Nixa dedicates new solar farm on rainy morning

NIXA, Mo. -- Starting Tuesday, residents in Nixa are officially getting solar power from a new solar farm that is now fully up and running, though with the clouds, not at 100 percent. Mother Nature didn't exactly cooperate, but those who have worked to make the 72 acre solar farm a reality just put up a tent for its dedication.

"At least it's not snowing!" said Nixa Mayor Brian Steele.

"Obviously, we know, you don't get sun every day in Missouri," says John Twitty of Gardner Capital.

Gardner Capital owns the solar farm, and they say even on a day like this, the panels are still producing, just at about 20% of their capacity. They'll produce best on hot, sunny days.

Steele says, "One of the main benefits is cutting of our Peak power usage where we are buying power at a much higher rate at that peak time. So this field works the best at peak time, and that's when we needed the most, so it's really beneficial both ways."

The solar farm is now the largest in Missouri, with more than 33,000 panels. "So it's a really big deal for Nixa. It's a really big deal for MC Power, our construction partner, and it's a big deal for Gardner Capital," says Twitty.

It should produce enough power for about 2,000 homes, or 9 percent of Nixa's energy consumption. "Being able to bring almost 10 percent of the city's power from this one field is just an amazing thing," says Steele.

The city says the solar farm will save them, and Nixa residents, money over the long term, and that's just one of many benefits. "I think this really shows the innovation that Nixa is bringing to the forefront, how we're trying to have economic development and really bring new ideas to the region," Steele says.

"There's no question that solar's going to play a bigger role in the energy portfolio of all utilities, so the sooner somebody gets into it and begins to understand its characteristics, that's a positive thing," says Twitty.

Nixa city officials say it will not lower the average homeowner's bill, but will instead keep those bills consistent longer.

"They are good investment for two or three reasons. Number one, with federal income tax credit, the price is very competitive. Number two, obviously there is no fuel being consumed here. And that's a positive thing, and citizens today, customers, like the idea of clean energy," says Twitty.

Read the original version of this article at www.ky3.com.