OVERLAND PARK, Kan. —A local utility company wants to harness the power of the sun by creating a new solar array in Overland Park.
WaterOne has selected Evergy Energy Solutions to design, build, own and operate a 100-kilowatt solar array at the Lamar Pumping Station property near 91st St. and Lamar Avenue.
If plans are approved by the city council, 320 ground mounted solar panels will be installed, covering roughly 6,470 square feet of the five acre property.
The property is currently owned by WaterOne and would be used to supply energy to the on-site water district facility. The array is estimated to generate roughly 177,800 kWh annually, which is enough electricity to offset roughly 25% of the facility’s annual energy use.
Mike Shriner lives adjacent to the proposed project and was the only person to speak about the solar array during the public hearing Monday.
“My wife and I are very supportive of clean energy, but when we think of it we think of large windmill farms in rural Kansas. Maybe large solar panels that attach to industrial facilities or even panels on houses. We never really expected to see a solar array in the middle of a city or community,” Shriner said.
Current plans show a 110 foot buffer between the panels and neighboring property owners to the west and a 100 foot buffer for residences to the north. The Overland Park Planning Commission voted 10-0 to recommend the city council approve a final development plan for the project.
A six foot chain link fence with a windscreen will be installed around the perimeter of the property to screen the solar panels from view, but Shriner feels the project will still be an eyesore.
“Imagine a black vinyl fence as long as a football field in that open field, which is very nicely landscaped and beautifully manicured. I don’t know what vision comes to mind for you, but the term butt-ugly comes to mind for me,” Shriner said.
There would be no upfront cost for WaterOne to construct the solar array and no additional costs passed on to customers. The project would be financed through a Solar Service Agreement (SSA) between WaterOne and Evergy. Under the agreement, WaterOne would receive a credit on its Evergy power bill for the solar power generated at the water facility property.
The Overland Park City Council is scheduled to review the proposed solar array project on Monday, Jan. 9.