Hutchinson solar array

In 2016 Hutchinson built a solar array to offset energy needs for the wastewater treatment plant. Now the city is teaming up with the Hutchinson Utilities Commission for a solar array project at the industrial park.

The Hutchinson Utilities Commission is going green — big time.

At an April 13 Hutchinson City Council meeting, members unanimously approved a partnership for a solar array project on city land in the Industrial Park near the corner of Industrial Boulevard and Hackbarth Street. The array will be approximately 80,000 square feet and connect to Hutchinson Utilities Plant 2 on 1106 Industrial Boulevard Southeast. City Attorney Marc Sebora has acted as liaison between the city and HUC.

"Both the city and utilities have a pretty long history of commitment to environment and green energy," he said. "Back in 2016, the city constructed a 400-(kilowatt) system to supply the energy needs for the city's wastewater treatment plant."

HUC has also committed to green energy over the years, reaching a point in 2020 where the majority of the energy provided to the rate payers of the city of Hutchinson came from carbon-free sources.

"The commission is committed to purchasing renewable energy credits to become a 100% net zero carbon utility in the year 2021," Sebora said. "That's a pretty unique designation."

It would be the third of 63 utilities in Missouri River Energy Services to reach that designation.

The infrastructure and fixtures of the project will belong to HUC, but because the array will be on city property, a lease will be necessary. Under the lease, HUC can use the land to generate solar power or other green energy for 20 years. HUC can extend the lease for two additional five-year terms. HUC will pay $40,000 a year to use the property.

Sebora said because of a gas line, the property can't be sold. If the land would be purchased for manufacturing, it would likely net the city $8,000 per year in taxes.

The proposed 1.1 million kilowatt system would be sufficient, for reference, to power 105 homes in Hutchinson for a year.