City officials make a move to secure electricity for Pratt's future.
Construction on a solar farm expected to provide electricity enough to power 10,000 homes in Pratt County begins this month on the northeast side of the city. Inovateus Solar, Kenyon Energy and the City of Pratt have joined forces on the project, located north of 54 Highway on NW 20th Ave. The awarded project will produce 12.6 Mega Watt hours annually, offsetting over 23 million tons of C02 emissions.
“The City of Pratt is a highly diverse community moving in a progressive direction, supporting the extensive growth and business opportunities,” said Mayor of Pratt Doug Meyer. “For these reasons, we are very pleased to announce our partnership with Inovateus Solar to lead in our region with the utilization of clean energy sources.”
The project is expected to begin commercial operation in January 2019. It has been contracted under a 15-year power purchase agreement with Pratt’s utility power plant for 100 percent of the array’s output. Construction will be managed by Inovateus.
“Kenyon Energy is very pleased to partner with Inovateus Solar and the City of Pratt on this exciting solar energy project,” said Kenyon Energy CEO and Chairman Clay Biddinger. “This project is creating tangible economic and environmental benefits for Pratt’s citizens and local businesses. We continue to develop solar energy projects similar to this throughout Kansas and encourage other cities and municipalities across Kansas to reach out if they are interested in benefiting from solar energy.”
Pratt Community College is getting on board with the project and plans to develop a solar education program as another career plan.
“We are impressed by the enthusiasm expressed by city officials as well as Pratt Community College in the creation of a solar program,” said Inovateus Solar Business Development Manager Jordan Richardson. “This aligns really well with our core values to continue education and promoting the use of solar technologies.”
Pratt City Manager Roy Eckert said the city owned 80 acres along NE 20th Avenue and has sold 40 acres to Kenyon Energy, the know-how behind the project. This was done to enable receipt of tax credits for Kenyon Energy.
“This has taken about a year and a half to get going,” Eckert said. “Our city electric department is just phenomenal. They did a lot of the initial legwork to get this project going.”
Eckert said the city was looking at different ways to get rid of power-purchase agreements with ever-rising cost passed on to users.
“We thought about wind power but current statistics show that with increased technology solar is really more economical and easier to get started,” he said.
The electricity generated by the Pratt Solar Farm will be available only to citizens living in Pratt city limits. Electricity generated by the two wind farms in Pratt County is sold to a grid that serves out-of-county, out-of-state customers. It is not currently available to citizens of Pratt or Pratt County.