Diversification of electric generation resources continues with more renewable energy
Hays, Kan.—June 22, 2023—Sunflower Electric Power Corp. will develop, own and operate a 20-megawatt solar energy project near Russell, Kan. In January 2022, Sunflower announced its plans to add a second solar facility to its generation portfolio and has since selected a developer and project structure for the Sunflower Electric Solar @ Russell project.
Sunflower is a cooperatively operated wholesale generation and transmission utility serving seven member distribution utilities with a fuel-diverse electric generating mix that includes traditional and renewable resources. Sunflower is the sole off-taker on the 20-megawatt Johnson Corner Solar Project (JCSP), which it co-developed with the National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) prior to the project coming online in April 2020. The JCSP is currently the largest operating commercial solar facility in Kansas. It will be matched in size in January 2025 with the expected commercial operation of the Russell solar facility.
Sunflower is partnering with DEPCOM Power to design and construct the Russell project, which will produce approximately 53,000 megawatt hours annually, a total that constitutes 1% of the Sunflower system’s total energy needs. The facility, which will be located on 140 acres three miles east of Russell, will have approximately 45,000 solar panels on a single-axis solar tracking system.
Solar energy is desirable because it is available during peak energy use, which aids in ensuring affordability and reliability. The project near Russell will also reduce or eliminate the cost of expensive transmission upgrades due to its interconnection location on the bulk electric grid.
“Each energy generation resource type has benefits, so Sunflower supports an all-of-the-above approach to our generation portfolio,” said Corey Linville, Sunflower vice president, power supply and delivery. “Solar resources produce energy during the hottest days of the year when our system experiences its highest demand. The declining cost of utility-scale solar energy, combined with available tax credits and the opportunity to mitigate transmission costs, will further benefit Sunflower’s members and those they serve.”
Sunflower is again working with NRCO on this project. Sunflower is a founder and member-owner of NRCO, an organization which was formed by electric cooperatives from across the country to develop and deploy renewable energy resources.
“As a member-owned cooperative, we make every decision with the best interest of our members in mind,” said Tom Ruth, general manager of Western Cooperative Electric, which serves in parts of Russell County. “We analyze and consider new technologies to determine if and when they add value to our system and, ultimately, to those we serve. This is definitely the right time and place for the Sunflower Electric Solar @ Russell project.”
DEPCOM is currently in the design and material procurement phase of the project. Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2023 and last approximately one year.
“DEPCOM Power is proud to partner with Sunflower Electric Power Corporation on the design and construction of this project,” said Robert Wanless, DEPCOM vice president of business development. “This project will be constructed using tier-one solar PV technology, including bi-facial solar panels; single-axis tracker racking; and centralized inverter/transformers platforms. Kansas is an important market for DEPCOM, with our parent company being headquartered in Wichita. Over the next two years, this project will create hundreds of local jobs.”
About Sunflower Electric Power Corporation
Sunflower Electric Power Corporation, established in 1957, is a regional wholesale generation and transmission supplier dedicated to serving its members by providing reliable power at the lowest possible cost consistent with sound business and cooperative practices. Sunflower’s member cooperatives include Lane-Scott Electric Cooperative, Inc., Dighton; Pioneer Electric Cooperative, Inc., Ulysses; Prairie Land Electric Cooperative, Inc., Norton; The Victory Electric Cooperative Association, Inc., Dodge City; Western Cooperative Electric Association, Inc., WaKeeney; and Wheatland Electric Cooperative, Inc., Scott City, Kan. Southern Pioneer Electric Company, Ulysses, is also a member of Sunflower. For more information, visit sunflower.net.
About Western Cooperative Electric
Western Cooperative Electric Association is a member-owned cooperative headquartered in WaKeeney, Kansas. Established in 1945, Western now serves more than 12,000 meters and maintains over 4,000 miles of power lines across western and central Kansas. Together, with our members’ help, Western Co-op is committed to building a stronger rural America. For more information about Western, visit www.westerncoop.com.
About National Renewables Cooperative Organization
Formed in 2008 by 21 cooperatives, NRCO aims to increase access to cost-effective renewable energy resources for electric cooperatives around the country. NRCO provides full origination and development services for its owner-members and cooperative customers, with nearly one gigawatt of wind and solar projects completed to date including 59 cooperative-run community solar farms. For more information, visit nrco.coop.
About DEPCOM Power
DEPCOM Power, a Koch Engineered Solutions company, is a leading energy solutions partner for the utility solar and broader energy industries providing project development support, engineering, procurement and construction (EPC), energy storage, repowering and operations and maintenance services. DEPCOM Power leverages a highly experienced team of conventional and renewable EPC power industry veterans. Uniquely bankable energy services are designed to deliver the lowest cost of energy and highest rate of return. For more information visit, depcompower.com.