In just a matter of days, MiEnergy Cooperative will begin purchasing solar energy generated from arrays within its service territory to distribute to its members. Combined, the sites will generate enough electricity to power approximately 1,900 homes.
According to a news release from MiEnergy Cooperative, the cooperative has a power purchase agreement with OneEnergy Renewables to buy up to nine megawatts of electricity generated by solar arrays in Rushford Village, Fountain, Lanesboro, and Stockton for the next 25 years.
This Would Not Have Been Possible A Few Years Ago
A few years ago, the PPA would not have allowed this, but contract policies have been updated and allowed distribution cooperatives the option of generating and/or purchasing up to 10% of their electric system demand from another source.
Traditionally, generation and transmission (G&T) companies like Dairyland Power Cooperative, which serves as MiEnergy’s wholesale power supplier, require long-term contracts for electric distribution cooperatives like MiEnergy to purchase all the energy they need from the company.
“We wanted our own local projects to incorporate into our system operations for peak demand management and targeted on peak energy savings,” said Brian Krambeer, MiEnergy Cooperative president and CEO. “These projects will reduce MiEnergy’s cost to purchase power.”
Research was completed to select areas where large solar arrays could be built and where the electricity generated could be used directly by members through the cooperative’s distribution system and not its wholesaler’s transmission system.
Krambeer said that when the co-op purchases wholesale power there is a generation (energy) component and a transmission (delivery) component.
“MiEnergy’s cost to purchase energy generated by OneEnergy’s solar arrays is similar to Dairyland’s. Where we see cost savings with the PPA comes from us not needing to pay for delivery of electricity to our substations. The lack of a transmission fee is what makes the PPA favorable in this situation,” Krambeer explained.
Once MiEnergy determined locations that fit the project, the cooperative and OneEnergy met with local landowners. OneEnergy developed the system, coordinates the maintenance and will continue to be the point of contact for the duration of the agreement it has with MiEnergy.
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