Category Archives: Community Solar

Community solar now available in Scottsbluff

By Spike Jordan, Scottsbluff Star Herald 

Along with GenPro, Central City-based developer Mesner Development Company worked with NPPD and the City of Scottsbluff to make the project a reality. “When we did this project, we ran the numbers past somebody in California,” Cliff Mesner of Mesner Development said. “He said we were showing as much solar gain in Scottsbluff as we get in the Mojave desert.”
Read the entire news story here.

Photo: Scottsbluff Mayor Randy Meininger cuts the ribbon for Nebraska Public Power District’s new community solar project outside NPPD’s Scottsbluff office Tuesday. Meininger is flanked by representatives from the Scottsbluff / Gering United Chamber of Commerce, NPPD employees and the project’s representatives and shareholders. Credit: Spike Jordan / Scottsbluff Star Herald

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Resources for Nebraska Cities & Towns Considering a Community Solar Project

Photo: Nebraska’s first community solar project in Central City. Credit: Developer Cliff Mesner

“Community Solar” has a number of other names, including: community-based renewable energy, solar gardens, solar farms, shared solar, or community-shared solar. A program or project typically involves the community in discussing and implementing a plan. It may initially or sometime in the future provide virtual net metering, as Lincoln Electric System is doing in the second phase of its SunShares Program, and as Nebraska Public Power District is initiating through its pilot SunWise projects in Venango and Scottsbluff.

At least nine Nebraska towns and cities, identified below, have created community-involved solar projects or are discussing developing one. The following resources are offered to communities that may be considering a project.  If you know of other Nebraska towns and cities that have completed a community solar project, or you are familiar with other resources and news stories you would like to share, please send this information to: nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com

HELPFUL LINKS

NEBRASKA COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE DEVELOPED OR PLAN TO DEVELOP
SOLAR PROJECTS & LINKS TO INFORMATION

MORE COMMUNITY SOLAR LINKS

Nebraska utility seeking input for first community solar project

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

One of Nebraska’s largest utilities is scheduled to meet with stakeholders today to begin developing a vision for its first community solar project. When Omaha Public Power District was soliciting feedback from customers a couple of years ago about its sources of generation, community solar “was one of the things our stakeholders always asked about,” said Laurie Zagurski, the utility’s manager of community outreach . . . Nebraskans for Solar generally supports community solar, and plans to send a representative to the meeting today to convey its thoughts about how community solar could be structured. It should, for one, result in an offset of energy or demand charges, and not take the form of “energy payments,” according to the group. “We really want it to be a program that is in the vein of what maybe nationally is recognized as a community-solar program, and not just a program given the name community solar and that maybe turns into a donation or request for money or something like that,” said Jared Friesen, an electrical engineer and the president of Nebraskans for Solar. Read more here.

Photo: Nebraska Public Power District provides customers in Venango and Scottsbluff the opportunity to purchase solar energy through its pilot community solar program. “Community solar is the fastest growing segment of today’s solar market.” – NPPD

Here Comes the Sun

By Charles W. Thurston, American Planning Association Magazine, March 2017

The Solar Energy Industries Association, based in Washington, D.C., notes that the U.S. generated over 300 megawatts of community solar power in 2016, following an initial boom in 2010. By 2020, that figure could shoot up to 1.8 gigawatts, six times the current generation capacity. One firm, GTM Research, reckons that New York State alone has a 1.8 GW community solar pipeline. Such growth could shift community solar’s share of cumulative U.S. solar installations from less than one percent today to nearly five percent in just three years.

If that growth occurs, community solar could catch up to the installation rates of residential rooftop solar. Continue reading.

Photo credit: NRG Community Solar
Project: The Spencer Community Farm at St. Joseph’s Abbey, Spencer, Massachusetts
How It Works: Subscribers entered into a 20-year agreement with NRG Community Solar. In return for a fixed monthly payment, they earn credits toward their electric bill based on their allocation of renewable energy net metering credits generated by the project.
Funding: Subscribers

America’s Electric Co-ops Are Going Big On Solar

 Posted by Joseph Bebon, Solar Industry Magazine  

By the end of 2017, the total solar energy capacity of America’s electric cooperatives will be five times what it was two years ago, according to data released by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). This year, co-ops are on pace to add 480 MW of solar, which would bring their total capacity to 873 MW. This more than quadruples the 180 MW reached in 2015 and represents a twenty-fold increase over the 37 MW capacity in 2010. In addition, NRECA says that over the last two years, cooperatives have expanded their solar footprint from 34 states to 44 states. Click here to continue reading.

