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Community solar program shining for REA

Runestone Electric Association now offers a community solar program where its members can purchase solar panels. (Contributed photos)1 / 3
The solar panels used by REA are located on its property, which can been seen along Highway 29 South.2 / 3
There are 50 solar panels in this array. REA is looking at adding more if there is enough interest. 3 / 3

Last year, Adrian Ledermann of Brandon decided to try a new energy program — community solar.

The program is offered through Runestone Electric Association (REA) in Alexandria.

Ledermann said he signed up because he wanted to promote clean energy and is a strong supporter of green energy sources.

"Signing up for the program was easy and the program is working well," he said. "I am confident that we will see savings above our initial investment over the next 20 years."

The program proved to be so popular that the 50 solar panels at REA are sold out. However, the association is gathering information on interest to see if there is a need for more panels. The hope is to build another array of panels next year.

Ryan Rooney, manager of business development and energy management at REA, said the community solar program is available to all current REA members.

Rooney, along with Kristin Dolan, CEO at the electric association, explained how community solar works.

REA members who purchase at least 450 kilowatt hours of electricity per year can participate in the program. Once members buy a solar panel, they will receive an energy credit on their monthly electric bill. The cost of one panel is $1,300. One panel is estimated to produce an average of 44 kWh per month. Based on rates from 2014, it would be equivalent to reducing your electric bill by roughly $5 per month.

In the Q&A section on REA's website, it is assumed that if the cost of electricity will continue to increase over the next 20 years, the value of the kilowatt hours would increase as well.

The community solar program has been up and running for about year and Rooney and Dolan are happy with the production from the solar array.

In its first year, the array has produced more than 25,000 kilowatt hours, which is enough to power more than two average homes for an entire year.

If REA members are interested in purchasing a solar panel, they should contact either Rooney or Dolan at (320) 762-1211. For more information on the solar program, visit the REA website at www.runestoneelectric.com.

Celeste Edenloff

Celeste is a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press and has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in June 2016 to report on the community she calls home. Besides writing articles for the Echo Press, she has a blog, “Newspaper Girl on the Run.” Celeste is on a continuous healthy living journey and loves to teach bootcamp fitness classes and run. She has participated in more than 200 races with her husband, Al, covering the 5K, 10K, 10-mile and half-marathon (13.1 mile) distances.

(320) 763-1242
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