When people mention Berea, Ky., they’re not too likely to associate it with solar. But Berea Municipal Utilities (BMU) is starting to change that. The municipal utility recently sold out the first phase of the Berea Solar Farm—its first solar project—within four days. And it’s already closing on the second phase of the project.
For the first phase of the community solar garden the utility offered 60, 235-watt solar panels to the community for $750 each, with a minimum purchase of two. Under the 20-year lease, module owners receive credits on their bill for the energy produced by their modules. It sold out in four days.
“We didn’t anticipate this big of an interest in it,” said BMU’s Joyce Hendricks.
The success of the first phase spurred the utility to offer a second phase of the solar farm to the public earlier than the utility had originally planned, according to The Richmond Register.
Berea’s utility already sold 35 modules for the second phase.
“We are going to stop taking prepayments on the lease; we’re taking a pause,” Hendricks said.
The company stopped accepting new leases for the solar farm as of Nov. 30.
There aren’t a lot of incentives for solar in Kentucky.
“I think that’s why we’re taking a pause on this,” Hendricks said. “We’re going to have to revaluate because the first array was partially funded by grant money. So it’s different in how we bid it out.”
There’s no guarantee that they’ll be able to secure grants for future phases. So the utility has to figure out future funding mechanisms.
“We’re seeing what our options are,” Hendricks said. “This is the first outreach that we’ve had for offering anything other than strict utilities.”
After deciding how to further develop the program, the utility will decide on plans to offer future phases of the solar farm. Although there are no plans for a particular size farm, each phase is expected to offer 60 modules.
Image courtesy of NREL.