Using the sixth cooperative principle of cooperation among cooperatives, 12 cooperatives in Kansas are joining together to make a small investment for at least the next 25 years in the harvesting of solar energy. Participating electric cooperatives will be able to procure low-up-front cost solar energy to serve their membership through the Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program and reduce their peak demand.
Under their unique cooperative programming, the Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program is a series of solar farms developed by Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) to harvest renewable energy in the state for participating electric cooperatives. This 25-year program has attracted the best possible long-term pricing and will result in the construction of over 20 megawatts of solar power spread out across more than 800 miles of the sunflower state. 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.
Development. This opportunity began when the wholesale power contract between all participating cooperatives and their G&T, Kansas Electric Power Cooperatives was recently modified to provide Kansas electric cooperatives with the ability to self-procure up to 15% of peak demand, with 5% of that amount specifically allowing for the addition of solar. Proving that utility scale solar provides more cost-effective ways to benefit all consumer-member of the cooperatives, TPI was chosen to be the developer and energy partner for this venture through extensive research undertaken by participating cooperatives and a comprehensive Request For Proposals process administered by GDS & Associates.
Owned by Electric Cooperatives, TPI was created to provide solar facilities to Arkansas’ electric cooperatives that could otherwise not utilize federal tax incentives. Fellow cooperatives in neighboring states quickly learned of TPI’s program and wanted a “known business partner” to provide their solar system.
All systems installed will be sized in the 1 megawatt range. Each system is contracted through a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement with additional 5-year options. Cooperatives will simply be responsible for the purchase of electricity generated from the solar farms and will have low-upfront costs associated with the development of renewable solar energy.
This method of generation makes it possible for these cooperatives to increase the production of renewable energy year round and to reduce peak demand. The reduction of peak demand will enable each cooperative to provide financial stability to its members while also reducing their carbon footprint. This is just another way electric cooperatives in Kansas are helping support local businesses, industries, and individuals with the resources they need to grow as efficient, responsible, and successful contributors to our communities.
Currently, these projects are in the engineering process and construction will take place in phases beginning in 2021 and running to 2022. Individual projects for participating cooperatives will be announced as initiated and completed.
— Solar Builder magazine