Owensboro Utility signs 20-year solar deal

The City Utility Commission on Thursday signed an agreement that will supplement Owensboro Municipal Utilities’ energy portfolio with solar power for the first time in its history. According to a purchase power agreement OMU signed with Texas-based Open Road Renewables, about 5 percent of the city’s local energy will come from an 800-acre, 86-megawatt solar farm planned for development in Lyon County, just north of the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, in 2022. That solar array, from which the Kentucky Municipal Energy Agency has also reserved about 50 megawatts of electricity, is slated to be the largest such solar project in the state, surpassing Kentucky Utilities’ 10-megawatt Harrodsburg facility almost nine-fold.

For OMU, which is in the process of exiting the power generation marketplace, Thursday’s announcement represented a momentous step in the public utility’s century-old history. Owensboro’s electricity has been primarily coal-fired since its founding. Although the utility signed a similar agreement to buy the majority of its power from coal-based Big Rivers Electric Corp. in June, it left open room for low-risk, cost-competitive options like solar.