Category Archives: Community Solar

Nebraska clean energy plan focuses on wind, solar, efficiency

By Don Walton, Lincoln Journal Star

A clean energy coalition urged Nebraska on Wednesday to focus more on development of wind and solar power sources along with energy efficiency to help build a more environmentally friendly and healthier future. The coalition’s Husker Power Plan would “ramp up Nebraska’s investment in energy-efficiency measures like weatherizing homes and businesses, replacing outdated lighting systems and motors and reducing wasteful use of energy,” said Duane Hovorka, former executive director of the Nebraska Wildlife Federation. Continue reading here.

RELATED READING
‘Husker Power Plan’ aims to cut greenhouse emissions while keeping electric costs low, creating jobs, by Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald
The Husker Power Plan calls for doubling the state’s use of wind power over the next five years and adding 129 megawatts of community solar energy projects. The plan, done by the consultant Sommer Energy, also recommends aggressive work to reduce electric consumption by 2 percent a year.

DOWNLOAD
Husker Power Plan for Electric Utilities (PDF)
Consultants Report: – The Husker Power Plan: A New Energy Plan for Nebraska (PDF)

SEPA Case Study – Selling Out 1.55 MW of Community Solar in 7 Weeks: Inside the City of Fremont, Nebraska‘s Community Solar Program

Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)

Few think of rural towns as the perfect case study for community solar, but they don’t know Fremont, Nebraska. The town has a long history of environmental stewardship and latent demand for renewable energy. When Brian Newton arrived in Fremont as the new Utility General Manager, he set about discussing the possibility of a community solar farm for his customers. Through a series of public meetings, Brian was able to launch, and twice expand, the community solar farm within seven weeks. This case study lays out the principles and tactics Newton undertook to ensure the 1.55 MW community solar farm was a success.

  • Click here to read more and to download the free research report.
  • Learn more about Fremont’s Community Solar Farm by watching this YouTube video.

Solar farm becomes reality in 2017

By Colin Larson, Fremont Tribune

The city sold out 1 megawatt in five weeks and then decided to expand another .55 megawatts, which sold out in two weeks. 180 residential customers subscribed, along with 20 commercial customers and there are 70 more residential customers on a waiting list for a possible expansion. “We are committed to try to do another megawatt this year, we have 70 names already on the list, and we are hoping to sell it out easily in a few weeks as well,” [said Brian Newton, general manager of the Department of Utilities and interim city administrator].
Read more here.

Image: Google Maps. The location of the first solar farm in Fremont will sit to the north of the Fremont Department of Utilities warehouse (in yellow) and will go online in January. Due to the interest in the first solar farm, the FDU has developed a waiting list for a possible second solar farm which could be placed in the same location. Image: Google Maps

2017 Top government stories: Kearney switches on $11 million solar farm

By Mike Konz, Managing Editor, Kearney Hub

The idea for the solar park was planted several years ago. That is when Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse and City Manager Mike Morgan began looking into renewable energy systems. Kearney had narrowly missed being selected as the site for a $1 billion Facebook data center. Facebook had been offered an extremely competitive electrical rate to build in Kearney, but planners selected a site in Iowa that offered electricity from wind turbines. Kearney leaders realized that to get tech companies’ attention, clean renewable energy had to be part of the proposition. Click here to read the entire article.

Photo Caption: It was the year of the trail in Kearney, as the final stretch of a 13.2-mile hike-bike trail finally linked Cottonmill Park west of the city with Fort Kearny State Recreation Area southeast of the city. Kearney also completed Nebraska’s first water trail near Yanney Heritage Park. Credit: Mike Konz, Kearney Hub

Track Kearney Solar Farm’s Energy Production

To learn more about installing solar for your home, business or farm, plan to attend the Kearney workshop Is Solar Right for You? sponsored by Common Ground and presented by Nebraska Extension Educator F. John Hay on January 30, 2018. The public is invited!

NPPD’s COMMUNITY SOLAR PROGRAM

  • Kearney residents may sign up online to purchase solar shares in the project by clicking this link and selecting the Kearney project, or by calling NPPD toll-free at1-877-275-6773.
  • Kearney Community Solar Q&A
  • Request Community Solar In Your Community: In addition to Kearney, participating communities in NPPD’s SunWise Program include Venango and Scottsbluff. If you are an NPPD customer who lives in another town or city and would like to request community solar, click here to submit the SunWise Community Solar Interest Form.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST – PILOT COMMUNITY STORAGE PROGRAM

SoCore and United Power, an 82,000 member Colorado co-op, are partnering on an innovative community-battery-storage pilot program.
Like community solar, members of the community will purchase a portion of the battery’s capacity to power their homes during peak hours. In exchange, the participants will lower the demand charges on their monthly electrical bills. Construction on the project will start in the first quarter of 2018.

Track Kearney solar park’s energy with online tool

By KHGI, Nebraska TV

Click graphic to link to Kearney Solar Farm’s energy production dashboard.

The online dashboard will display the amount of energy produced on an hourly, monthly, yearly and lifetime basis . . . and how much of other natural resources Kearney residents have saved by going green with solar. Read more.

ADDITIONAL NEBRASKA / MIDWEST NEWS

NEBRASKA ENERGY QUARTERLY
The Nebraska Energy Office’s December2017 Newsletter includes the following articles:

Click here to access additional articles and here to subscribe to the Nebraska Energy Quarterly, sent by email.

