Plans Set to Build Largest Solar Farm in Missouri

4 years 8 months 2 days ago Monday, September 23 2013 Sep 23, 2013 Monday, September 23, 2013 9:13:00 AM CDT September 23, 2013 in News
By: The Associated Press

SPRINGFIELD (AP) - A Springfield utility is planning to partner with two companies to build what would be the largest solar farm in Missouri.

City Utilities says it will work with Solexus Development in St. Louis and Strata Solar of North Carolina to build the 4.95 megawatt system, with construction to begin next spring.

The Springfield News-Leader reports the companies expect to finalize a contract Monday. The system will be built on 57 acres next to an existing City Utilities generation station near Springfield.

Under the 25-year agreement, Solexus will develop the project and Strata Solar will build, finance and operate it. City Utilities' will connect the system to existing infrastructure, then buy the solar power the system produces. CU's spending on the project will not be revealed until the final contract is completed.

The nation's largest solar station is the Agua Caliente Solar Project in Arizona, which is almost 50 times larger than the planned CU station.

The development is not expected to have much of an impact on customers' bills because City Utilities is responsible for almost none of the up-front cost, and the energy produced will be mixed in with existing energy sources.

City Utilities is spending money on its power stations to comply with environmental regulations. Renewable energy sources like solar power are becoming more popular as carbon emissions are more regulated.

The contract requires that City Utilities will retain all Renewable Energy Credits associated with the generation. A Renewable Energy Credit is a commodity that can be traded and represents energy generated from a renewable source.

The state set a Renewable Portfolio Standard in 2008 that requires investor-owned utilities have 15 percent of their energy come from renewable sources. This doesn't apply to municipal or cooperative utilities like CU, which is owned by the City of Springfield.

The system is expected to produce about 9.6 million kilowatt hours per year.

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