INDIANAPOLIS, IN--(Marketwired - Sep 4, 2014) - The National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC), Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange (Federated) and the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) are celebrating the first anniversary of their landmark Solar Cooperative Community Projects (sCOOP) program, which offers electric cooperatives access to cost-effective and locally-generated solar electric resources to their members. CFC marked the anniversary at its District Meeting today.
The organizations created the program in response to growing interest among electric cooperatives in deploying small-scale solar generation resources, allowing members to purchase part of the output of the solar arrays on a voluntary subscription basis.
"Over the past year we've seen a significant amount of interest in solar on the part of electric cooperatives," CFC CEO Sheldon C. Petersen said. "The collaborative efforts behind the sCOOP program have enabled those co-ops interested in solar to pursue projects in a more cost-effective way."
To date more than 20 cooperatives have either completed or are actively developing projects through the sCOOP program, serving communities in California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, North Carolina and Wisconsin. Lake Region Electric Cooperative, Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, completed the first sCOOP project in December of 2013. About 15 more projects either have or will come online in 2014, with the remainder slated for next year.
The program allows cooperatives to own the solar assets while using the investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation for projects -- typically not available to not-for-profit cooperatives.
"NRCO was founded on the concept of aggregating demand for renewable energy across cooperative members and sharing the costs of developing, owning and contracting for projects," NRCO CEO Amadou Fall said. "The sCOOP program brings that philosophy to a local level on behalf of participating co-ops."
In addition to offering economies of scale through aggregation and benefits of tax incentives through cooperative financing partnerships, sCOOP offers cooperatives the opportunity to participate in the ownership and ongoing operations of a growing technology.
Through the initiative, NRCO oversees program management and supporting marketing and legal documents. CFC provides debt capital as needed for solar projects. Federated has committed up to $6 million as tax equity investment for initial solar projects. The program is designed for projects between 100-1,000 kW, although larger projects can be accommodated.
"We are extremely pleased to be able to support the sCOOP program through the tax equity investments we provide," Federated CEO Phil Irwin said. "Being able to invest in our members is an easy decision to make."
Electric cooperatives interested in pursuing solar power options can contact CFC or NRCO for more information.
The National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC) is a nonprofit finance cooperative created and owned by America's electric cooperative network. With more than $22 billion in assets, CFC is committed to providing unparalleled industry expertise, flexibility and responsiveness to serve the needs of our member-owners. CFC is an equal opportunity provider and employer. Visit us online at www.nrucfc.coop.
Federated Rural Electric Insurance Exchange (Federated) is the leading provider of property and casualty insurance for rural electric cooperatives in 42 states. Federated's primary goal is to offer our members affordable coverage over the long term, so they can focus on serving their communities and making them better, safer and more vibrant places to live. More information is available at www.federatedrural.coop.
Cooperatives across the country formed the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) to promote and facilitate the development of renewable energy resources for its members. NRCO's main purposes are to facilitate the cost-effective, joint development of renewable resources nationwide for its cooperative owners, helping its owners meet the requirements of voluntary and mandatory renewable energy standards. For more information, please visit www.nrco.coop.