Walton EMC’s successes with solar-powered energy have been making headlines over the last year.
Last fall, Facebook announced it would team with the co-op to supply solar power for its new data center in Newton County.
Then, just a few weeks ago, the announcement was made that Walton EMC is leading all Southeast utilities in solar power development. According to a report by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the big Facebook project is the key contributor to the achievement.
The recent headline-making achievements would not have been possible had it not been for Community Solar, a project Walton EMC started in 2015 to allow access to consumers who might otherwise be excluded from owning and installing their own solar electricity generation.
On July 1, Cooperative Solar begins its fifth year
of generating renewable energy from the sun.
On July 1, Cooperative Solar begins its fifth year of generating renewable energy from the sun. Here are 10 things you should know about this program that catapulted Walton EMC’s solar program into the national spotlight.
1. It’s the largest.
Annually producing 6.5 megawatts of solar electricity, Cooperative Solar is the largest solar project owned by an individual electric cooperative in Georgia. It is also one of the largest cooperative solar projects in the eastern half of the U.S.
2. It’s popular.
When Cooperative Solar announced its first site in 2015, the 750 available blocks of solar power sold out in a few days. A long waiting list of customer-members wanting to purchase blocks of solar power prompted Walton EMC to construct two additional sites.
3. There are nearly 4,000 subscribers.
Participating Walton EMC members, of which there are nearly 4K in early 2019, pay only $25 a month to purchase a block of solar electricity. Kilowatt-hours produced by the solar electricity units offset the same number of kilowatt-hours on each participating customer-owner’s monthly bill. Each customer-owner may purchase up to two blocks.
4. It’s easy.
Cooperative Solar was conceived as a way for Walton EMC customer-owners to join together to support a large-scale solar project. Subscribers reap the benefits without many of the hassles of owning and maintaining their own solar system.
5. The sun is harvested at three sites.
To meet consumer demand, Cooperative Solar has grown to three sites. The first site built in 2015, a 1-megawatt solar project, occupies approximately six acres adjacent to the east side of the Walton EMC headquarters complex in Monroe. The second site, opened in 2016, is a 2 1/2-megawatt project located on 18 acres four miles south of Monroe off Georgia Highway 11. The third site, opened in 2017, on Gratis Road, three miles north of Monroe, added another 3 megawatts of renewable solar power.
6. The output is excellent.
In 2018, Cooperative Solar sites had an average energy output of 222 kWh per month. As of May 13, 2019, the co-op’s three solar facilities had total production of more than 27.7 million kWh of electricity. Solar production has met or exceeded expectations in each of the four years of the program’s existence.
7. It helps Walton EMC meet electricity demand.
The Cooperative Solar sites produce enough sun power to completely satisfy the everyday electricity needs of about 1,100 homes.
8. The highest output is in August.
Energy output from the solar site vary due to the sun’s angle, the time of year, the number of cloudy days in the month and other factors. It’s no surprise that the clear, sunny days of August are typically when Cooperative Solar’s panels collect the most sun power. In August 2018, solar power output was 254.11 kWh per block. Also unsurprising is that the lowest output month in 2018 was December, when daylight hours were fewer.
9. It’s trackable.
The energy output of Cooperative Solar’s three sites can be tracked via the Solar Dashboard found on the Walton EMC website. Data tracks daily output as a total and by the block.
10. There’s no waiting.
Currently, there is no waiting list to sign up for Cooperative Solar. Blocks of solar electricity are $25 each per month and available only to Walton EMC customer-owners. Call any Walton EMC customer service representative at 770-267-2505 to apply.