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City Utilities decides not to move forward in the near-term on a second solar farm after opening the first, pictured above, in 2014.
Photo provided by City Utilities of Springfield
City Utilities decides not to move forward in the near-term on a second solar farm after opening the first, pictured above, in 2014.

CU decides against second solar farm — for now

Posted online

City Utilities of Springfield decided not to move forward with a proposed second solar farm near the Springfield-Branson National Airport, but an official with the utility says the project isn’t completely off the table.

Cara Shaefer, director of communications and energy services, said the decision came down to pricing, which would have adversely affected CU customers.

“The prices came in at more than we could generate ourselves,” she said.

Shaefer said 15 companies submitted bids, with prices ranging from 5 cents to 12 cents per kilowatt-hour. Bids were made by:

• Ameresco, in St. Louis;
• Azimuth Energy, in St. Louis;
• Borrego Solar, in San Diego;
• EDF, in Columbia;
• ENGIE, in Chicago;
• GoSolar, in Chesterfield;
• GRNE Solar, in Palatine, Illinois;
• MC Power, in Lee’s Summit;
• NextEra, in Juno Beach, Florida;
• PCI, in Lenexa, Kansas;
• Pivot Energy, in Denver;
• RES, in Broomfield, Colorado;
• Sol Systems, in Washington, D.C.;
• Standard Solar, in Rockville; and
• Sun Solar, in Springfield.

CU partnered with the airport last summer for a feasibility study on whether to construct a solar farm on 30 acres the airport owns near its entrance, according to Springfield Business Journal archives.

Shaefer said solar pricing currently is higher than other renewables. The utility late last year announced it hit a goal of 40 percent renewable energy with the addition of power purchased from Enel Green Power's new Diamond Vista wind farm near Salina, Kansas.

“We want to make sure that we get the best price for it,” she said of a potential second solar farm. “We’ve increased our renewable energy portfolio due to very low-cost wind contracts.”

CU’s current solar farm sits on roughly 40 acres along Farm Road 112 east of Springfield, just south of Interstate 44. Strata Solar LLC owns, operates and maintains the facility completed in 2014. A second solar farm would be structured similarly, Shaefer said.


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