Boone County may be getting a new solar power plant in the near future. Boone Stephens Solar, a company connected to Colorado-based energy developer Dakota Power Partners, is seeking endorsement from the Columbia Water and Light Advisory Board for their plan to build a new solar power plant by the end of 2023. The proposed plant will be built just north of Columbia city limits and have a maximum output of 64 megawatts. For reference, that is more than 26 wind turbines worth of electrical energy.
If the plan goes through, the city will pay Boone Stephens Solar $31.65 per MWh (megawatt hour) the plant generates. According to estimates for the plant’s potential power output, it would generate the company a revenue of $4.5 million within the plant’s first year of operation.
The Columbia City Council first requested proposals for renewable energy in January. According to Ryan Williams, assistant director of Columbia Water and Light, part of the reason why was because the city wanted to take advantage of tax credits that might have an impact on the price of solar energy in the future.
Jay Schoenberger, a co-founder of Dakota Power Partners and project manager for the solar power plant, said that the company was also attracted to Columbia’s renewable energy policies.
“We develop solar projects throughout the country, including in Missouri,” Schoenberger said, “and we knew that Columbia was a progressive city that had an aggressive climate action goal as well as a… renewable portfolio standard. And so, we’re customarily looking at different power consumers throughout Missouri, and seeing if they have requests for proposals.
Both Schoenberger and Williams cautioned that the project is still in its preliminary stages. However, Williams said the plant could have a big impact on the city’s power supply.
“[The plant] would be directly attached to the city of Columbia’s transmission system,” Williams said, “and could potentially deliver… oh, roughly ten percent of the city’s energy needs in renewable form.”
The Water and Light Advisory Board will hold a special meeting regarding the project on Oct. 9. If Boone Stephens Solar gets the board’s support, it will then take its plan to the city council for approval.