Evergy plans to add solar capacity

Kansas City-based Evergy said that its Hawthorn power plant would be home to 10 MW of new solar energy capacity, pending regulatory approval.

Evergy said it plans to build the solar array on 67 acres near the Hawthorn plant in northeast Kansas City, Mo. The site is expected to include more than 22,000 solar panels and be operational in fall 2022.

Half of the renewable energy produced onsite would be available to customers who enroll in Evergy’s Solar Subscription program. Nearly 1,200 customers have subscribed to energy from the solar array, the utility said. The remainder would serve all Evergy customers, which number 1.6 million across Kansas and Missouri.

Energy said it plans to be carbon neutral by 2045. Those plans include adding 500 MW of renewable energy in the next two years and nearly 4,000 MW in the next 10 years.

In September, the utility said it would keep open part of its Lawrence Energy Center to run occasionally on natural gas. It previously planned to close Lawrence entirely by the end of 2023. It also revised earlier plans to add 350 MW of solar capacity, trimming that amount to 190 MW. 

In its regulatory filing, Every said that the results of its RFP process yielded “only 190 MW of cost effective solar.” The utility said it found that many of the solar projects submitted were “immature” in their development and “lacked clear cost and timing aspects” related to land control and grid interconnection.

It said the 350 MW of solar capacity identified in its 2021 Integrated Resource Plan was intended to be “representative.” The reduction in capacity to 190 MW was “simply a reflection of the transition from ‘generic’ solar additions to a specific solar project.”

At the time Evergy issued its original proposal, the Sierra Club said the plans fell short compared with what it needed to do to “mitigate the worst consequences of the climate crisis.” 

In announcing the proposed 10 MW of solar capacity, Evergy said that 5 MW would meet State of Missouri requirements that large electric utilities invest in utility-scale solar facilities located in Missouri or adjacent states.

Evergy said that using Hawthorn’s current infrastructure provided it with the opportunity to build one of the most cost-effective and largest solar subscription facilities in Missouri.