Columbia starts project for new solar farm

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COLUMBIA - A renewable energy company is partnering with the city of Columbia to build a new solar panel farm on the east side of the city. A meeting about the project will be held Thursday at 4:30 p.m.

"This company came and made a proposal to us to provide 10 megawatts of solar-generated electricity to the city of Columbia," Columbia Water & Light Engineering Supervisor, Dan Clark said. "This project is going to be out past Lake of the Woods, on some undeveloped ground on the south side of I-70; it's a large field of solar panels."

Columbia Water & Light isn't the one building the actual panels, but its job is extremely important to get the project up and running.

"Our job with this project is to build an underground electric line that will extend our electric distribution system out to where those solar panels are, to receive that electricity and bring it into Columbia," Clark said. "We need to build an underground electric line to get out there."

He said these new solar panels will be different than the ones currently running near Bernadette.

"These are single-axis tracking panels. All the panels are hinged. The panels tilt in the morning and in the afternoon. They'll be able to get quite a bit more sun and more electricity than they would if they were fixed panels," Clark said.

Clark said the goal is big, but he is confident it can be done.

The underground electric line should be completed by Dec. 31, 2019, just in time for the new year.

"I hope that we get all of this built on the last day of 2019 because that's when the solar panels are supposed to be ready to be turned on," Clark said.

If everything works out, there will be 10 megawatts of solar-generated electricity coming into Columbia starting in 2020.

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