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Community Solar Survey Completed

We recently hired National Rural Electric Association (NRECA) Market Research to conduct surveys on our behalf in order to learn whether our members would support a Community Solar project. We received the results of the survey in mid-March.

If you’ve been following our newsletter, website or bill stuffers, you’ll know that Crow Wing Power would not subsidize or pay for any of a Community Solar project. The project would only be for those members that are willing to pay for shares in the panels at a cost of $1,200 to $1,600 upfront.  In turn, they would receive credits at about $50 annually, based on the value of the solar output of those panels. We want to make it clear that those who don’t want to participate, will not pay for this project.

Telephone surveys had a total of 304 residential members respond and an online survey of 268 were completed. So all in all we had 572 residential opinions and thoughts.

We, like other cooperatives in the nation, use NRECA Market Research for our bi-annual satisfaction surveys as well.

For one of the questions, members were asked how likely it is that they would pay $1,200 to $1,600 to participate. Four percent said they definitely would. Fifteen percent said they probably would. That’s a substantial number based on about 40,000 members total. We were surprised, but know we live in an environmentally sensitive area in the lakes area.

For those that appear to support participating in a Community Solar project, environment more than finances seems to be the most important factor.

We did have a lot of comments given to us both pro and con with a great majority of members not wanting to finance such a project and sharing their concerns about future electric rates. The payback period for a solar project like this is quite lengthy, taking typically more than 20 years to get a return on your investment.  With that knowledge we had 32 comments including one positive, 21 negative and ten neutral.

The Board of Directors received a presentation on the survey results and will make a decision at a later meeting. In the meantime, we have not run specific details on a project yet.

If we decide to build a Community Solar project, we would get some bids on solid specifications and most likely have the interested members put a deposit down to insure the project is no cost to Crow Wing Power.

Once we have more news, we'll keep you informed!

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