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City Utilities is considering a second community solar farm. A proposed 30-acre site at Springfield-Branson National Airport would create a slightly smaller facility than CU’s first solar farm shown here on roughly 40 acres east of Springfield.
PHOTO PROVIDED BY CITY UTILITIES
City Utilities is considering a second community solar farm. A proposed 30-acre site at Springfield-Branson National Airport would create a slightly smaller facility than CU’s first solar farm shown here on roughly 40 acres east of Springfield.

CU researching second solar farm

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City Utilities is looking to add a second community solar farm, this one on 30 acres at the Springfield-Branson National Airport.

The public utilities company has partnered with the airport for a feasibility study on constructing the solar farm, with a request for proposals expected in the coming months, said CU Communications Manager Joel Alexander.

“There’s no real time frame on it,” Alexander said. “There’s no real estimate on the cost or anything. The way we structured the first solar farm is that it’s owned by the vendor completely, and we purchase all of the power that comes off of it.

“Ideally, that would be the same type of an arrangement we would be looking to enter into.”

Completed in 2014, the first 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.

The site contains 22,000 solar panels that deliver a potential output of 4.95 megawatts, enough to power 902 homes, according to the CU website.

Based on the first farm, the proposed 30-acre site near the entrance of the airport is expected to deliver 3 MW, Alexander said. He said the site could also highlight the city’s interest in clean power, being the airport serves as a gateway for travelers.

“When we entered into the first community solar farm arrangement, we knew that if it were beneficial and successful, we’d probably look for other options,” Alexander said. “In many areas, an airport has been a good site to place something like that.”

He said renewable energy makes up 30 percent of CU’s overall power generation. Additional resources include wind energy purchased from the Smoky Hills Wind Farm in Salina, Kansas, and power generated from methane gas produced at the city landfill.

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