Sun Farms cooperatives break ground

Published: Jan. 2, 2021 at 1:24 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 9:00 AM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - 4 Rivers Electric Cooperative is breaking ground for its new sun farms.

Today’s Power Inc. says 4 Rivers Electric Cooperative, Inc. has joined 11 other rural electric cooperatives in Kansas to invest in 20 Megawatts of solar power that will be installed across 800 miles across the state and power 80,000 homes in rural Kansas.

According to TPI, 4 Rivers Electric’s portion of the project is made up of two sun farms sized at 1 Megawatt each. It said preliminary work has already been started on the two plots of land acquired for the project by 4 Rivers Electric for the project. It said construction is expected to be completed by June of 2021.

TPI said one 4 Rivers Electric 1 Megawatt sun farm will be located southeast of Fredonia, near the Studebaker substation and 4 Rivers’ office along Highway 400. It said the other will be located 8 miles north of Emporia at 4 Rivers’ Americus substation.

TPI said it is a North Little Rock-based company created by rural electric cooperatives in Arkansas. It said it will develop and own the two sun farms and the other arrays in Kansas. It said over the past 5 years in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee it has successfully installed over 25 solar projects that have totaled over 40 Megawatts. It said a solar power service agreement with it has been signed by 4 Rivers Electric Cooperative to buy the solar energy generated by the two arrays for the next 25 years. It said this type of agreement makes sure the cooperative is not at risk or liable for ongoing costs associated with the maintenance and operation of solar systems.

According to TPI, all participating cooperatives in Kansas were able to negotiate favorable long-term rates by working together in the Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program. It said additionally, in the design process the solar arrays will be customized to maximize production during the peak demand hours of the cooperative when electricity is the most costly. It said these variables help 4 Rivers in stabilizing the cost of electricity and keeping power affordable for those served at the locations.

“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,” says 4 Rivers General Manager/CEO Dennis Svanes.

TPI said national data indicates that solar power in the country is rapidly increasing. It said 4 Rivers has around 45 members using solar panels installed on their own property and interconnected to the electric system. It said by investing in the two arrays, 4 Rivers ensures that clean and affordable power is generated to benefit all of its members, not just those who place panels on their homes. It said 4 Rivers’ investment in solar is just another way it works to lower the cooperative’s demand during peak hours and control the cost of power.

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