After seven months of construction, the Kentuck Solar Farm went commercially operational on March 19 and is generating enough power for the needs of approximately 1,900 homes.
WGL Energy is the project’s owner and operator and according to its president, Sanjiv Mahan, Danville City is the primary customer, signing a 25 year agreement.
“We’re in it for the long term,” he said.
WGL Energy has fielded solar farms across 21 states and the District of Columbia, the Kentuck Solar Farm is WGL Energy's first solar project in Virginia.
Mahan said successful solar projects utilize partnerships to control costs, WGL Energy is the owner and operator, TurningPoint Energy is the property owner, McCarthy Building Company is the engineering, procurement, and construction contractor, Sol Systems is the site manager, and Danville Utilities is the consumer and energy grid curator.
“We work with collaboratively with all these entities all throughout every process of the project,” said Mahan. “We’ve been really trying to get solar energy in Virginia. We will be successful about this - there are no ifs ands or buts about it.”
He said an electrical grid and hookups already in place attract companies not wanting to spend extra to setup a power grid attract companies like TurningPoint, which discovered the site and performed the rezoning groundwork.
The Kentuck Solar Farm construction project is a $10M investment and jobs created by the initiative peaked at 80 new jobs filled, nearly a dozen were local. While construction is complete, final touches include planting trees this week that will grow into a sight barrier.
Local contractors are typically used for spot repairs said Mahan.
The farm is a six-megawatt alternating current system that sits on a 76-acre parcel of land that hosts a single-axis tracker array.
The Ringgold project spans between Dan River Middle School, Kentuck Elementary, and Dan River High School, and connects to several pieces of private property. The system has over 23,000 panels.
McCarthy Project Engineer Joe Schmitz said the panels slowly rotate to best face the sun.
George Ashton, president of Sol Systems, said, “This is the first of many utility-scale solar project investments for us in Virginia and we believe the local community and partners in Danville are a model of what can be accomplished by working together.”
In addition to supplying 1.5% of Danville’s power needs, the Kentuck Solar project will offset carbon emissions equivalent to 35,338 homes.
Sol Systems is an employee owned national solar finance and development firm and is backed by Sempra Energy, a $25-plus billion energy company.
Over the last eight years, Sol Systems has delivered more than 595MW of solar projects for Fortune 100 companies, municipalities, universities, churches, and small businesses. Sol now manages over $650 million in solar energy assets for utilities, banks, and Fortune 500 companies.
TurningPoint Energy is a clean energy advisory, development and investment company headquartered in Denver, Colorado. Its principals have experience developing solar projects totaling more than $1.7 billion in value over 500MW of operating solar power plants throughout the United States within the last nine years.
McCarthy Building Company, which is based in Phoenix, Az., was selected as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor by WGL Energy.
McCarthy was named to the 2017 Solar Power World’s Top 500 solar contractors list, ranking 11 nationally and earning a rank six rating nationally as an utility-scale solar contractor. It is the oldest privately held national construction company in the country with more than 150 years spent collaborating with partners to solve complex building challenges on behalf of its clients.
Jason Grey, Danville Utilities director, said, “We look forward to this project providing energy and capacity to our electric customers for many years to come.”
Regarding citizen concerns over radiation, Mahan said the electromagnetic fields are considerably lower than regulation standards and said if radiation were an issue, households wouldn’t be allowed to cover their roofs in the panels.
Pittsylvania County Administrator David Smitherman said due to Virginia solar farm incentive legislation, the county will receive minimal tax revenue from the project.
The Kentuck Solar Project will be the largest municipal electric utility in Virginia.
For more information on Sol systems, visit www.solsystems.com.
For more information on TurningPoint, visit www.turningpoint-energy.com.
For more information for McCarthy, visit www.mccarthy.com or follow the company on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Google+.