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Interconnect with your cooperative

Today's changing energy landscape is bringing more attention to renewable energy resources, including wind. Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative supports generation that is safe, reliable, affordable and environmentally responsible. When you are considering the installation of a wind generator on your property, key issues are safety, reliability and integrity of the power grid and fairness in terms of cost to other member-owners.

Whenever generation is connected to the electric grid, the safety of cooperative employees, member-owners and the general public must be given top priority. In addition, the member-owner must meet certain requirements to allow your cooperative to maintain the reliability of the power grid and to ensure any associated costs are not imposed on.

Investing in a wind turbine

Before investing in a wind turbine or connecting it to the power grid, you should meet with the appropriate cooperative representatives to gain an understanding of the expectations for both the cooperative and member-owner. Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative will work with you to establish an agreement, which will address these expectations as well as each party's responsibilities. The agreement will also cover the terms and conditions of the interconnection, including such things as rates paid for the power you deliver to the grid, insurance and metering requirements.

Member-owner's responsibilities

The general requirements for a member-owner to install and interconnect wind generation include paying for any interconnection devices that are necessary to protect the safety of the cooperative representatives and to maintain the integrity of the delivery system. The member-owner is also expected to carry liability insurance. Individuals must also pay for the necessary metering equipment used to measure kilowatt-hours (kWhs) delivered back to the grid by the member-owner.

Cooperative's responsibilities

Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative is your partner in providing you with safe, reliable electric service. We have requirements in place to address issues of safety, grid integrity and cost fairness. Those requirements (1) protect the safety of member-owners and cooperative employees (2) maintain the integrity and reliability of the grid and (3) ensure cost fairness.

Cooperatives must adhere to all applicable federal and state laws and regulations when working with a member-owner to connect wind generators to the grid. An operating agreement between the cooperative and the member-owner typically is developed to ensure proper communication and protections are in place prior to connection of the facility to the grid. Consideration must also be given to established requirements for installation, maintenance, metering, switching and liability insurance.

Notify co-op of alternative energy installation

With the passage of House File 2301 by the Iowa Legislature, member-owners installing renewable energy systems must provide notice to their cooperative utilities in writing 30 days before the generators are installed.

Safety hazards result if member-owners install alternative generating sources, such as solar panels or small wind turbines, without notifying Iowa Lakes Electric Cooperative of that installation. Should there be a power outage requiring work on cooperative electric lines, linemen may be unaware of the additional connected generation and think the line is dead. Linemen could easily be injured by power feeding back onto the line from the member-owner's alternative energy sources.

When contacted about new alternative generation that will be installed, the cooperative will advise member-owners about devices needed at the interconnection point that will keep power from flowing back onto the grid.

Ten steps to a sound decision (Questions for a potential contractor/dealer)

1. Does the company have experience installing grid-connected systems?

2. Does the company use licensed, certified and insured contractors?

3. Does the company provide assistance in evaluating the potential electric production for your site and determining economic payback on your investment?

4. Does the company have any consumer complaints, judgments or liens against it?

5. Will the company help with the applications required by the local building permitting agency and the utility for grid-connection systems?

6. How much, if any, of the work will be contracted out?

7. When will construction begin and how long will it take?

8. What type of warranty is offered? Will the company provide a performance bone?

9. Does the company do service and repairs on the equipment?

10. Will the company provide references from previous installations? Can I contact them?

Where can I find more information about solar?

Farm Energy

The Farm Energy website provides information on the Energy Title programs of the Federal Farm Bill and energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities that benefit farmers, ranchers and rural communities.

Distributed Generation Information

The informational guide is intended to help residential and small business customers who are considering installing electric generation (wind, solar, biomass, etc.) on their property.

Federal tax credits may be available. For the latest information, please refer to the Energy Star website.

Wind FAQs

Is a wind turbine worthwhile to build?

Installing your own wind turbine is an individual decision for each member-owner. Your cooperative's role in this process is to help educate you regarding the cooperative's expectations. The cooperative, together with the member-owner, is also responsible for completing an interconnection and purchase power agreement. First and foremost, we must protect the safety of our member-owners and employees, maintain the integrity and reliability of the grid and ensure cost fairness.

We will help you obtain information you deem relevant to your decision-making process. However, the decision is one you must make on your own or with the assistance of consultants.

What does a wind turbine cost?

The price of a wind turbine varies depending on factors such as size or capacity of the turbine, type of turbine, manufacturer, and supply and demand for such turbines.

What rate will the cooperative pay for kWhs generated from a wind turbine?

The cooperative or its power supplier will purchase excess power that the member-owner generates over and above what is consumed at the premise. The excess power will be purchased at rates comparable to what the cooperative's power supplier would incur if similar power were generated by the power supplier or purchased from another source.

Why do I have to carry liability insurance?

It is very common for businesses and individual homeowners to carry liability policies to insure against losses or claims. Member-owners should not view carrying liability insurance on a wind turbine any differently than the liability insurance on any other personal property. Insurance provides coverage for damages to others and their property. It is up to the owner of a wind generator to assume responsibility for insurance coverage.

Contact Us

For questions relating to renewable energy, please contact Al Zeitz at 800-225-4532.