Evergy announces plan for large solar farm near coal plant in Kansas City

Half of the energy produced by the 10 megawatt farm will serve customers who participate in the utility’s solar subscription program.

By: - January 5, 2022 11:27 am

Evergy will build a 10 megawatt solar farm consisting of 22,000 panels near one of its coal plants in Kansas City. (Photo by Sirisak Boakaew/Getty Images)

Evergy will build a 10-megawatt solar farm near its coal-fired power plant in northeast Kansas City, the company announced on Wednesday. 

The electric utility serves 1.6 million customers in Kansas and Missouri. Half of the energy produced at the solar farm will go to serve that entire base. The other half will be reserved for nearly 1,200 customers who participate in the utility’s solar subscription program, which allows users to pay a slightly higher bill to invest in renewable energy

“As we break ground on the solar array, we want to remind customers of this opportunity to contribute to and benefit from renewable energy without the upfront expense and process associated with owning a home solar array,” Chuck Caisley, Evergy’s senior vice president and chief customer officer, said in a news release.

Evergy plans to construct the solar farm near its Hawthorn power plant, which sits next to the Missouri River northeast of downtown Kansas City. The site will consist of 22,000 solar panels and begin operations this fall. Using the existing infrastructure near the coal plant allows Evergy to build “one of the most cost-effective and largest solar subscription facilities in Missouri,” the release says. 

“Our Hawthorn power plant is a prime location to showcase Kansas City’s commitment to renewable energy and our city’s forward-thinking progress,” Caisley said. “Bringing this renewable energy to Hawthorn will limit the expense by using infrastructure already in place.” 

Evergy has pledged to be carbon neutral by 2045. It plans to stop burning coal at its Lawrence plant by mid 2024. Environmentalists have criticized the utility for not moving more quickly to shutter its coal plants. 

GET THE MORNING HEADLINES DELIVERED TO YOUR INBOX

The company said Wednesday that it plans to invest in 700 megawatts of solar power in the next two years, enough to power 70,000 homes. It included those plans in its “integrated resource plan” filed with Kansas and Missouri regulators. 

But it made that claim in error based on old information, the company’s spokeswoman, Gina Penzig, said. It scaled those plans back last year and will invest in just 190 megawatts of solar energy by 2024.

Last fall, Evergy filed plans with the Kansas Corporation Commission to keep one unit open at the Lawrence Energy Center to run on natural gas during times of peak energy demand and invest in just 190 megawatts of solar power by 2024. The company is seeking a predetermination from the KCC to provide certainty regarding how it can recover costs of that solar investment from customers. 

Evergy’s integrated resource plan pledged to reduce emissions 70% by 2030 compared with 2005 levels. To do so, it plans to add 3,200 megawatts of renewable energy over the next 10 years while retiring 1,200 megawatts in fossil fuels. 

SUPPORT NEWS YOU TRUST.

The plan outlined additions of 350 megawatts of solar power per year in 2023 and 2024 and 500 megawatts of wind per year in 2025 and 2026. Starting in 2028, the company’s plan called for 5000 megawatts of renewable energy every year. 

A graphic Evergy showed to investors this fall outlined a different trajectory. 

It said it would add just 190 megawatts of solar energy in 2023 and none in 2024. Instead, it will add a combined 800 megawatts of wind energy in 2024 and 2025.

All told, by 2026, Evergy’s updated plan presented to investors was 360 megawatts short of earlier renewable generation goals. 

Our stories may be republished online or in print under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. We ask that you edit only for style or to shorten, provide proper attribution and link to our web site. Please see our republishing guidelines for use of photos and graphics.

Allison Kite
Allison Kite

Allison Kite is a data reporter for The Missouri Independent and Kansas Reflector, with a focus on the environment and agriculture. A graduate of the University of Kansas, she’s covered state government in both Topeka and Jefferson City, and most recently was City Hall reporter for The Kansas City Star.

MORE FROM AUTHOR