Apr 22, 2020

Sunflower: Kansas' largest solar farm begins operation

Posted Apr 22, 2020 1:44 PM

Sunflower Electric Power Corp.

JOHNSON CITY – Sunflower Electric Power Corp. and Lightsource BP have announced that the Johnson Corner Solar Project entered commercial operation on April 7. The $37 million project, which was financed and constructed by Lightsource BP, is located approximately 2 miles southwest of Johnson City in Stanton County.

Lightsource BP, a global leader in the development, financing and management of utility-scale solar energy projects, is the project owner and operator. All the energy from the project is being sold under a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) to Sunflower, a nonprofit electric utility providing wholesale generation and transmission services to six member-owners serving in central and western Kansas. The National Renewables Cooperative Organization (NRCO) played a key role in helping Sunflower develop this important project for the public power community.

“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.”

The project delivers 20 megawatts (AC) of clean and affordable on-peak electricity – enough to power the peak demand of over 4,900 homes across Sunflower’s service territory and more than doubling 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.

“Lightsource BP is pleased to be part of this project and in helping to keep rates low for electric cooperative members due to value derived from clean and low cost energy supply and transmission savings,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of Lightsource BP in the Americas. “We applaud Sunflower Electric Power Corp. for their leadership in bringing the many benefits of solar energy to their communities in central and western Kansas.”

The project created more than 200 jobs during peak construction, with the workforce dispatched across 144 acres. Lightsource BP’s construction general contractor was Sterling and Wilson, who hired local subcontractors and recruited from the local labor pool. Precautions and guidelines provided by the CDC and public officials were followed on site, as well as implementation by Sterling and Wilson of additional strict measures to ensure the safety of the workers and mitigate the spread of COVID-19. 

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-owner 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. Sunflower also serves Southern Pioneer Electric Company, a member located in Ulysses, Kan. For more information please visit www.sunflower.net.

About Lightsource BP

Lightsource BP is a global leader in the financing, development and management of large-scale solar energy projects. They are a 50:50 joint venture with BP, working together to help drive the world’s transition to low carbon energy through competitively priced and sustainable electricity. With solar set to increase tenfold in the next 20 years, Lightsource BP is well-positioned to capitalize on this growth and aims to enact real change on the global energy landscape. Their ambition is to deliver 10 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2023.

The team comprises of 500 industry specialists, active across 13 countries – providing a full-service to their customers from initial site selection and permitting through to long-term management of projects. Lightsource BP in the US is headquartered in San Francisco with development offices in Denver, Philadelphia, Atlanta and Houston. For more information please visit lightsourcebp.com.