In August 2016, Cherryland Electric Cooperative, in cooperation with Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative (Wolverine), sent up a solar flare in the form of a first-of-its-kind program. The offering was called Buy All/Sell All (BASA). BASA is simply that; you buy all your electricity from the cooperative and sell all your solar generation back.
Wolverine said they would accept 10 MW of solar in the form of programs like traditional net metering, community solar and the creative BASA program. THEN, they put a very lucrative 10 cents per kWh generated on the BASA and community solar offerings. This 10-cent number was well over their conventional fossil fuel generation and large-scale renewable supply contracts.
BASA was a huge success and reached the designated 10 MW cap in April 2018. Wolverine went above and beyond by honoring every application in the pipeline at the time. This made the final number 11.5 MW. Cherryland members put in about 2.4 MW of this statewide total.
So, what is next? The Wolverine family of electric cooperatives have always been receptive to affordable public scale renewable projects. It is why our portfolio is 18 percent renewable today (56 percent carbon-free, too)! Large-scale renewable energy done for the public good has proven to be more affordable as time has gone by since our first project in 2006.
Fairness is the ultimate goal. We have to keep rates affordable for every member of every distribution system served by Wolverine across the state. Our programs will continue to support the more expensive rooftop and backyard renewable options, but our long-term goal will always involve increasing our renewable portfolio while keeping a watchful eye on costs.
Thus, we will leave traditional net marketing and community solar programs the same, while the BASA program will continue with a 6.5 cents per kWh price, a 10 MW overall cap and an individual system cap of 100 KW. In addition, we will continue to search for more public-scale projects at prices well under the 6.5 cents.
Why 6.5 cents? This is the average cost of wholesale power supply today plus a small premium for making all of the output available for purchase. It was decided that the Wolverine cooperatives would drop the subsidy for private solar and see how much gets built in the coming months and years.
Why the 100 KW individual system cap? One complaint in the first BASA offering was that large solar developers gobbled up the capacity and that smaller individuals did not get a “fair” piece of the 10 MW “pie.” Capping systems at 100 KW will resolve this complaint.
Those interested in large systems over 100 KW will be handled on a case-by-case basis at prices that reflect large public-scale projects in our regional market. Essentially, we will let the large public-scale market drive the price for big projects.
Today, we are sending up solar flares of celebration over the addition of 11.5 MW of new solar in the state of Michigan. I am sincerely confident that in 3 to 5 years, you will see bigger and brighter flares of celebration for an increasing renewable power supply portfolio that is clean, green and lower in cost than our present success.