Category Archives: Community-Scale Solar

Despite weather, solar farm generating quality energy

By Sam Pimper, Schuyler Sun

There has been an abundance of cold, overcast days since the Schuyler Solar Farm’s December
2018 launch, but that hasn’t prevented the 500-panel system from doing its job. “I’ve really been pleasantly surprised that it produces kilowatt hours, even on some of these cloudy and cold
days where the sun has been so low,” said Jim McGowen, superintendent of the Schuyler
Department of Utilities. “It (the hours) hasn’t been humongous, but you would think that there
might not be any on those kinds of days.” Since going live Dec. 20, 2018, the farm has produced in excess of 53,600-kilowatt hours during an approximately 40-day stretch, McGowen said.

Schuyler Mayor Jon Knutson praised McGowen and his team for working on the project, noting he believes it will benefit the community. “Jim McGowen and the board are always forward
thinking … They do a nice job,” he said. “I’m certainly a believer in green energy … We will see
how it works out. If it does like it’s supposed to do, we will probably add on to the solar field we have.” Read more here.

Photo: GenPro Energy Solutions built the solar farm on a 33-acre plot of land along east 16th Street.

NPPD’s Scottsbluff solar project performing as expected

Nebraska Public Power District News Release

“The Scottsbluff project, and NPPD’s other Sunwise Community Solar projects, are operating well and performing as expected. The Scottsbluff project was sold out within days of our launch of the project and the community has been extremely supportive,” explained NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt.  “In fact, Scottsbluff has embarked on a second community solar project with the developer, SolSystems, for a significantly larger 4.6-megawatt operation.”  Arlt pointed out that NPPD is in various stages of progress for community solar projects in Norfolk, Chadron, O’Neill, Ainsworth, Pawnee City, and Loup City. Read the entire news release here.

NPPD Photo: Scottsbluff’s first community solar project developed by Mesner Solar and GenPro Energy Solutions, both based in Central City, and NPPD.

NPPD’s SunWise Program


Request Community Solar In Your Community: 
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.

Previously Posted News Release
Contract awarded for R-Project transmission line construction by NPPD
For more information on the R-Project, go to www.rproject.nppd.com.

Nebraska Also in the News Here
Enel Green Power, Anheuser-Busch Partner to Make Super Bowl Week ‘Super Green’, Renewable Energy Magazine. An Interview with Mark McGrail, associate vice president for energy management at Enel Green Power North America. “To date we’ve been focusing our efforts on Kansas and Oklahoma, but now we are expanding into other regions, like Texas and Nebraska and Illinois.”

Previously Posted Enel News Release
Enel Green Power brings online 620 MW of new wind capacity in the United States
Enel, through its US renewable company Enel Green Power North America, Inc. (EGPNA), has started operations of the 320 MW Rattlesnake Creek wind farm, its first wind facility in the US state of Nebraska, and the Diamond Vista wind farm of around 300 MW in Kansas.
 OPPD image

NextEra, Nebraska farmers aim to build largest solar farm in the Midwest

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

NextEra Energy Resources is seeking an interconnection agreement for a massive solar project in northeastern Nebraska that, if built, would be the largest in the Midwest and among the largest in the country. The 423 megawatt project is in the early stages of development and still hinges on how much it will cost to connect to the regional transmission grid. “We’re in a holding pattern until we get clarification from the Southwest Power Pool,” said Phil Clement, NextEra’s project director in Nebraska. “We need to know if it’s viable.” Sean Gallagher, vice president for state affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said the project could be a sign of things to come in the region, which is increasingly attractive for large solar projects.
Continue reading here.

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

Previously Posted

Madison County puts out regulations for solar panels

By Jerry Guenther, Norfolk Daily News

Last Thursday, the Madison County Joint Planning Commission listened to Ryan Zimmerman, the Pierce County Planning Commission chairman, discuss what he has learned about
harnessing the sun’s energy. Pierce County approved its own solar regulations last year.
Zimmerman has leased much of his land for use as a solar farm and has researched the topic
extensively for a couple of years. Zimmerman said he and his brother, who farm in southwest Pierce County, have entered into a contract with NextEra Energy with plans to use their land to
develop a 423-megawatt (MW) solar farm . . . Following the discussion, the commissioners
approved a basic set of solar regulations for Madison County that are similar to those in Pierce County. Read more here.

