Special to The Gazette
4 Rivers Electric Cooperative, Inc. has joined 11 other rural electric cooperatives in Kansas to invest in 20 megawatts (MW) of solar power to be installed across 800 miles of the state and power 80,000 homes in rural Kansas.
4 Rivers Electric’s portion of the project consists of two sun farms sized at one MW each. Preliminary work has already started on the two tracts of land acquired for the project by 4 Rivers Electric for the project and should be completed by June 2021.
One 4 Rivers Electric 1-MW sun farm will be located just southeast of Fredonia near the Studebaker substation and 4 Rivers’ office along Highway 400, while the other will be built eight miles north of Emporia at 4 Rivers’ Americus substation.
Today’s Power Inc., a North Little Rock-based company created by rural electric cooperatives in Arkansas, will develop and own the two 4 Rivers Electric Cooperative sun farms and the other arrays in Kansas.
Over the past five years in Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Tennessee, Today’s Power Inc. has successfully installed more than 25 solar projects totaling more than 40 Megawatts. A solar power service agreement with Today’s Power Inc. has been signed by 4 Rivers Electric Cooperative to purchase the solar energy generated by the two arrays for the next 25 years. This type of agreement ensures that the cooperative is not at risk or liable for the ongoing costs associated with the solar system’s maintenance and operation.
All the participating Kansas rural electric cooperatives were able to negotiate favorable long-term rates by working together in the Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program. In addition, in the design process, the solar arrays will be customized to optimize production during the peak demand hours of the cooperative, when electricity is most costly. These variables assist 4 Rivers Electric Cooperative in stabilizing the cost of electricity and keeping power affordable for those served at the 12,477-meter locations of the cooperative.
“We are excited to work with Today’s Power to install utility-scale solar, which is the most beneficial way to install solar generation. These projects will reduce costs for our members for many years to come,” said4 Rivers General Manager/CEO Dennis Svanes.
National data shows that solar power in the country is increasing rapidly. 4 Rivers Electric has around 45 members using solar panels installed on their own property and interconnected to the electric system. By investing in these two large arrays, 4 Rivers will help ensure that the clean, affordable power generated benefits all 4 Rivers consumer-members, not just those who place panels on their homes.