solar power

Tietje family in front of solar panels

Solar power: Call us first

Nick and Amanda Kelly knew they were making a long-term investment, one they hoped would benefit not only their wallets, but the entire planet.

“It’s like most things that sound too good to be true,” says Andrew Finton, energy advisor for North Central Electric Cooperative, of which the Kellys are members. “The solar company either didn’t have or didn’t give them any information that is specific to connecting to the (co-op) system, and it would have made a big difference — things like our on- and off-peak rates and our demand charge that are designed to make our billing fair to all of our members. The numbers they were using to estimate the savings on their bill weren’t even close to real life.”

Times, they are a-changing

I began writing about industry issues in this magazine two years ago, shortly after I became president and CEO of Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives. I noted then that these are “interesting times.”

Actually, these times are more than simply “interesting.” Fact is, we’ve gone through a period of historic change: Older coal plants have been cleaned up or closed, while natural gas, wind, and solar power generation have increased, surpassing the role that coal once played as the leading source of power generation. The electric power that’s produced today is cleaner than it has ever been.

Solar panels on a roof.

Co-ops can help members connect renewables to the grid

There are lots of reasons that electric consumers may check into the possibility of generating some of their own power — after all, sunshine and wind are seemingly free, and modern technology has made it possible to use those resources at the household or building level in a way that’s never been possible.

But there’s much to consider before making that decision: economics — the real monetary potential of the system; safety — for both consumers and lineworkers trying to restore power during an outage; and reliability — ensuring a steady flow of electricity.

A picture of OurSolar's logo.

Here comes the sun: Bringing the power of the sun into your home

While many people endorse the benefits of solar power, the idea of their actually installing and maintaining a costly rooftop grid might never see the light of day.

Through a community solar program called OurSolar, members of Ohio’s Electric Cooperatives will soon be able to plug into the sun without the drawbacks of doing it themselves. As part of OurSolar, Buckeye Power is beginning to build new solar panel arrays at several locations around the state, bringing more emission-free energy to Ohio’s electric cooperatives.