LG&E and KU: Pitch us your renewable-power projects

The solar array at the E.W. Brown plant is one of the company’s few renewable-power assets. | Photo by LG&E and KU

LG&E and KU are inviting renewable-energy developers in the region to pitch projects to feed as much as 200 megawatts of electricity into Kentucky’s grid, the utilities’ first such call for clean-power proposals in a dozen years.

The request for proposals, or RFP, went out to 50 recipients, including several Kentucky companies, as well as trade associations and energy-marketing publications, an LG&E spokeswoman, Chris Whelan, said. She declined to identify the targeted developers.

The call for proposals comes as utilities and renewable-energy backers gird for the possible restart of a skirmish over state clean-energy rules. Meanwhile, local advocates are pressing Metro Louisville government to swear off fossil fuels for its own operations in favor of solar and other renewable sources by 2030, with the whole area following suit five years later.

With power demand flat, Whelan said the utilities don’t need to add generation capacity, but the company, a unit of PPL Corp., periodically tests the market to make sure it is getting the cheapest power possible. LG&E and KU have two hydroelectric assets — Ohio Falls and Dix Dam — and a 10 MW solar array at the E.W. Brown plant, the only renewables in a fleet dominated by coal and natural-gas fired plants.

“With the growing interest and declining costs associated with renewable energy we wanted to conduct a more formal review to explore the potential market availability,” said the company’s vice president of energy supply and analysis, David Sinclair, in a news release.

David Sinclair | Courtesy of LG&E and KU

The RFP says interested parties need to show they can provide between 10 and 200 megawatts of capacity by the start of 2022. Developers of utility-scale solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal and other forms of renewable energy would have to provide their own link to LG&E and KU’s transmission system and need to be located in Kentucky or a surrounding state. Proposals are due on March 29, and the company said it wasn’t committing to any purchase.

The RFP is the company’s first for renewable energy since 2007. A deal was later struck for wind power but didn’t come to fruition.

The company said being able to offer more renewable energy could help attract businesses to the state, and boost demand for the utilities’ power. The company has been putting more emphasis on attracting new businesses to the area, hiring a new director of business and economic development, John Bevington, last year.

“The only way we are going to be able to grow is to help expand the businesses here,” Whelan said.