For Some In Kentucky, Community Solar Could Be A New Option

Aug 4, 2016

Credit LG&E/KU

Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities are planning a new way to offer solar energy to residential customers.

The utilities are seeking permission from the Kentucky Public Service Commission to build a 4 megawatt community solar field in Shelby County. LG&E and KU ratepayers who want solar energy, but for whatever reason can’t install it on their own properties, can pay a fee for a share of the solar field and get a credit on their utility bills for the solar energy that share generates.

“We continue to see an increased interest from customers for renewable energy,” said LG&E spokeswoman Liz Pratt. “If this were to be approved, this type of program is ideal for customers who want to support local solar energy but are unable to install it on their own property or would prefer to avoid upfront or long-term costs. It’s especially appealing for renters or those customers who may have properties predominantly in shade or may have deed restrictions.”

Participating customers will pay a $40 one-time fee, and then pay a monthly fee of $6.29 per 250-watt increment. That size of an investment is expected to produce between 17 and 37 kilowatt hours of energy per month. The company says the typical household uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours of energy each month.

The project won’t have any effect on ratepayers who don’t participate in the program. Pratt says the community solar field will be built in 500 kilowatt sections, and construction won’t begin on each section until there’s adequate interest from subscribers. Interested customers can fill out a form online, but there’s no commitment until the Public Service Commission rules on the project.

LG&E and KU unveiled the company’s first utility-scale solar field earlier this year, adjacent to the E.W. Brown Power Station in Mercer County. The 10 megawatt array has been fully operational since June. The utilities also announced a business and industrial solar program earlier this summer.

The companies’ current generation mix is about 65 percent coal, 34 percent natural gas and one percent renewable energy.