After the City of Kerrville’s acquisition of the Kerrville Public Utility Board (KPUB) in 1987, KPUB set an initiative to increase the availability of green energy resources for its customers in Kerrville, Center Point, Ingram, Hunt and surrounding areas of Kerr County. Because KPUB currently serves approximately 22,500 customers, the green energy sites would need to be within KPUB’s service area and range in size between two and 10 acres. The acreage for solar panel sites also needed to have less than a 10% land grade, be absent of shade and have reasonable accessibility for workers and equipment.
After careful land evaluations and business considerations, Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly was selected as a “solar partner,” and our “51/68 acres” on Rock Bottom Road was divvied up with approximately six acres leased to KPUB. This section of land is rectangular in shape, which allows for easy installation of the solar panels in north-south rows. The leased acreage also had minor shrubbery and trees, so the clearing of the land was relatively quick. Crews have been working diligently to place the supporting wires and cables for the panels as well as digging the holes from which the solar panels will project.
“The implementation phase is currently happening and is expected to be completed by the end of 2018,” said Fred Gamble, Mo-Ranch Chief Financial Officer and KPUB board member. “Once the solar panels are fully installed, the operation phase will run until the end of the agreement between KPUB and Mo-Ranch.”
Currently, Mo-Ranch has 58 active electric meters provided by KPUB, and we use approximately 2,000,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. The solar panel system will serve the ranch’s electrical needs, and as a solar partner, Mo-Ranch will be able to assign solar energy to the electric meters that incur the highest per kWh rates. With this solar energy allocation, Mo-Ranch will be able to effectively reduce our overall electrical costs per year by providing a small part of our own power needs.
The panel system hosted on Mo-Ranch’s acreage will also contribute to the electrical needs of low- and moderate-income households. This green energy resource will reduce summertime peak demands and associated costs—a crucial timeframe for Texans as well as our bustling summer camp season.
“Mo-Ranch seeks involvement in this project not just for the financial benefits, but primarily because it speaks to our mission in sharing our unique living, learning and Christian environment,” said Gamble. “Through this partnership, Mo-Ranch will be able to create further educational opportunities for students in our Environmental Leadership Program and our summer campers.”
Mo-Ranch’s youth programs serve youth from across the nation, and most of them would not have an opportunity to have such a close-up look at the operation of a solar facility nor have a firsthand experience at how such a facility operates. Mo-Ranch also intends to provide opportunities for public school students in Kerr County and the surrounding areas to tour our facility and participate in educational activities.
Currently, the solar partner agreement leases the acreage to KPUB for 20 years, but it can be extended for five-year increments if both KPUB and Mo-Ranch agree to continue the partnership. Mo-Ranch looks forward to the continued partnership with KPUB as well as the amicable results for our guests and our surrounding community regarding green energy resources and availability.