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 two 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.
“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,” said Anthony “Tony” Campbell, EKPC’s President & 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,” said David Crews, Sr. 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 also will 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.