Renewable Energy

Co-ops Win Top Solar Awards

By Cathy Cash | ECT Staff Writer Published: October 31st, 2013

The Solar Electric Power Association is recognizing two cooperatives for its highest 2013 honors: David Bissell, president and CEO of Kauaʻi Island Utility Cooperative, as Utility CEO of the Year, and Kit Carson Electric Cooperative as Utility of the Year.

David Bissell

David Bissell

SEPA, a nonprofit in Washington, D.C., that promotes solar energy for electric generation, announced the awards Oct. 22 at its international conference in Chicago.

Lihue-based KIUC, which serves 30,000 members, is working toward getting half its generation from renewable resources by 2023, with solar providing a 16 percent share.

“Pursuing utility-scale solar that benefits all of our customers is a key strategy to reach our ambitious renewable energy goals,” Bissell said.

Toward that end, Bissell and the co-op innovated financing plans for two 12-megawatt projects now in development. By using federal stimulus money and tax credits, the per-megawatt cost of utility-scale solar projects could be cut in half.

Kit Carson’s award stemmed from its new solar projects, including the KCEC Community Solar Initiative, and for the integration of solar power beyond what is supplied by Tri-State G&T, KCEC’s wholesale power supplier.

“We continue to aggressively pursue adding to our solar portfolio, because our members want more solar and because it is the right thing to do,” said Luis Reyes, KCEC CEO.

KCEC ‘s involvement in solar projects included the 1.25-MW Amalia I Solar Array, the 1.25-MW Blue Sky Energy Array near the Rio Grande Gorge and the 98-kilowatt Community Solar Array near Taos Charter School. KCEC’s community solar development partner is Clean Energy Collective.

KCEC in Taos, N.M., serves nearly 30,000 members in Taos, Colfax and Rio Arriba counties.

Also, John D. Hewa, CEO of Pedernales Electric Cooperative in Johnson City, Texas, was elected to SEPA’s nine-member board of directors, the association said.

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