Photo: Kearney Solar Farm. Credit: SoCore Energy

SEIA Expands Leadership Team, Adding Vice President of Congressional Affairs and Vice President of Regulatory Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced today a restructure and expansion of its leadership team. Erin Duncan, a proven legislative strategist and advocate, has been named the organization’s new vice president of congressional affairs and Katherine Gensler has been named vice president of regulatory affairs.

Duncan has extensive experience in Washington D.C. She joins SEIA after more than 11 years as a federal lobbyist for the National Education Association. Prior to that, she spent eight years working on Capitol Hill, including six years as legislative director for Rep. Tom Osborne,
(R-Nebraska). Read more here.

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCUREMENT NEWS

Corporate Customers Smash Green Procurement Marks, Commercial Property Executives. One of Facebook’s deals in 2018 was part of a new PPA signed in March with Adobe for energy produced by the 320-megawatt Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm in Nebraska owned by Enel Green Power North America Inc. (EGPNA). 

Clean Energy Deal Tracker: ExxonMobil, Facebook headline a record-breaking fourth quarter,
GreenBiz. Not only was 2018 the biggest year on record for corporate renewable energy deals, with more than 6.5 gigawatts of contracts on the books, the furious pace of deal-making — and the creativity of the arrangements — barely slowed during the waning three months of the year. According to the official figures released in mid-December by the Business Renewables Center (BRC), part of the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI), the publicly announced capacity contracted over the past 12 months was 6.43 GW.

NEBRASKA CONSERVATION AWARD

Conservation efforts recognized at NRD banquet,
Norfolk Daily News. In the past seven years, the [Wiese family of Oakland] has planted more than 1,200 trees and shrubs and renovated a 2½ acre windbreak
system — all by hand. Besides trees, the family also put in solar panels to provide electricity to their home and outbuildings. Since putting in the solar panels, the family has noticed a decrease in their monthly electric bill and feel good about producing green energy on their acreage. They also have a large garden on which they do their own version of no-till.

ONE YEAR AGO TODAY

Nebraska clean energy plan focuses on wind, solar, efficiency, by Don Walton, Lincoln Journal Star

Clean energy plan renamed: Due to a business having a similar name, the Husker Power Plan was renamed the Husker Energy Plan. The plan was revised August 28, 2018. To read the updated Husker Energy Plan and see the 16 partners that have endorsed it, visit: www.huskerenergyplan.org.

POLLINATOR-FRIENDLY SOLAR SITES

Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies, by Jodi Helmer, Scientific American
A trend of planting wildflowers on solar sites could maintain habitat for disappearing bees and butterflies.

Photo: Kearney’s solar farm consisting of approximately 23,000 panels on 53 acres located in the city’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing, is Nebraska’s largest ground-mounted solar project, to date. Credit: Developer, SoCore Energy
Installer: Interconnection Systems based in Central City, Nebraska

Another distinguishing feature of Kearney’s Solar Farm is that it is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. 

Previously posted links to information of potential interest to other Nebraska communities that have developed or plan to develop a solar farm:

Community? Rooftop? What solar is right for you?

Written by Laura King-Homan, The Wire, OPPD Blog

OPPD will soon be offering a community solar program to its customers. But what is “community solar,” and how do you decide between rooftop or community solar when it comes to your energy needs? Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

Save the Date! Nebraskans for Solar’s March Event: “OPPD’s Community Solar Program,” March 13, 2019, 7 p.m. at UNO’s Community Engagement Center, Rooms 230/231.

Co-Sponsored by Green Bellevue, Nebraska Sierra Club,
OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team,
The Nebraska Conservation Education Fund 

Our guest speakers will be Tricia McKnight, OPPD Product Specialist, and Heather Siebken, Director of Product Development & Marketing. They will present an overview of OPPD’s community solar program and how customer-owners will be able to participate. A Q&A will follow their presentation.

Community solar report delivered

By Kerri Rempp, The Chadron Record – Rapid City Journal

This map shows two possible plots of land where a community solar farm could be installed.

After a year of studying the issue, the Chadron City Council could decide soon if the city should take the next step to seriously consider a community solar project. Council members were
given an update and recommendation from the committee researching the possibility Monday.

