Mercer County Seeks To Intervene In Proposed Solar Facility
Fiscal Court Files With State In Response To KU Plans
Mercer County is seeking to intervene in Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ plan to increase their solar generation capacity in the county. KU is asking approval from the Kentucky Public Service Commission on a plan that includes building a 120-megawatt solar array in Mercer County. Through an attorney, the Mercer County Fiscal Court has filed a motion with the Public Service Commission requesting they be granted full intervenor status.
At a special-called meeting on Jan. 12, the fiscal court voted to hire Dennis G. Howard II of Howard Law PLLC in Lexington, who filed the motion with the Public Service Commission on Friday, Jan. 20.
Mercer’s filing focuses on the proposed location of the solar facility, which consists of approximately 1,895 acres intersected by two high voltage transmission lines .
“Mercer’s interests are exclusively related to its unique customer characteristics as an economic opportunity, one which a solar facility cannot compete with its return on investment within the Commonwealth,” Howard wrote in the filing.
Noting the fiscal court has denied previous requests to pass ordinances on two occasions, the filing argues a potential industrial park at the location would be a better economic development opportunity as opposed to what they call “a monstrous 1,895 acre solar site.” The filing also says the economic return “for Mercer as well as the Commonwealth is much greater if used for an industrial park.”
While insisting that Mercer is not averse to solar power and noting the county is home one of the largest solar farms in Kentucky that is also owned by KU, “Mercer simply believes that it would be more beneficial for the community and the state as a whole if the proposed location were used for economic development rather than as a solar facility.”
“We felt it’s important to represent Mercer County’s interest in front of the Public Service Commission,” said Mercer County Attorney Ted Dean. Dean and Mercer County Judge-Executive Sarah Steele, who was a vocal opponent of the original plans to build the second solar farm in Mercer County before her election, said they are not seeking to intervene in KU’S other plans, which include building new natural gas unit; adding nearly 1,000 megawatts of solar generation and a 125 megawatt battery storage facility at the E.W. Brown Generating Station in Burgin.
The commission is holding a hearing in August. Dean said he wasn’t sure when the commission will make a ruling on the county’s motion.
“We feel like we’re taking action where our constituents have expressed concern,” Judge Steele said.
She noted that KU’s plan as well as Mercer County’s and other entities’ motions related to the plan could be found on the Public Service Commission’s website.
“I encourage everyone to take a look at those documents,” Steele said.
To read the documents online, visit psc.ky.gov. The case number is 2022-00402.