Rural Cooperative’s Solar Success Story Leads the Way for Other Small Utilities

solar energyAround the country, large utility companies are getting into the solar market. But one of the biggest success stories comes from one of America’s smallest utilities – Farmers Electric Cooperative in Greenfield, Iowa.
 
By keeping purchase and installation options low-cost and in-house, and offering a feed-in tariff (one of the first in the country) that pays customers for the excess energy they produce, FEC has become a national leader in solar watts per customer. This GreenBiz article explains how FEC’s approach could serve as a model for other small utilities. But it can also be an example for anyone who is hoping to generate support for clean energy, sustainable practices, or other types of climate action.
 
As FEC’s success illustrates, getting people to embrace climate solutions is about highlighting direct benefits and presenting the solutions as the smart economic choice. By doing so, they’ve attracted a constituency you might not expect – local Amish and Mennonite farmers, who use solar energy to power the phone booths they use for business.
 
Leadership, like innovation, comes in many forms. If you’d like to help lead America forward on climate action, join us on the Path to Positive.
 

Small Utility Creates Cutting-edge Solar Projects

Kat Freidrich, Editor at GreenBiz
 
In an Iowa community with a large Amish and Mennonite population, Farmers Electric Cooperative has become a nationally recognized solar energy leader. FEC, one of the smallest utilities in the nation, is the subject of a case study by Solar Electric Power Association published in October.
 
“Farmers Electric Cooperative: A Small Rural Cooperative Becomes a Solar Leader” explores the reasons for the utility’s success in introducing solar power. Twenty percent of its members are solar power owners. This accomplishment is no accident. FEC’s leadership consciously has taken a simple and pragmatic approach to renewable energy. This approach could be a model for other small utilities.
 
“The genius of it all is in the fact that there has been no upfront investment by the cooperative itself, so no debt incurred and no capital investment on our part,” Warren McKenna, CEO of FEC, said to SEPA.
 
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Image credit: Balaji.B/Flickr

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