‘Feel the electricity’: EKPC breaks ground on solar farm

Published 7:28 pm Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Overcast skies weren’t what East Kentucky Power Cooperative officials hoped for as they broke ground on a new solar farm Tuesday afternoon.

“I was hoping the sun was shining so we could reach out and feel the electricity in the air,” EKPC Board Chairman Joe Spalding said.

Within a few months, that’s what a sunny day will mean as EKPC prepares to install more than 32,000 solar panels on 60 acres of property near its Clark County headquarters.

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“Today is a momentous occasion,” Spalding said. “If a few months, the field you see behind me will be covered in solar panels.”

The project, dubbed Cooperative Solar Farm One, will generate about 8.5 megawatts, a fraction of the 3,000 megawatts a traditional coal-fired power plant can make, EKPS External Communications Manager Nick Comer said.

The farm is a response to customers’ requests for renewable energy options. EKPC President/CEO Tony Campbell said the co-op now operates six power plants fueled by methane from landfills after Toyota in Georgetown requested renewable options 20 years ago.

Customers can buy a $460 license which entitles them to a bill credit for the next 25 years based on how much energy their share of the solar farm generates.

“We’re helping our members meet their needs,” Campbell said.

It also helps those who can’t add solar panels to their property but want the benefits.

“I know I don’t want to crawl on my roof and bolt down solar panels and I don’t want to climb back up there when something goes wrong. We will do all the work. Our customers will get all the benefits.”

The project is estimated to cost about $17.7 million and expected to be completed by November.

The vast majority of the 32,300 solar panels will be fixed in position to catch the most direct sunlight. Of those, there will be about 1,900 panels which will follow the sun as it moves across the sky during the day.

This installation is EKPC’s first foray into solar energy.

EKPC supplies energy to 16 other co-operatives including Clark Energy.

In recent months, two other solar farms have been anounced in Kentucky. Last month, a coal company announced plans for a 50 to 100-acre farm on two strip mine sites in Pike County. Kentucky Utilities also completed a 50-acre, 10-megawatt farm in Mercer County.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email fred.petke@bluegrassnewsmedia.com or call 859-759-0051.

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