East Kentucky Power Cooperative approved for 8.5-MW solar project

The Kentucky Public Service Commission on Nov. 22 approved a July 21 application from East Kentucky Power Cooperative for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity to construct and operate an 8.5-MW (ac) community solar facility to be located at EKPC’s headquarters in Clark County, Kentucky.

The projected capital cost for facility is $17.7 million. EKPC is an electric generation and transmission cooperative that provides wholesale electricity to its 16 member-owner distribution cooperatives.

In support of its request, EKPC stated that its members have received requests from customers for solar programs, and that there are a growing number of businesses, such as Facebook, that have renewable energy goals and have not considered locating their operations in Kentucky due to the lack of renewable generating resources in the state. EKPC asserted that the project will permit its members’ retail customers to voluntarily participate in a facilities-based renewable energy program at the least possible cost.

Additionally, EKPC said that the proposed project will address future capacity and energy supply requirements, promote EKPC’s strategic goal to diversify its generation portfolio, and implement recommendations from EKPC’s demand-side management and renewable energy collaborative, which EKPC established in partnership with public interest groups.

This project would consist of 30,400 fixed solar panels and 1,900 sun-tracking panels with a capacity of 8.5 MW (ac). The capacity would be available for reservation by EKPC’s members on a voluntary, first-come basis. The members would, in turn, license their allotted capacity to their retail customers on a voluntary, first-come basis. Construction on the facility is scheduled to begin in May 2017 with a commercial operation date of Nov. 1, 2017.

In order to obtain the reasonable, least-cost option, EKPC issued a request for proposals (RFP) in October 2015 with a preference for proposals to develop and build a community solar facility, but that EKPC would also consider power purchase agreements. The RFP requested bids for building on two existing EKPC sites, both located in Winchester, Clark County, Kentucky: EKPC’s headquarters and itsJK Smith Station. The JK Smith Station site was not selected because it consisted of two, non-contiguous plots of land, which would ultimately increase development costs. The headquarters site was chosen because of its contiguous nature and public relations value due to the site’s location adjacent to I-64, which makes it visible to passing drivers and passengers.

EKPC received 12 proposals in response to the RFP. Six were short-listed. EKPC selected Lendlease (US) Public Partnerships LLC because its bid was most competitive, it had experience in developing projects of similar scope and size, it had substantial financial backing, and it was the only short-list bidder to respond quickly, completely, and thoroughly during the post-interview process.

This solar facility will connect directly to EKPC’s Office Substation. A portion of the energy generated by the facility will flow onto the Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) and Kentucky Utilities (KU) transmission systems for delivery to EKPC load delivery points connected to LG&E/KU transmission systems. Under an existing Network Integration Transmission Service Agreement with LG&E/KU, EKPC will incur no additional transmission service charges due to the flow of the facility output onto the LG&E/KU transmission systems. The project will be integrated into the PJM Interconnection system. EKPC will receive a capacity payment and energy payment from PJM, which will ultimately be passed on and credited to participating retail customers.

Said the Nov. 22 PSC approval: “Having reviewed the record and being otherwise sufficiently advised, the Commission finds that EKPC has sufficiently established an interest in and need for the proposed Community Solar Facility. The Commission further finds that there is an inadequacy of existing renewable energy service, and thus the Community Solar Facility will not be a wasteful duplication of plant, equipment, property, or facilities. The capital cost of the Community Solar Facility is $17.7 million for 8.5 MW, which is typical of the cost of solar facilities of similar size installed recently. The proposed project is designed so that it will not be meaningfully subsidized by non-participating customers.”

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.