Duke Energy opens solar power farms near Walton

Source: By Chris Mayhew, Cincinnati Enquirer • Posted: Thursday, April 26, 2018

More than 60 football fields worth of new solar panels are generating electricity today in Northern Kentucky.

Duke Energy unveiled its new solar energy farm in Walton Tuesday. Duke put 17,024 solar panels on 60 acres at 352 York Road in southern Kenton County. The new power plant is off U.S. 25 just south of the city of Walton in Boone County.

An 11,500-solar-panel farm owned by Duke has also been opened at 922 Ruark Road south of Crittenden in Grant County. The Walton and Crittenden solar power farms started producing electricity for the grid Dec. 14, 2017.

The solar farms in Kenton and Grant counties make enough electricity to power about 1,500 homes year-round, said Chuck Session, Duke’s vice president for government and community affairs in Kentucky. Session lives in Union.

Duke’s Walton solar farms, on separate strips of land, are the largest in Northern Kentucky and one of the largest in Kentucky.

The Walton and Crittenden solar farms cost $14.8 million to build, according to the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

Duke, the largest electric power holding company in the U.S., has about 140,000 electric customers in Boone, Campbell, Kenton, Gallatin, Grant and Pendleton counties.

The solar panels have a useful life of at least 20 years before they need replacing.

Duke hopes to add more solar in Northern Kentucky eventually, said Lee Freedman, a corporate spokesman.

The Walton and Crittenden solar farms will generate about 7 megawatts per hour for Northern Kentucky customers, Session said.

One megawatt-hour is enough to power the average home for about a month.

“Right now we have a 650-megawatt (per hour) facility in Rabbit Hash at our East Bend plant that is coal-fired,” he said.

Duke’s Kentucky customers also receive power from a 400-megawatt, gas-fired power plant in Trenton, Ohio, Session said.

Access to cheaper energy has attracted businesses to the region for decades, said Brent Cooper, president and CEO of Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce.

Businesses considering locating here ask about energy prices and how it is generated, Cooper said.

“Now we can also say we’re transitioning to cleaner energy over time,” he said.