By MIKE CORN
Hays-based Midwest Energy has signed an agreement to purchase electricity from a 4,000-panel solar power plant to be constructed by a Colorado developer.
Midwest Energy customers then will be able to purchase an array of panels from developer Clean Energy Collective. The customers will receive credit on their monthly bills for the energy produced, in addition to any available rebates and tax incentives.
A site for what would be the largest array of solar panels in the state hasn't been selected just yet. The site would require approximately 6 acres of land.
"We hope to have that done within about a month," said Midwest spokesman Mike Morley.
It will be located within the Midwest Energy service territory. Once a site is selected, he said, the construction phase of the project is quick, taking only a few months to complete.
Under the agreement between Midwest Energy and CEC, the project actually will be constructed by CEC, which then will sell the individual panels to Midwest customers.
Residential customers will be eligible to purchase up to 26 solar panels, which would produce approximately 8 kilowatts of electricity.
Industrial and commercial customers will be able to purchase enough to supply all of their electrical needs, as long as they don't exceed 75 kilowatts in power.
The exact price for each of the panels hasn't been set, but Morley said they expect the price will range from $800 to $925 per panel.
Because the customers will be purchasing the individual panels, they'll be eligible to receive any rebates and incentives that might be available.
As the electricity is produced, Morley said, customers will receive credit for what is produced.That credit would change each month.
CEC, Morley said, has built 40 similar projects, and they've all been well received.
The decision by Midwest Energy to reach the purchase power agreement is the result of customers surveys indicating a desire for solar power.
"We're excited to be the first utility in Kansas to offer community-owned solar to our members," John Blackwell, chairman of Midwest Energy's board of directors said in a statement.
"Our customers have signaled they're supportive of renewable energy, and we're pleased to bring this solar ownership opportunity to them," Blackwell said.
Morley said Midwest Energy hopes to have the project in operation and delivering power to customers by the end of December.
For more information on the Midwest Energy project, call (785) 625-3437 or online at www.MWEcommunitysolar.com.