Solar farm applies for permit

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Solar farms like this 1-megawatt sun farm in Arkansas operated by Woodruff Electric Cooperative will be coming to Kansas after the formation of the Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program.

The location of a proposed solar farm announced in November that will be constructed by the newly formed Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program in Harvey County was revealed Tuesday.

The Butler County Electric Cooperative applied for permits and zoning for the construction of a solar facility at the southwest corner of East Lake Road and First Street in rural Harvey County. 

The farm is one of about two dozen that are scheduled to be constructed by a group of electric cooperatives across the state. 

The Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program is a series of solar farms developed by Today's Power Inc. of Arkansas to harvest renewable energy in the state for 12 participating electric cooperatives. The 25-year program will result in the construction of more than 20 megawatts of solar power spread out across more than 800 miles of Kansas.

“Co-ops across the state have come together,” saSarah Madden, public relations director for the Butler Electric Cooperative, said in November. “ ... These 12 have banded together to provide solar for our customers at a low cost for decades to come. ... This is great for our entire state.”

Locations in the region include Butler, Harvey, McPherson and Sedgwick counties.

The new solar farms will represent the second and third operated by the Butler Electric Cooperative. The company constructed one of its own a couple of years ago near Rose Hill.

Projects are in the engineering process and construction will take place in phases beginning in 2021 and running to 2022.

“We anticipate construction in approximately March of 2021. We have not seen construction schedules yet, and I am unsure of the timeline,” Madden said.

All systems installed will be sized in the 1-megawatt range. Each system is contracted through a 25-year power purchase agreement with additional five-year options. Local cooperatives will be responsible for the purchase of electricity generated from the solar farms and will have up-front costs associated with the development of renewable solar energy.

The cooperation of the 12 entities will lead to a reduced cost of construction.

“We got involved because teaming together,” Madden said. “... We were able to build solar power farms at an economies of scale. We can build them cheaper than if we did this all by ourselves. ... That is savings that we can pass on to our customers.”

Owned by Electric Cooperatives, TPI was created to provide solar facilities to Arkansas’ electric cooperatives that could otherwise not utilize federal tax incentives.

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

Butler Electric Cooperative is owned by its members and governed by a board of directors elected from the membership by the members. The cooperative supplies electric power to 7,000 meters in Butler, Chase, Cowley, Greenwood, Harvey, Marion and Sedgwick counties. Construction schedules have not yet been announced for the projects.