BY LIZ ZABEL | IOWA ENERGY CENTER
The Farmers Electric Cooperative in the community of Frytown, Iowa has proposed plans to install approximately four acres of solar panels to generate energy for the co-op. But this is just part of the plan. A second installation would add nearly 5 more acres.
The co-op has been investing in solar power since 2008, as part of their goal to generate 15 percent of their entire power output using renewable energy by 2025. First, they installed arrays at Township Elementary and Iowa Mennonite School for renewable energy and educational opportunities. A third array is planned for Pathway Christian School near Kalona as well. Then they installed a solar garden behind the company’s main building, where residents could purchase solar panels at a reduced cost and have the value of the power generated deducted from their electric bill. Another initiative allows residents to purchase and install site arrays near their businesses, farms, or homes.
According to the co-op’s manager, Warren McKenna, approximately 15 percent of the co-op’s 600 customers already invest in solar power. The Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) National Renewable Energy Laboratory said the co-op’s Green Power Project was ranked third in the nation for customer participation with more than 11 percent involvement.
Construction on the planned 2,000 panel farm is set to start in 2014. When finished, it will be the largest solar field in the state, according McKenna, who predicts the project may help meet their goal to reach 15 percent renewable use by 2025 almost 10 years ahead of schedule.
Frytown, Iowa, co-op strives to be leader in harnessing solar power, Omaha World Herald
Electric co-op goes solar, Capital Press
Johnson County’s Field of Beams, Iowa City Press Citizen