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Kingston’s foray into the solar-farming business hit a slight snag in March.
It wasn’t, however, enough to keep the city from forging ahead with a portion of the project and seeking alternatives for finishing the rest.
The city has approval now to move on a 50-kwh farm to be located behind the water plant off James Ferry Road.
That was the original plan laid out when the city joined with the private firm Energy Source Partners in this venture.
The plan is to let Energy Source Partners absorb the costs of constructing and operating the facility, at no cost to the city.
The energy produced by the farm will be resold to TVA.
Over a 20-year span, Energy Source Partners will reap the majority of the profits — according to a schedule — with the city seeing ever-increasing returns as the company’s initial investment is gradually paid off.
In the meantime, the city had decided to build a second, larger farm on James Ferry, on the site of the old water plant.
But this second, 200-watt plant would not be eligible for the same TVA credits program as the smaller one, and thus would have a smaller return.
The city and its private partners have discovered that the 200-watt farm, as proposed, isn’t cost effective.
So even as they begin working toward meeting a deadline on the smaller farm, they’re figuring on ways to make the larger one work.
City Manager Jim Pinkerton said one idea is to link the farm to a project to install more efficient stadium lights at Fort Southwest Point.
He said the rationale had as much to do with making a statement about the value as it did with making profits off the farms.
“A lot of it is in the direction of supporting green energy,” he said. “There’s no pollution at all with the farms. They are self-sustaining.”
“We’re trying to find the best way to make it cost effective,” Mayor Troy Beets said. “We think it’s there. It’s just a matter of getting everything together. It will take some time to gather the data.”