AP NEWS

Alaska company opens state’s largest solar farm facility

November 20, 2019 GMT

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — An Alaska company has opened the state’s largest solar farm with expectations of generating enough electricity to power about 200 homes, officials said.

Renewable IPP officially opened the 1.2-megawatt facility near Willow Nov. 15, The Alaska Journal of Commerce reported Monday.

The facility is expected to come online in December, Renewable IPP said.

The facility includes 3,240 solar panels in 11 rows on the property along the Parks Highway north of Anchorage. The project expanded from a 140-kilowatt pilot project consisting of 408 panels that was activated last year, the company said.

The project is expected to offset enough power produced by the region’s natural gas-fired power plants to prevent about 2 million pounds (0.9 million kilograms) of carbon dioxide emissions per year, CEO Jenn Miller said.

The concept for a commercial-scale solar farm stemmed from positive results she and other Renewable IPP team members experienced outfitting their homes with solar arrays in 2017, Miller said.

“We just said, let’s do one big system and see how that goes,” she said.

The four-person team reused old oil and gas drilling pipe to build the support structures that hold the panels to reduce the project’s environmental impact.

The Alaska Energy Authority’s Power Project Fund loan program provided about half of the project’s $1.5 million funding, while the rest came from private capital.

The solar farm’s power will be sold to Matanuska Electric Association under a 30-year contract. Renewable IPP expects to produce power for about 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt-hour and sell it to the utility for about 8 cents, Miller said.

“We’re looking to the future and meeting members’ needs,” Matanuska Electric CEO Tony Izzo said. “A lot of them have expressed a desire for us to reduce our carbon footprint.”

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Information from: (Anchorage) Alaska Journal of Commerce, http://www.alaskajournal.com