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United Community Solar

This March, United Cooperative Services announced the commercial operation of their 9.9 megawatt (AC) United Community Solar photovoltaic plant in Bosque County.

This new and innovative energy option provides United members the opportunity to have a solar energy option at a cost-competitive price without the expense of installing a system at their home or the upkeep.

United has installed 44,340 solar panels tracking the sun for optimal energy generation in 553 rows. The co-op slotted more than 4,950 subscriptions for its members at the time it was opened for use.

To join, you must be a United member in good standing on a general service single-phase rate class with an average monthly net energy consumption above 500 kWh. There is no upfront cost to join, no contract to sign, no insurance required and the potential savings begin the first year members sign up for the project. Members are asked to join for a minimum of 12 months, and that the solar subscription is tied to one account only. Members must opt out of the program.

So what are you waiting for? Call your local United office and ask to sign up for community solar today! Watch this short video to learn more, then check out the Frequently Asked Questions section below.

 

 

 

Where is the solar facility located?

The facility is located in Bosque County in the southern part of United’s territory.

What is the maximum subscription size?

Currently, United is limiting the subscription size to 2 kW per member.

Why is United restricting the size to 2 kW?

The subscription size is limited to 2 kW to maximize the total subscriptions offered to United members. Capping subscriptions to 2 kW will allow for 4,950 united members to participate in the community solar program.

How does it work?

When you subscribe to United’s community solar program, you are subscribing to a 2 kW portion of the 9.9 MW solar facility, which equates to approximately .02 percent of the total 9.9 MW facility. Every month the subscriber will receive .02 percent of the generation output of the facility.

                                Solar facilities March generation                                                                 1,542,638 kWh

                                2 kW subscription                                                                                      x  .0202 percent

                                Monthly kWh Allocation                                                                              =  312 kWh

In the example above the March total generation is 1,542,638 kWh. Each 2 kW subscription will receive .0202 percent of the total monthly generation. In March the participating members kWh allocation from the community solar program was 312 kWh. The monthly allocation will vary month-to-month depending on the generation of the solar facility.

How does this impact my monthly bill?

The participating member is billed each month for the solar allocation (.02 percent of the 9.9 MW total monthly generation) by multiplying the member's monthly solar allocation by the Solar Rate and the Solar PCRF, as shown in the bill example below. The remaining kWh consumption will be billed at the normal Brazos Electric Cooperative (BEC) rate and the BEC PCRF. The distribution rate will be applied to the total kWh consumption.

What is the Solar PCRF?

The solar PCRF includes the ERCOT market and settlement cost that is incurred for having the system located within United’s territory.

Is the energy production guaranteed?

No. Like a system installed behind the meter, the production will vary depending on weather and season.

Is there any upfront cost to participate in the program?

No. Another benefit of United’s Community Solar program is that it is one way for our members to participate in a renewable program without having to come up with the funds or find financing options to help pay for capital cost of a solar system.

If I have multiple accounts with United, could I qualify for multiple subscriptions?

Currently, the program will only allow one subscription per member. Even if the member has multiple accounts that meet the rate schedule and average consumption criteria, that member can only qualify for a single subscription.

Is there a fee to apply?

No. There are no fees to apply or participate in United’s Community Solar program.

How does the United Community solar rate compare to United’s base rate?

The community solar rate will vary month to month, depending on production and other energy market costs. Using today’s energy prices, certain months (certainly the summer months) will have the potential of being cheaper than the base rate.

How much energy will my 2 kW subscription produce?

The production will vary from month to month, depending on cloudy days, the season, and other factors. We estimate that the monthly average kWh allocation will be approximately 400 kWh. In the summer months, the kWh allocation could potentially be as high as 550 kWh and in the winter months the production could potentially drop to 230 kWh. The variation of production is similar to what one could expect with a system that is installed at their residence.  The big difference is that through United Community Solar program, the member gets the efficiency benefits of the system being a tracking system.

 

The figure above shows the estimated monthly production of the 2 kW subscription and estimated production of similar rooftop systems.

 

Can I participate if I am a renter?

Yes, you can participate in United’s Community Solar program as long as you are on United’s single-phase residential rate.

Is there a commitment period?

Yes. We are asking all members that participate in the community solar program to agree to 12 months.

How long can I participate in the Community Solar program?

Currently, the maximum term is 20 years. Participating members could lock in a rate that is fixed for the next 20 years. The opportunity to fix the rate for a portion of the member's monthly usage is another attractive aspect to United’s Community Solar program.

If I am participating in the community solar program and I move - can I transfer my subscription to my new account?

If the new location is served by United Cooperative Services, the location takes service under rate schedule 202.1, and the estimated average usage is above 500 kWh, then the subscription can be transferred to the new account. 

What happens at the end of my 12-month commitment?

Subscribers are auto-renewed for another 12-month period. If you would prefer to opt-out of the program, you would need to call United to do so.

What if I decide to opt-out before my 12-month commitment? Will I be penalized?

We would prefer that you stay in the program for a full 12 months to receive the full benefits of the program. If you opt out before the 12 month commitment period, you will not be penalized. In the case you would like to opt back into the program United reserves the right to reject the request until the end of the original 12-month commitment period.

Can I participate in net-metering and in the community solar program?

No, unfortunately net-metered accounts cannot participate in the Community solar program.

I’m building a new house and do not have 12 months of billing history can I qualify?

Yes. New connects can qualify as long as it is a primary residence.

Do prePower accounts qualify?

Yes, prePower accounts can qualify for United’s Community Solar program.

If I subscribe to United’s Community Solar program, will I have to have any special equipment installed at my house (i.e. solar panels, inverters, etc.)?

No. The solar equipment (panels, inverters, etc.) is located on a site that is maintained by United. This is another attractive aspect to Community Solar. Participating members will not have to have the panels or other equipment installed on their premises. Plus, United is responsible for the maintenance of the equipment.

 

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