Northland Connection

July 2016

Platte-Clay Northland Connection Newsletter July 2016

Missouri wind is an important energy resource

Missouri Wind Power

Bluegrass Wind Farm, Gentry County, Mo., when it was built in 2007.

Platte-Clay members enjoy getting about 20 percent of our energy from the wind farms in Northwest Missouri.

Associated Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AECI) was the first in the state to contract to purchase wind from the first Missouri wind farm, Bluegrass Ridge, which began operating in 2007 on 10,000 acres in Gentry County. The farm began operations with 27 2.1 MW turbines.

Following the success of that wind farm, AECI entered into two more 20- year wind contracts for the Conception and the Cow Branch Wind Farms.

Almost identical, both are located on 7,000 acres with 24 2.1-MW turbines. Conception is in Nodaway County and Cow Branch is located in Atchison County.

In 2010, AECI increased its commitment to wind from a larger farm, the Lost Creek Wind Farm with 100 1.5- MW turbines located on 20,000 acres in DeKalb County.

In 2012, AECI contracted for energy from a Kansas wind farm, Flat Ridge 2, located on 66,000 acres across Barber, Harper, Kingman and Sumner Counties.

The newest wind farm producing energy for the rural electric cooperatives AECI serves is the Osage Wind Farm, located in Osage County, Okla., on 8,500 acres with 94 1.6-MW turbines. AECI entered into that long-term contract in 2015.

There are several benefits for members but the most important are renewable energy and stable prices locked in for 20 years at 2007-2015 prices.

Today wind provides enough energy for 181,000 member households. AECI supplements wind with other traditional fuels, coal, natural gas and hydro, to meet member needs.

There are important economic benefits from developing wind energy in the rural areas.

The American Wind Energy Assoc. (AWEA) says that wind energy provides between 500 and 1000 direct and indirect jobs in the state, and that by 2030 Missouri could produce enough wind to power the equivalent of 1.5 million average American homes. Plus, overall, farmers receive between $1 and $5 million a year for lease payments.

With the emphasis on both saving energy and renewables, AECI now has enough power to meet the needs of co-op members with current resources.

 

Keeping your electric cost affordable

Message From CEO

Mike Torres

From the CEO

I want to personally thank all of the members who attended the recent rate meetings held throughout the service area. We hope you found the meetings informative and that your questions were answered to your satisfaction.

We started on the east side, at the Elkhorn School on May 19, followed by the Plattsburg Community Center on May 24, the Platte- Clay Kearney office on June 7 and the Platte City YMCA on June 14. Our thanks to all involved with the facilities.

We were pleased to discuss rates and rate structure with the members in attendance and answer their questions.

The one question we hear frequently is why, why are you going to bill members for demand.

The primary and most relevant answer is to keep your power affordable.

Another important reason for the three-part bill is to allow members to manage their energy costs; you can lower your electric bill if you want to and manage usage.

And a third point to consider is that we’ve all been paying for demand all along. The three-part bill will just show demand as a line item beginning in November with October usage.

To make it easy for members to find out what creates demand, there is a demand calculator on the co-op web site in the Services section. Because we all tend to take power for granted, for the members who are concerned about demand, it’s a good tool to share with those who live in the home.

Families can then decide whether it’s simply more convenient to live our lives as we have been or to manage demand by making a concerted effort not to use several appliances, electric tools or other devices at one time. In any case, how each family uses energy is an individual or family decision.

Again, our thanks to the members who attended the demand meetings.

I appreciate your attendance and it was a pleasure to visit with each of you.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

 

Platte-Clay 3 Part Billing

 

Demand Q & AWe thought we’d share some of the questions that members asked during the recent demand meetings held throughout the service area.

How will the peak demand charge be shown and when do you reset it?
Members’ billing demand will be the greater of the current month actual demand or 50 percent of peak actual demand established in the preceding 11 months. Platte-Clay will set member demand on a rolling basis with a new 12-month period beginning on the first day of each calendar month. As a point of reference, the average demand for Platte-Clay members is 8 kW, creating a demand charge of $20 a month.

Demand will show as a line item on the bill as the demand charge.

How will Platte-Clay determine peak demand?
The co-op has billing software interconnected with members’ meters that can determine the highest demand within the current month and the preceding 11 months.

Going forward, the co-op will review demand every month and re-set member demand if it has increased from the previous peak demand set in the prior 11 months. Members will be billed at $2.50 per kW based on 50 percent of peak demand or actual demand, whichever is greater.

