Biomass, New Projects, Solar

Kentucky residents and businesses help build pollinator-friendly community solar array

Photo courtesy Wikimedia.

Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E) and KU Energy, alongside customers, are expanding renewable energy generation in Kentucky by adding more locally grown solar energy to the grid.

The company recently completed the second 500-kW section at its Solar Share facility in Simpsonville. With the addition of the new 1,300-panel array, participating customers are now able to use the solar energy generated from the 1-MW solar array.

The subscription-based Solar Share Program is available to the utilities’ residential, business and industrial customers who want to support solar energy for 20 cents a day.

When energy is produced by the facility, customers earn credits on their monthly bills based on their subscription level and they can also select a gifting option to transfer monthly Solar Share bill credits to another recipient. Via community solar projects like this, customers get the benefits of solar energy without the up-front cost and long-term maintenance that come with installing a private solar system.

Centre College is the first educational institution subscribing to the program and Kentucky Habitat for Humanity (KYHF) is using the gifting option to benefit some of the organization’s clients. KYHF is transferring credits from 185 shares of the program to 10 families across the state, with a goal to offset as much as 30% of the families’ monthly energy usage.

A total of eight 500-kW Solar Share sections are planned for the Simpsonville facility, to make a 4-MW project. Construction is completed as each section becomes fully subscribed.

Pollinator friendly

LG&E and KU’s Solar Share property is one of several that will be home to future pollinator habitats, which attract and support native bees, honeybees and monarch butterflies. Benefits of pollinator habitats include beautifying the landscape, supporting grassland birds, reducing water runoff and soil erosion, reduced maintenance costs and educational opportunities.

Other pollinator habitats are being installed at the company’s Cane Run and retired Tyrone station properties and E.W. Brown Generating Station in Mercer County. Also, a flock of 25 Shetland sheep has been added at Brown’s 10-MW universal solar site. The flock aims to help manage vegetation across the 50-acre property at Brown, reducing maintenance costs.

“We created the Solar Share program because our customers expressed an interest in supporting local renewables and their increasing participation shows not only is the interest still there, but it’s on the rise,” said Eileen Saunders, LG&E and KU vice president-Customer Services. “Kentucky Habitat for Humanity and Centre College are among the nearly 700 customers choosing to subscribe to the second section.”