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A feasibility study has determined that over 3,100 acres of vacant land at the Kansas City International Airport are suitable for a solar panel installation which could produce up to 500 MW of electricity, enough to power the equivalent of up to 70,000 average size homes. A solar array of this size would be one of the largest in the United States.
The study recommends a phased approach in order to expedite construction of solar facilities and for those facilities to begin providing energy more quickly. Phase One would include installation of solar panels on 136 acres that will produce 35 megawatts of energy, which is enough to power 4,500 homes and would create the largest solar array at any airport in the nation.
Building the project in phases is the fastest and most cost-effective way to create what will be the largest municipal solar array in the country.
"The vision for this massive renewable energy project is to significantly reduce carbon emissions, to reduce energy costs for our residents, and to protect Kansas City from energy grid issues and other outages outside of our City," said City Manager Brian Platt. "We must take bold, innovative, and aggressive steps if we ever want to make progress in the fight against climate change and to improve the health of our environment and our residents. In 2020, 70% of energy produced in Missouri came from coal powered sources. Imagine the potential shift in air quality from a project like this."
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"The City Council has set goal after goal for becoming a more resilient organization, and this is a great way to do that," said Mayor Quinton Lucas. "We can lead this nation by showing how to use land that otherwise just sits there, and potentially help our residents who struggle with high energy bills. We believe we can make a good case to our federal officials that this project will produce results."
While Kansas City has been a national leader in environmental sustainability for decades, this initiative is also inspired by the spike in energy costs last winter. Kansas City recognized the need to move faster and build bigger solutions for a locally operated power supply.
"I am happy to see the city prioritize renewable energy, especially at the gateway of our community," said City Councilmember Eric Bunch, Fourth District. "This proposed solar farm brings us one large step closer to decreasing our carbon emissions. Cutting emissions by investing in proven renewable energy technology is just another way Kansas City will stay on the forefront of the future energy landscape."
"The proposed solar installation is a huge step in creating options for clean, solar energy as we address Kansas City's commitment to climate resiliency and sustainability," added City Councilmember Andrea Bough, Sixth District at-Large. "Not only will we be able to put to use land that has limited use, but we will be able to provide solar power to our residents on a large scale."
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Next steps will include:
- Issuing a Request for Proposals/Qualifications seeking a private partner to build the solar array
- First phase of 136 acres to start construction within the next 12-18 months (depending on results of the RFP and other permits and reviews)
- State and federal environmental reviews and permits for the full 3100 acres
- Coordination with local and regional utility officials and companies
The City has partnered with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which is part of the federal Department of Energy. This team of national experts is working with City staff to develop and issue the RFP/Q, which should be issued in late summer or early fall.
Media questions may be directed to City Communications Director Chris Hernandez, 816-513-3474.
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