Verendrye Electric Cooperative
Solar Livestock Pumps
Verendrye Electric Cooperative serves 10,600 customers in a 6-county area surrounding Minot, North Dakota. Because it covers such a large area, its costs of maintaining 4,000 miles of distribution lines have always been high. Many of these lines support remote livestock-watering wells and pumps.
Starting in 1990, Verendrye began an innovative program of leasing small solar photovoltaic panels for powering stock-watering pumps to farmers as an alternative to paying for the cost of extending electric lines.
Since farmers pay the majority of costs of extending these lines (as much as $15,000 per mile) and the stock wells are only used in the summer months when the sun is strong, solar panels became a practical and cost-effective alternative.
Last year, Verendrye greatly expanded this program with the help of a Section 9006 grant. They will be using the grant to purchase high-efficiency pumps that are compatible with the solar panels. While farmers will continue to lease the panels, they will be eligible to receive the pumps at almost no cost.
This is a win-win for both the co-op and participating farmers. The co-op is able to reduce its maintenance costs by no longer having to maintain remote, underutilized lines. And farmers save money by having a dependable source of electricity at a lower cost than traditional electric service.