During our 2017 annual meeting, we introduced the concept of a solar and wind hybrid electric generating facility to Lake Region’s members. However, the project site that we pursued last year in the Pelican Lake area has been canceled due to a variety of reasons.
This doesn’t mean that we have given up on the concept. We continue to look forward and feel strongly that a hybrid solar and wind project should still become a key element of our rate stabilization plan. We are also seeking to protect the environment. Such a project would utilize local, renewable energy sources of which the output is carbon free.
Following the cancellation of the first proposed site, a Lake Region member stepped forward to offer an alternative location. This new site is very promising, especially since it is in a rural location away from lakes in Trondhjem Township, about three miles west of the Erhard substation. The close proximity to the substation is an added benefit of this new site. A wetland variance has already been approved by Otter Tail County for a single wind turbine and a 500 KW solar array. The size of the substation limits the project to only one wind turbine. Additionally, the energy output will flow directly into our cooperative’s distribution system, assuring that the locally-produced energy will also be consumed locally.
It is important to note that Lake Region Electric Cooperative will only be purchasing the electric output of the project, so there is very little risk for the cooperative—financial or otherwise. The cooperative will not be taking on any debt in this project. Juhl Energy will construct, operate, and maintain the facilities.
While there are still some hurdles to clear with permitting and engineering, ideally this project will come together around November 1st, 2018. Lake Region is in the process of talking to property owners in the area to address any concerns.
Because the solar/wind production will be at a lower KW cost, the project will provide a counterbalance to purchased electricity costs from our other wholesale energy source. Including more locally produced, renewable sources of energy to meet the local needs of Lake Region’s consumer-members makes good sense. Lake Region works hard to hold down all costs, and, in turn, hold the line on the kWh rates you pay.