Using the sixth cooperative principle of cooperation among cooperatives, 12 cooperatives in Kansas are joining together to make a small investment for the next 25 years – or more – in solar energy. Participating electric cooperatives will be able to procure low-up-front cost solar energy to serve their members through the Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program and reduce their peak demand.
This opportunity began when the wholesale power contract between all participating cooperatives and their G&T, Kansas Electric Power Cooperatives, was recently modified to provide Kansas electric cooperatives with the ability to self-procure up to 15% of peak demand – with 5% of that amount specifically allowing for the addition of solar.
Proving that utility-scale solar provides more cost-effective ways to benefit all consumer-members of the cooperatives, TPI was chosen to be the developer and energy partner for this venture through extensive research undertaken by participating cooperatives and a comprehensive request for proposals (RFP) process administered by GDS & Associates.
Owned by electric cooperatives, TPI was created to provide solar facilities to Arkansas’ electric cooperatives that could otherwise not utilize federal tax incentives. Fellow cooperatives in neighboring states quickly learned of TPI’s program and wanted a known business partner to provide their solar system.
All systems installed will be sized in the 1 MW range. Each system is contracted through a 25-year power purchase agreement with additional 5-year options. Cooperatives will simply be responsible for the purchase of electricity generated from the solar farms and will have low-upfront costs associated with the development of renewable solar energy. This method of generation makes it possible for these cooperatives to increase the production of renewable energy year-round and to reduce peak demand. The reduction of peak demand will enable each cooperative to provide financial stability to its members while also reducing their carbon footprint.
Currently, these projects are in the engineering process and construction will take place in phases beginning in 2021 and running to 2022. Individual projects for participating cooperatives will be announced as initiated and completed.