A company interested in building a solar panel farm in Adair County is hosting open houses this week to talk with local residents.
AES is holding two in-person open houses on Wednesday, July 28, at White Oaks Barn in Kirksville. The first session runs from 10 am to 12 pm and another runs from 6 pm to 8 pm. A virtual conference will be held over Zoom on Aug. 3. Interested citizens are asked to register at aes.com/morris-solar-project.
The project, named the Morris Solar Project, will cover 2,005 acres south and southeast of Kirksville. Solar panels will cover about 1,400 acres. The size should generate enough energy to power 56,000 homes per year. It is estimated to cost $306 million.
The solar farm is estimated to return $7.4 million in tax revenue over 35 years, with those funds going to the county and Kirksville R-III School District. The project won’t cross into Kirksville city limits, so that’s why the tax revenue will go to the county and school district, whose boundaries go outside of the city.
The Morris project will connect to the Zachary substation near Troy Mills.
AES estimates this project can reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 439,000 tons per year, which equals the electricity used by 72,000 homes in a year.
Carolyn Chrisman, executive director of K-REDI, said the project dates back to 2019 when sPower started looking for places to build a solar farm. sPower, which merged with AES earlier this year, then reached out to Chrisman in 2020. AES then gave a presentation to K-REDI in April of this year.
Chrisman said AES has acquired the land already, purchasing some and leasing some. Surveys, studies and agreements still need to be finalized. AES’ schedule looks to complete construction in about a year and commence operations in December of 2023.
Estimates say more than 660 workers will be needed during construction, with between six and 10 remaining as full-time jobs after that.
Chrisman said she was told once the Mark Twain Transmission Project, which expanded capacity, was completed in 2019 that other companies would be interested in adding renewable energy to the grid.
“Our goal is to increase capital investment, increase the tax base, increase those things for the area, and this project will be part of that,” Chrisman said.