CoServ Solar Station, the largest co-op solar installation in Texas, has begun final testing of its 2.7-MW solar farm in the rural north of the state.
The installation is powered by 8,448 SolarWorld solar panels, each comprised of 72 cells and delivering 315 watts. The project will serve as a test case for utility cooperatives interested in undertaking similar solar projects.
The new facility is owned by CoServ Electric, which serves more than 165,000 members across seven counties. It will generate about 3.9 MWh of solar energy a year and allow CoServ members to buy units of solar energy under a special solar residential rate.
The Denton County facility is one of 14 pilot projects nationwide to be selected for the Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration (SUNDA) project, a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to hasten solar deployment by electric cooperatives. Under the program, co-ops receive assistance in areas such as engineering, finance, and procurement in an effort to drive down the soft costs of solar development.
According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), a partner with DOE in the SUNDA program, the nation’s more than 900 electric co-ops have great interest in developing solar energy projects, but few have deployed utility-scale systems because of insufficient design standards, cost-benefit assessment tools, financing, and training. Through its affiliation with the SUNDA program, the CoServ Solar Station will serve as a model for other co-ops in pushing past these developmental barriers.