FreeState Flips the Switch to Begin Harvesting Sunshine

FreeState is one of 12 Kansas electric cooperatives taking advantage of clean energy to maximize financial security and energy supply on behalf of members with two solar farm projects.

FreeState Electric Cooperative joins other rural electric cooperatives in Kansas investing in renewable energy. Participating electric cooperatives procured low-up-front cost solar energy to serve their members through the Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program (KCSPP) and reduce their peak demand. The KCSPP is 22 solar farms developed to harvest renewable energy in the state for participating electric cooperatives. This 25-year program has secured long-term, low-cost pricing. When completed, the KCSPP will result in the construction of more than 20 Megawatts (MW) of solar power across more than 800 miles of the sunflower state.

One FreeState 1-MW array, the Oskaloosa Sun Farm, is located at the substation just south of Oskaloosa on 59 HWY. The second, Stranger Creek Solar Farm, is located at the Substation Northeast of Tonganoxie near Tonganoxie and Mitchell Roads. Both solar farms are located in the co-op’s east district because of the power contract with Kansas Electric Power Cooperative (KEPCo).

The Oskaloosa farm sits on 10 acres and include 3,500 solar panels. The Stranger Creek farm sits on a similar site. Each farm is designed to maximize output during the cooperative’s peak demand time when power is most expensive. These solar farms will help FreeState control power costs and keep rates stable.

“This opportunity is great for FreeState,” said Steve Foss, CEO. “This goes hand in hand with the investment we made in 2018 to install peak demand generators at the Lakewood Hills and Oskaloosa substations, bringing our total to four. These investments have brought us to the maximum amount of supplemental power we can purchase under our wholesale power contract with KEPCo.”

Michael Henderson, President of Today’s Power, Inc. said, “I have spent my career serving electric cooperative members and having able to provide direct, quantifiable savings through projects like KCSPP is very gratifying.” He went on to say, “the leadership of FreeState should be commended for their forward-thinking efforts in serving their members.”

Foss said that the cooperative’s commitment to saving money by managing demand reduces the cost of the energy purchased, and that benefits all members of FreeState.

“FreeState has clear financial goals, so we completed a cost-benefit analysis on both projects to determine feasibility and payback.” Foss added.

“It’s about financial savings and rate stability, and these solar farms will help us achieve that,” added Foss. “This low-cost investment is a cost-effective way for us to not only save money but help reduce our carbon footprint.”

National data shows that solar power is growing quickly across the country. FreeState members currently produce more than 2 MW of energy by member-owned solar panels. FreeState supports all renewables, like solar.

Murphy said the trustees were not only impressed with purchase power agreement and working with other Kansas cooperatives, but the ability to do something so forward thinking.

“Anything we do that in involves renewables show that we are proactive and looking to the future,” Murphy said. “I’m excited about these projects. It shows that our management is forward thinking and interested in making a difference.”

“As a member first, I am excited about this project because I have four grandchildren,” added Murphy. “I’m excited that we are setting up programs that will not only help us now but will benefit the cooperative and my family for future generations.”

About FreeState Electric Cooperative, Inc.

With 15,364 members and 18,526 meters, FreeState Electric Cooperative is the largest rural electric cooperative in Eastern Kansas and the fifth largest rural electric cooperative in the state. FreeState serves nine Kansas counties and provides infrastructure to Fort Leavenworth. For more information visit http://www.freestate.coop, as well as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

About Today’s Power, Inc.

Today’s Power, Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based utility service cooperative owned by 17 Arkansas electric distribution cooperatives. Today’s Power, Inc. offers turn-key solar photovoltaic systems, energy storage systems, electric vehicles and charging stations for all sizes and applications.

TPI’s unique approach to in-depth analysis of utility rates and billing allows it to design renewable energy systems and manage that energy to maximize the benefits of solar and storage for not-for-profit as well as for-profit entities.