Largest solar farm in Kansas starts commercial operation
Sunflower Electric Power Corporation’s rural co-op members now enjoying clean, cost-effective energy from facility built, owned and operated by Lightsource BP
Johnson City, Kan. – Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and Lightsource BP have announced that the Johnson Corner Solar Project entered commercial operation on April 7. The $37 million project, which was financed and constructed by Lightsource BP, is located approximately two miles southwest of Johnson City in Stanton County, Kansas.
Lightsource BP, a global leader in the development, financing and management of utility-scale solar energy projects, is the project owner and operator. All the energy from the project is being sold under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to Sunflower, a not-for-profit electric utility providing wholesale generation and transmission services to six member-owners serving in central and western Kansas. The National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) played a key role in helping Sunflower develop this important project for the public power community.
“Sunflower is proud to have worked with Lightsource BP and NRCO to bring online the state’s largest solar project to date,” said Stuart Lowry, president and CEO of Sunflower. “The Johnson Corner Solar Project adds yet another renewable fuel source to our diversified generation portfolio, which is designed to protect both the affordability and reliability of the energy we provide to our members.”
The project delivers 20 megawatts (AC) of clean and affordable on-peak electricity – enough to power the peak demand of over 4,900 homes across Sunflower’s service territory and more than doubling the state’s utility-scale solar capacity, previously at 14.1 megawatts. In addition to providing low-cost, on-peak energy, the Johnson Corner Solar Project will reduce loading on a nearby transmission line that is approaching capacity. As a result, Sunflower’s members will save costs by deferring or ultimately canceling the requirement for expensive infrastructure upgrades.
“Lightsource BP is pleased to be part of this project and in helping to keep rates low for electric cooperative members due to value derived from clean and low cost energy supply and transmission savings,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource BP in the Americas. “We applaud Sunflower Electric Power Corp. for their leadership in bringing the many benefits of solar energy to their communities in central and western Kansas.”
The project created more than 200 jobs during peak construction, with the workforce dispatched across 144 acres. Lightsource BP’s construction general contractor was Sterling and Wilson, who hired local subcontractors and recruited from the local labor pool. Precautions and guidelines provided by the CDC and public officials were followed on site, as well as implementation by Sterling and Wilson of additional strict measures to ensure the safety of the workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.
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