Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative Completes Construction On Solar Demonstration Project

Thu 10-27-2016 []

(Estherville)-- Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative will hold a dedication ceremony this (Thurs.) afternoon on its recently completed solar demonstration project. It's located adjacent to the cooperative's headquarters on the south edge of Estherville.

Rick Oleson, General Manager of Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative tells KUOO news it took two years of planning and research for the project...Solar Demo01 

"The plant we're going to dedicate here today is about 140KW, it's a pretty good match for our load at the headquarters facility here, so it will offset our energy purchases here. It consists of 546 315 watt panels, again about 140KW so that puts it about just under utilities scale for solar. It does have a very dramatic look as you enter Estherville and we are right here on Highway Four as you come into town, the bypass road, so it does offer a very dramatic look to one of the gateways of our community and says lot about Iowa Lakes and the commitment to our member-owners. Renewable energy has been a big part of that for several years with our wind projects and now we're going to get a lot better acquainted with solar generation."

Olesen says solar is on track to soon outpace wind generation when it comes to renewable energy...Solar Demo02 

"Currently we have about 5,000KW just over that, in interconnects with our member-owners with renewable energy generation projects. The bulk of those are now solar. I suppose we have right around 50 interconnects now across our seven and-a-half county service area. The prices several years ago were 5 to 7 to 8,000 dollars per KW. Those costs have come down significantly, approximately just under $3,000 per KW now installed. So again it's something that we want to definitely look at and see if there's a way we can't support our member-owners. It will return a margin, just like our wind projects, they're self-supporting and we had to find a way to have a project that could stand on its own two feet and provide a margin to our member-owners and so there is no subsidy from one side of the business to the other. It took a few business plans to work the details out."

The dedication is set for 4:00 this (Thurs.) afternoon at ILEC's headquarters at 702 South 1st Street in Estherville.