News-Miner letter to the editor:
Nov. 18, 2015
To the editor: Unless you’re a close follower of the Golden Valley Electric Association, you might not know there’s a neat project in the works involving solar power. Golden Valley already has a program that lets members support small renewable energy systems installed by other members. It’s called SNAP, short for Sustainable Natural Alternative Power. The proposed community solar project would let members invest in a larger-scale solar project built and operated by Golden Valley. Ownership models and economics still have to be worked out, but at best, the community project would take advantage of economies of scale while allowing members to help clean up our power supply. Instead of small rooftop installations on dozens of homes, it would be one big installation with shared construction and maintenance costs. For those who choose to buy in, the cost of power would be slightly higher than power from GVEA’s regular mix.
Golden Valley should be commended for thinking creatively about energy efficiency and renewable energy. It’s becoming increasingly clear that we can’t keep burning fossil fuels the way we have. Like it or not, policies to make carbon-heavy fuels pay for the damage they cause are on their way. Golden Valley would be wise to start factoring a carbon price into decisions about new infrastructure and energy production. In the meantime, a community solar project is a great way to let members have a say in where their power comes from and, if they choose, pay a little more for power that’s a lot cleaner.