Generate clean, solar power with OPALCO

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated the project would produce 5,800 kWh of energy a year. It will actually produce approximately 200,000 kilowatt hours annually. An average home uses 12,000 kilowatt hours per year.

Submitted by OPALCO

OPALCO has more than 220 co-op members who generate their own power. With the Community Solar project, everyone else can purchase a piece of a big solar generator — at a fraction of the cost of installing panels — and get a small financial return on energy investments as a credit on power bills.

While the financial return isn’t big, the member rewards are significant. Benefits include the opportunity to participate in growing local power, building toward more energy independence in the islands and helping to take the first step in creating a co-op energy storage system in case of emergency.

The first Community Solar project will be built in 2018 on Decatur Island at OPALCO’s substation. OPALCO wants to hear from members about what is most important to them on funding, member participation and communication. Members are encouraged to take an online survey at The deadline is June 23.

OPALCO will build and own the Community Solar array, which will generate enough power each year (about 200,000 kilowatt hours) to meet the equivalent needs of five to six average island homes for one month. It’s small compared to our whole co-op’s demand for power, but a big first step in building local, community-owned power. A battery storage bank will be located next to the solar array to store surplus energy and could be used, in a limited capacity, for back-up power in case of emergencies. Once this first project is running, OPALCO may build additional projects and will look at the best county locations.

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