Powering Strong Communities
Distributed Energy Resources

KPP Energy, Kansas Municipal Energy Agency Seek Loan Funding for Solar Energy

KPP Energy and the Kansas Municipal Energy Agency are pursuing loan funding from the Rural Utilities Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture to install solar energy facilities in Kansas.

A letter of interest applying for the Powering Affordable Clean Energy (PACE) Program was submitted to RUS on July 10.

KPP submitted the LOI jointly with KMEA and utilized the services of the Beneficial Electrification League in drafting the proposal, KPP noted in the October issue of its Lightning Round newsletter.

The joint project included $35 million in potential loan funds for KPP Energy and $65 million for KMEA.

KPP and KMEA received a notice of formal invitation to submit a full application and have been encouraged by RUS to submit separate applications “since our projects are quite different,” said Colin Hansen, CEO and General Manager of KPP Energy.

The initial KPP proposal included the construction of nine potential solar sites, ranging from 1 MW to 5 MW.

It said that sites were carefully selected based on several factors. The first key factor is the minimum daytime load of the member community. The size of the solar array must remain below this minimum daytime load to avoid being placed in the Southwest Power Pool generation interconnection queue, a move that would likely delay the project for four or more years.

In addition, a minimum solar installation of 1 MW was determined for the project to remain economic, KPP said.

Due to the speed with which this project must be developed, the second key factor is readily available and “shovel-ready” land for a solar installation, KPP said.

KPP staff is currently working to identify locations and prepare the full PACE loan application due on December 4, it noted in the newsletter.

“Our project is a little different than KPP’s project,” said Paul Mahlberg, General Manager of KMEA.

KMEA plans to build, own and operate one large-scale project (65 MW) to be located in Southeast Kansas. “We are working with a solar developer on a particular solar project site that will allow us to construct, own and operate a 65 MW solar farm,” he said.

The project “is nearly shovel-ready for us to move forward with the PACE grant.”

As a project based joint action agency, “our members will have an opportunity to participate in this project. We don’t know how many of our 88 members will participate but expect a large percentage given the overall project including the economics with the PACE grant and federal tax incentives under the IRA,” Mahlberg said.

Mahlberg believes that the joint effort between KPP and KMEA played a big part in receiving the formal notice to proceed from USDA.

Hansen and Mahlberg highlighted the KMEA/KPP partnership on the effort as a great example of the benefits of public power entities working together.

Hansen said that the KPP and KMEA partnership on the LOI is “a great story about public power working together.” 

“This has been a great partnership between our two organizations,” Mahlberg said, adding that he is excited to see the projects move forward and bring “exceptional value to our member communities.”