In late January, A&N Electric Cooperative (ANEC), along with three fellow Virginia electric cooperatives, began seeking formal approval for a pilot program to provide additional solar energy to interested members. If approved, the Community Solar Pilot Project will allow members of the cooperative to subscribe to solar energy generated from two facilities in Virginia.

Currently, a portion of all power supplied to Cooperative members comes from solar. The new program will allow members who want a larger percentage of solar power to receive a dedicated, predetermined amount of solar power each month.  By doing so, participating members can further support the development of solar energy in Virginia, while also locking in the price paid for the dedicated solar portion of their generation service during the three-year pilot period.

“ANEC is excited about the opportunities the proposed community solar offering will provide our members,” said Leo Radkowski, Project Manager for ANEC. “The pilot program will make it easy to enjoy the benefits of solar without the expense and effort related to on-site solar installations.  Additionally the pilot will make solar generation accessible to our members that may have limited opportunities to install solar generation at their residence.”

If approved by the commission, the community solar pilot program will allow the cooperative’s members to choose solar power to cover all or a portion of their electric usage each month.  The cost to members of a 50 kWh “solar block” will be about $5.50 per month, a modest increase over the current cost of wholesale power.  The program also offers members the opportunity to lock in the cost of their solar power supply for the future.

The cooperatives participating with ANEC in the pilot program are Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative in Chase City, Northern Neck Electric Cooperative in Warsaw and Rappahannock Electric Cooperative in Fredericksburg.

All four are members of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), which provides wholesale electricity to the local cooperatives. ODEC’s generation portfolio currently includes 30 megawatts of solar from two Virginia solar facilities; 20 megawatts from the Cherrydale Solar facility in Northampton County, and 10 megawatts from the Clarke County Solar facility in White Post, VA.

The pilot programs must be approved by the Virginia State Corporation Commission. The 2017 Session of the Virginia General Assembly approved the “Community Solar Act,” which allows for such programs. The cooperatives expect to receive approval of their Community Solar pilot programs later this spring, and hope to begin offering solar subscriptions this summer.