An article published by POWER Magazine this month highlights a renewable energy milestone just released by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association: America’s electric co-ops own or purchase more than nine times as much solar power as they did in 2013.
Much of that growth was spurred by the Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration (SUNDA) project. Launched in 2014, the project leveraged funding from the U.S. Department of Energy to integrate solar into the portfolios of electric co-ops, beginning with a partnership with 17 cooperatives across ten states. By the end of 2019, the combined capacity of cooperative solar is expected to surpass 1 GW.
Efforts like NCBA CLUSA’s partnership with Environmental and Energy Study Institute are contributing to this process, spurring broader clean energy adoption by making the technology more affordable over time.
The natural alignment of the cooperative business model and the community solar model is another plus—both have open membership, are local and are consumer-owned. As of 2017, cooperatives had or were planning 196 community solar project.