Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative plans to begin construction on a community solar project in late March that will allow its members to purchase the output of the panels.
The solar array with 228 panels will be built behind LMRE’s offices on West Road in Wellington Township.
The LMRE project is part of Ohio’s electric cooperatives’ $4 million investment into the program called OurSolar. Twenty-three cooperatives from across the state are participating.
It is estimated that each panel will produce about 400 kilowatt hours annually. The typical LMRE residential member uses about 15,000 kWhs annually.
Members will be able to purchase the output from up to five panels for 1- 5- or 10-year increments. The cooperative will measure the energy produced by each panel each month and calculate it into the member’s bill. A five-panel subscription is estimated to generate about 175 to 200 kilowatt hours per month, which is 15 to 20 percent of an average member’s monthly energy use. A subscription to a single panel is expected to cost less than $2 per month.
“At LMRE, we believe in strength in numbers,” said Markus Bryant, general manager of LMRE. “Installing a renewable energy project on your own can be expensive and difficult for most people. However, by working together as a cooperative, we can make it a more affordable and viable option.”
Bryant said OurSolar reflects LMRE’s balanced approach to electricity generation. While most of the power supplied to LMRE will continue to be produced by coal-fired generators that are among the cleanest of their kind in the world, OurSolar gives cooperative members the option to supplement that baseload power — that is, coal-based electricity production that is highly reliable and always available — with locally produced renewable energy.
The solar array should be operational in the spring, Bryant said. The cooperative will gather electric use data for two or three months and will then officially introduce the new program at its annual meeting in July when subscriptions will be accepted.
LMRE serves approximately 16,200 members and maintains 1,529 miles of line in Lorain, Medina, Ashland, Huron and Wayne counties.