dairyland Power Cooperative, our power provider, finalized agreements with two developers to purchase over 15 MW of renewable energy from multiple new utility-scale photovoltaic solar facilities in Wisconsin. As a cooperative initiative, the solar facilities will be built in the service areas of Dairyland’s member electric cooperatives. The advantages of multiple projects in separate locations include: diversified weather, distributed grid infrastructure impacts and locally-based renewable energy. The developers will install, own, operate and maintain the solar facilities. The first projects are expected to become operational this summer, with others continuing to come online into the fall. This includes Riverland Energy's site in Arcadia, expecting to begin this fall.
June 2015: We learned we may be able to collaborate with our power supplier, Dairyland Power Cooperative. This would potentially give us a better rate, and in turn, reduce the cost for members who are interested in becoming a part of the project.
May 2015: Request for proposals were sent out to determine the costs of the project.
August 2014: Sixty-one percent of those surveyed say they support a community solar project, while 25 percent said they will be interested in purchasing a panel in a community solar project. This number was high enough for us to begin the research process. It doesn't necessarily mean we will be doing a community solar project; it just means that the results were significant enough for us to begin exploring options.
June 2014: The survey was sent to random members about the community solar project.
March 2014: We announced we were looking into implementing a community solar project. We will begin with a survey of our members to see if there is interest.