December 8, 2015

Construction of CHEC’s Community Solar Garden begins

Construction will begin this week for Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative’s Community Solar Garden in Hatteras village.  The 50kW project is being constructed by Hannah Solar, an Atlanta-based certified solar integrator,  and will be located on Highway 12 next to the Hatteras Island Ocean Center.

CHEC members will be eligible to purchase the energy output from the 180-panel project.  The energy rights for each panel will sell for a one-time fee, which will be determined later this month.  Participating members will receive a monthly bill credit for the energy produced.

”Community solar is an attractive option for our members who rent their homes, for members that do not have a south-facing roof, or for those who may not want to penetrate their roof in our coastal environment,” said Susan Flythe, CHEC general manager and executive director. “Community solar makes solar accessible to all of our members.”

CHEC expects to release further information about purchasing the energy rights from the panels  later this month.

Hannah Solar, according to a company news release, is installing nine community solar garden projects to add to four projects completed in 2014 for North Carolina’s electric cooperatives around the state. The gardens, which are expected to collectively contribute a total solar load of 1.65MW(AC), will provide power to 10 of the state’s 26 independent, member-owned electric cooperatives, including CHEC.

In 2008, when community solar was introduced, residents of Brewster, Mass., built the first "community solar" project. Since then, the price has dropped dramatically, making it more easily attainable, as well as more popular than ever before.

“For the electric cooperatives in North Carolina, this is just a start,” says Jim Musilek, director of grid modernization at North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation, which provides wholesale electricity to its member cooperatives. “The advantages of a community-shared solar farm are significant, and more and more of North Carolina’s electric cooperatives are participating in community solar projects. Electric cooperatives were formed more than 80 years ago when people came together to bring power to rural communities. These projects evoke that same cooperative spirit, except this time, it’s solar power.”  

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