Vermont Business Magazine Besides reducing their environmental impact and saving money, members who have enrolled in Vermont Electric Co-op’s Co-op Community Solar Program often cite convenience and lack of equipment maintenance as major reasons they participate.
Candice Campbell and her husband Richard didn’t have a good site at their Derby home for panels, and for a long time they felt stymied in their efforts to green up their energy use. But as soon as VEC’s Co-op Community Solar was launched, they enrolled. “Instead of everyone putting up panels, roof-by-roof, you sponsor panels in an existing solar farm,” Candice Campbell said. “This program takes the burden off the homeowner, which is great.”
Candice and Richard Campbell. VEC photo.
Under VEC’s Co-op Community Solar Program, members make an up-front payment to sponsor panels for either 10 or 20 years and receive a guaranteed, fixed, monthly credit on their electric bill. By the end of the sponsorship, the total value of the bill credits exceeds the initial up-front payment.
“Every month we see a credit - it’s like clockwork,” Candice said, and the couple is now thinking about adding more panels to their sponsorship.
Another VEC member who wanted to install solar – Alejandra Barrenechea of Williston – didn’t want to clear trees on her own property to create sunny space for panels, so she was delighted to learn about Co-op Community Solar.
“I saw that by sponsoring panels in VEC arrays, I didn’t have to worry about maintenance, or cutting trees, and I could still reduce my carbon footprint. It was the best of both worlds,” she said. “I don’t think there is any negative to this program and I’d highly recommend it to other VEC members.”
The program is flexible. Participants can opt out of the program any time and receive back a portion of their initial payment based on how long they have participated in the program. They can also transfer their sponsorship to another VEC member or their new account, in the event that they move within the VEC service territory.
Three years since its launch, VEC’s Co-op Community Solar Program has seen strong interest from members like the Campbells, Barrenechea, and more than 150 others. Despite the program’s success, there’s room for far more members to take advantage of the program.
The arrays are located in Alburgh, Grand Isle, and Hinesburg. VEC members have sponsored the equivalent number of panels in the entire Alburgh array, and some of the Hinesburg array.
Here are some hypothetical sponsorship scenarios:
· A member sponsoring 1 panel for 10 years would make an upfront payment of $234.75. That member would get bill credits every month for 10 years, for a total credit of $326.40 and savings of $91.65.
· A member sponsoring 20 panels for 10 years would make an upfront payment of $4,695. That member would get bill credits every month for 10 years, for a total credit of $6,528 and savings of $1,833.
· A member sponsoring 20 panels for 20 years would make an upfront payment of $8,250.80. That member would get bill credits every month for 20 years, for a total credit of $14,976 and savings of $6,725.20.
About Vermont Electric Cooperative
Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC), established in 1938, is a non-profit, member-owned electric distribution utility that provides safe, affordable, and reliable electric service to approximately 32,000 members in 75 communities in northern Vermont. Nationally recognized for innovative and advanced use of technology, VEC is the largest locally-owned electric distribution utility in Vermont.
Source: Johnson, Vt – Vermont Electric Co-op 12.5.2019