Category Archives: Community-Scale Solar

CCC center in Kearney showcases technology

Kearney Hub 

One year ago we raved when Central Community College opened its 63,000-square-foot center in southwest Kearney. The structure at 11th Street and 30th Avenue employs numerous strategies for energy efficiency. Among the strategies are innovative skylights, solar-powered lights in the parking lot, walls that seal out heat and cold, and windows that can darken like sunglasses to reduce the greenhouse effect to rein in air conditioning costs.

The CCC Kearney Center also is purchasing power from the SoCore solar array at TechoNE Crossing, Nebraska’s largest solar array. Combined with the many efficiencies, adding the solar power boosts the center’s green rating and makes it a model of modern eco-friendly engineering, construction and facility operations. Continue reading here.

Top Photo Credit: Morrissey Engineering

KEARNEY’S COMMUNITY SOLAR FARM

Project: Kearney’s solar farm consists of approximately 23,000 panels on 53 acres located in the city’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing, The panels are mounted on a tracker-designed racking system. To date, the array is Nebraska’s largest solar project, generating 5.8 megawatts of electricity, or about 5% of Kearney’s peak demand.
Developer: SoCore Energy
Installer: Interconnection Systems based in Central City, Nebraska
NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar Program
Kearney Community Solar Q&A
Kearney NPPD customers can purchase shares here.

Photo Credit: SoCore Energy, LLC

Community Solar project edging closer to becoming reality

By Spike Jordan, Star Herald

Hemingford is edging closer to having a community solar project that generates electricity for the  community, adding certainty and stability to utility rates for village residents, Doug Dyskstra of GenPro Energy Solutions said Monday . . . So far, the Nebraska communities [GenPro] has served at various stages have been Central City, Aurora, Fremont, Grand Island, Gothernburg, Venango, and Scottsbluff. “We’ve seen this push to community solar across the country, and especially across Nebraska,” Dyskstra said.
Read more here.

Photo: GenPro Energy solutions has been in talks with the Village of Hemingford since late 2016 to install a community solar project to help generate electricity for the municipality. As discussions continue, the Hemingford Community Solar Project could soon be a reality. Credit: GenPro

NEBRASKA ALSO IN WIND POWER MONTHLY
New Facebook wind power deal
Mark Zuckerberg’s company is looking to power its global operations with renewables. In March, Facebook announced a deal with Enel to source some of the power from the 320MW Rattlesnake Creek site in Nebraska. It also has power deals in Texas and Iowa, as well as some in Europe. 

NEWS RELEASE: OMAHA-BASED VALMONT
Valmont Acquires Majority Stake in Convert Italia SpA, a Leading Provider of Solar Tracker Solutions
“The partnership with Convert Italia is an exciting advancement of our strategy to grow market adjacencies in our Utility Support Structures business,” said Stephen G. Kaniewski, President and CEO of Valmont. “Combining their single access tracker technology with our global manufacturing capabilities and utility customer base, allows us to provide an integrated solar tracker solution to utility-scale customers around the world.”

The Vision for U.S. Community Solar: A Roadmap for 2030

Despite clear consumer interest and immense market opportunity, the model hasn’t yet achieved scale because most states lack community solar policies – and those that do are still largely not adequately reaching and serving a diverse customer base.  Transformative growth of community solar will not happen overnight. But improvements in program design and implementation, financing solutions, and customer-focused offerings can expand solar access to all customer types.

To help state policymakers, market participants, and advocates address these gaps and expand community solar options, GTM Research conducted a study to evaluate the community solar market potential and identify pathways for community solar adoption nationwide by 2030. The study was supported by Vote Solar, GRID Alternatives, and Coalition for Community Solar Access. Read more here.

Photo: South Sioux City’s 2.3-megawatt array (1,200 panels) located on a 21-acre solar park south of the city, alongside C Avenue. The array generates enough energy to provide 5% of South Sioux City’s electrical needs. This is the first Nebraska project for California-based developer Solar City, a Tesla Motors subsidiary. See Solar Examples for more information.
Recently posted: $1.6 million 2 megawatt energy storage unit project in South Sioux City
Credit: Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The Top Distributed Solar Policy Actions Of Q2, by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry

According to the report, The 50 States of Solar, the greatest number of actions related to residential fixed charge or minimum bill increases, net metering policies and community solar policies:

The report identifies three trends in solar policy activity taken in Q2 2018: (1) states working to increase low-income customer participation in community solar programs; (2) state legislatures considering bills effectively undoing or amending regulatory decisions; and (3) regulators approving residential fixed charge reductions. NCCETC says regulators in three states approved residential fixed charge decreases in Q2 2018 – representing a notable departure from previous quarters. Read more here.

