- Associated Press - Monday, July 21, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - City Utilities in Springfield is receiving some power from a solar farm in Greene County and will soon begin looking for customers willing to pay higher prices to receive some of their power from solar energy.

The nearly 40-acre solar farm northeast of Springfield began producing power on June 26 and a formal dedication is planned for August, City Utilities spokesman Joel Alexander said. The 4.95-megawatt generation system is on City Utilities land but is being operated by North-Carolina-based Strata Solar, The Springfield News-Leader reported (http://sgfnow.co/1k38io7 ).

City Utilities connected the system to its existing infrastructure and has agreed to buy all the energy produced, which is expected to be about 9.6 million kilowatt hours per year over the 25-year agreement. That is estimated to be enough to power every year for 902 homes in Springfield. City Utilities also has the option to buy the system after seven years.

Customers could eventually be able to choose how much solar energy they want to use from the farm. A voluntary solar rate, which would be higher than current rates for other energy, would have to be approved by the utility’s Citizens’ Advisory Council, the Board of Public Utilities and Springfield City Council.

That solar rate would be locked in for 20 years but customers could drop out with no penalty after two years.

“At some point in the future, if you assume energy prices are going up, you would suspect there will be a crossover where the solar will be cheaper than the other,” City Utilities General Manager Scott Miller told council members in June. “We don’t know what year or if that will happen, but that is a potential.”

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Information from: Springfield News-Leader, http://www.news-leader.com

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