Focusing on one aspect of the environment while ignoring another is counterproductive. That’s why Louisville Gas and Electric (LG&E) and KU Energy have made new Kentucky community solar array expansions pollinator-friendly. The locally generated solar power will add electricity to the region’s grid, provide subscribers with credits on their utility bill, and support the wellness of the native bee population.
The recent expansion was a 500-kilowatt garden at Simpsonville’s Solar Share facility composed of 1,300 panels. The additional array has increased the solar energy generated for customers to 1 megawatt. Residential, commercial, and industrial customers are able to subscribe to the Solar Share Program for $.20 per day. When they subscribe, customers also receive credits on their utility bills. Premium subscription levels receive greater returns or customers can gift their bill credits to other solar recipients.
Along with additional output for customers, the Kentucky community solar array expansion is one of the first pollinator-friendly arrays developed and managed by LG&E and KU. The garden is designed to attract native bees, monarch butterflies, and honeybees and provide them with a safe environment to thrive. The pollinator habitat supports local avian populations, improves upon the regional landscape, and helps reduce the presence of water runoff while cutting down on soil erosion.
The Solar Share facility in Simpsonville will be joined by additional pollinator-friendly habitats. Among them is a new facility at Cane Run and one constructed at the former Tyrone station. According to LG&E and KU vice president, Eileen Saunders, the arrays were expanded upon based on what subscribers wanted. Saunders stated that the Solar Share customers were vocal about the increased availability of renewable energy.
The expansion has attracted the attention of Centre College, which will become the first educational institution to subscribe. The Kentucky Habitat for Humanity will pull energy from the facility but will be gifting 185 shares of its credits to 10 families across Kentucky. Its goal is to offset 30% of the clients’ monthly electricity usage.
The Simpsonville facility is still expected to see additional expansions. The final goal is to have eight 500-kilowatt sections so the facility would generate 4 megawatts of clean, renewable energy.