BARC Electric Cooperative is planning a community solar program
By Bonnie Ralston
BARC Electric Cooperative headquarteredin Millboro, Virginia is looking forward to spring and the receipt of a grant award from the US Department of Energy. The grant will enable BARC to begin the planning and design on a solar program. BARC is considering sites in both Rockbridge and Bath Counties for the new solar project.
Michael Keyser, the CEO/General Manager for BARC Electric Cooperative, has issued a statement about the solar program. Dave Clinton, Manager of Finance and Member Services for BARC, provides the statement by Mr. Keyser.
“BARC Electric would like to begin offering what is commonly called a community solar program,” says Clinton. “We hope to offer that to our customer owners. This community solar program is a centralized solar facility that is maintained and operated by BARC for the benefit of its customers. For a relatively low upfront cost and no ongoing maintenance responsibility, interested customers can receive a portion of their power from a renewable resource by subscribing to the solar project and receiving a share of the output. An added benefit to such a program is that it enables customers to fix a portion of their electric rate for a long period of time as a hedge against future rate increases.”
BARC serves much of Rockbridge and Bath Counties, some of Highland and Alleghany Counties and a small area in Augusta County. Clinton wants BARC’s customers in all of those areas to be aware of a change they will see on their bills. It’s not a rate increase or decrease, but a revenue neutral restructuring of rates that went into effect January first.
“This was initiated by our wholesale power supplier, ODEC, so it wasn’t something we initiated,” says Clinton. “And one of the changes is that costs that were formerly recovered through fuel are now recovered through energy. So the only thing that a customer may notice is one portion of their bill may go up and another portion goes down, not the bottom line. And we just want to let customers be aware of that. So if they see the energy component up, don’t be worried, also notice that the fuel component is all but gone.”
Customers also need to be aware that there’s now a convenience fee, which began April first, for the use of credit cards and debit cards when paying BARC bills. The third party processor of BARC’s credit card payments is passing through the fee, which is $3.95. You can avoid that fee by setting up an automatic bank draft, that way your bill is paid directly from your checking account. And customers can also pay their BARC bills at BB&T Bank branches in the area.
BARC is now making many services available to customers through its website. Customers can go to the member center on the website, register and manage their own accounts. Clinton says that BARC Electric believes that educating customers concerning how electricity is used in their home is the first step in helping to conserve electricity.
“The other thing they can do through our website is set up reminders, alerts, for that friendly little reminder in case they missed the bill, in case they missed the payment,” says Clinton. “They can, without even contacting the office, set themselves up on some kind of an automatic pay system, say automatic drafting.”
You can get more information on BARC Electric at it’s website www.barcelectric.com. Or you can call 800-846-2272.