Monroe Solar Project in Pittsylvania County Nears Completion
Will Power 2,100 Meters Served by Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative
Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative continues in its commitment to renewable energy as its generation and transmission affiliate, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), nears completion of a 2.8 MW solar facility, Monroe Solar. Once energized, the solar array, located on approximately 25 acres along Climax Road in Pittsylvania County, will be capable of producing up to 2.2 megawatts of renewable energy to supply 2,100 electric meters served by MEC’s Climax Substation. The solar project has been managed and constructed through a partnership with EDF Renewables North America.
John Lee, MEC president and CEO stated, “Construction of the Monroe facility, which will provide renewable energy to MEC Members, is complete, and commissioning is scheduled by the end of the year. This utility-scale solar project uniquely utilizes existing MEC distribution lines, and the existing Climax Substation, for power distribution at a substantial cost savings. Important to note is that the energy generated will stay within the community served by the Climax Substation. This project has been expressly designed to ensure that all energy is consumed locally and will not be delivered to the transmission grid.
“Solar generation is increasingly playing a more substantial role in powering our nation and in our efforts to incorporate sustainable energy into our portfolio, and the Monroe Facility will be an effective resource in meeting that goal” he continued.
The Monroe solar array consists of over 7,400 bifacial, or double-sided, tracking panels that move slowly, tracking the sun throughout the day. The panels can also be productive on cloudy days as their design centers around reflected light. According to Ecowatch.com, bifacial solar panels are designed to maximize energy generation by absorbing sunlight on the front and the back, making them more efficient than a typical solar array while requiring less space, taking advantage of peak sunlight hours at sunrise and sunset. With the unique design, the photovoltaic panels can also absorb reflected sunlight off the ground for maximum solar energy harvesting.
ODEC entered into an agreement with EDF Renewables in 2019 to develop a group of local solar projects across the territories of ODEC’s 11 retail distribution cooperative members, including the Monroe site in MEC’s service territory.
Also included in the overall portfolio developed by ODEC are Randolf Solar at Shenandoah Valley Electric Cooperative, a 4.2 MW facility; Hemings Solar at Northern Neck Electric Cooperative, a 6.5 MW facility; Small Mouth Bass Solar at BARC Electric Cooperative, a 3.2 MW facility; and Diamond State Solar at Delaware Electric Cooperative, a 5.8 MW facility. These initial solar projects are projected to output 22.5 megawatts, and once completed, the total portfolio will add approximately 50 megawatts to ODEC member communities while at the same time providing regional and energy diversification to ODEC’s, and ultimately to MEC’s, generation portfolio.
“We are proud to play a part in the implementation of the Monroe facility and the increase of diversification in ODEC’s generation resources. We look forward to adding these renewable energy projects to our portfolio as we work to achieve our carbon reduction goals and continue to provide reliable and affordable power to the rural cooperatives we serve,” said Marcus Harris, ODEC’s president and CEO.
“Our unique partnership with ODEC allows for the optimal siting of distribution-scale projects that can deliver maximum savings for ODEC’s members through locally sourced clean energy,” said Myles Burnsed, EDF Renewables vice president of strategic developments for distribution-scale power. “We are excited to continue our joint efforts to bring distributed solar to ODEC’s members.”