In November, Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative broke ground on a community solar project called OurSolar. The project is partnership with our generation and transmission provider, Buckeye Power, and other electric cooperatives.
Buckeye Power is constructing these community solar arrays as part of its generation portfolio. All the electric cooperatives in Ohio are participating in this exciting new generation project that brings affordable renewable energy to electric co-op members.
The first question I receive is simple: Why are we doing this? The answer is two-fold. Our first reason is for the members. Through surveys and member interaction, we have found there is a tremendous interest in renewable energy among our members. Our second reason is that the Indiana and Ohio electric cooperatives and Buckeye Power are committed to an “all of the above” generation policy. We firmly believe that in order to meet the power generation needs in the future, we will need both fossil fuel generation and renewable generation. Buckeye Power is committed to having a diversified portfolio with a varied mix of generation sources. Although we rely heavily on coal, renewable energy remains a committed resource.
Paulding Putnam Electric is also committed to the cooperative principle of concern for community. We have heard from our members that they are very interested in renewable energy. That said, community solar could be a perfect fit for some of them. Members have explained to us that they are interested in renewables, but many are unable to pay the high up-front cost to install a renewable system. Community solar resolves this problem. There is no up-front cost because Buckeye Power is providing the initial investment. Members are able to then purchase panel subscriptions, signing up for a fixed rate over a long-term period (five, 10 or 20 years), which provides potential offsets of future electric rate increases.
Community solar is the latest example of your cooperative’s concern for community. We will be holding member meetings to explain in greater detail how OurSolar works. Please watch for announcements in the near future.
GEORGE CARTER is CEO/general manager of Paulding Putnam Electric Cooperative.
Want to learn more about OurSolar? OurSolar informational meetings will take place in late February and March. Watch our website, www.ppec.coop, and our social media sites for updates. Production data from the solar array — located on Gasser Road next to Alex Products in Paulding — is available for anyone to view 24/7 by visiting oursolar.coop/pauldingputnam.