NKY "farms" now harvesting solar energy

NKY "farms" now harvesting solar energy (WKRC)

CRITTENDEN, Ky. (WKRC) - The sun just couldn’t cooperate as Duke Energy officials stood under a tent to cut the ribbon on their latest project.

“Here at the Crittenden Solar Power Plant in Grant County we have about 17,500 solar panels over 30 acres. About 30 football fields,” said Duke spokesman Lee Freedman as rain pelted the canvas above his head.

The solar panels weren’t doing much besides getting wet Monday morning, but they really shine when the sun does.

“Collectively, these panels generate about three megawatts of electricity which over a year can power about 600 homes,” said Freedman.

The Crittenden Solar Power plant has been up and running since December. So has a similar, much bigger facility outside Walton. Duke is cutting the ribbons on the two plants this week. Between them they can generate enough electricity on a sunny day to power 1500 homes.

“What we’re doing is taking the electricity being produced here and it’s being sent to the grid and being used by local homes, businesses, schools and places of worship,” said Freedman.

The Grant County site is on a ridge top just west of Interstate 75 a few miles south of Crittenden on Ruark Road. A developer originally planned to build 55 homes on the site. Kenneth Shepherd, who can see the solar array from his backyard says he’s glad Plan A didn’t work out.

“I think it’s great. I think it’s really great because if Duke hadn’t bought it and we’d have 55 homes in here you’d have a lot more traffic. You’d have construction going on for years,” said Shepherd.

Construction on both sites started in July. They started generating electricity in December. The Walton site is the former Simpson farm where Ben and Anna Simpson raised tobacco, cattle and four children over six decades. Anna Simpson sold Duke 60 acres and built a new home on the remaining two. She says the solar panels are a much better neighbor than condominiums or dozens of new homes.

The two solar power plants are the first of their kind in Northern Kentucky but Freedman says there are likely to be more in the future.

“Instead of building a new 50-megawatt power plant we can add 6-megawatts here, 10-megawatts there. It’s a win-win-win for our company, our customers and our communities that we can do this in an economical way and an efficient way, too.”

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