January 17, 2021 Home
The power lines that run to our homes and businesses are installed and maintained by Powell Valley Electric Cooperative (PVEC), with more than 31,000 member owners. PVEC purchases its power from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), which serves electric utilities in parts of seven southern states.
In the last article, we saw how TVA and other energy distributors are shifting away from coal and towards solar and wind power in their fuel mix. This shift is for economic and environmental reasons. Costs of electricity from coal-powered plants are significantly higher than for solar and wind powered sources. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, coal’s share of the U.S. electricity mix fell from 48% in 2008 to 22% in 2020. Costs for solar arrays and wind generators continue to decline.
Examples of solar power in electric cooperatives:
When Rose Acre Farms, the nation’s second-largest egg producer, wanted to add sustainability and innovation to its North Carolina operations, it turned to its local electric cooperative for a microgrid with utility-scale solar energy. The system—a 2-megawatt solar array with a 2.5-MW battery capacity is being facilitated by Tideland EMC, its rural electric cooperative, to serve the egg producer’s Hyde County facility.
“We are excited to work with North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and Tideland EMC in creating a sustainable and efficient energy source for our Hyde County Egg Farm,” said Tony Wesner, chief operating officer at Rose Acre Farms. “Not only will this partnership help us reach our own sustainability and environmental goals, but it will also strengthen our local community by offering a more reliable and environmentally responsible power source.”
The co-op said the solution will give the egg producer the flexibility to meet its environmental goals while keeping power costs reasonable. The solar array is expected to offset up to a third of the farm’s total energy use.
Closer to home, Appalachian Electric Cooperative, serving Grainger and Jefferson Counties, built a 1.3 megawatt solar facility near its substation in New Market. This facility puts solar power into the grid (to TVA) and allows cooperative members to sign up to get a share of their energy from the solar facility.
Volunteer Electric Cooperative, located in middle Tennessee, is now building a solar plant to generate up to 5% of its total power needs. In its current contracts, TVA permits local cooperatives to produce up to 5% of its power needs from solar and wind sources.
Why is this important to me, a member-owner of a cooperative?
It is important to you, to all of us who pay an electric bill. As PVEC purchases its power from TVA, any power produced locally – whether by diesel generators like those in Kyles Ford or a possible solar facility – will benefit the cooperative and members who pay their monthly power bills. We see panels at Hancock County Elementary School and at Clinch School Let’s explore solar.
Everyone needs to learn more about our electric cooperative. For more information, go to pve.coop.