New one in the sun

Solar power diversifying Wabash Valley Power energy portfolio.

A dawning sun soon will be the newest way to energize more of the Midwest.

Wabash Valley Power (WVPA) is installing three solar arrays, which are a series of solar panels linked together to create electricity from sunlight, at member co-op locations in Indiana, Illinois and Missouri. The new arrays will join three existing arrays as part of “Co-op Solar,” a new community solar program that will for the first time add solar energy to WVPA’s increasingly diverse energy portfolio.

“We diversify our generation portfolio to minimize risk and to ensure our members are protected against power market volatility,” said Lee Wilmes, executive vice president of risk and resource portfolio for Wabash Valley Power. “Solar energy has dramatically come down in cost the last few years to the point that it makes sense for us to add this resource to our portfolio.”

In most community solar programs, a utility installs and maintains solar panels in large scale arrays for consumers to invest in “shares” of the electricity produced. Wabash Valley Power’s solar arrays are spread across its service locations and have potential to generate up to 1.7 MW of electricity.

“Spreading the arrays out over a three-state territory provides members the best opportunity for capturing the most sun and creating the most electricity,” said Andrew Horstman, project manager for Wabash Valley Power. “It may be raining on the arrays in Indiana, but the sun may be shining in Missouri or Illinois.”

The solar energy adds to WVPA’s increasingly diverse energy portfolio, which includes natural gas, landfill gas, nuclear power, coal, wind and even manure from cattle farms in northern Indiana, as among resources generating the energy for more than 300,000 families, farms and organizations in the Midwest.

“Our most important priorities are to keep our members’ rates low while maintaining reliable service,” Wilmes said. “By adding a new, renewable resource to our portfolio and placing arrays in diverse locations to maximize sunlight, we believe that solar energy helps us fulfill those priorities to benefit everyone.”

Wabash Valley Power supports renewable energy by owning solar arrays, landfill gas generation and purchasing the output from wind farms and biogas generators. Wabash Valley Power sells, separately, the environmental attributes associated with this generation to its members and third parties and, therefore, does not claim this generation as renewable within our supply portfolio.