Nebraska Public Power District alerted Chadron to the opportunity for a community solar project in October 2017, and because there seemed to be a positive response to the idea, a committee was formed to study the feasibility of such a project in January last year.
Continue reading here.

Draft Document: Questions & Answers: SunWise Community Solar Program, City of Chadron and NPPD

NPPD’s SunWise Program
If you are an NPPD customer who lives in another town or city and would like to learn more about developing a SunWise project in your community, click here to submit the SunWise Community Solar Interest Form to NPPD.

Minnesota-Vermont partnership will offer solar to low-income families

Written by Demetria Lee, Energy News Network


The energy assistance project aims to reduce energy costs for 50 households by building a community solar garden.

When a Minnesota nonprofit partnered with the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe to build a
community solar array in 2017, they believed their model could scale nationally. That theory is being tested as the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) travels east to Vermont’s Windsor
and Windham counties where they are working with Southeastern Vermont Community Action (SEVCA) to provide solar power to 50 low-income households. Jason Edens, director of RREAL, started the nonprofit in his garage with a group of local volunteers. Their goal was to alleviate the burden of high energy bills in northern Minnesota by installing solar units for low-income households. Continue reading here.

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL)

Rural Renewable Energy Alliance Photo: A RREAL crew installs a solar panel at Pine River-Backus School in central Minnesota.

City ready for community solar gardens

By Jennifer Bailey, Commercial-News, Danville, Illinois

Illinois passed The Future Energy Jobs Act in December 2016. This legislation went into effect June 1, 2017. Under this legislation, the state created a new Community Solar program that will allow any customer of ComEd or Ameren to subscribe to a community solar garden, according to Solar in the Community which is a joint project of the Illinois Citizens Utility Board, The
Accelerate Group and the Environmental Defense Fund . . . Under Illinois’ community solar
program, “subscribers” can enter into an agreement to support a solar energy installation in their community — on the rooftop of a local school or community center, for example.
Read more here.

Future Energy Jobs Act

MORE COMMUNITY SOLAR NEWS

LOCATING CLOSED LANDFILLS & OTHER LOCAL BROWNFIELDS

EPA’s RE-Powering Mapper is an online interactive web application that allows users to visualize key information on renewable energy potential at specific contaminated lands, landfills and mine sites.

Using screening criteria developed in collaboration with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), EPA has pre-screened more than 130,000 sites for their renewable energy potential.

Access the updated RE-Powering Mapper here. 
Learn more about EPA’s RE-Powering America’s Land Initiative here.

MORE GOOD NEWS FROM STATES 

This old coal plant is now a solar farm, thanks to pressure from local activists, Fast Company. In Massachusetts, one town fought to stop
pollution–and ensured a just transition for workers at the coal plant. For more than half a century, a coal plant in the city of Holyoke, Massachusetts spewed pollution into the air. Now, the plant is closed, and 17,000 solar panels and a battery storage system–the largest in the state–send clean power to the grid. Photo by Toxics Action Center

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

INTERVIEW

Commercial Solar Outlook: A Q&A with GE Solar, Energy Manager Today
From import tariffs to corporate sustainability goals, 2018 was a big year for the commercial solar industry, with no signs of slowing down in 2019. To understand what’s on the horizon for the commercial solar market, we asked Ellen Roybal, Managing Director
of Strategy & Market Intelligence for GE Solar, for her take on the industry.

Hastings, Adams County gear up for solar future

By Tony Herman, Hastings Tribune

After John Carllson put up a 40-foot by 80-foot shop last year at his home in Ayr, it just made sense to cover the south side of the roof with solar panels. His brother had erected solar panels at his home in Hordville. Carllson and his wife, Linda, were inspired. “I’d been kicking it around, and after I put the building up we talked it over,” said Carllson, who retired from working in the Hastings Utilities gas department. “I think it’s the coming thing. It’s free power from the sun.” Continue reading here.

Photo by Amy Roh: Heath Jennings (left) and Johnny Moser, of Interconnection Systems Incorporated out of Central City, install solar panels Tuesday in Ayr.

ALSO WRITTEN BY TONY HERMAN
Renewable energy now key component of development, Hastings Tribune
As officials from the city of Hastings have discussed a community solar project to diversify the local energy generation profile, one of the considerations most often talked about is how renewables may enhance economic development prospects. That has certainly been the case in Omaha.

RENEWABLE ENERGY EDUCATION