HAYS — A sister company of Hays-based Sunflower Electric Power Corp. announced today it will purchase energy from what likely will be the state’s largest solar facility when it opens in 2019.
The 20-megawatt Johnson Corner Solar Project will be located on 241 acres 2 miles southwest of Johnson City in Stanton County. It is expected to be operational in the second half of 2019 and be comprised of 86,000 solar panels producing 55,000 megawatt hours annually, according to a press release issued prior to the announcement.
Mid-Kansas Electric Co. has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with London-based Lightsource BP, who will build, own and operate the facility. Mid-Kansas consists of five rural electric cooperatives and one wholly owned subsidiary in 33 counties. Its members include Lane-Scott Electric Cooperative, Dighton; Prairie Land Electric Cooperative, Norton; Southern Pioneer Electric Co., Ulysses; The Victory Electric Cooperative Association, Dodge City; Western Cooperative Electric Association, WaKeeney; and Wheatland Electric Cooperative, Scott City.
Lt. Gov. Tracey Mann was on hand Tuesdmorning with officials from Mid-Kansas Electric Co. to make the announcement at Sunflower’s headquarters in Hays.
Also in attendance were representatives of Lightsource BP and the National Renewables Cooperative Organization, which facilitated the partnership.
“Kansans have a long history of capitalizing on opportunities that make the most of our abundant resources,” Mann said in the release. “Gov. (Jeff) Colyer and I congratulate Mid-Kansas, Lightsource BP and NRCO on their successful collaboration to construct what will be the largest solar project in Kansas. The Johnson Corner Solar Project illustrates a commitment to renewable energy resources that compliment dispatchable energy resources.”
According to the press release, the location was selected for its generating potential and because a generating facility at the location will reduce loading on an existing transmission line that is operating near its full capacity, thus deferring or eliminating a costly transmission upgrade that would otherwise be needed in the near future.
Other solar facilities in Kansas include:
• Hays-based Midwest Energy was the first utility in the state to offer solar power to its customers. Its 1 megawatt Community Solar Array near Colby opened in February 2015. Its 3,960 solar panels sit on 8 acres.
• Kansas Electric Power Coop, headquartered in Topeka, opened the 1 megawatt Prairie Sky Solar Farm in March northeast of Andover. It has 4,560 solar panels on 8.5 acres.
• Westar Energy opened a 1.2 megawatt facility in July near Hutchinson with 4,000 solar panels. It is at this point the state’s largest solar facility.