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Kansas Electric Co-Ops team up for solar power rate stability

(WDBJ)
Published: Nov. 21, 2020 at 12:36 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - 12 Kansas Electric Cooperatives are partnering to develop Sun Farms across 800 miles in the state.

Today’s Power says using the sixth cooperative principle of cooperation, 12 co-ops are joining together to make a small investment for the next 25 years to harvest sunshine. It said participating electric cooperatives will be able to produce low-cost solar energy to serve their members through the Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program and reduce the peak demand.

According to Today’s Power, under the cooperative’s unique programming, the Sun Power Program will be a series of solar farms developed by TPI to harvest renewable energy I the state for participating cooperatives. It said the 25-year program has attracted the best long term pricing and will result in the construction of over 20 Megawatts of solar power spread out across 800 miles of Kansas.

TPI said the opportunity arose when the wholesale power contract between the participating co-ops and their G&T, Kansas Electric Power Cooperatives, was modified to provide the cooperatives with the ability to procure up to 15% of peak demand with 5% specifically allowing for the addition of solar.

According to TPI, proving that utility-scale solar provides a more cost-effective way to benefit all consumers of the cooperatives, it has chosen to be the developer and energy partner for the program through research by participating cooperatives and a comprehensive Request For Proposals process that was administered by GDS & Associates.

TPI said it is owned by Electric Cooperatives and was created to provide solar facilities to Arkansas’ electric co-ops that could not otherwise use federal tax incentives. It said fellow cooperatives in surrounding states quickly learned of the program and wanted a business partner to provide their solar system.

According to TPI, it has constructed solar arrays for 15 out of the 17 electric cooperatives of Arkansas as well as cooperatives and cooperative organizations in Oklahoma and Tennessee.

TPI said all systems installed will be in the 1 MW range. It said each system is contracted through a 25 year Power Purchase Agreement with an additional option of 5 more years. It said cooperatives will be responsible for the purchase of the electricity generated from the solar farms and will have low costs associated with the development of renewable solar energy.

According to TPI, this method of generation makes it possible for the co-ops to increase the production of renewable energy throughout the year and reduce peak demand. It said the reduction of peak demand will enable each co-op to provide financial stability to its members while also reducing their carbon footprint. It said this is just one way electric cooperatives in Kansas are helping support local businesses, industries and communities with the resources they need to grow.

TPI said currently, the projects are in the engineering phase and construction will begin in 2021 and run through 2022. It said individual projects for participating cooperatives will be announced as initiated and completed.

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