NextEra expects storage to add half a cent to solar in mid-2020’s

By Christian Roselund, PV Magazine USA

1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. That’s how much NextEra Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Jim Ketchum estimates that batteries have added to the cost of solar and wind projects that the company has built over the last six to 12 months, as revealed in the company’s second quarter results call yesterday. But that’s not all. Ketchum further added that he expects this cost to fall to around half a cent per kilowatt-hour in the middle of the next decade. Read more here.

Photo Credit: NextEra Energy Resources

IN NEBRASKA

NextEra is developing OPPD’s 5-megawatt solar project in the Fort Calhoun area. Would adding storage be an economical option in the near-term? Omaha World-Herald news stories about the solar project:

Grand Island Pilot Project: City tests the power of solar energy

Video and Announcement Posted by Carissa Soukup
The Grand Island Independent Online

The City of Grand Island is installing solar panels in a 10-acre plot of land on the edge of town. This is a pilot project as solar energy is becoming a popular source of renewable energy. Utilities director, Tim Luchsinger gives some insight on the project. Click image to view the video.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY THE GRAND ISLAND INDEPENDENT

G.I. Utilities department powering up with solar energy, by Julie Blum

How to Build Community Solar Projects for the Masses

By Emily Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

new report from GTM Research, Wood Mackenzie and Vote Solar, a solar accessibility advocate, notes that 50 to 75 percent of U.S. consumers don’t have access to conventional rooftop installations. But if it is executed properly, community solar can change that, the authors say.

Assessing the possibilities of policies and business models, the report, which also received support from the Coalition for Community Solar Access and Grid Alternatives, notes that community solar installations could reach a total of 84 gigawatts of operating capacity, serve 8.8 million customers and account for as much as 2.6 percent of U.S. electricity consumption by 2030. “Solar should be able to benefit everyone,” said MJ Shiao, head of Americas research at GTM Research. “But it’s difficult to apply onsite solar to folks who rent, or to low-income communities.” Read more here.

Photo courtesy of Troy Schaben, Assistant Fremont City Administrator of Utilities:
Fremont’s first 1.55-megawatt solar farm located off Jack Sutton drive near the city’s power plant. The farm’s two hundred subscribers had the option of either purchasing solar panels or a share of the farm’s energy generation. To accommodate strong customer demand, Fremont is working with GenPro Energy Solutions on a second solar farm, which is expected to be completed in October.

FREE Smart Electric Power Alliance Resources

New Research Shows a Solar Revolution in Rural America

News Release, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

ARLINGTON, Va. –The rapid acceleration of solar development by America’s electric cooperatives is transforming the energy landscape in rural America. According to a new report, electric co-ops today own or purchase more than nine times as much solar energy as they did in 2013.

In 2013, the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) received a grant from the Department of Energy (DOE) to help electric cooperatives remove barriers to solar development. Through the ensuing Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration (SUNDA) project, NRECA worked with 17 electric cooperatives to develop models and resources for co-ops interested in developing solar energy. Continue here.

Download Report: A Solar Revolution in Rural America
SUNDA Project

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • NRECA’s Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) Award
    In May, SEPA announced their 2018 Power Players Awards. The awards “honor utilities, their partners, and individual thought leaders providing the vision, models and momentum for the electric power industry’s smart transition to a clean, modern energy future.” The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) was one of three recipients of the Innovative Partner of the Year Award in recognition of the SUNDA Project. 
  • NRECA and Industry Groups: EVs Are Viable Tool to Meet Fuel Standards, by Cathy Cash
    At least 150 NRECA member co-ops provide off-peak charging rates for EV users. Dozens of electric co-ops across the country have programs that implement charging infrastructure in their service territory.

