Midwest Energy plans ‘solar garden’ for Kansas

wind turbine

HAYS, Kan. (AP) — Some Kansas customers of Midwest Energy will be able to use solar energy without having to install their own solar panels if a proposed project is completed as planned.

Midwest Energy, based in Hays, has signed an agreement with Clean Energy Collective of Colorado to build a 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic array, or “solar garden,” that will allow customers to buy solar panels, The Hutchinson News reported (http://bit.ly/1fU0xb6 ).

The plan is to install about 4,000 solar panels across about six acres, although the exact location has not been determined, said Mike Morley, spokesman for Midwest Energy.

Customers will contract with Clean Energy Collective to buy the panels, and then get credit on their bills equal to how much energy their panels create. Customers will be able to buy up to 26 of the 300-watt panels. The final costs for the panels also haven’t been determined.

“Generally we look at a customer’s energy demand and give them options for fully offsetting their electric power with renewable energy, or increments thereof,” said Tim Braun, a spokesman for Clean Energy Collective. “We give them a range of pricing and power and they choose which way they want to go.”

Most of the solar arrays are big enough to allow several hundred customers to offset their energy needs, he said.

“We hope to have the project operational by the end of this year,” Morley said. “The actual construction phase, even for a project of this size, just takes a couple of months. The time-consuming part is the land negotiations, permitting processes, etc.”

Customers will receive all rebates and tax incentives available, Morley said.

Midwest Energy Inc. is a member-owned electric and natural gas cooperative, with about 50,000 electric customers in 41 central and western Kansas counties. Clean Energy Collective has built or is developing more than 40 such projects with 18 utility partners across seven states.

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Information from: The Hutchinson (Kan.) News, http://www.hutchnews.com

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