Co-op offers shares in new solar farm

This is a second article on Duck River Electric because it is a untried concept here in Tennessee. It also shows that TVA is making a sincere effort at growing solar energy in the valley for which we thank the powers to be. What is equally important in this article taken from the Times Free Press is the explanation of just how the arrangement is intended to work.

Brad Gibson, director of member services for the Duck River Electric Membership Corp., talks about the solar array located outside the utility's offices in Shelbyville. Members of DREMC can invest in the solar panels and receive green energy discounts on their electric bills.

The Bedford County-based utility is seeking investors in the $128,000 solar system installed behind its Shelbyville headquarters, said Brad Gibson, Duck River’s director of member services.
Gibson said the system generates 25.92 kilowatts of power for immediate use. A typical home requires from 5 to 10 kilowatts of electric power at a given time, he said. The arrangement between Duck River and the Tennessee Valley Authority is a first-of-its-kind pilot program developed between a local power company and the federal utility that qualifies for TVA’s Generation Partners Program, according to Duck River and TVA officials.
TVA spokesman Mike Bradley said the initiative “is a great way for Duck River … to promote the Generation Partners pilot program and make more renewable energy available to consumers through an innovative business model.”
Gibson said 20 to 30 of Duck River’s 71,000 members have invested since the system went online this summer. Most of the available 216 investment units are still available and each unit equals one-half of one of the 108 solar panels that make up the three wing-shaped arrays erected at the Shelbyville office, he said.

“We’re fielding quite a few phone calls right now,” Gibson said on a hazy, semi-sunny Wednesday as he stood in the shade of one of the arrays.
Duck River officials found that some of their members were interested in solar power, but couldn’t install a home system because of the high cost or lack of a sun-catching location for solar panels, he said. The return on the investment comes back “at 22 cents a kilowatt-hour,” he said. On customers’ utility bills, a minimum investment of $600 could tally a return of roughly $3.50 to $4.50 a month, depending on the amount of sunshine. Investors will have access to power output until August 2032, he said.
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