Solar Is Coming! Are We in Kansas Anymore?


Westar, the state’s largest utility, starts a solar test project for Lawrence, Kansas. The utility is gathering data to see if solar makes sense in the area.

Those of us not in Kansas may not think much about solar power there, but some interesting developments are afoot in the state.

Today we learned about a $200,000 solar project in the works in Lawrence, Kansas. A few interesting things to note about the initiative:


  • Westar, the state’s largest utility, is behind the project. They’ll be installing 160 solar panels in their maintenance facility and service center.

  • The utility is known more for its coal generation but hopes to learn more about solar by undertaking this project.

  • Westar is doing this project in addition to helping fund solar installations at some schools, nonprofits, and government agencies — and is selecting those based in part on how those facilities will be able to educate the public about solar.

  • The public will be able to log in anytime to a website that shows how the solar panels at the various locations are performing.


The Lawrence Journal-World quoted Don Ford, director of renewable business solutions for Westar, as saying, “We hope to learn a little bit more about solar. Some of the information that is out there is from other locations, and we think it would be good for our customers to see what they will get in Kansas.”

So is this a forward-thinking utility, or are they trying to show that solar is not really ready for prime time?


The Lawrence Journal-World noted that Ford doesn’t think the economics of solar in the state are yet at the point to warrant installing solar in a big way there. However, he noted that had been the case in the past with wind, but the economics for that energy source have changed.


In states like Kansas, wind has been more prominent in clean energy generation. Now, it seems that the time is coming for solar to have its day in the sun.