Thinkstock Photo

Nebraska-based GRNE Solar installs 3,510 solar panels at Delta County Airport in Michigan

By Jordan Beck, Escanaba Daily Press

ESCANABA — The installation of solar panels for a solar energy farm at the Delta County Airport was recently completed, officials involved with the project said. “All the racking and all the panels are installed,” City of Escanaba Electric Superintendent Mike Furmanski said. The facility includes a total of 3,510 solar panels . . . Furmanski said he appreciated the work GRNE Solar has done to make this project a reality. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Jordan Beck

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

In Michigan, unwanted properties could see new life with solar projects

FROM SOLAR EXAMPLES: RECENTLY-COMPLETED GRNE SOLAR PROJECT IN NEBRASKA

The Sun Haven: Solar-Powered Net-Zero Energy Home 

GRNE Solar teamed up with Wilderness Construction to build this net-zero energy home, with solar on the roof and outlets for electric vehicles in the garage. The home, called The Sun Haven, is located at 6077 Chartwell Lane in Lincoln. Through the use of solar power this home will produce as much energy as it consumes. GRNE Solar featured the home on the 2018 Home Builders Association of Lincoln’s Spring Parade of Homes.
YouTube Video: Drone View of The Sun Haven

Nebraska tribe becomes a solar power leader on the Plains

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska already boasts 400 kilowatts of installed solar panels, more than nearly any other Midwestern Indian tribe. It doesn’t plan to stop there. The American Indian tribe expects to learn later this summer whether it will receive a federal grant to pay half the cost of an additional 300 kilowatts. Tribal leaders in this community of about 850 people in northeastern Nebraska say the solar push, which started a decade ago, advances commitments to sustainability and self-sufficiency, and is cutting electric bills.

“We’ve had 100 tribes visit our community,” [Ann Marie Bledsoe-Downes, vice president for community impact and engagement of Ho-Chunk Inc] said. “We talk about many subjects with these leaders. We spend substantial time on our renewable-energy effort. Other tribes say, ‘Let’s do what Winnebago is doing.’ It resonates with people that we are taking control over our own resources.” Read the entire article here.

Photo by The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska showing solar systems on senior housing.

UPCOMING EVENT – SAVE THE DATE & JOIN US!

Tour The Winnebago Tribe’s Solar Farm And More Renewable Energy Sites

Sponsored by Nebraskans for Solar
Hosted by Robert Byrnes, Owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems and  The Winnebago Community’s Sustainability Coordinator

When: August 11, 2018 from 11am to 3pm, or for as long as you want to stay.
Where: We’ll meet at the Winnebago Solar Farm at 11am for a tour, discussion,
Q&A and lunch–and then visit more sites. See our calendar for directions.

Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems, the Winnebago Community, and Ho-Chunk Inc, the tribe’s award-winning economic corporation, are developing one of the largest renewable energy infrastructures in the state. They’ve installed solar arrays at 14 sites.

Please bring your lunch and lawn chairs. Nebraskans for Solar will provide
a variety of cold drinks and desserts. Carpoolers may have an extra dessert.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
The Winnebago Community’s Renewable Energy Development A Part of Overall Mission,
by Sam Burrish, Communications Manager, Ho-Chunk, Inc.

RECOMMENDED VIEWING
A delegation of Winnebago tribal and business leaders, including Ho-Chunk Inc. CEO Lance Morgan, spoke at a luncheon on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, for state senators at the Nebraska State Capitol.

Nation’s Largest Solar Bee Farm in Ore. Creating Buzz

Public News Service

The Eagle Point solar farm outside Medford is the largest “solar apiary” in the country, incorporating designs that benefit pollinators. It’s home to 48 bee colonies interspersed among solar panels, which are generating enough energy to power more than 2,100 homes annually. Rob Davis, who directs the Center for Pollinators and Energy for the nonprofit Fresh Energy, connected North Carolina-based Pine Gate Renewables with a beekeeper in southern Oregon.
Read the entire news release here.

Photo by Pine Gate Renewables: A solar farm near Medford, Ore., also is home to 48 thriving bee colonies.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
USDA, NIFA Announce Investments in Pollinator Health Research, USDA Press Release
WASHINGTON, D.C., June 28, 2018 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) today announced 14 grants totaling approximately $10 million for research to help sustain healthy populations of pollinators, which are crucial to the nation’s food security and environmental health. The funding is made possible through NIFA’s Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) program, authorized by the 2014 Farm Bill.

“One-third of all U.S. crop production requires pollination by animals – primarily honey bees, but also wasps, flies, butterflies, moths, beetles and bats,” said Acting NIFA Director Tom Shanower. “Recent declines in both managed and wild pollinators are of paramount importance to our nation’s food security and the vitality of natural resources.”