Bluestem Electric Cooperative of Wamego is building a solar farm west of Leonardville.

The Riley County Commission on Monday unanimously approved a special-use authorization to build a 750-kilowatt commercial solar energy conversion system.

It would be the first such facility in Riley County; Bluestem also is planning to build a 1-megawatt solar farm in Pottawatomie County.

The planned site is 7.4 acres owned by Bryce and Amy Larson of Green. It is 575 feet south of Barton Road and 681 feet west of Cavalry Road, which is in Bala Township. The property owners leased the land to Bluestem.

Mike Morton of Bluestem spoke to the commission Monday.

“The majority of power produced will be consumed by Bluestem customers,” he said. “There are no variances, conditional uses associated with site.”

Currently, Bluestem has a 1-megawatt diesel peaking generator at its Leonardville substation, which sits on the northwest corner of the U.S. Highway 24 and Highway 82 junction. Bluestem plans to move this generator to a different substation once the solar farm is online and generating.

Morton said the solar farm has a life span of about 30 years, and the company has a plan to de-commission it when it’s time. He said the farm could power 300-400 houses depending on the time of year.

On July 12, the county planning board recommended approval.

Bluestem is a member of Kansas Electric Power Cooperatives Inc., which supplies power to 16 distribution cooperatives primarily located in the eastern two-thirds of Kansas.

Twelve members have joined together with Today’s Power of North Little Rock, Arkansas, to install 22 solar farms within the KEPCo system in Kansas. Once all 22 solar farms are completed, 80,000 homes will be powered by the farms, according to county documents.

In other business Monday, the commission:

• Voted to allow Riley County Attorney Barry Wilkerson to hire for the position of office assistant II. He said the position was budgeted.

The commission unanimously approved the measure.