Letter to the Times: We need the Kansas Sky Energy Center

Share this post or save for later

Note: The Lawrence Times runs opinion columns and letters to the Times written by community members with varying perspectives on local issues. These pieces do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Times staff.

Would you like to send a letter to the Times? Great! Here’s how to do it.

Savion’s proposed Kansas Sky Energy Center will give us the best of both worlds — a tremendous amount of much-needed solar energy and continued beneficial use of prime farmland through agrivoltaics, which will maintain the high quality of the soils much better than the current commodity crop farming.


1. Savion and Evergy are partnering with The Nature Conservancy to develop and administer agrivoltaics under and beside the solar panels. This will include vegetables, grazing and native pollinator-friendly plants.

2. Savion has committed to creating a $100,000 fund to support research and development of agrivoltaics at the project.

3. Agrivoltaics takes advantage of important synergies between solar energy and agriculture. Solar panels have been found to be significantly cooler from evaporation by crops below, increasing their energy production. Because the sun moves in the sky, crops under the panels are not shaded all the time, and shading the hottest sunshine can make some crops more productive and reduces needed watering. The panels also protect crops from intense rain and hail.

4. While agrivoltaics is a fairly new endeavor and much is to be learned, this will give Douglas County the opportunity to be a leader in this important field.

5. In contrast, the monoculture commodity crops currently produced, mostly for animal feed and ethanol, require tilling, which damages soil structure, along with herbicides, pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, adversely affecting ground water. Some people have said that “the next generation of farmers” is likely to shift to better regenerative farming practices, but we cannot wait for the next generation. Climate change is happening now, and we need more solar energy now.

Best available location

Savion studied sites all over the county to find the best solar energy site. Compared to the other most suitable sites, this site has:

1. The lowest residential density around the site

2. The least amount of grading required due to lowest average slope, which will avoid damaging the soil structure

3. No regulatory floodplain impacts

4. No removal of mature stands of trees required

5. No impacts to cultural resources

6. No native prairies

7. No known occurrences of federally or state listed species

8. Comparable project area consisting of prime farmland relative to other potentially suitable sites. It has only 0.3% of the prime farmland in Douglas County.

9. A major electrical substation right next to the project with no need for long overhead generation interconnection tie lines, and it is the only potential site with capacity to inject electricity into the grid. Other sites would require cost-prohibitive network upgrades.

If this project is rejected, it would be a devastating blow to our efforts to reduce global warming and climate change and encourage other Kansas counties to reject renewable energy projects. Please make Douglas County a leader in renewable energy by supporting this important project.

— Tad Kramar (he/him), Big Springs, Kansas

If this local platform matters to you, please help us keep doing this work.
Don’t miss a beat … Click here to sign up for our email newsletters

Click here to learn more about our newsletters first

More Community Voices:


Click here to find out how to send a letter to the Times
Previous Article

KU students from Lawrence, Olathe selected as Goldwater Scholars

Next Article

Stan Herd earthwork highlights opposition to solar energy project as Douglas County Commission’s decision looms