Photo: Sheep graze at the site of one of Vernon Electric Cooperative’s solar arrays in Wisconsin. Credit: Vernon Electric Cooperative

As costs drop, solar projects get attention

Written by Mike Konz, Kearney Hub Managing Editor

The Kearney project, at $11 million and 5.8 megawatts, will be the largest solar array in Nebraska when its solar panels spanning 53 acres go online in the fall. The Kearney project is among community solar projects that are flying off the drawing board as creative partnerships, technological advancements and other factors have turned solar into a cost-effective, long-term alternative among renewable energy sources. Read the entire article here.

Photo: Chicago-based SoCore Energy will build Kearney’s community solar project. The company recently partnered on the Dairyland Power Cooperative’s solar array in Wisconsin, which received a “Project of Distinction” award at the 2016 PV Conference & Expo in Chicago. The award recognizes the best photovoltaic projects in the Midwest. Dairyland Power Cooperative and its project partners — SoCore Energy, Faith Technologies Inc. and Distribu-Gen Cooperative — were recognized for Dairyland’s 18 MW solar portfolio. The 14 sites in the portfolio are spread across Wisconsin and Iowa, with installations ranging from 600 kilowatts to 2.75 megawatts in size. – Source: SoCore Energy Blog

New Guiding Principles for Shared Renewable Energy Programs Released by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC)

The national market for shared renewable energy programs has grown significantly since the launch of IREC’s Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs in 2009 and the update of those rules in mid-2013. Today, there is increasing interest in shared renewables, along with many more mandatory statewide and voluntary utility programs. This week, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) releases Five Guiding Principles for Shared Renewable Energy – to provide a timely update to the guiding principles that appeared in IREC’s original model rules.

Community Solar coming into its own, report says

By Peter Maloney, Contributing Writer, Public Power Daily
American Public Power Association

Last year was a record year for community solar and the solar segment is poised for further significant growth, according to a new report from GTM Research. “Over the next three years, as a number of state markets begin to pick up steam, community solar has the potential to be on a footing with the other segments of the solar market,” says Cory Honeyman, associate director, solar at GTM and, with M.J. Shaio and Sarah Krulewitz, one of the authors of the report, “U.S. Community Solar Outlook 2017.”  Continue reading.

NEBRASKA COMMUNITIES THAT HAVE DEVELOPED OR PLAN TO DEVELOP
SOLAR PROJECTS –  WITH LINKS TO INFORMATION

City moving forward with Solar Farm

Written by Sam Pimper, Fremont Tribune 

“More than 200 people interested in learning about the solar farm attended one of the presentations held the last weekend in January at the Home and Builders Show, and more than half have indicated they’re ready to join the community solar farm, said Brian Newton, general manager of the Department of Utilities and interim city administrator . . . Newton encourages people interested in learning more about the proposed solar farm to attend informational meetings about the proposed project being held at 7 p.m. Thursday and 5:30 p.m. Feb. 14 inside of the Fremont Municipal building’s Fremont City Council Chambers, 400 E. Military Ave. The February 14 (Valentine’s Day) meeting will precede the regular 7 p.m. Fremont City Council meeting. Read the entire article here.

Courtesy Photo: Central City, Nebraska: “What a community solar garden might look like in Fremont.”

GTM: US community solar to surpass 400MW in 2017

By Danielle Ola, PVTech

According to GTM Research’s latest report ‘US Community Solar Outlook 2017’, this emerging market sector will reach 410MW this year. Lead report author Cory Honeyman describes the market as “on the cusp of becoming a mainstream driver of US solar market growth.” Despite some “missed growth opportunities” through regulatory and legislative delays, community solar reached 200MW this past year, with states such as New YorkNebraska and Massachusetts fully embracing the phenomenon with new accommodating rules. Read more here.

Photo: With nearly 3GW of community solar in development, it is on track to reach 500MW across the nation by 2019. Source: Flickr/Clean Energy Resource