Cooperative solar skyrockets

Great River Energy and Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association solar installation

Great River Energy and Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association collaborated on the largest cooperative-owned solar installation in Minnesota. Pictured here are a few of the 8,352 panels generating electricity for members.

By the end of 2017, the total solar energy capacity of America’s electric cooperatives will be five times what it was two years ago, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).

This year, cooperatives are on pace to add 480 megawatts (MW) of solar, which would bring their total capacity to 873 MW. This more than quadruples the 180 MW reached in 2015 and represents a twentyfold increase over the 37 MW capacity in 2010.

Great River Energy and its member-owner cooperatives have collectively development more than 5 megawatts of solar generation – all at the request of members.

Cooperatives have expanded their solar footprint from 34 states to 44 states. Among states where cooperatives have been actively developing solar, Georgia ranks first with a total of 122 MW, followed by New Mexico, Hawaii, Colorado, Arizona, Maryland and North Carolina.

“Electric cooperatives continue to aggressively pursue solar as an energy source and are the leaders in community solar,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “Co-ops across the nation are laboratories of innovation and are responsive to member needs as they work to power and empower millions of American families and businesses.”