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Cooperative Solar - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Sumter EMC Cooperative Solar?
Sumter EMC Cooperative Solar offers residential members solar energy from a large solar facility that generates solar energy more economically than rooftop or yard installations. The solar energy is delivered from the large solar facility to the member's home by the same distribution lines already in place. And it enables the member to avoid many problems that accompany rooftop installations and yard installations.

Why is Cooperative Solar better than installing a system on my roof?
Putting a solar system on your roof will require you to have a sound structure with a roof covering that is less than three years old.  It will require you to remove all trees or obstructions that would shade your roof during the day.  There are energy savings lost during the summer months by exposing your house to full sun.  You would be responsible for the maintenance on the solar system as well as damage that could come from wind and hail storms. The presence of the rooftop solar is a problem when shingles must be replaced. There could also be considerable cost to upgrade your electrical system to handle the power generated by the solar system.  Building codes and neighborhood covenants may also pose problems. There could also be an issue with increased property taxes from the value added to your property. There is a question whether the presence of a solar installation will be a positive or a negative in the event you choose to sell your home.

Owning rooftop solar requires an upfront cash payment as well as a long-term commitment. While leasing enables you to avoid the upfront cash payment, it is still a long-term commitment and may require certain credit approvals.

What about putting the solar system in my yard?
You have many of the same problems that you would have had by placing the solar system on your roof.  While you would avoid the roof structure issues, you would add the loss of yard space and pick up maintaining the property around the solar system.

Do I have to be a member of Sumter EMC to participate in Cooperative Solar?
Yes. You must be a member with an active residential account to participate in Sumter EMC Cooperative Solar.

How soon can I participate in Cooperative Solar? 
You can sign-up now.  Your billing and energy credits start with your February 2016 billing.  

How much will it cost to participate in Cooperative Solar? 
The price is $25.00 per month for each energy block you purchase plus applicable sales tax.  

How many energy blocks can I purchase?
Each residential member may purchase up to two blocks of solar energy on a first-come, first-served basis.  If blocks are sold out, we will place your name on a waiting list.

How much energy will I get from each solar energy block?
Each block is expected to generate between 136 and 237 kilowatt hours of energy per month based upon variables such as the sun’s position, season of the year, number of cloudy or rainy days in the month and other factors.  

How do I get credit for purchasing a block of solar energy capacity?
We will credit your monthly utility bill to reflect the amount of electricity produced from the previous month by your portion of the Cooperative Solar facility.  You get the benefits of solar energy without installing panels on your roof or property.

Do I own any solar panels if I participate in Cooperative Solar?
No. You are purchasing the electricity generated by the solar panels, but you will not own any property or equipment.

How long is my contract?
There is no long-term contract.  You may quit at any time by notifying Sumter EMC before your account bills for the current month.  In the event your account has billed you will not be billed the next month.  Keep in mind, when you leave the program you may have to be placed on a waiting list to get back on solar.

What if I rent and do not own my property?
Since there is no equipment required on the property, renters may participate the same as homeowners.

What happens if I move?
No problem.  You can keep your solar energy blocks if you move to another location served by Sumter EMC.  If you move outside of the cooperative’s service territory or otherwise discontinue participating in Cooperative Solar, the co-op will make the block of energy available for another interested member.

How about maintenance cost on the system?
Sumter EMC maintains the solar units and there is never a charge to you for maintenance and up-keep to the solar system.

What are the risks to participating in Cooperative Solar?
None. You may stop participating at any time and there is nothing that changes on the equipment in your yard and on your home.

Where is Cooperative Solar energy generated?
The initial source of solar energy for Cooperative Solar is a 135 acre, 20 megawatt (ac) solar energy project near Hazlehurst, Georgia.  The Hazlehurst project is providing solar energy to Sumter EMC and 27 other EMCs that are co-owners of Green Power EMC.  If member interest in Cooperative Solar is sufficient, another solar generating facility may be constructed to provide additional capacity.

How does a utility determine the location of solar generation facilities?
Several factors go into locating a large utility-scale solar generating facility.  All factors must contribute to the construction of a facility large enough to achieve economies of scale. It must be close to transmission power lines and should have full view of the sun from early morning until sunset.  There are also lower costs of construction and maintenance by having a larger site that houses several acres of panels. Additional factors are property taxes and costs of land.

Would it have been better to locate the Cooperative Solar generating facility inside Sumter EMC’s service area?
Not necessarily.  The technology we have today to generate and transmit electric power enables Sumter EMC to locate generation resources just about anywhere in Georgia.

Sounds good! How do I sign up? 
You may come in now and sign up for Sumter EMC Cooperative Solar.  You may apply at any of our three offices in Cusseta, Leesburg or Americus, GA.   We’ll be allocating portions of the solar generating facility on a “first-come, first-served” basis.  For more information, contact our office by calling 800-342-6978, or fill out the online interest form.

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