LG&E and KU unveil Kentucky’s largest universal solar facility

LG&E and KU unveil Kentucky’s largest universal solar facility

Bill Stephens

April 20th, 2016


(HARRODSBURG, Ky.) – While the sun may not always shine brightly on our old Kentucky home, Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company expect it will provide enough light for their new solar plant to power about 1,500 homes and give the utilities insights into commercial-scale solar technology.

Utility officials were joined today by Lt. Gov. Jenean Hampton, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles G. Snavely and local political leaders at the E.W. Brown Generation Station in Mercer County to celebrate the unveiling of Kentucky’s largest solar facility, expected to be fully operational by June. The universal solar facility is projected to produce 19,000 megawatt-hours of energy annually, enough to provide energy for 1,500 homes based on a usage of 1,000 kilowatt hours per month.

“Today marks another step in the evolution of LG&E and KU,” said Paul W. Thompson, chief operating officer for LG&E and KU. “We’re embarking on a new era and introducing a new source of energy to our generation portfolio that will work in concert with our coal, natural gas and hydroelectric fleet.”

The new solar facility is part of LG&E and KU’s continuous efforts to meet customers’ energy needs while evaluating new potential energy options. The facility will allow the utilities an opportunity to learn more about this technology, including how commercial-scale solar energy is impacted by factors such as cloud cover and how it integrates with the existing generating units.

“Kentucky’s low-cost energy, based on its use of coal, has been the backbone of our economy, bringing manufacturing jobs to the Commonwealth,” Snavely said. “However, with the uncertainty in our federal regulatory environment, helping advance other sources of energy in Kentucky provides flexibility and makes good sense.”

The new 10-megawatt facility, approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission in December 2014, stretches across 50 acres of the plant’s property which also includes coal, natural gas and hydroelectric generation. It will consist of more than 44,000 solar panels on fixed-tilt rack systems that will be positioned to optimize the available sunlight for producing energy.

The Atlanta-based division of Amec Foster Wheeler, a multi-national consultancy, engineering and project management company and industry leader in universal solar, is completing its construction of the facility, which will require a peak of about 200 full-time construction workers. The final cost to construct is now expected to be less than the original $36 million estimate.

“Our Brown Generating Station, with coal, hydro, natural gas and now solar, will stand as a symbol of our evolving and more balanced energy mix as well as our commitment to developing the kinds of offerings our customers are requesting,” added Thompson.



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