Category Archives: Community Solar

OPPD adding to greener pastures with renewables

By Jason Kuiper, OPPD Blog, The Wire

OPPD is developing a community solar project and continues to do deep research to determine how and when to proceed on solar. [CEO Tim] Burke compared the development of solar to OPPD’s investment in wind energy. Wind prices are much lower now than they were 2009, when OPPD really started looking at adding wind to the generation mix. Burke said changes are certainly coming to the industry along with new technologies, and he expects solar prices to start coming down, just as wind prices have. Read the complete blog post here.

Photo: OPPD CEO Tim Burke who spoke at the 2017 Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Lincoln.

 

About Jason Kuiper
Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He formerly worked as a staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald. 

 

Model for Nebraska: Investment in solar grows dramatically in Minnesota’s K-12 schools

Written by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

The largest solar project ever built to serve a Minnesota school district began producing energy last week. The Farmington public school district’s 3.1 megawatt (MW) project places photovoltaic panels on the rooftops of several buildings. The first project to go live is the 715 kilowatt, 2,200 panel installation on the roof of Dodge Middle School, with more buildings to follow. Once fully completed next year, the project will be one of the biggest rooftop solar photovoltaic installations ever built in Minnesota by a government entity. Read more here.

Photo by Farmington Area Public Schools

As in Minnesota, Nebraska K-12 schools, colleges and universities have the option of investing in solar through third-party financing, or in some communities such as Kearney, subscribing to a community solar development.

Model for Nebraska: Solar4Schools, which Frank Jossi references in his article, is a program created by IPS Solar that, for over a decade, has installed PV arrays at a number of Minnesota K-12 schools as well as colleges and universities. These include: Macalester College, Northland College, St Johns University, St Olaf College, University of Minnesota and University of St Thomas.

Will Chicago be competitive in the community solar market?

By Kevin Stark, Midwest Energy News

“We want it to come here,” said Deborah Stone, chief sustainability officer for Cook County. “Community solar doesn’t all need to go to very remote greenfield sites. We think that these pilot sites will go ahead, and we’ve provided a tool kit we hope will give these urban sites a leg up.”

While some critics question whether a lack of available land makes cities suitable for community solar, K Kaufmann, communications manager for Smart Electric Power Alliance, said that there are successful programs in cities and in small towns and the issue is less about siting and more about how the program is designed and who the customers will be. Click here to read more.

Photo: Solar panels at the Chicago Center for Green Technology by Josh Koonce / Creative Commons

NEIGHBORHOOD COMMUNITY SOLAR INITIATIVE IN LINCOLN

  • Council approves solar energy system for Capitol Beach site, Lincoln Journal Star. The City Council previously changed city codes to allow development of mid-size solar energy conversion systems such as this one. City codes already allowed large systems in industrial and agricultural areas and small systems for individual homeowners in residential areas, but had no rules for mid-size systems.
  • Capitol Beach would have first community solar energy project, Lincoln Journal Star
    The group, which has incorporated as Beach Solar LLC, hopes to have up to 20 Capitol Beach homeowners invest in the solar system, according to Terry Wittler, one of the homeowners involved in the development.

To learn more about this initiative and other types of community solar across Nebraska, save the date and plan to attend NFS’s December 14th Event: “Community Solar,” which board member Leo Arens is organizing.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Chadron explores solar project

By Kerri Rempp, Rapid City Journal

Chadron could become the next community in the state to implement a community solar program if it can generate enough interest and locate land for the project that fits within its budgetary constraints. The council discussed the idea with Terry Rajewich of the Nebraska Public Power District Monday . . . More than 150 homes are included on a list presented to NPPD as potential community solar customers. “That is phenomenal,” Rajewich said, who later added that she handles more inquiries about solar energy from Chadron than anywhere else in her service area. Read more here.

Photo: The City of Chadron is exploring the idea of a community solar farm like this one.

Solar energy talks happening in Fremont and Omaha

By Sam Pimper, Fremont Tribune

From 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19, those gathering at Keene Memorial Library will listen to City Administrator Brian Newton, along with Michael Shonka, another Nebraska solar power advocate, speak about various topics surrounding the Fremont project and solar energy as a whole.

Those unable to attend the Thursday conversation are invited to attend a Smart Energy Talks Nebraska presentation happening from 9 a.m. through 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 28, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha inside of the Milo Bail Student Center. Click here to read more.

Fremont Solar Rountable
Keene Memorial Library
1030 N Broad Street
Fremont, Nebraska 68025
Questions? Contact organizers:
Jamison Wills jamisonwills@nlcef.org or
Nic Nealy nicnealy@nlcef.org
Nebraska Conservation Education Fund

Top Photo: Telesis Inc solar array in Lincoln. The Fremont Community Solar Farm, under construction on a 10-acre plot of land located south of Jack Sutton Drive, will consist of approximately 5,000 panels and will be operational by the end of 2017. Credit: Lincoln Journal Star

Utilities take note: Next generation utility-led community solar is emerging

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive
Flexible subscriptions and solar-plus plans “push the envelope” of utility programs.

