Category Archives: Community-Scale Solar

Michigan lawmakers consider first statewide community solar program

By Kelsey Misbrener, Solar Power World

The Michigan House Energy Committee will conduct a hearing today on House Bill 5861, which will bring community solar for residents, nonprofit organizations and other constituents looking to lower utility bills and access clean energy options. The Community Renewable Energy Gardens bill is among five separate bills in the bipartisan Energy Freedom Package, which taken together would significantly advance Michigan’s clean energy economy.

Read more here.

Michigan’s Energy Freedom Package

Photo Credit: Pixabay.Com

New Report – Financing Community-Based Solar Projects: Case Studies from the Field

Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)

The growth of community-based solar projects has sprung from customer interest and community benefit, but the lofty goals of these projects must be backed by smart and innovative financing so they continue to grow. How are utilities and developers deploying strategies to reduce hard, soft and financing costs of community-based solar?

Explore different financing options through a series of in-depth interviews with utilities and developers in this report, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technology Office,

What is community-based solar?

The U.S. Department of Energy defines community-based solar as a photovoltaic (PV) solar installation that falls within 100 miles of its electricity offtakers and is grid connected in the same utility service territory of these offtakers.

Case Studies included in this report:

  • West Boylston Municipal Light Plant
  • City of Fremont
  • BARC Electric Cooperative
  • Michigan Energy Options
  • RE-volv
  • Renovus Solar

Download the report here.

Scottsbluff ready to add solar electricity

By Jerry Purvis, Scottsbluff Star Herald

SCOTTSBLUFF — The City of Scottsbluff has taken the first step toward building a 5-megawatt solar electric station to provide more low-cost energy to its residents. At their Monday meeting, council members agreed on a location just south and east of the Landers Soccer Complex north of the city. Scottsbluff City Manager Nathan Johnson said the project will save the city about $500,000 in interconnectivity costs as there is already a transmission station in that area.
Read the entire article here.

Photo: Scottsbluff’s First Community Solar Project. Credit: NPPD

Community solar capacity more than doubles in 2017

By Christian Roselund, PV Magazine USA

Much of this has been in a few leading states. SEPA’s Community Solar Program Design Models has found that community solar installed in Xcel’s service area in Minnesota reached 246 MW by the end of the year, or 1/3 of the capacity of community solar deployed to date. Add in 159 MW in the territories of Eversource and National Grid in Massachusetts, and these two states host more than half of the U.S. community solar capacity. Read the entire article here

Photo Credit: Clean Energy Collective

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Farms finding advantage in going solar

By Kathleen Clark, My Journal Courier

It’s a site becoming more common throughout Illinois: solar panels. Some are on roofs, others on pedestals in open areas. These large panels are helping their owners be thrifty on their power bills as the state strives to become more dependent on renewable energy. Not only can they be found in residential areas, but also on commercial buildings and businesses.
Read more here.

Photo: The Hammond Farm, by Matt Ryerson, Lincoln Journal Star

See “Solar Examples” for photos and descriptions of the following Nebraska farms and ranches that are powered by solar energy:

Beller Farm Near Lindsay, Blakeman Ranch in Custer County, Brummond Farm, Deblauw Family Farm in Hartington, Family Farm Just Outside the Village of Craig, Family Farm in Minden, Greisen Farms in Platte Center, Hammond Farm, Jenkins Ranch Near Callaway, Knopik Farm Near Belgrade, Kruger Farm South of Lake Minitare, Kush Farm in Monroe, Liebig Farms in Platte Center, Meristem Organic Farm and Nursery in Papillion, Pandorf Land & Cattle Company Ranch Northwest of Callaway, Powell Farm and  Richards Farm, both near Oakland.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

SOLAR GROUP BUY / SOLARIZE NEWS & RESOURCES

Solarize Metro East builds on past successes with more solar energy, The Telegraph

Resources for Organizing a Solar Group Buy or Solarize Program in Your Community

NEW REPORTS

COMMUNITY SOLAR RESOURCES

LMI SOLAR RESOURCES

Steps to success for utilities moving into community solar projects – Featuring Fremont’s solar farms

By Kim Riley, Daily Energy Insider

U.S. electric utility companies plan new or additional renewable energy investments, particularly in solar, thanks to the enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which retained renewable energy development incentives, according to industry analysts . . . Among the many shared renewable energy models is the utility-sponsored model in which utilities provide customers with the option to purchase renewable energy from a shared facility at a fixed rate (which might be a bit higher than the current retail rate) for a set term (usually a number of years, say 10 or 20 years) that’s designed to provide protection and stability against rising rates for grid electricity, SEIA says. Brian Newton, city administrator and general utility manager for the City of Fremont, Neb., convinced local officials and residents with tweaks to the utility-sponsored model that the adoption of renewable energy was a smart choice for their rural town, which is located about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, population roughly 27,000. Read more here.

Photo Courtesy of Troy Schaben, Assistant City Administrator, Fremont Department of Utilities: Fremont’s First Solar Farm. The city’s second solar farm is being built by GenPro Energy Solutions.

RELATED READING
Fremont moves forward on second solar farm due to high demand, by James Farrell, Fremont Tribune

FREE RESOURCES

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO FAITH COMMUNITIES

Interfaith Power & Light’s 2018 Faith Climate Action Week starts tomorrow, April 14th. A kit accompanies this event, which includes everything faith communities need to implement Climate Action Week activities. The kit can be used any time during 2018. Everyone who participates in Faith Climate Action Week will receive an invitation to a special webinar with Happening filmmaker Jamie Redford and Climate Champion NV State Senator Pat Spearman on April 20th.

