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Project Update: August 2020
The Dog Days of Summer. They’re here, the days during summer that some may think are not “fit for a dog” and that some use to enjoy time in the water during those same weather conditions. This year, the Johnson Corner Solar Project, the largest commercial solar project in the state, will help Sunflower meet electricity demand on these sunny days.
While many people use the phrase to refer to the hottest days in the Northern Hemisphere when even dogs can barely move due to the heat, the phrase has its origin with the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the sky. The “dog days” occur when the Sun and Sirius occupy the same region in the sky, usually between July 3 and Aug. 11 each year, and typically describe hot, sultry, still days.1
In the Midwest, these are often the days during the year when the demand for electricity is the highest because people are cranking up their air conditioning to beat the heat. This requires electric utilities to proactively engage in complex planning and strategizing to ensure they have access to electric generation resources that can deliver energy during times of peak demand.
Peak energy demand is one of the reasons Sunflower Electric Power Corporation pursued the development and construction of the Johnson Corner Solar Project, located in southwest Kansas. Unlike wind, which tends to blow the least in Kansas on hot summer days, the solar project produces optimal energy during this time.
The $37 million project, which was financed and constructed by Lightsource BP, is located approximately two miles southwest of Johnson City in Stanton County, Kan., and entered commercial operation on April 7. The National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) also played a key role in helping Sunflower develop this important project for our members and those they serve. All the energy from the project is being sold under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to Sunflower.
The project complements Sunflower’s traditional generation resources, delivering 20 megawatts (AC), which more than doubles the state’s utility-scale solar capacity, previously at 14.1 megawatts. In addition to providing low-cost, on-peak energy, the Johnson Corner Solar Project will reduce loading on a nearby transmission line that is approaching capacity. As a result, Sunflower’s members will save costs by deferring or ultimately canceling the requirement for expensive infrastructure upgrades.
“Sunflower is proud to have worked with Lightsource BP and NRCO to bring online the state’s largest solar project to date,” said Stuart Lowry, president and CEO of Sunflower. “The Johnson Corner Solar Project adds yet another renewable fuel source to our diversified generation portfolio, which is designed to protect both the affordability and reliability of the energy we provide to our members.”
Project Update: November 14, 2019
November. In Kansas that can mean frigid temperatures or a heat wave, sometimes within the same 24 hours. While the temperatures are erratic, in southwest Kansas the sun delivers approximately 50 more days of sunshine than the national average, making this area of the state the chosen location for the Sunflower system’s first solar array. Read full update here
Project Update: June 17, 2019
Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, Pioneer Electric Cooperative Inc., Lightsource BP, and National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) are proud to announce the development of the largest solar project in Kansas. The project will consist of approximately 86,000 solar panels and will have a nameplate capacity of 20 megawatts. The project, which will be located near Johnson City in Stanton County, Kansas, is expected to be energized in late 2019.
Eighty-four degrees and bright sunshine, the perfect weather for Sunflower to celebrate the groundbreaking of the 20-MW Johnson Corner Solar Project on June 17, 2019. A 25-year power purchase agreement was made with Lightsource BP, an independent power producer that will build, own and operate the solar facility. The facility will be located approximately two miles southwest of Johnson City, Kan.
U.S. First District Congressman Roger Marshall, dignitaries from Sunflower, Lightsource BP and the National Renewables Cooperative Organization, and guests attended the event at the Stanton County 4-H Building in Johnson City, Kan.
“The Johnson Corner Solar Project will be the largest solar project in Kansas, and that’s definitely something to celebrate,” said U.S. Rep. Roger MarshalI. “I congratulate Sunflower, Lightsource BP, and NRCO on their successful collaboration to launch this project.”
The project was announced in February 2018 with an expected completion date in late 2019. However, in the fourth quarter of 2018, Lightsource BP requested a schedule extension to allow them to package the Johnson Corner Solar Project with several others so they could achieve more favorable financing terms.
Project Update: March 26, 2018
Lightsource BP, the independent power producer contracted to build, own and operate the 20 MW solar project, has requested a 12-month extension on the project. The extension request resulted from financial pressures, such as tax reform and tariffs on solar panels and steel, and will likely result in lower O&M costs for Lightsource BP. The extension may also result in advanced panel technology for the solar project. The project, located near Johnson City, Kan., is now expected to come online in mid-2020.