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US electric distribution cooperatives in Texas have signed agreements to purchase 7MW of distribution-scale solar generation.

The five cooperatives have signed agreements with Canadian renewable energy firm Saturn Power Corporation to develop the solar arrays.

The solar arrays will begin operation by June 2020. Saturn Power will develop, operate and own the arrays and will sell energy to the cooperatives through 20-year power purchase agreements.

The solar arrays will be sited on the cooperatives’ distribution systems to avoid Electric Reliability Council of Texas demand charges and generation capacity charges from their generation and transmission providers.

The electric cooperatives include Bartlett Electric Cooperative, Comanche Electric Cooperative, Heart of Texas Electric Cooperative, PenTex Energy and South Plains Electric Cooperative.

The aim is to increase the supply of cost-effective and clean energy to their members while increasing local system resilience.

The five cooperatives selected the Canadian firm through a competitive bidding process that Rocky Mountain Institute managed as the buyers’ representative.

“Developing these solar energy installations makes a lot of sense for our members,” Bryan Lightfoot, general manager and CEO of Bartlett Electric Cooperative, said. “Not only will we be providing more clean, locally sourced energy to our community and hardening our grid, but we expect to save money over the life of these projects by becoming more self-sufficient.”

 “It has been a pleasure working with this group of dedicated cooperatives to develop a common understanding of the value that on-site solar generation can provide in the ERCOT market,” Jason Prince, a senior associate at RMI who helped coordinate the agreement, said. “This first tranche of contracts executed pursuant to our request for proposal process sets an excellent precedent for additional procurements.”