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October 2015


Distributed Generation is in SWRE’s Future


SWRE’s vision of Safety, Service, and Satisfaction is not a static one. Your co-op is constantly implementing new technologies, addressing cyber and facilities security, developing long-range work plans, and diligently working to maintain our system’s infrastructure through a comprehensive maintenance program. In addition to those endeavors, we at SWRE are actively exploring ways that we can be your comprehensive energy company, as well as your provider of electricity. We look at value-added services that can contribute to the satisfaction of our members. One of those areas that we have been studying for the last several years is Distributed Generation – an all-inclusive word for renewable energy and generating sources of electricity. Distributed Generation is commonly referred to as


DG. DG includes home and commercial generators, solar


power, wind power, batteries, and other emerging developments in the energy industry. We are studying all of these resources to be able to advise, provide, or recommend these strategies and products for our members. We want to give the real unbiased facts relating to all of the costs, infrastructure, and real world comparisons for any of these strategies or assets that our members may want to investigate. That way, our members will get the “real numbers” – not something that a salesman working on a commission is pitching.


Generator Program We have examined the concept of selling whole house generators in conjunction with a curtailment program during peak called time periods. We are currently developing a business plan and exploring in-house or outsourced installation and maintenance assets that would be required. SWRE is initiating a pilot generator program to test the concept and evaluate contractors and suppliers. This program will not offset the cost of a generator for a participating member; however, it should offset the fuel and maintenance costs for those members who want a whole house generator anyway for reliability. If you are interested in participating in the study contact Keith Bonham, SWRE Manager of Member Services, for more details.


One caveat for your consideration – the cost for a whole house generator, installation, etc. ranges from $10,000 to $15,000 for most homes.


Wind Generation We have studied wind generation for nearly 10 years. Several of our members have wind generators and are participating in a long-term study. The reality is that some of these generators have done


Solar Generation


Solar generation has improved in quality and price in the last few years. It is also attractive in our area because it could help reduce peak demand during hot summer months.


No pun intended – solar is the hot industry in today’s renewable market. With that popularity, a lot of companies and new angles have emerged to convince people to install solar energy cells. In many cases, the current electrical provider may be portrayed by solar salesmen as the “demon” out there that doesn’t want customers to know the truth.


SWRE does not want to be classified that way. For those who are interested in solar energy, we want to be able to give you all the facts. We at SWRE will help you look at the costs for infrastructure, evaluate kilowatt hours to be produced, and lay those figures out beside your current usage to allow you to make an informed decision without any pressure from someone trying to sell you something. SWRE is presently working with Western Farmers Electric Co-operative, our power provider, to develop community solar fields within our service area. Our co-op’s members will be able to buy a block of


solar power from one of these fields and fix that power cost for 15-20 years. These projects should be completed by the end of 2016. We are presently evaluating sites for these projects. We are also working with a vendor to offer smaller solar options that will be modular so that a member could erect solar arrays on their property (no roof panels).


Batteries In addition to these options, there are also interesting battery options that may be viable to store the DG power produced. We will be studying that market as those products are deployed to make sure that they are viable options for our members. As SWRE explores and evaluates business plans and pilot studies, we will still be conscientious in providing power to our members using traditional resources and infrastructure, but we do not intend to put our “heads in the sand” concerning new technologies. Through our vision of “Safety, Service, and Satisfaction – One Member at Time,” we want to be the trusted energy company that you can depend on for all of your energy needs in the future. After all that’s why our members created this cooperative in 1937!


by Mike R. Hagy


well for our members and not so well for others. If any other SWRE members want to pursue that avenue, we would be glad to share our results as well as results from the cooperative research network which has data from across the country.


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