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TCEC first utility in Oklahoma to launch community solar project

Solar energy is going to be a hot topic for Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC) members. The cooperative has reached an agreement with Today’s Power, Inc., (TPI) a subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., to construct a one megawatt solar array near its headquarters in Hooker this year. TCEC will offer its members the opportunity to purchase solar energy produced by the new system, making it the first electric utility in Oklahoma to offer community solar to its members.

Solar Array - Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Solar Array
Source: Oak Ridge National Laboratory

“Our members showed a strong interest in renewable energy in our recent survey,” TCEC Chief Operating Officer Zac Perkins said. “By working to understand their needs and meeting them, we are satisfying our cooperative’s mission to improve the quality of life of those we serve.”

Community solar allows many members to share the benefits of one local installation. Interested members will purchase a panel, or more if they choose, and receive a credit on their bill for the energy produced by that panel.

All members will benefit from the community solar project regardless of their participation. TCEC’s Chief Operating Officer Zac Perkins said the project will not be subsidized by members that choose not to participate and it reflects TCEC’s commitment to the community.

“The TPI solar product will provide our members access to reasonably-priced renewable energy,” Perkins said. “Ultimately, the energy produced at the facility will be consumed by our membership resulting in savings in wholesale power fees and related costs. The end result is lower cost to our members.”

Providing this community solar option ties to the cooperative principles TCEC abides by, especially “Member Economic Participation” and “Concern for Community.” TCEC’s community solar option is a simple, affordable way for members to participate in renewable energy that also benefits all cooperative members.

“Our solar offering provides maximum energy density and requires approximately 40 percent less space than traditional systems,” Michael Henderson, president of TPI, said.

TCEC’s community solar facility is projected to generate 50,473,300 kilowatt-hours of electricity and prevent 40,379 tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its 25-year useful life. TPI’s structure effectively provides a 30 percent discount below the installed cost.

“TPI’s solution is a relatively low capital investment system compared to other industry offerings that require higher capital level outlays that simply increase the end power cost to consumers,” Henderson said.

More information on this project will be forthcoming. Watch TCEC’s monthly member newsletter and www.tcec.coop for regular updates in the coming months.

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Headquartered in Hooker, Oklahoma, Tri-County Electric Cooperative (TCEC) is a not-for-profit distribution cooperative owned and controlled by its members. TCEC is committed improving the quality of life for its members and communities by delivering safe, reliable and affordable electric service. The cooperative serves about 23,000 meters in the Oklahoma Panhandle, southwestern Kansas, the northern border of the Texas Panhandle and parts of Colorado and New Mexico. TCEC is a Touchstone Energy cooperative. For more information, visit www.tcec.coop.

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