Solar panels numbering 33,288 on 72 acres west of Nixa were put into commercial operation mode Monday.
The solar farm is expected to produce about nine percent of Nixa’s power generation, according to the city’s public works director, Doug Colvin.
Nixa Mayor Brian Steele said the solar farm is expected to save the city’s residents $2.5 million over the 25 years of the contract with Gardner Capital, Inc., which owns the project.
“Along with that, we’ll also be reducing the city’s carbon footprint by more than 10,000 metric tons per year,” Steele said. “That’s the equivalent of burning 11,000 tons of coal or nearly 1.2 million gallons of gasoline.”
Mark Gardner, president of Gardner Capital, Inc., is optimistic the U.S. will one day operate solely on renewable energy. Research shows that more than 90 percent of all Americans, including those from both major political parties, he said, support the expansion of solar energy.
The U.S. is currently experiencing two revolutions, according to Gardner: How energy is produced is changing from exhaustible, dirty sources of power to inexhaustible and clean sources. And he said corporate America is coming together to move toward 100 percent renewable energy. One hundred and ten companies have committed to that, he said.
There are also 100 cities that have committed to 100 percent renewable energy, including University City, MO, Missoula, MT and Greensburg, KS, according to Gardner.
And it’s not big cities that are moving forward in that area, for the most part, Gardner said. It’s cities like Nixa and Springfield: “The smaller town, the smaller cities leading the way. They are the progressive ones in this case, and the people that live in those towns, guess what? They want solar energy,” he said.
According to Doug Colvin, with the electricity generated by the new solar farm, with about the same amount from hydropower the city purchases from Southwestern and with its contract with City Utilities, Nixa is at about 20 percent renewable energy. “We’re very proud of that,” he said. “It’s a start, and we, too, will probably grow from there at some point in the future.”
According to Colvin, the public is happy about the new solar farm and is already asking about the next one.