Coalition for Community Solar Access Releases NEW Tools to Drive Continued Growth in Community Solar in 2018

Momentum for development of community solar programs nationwide is growing, aided by the release of new resources from the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), a national coalition of businesses and non-profits working to expand access to solar for all. With programs in 17 states and hundreds of local utilities, community solar can play a critical role in the national transition to a cleaner, more resilient, job-creating distributed energy system. CCSA is [recently released] new model state legislation for community solar and an updated Policy Decision Matrix to guide policymakers in designing community solar programs tailored to their state. CCSA also partnered with Vote Solar to host the first ever Community Solar Bootcamp this month, and announced the hiring of a new full-time Policy Director, supporting the organization’s expanded efforts to accelerate community solar access across the country.

“Community solar is one of the most promising sectors of the national clean energy industry, but we need consistent policies and regulations to ensure the industry can grow at the pace needed to meet consumer demand nationwide,” explained CCSA executive director Jeff Cramer. Read more here.

OPPD’s future relies heavily on renewables

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

More renewable energy is on the way for the Omaha Public Power District, including a potential community solar project that would let ratepayers have an active part in the district’s clean energy portfolio. Plans for the community solar project are in very early stages. The utility said it would share more details in the first quarter of 2018. Continue reading.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
OPPD’s Community Solar Update, by Jeff Karloff, Division Manager, Production Engineering, Fuels and Renewables. December 14, 2017 Board of Directors Meeting.

Proposal Details

  • Locations considered
    I-80 rest area near Gretna
    City of Fort Calhoun
    Bellevue landfill
  • Ten developers over 100 proposals
  • Electrical interconnection costs will be added to RFP prices

Presentation Slides

Thank you to everyone who attended last night’s public forum on Community Solar!

Nebraskans for Solar wishes to thank each one of the Solar Champions, named below, who travelled to Omaha from several communities all across the state and who provided an outstanding panel presentation and discussion last evening at UNO’s Community Engagement Center on Community Solar. The Q&A that followed generated many insightful questions from audience members.

Kudos are also extended to Leo Arens for his work organizing the forum and to Leo and Michael Shonka for moderating it.

Thank you, also, to Green Bellevue and Omaha Sierra Club for co-sponsoring the event.

Our speakers were:

  • Cliff Mesner, Mesner Development, Central City
  • Brian Newton, Utility General Manager, Fremont
  • Jeff Buhrman, Capitol Beach Neighborhood Solar LLC, Lincoln
  • Jeff Berggren, GenPro Energy Solutions, Lexington
  • Michael Shonka, Solar Heat & Electric, Omaha
  • David Rich, Nebraska Public Power District, Columbus. (SunWise Projects: Kearney, Venango, and Scotsbluff).

Links to news stories about just some of the projects discussed by last night’s speakers and audience members, plus additional related articles.

At least fourteen Nebraska towns and cities have built community solar or utility-scale solar projects or are discussing building one.

Switch is on at Kearney’s solar farm: $11M facility is Nebraska’s largest

By Mike Konz, Kearney Hub Managing Editor

The 53-acre solar farm cost $11 million and, on a good day, will generate 5.8 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity. The project is a partnership between the city, Nebraska Public Power District and Chicago-based SoCore Energy, which has built hundreds of solar arrays, mostly on the roofs of large buildings. [Russell] Young, SoCore’s vice president of operations, said Kearney’s project is his company’s largest, but as the cost of building solar farms declines, he is confident SoCore will be building more like the one at Kearney’s Tech oNE Crossing.
Read more here.

Top Photo: Officials snip a green ribbon to dedicate the $11 million, 53-acre solar array in northeast Kearney. Credit: Mike Konz, Kearney Hub

Photo: “Interconnection Systems of Central City built Kearney’s solar array on the Tech oNE Crossing tract near 56th Street and Antelope Avenue.”

NPPD’s SunWise Program

  • Kearney residents may sign up online to purchase solar shares in the project by clicking this link and selecting the Kearney project, or by calling NPPD toll-free at
    1-877-275-6773.
  • Request Community Solar In Your Community: In addition to Kearney, participating communities in NPPD’s SunWise Program include Venango and Scottsbluff. If you are an NPPD customer who lives in another town or city and would like to request community solar in your community, click here to submit the SunWise Community Solar Interest Form.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING – COMMUNITY BATTERY SYSTEMS

SoCore and United Power, an 82,000 member Colorado co-op, are partnering on an innovative community-battery-storage pilot program.
Like community solar, members of the community will purchase a portion of the battery’s capacity to power their homes during peak hours. In exchange, the participants will lower the demand charges on their monthly electrical bills. Construction on the project will start in the first quarter of 2018.

OPPD Board Meeting This Thursday Will Include Update on Community Solar

The next OPPD Board of Directors meeting is Thursday, December 14
at 4 pm, OPPD Energy Plaza Auditorium, 444 S. 16th Street.

The agenda will include: 

  • Community Solar Update by Dr. Jeffrey Karloff, Division Manager, Product Engineering & Fuels
  • Update on the Innovation Strategic Initiative 
  • Update on the Integrated Energy Marketplace Initiative

Rules for Public Participation 

Click here for additional details.