How many acres of solar farms will Mason county have?

While no one can know the future, understanding solar farm development will help answer this question.

Because the sun shines on the whole world, solar farms limiting factors are finding a buyer and an existing transmission line with the capacity to deliver power to that buyer.

Three types of buyers contract for long-term delivery of electricity:

  1. Regional Transmission Operator
  2. Large scale industrial consumers
  3. Individual electric utilities that have not joined a Regional Transmission Operator are an ISO

The Regional Transmission Operator in this area is PJM. These RTOs also manage purchasing power for the member utities who contributed transmission lines to form the RTO. Innergex stated at their Aug 11, 2021, public meeting that PJM requires proof that 5 acres are under option per MW (MegaWatt) requested to connect. Innergex also said the PJM request to connect process now takes 710 days and that they will not apply until the Sept 2021 AH Queue.

Large-scale industrial customers sometimes purchase power thru a PPA (Power Purchase Agreement). This power must still be moved over electrical transmission lines from the Solar farm to the industrial customer.  Because the RTO controls most transmission lines the developer must still apply to the RTO for connection approval.

When an individual electric utility (ISO) purchases power, it does so from solar farms very close to its existing transmission lines. 

Transmission lines in Mason County are currently operated by LGE-KU, AEP (Americal Electric Power), and RECC (Rural Electric Cooperative Corporation) organizations. PJM controls connecting to all local AEP and RECC transmission lines. LGE-KU has retained control of connecting to many of their area transmission lines 

Because solar is the least cost source of electricity, and EPA driven costs are forcing fossil fuel plants to close, demand for new sources of power is growing dramatically.  

Transmission line capacity is the primary constraint limiting new solar farms. However, simply having a transmission line on or nearby does not mean there is capacity available on that transmission line. 

Earlier fossil fuel plants have placed many transmission lines in Mason County. But these existing lines have a finite capacity. Increasing a transmission line’s capacity often costs millions of dollars per mile.

Solar developers are rushing to apply for the right to fill this existing transmission capacity. It seems doubtful that existing transmission lines can transmit all of the currently proposed local solar power.

This transmission capacity constraint means that the existing transmission capacity will not support the 25,000 acres of producing solar in Mason County as claimed by the anti-solar folks.

Capacity can be consumed by connecting at any point along a transmission line. The nature of long-distance electrical transmission lines is that there are long distances available for connection. If Mason County wants to replace tobacco and dairy income with solar, we must not delay filling the transmission line capacity available in Mason County, because it is subject to be consumed by solar farms outside our county which also lay along the transmission lines that run through our county.   

Some folks seem to not care about our county’s ecological and financial future. However, if you agree we should not allow this opportunity to pass us by, you must demand that the Maysville Mason County Planning Commission hold a public meeting NOW. 

Then lobby for the city and county to adopt a text amendment that will allow well-regulated solar to help Mason County move toward a bright future.

Maysville Mason County Planning Commission Members

Tim Teegarden (City)
Tom Coe (County)Commission
John Hutchings (City)Commission
Annette Walters (County)Commission
Peggy Frame (County)Commission
Lesley Myers (City)Commission
Xandy Stewart (City)Commission
David Reed (County)Commission
George LargerPlanning & Zoning
Michael ClarkePlanning Commission

Mason County Fiscal Court Members

Owen J. McNeillJudge
Phil DayCommissioner(606)407-3363
Chris O’

Maysville City Commission Members

Debra L. CotterillMayorcotterillmayor@gmail.com606-564-9419
Victor McKayMayor Pro Temvictorc.mckay@gmail.com606-584-0449
Andrew WoodCommissionerawood@maysvilleky.net606-564-9959
Ann BrammerCommissionerannbrammer@hotmail.com606-584-1760
David CartmellCommissionerdcartmell@maysvilleky.net606-584-5371
Matt WallingfordCity Managermattwallingford@maysvilleky.net606-564-2521