[Smart Electric Power Alliance Utility Strategy Manager Dan] Chwastyk said the success of the Municipal Utility of Freemont, NE, SunShares program may be one version of next generation community solar. Fremont worked with SEPA on a survey to understand what customers wanted, Department of Utilities General Manager Brian Newton told Utility Dive . . . Newton said the utility decided the best way to capture the interest was to offer two kinds of subscriptions.
Read the entire article here.

Photo by Mike Kruger: Construction began in October on Fremont’s first solar farm, which sold out in 7 weeks and is expected to go online in December. A second solar farm already has a waiting list of 70.

To learn more about Fremont’s innovative community solar program, click the following links:

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Nebraska town can’t get enough of community solar: Smart program design drives sold-out project, Smart Electric Power Alliance

Fremont Business Park, Greater Fremont Development Council

  • 80 acres municipally-owned, shovel ready; Olsson Associates master planned site
  • 10MW power available with ability to grow with customer
  • Power rates in the 4.5 to 4.9 cent range per kWh – Municipally-owned utilities
  • Fixed rate period up to 5 yrs. available per Nebraska State law and dependent on size and scope of project
  • Municipality has two sources for power backup; NPPD & OPPD through automatic interconnect agreements

Kearney solar array nearly complete, residents can now sign up for renewable energy

By Ifesinachi Egbosimba, Nebraska TV

Kearney’s community solar project: 22,000 panels on 53 acres.

The Kearney solar array is the latest addition to the city’s Tech oNE Crossing, and the city manager is hoping the array will attract even more businesses to the area.

The solar array is set to be complete by February. To buy a share in the array, you must be a Nebraska Public Power District customer. Click here to request a solar share.

Read the entire news story here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION

NPPD News Release: Kearney SunWise community solar shares on sale starting Sept. 15, 2017

Project slated to come online in February 2018

Columbus, Neb. – Starting Sept. 15, 2017, residential and commercial customers who live in Kearney will have the opportunity to purchase solar shares in the City’s SunWise Community Solar Program. The facility, which will be constructed in Kearney’s Tech oNE Crossing Technology Park, is expected to come online early next year. NPPD has been working with Kearney officials over the past year to develop their respective program, which will be the third of its kind in the state.

“NPPD’s community solar program enables NPPD to partner with its retail communities interested in pursuing their own solar projects,” said NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “Under this program, NPPD works with the community and a selected developer to purchase the output of a solar unit. End-use customers can then participate in the program and pay for shares via their electric bill.”

Read the entire news release.

Photo Credit: Nebraska TV (NTV)

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

What is SunWise?

SunWise is a community solar program available in participating Nebraska Public Power District retail communities. Eligible customers have the opportunity to use solar energy to partially power their homes and businesses without the need to invest in a rooftop or home-based system.

Participating Communities

  • Venango – fully subscribed
  • Scottsbluff – fully subscribed
  • Kearney – shares available starting September 15, 2017

Panelists explain how solar energy benefits Kearney

By Tarrah Gibbons, NTV News


Nebraska Public Power District has been working more than a year with the city to develop its third Sun Wise community solar project in the state. They will be also working to market 7,099 community solar shares. Read more or watch the newscast here.

Photo: Panelists explain how solar energy benefits Kearney at a public presentation hosted by the Nebraska Wildlife Federation. When completed, the 5.8-megawatt farm will be the largest solar project in Nebraska. Credit: NTV News

The panelists included: Dave Richardson, Kearney Clean Energy Group; Graham Christensen, GC Revolt; John Crabtree, Nebraska Sierra Club; Cliff Mesner, Mesner Solar Development.
Moderator: Melissa Freelend, Nebraska Public Power District

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
UNK will purchase more than half of the electricity from Nebraska’s largest solar farm in Kearney

What is SunWise?

SunWise is a community solar program available in participating Nebraska Public Power District retail communities. Eligible customers have the opportunity to use solar energy to partially power their homes and businesses without the need to invest in a rooftop or home-based system.

Participating Communities

  • Venango – fully subscribed
  • Scottsbluff – fully subscribed
  • Kearney – shares available starting September 15, 2017

NPPD’s SunWise Program

Fremonters encouraged to get on waiting list for second solar farm

Tammy Real-McKeighan, News Editor, Fremont Tribune

The first solar farm is sold out, but local residents are encouraged to go to Fremont Department of Utilities and get their names on a waiting list for the second solar farm. So far, 22 people are on that waiting list. The size of the next farm would be determined by the participants on the list, said Lottie Mitchell, executive assistant to the Fremont City Administrator. Read more here.

Photo: Fremont’s community solar farm might look similar to the one in Central City. The farm is nearing the construction phase and is set to go online in January. Credit: Central City, Nebraska

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST