On Sept. 13, 2016, Laurens Electric Cooperative introduced the state's first community solar farm at the co-op's branch office in Mauldin.
The community solar farm started producing electricity in August, benefiting the cooperative members who subscribed to the output of the farm.
The cooperative's President and CEO David Wasson, said, "As part of our long-term strategy here at Laurens Electric, we know renewable energy—especially solar—is important. One of our goals is to give our members greater access to solar energy. We feel this program helps us accomplish that goal and gives us the opportunity to engage more deeply with our members."
After announcing in April its intention to construct the 100-kilowatt (kW) solar farm, the co-op had fully subscribed the available 100 kW units to members within a month.
Jim Donahoo, the co-op's Director of Marketing, said, "this program gives our members the option to go solar without installing panels on their property. With this option there is no liability for the member, no HOA rules to worry about and the subscriptions are transferable."
Participants chose the number of kilowatt (kW) units they would subscribe to at the community solar site for a twenty year period. For the average co-op member's home, one kW unit will cover approximately 12.5 percent of the home's energy use.
Members pay a portion of the cost per kW unit upfront, and the remainder of the cost is paid in a monthly charge. The output of those kW units is credited back to the member at 10-cents per kilowatt hour (kWh).
Feedback about the program "has been very positive," said Donahoo. "Our members, regardless of whether they decide to participate, tell me they really like this program."
"The concept fits well with the basic principle of a cooperative," added Wasson, who elaborated "community members coming together to build something so they can share in the benefits."
A waiting list has already been started for the second phase of Community Solar, which is anticipated to begin in 2017.
To learn more, visit CommunitySolar.LaurensElectric.com or call 1-800-942-3141.