North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives are partnering with egg producer Rose Acre Farms and its local electric cooperative, Tideland EMC, to develop an agricultural microgrid that will deliver a variety of benefits to the farm and surrounding community, including enhanced environmental sustainability and power grid resiliency.
The project will integrate solar panels, energy storage and other components owned by North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives with resources owned by the farm to create a microgrid that is capable of generating its own electricity during times of power loss. It will also be connected to the main grid to diversify traditional power resources and help improve reliability and resiliency.
“This project brings together two of our state’s most significant industries in an innovative effort to make the electric grid more sustainable, flexible and efficient, which results in more affordable, reliable and environmentally responsible power for the farm and for electric co-op members,” said Lee Ragsdale, senior vice president of energy delivery for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.
The first phase of the project will include the installation of a 2 MW solar array and a 2 MW battery energy storage system, which allows energy generated by the panels to be stored and dispatched when needed. The solar production is expected to offset about a third of the energy consumed by the farm. In addition, about 60% of the power Rose Acre Farms receives from Tideland EMC comes from emissions-free nuclear and renewable sources.
“We’ve been pleased to work with Rose Acre Farms to develop this collaborative solution that will contribute to the overall environmental and economic health of our region,” Tideland EMC chief executive officer Paul Spruill said. “Rose Acre Farms is Tideland’s largest consumer-member, and we commend their commitment to sustainability and ingenuity that will benefit our entire cooperative.”
Tony Wesner, Rose Acre Farms chief operating officer, added, “Rose Acre Farms is continually seeking innovative practices to reduce the carbon footprint of egg production. This partnership with North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and Tideland EMC will be another positive step into enhancing environmental sustainability, power source efficiency and resiliency. This will not only strengthen our local electric cooperative for our use but for the use of the local Hyde County community as well.”
Installation of the solar array and battery energy storage system is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2020. The second phase of the project will add a microgrid controller that manages existing emergency backup diesel generators and all the other components to evolve the project into a full microgrid.