The Power of Membership empty EQ1

Dunn Energy Cooperative

From the Manager

By Jim Hathaway


Last year we surveyed our membership to determine how much interest there was in a community solar facility.   Almost 30% of our members expressed interest.

What is a community solar facility and why would we build one? 

Well a community solar facility is a large solar array built by an organization, like Dunn Energy, where the individual solar panels, or the electrical output of the panels, are owned by people, like our members. 

There are a number of reasons why we would build a community solar facility and sell the panels.  One big reason is that not every member can put solar panels where they live.  Some folks rent where they live.  Other folks live on heavily wooded lots or on the north side of a hill.  The sun has to shine on solar panels for them to produce electricity and trees and hills block the sun.

Then there is the issue of cost.  Building a 5 to 10 kW solar array on your property is going to cost $20 to $40,000.  Investing in a community solar facility can cost less than $1,500.

Ok so like I said, I was hoping to announce that solar panels for the co-op’s new community solar facility are now for sale.  Well the co-op still plans on building a community solar facility, we have just encountered a few delays.  The biggest issue is getting county approval to locate our solar facility.  We have plenty of land around our office building but the building is served by Xcel Energy so we can’t put it there.  We have a couple of sites selected.  It’s just a matter of getting zoning approval from the county.  We have been working on that and we think that final approval will come next month.  So look for our announcement soon. 

We are pretty excited about this and we think that our members will be too. 

Now even though the panels aren’t for sale yet, some of you may be wondering what the plan is and how much it will cost to buy a panel in our community solar facility.  Right now our plan is to build a 100 kilowatt facility.  That will cover about half an acre of land.  So it’s going to be pretty big.  We will be selling around 200 panels.  The cost hasn’t been determined yet, but it will probably be between $1,000 and $1,500 a panel.  For that, a member will get a credit on their electric bill every month for the next 20 years.  The credit will be based on the amount of electricity the solar array generates every month.

Like I said we are pretty excited about this and, hopefully, in a month or so we will have information on what a member needs to do if they want to buy a solar panel.

Dairyland Power Expands Renewable Energy Portfolio


LA CROSSE, WI— Dairyland Power Cooperative is expanding its commitment to renewable resources with the purchase of output from Sartell Hydro, a hydroelectric generation station located on the Mississippi River in Sartell, Minn.

A long-term power purchase agreement between Dairyland and Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, LLC, for the facility’s total output of 10 MW was effective earlier this month. Sartell Hydro is expected to power approximately 4,500 homes with water-powered electricity.

“Dairyland appreciated working with Eagle Creek, an experienced hydro developer, to achieve this agreement which will be beneficial to our members and the environment,” said John Carr, Dairyland Vice President, Strategic Planning.

Sartell Hydro was originally built between 1905 and 1907 to supply mechanical power to grind wood pulp for the adjacent paper mill. The facility was converted to exclusively producing electric power in 1985. Eagle Creek Renewable Energy acquired Sartell Hydro from American Industrial Metals, Inc., in 2014 and returned it to service as a 10 MW hydro project.

“Eagle Creek is proud to have restored the Sartell Hydro facility to operation and expects to provide clean, renewable electricity to Dairyland’s members for many years to come,” said Matt Ocwieja, Eagle Creek Director of Finance.

The dam location was originally utilized for industrial purposes before refurbishment was completed last year. The facility meets all Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) licensing requirements and produces electricity with zero carbon output.

“The addition of Sartell Hydro to our power purchase portfolio is important to the continuing growth of Dairyland’s renewable energy portfolio. Since Dairyland owns the Flambeau Hydro Station in Wisconsin, we have long known that water-powered facilities are an excellent resource for generating renewable energy. The Sartell Hydro project helps Dairyland further fulfill our mission to provide reliable, environmentally responsible electricity to our members,” said Carr.

With headquarters in La Crosse, Wis., Dairyland provides wholesale electricity to 25 member distribution cooperatives and 17 municipal utilities in Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa and Illinois. Please visit For more information on Eagle Creek Renewable Energy, visit