Nationwide, less than one percent of our electricity currently comes from solar. But the Farmers Electric Cooperative in Kalona, Iowa is doing more … a lot more!

McKenna: “Currently we purchase locally 10 percent of our power through solar.”


That’s Warren McKenna, manager of the co-op. The member-owned utility started increasing the amount of locally-generated solar power in two thousand seven by providing co-op members with the ability to sell their solar power back to the grid.

McKenna says about thirty members – two-thirds of whom are farmers – have small solar installations that together feed five hundred kilowatts of power into the grid.

McKenna: “Then last year we added a 800 kw solar farm.”

McKenna says about eighty members purchased between one and ten individual panels in the community solar farm, and all of them receive a credit on their electricity bills for their share of solar-generated power.

All total, 20 percent of co-op members own some form of solar installation.

This small electricity co-op in rural Iowa, which also supports wind energy from other parts of the state, demonstrates that renewable energy can help reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Reporting credit: ChavoBart Digital Media.
Photo: Kalona, Iowa Cooperative facebook page

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Lisa Palmer is a freelance journalist and a fellow at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center, SESYNC, in Annapolis, Md. Her writing covers the environment, energy, food security, agriculture,...