BLUESTEM ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE TO INVEST IN KANSAS-BASED SOLAR PROJECT
Twelve Kansas Electric Cooperatives investing in 20 megawatts (MW) of solar power to be deployed across 800 miles of the state and provide power to 80,000 homes in rural Kansas. Bluestem Electric Cooperative has joined 11 other rural electric cooperatives in Kansas in deploying sun farms. Bluestem Electric’s portion of the project consists of two solar arrays sized at 1 MW and 750kW each. Preliminary work has already started on the two tracts of land acquired for the project by Bluestem Electric. Construction of the project should be completed by June, 2022.
One of Bluestem Electric’s 1-MW array will be located near their St. George Substation west of the Flush Road in Pottawatomie County. The second 750kW array is located south of Bluestem’s Leonardville Substation located at Hwy 24 and US 82 highways west of Leonardville in Riley County.
Today’s Power Inc. (TPI), a North Little Rock-based company created by rural electric cooperatives in Arkansas, will develop and own the two Bluestem Electric solar arrays, and the 19 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 (SPSA) with Today’s Power Inc. has been signed by Bluestem 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 of the participating Kansas rural electric cooperatives were able to negotiate very 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 would all assist Bluestem to stabilize the cost of electricity and keep power affordable for those served at the 7300 meters of the cooperative.
“Like our members, Bluestem strives to be a good steward of all available resources,” said Bluestem General Manager Michael Morton. “Investing in these two solar arrays will help us continue to provide affordable power to our rural members during high-usage “peak” times, when the cost of power is the most expensive.”
“The progressive strategic actions of Bluestem Electric Board of Directors and Management Team to serve its members with sustainable energy at a time proceeding the significant switch to electric transportation is very impressive”. Recognizing dynamic change and then acting on it is difficult for companies who have deployed different technologies over the past 75-80 years. Adopting this new technology is truly impressive,” said Michael Henderson, President of Today’s Power, Inc.
Morton added, “Utility-scale solar is the most cost-effective way to benefit all Bluestem members, while also capitalizing on a clean and renewable source of generation right here in our own community.”
“We have a commitment to our community and we strive to promote quality of life in rural Kansas with every business decision we make.”