Gov. Beshear and Secretary Goodman Announce New Tool to Help Businesses Identify Reclaimed Mine Lands for Large-Scale Solar Projects

Energy and Environment Cabinet’s “Solar Siting Potential” platform features GIS analysis to identify sites

FRANKFORT, Ky. (April 22, 2021) – Gov. Beshear and Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet Secretary Rebecca Goodman have unveiled a new web-based platform that allows users to easily identify reclaimed mine lands that are suitable for large-scale solar projects.

This web platform – aimed at identifying solar projects providing 10 megawatts or more of electricity – would give Kentucky an important economic development tool to attract companies that want sustainable energy as a significant portion of their energy portfolios.

Local governments, city planners, solar developers, as well as all businesses and industry can use Solar Siting Potential in Kentucky to identify solar sites using criteria such as topography, land cover and access to infrastructure.

“With almost two dozen inquiries about solar development already filed with the siting board, it’s clear that there is a demand for this clean, alternative fuel source,” Gov. Beshear said. “This exciting new tool will be an important driver of economic development in Kentucky.”

“The cabinet has seen exponential growth in companies looking to expand or build with renewables as part of their corporate goals,” said Secretary Rebecca Goodman. “We developed the solar siting analysis platform to act as a compass, finding the best location for an activity and predicting its susceptibility to risk by combining and weighing different information and evaluating multiple factors at once.”

The platform uses Geographic Information System (GIS) Site Suitability Analysis to explore solar site suitability across Kentucky, including identifying potential opportunities with previous lands used for mining.

It allows users to explore sites and various data sets in a user-friendly, one-stop resource in order to make more informed decisions.

In Kentucky, renewables accounted for about eight percent of net electricity generation last year, with hydro and biomass accounting for most of the state’s renewables. Solar is less than one percent of all renewable generation statewide, but the demand is increasing.

The Kentucky Public Service Commission is reviewing 23 cases before the Electric Transmission and Siting Board, representing more than 2,000 MW of solar capacity across the state.

“Identifying the best place to build a solar facility can be complicated,” said Office of Energy Police Director Kenya Stump. “The priority of the new platform is to make finding mine sites and other locations easier for developers and other stakeholders.”

The new website features resources and information for reclamation, project criteria, a sustainability tool, data and project team contacts. Users are offered a one-page document to explain the different options available in the tool. Click here to open the document, or watch a brief video tutorial.

The Solar Siting Potential in Kentucky is one of the many resources developed by the OEP in response to the growing needs of Kentucky’s economy. For more information, contact OEP Executive Director Kenya.Stump@ky.gov or visit the website at https://solar-siting-potential-in-kentucky-kygis.hub.arcgis.com/

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