Kentucky seeking its largest solar power plant via a deal with Toyota and Dow


Two Kentucky utilities – Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company – which generate 80% of their electricity from coal and 19% from natural gas (that’s 99% fossil fuels in total), have requested approval to build a 100 MWac solar power plant.

The Hardin County powerplant would be ten times larger than the state’s largest running facility, and would be more than double (probably triple) the state’s total installed capacity of ~45 MW. It would be the largest signed deal for the state, eclipsing last year’s signing of an 86 MWac project, the largest in Kentucky known to pv magazine USA.

The Public Service Commission of Kentucky has 64 days to consider the package of documents, with a final ruling coming no later than March 31, 2020.

The deal has an extra layer or two as can be seen in the above image. First, the two utilities directly contracted with the solar power developer, ibV Energy Partners, to purchase the electricity from Rhudes Creek Solar LLC for 20 years. The electricity will then be split up between Toyota, Dow and the customers of each utility. Toyota and Dow are both Kentucky Utility customers, and will take 50% and 25% respectively. The remaining 25% will be 9.75% sent to Louisville Gas and Electric Company, with 15.25% to Kentucky Utilities Company end-users.

The utility said that the contract is for a flat price per kilowatt-hour over its life, with the plant expecting to be commercially available by 2022.

Among the documents included in the filing, starting on page 68, is a large table of bids, costs, and systems sizes from the 16 companies that submitted 71 proposals – although it’s heavily redacted. In other filings, the energy companies requested and were given permission to redact all information that might harm the two companies in future negotiations.

Energy storage was considered, even though it wasn’t requested. However, it was too expensive – specifically noting the capacity costs in the filings:

As a point of comparison, the companies’ combustion turbines at the Brown Station have a levelized “stay-open” fixed cost of $0.96/kW-month, which equates to an annual capacity cost of between $1.4 and $1.5 million. These combustion turbines each provide more than six-times the capacity of the proposed battery and the ability to provide energy for a longer duration.

SEIA currently ranks the state of Kentucky 44th in solar volume in the U.S. with 44.89 MW deployed. SEIA projects 321 MW of new capacity over the next five years.

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