The $200 million solar energy utility project coming to Caldwell County sometime in 2023 will provide 250 megawatts of solar energy to the national grid, and the company spokesperson said the county was selected for several reasons.
Geronimo Energy, a solar energy company based in Minneapolis, would set up the project in western Caldwell County near Fredonia.
"Geronimo is developing a solar portfolio throughout the state of Kentucky and has identified Caldwell County as an ideal location to invest in the local community by adding up to 250 megawatts of new, clean solar generation," said Lindsay T. Smith, the director of marketing and communications for Geronimo Energy.
"Geronimo will obtain the necessary permits to build the project as dictated by the project's jurisdiction. We will also work with the grid operator to obtain an agreement to connect the projects to the electrical grid. The current plan is to achieve commercial operation in 2023."
Six to eight local landowners will lease about 1,000 acres to Geronimo Energy for the project. Smith said that Geronimo is currently in discussion with potential counterparties. Typical partners include utilities, electric cooperatives, public power entities and corporations to purchase the power generated from the facility.
Smith said that Geronimo Energy is a farmer-friendly and community driven company that develops projects for corporations and utilities that seek to repower America's grid by bolstering local economies and reinvesting in a sustainable future.
"When siting solar energy projects, Geronimo seeks areas with high solar resource, flat contiguous land, access to nearby electrical infrastructure, a market for power purchasing and a receptive landowner and community group," she said. "The Caldwell County project sites met these criteria.
"We are excited to be working with the community to bring these projects and their associated broad community benefits to fruition. These projects are anticipated to positively impact both the environment and the local economy by producing new tax revenue, creating jobs and offsetting carbon dioxide emissions." Smith added that once the utility-scale solar projects are operational, the company will contribute to an education fund for the school districts connected to the project footprint.
"It's paid out at a rate of $200 per installed megawatt per year for 20 years," she said. "So as an example, a 100-megawatt project would receive $20,000 per year, or $400,000 over 20 years for their schools. This is above and beyond all tax revenue paid by the project, and is a charitable donation to the schools and is part of our community-driven value system."