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Lights on for SunTuria Solar array

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Farms, homes and businesses powered by Polk-Burnett Electric Co-operative are now drawing electricity from a solar array tucked between cornfields behind the co-op’s Centuria office.

“As far as we know it’s the first utility-scale solar project in our service territory of Polk and Burnett counties,” said Steve Stroshane, general manager of Polk-Burnett Electric Co-op, at the ribbon-cutting celebration last week.

Dubbed “SunTuria Solar,” the 1.25-megawatt array is expected to produce 2.3 million kilowatt hours of electricity annually, enough to power about 200 homes.

The 4,800-panel array is owned and operated by solar developer SoCore Enegry. SoCore is leasing the 10 acres on which the array sits from Polk-Burnett Electric Cooperative. In turn, Polk-Burnett and its wholesale power provider, Dairyland Power Co-operative, will purchase the array’s output from SoCore.

“SoCore is in charge of the ownership, operation and maintenance,” explained Stroshane. “Our responsibility is purchasing what’s produced and getting it back on the system to distribute to our members.”

Polk-Burnett and Dairyland have no initial investment in the $2-million project, but have signed a contract with SoCore to buy the array’s output at a fixed rate for 25 years.

“This is an opportunity to provide clean, local, renewable energy at a long-term, stable rate for all Polk-Burnett members,” Stroshane said.

The electricity will flow to the Sand Lake substation south of Highway 8 on County Road Y in Garfield Township. From there, it will be distributed to co-op members as usual.

SoCore has partnered with Prairie Restorations to plant native vegetation beneath the solar panels, increasing habitat for pollinators and minimizing erosion and runoff from the site.

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