Almost 300 member-owners and guests attended Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association’s historic dedication of the WH Solar Community on Sept. 9. The event put into service Minnesota’s first solar community and the first one in the nation that uses batteries to store power.
WH President and CEO Mark Vogt began the evening with a short presentation and ribbon-cutting ceremony. During his speech, Vogt discussed what made the event unique.
“It strikes me that this event is historic in many ways. In addition to this being the first community solar project in the state, this event might be the largest gathering of leaders from the traditional electric industry, the renewable industry and our public policy makers to date. I’m amazed in the number of national industry leaders that have flown in for the event tonight,” Vogt said.
Deputy Commissioner from the Minnesota Division of Energy Resources, Bill Grant, spoke from a public policy point of view.
“On behalf of Gov. Mark Dayton, Commissioner Mike Rothman and the Minnesota Department of Commerce, we want to congratulate WH on their new solar project. The concept of solar communities, in which WH is really pioneering here in Minnesota, is something that a growing number of individuals want,” Grant said.
During his speech, Grant explained how utility members want to produce their own electricity from clean sources, such as solar power and wind, but there were a number of obstacles in their way in the past.
“You have a traditional utility in the business of providing traditional energy sources conflicted by their own members who want to move forward with their own energy production. Those two ideas can be in conflict with each other, but what WH is showing is that those two ideas can work together in a productive way,” Grant added.
Along with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and presentation, attendees were given tours of the WH Solar Community and enjoyed a complimentary wine and cheese reception under a large tent.
The WH Solar Community is an easy and affordable way for members to own solar energy for their homes and small businesses. Members can purchase one or more panels, up to the amount needed to serve their annual energy needs. They then receive a kilowatt-hour credit on their energy bill each month. The credit is based on the number of panels the member has purchased, as well as the amount of the energy produced by the solar array each month.
WH is taking reservations for panels in a second solar community, which will likely be built this fall. If you are interested in learning more about this program, visit www.whsolarcommunity.com or call a representative at 763-477-3000.
WH is a member-owned, nonprofit electric utility that provides electric power to Wright County and the western part of Hennepin County. The cooperative has been a corporate citizen in this area since 1937 and currently serves more than 46,000 electric accounts. The utility started its security division in 1989 that provides local home security solutions and monitors alarm systems for more than 50,000 customers in 32 states and three Canadian provinces.