The utilities have secured a contract for the engineering, procurement and construction of the facility and construction is expected to begin in November. Amec Foster Wheeler, a multi-national consultancy, engineering and project management company with experience in utility-scale solar projects, won the competitive bid to build the state's largest solar photovoltaic facility at LG&E and KU’s E.W. Brown Generating Station in Mercer County.
"Maintaining a diverse generation portfolio, relying upon both intermittent renewable and baseload fossil-fueled energy sources, has been part of our company's fabric for almost 100 years," said LG&E and KU Chief Operating Officer Paul W. Thompson. "Our new solar facility will allow us to learn more about this technology. From a pragmatic standpoint, we'll learn how commercial-scale solar energy is impacted by factors such as cloud cover and how it integrates with our existing generating units."
The new 10-megawatt facility, approved by the Kentucky Public Service Commission in December of 2014, will occupy approximately 50 acres of the plant’s property and consist of more than 45,000 solar panels on a fixed-tilt rack system. The panels will be positioned to optimize the available sunlight for producing energy. The site is projected to produce its full potential approximately 400 hours annually (4.5 percent of the year). Considering all available hours of sunlight, the panels are projected to produce 19,000 megawatt hours of energy, enough to provide energy to 1,500 homes based on a usage of 1,000 kilowatt hours per month.
Construction of the facility is expected to take place over the next six months with mobilization beginning next month. The process will require about 75 full-time construction jobs, which will likely be performed by Amec Foster Wheeler existing employees working at the E.W. Brown site on other projects. The facility is expected to be commercially operational by late spring of 2016.
LG&E and KU were able to reduce costs through competitive bidding, by using available tax incentives and constructing the solar array on existing property. The final cost to construct is now expected to be less than the original $36 million estimate.
Louisville Gas and Electric Company and Kentucky Utilities Company, part of the PPL Corporation (NYSE: PPL) family of companies, are regulated utilities that serve a total of 1.2 million customers and have consistently ranked among the best companies for customer service in the United States. LG&E serves 321,000 natural gas and 400,000 electric customers in Louisville and 16 surrounding counties. KU serves 543,000 customers in 77 Kentucky counties and five counties in Virginia. More information is available at www.lge-ku.com and www.pplweb.com.