Solar energy is a hot topic! The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) predicts there will be a 24% (10.8 terawatt-hour) increase in solar generation this summer compared with last summer. The number of Victory Electric member applications for residential rooftop solar systems has increased in the past few months as well.
It’s easy to see why interest in solar energy is high. Solar energy is abundant, affordable and environmentally friendly. The cost of photovoltaic (PV) technology continues to decrease every year, while the energy efficiency of solar technology continues to increase.
Rooftop solar isn’t for everyone, though. For example, if you rent a home or own a condominium, lack financing for a solar system, or your home is unsuitable for placing solar panels because of shade, roof size or condition, then buying a rooftop solar system might not be an option.
Victory Electric wants to help remove potential barriers to solar energy. The upcoming Victory Electric Community Solar program scheduled to launch this fall will offer eligible members the opportunity to hold a stake in solar energy without the significant initial investment, maintenance costs and ownership hassles of buying and installing a rooftop solar system.
As part of its electric generation portfolio, Sunflower Electric Power Corporation — Victory Electric’s Generation and Transmission provider — generates solar energy at its Johnson Corner Solar farm in Stanton County, Kansas, near Johnson City. The 20-megawatt facility was co-developed with the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO), and came online in April 2020. Sunflower transmits wholesale energy from the solar facility to Victory Electric through the electric grid. Victory then delivers power to members through its electric distribution system.
Residential members of Victory Electric will soon have the ability to subscribe to the new Community Solar project by purchasing shares. One share is equivalent to 125 kilowatt-hours, or two solar panels. Community Solar participation costs will be in addition to members’ monthly energy bills.
Based on the amount of power generated by Johnson Corner Solar farm and the market revenues from the power sold into the energy market, Community Solar subscribers’ monthly electric bills will reflect the performance of their subscribed number of solar shares.
Although we project members will save money under the Community Solar program, we can’t guarantee savings, as the solar adjustment is based on the revenues the solar facility receives in the Southwest Power Pool Integrated Market. When market prices are high, participants may save money. When market prices are low, participants may pay a premium.
Sunflower will allocate a limited number of Community Solar shares to Victory Electric, and the number of shares each member may subscribe to will be based on their average energy usage for the past 12 months. Shares will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Rural electric cooperatives like Victory Electric are owned by our members, and our leadership team and trustees strive to respond to energy trends and our members’ interests. Victory is pleased to provide members this new option for convenient, economic solar participation.
More details about the Victory Electric Community Solar program and how to sign up will be available soon in Kansas Country Living magazine and on Victory’s website (victoryelectric.net), Facebook (facebook.com/VictoryElectric) and Instagram (instagram.com/victoryelectric2022) pages.
Benefits of Community Solar
Participating in a Community Solar program has several advantages over installing rooftop solar:
• If you rent or have homeowner agreements that prevent the installation of rooftop solar, participating in Community Solar may be an option. If your home is too shaded or your roof isn't strong enough to support a solar array, you can still participate. If you can't afford the often steep upfront investment in a solar array, you may be able to afford participation in a Community Solar program.
• Johnson Corner Solar is a 20 MW facility and about 2,000 times bigger than a typical residential rooftop solar installation. The utility-scale size of Johnson Corner Solar provides a significantly lower price for solar energy compared to solar energy from rooftop installations because Community Solar systems have the advantage of economies of scale, meaning that costs decrease as the size of the system increases. The costs can also be spread out among many participants, which makes a portion of a large solar system less expensive than a comparable residential rooftop system.
• The Johnson Corner Solar project also has tracking motors that adjust the angle of the solar panels throughout the day to maintain maximum exposure to the sun. This provides maximum utilization of solar irradiance with no impacts from shading from trees or adjacent buildings.
• Participating in Community Solar allows subscribers to avoid the upfront cost, hassle and maintenance of rooftop solar. Victory Electric will handle all the logistics, details and maintenance.
• If a subscriber moves to a new house within Victory Electric’s service territory, their subscription may transfer to their new service. The subscription may need to be adjusted based upon the past year’s usage of their new home.