MONROE, Ga. – The popularity of Walton Electric Membership Corporation’s (EMC) Cooperative Solar program is prompting the utility to continue to expand its solar energy capability.
With two solar facilities already online, there is still a waiting list of customer- owners who want to participate in the program.
The first facility, operating since July 2015, has six acres of panels that produce one megawatt of solar power. It was fully subscribed in about seven business days and is located adjacent to Walton EMC’s headquarters on Highway 78, about four miles east of Monroe. Customer-owners who weren’t accommodated were placed on a waiting list for the next project.
The second facility has 15 acres of panels and produces 2.5 megawatts of solar power. It began producing in May 2016 and is located about three miles south of Monroe on Pleasant Valley Road. It was also fully subscribed before going online, with customer-owners again being placed on a waiting list.
Construction is about to begin on the co-op’s third solar project. Located at the intersection of Gratis Road and Mountain Creek Church Road, three miles north of Monroe, the three-megawatt output of this project will almost double Walton EMC’s total solar electricity production from 3.5 to 6.5 megawatts. Panels at the third facility will stretch across 20 acres.
Site preparation will begin immediately, followed by the installation of solar arrays by Radiance Solar of Atlanta. It is expected to be producing electricity by mid- December.
“Walton EMC’s Cooperative Solar program allows customer-owners to participate in solar electricity production without the expense and maintenance of owning their own solar systems,” said CEO Ronnie Lee. “It’s also a way for renters and those who live in developments with covenants prohibiting solar arrays to support sun power.”
For $25 a month, participants receive the electricity produced by their block of the solar facilities, which averages from 210 to 230 kilowatt-hours. The solar kilowatt-hours offset the same number of kilowatt-hours produced by traditional methods. There is no contract to participate and customer-owners may cancel at any time.
“Our customer-owners have whole-heartedly embraced our entry into solar electricity production,” said Lee. “I can see continued expansion as long as demand lasts.”
Walton EMC a customer-owned power company that serves 127,000 accounts over its 10-county service area between Atlanta and Athens.