A crowd including state and local leaders and representatives from Kansas-based utility Westar Energy, Dold Foods and SoCore Energy gathered last week to cut the ribbon on Westar’s first community solar project. According to Westar, the 1.2 MW installation in South Hutchinson, Kan., includes nearly 4,000 panels and gives customers the choice to receive some of their electricity from solar without installing private generation.
“Working together, we can expand renewable energy in Kansas efficiently and affordably,” said Greg Greenwood, Westar Energy senior vice president of strategy. “Community solar introduces new choices for our customers and makes it possible for any customer to have some of their energy from the sun.”
“SoCore is honored to have worked with Westar Energy to bring reliable and cost-efficient renewable energy to the local community and to meet the needs of a great business like Hormel,” said Russell Young, senior vice president of operations of Chicago-based SoCore Energy, which developed and will own and operate the solar facility. “Solar is now a clear part of the Hutchinson economy, generating locally produced power which provides affordable energy choices to meet the needs of residents and businesses alike.”
Energy from the community solar plant is available by subscription to Westar customers, and about 20% of the solar energy from the facility is being used at Dold Foods in Wichita, where Hormel Natural Choice bacon products are prepared and packaged.
“Supporting renewable energy helps us achieve our company’s goal to reduce non-renewable energy use by 10 percent by 2020 and is also important to the Hormel Natural Choice bacon brand,” said Joe Peine, plant manager of Dold Foods. “We are proud to support the generation of clean, renewable energy through community solar. Community solar is beneficial to the air quality of our communities, helps to create jobs and provides for the local economy.”