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News Southwest Rural Electric Association March 2016


Solar power is coming to Southwest Rural Electric Cooperative.


In coming months SWRE will host construction of two solar fields – one in Texas and the other in Oklahoma. Members of our co-op who want renewable solar power will have the option of purchasing electricity that is generated from the co-op owned solar panels. The solar fields will be built in two locations. In Texas, a 100-kw field will be constructed in the south part of Vernon on co-op owned property that is adjacent to the Madison Crossing Apartments. This field will include more than 350 solar panels. In Oklahoma, a 250-kw solar field will be built two miles south of Frederick on Highway 183. The co-op owns a 10-acre tract of land at the site. When completed, the Oklahoma field will include more than 900 solar panels and will be highly visible from the highway.


Construction of both solar fields is expected to be done in late spring or summer.


The solar fields are being built at no expense to SWRE by Western Farmers Electric Cooperative, SWRE’s power provider. SWRE is providing the sites for the two installations, but WFEC will cover all costs of construction. The wholesale power provider is building similar solar fields at several of its other member electric co-ops. “It’s a win-win for Southwest Rural Electric and for our members,” said Mike Hagy, SWRE CEO. “There is no downside. Our members who desire solar energy can


Volume 63


Safety, Service, Satisfaction... One Member at a Time! Number 3


SWRE to build solar fields


purchase it without having to install and maintain panels on their own property. They will be able to buy rights to specific panels at these SWRE solar sites, locking in special rates over a long period.” Rates for the planned solar fields have not been set, but will be announced in a future issue of SWRE News. For SWRE, the biggest advantage of the solar fields is their ability to help the co-op control its “peak” power needs. Because overall electrical rates for SWRE and Western Farmers are set during the periods of maximum or “peak” usage, it is essential that the co-op and its members work together to reduce those periods of peak electricity demand.


The solar fields will be another of several existing tools to assist SWRE and Western Farmers to lower overall electricity demand.


By doing so, all SWRE members will benefit.


Solar is one part of the nation’s energy plan Solar energy has come a long way since 1830, when


British astronomer John Herschel famously used a solar thermal collector box (a device that absorbs sunlight to collect heat) to cook food during an expedition to Africa. Today, photovoltaic (PV) materials directly convert light into electrical energy. When a PV system absorbs sunlight, energy passes on to electrons. The energized electrons break free and, in the right conditions, join an electric current—which can then power your home. Over the past 20 years, the price of PV modules has


tumbled, and PV arrays are emerging as an ever-growing part of the nation’s renewable energy supply. The future of solar energy looks bright! It’s important to note, however, that there are drawbacks. The sun only shines for a set number of hours each day, and cloudy or overcast conditions can wreak havoc on solar power production.


More information about solar energy is available from the U.S. Department of Energy at the following website: www.eere.energy.gov/solar.


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