Hearings begin today on a proposal to allow Louisville Gas and Electric to construct a 10 megawatt solar array. If it’s approved, it’ll be the first time the commissioners have voted to let a wind or solar project go forward in the state.

LG&E/KU’s proposal is to build a 10 megawatt solar array at the Brown station near Harrodsburg. In the testimony submitted to the Public Service Commission, LG&E/KU chief operating officer Paul Thompson said the solar array would make sense financially, and help the company comply with stricter environmental regulations.

As described by Mr. Revlett, changing and more stringent environmental regulations have arrived. As I explained in Case No. 201100375, those new regulations presented the Companies with the decision either to install pollution control devices on most of their generation assets, or to retire those assets and replace them with different generation technology…constructing the Brown Solar Facility will allow the Companies to add a renewable resource with relatively minor impact to customer revenue requirements in the coming years.

Three groups have intervened in the case: the Sierra Club, the Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers and Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway. The Sierra Club and KIUC support the proposal, but Conway hasn’t made his office’s stance known.

Matt Gerhart is an attorney for Earthjustice, and is representing the Sierra Club in the case.

“I think this project signals that solar has become cost-competitive and companies see the value of not relying on just one fuel to generate electricity, but they see the value in diversifying their portfolio and moving towards an economy based on clean energy,” he said.

LG&E/KU owns more than 8,000 megawatts of generation. If the solar project is approved, it will make up a very small (.125 percent) amount of that mix. But it would be the first solar project approved by the Public Service Commission, and Gerhart said it could help make future projects possible.

“We think this would set an important precedent in Kentucky that would pave the way for more renewable energy development,” he said.

If this project is approved, it’ll be twice the size of the proposed solar project at Fort Campbell.

LG&E has estimated the solar array will cost about $36 million.

Correction: The initial version of this story incorrectly stated that LG&E/KU was also pursuing a natural gas plant at its Green River Station. The company’s application originally included this plant, but that project application was withdrawn in August.