Since the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which was a result of an earthquake and devastating tsunami in March 2011, Japan is looking to reduce reliance on nuclear power. To accomplish this, DMEA spokesman Tom Polikalas said the Japanese power utilities are looking for ways to accelerate the rate at which they are integrating more renewable energy resources into their power grid.
After hearing a presentation by Jim Heneghan, DMEA’s renewable energy engineer, at a utility conference in California recently, Koichi Koyama of the Japan Electric Power Information Center, Inc., scheduled the trip to Montrose for a detailed discussion of the economics of the Community Solar Array as well as a tour of the photovoltaic array itself.
Like DMEA, Japan Electric Power Information Center, Inc. was established as a nonprofit association of the electric utility industry in Japan in order to meet the increasing needs for a systematic and sustained exchange of information with the electric utility industries in the world.
Joining Koyama was Takahiro Immaru of Kyushu Electric Power, a company that generates, transmits, and distributes electricity on Japan's southernmost island. Kyushu Electric Power serves more than eight million residential and business customers in the Kyushu region.
“Once they heard [Heneghan’s] presentation, they asked if they could come out,” Polikalas said. “They wanted to take a look at costs and what DMEA was offering its members in terms of lease options. Solar is a nice match with Japan’s mix of resources, and they were looking at types of programs that engage participation based on an option rather than a mandate.”
DMEA’s Community Solar Array program offers DMEA residential and business members a new and more affordable way to enjoy the benefits of solar-generated electricity. Members can lease a portion of two 10-kilowatt photovoltaic arrays from as little as a one time $10 payment. Participating members will then receive a credit on their bill each month for the electricity their portion of the array produces. While leases start at just $10, members can lease as much capacity as they would like. Each $10 block leased will provide 2.67 watts of capacity in the Community Solar Array (an estimated annual bill credit of about $ 0.50).
“We’re honored and pleased that programs developed by a relatively small electric co-op are of interest to representatives of major utilities in one of the world’s most technologically-sophisticated nations,” DMEA General Manager Dan McClendon said.
After the discussion and tour at DMEA, Polikalas said the Japanese energy experts toured BrightLeaf Technology, a Montrose-based manufacturer of concentrating solar power systems.
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