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Justin Drake's picture
Former Director of Communications National Grid Ventures

Justin currently serves as Director of Communications for National Grid Ventures, the competitive arm of National Grid which focuses on accelerating our clean energy future. He focuses on both...

  • Member since 2020
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  • May 28, 2020

Exciting news today from National Grid's Geronimo Energy as it signs a power purchase agreement for its 160-MW Unbridled Solar Project in Kentucky with Big Rivers Electric Corporation. The project is estimated to offset carbon dioxide emissions by 255,000 metric tons annually once it's operational at the end of 2023.

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Matt Chester's picture
Matt Chester on May 28, 2020

Kentucky is notorious for continuing to clutch to the coal industry, so seeing this development is encouraging. Did this project have to jump through any additional hoops as a result of the prevalence of the coal industry, or was it smooth sailing thanks to beneficial economics?

Justin Drake's picture
Justin Drake on May 29, 2020

Thanks for the question! I wasn’t as close to the development process on this project, but I know there was strong interest in the project due to its economic / job creation benefits, as well as its ability to help draw in new businesses that are interested in locating their operations in areas with renewable energy sources. The PPA signed with Big Rivers also supports their commitment of providing safe, reliable and sustainable energy to their members.

Joe Deely's picture
Joe Deely on May 29, 2020

Good to see solar taking baby steps in Kentucky...

Today also marks the shutdown of the Elmer Smith coal plant by Owensboro Municipal Utility in Kentucky.

Although a lot of this generation will just be switched to coal generation from Big Rivers Electric - Owensboro is working on replacing some of that coal with solar.

Following the closure of the Elmer Smith Station, Owensboro will continue to purchase coal power from Big Rivers through 2026, but it’s also approved a separate agreement to purchase 32 megawatts of solar power from an array in Western Kentucky that’s set to open in 2022.

Note: the last remaining unit - 970MW Unit 3 - at the TVA's Paradise coal plant in Kentucky shutdown this past February. This follow the retirement of the Henderson and EW Brown coal plants in 2019. About 2GW of retirements in 2019/2020 but still 10GW of coal remaining in KY.  Back in 2015, KY had over 15GW of coal capacity - so 5GW or 1/3 of coal capacity has retired since then.

All that said - KY is definitely a contender for the last coal state standing.

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