To learn more and download the free kit, click here.

Editorial: OPPD’s solar-shares program may stir customer interest

Omaha World-Herald Editorial Staff

Many Nebraskans say increased use of renewable energy needs to be a priority for our state and nation. Omaha Public Power District, in response, is about to promote solar power via sales of shares to customers. Continue reading here.

Photo: Lincoln Electric System’s SunShares Solar Farm. Courtesy of LES

Also Published by the Omaha World-Herald
OPPD customers will soon be able to buy shares of solar power, by Aaron Sanderford

OPPD’s Solar Shares Program

OPPD has posted information on their website about the Solar-Shares Program, including background information, program highlights, and information on how a participant’s monthly solar charge will be calculated.

NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar

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.

  • Current Participating Communities
    Venango – fully subscribed
    Scottsbluff – Pilot project fully subscribed. NPPD and the City of Scottsbluff are now working on a 5-megawatt project. 
    Kearney – shares available
    Kearney Community Solar Q&A
  • Customers living in other communities served by NPPD may request community solar for their town or city by submitting the online form available at the link, below. NPPD serves 80 communities throughout Nebraska.
    Request community solar in your community.

LES SunShares

Generating 5 megawatts of solar energy, the LES community solar facility is the largest and first utility-scale solar installation in Nebraska, as well as one of the largest in the region.

The project was developed by Enerparc, and LES contracted for all energy produced by the facility. The installation, located at Northwest 75th and West Holdrege streets, uses 15,333 solar panels to produce enough energy to power 900 typical homes in Lincoln. Enerparc began construction in March 2016, and the solar facility went online in June 2016. At the time of its completion, over 1,200 residential and business customers voluntarily contributed funds through the LES SunShares program to help support a portion of the facility.
Businesses enrolled in LES SunShares
LES Community Solar Facility
LES Community Solar Brochure
Lincoln Electric System’s Sustainable Energy Program

Links to more Nebraska communities’ completed solar projects or plans, and general community solar information sources are available here:
Resources For Nebraska Communities Considering A Community Solar Project

OPPD customers will soon be able to buy shares of solar power

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

Omaha Public Power District Customers will soon be able to support the local production and use of solar power – at a cost. OPPD as early as next year will start selling shares of solar power to customers interested in using more renewable power, including those who lack the means to buy or lease their own solar panels . . . Michael Shonka, president of Nebraskans for Solar, called OPPD’s effort “a start” but said other utilities offer customers solar power at market rate, with the potential of getting ahead financially. Click here to read the entire article.

Photo: Lincoln Electric System’s solar array on Holdrege Street west of Lincoln. OPPD is now planning to build a solar array in one or more of three locations: Calhoun, Bellevue or near Gretna. Credit: Lincoln Electric System

Are utilities co-opting community solar? Critics question term’s use

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

In Omaha, critics say the public utility’s community solar offering doesn’t share enough benefits with participants.

Last month, Omaha’s public utility unveiled details for a program that will help customers buy solar power without having to install their own panels. Omaha Public Power District’s community solar program follows a year of stakeholder meetings, but some critics say it’s a stretch to call it “community solar” because participants won’t share enough of the financial benefits. “It’s not really community solar,” said Don Preister, a customer who recently put solar panels on his home. Click here to read more.

Photo: PressReleaseFinder / Creative Commons

ABOUT KAREN UHLENHUTH
Karen spent most of her career reporting for The Kansas City Star, focusing at various times on local and regional news, and features. More recently, she was employed as a researcher and writer for a bioethics center at a children’s hospital in Kansas City.

MORE BY KAREN

Solar that Benefits Birds & Pollinators – Workshop & Tour

By Rob Davis, Center for Pollinators in Energy

March 8, 2018
Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary
44450 Elm Island Road, Gibbon, Nebraska
Facebook Live Stream

In partnership with Kearney City officials, the Iain Nicolson Audubon Center at Rowe Sanctuary, Nebraska Public Power District, and SoCore Energy, we invite you to learn more about Nebraska’s largest solar array and the benefits it provides to the community and environment.

This array is radically different from the solar photos you’ve seen from the Arizona desert. Bird- and pollinator-friendly flowers and grasses have been seeded under and around the solar panels. Planned specifically for a time when Kearney is a national destination for millions of Sandhill cranes, a panel of local and regional leaders will discuss economic development and care for nature and the land in the context of the growing trend of solar development by cooperatives around the country.

The conversation/workshop will be followed by a tour of the Kearney solar array, with a light lunch provided. The solar array tour will include opportunities for attendees to assemble boxes for native bees and broadcast a bird- and pollinator-friendly seed mix, with assistance from the Kearney Outdoor Learning Area (KOLA) high-school students.

Workshop/Conversation: 10:30 – 11:30 am
Mayor Stanley Clouse, City of Kearney
Bill Taddicken, Audubon Center
Jason Guernsey, Department of Economic Development, State of Nebraska
Jerry Vap, past Chairman of the Nebraska Public Service Commission, past president of the National Association of Conservation Districts
Moderator: Rob Davis, Fresh Energy
Light Lunch: 11:30 am – 12:10 pm
Solar Site Tour: 12:30 – 1:30 pm
SoCore Energy & NPPD
UNK’s Marc Albrecht
Pete Berthelson, native plant expert

Photos by Rob Davis (top) and G. Parker.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION
Introducing the Center for Pollinators in Energy, by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

188-2: Minnesota Sets Standard for Land Use on Solar Sites

Rob Davis’ TedX Minneapolis Talk – Click image to start it.