community solar shines bright
Construction of Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative’s solar array wrapped up just in time for the annual meeting. Energized in early July, there are 228 panels soaking up rays behind LMRE’s office on West Road in Wellington Township.
Subscriptions to the energy output of these panels were made available for the first time to members attending the annual meeting last month. Any member interested in purchasing a subscription to the output of these panels can pick up a contract from the cooperative office during business hours or get one from the energy services advisor.
Through the cooperative’s OurSolar program, members can purchase the output from up to five panels for 1-, 5-, 10-, or 20-year increments. A five-panel subscription is estimated to generate about 175 to 200 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per month, which is 15 to 20 percent of an average member’s monthly energy use. A subscription to a single panel is estimated to cost less than $2 per month.
Because the LMRE array did not have enough energy production data available at the time of the annual meeting, General Manager Markus Bryant presented data from North Central Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting in June. The same management team manages both cooperatives. He used the PVWatts® online calculator using Mansfield weather data. A member with a five-panel subscription from mid-April to mid-May would have received 220 kWh of solar energy at the added cost of $3.08 on his or her monthly bill. Similiar output is expected at both cooperatives for the same period.
It’s important to remember that a subscription to the output of the solar panels will slightly increase the member’s monthly electric bill and will vary slightly each month depending on the weather.
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 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.
Contact LMRE at 800-222-5673 or 440-647-2133 for more information about how to subscribe.