How will I know how much my demand is?
Platte-Clay will base member demand charge on 50 percent of the highest demand set by each member during the past 11 months. Member demand will be shown in the billing detail of the monthly invoice beginning in November, 2016.

How can I find out what my demand is?
Members will see their peak demand in the November, 2016 bills. For those who are interested in managing their household demand, there is a device called The Energy Detective (www.theenergydetective.com) which has a residential model with prices that start at $200. The unit includes customized e-mail and text message alerts when a family meets a demand threshold. We will be testing a unit and if it is as good as it sounds we’ll have a couple available at the office for use.

How can I reduce demand?
All households that use electricity create a certain level of demand. For some families, it will be a matter of deciding when to use appliances to help manage and reduce demand. For some busy families, saving time will be more important than reducing demand.

The easiest way to reduce demand while meeting our household energy consumption needs is to spread usage throughout the day and night, perhaps using appliance timers.

Now is a good time to review our household or business processes and determine if it’s possible to perform high energy consuming tasks at different times of the day.

Perhaps some appliances or equipment can be used in the morning and other appliances or equipment in the afternoon or evening to balance and reduce demand which ultimately could reduce peak demand.

Many newer appliances have timers, making it easy to get tasks ready to go and simply delay the start time. With a little planning, we now have more control over our electric bill with the ability to manage when we use power, not just how much we use.

For comprehensive information on how to save energy and to reduce demand, we recommend www.energystar.gov

In addition, look for suggestions on the Platte-Clay web site (www.pcec.coop) and pick up handouts in the office.

If you have other questions about demand and can’t find the answer on the web site, www.pcec.coop, please send an e-mail to mail@pcec.coop or call the office, 628-3121

 

Making power while the sun shines

Solar Energy Monitor

For those who want their very own solar energy produced by your very own solar panels, the best time to install a system is now to take advantage of the maximum federal tax credit. Currently the investment tax credit (ITC) is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in income taxes based on the cost of the solar array. Currently the ITC is 30 percent of the eligible costs through 2019, then the ITC drops to 26 percent and 22 percent in 2021.

The first step is to find a reputable solar company.

With any contractor comes the importance of building trust and confidence in their ability to provide great service and high quality materials and workmanship.

Since a member installing a solar array is in essence building their own personal power plant to generate energy, homework and checking references is essential. A solar system will be attached, usually, to one of the most important investments we have: our home so it’s no time to cut corners.

Fortunately the Solar Energy Industries Assoc. (SEIA) has materials to help guide solar enthusiasts through the process.

So the first thing to do is to start tallying up costs—does it make more sense to buy a system, lease a system, or contact Platte- Clay for a community solar Power Purchase Agreement?

The co-op offers a lease program – a long-term panel lease — up to the number of panels that will provide just under the usual amount of energy consumed.

With a Platte-Clay long-term lease, members will pay zero, that’s $0.00 for energy and a monthly cost of 0.83 cents / kWh for maintenance and 5.24 / kWh for general distribution for a total of 6.07/solar kWh plus the one-time $815 per-panel lease cost. Any non-solar energy consumed will be charged at the standard residential rate.

If the decision is to install a home solar array, then it’s important to interview several installers. Without question there will be issues, from someone leaving a gate open to a solar panel sliding off the roof to an injury. It’s important to find a company that will take responsibility for their actions.

Here are some suggested topics for discussion with a solar company.

What is their level of expertise?
According to the solar industry, installers should have the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners’ Solar PV Installation Professional Certification. Check reviews and references carefully for those who got in the business prior to 2002, before the solar installer certification program, and others who don’t have the certification.

Experience and reviews.
The enthusiasm with which the number of solar companies has grown is both a tribute to how fast the industry is moving and almost a cause for alarm. While installing a solar system is fairly straightforward, it’s important to have well-trained technicians doing the work.

Insurance and business licenses.
These basic business elements help protect their company and your home and assets.

Promises, promises.
Make certain the solar array is sized correctly to produce the correct amount of energy. Members can find the amount of energy used on the monthly bill.

Platte-Clay will approve a net metering agreement within 30 days for a system 10kW or less and within 90 days for larger systems.

Co-op Interconnection.
Platte- Clay has an interconnection agreement for co-op members on the web site, www.pcec.coop in the Engineering Services section. (For members without Internet service or a printer, please call the office, 628-3121 and we’ll send a copy of the contract.)

Please review with your installer to make certain they can provide all of the necessary information on a timely basis and meet all of the requirements. The co-op requires CAD diagrams, so that too will be a consideration in selecting an installer.

