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CVEC Reaches Solar Milestone : 8.31.10

[ 1 ] August 31, 2010 |
Photos Courtesy of CVEC : ©2010 : A worker examines the solar panels at CVEC. Click to enlarge.

Photos Courtesy of CVEC : ©2010 : A worker examines the solar panels at CVEC. Click to enlarge.

Nelson County, Virginia

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) announced that a recently-installed photovoltaic energy generation unit reached a milestone at the end of July 2010. The 2-kilowatt (kW) solar unit generated 1 megawatt-hour of energy during its first 100 days of service. The energy generated in the first 100 days is enough to power ten thousand light bulbs for an hour or almost enough to power the average CVEC home for one month.

Why would an electric utility install a solar unit at their headquarters? Gary Wood, Cooperative President & CEO, said: “Many of our Cooperative members are interested in renewable energy for a variety of reasons. As a not-for-profit Cooperative, we thought that it would be a good idea to conduct an educational demonstration project for the benefit of all members.”

A closer look at the CVEC solar panels.

A closer look at the CVEC solar panels.

“While CVEC will put the energy to good use, helping to power the Cooperative headquarters building, the project goal was to allow our members to share the information that we gained by investigating different equipment options, selecting a contractor, and working our way through the installation process. Members also have the ability to watch the energy generation patterns throughout the course of a day or over time,” added Wood. Central Virginia Electric Cooperative posted detailed information about the project on their website ( and plans to keep members informed with project updates in the Cooperative’s newsletter.

According to CVEC there were some lessons learned in the first few months of the Cooperative solar project:
• There are a good number of qualified advisors and installers in central Virginia.
• There are increasing choices among solar panel brands but the equipment is still capital-intensive with consumers paying $7,000 to $10,000 for every kilowatt (kW) of generation capacity installed.
• Government incentives and the potential for selling SREC’s (solar renewable energy credits) will help to reduce the upfront costs significantly
• Most new installations of solar panels rely on an electric grid interconnection and net metering versus storing energy in on-site battery banks.
• Without an aggressive conservation and energy management effort, the average homeowner will find that solar generation is a good source of supplemental energy but still expensive if being considered as the sole electric generation source.
• Actual energy output fluctuates with changing weather conditions and over the course of the day. The unit never reaches it energy production rating and the photovoltaic system doesn’t really begin producing much energy before 10AM and starts to taper off after 3 PM on summer afternoons.

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is hopeful that members will use the information found on the solar demonstration project webpage to help them evaluate photovoltaic systems and help guide them through the selection and installation process. More information can be found at

Central Virginia Electric Cooperative is a member-owned, not-for-profit, electric utility serving the rural portions of 14 Virginia counties.

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  1. evens says:

    Nice work CVEC! Now could we plan to install 100,000 of these throughout the 14 counties served by CVEC?

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