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Public Service Commission Grants Mercer County’s Motion To Intervene In KU’s Solar Plan

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Opened in 2016, the E.W. Brown Solar Facility in Burgin is comprised of 44,000 solar panels spread over 50 acres of land.

Robert Moore
Herald Staff

The Kentucky Public Service Commission has granted the Mercer County Fiscal Court’s motion to intervene in Louisville Gas and Electric and Kentucky Utilities’ plan to build a 120-megawatt solar array in Mercer County.

In a ruling dated Feb. 7, the Public Service Commission granted the motion to intervene, which entitles the fiscal court is entitled to “the full rights of a party” in the case. The fiscal court “shall be served with the Commission’s Orders and with filed testimony, exhibits, pleadings, correspondence, and all other documents” related to the case. The ruling requires the fiscal court to file a written statement within seven days of the date of service of the order, certifying that the county, or its agent, possesses the facilities to receive electronic transmissions; and sets forth an electronic mail address to which all electronic notices and messages related to the proceeding shall be served.

Through an attorney, the Mercer County Fiscal Court has filed a motion with the Public Service Commission requesting they be granted full intervenor status. Intervenors are defined as organizations or persons who want to participate in a proceeding because they believe the proceeding or its outcome may affect their rights or duties, according to Parties seeking intervention status have to show they have an interest in the proceeding.

KU is seeking the state’s approval on their plan to build two 621-megawatt natural gas combined-cycle units—including one at the E.W. Brown Generating Station in Burgin—as well as building a proposed battery storage facility at Brown Station and a solar array in Mercer County. KU is calling the plan the largest energy efficiency proposal in their history.

At a special-called meeting earlier this year, 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 Jan. 20.

“We are hopeful we will be granted intervention so we can participate in this case,” Howard said Tuesday.

The commission is holding a public hearing on K.U.’s plan on Aug. 22, 2023. Howard said he hopes to receive a ruling before then.

“For meaningful participation in this case, we need a motion to intervene granted at the beginning of the case,” he said.

Mercer is not the only party to file a motion to intervene. The PSC granted intervention status to the Kentucky Office of the Attorney General—the only party who has a right to intervene in a Public Service Commission under state law—in November 2022 and to the Kentucky Industrial Utility Customers, which filed their motion in December 2022. A total of nine parties filed motions to intervene before the statutory deadline, including the Sierra Club, who are objecting to KU’s plans to construct two new fossil fuel-burning power facilities, and the Kentucky Coal Association, which is objecting to KU’s plan to retire coal fired plants. Many of the other motions to intervene were also granted.

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. County officials have confirmed that this location is the same site as a previous solar project by Savion.

Noting that the fiscal court has denied previous requests to pass ordinances on two occasions, the filing argues a potential industrial park at that 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 noting the county is home one of the largest solar farms in Kentucky that is also owned by KU, the filing states, “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.”

“I feel comfortable they’re going to rule in our favor,” said Mercer County Attorney Ted Dean earlier this week.

Last week, 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 felt it was important to represent Mercer County’s interest before the Public Service Commission. They also noted they were not opposed to KU’S plan to build the new natural gas unit and a 125 megawatt battery storage facility in Burgin.

To read the documents online including the Public Service Committee’s latest rulings, visit The case number is 2022-00402.

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