Gas, solar making inroads in traditionally coal-dominated Kentucky electricity market


first_imgGas, solar making inroads in traditionally coal-dominated Kentucky electricity market FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享Greentech Media:In Kentucky, coal still generates the vast majority of electricity: 75 percent in 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. That dominance is waning, however. Meanwhile, in a striking bit of energy transition symbolism, the state’s Coal Mining Museum, located in Benham, historically a coal town, made the switch to solar as a cost-cutting measure back in 2017. “It is a little ironic,” museum spokesperson Brandon Robinson told local TV station WYMT at the time. “Of course, coal is still king around here.”The museum’s decision is unlikely to be the predominant trend in Kentucky. Though coal is steadily losing its grip on the energy crown, new natural-gas combined-cycle plants will remain more economic than building large-scale solar projects in some parts of Kentucky for the next couple of years.However, solar developers are inching into the state, teasing out deals and working to gain access to the lucrative PJM market, in part driven by demand from corporate energy consumers.“With the cost of solar continuing to decline [and the] corporate renewables market continuing to grow and expand, it’s just natural that any state that has a policy framework that allows power to be sold between a solar farm and a corporate offtaker…is going to start to grow,” said Carson Harkrader, CEO at Carolina Solar Energy, a North Carolina-based company that began sniffing around the Kentucky market in 2018.Developers working in Kentucky say corporate demand is the main driver of the current market. The state has installed just 25 megawatts of solar. But looking ahead, developers such as Kara Price, senior vice president of permitting and development at North Carolina-based Geenex Solar, expect a bump from corporations with a Kentucky footprint, including Toyota and Dow, as well as tech companies such as Facebook and Google, which have data centers in PJM states including Ohio and Virginia. Geenex has several early-stage projects under development in Kentucky, ranging in scale from 30 megawatts to more than 200 megawatts.[Emma Foehringer-Merchant]More: Even in coal-heavy Kentucky, corporations can’t stay away from solar powerlast_img

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