60-Acre installation would include 32,000 solar panels
WINCHESTER, Ky.—East Kentucky Power Cooperative (EKPC) has filed a request with the Kentucky Public Service Commission (PSC) to construct an 8.5-megawatt solar project in Clark County, Ky.
If approved, the cooperative solar installation will be located next to EKPC’s headquarters facilities, adjacent to Interstate 64 and U.S. 60, about 2 miles east of Fayette County. With more than 32,000 photovoltaic panels covering 60 acres of land, the installation would be one of Kentucky’s largest solar farms, generating enough electricity to power about 1,000 homes.
“This project fits well with EKPC’s strategic goal to diversify our generation portfolio while addressing the desire among some co-op members for renewable alternatives, and also providing a valuable carbon-free source of energy,” says Anthony “Tony” Campbell, EKPC’s president and CEO.
The project is proposed as a cooperative solar arrangement, whereby retail members of participating electric distribution cooperatives can purchase a license for a portion of the solar project’s generating capacity. They would then receive credits on their monthly electric bill for the value of the energy from their proportional licensed share. Licenses will be valid for 25 years.
“Retail members of our owner-member co-ops will be able to voluntarily participate in a renewable energy program that is competitive with rooftop solar,” says David Crews, senior vice president of Power Supply.
The cooperative solar arrangement also provides an opportunity to participate in renewable generation for co-op members whose premises are not conducive to solar panels, such as apartments or heavily shaded areas. Participants will also benefit from the project’s economies of scale.
In 2013, a collaborative group of stakeholders focusing on renewable and demand-side management issues recommended EKPC establish a solar project with participation of retail members.
Meanwhile, the federal Clean Power Plan, which is being challenged in court, mandates dramatic reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from electric utilities.
The estimated cost of the solar installation is $17.7 million. EKPC plans to finance the project by issuing New Clean Renewable Energy Bonds to take advantage of federal incentives that can offset much of the interest expense.
East Kentucky Power Cooperative, Winchester, is a not-for-profit, member-owned cooperative providing wholesale electricity to 16 owner-member distribution cooperatives that serve 530,000 Kentucky homes, farms, businesses, and industries across 87 counties. EKPC provides power through coal-fueled plants located in Mason and Pulaski counties; natural gas-fueled peaking units in Clark and Oldham counties; renewable energy plants in Barren, Boone, Laurel, Greenup, Hardin, and Pendleton counties; and nearly 2,800 miles of transmission lines. Together, EKPC and its 16 owner-member cooperatives are known as Kentucky’s Touchstone Energy Cooperatives. Visit EKPC at www.ekpc.coop.Kevin Osbourn, EKPC Communications