LEXINGTON, Ky. (Oct. 15, 2021) — The University of Kentucky has entered into an agreement with its electricity provider, Kentucky Utilities Company (KU), to purchase 44% of the output of a new 125-megawatt (MW) solar facility. KU and its sister utility, Louisville Gas and Electric Company (LG&E), filed the contracts for the project with the Kentucky Public Service Commission earlier this week. The facility is planned for McCracken County, near Paducah, and is expected to be online in 2025. Four other organizations, including the University of Louisville, plan to buy power from the project.
The agreement positions the University of Kentucky as the largest purchaser of solar power under KU’s Green Tariff – Renewable Power Agreement, to date. Once operational, this solar facility will provide approximately one-third of the electricity consumed by the campus.
“This project is another example of the power of partnership to achieve goals that will not only benefit our institution but the Commonwealth we seek to advance,” said Eric N. Monday, UK executive vice president for finance and administration. “A priority for the University of Kentucky is continually finding more sustainable approaches to our energy needs. That benefits UK, but also benefits the state we serve as we seek — with partners such as LG&E and KU — to create a sustainable energy future for Kentucky as well.”
The agreement will also help the university control its utility costs by locking the price paid for generating this portion of its power for a 20-year term. Purchasing a third of UK’s power from renewable sources also diversifies the mix of fuels the university relies on for electricity and this boosts the resilience of campus utility systems.
“This project will support the University of Kentucky’s operational flexibility, long-term energy price stability and energy diversity while also advancing our sustainability and carbon footprint reduction goals,” said Xavier I. Rivera Marzán, UK’s executive director of utilities and energy management.
Integrating the operations of the campus with the academic experience of students and faculty is a high priority for UK and Facilities Management. Utilization of the campus and campus operations as a classroom and lab is recognized nationally as a high-impact practice that enhances student success. This initiative is a strong example of this commitment. UK’s leadership team for this project worked with KU to include language in the contract that explicitly states the university’s interest in exploring academic integration opportunities throughout all phases of the project. The university — through the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment; the Center for Applied Energy Research (CAER); the Office of Sustainability; and Facilities Management — is also exploring …….