Kentucky is about to get 6.8 megawatts of solar power with the installation of three small solar farms. The projects, scheduled come online in late 2017, will diversify Duke Energy’s generation portfolio in the state and increase grid resiliency in the state's northern region.
The 4 megawatt Walton Solar Power Plants 1 and 2 will consist of 19,000 photovoltaic panels on 60-acres in Kenton County. The 2.7 megawatt Crittenden Solar Power Plant, will consist of 12,500 panels covering 110-acres, is slated for construction in Grant County.
"Now's the right time for many reasons. For instance, the cost of building solar projects has come down significantly in recent years, making it more cost-competitive with other sources of power generation. And solar gives us the ability to add power capacity in incremental steps, allowing us to match the growing demand for electricity in the region,” said Jim Henning, president of Duke Energy Ohio & Kentucky.
Once operational, the new solar farms will more than double the Kentucky’s solar capacity, which had only 6 megawatts installed at the end of 2016, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. Electricity generated at the farms will be transmitted to the grid and distributed to Duke's customers within its Kentucky service area.
Kentucky is dominated by coal-fired electric generation but larger solar projects and rooftop solar are starting to make inroads into the state. For instance, Berkeley Energy Group and EDF Renewable Energy announced plans to develop a 50 to 100 megawatt solar farm at a former coal mining mountaintop removal site in eastern Kentucky. Even the Kentucky Coal Mining Museum recently installed a 20 panel solar array in order to cut its energy expenses by up to $10,000 every year.
"Our customers want solar and solar is something we’ve thoroughly studied and prioritized in our long-term planning,” said Henning. The new solar power farms will complement $5 billion that Duke Energy has invested into renewable energy development in the last 10 years. The utility has developed approximately 500 megawatts of solar in North Carolina and has plans to bring an additional 460 megawatts online in 2017. The utility also has plans to install 500 megawatts of solar in Florida by 2024.Tweet