Louisville Gas and Electric Co. and Kentucky Utilities Co., regulated utilities and subsidiaries of PPL Corp., were joined by local and state officials on Tuesday to celebrate the unveiling of a 10 MW solar project in Mercer County, Ky.
The system has already started producing some power and is expected to be fully operational by June. Located at the E.W. Brown Generation Station, the solar project consists of more than 44,000 solar panels on fixed-tilt rack systems and stretches across 50 acres of the plant’s property, which also includes coal, natural gas and hydroelectric generation.
“Today marks another step in the evolution of LG&E and KU,” said Paul W. Thompson, chief operating officer for LG&E and KU, at the event. “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.
Also at the event, Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles G. Snavely commented, “Kentucky’s low-cost energy, based on its use of coal, has been the backbone of our economy, bringing manufacturing jobs to the commonwealth. However, with the uncertainty in our federal regulatory environment, helping advance other sources of energy in Kentucky provides flexibility and makes good sense.”
The Atlanta-based division of Amec Foster Wheeler, a multi-national consultancy, engineering and project management company, is completing 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.