Kentucky’s renewable energy portfolio is getting another boost today as LG&E and KU officially cut the ribbon on the utilities’ new solar facility in Simpsonville. Located just off Interstate 64, one mile west of exit 28, construction of the first 500-kilowatt section of LG&E and KU’s Solar Share Program began earlier this year thanks to founding partner Ford Motor Company and other participating business and residential customers. The nearly 1,400 panel array became fully operational and began serving up solar energy on Saturday.
“This is a very special milestone for our company and our community,” said LG&E and KU Chairman, CEO and President Paul W. Thompson. “This program was created to meet an interest expressed by our customers and now this facility stands as a tangible display of the commitment our company, community leaders like Ford, and customers across our service territories have to growing sustainable energy here in the Commonwealth.”
“This is another example of how utilities, including LG&E and KU, are investing in the future of the Commonwealth and growing locally-produced renewable energy,” said Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely. “These technologies are making our state a leading contender to retain and attract new business and meet the growing demands for a diverse energy future.”
The subscription-based Solar Share Program is a cost-effective option available to the utilities’ residential, business and industrial customers who want to support solar energy.
When energy is produced by the facility, customers earn credits on their monthly bills based on their subscription level. By participating in the program, customers get the benefits from solar energy without the up-front cost and long-term maintenance that come when installing a private solar system.
“Participation in this program was really a no-brainer for us,” said George Andraos, Ford Motor Company Director Technology and Energy. “This commitment helps us get closer to our goal of using 100 percent renewable energy for all manufacturing plants by 2035, and keeps the energy local to Kentucky, where more than 12,500 Ford employees build trucks and SUVs while helping create a sustainable future.”
“Supporting initiatives like this, that push our community and the Commonwealth forward, is important for all of us,” said Simpsonville Mayor Cary Vowels. “We’re proud to be the home of this new solar facility.”
The newly completed array is the first of eight 500-kilowatt Solar Share sections planned for the Simpsonville facility, with construction of each section to be completed as each becomes fully subscribed.
The utilities are currently accepting enrollments for the second 500-kilowatt section. The facility site is large enough to accommodate a four-megawatt solar field. In addition to installing fencing and landscape buffers around the outside of the facility to blend it with the surrounding area, LG&E and KU are planning to use property within the solar site to establish a pollinator habitat, rich with native plants that create an environment that attracts and supports pollinators such as native bees, honey bees and monarch butterflies, which have experienced population declines over the last decade. Other benefits of pollinator habitats include beautifying the landscape, supporting grassland birds, reducing water runoff and soil erosion, reduced maintenance costs and educational opportunities.
Customers interested in subscribing to the Solar Share program or learning more about the variety of programs offered by the utilities for customers who want to support renewable energy and help grow local solar energy in Kentucky can visit the company website at lge-ku.com/environment/solar.