Anya Schoolman – Episode 1 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

Date: 16 Jan 2013 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States, Podcast | 1 Facebooktwitterredditmail

What began as a group of neighbors hoping to reduce their impact on global warming has since become a major force for solar advocacy in Washington, DC. The Mount Pleasant Solar Cooperative was started by two teenage boys who wanted to make solar power convenient and affordable through a bulk-purchase program… Read More

Minnesota’s First Community Solar Project is Minnesota-Made

Date: 7 Sep 2012 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 13 Facebooktwitterredditmail

Update 12/20/12: This project includes battery storage. Just last month, the Wright-Hennepin Cooperative Electric Association, serving communities just north and west of the Twin Cities metropolitan area, announced Minnesota’s first community solar project.  The 40 kW solar array will be … Read More

Change in Federal Incentive Enables Cooperative to Own Wind Project

Date: 19 May 2011 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 7 Facebooktwitterredditmail

The use of tax credits as the primary federal incentive for renewable energy has often stymied cities, counties, and cooperatives from constructing and owning their own wind farm.  But the temporary cash grant in lieu of the tax credit (expiring this December) has opened the door for one South Dakota cooperative and over 600 local investors:

The Crow Lake Wind Project, built by electric cooperative Basin Electric subsidiary PrairieWinds SD 1, Inc., is located just east of Chamberlain, S.D. With 150 MW of the project’s 162 MW owned by Basin Electric subsidiary PrairieWinds SD1, Inc., the facility has taken over the title of being the largest wind project in the U.S. owned solely by a cooperative, according to Basin Electric. [emphasis added]

The project is also distinguished for having local investors in addition to ownership by the local cooperative:

The entire project consists of 108 GE 1.5-MW turbines, 100 of which are owned and operated by PrairieWinds. A group of local community investors called the South Dakota Wind Partners owns seven of the turbines, and one turbine has been sold to the Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI), to be used as part of the school’s wind turbine technology program, which launched in 2009. PrairieWinds, which constructed the seven turbines now owned by the South Dakota Wind Partners, will also operate them. [emphasis added]

The key to success was the limited-time opportunity for the cooperative to access the federal incentive for wind power:

The opportunity became viable following passage of 2009’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which created a tax grant option allowing small investors to access government incentives and tax benefits, making public wind ownership possible. Creating the Wind Partners for that purpose were Basin Electric member East River Electric Power Cooperative, the South Dakota Farm Bureau Federation, the South Dakota Farmers Union and the South Dakota Corn Utilization Council…

“This development model created opportunity for small local investors to have direct local ownership in wind energy and access the tax benefits previously reserved for large equity investors,” said Jeff Nelson, general manager at East River Electric. “It offers a model for others to participate in community-based wind projects.”

The South Dakota Wind Partners consist of over 600 South Dakota investors, some who host the project’s 7 turbines and many who do not.  Investors bought shares in increments of $15,000 (combinations of debt and equity).  Brian Minish, who manages the project for the South Dakota Wind Partners, hopes to see future opportunities for this kind of development.  “There’s a lot of political benefit in letting local people become investors in the project,” Minish said in an interview this afternoon, “local ownership can help reduce opposition to wind power projects.”

Photo credit: Flickr user tinney

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YAYA! Bike Co-op Charts Rapid Growth

Date: 1 Nov 2002 | posted in: Retail | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

The number of businesses belonging to purchasing cooperatives has doubled in the last ten years, to about 50,000, according to Paul Hazen of the National Cooperative Business Association. In the hardware and grocery sectors, long-established co-ops like Ace Hardware, have provided an essential line of defense against large chains and made the difference between survival and failure for countless independent merchants. The co-op model is now spreading to other retail sectors. … Read More

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