Sunflower 1 Ribbon Cutting
July 21, 2014
Sunflower 1 subscribers, officials dedicate 103-kW solar garden
St. Croix Electric Co-op member subscriptions fund renewable energy project
HAMMOND, Wis., July 21, 2014 – Nearly 90 subscribers, guests and officials gathered at St. Croix Electric Cooperative on July 19 for a ribbon cutting to dedicate Sunflower 1 – a 103-kilowatt (kW) solar garden (103,000 watts).
Sunflower 1 was energized on July 8, made possible by 120 “subscribers” who are members of St. Croix Electric Cooperative. Each subscriber paid a one-time fee for one to five, 500-watt production unit(s) and will collect credits on their monthly electric bills from the solar garden’s output. A total of 206 units comprise the array.
“Seventy-seven years and 43 days ago, electricity flowed through St. Croix Electric lines for the first time, powered from a diesel generator to member No. 1 in Woodville. Today is exciting for a lot of reasons,” said SCEC President & CEO Mark Pendergast. “This local, renewable energy project was made possible by our members. It could not have happened without member subscriptions.”
Sunflower 1 is expected to produce 154,000 kWh of electricity annually – enough to power 13 SCEC residential members’ homes each year. As a result, Sunflower 1 is estimated to prevent 123 tons of CO2 emissions in the first year of operation for a total of more than 3,000 tons over the course of 25 years.
Member interest was driven by the opportunity to invest in a clean energy and local project. Michael Vivoda and Linda Vivoda-Sadee subscribed to the output of one of the 206, 500-watt units.
"It (Sunflower 1) is nice to see in person since we're part owners in a piece of it," Vivoda said. "We like the fact that it generates clean energy and, since it's a larger array at the Co-op, we do not have to deal with the operation and maintenance costs that an individual array would involve on our own property. We are trying to be more energy efficient - we've installed geothermal in our home - and this is one more action in that direction."
Knowing the strong support from numerous SCEC members, the Co-op’s Board of Directors made it a priority for Pendergast and the Co-op staff to lay the foundation for Sunflower 1. In his speech on Saturday, Pendergast noted the Board’s commitment and directive to make Sunflower 1 a reality. The commitment did not go unnoticed.
“The members made this (Sunflower 1) possible – it’s as simple as that,” said Jim Losleben, tenKsolar’s SVP, Special Projects. “We now have the equipment to the point where it’s affordable. It’s a new industry, but it’s not going away; the co-ops get that.”
Sunflower 1 is among multiple member-supported solar gardens constructed by electric cooperatives within the Dairyland Power Cooperative system in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Currently, 13 percent of the power produced by Dairyland Power Cooperative is from renewable energy (wind, solar, biomass, hydroelectric, landfill gas).
About St. Croix Electric Cooperative
St. Croix Electric Cooperative (SCEC) was formed on Nov. 5, 1937, as a result of five farmers who were determined to bring electricity to rural St. Croix County, Wis. Nearly two years later – May 24, 1939 – electricity was delivered to the first account. Today, the Cooperative operates 1,740 miles of distribution lines that serve more than 10,500 member accounts. SCEC strives to help members understand the Cooperative Difference by positively impacting local communities through Commitment to Community grants, scholarships, and offering members rebates and solutions to conserve and use energy wisely. Information is shared with members through the April annual meeting; Energy Lifestyles Magazine, which is published 11 times per year; online at www.scecnet.net; and via social media: @StCroixElecCoop (Twitter) and St. Croix County Energizer (Facebook).
Cooperatives across the country formed the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) to promote and facilitate the development of renewable energy resources for its members. NRCO’s main purposes are to facilitate the cost-effective, joint development of renewable resources nationwide for its cooperative owners, helping its owners meet the requirements of voluntary and mandatory Renewable Energy Standards (RES). www.NRCO.coop.
tenKsolar designs, manufactures and markets high efficiency and highly reliable photovoltaic solutions based on its proprietary RAIS module technology. The company offers complete, turnkey commercial rooftop solar PV gardens providing the solar industry's lowest energy costs, low-voltage safety and low installation cost. Founded in 2008, tenKsolar is headquartered in Bloomington, Minnesota. For additional information, please visit tenKsolar’s website at www.tenksolar.com.