For a decade now, York Electric Cooperative has made a commitment to renewable energy sources for its members, including solar power as technologies have developed.
Beginning with offering Green Power to our members in 2004, YEC has more recently participated in a 2011 solar thermal pilot project in which 21 members’ homes (70 statewide) were retrofitted with solar water-heating technology with the goal of using the data gathered to determine the precise costs and benefits of solar hot-water systems for residential use.
Recently Clover Middle School became YEC’s second Green Power Solar School, getting a new solar array for students to learn from and joining Springfield Middle School in Fort Mill. The solar cells provide a teaching opportunity for the students to learn about the challenges and benefits of solar energy. Additionally, YEC’s website recently added a renewable energies section to allow members to explore alternative forms of energy.
We’ve recently worked with Santee Cooper to complete a solar installation project at YEC’s Fort Mill office which is four times as big as the panels at Clover and Springfield Middle schools. The panels have the potential to generate approximately half of the office’s use for a year; however, YEC is putting all the electricity generated back on the grid instead of tying it back to the office.
The progression continues with our involvement with other South Carolina co-ops in the Colleton County Solar Farm project, the largest in South Carolina.
Our commitment to renewable energies is shared by electric cooperatives nationwide. Co-ops have doubled their owned and purchased renewable energy capacity since 2009, according to information released recently by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. This capacity includes power generated from wind, solar, small hydro, biomass, landfill gas and geothermal installations. By supporting a wide range of fuels for electric power, YEC and cooperatives nationwide can help reduce costs and keep rates low.
Best way forward
See the story regarding renewable energy programs we’re now offering. Please note that participation in these programs is completely voluntary. We’d like to stress that our members will not be subsidizing YEC’s renewable energy programs. Both solar and wind must represent viable alternatives in order for York Electric to embrace them. Our hope is that advances in technology will bring that to pass.
In the meantime, we’re pleased to offer programs that help our co-op and our communities find the best way forward. We’ll have even more good news to share with you in the coming months about projects now in the planning stages.