Sunday, June 26, 2016

Electric Co-op Collaboration Launches Community Solar Program

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The National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange and the National Renewables Cooperative Organization have launched a program that seeks to make solar photovoltaic generation more cost effective for electric cooperatives and their members.

“This collaborative program will provide electric cooperatives with a streamlined process to develop solar energy projects in a more cost-effective way,” CFC CEO Sheldon C. Petersen said. “Our network has a history of working together to solve complex problems. This effort is another example of cooperation among cooperatives for the greater good, and CFC is proud to be a part of it.”

The program was developed in the context of decreasing technology costs combined with tax incentives, which have contributed to the popularity and affordability of solar power among consumers. Taxable third-party solar vendors are able to harness the benefits of investment tax credits and accelerated depreciation to deploy solar projects — incentives that nonprofit electric cooperatives cannot traditionally access.

“Our organizations will be able to provide an electric cooperative interested in developing one or more solar power projects with all of the essential services needed to do so,” NRCO CEO Amadou Fall said. “Basic project concepts can be expanded and scaled up depending on the interest of cooperative memberships, and as more projects develop.”

Through the initiative, NRCO, which includes Colorado’s Tri-State Generation and Transmission as a member, will oversee program management and supporting marketing and legal documents. CFC will provide debt capital as needed for solar projects. Federated has committed up to $6 million as tax equity investment for initial solar projects.

“Our structure as an insurance exchange provides a unique opportunity to provide tax equity investment for initial projects under this program,” Federated CEO Phil Irwin said. “We are pleased to be able to provide this as a service to our members, helping to strengthen their systems and the communities they serve.” 

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