So if the solar bug bites, download the appropriate documents from the Platte-Clay web site and go to work. We’ll be ready when you are.

 

SoalrTech Logo

In spite of an occasional grumble we hear, most co-op members are proud of the first co-op owned community solar array in Missouri, and one of the first 100 in the United States.

We’re number one in Missouri because a majority of co-op members said in three surveys that they wanted solar energy and your co-op responded to high member interest in renewable energy.

Your co-op built a 416-panel solar array that can provide enough energy to serve 14 homes in a space adjacent to the co-op’s headquarters on Hwy. 92 just west of Kearney. The panels are visible from the highway.

For those who like the idea of renewable energy but don’t want to buy an entire system, don’t have a good spot, roof or orientation for solar, community solar fits the bill.

The Solar Energy Industries Assoc. calls community solar “the gold standard” for shared renewable energy.

Here are some of the reasons that Solartech, community solar, makes sense.

First, community solar is scalable. Members can buy or lease from one panel to just under minimum monthly usage.

Second, it’s easy for co-op members. All of the truly tough decisions–manufacturer, quality of panels, components, delivery capability–have been made.

Third, Solartech meets the goal of providing solar energy for those who want it–including members who live in apartments, condominiums or who don’t have the ground space or a south-facing roof.

Fourth, renewable solar energy makes a great gift with no upkeep or maintenance.

Fifth, Solartech prevents 182 tons of CO2 emissions in the air each year, and that’s good for everyone.

Once a family decides to invest in community solar, the next decision is whether to buy the output of a panel for around $6 a month each for energy or to lease a panel at $815 a panel plus monthly maintenance and distribution charges.

For each solar contract, members may select any number of panels up to just under the minimum amount of energy consumed. Generally speaking, for most families the maximum could be anywhere in the 8-25 panel range depending on household consumption.

With the lease option, there’s no cost for the energy from the leased panels, however there is a maintenance and distribution charge of 6.07 cents/kWh. Buying only solar energy is 15.71 cents/kWh with each panel producing around 40 kWh a month.

Because nearly half of the homes are unsuitable for rooftop solar panels, community solar offers Platte- Clay members an opportunity to participate in the renewable energy boom.

Another benefit of community solar is that Platte-Clay was able to reduce the “soft costs,” that is labor, permitting and interconnecting jurisdictions, which can account for around 50 percent of a system. By having co-op employees do the work in-house, Platte-Clay gained a thorough overview of how a solar array goes together and ultimately connects to the grid. While the savings were important, the employee experience and knowledge is just as valuable.

There is high interest in renewables. Since constructing Solartech, Platte-Clay has hosted representatives from co-ops in Missouri, Iowa and Oklahoma. In addition, co-op representatives have spoken to a variety of utilities and organizations in the state, explaining the value of community solar and how making renewable energy available to co-op members benefits the entire membership.

If the summer sunshine is making you think about solar energy, start with the co-op web site, www.pcec.coop, click on Energy on the top tab and scroll down to PCEC Solar Energy.

The contracts are available to download and complete or call the office and we’ll send one your way.

 

DIY air conditioner

made with recycled plastic bottles

DIY Air Conditioner

This may be using the term air conditioner loosely, but this gadget, using empty plastic soda bottles, these have been painted white, can help cool homes in areas without electricity. For co-op members, it might be a good resource for a shed or a barn.

The Eco-Cooler is being built and used in homes in Bangladesh and other South Asian homes that do not have electricity.

Online plans and additional information at www.hellobanjara.com or Google Eco-Cooler for various sites that feature the units.

 

Co-op summer maintenance continues

Platte-Clay crews continue to replace aging poles and update equipment, including meters. Don’t be surprised if a Platte-Clay employee knocks on your door to let you know that they need to change the meter. It only takes a few minutes for the change, and we apologize in advance for all of the blinking clocks.

 

Platte-Clay announces new rates, 3-part bills

Rates effective with November bills, October usage

  1. Customer charge $25.38 – (Currently shown on bill)
  2. Energy – .079 /kWh – (New rate effective w/Oct. usage)
  3. Demand – $2.50/kW – (New, will be shown on November bills with October usage instead of included with energy)
 

The Northland Connection is published monthly by Platte-Clay Electric Cooperative, Inc., 1000 W. 92 Highway, Kearney, MO 64060. Postmaster: Please send address changes to: Northland Connection, PO Box 100, Kearney, MO 64060 or mail@pcec.coop.

Platte-Clay is an equal opportunity employer.

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