Campus UK

Campus view from Helipad on July 7, 2021. (Photo by Mark Cornelison | UK photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. (KT) – You could say Big Blue is going green.

It was announced Friday that the University of Kentucky has entered into an agreement with its electricity provider, Kentucky Utilities Company, to purchase 44% of the output of a new 125-megawatt solar facility. 

KU and its sister utility, Louisville Gas and Electric Company, filed the contracts for the project with the Kentucky Public Service Commission earlier this week. The facility is planned for McCracken County, near Paducah, and is expected to be online in 2025. 

The agreement makes UK the largest purchaser of solar power under KU’s Green Tariff Renewable Power Agreement, to date.  Once operational, this solar facility will provide approximately one-third of the electricity consumed by the campus.

“This project is another example of the power of partnership to achieve goals that will not only benefit our institution but the Commonwealth we seek to advance,” said Eric N. Monday, UK executive vice president for finance and administration. “A priority for the University of Kentucky is continually finding more sustainable approaches to our energy needs. That benefits UK, but also benefits the state we serve as we seek, with partners such as LG&E and KU,to create a sustainable energy future for Kentucky as well.”

The agreement will also help the university control its utility costs by locking the price paid for generating this portion of its power for a 20-year term.  Purchasing a third of UK’s power from renewable sources also diversifies the mix of fuels the university relies on for electricity and this boosts the resilience of campus utility systems.  It also represents significant progress toward the university’s energy and climate sustainability goals.

“We are well are on the way to achieving our greenhouse gas emissions target of a 25% reduction by 2025,” said Shane Tedder, UK’s sustainability officer. “The potential emissions reductions from this project positions UK to set our sights on ambitious future targets." 

Four other organizations, including the University of Louisville, say they plan to buy power from the project as well.

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