Category Archives: Community-Scale Solar

In bid to help bees, Xcel to require vegetation disclosure in solar RFPs

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

[Xcel Energy Minnesota] plans to add 2,600 MW to 3,000 MW of solar generation by 2030 and all those projects will be required to disclose a completed copy scorecard for pollinator-friendly sites. Pollinator-friendly vegetation isn’t required in order for a project to be considered by the utility, but it will establish a precedent “of priorities and values,” Rob Davis, director of the center for pollinators in energy at Fresh Energy, told Utility Dive.

Pollinator friendly solar sites are a growing trend among utilities seeking to more holistically reduce their ecological footprint. Sites are designated as “pollinator friendly” based on state legislation, which was first passed in Minnesota in 2016 and has since spread to five other states. Read more here.

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

IN NEBRASKA

Kearney’s Solar Farm, comprising 22,464 panels on 53 acres at Tech oNE Crossing, is currently Nebraska’s largest. The 5.7-megawatt solar array’s generating capacity is enough to power about 900 houses or supply 5 percent of Kearney’s energy load.

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

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Photo by Engie Distributed Solar

MORE RESOURCES

 LEGISLATION

WIND ENERGY & CROPS

Iowa State University Research Finds Wind Farms Positively Impact Crops
Iowa State University Extension and Outreach

Kearney Hub Opinion: Storage new frontier in race for clean energy

The city of Norfolk is fixing to one-up Kearney on the solar energy front, and we wish Norfolkans the best of luck. Earlier this week, the northeast Nebraska city entered an agreement with Nebraska Public Power District on a venture to build a sizable solar array and link it to an energy storage system. It doesn’t appear as if Norfolk’s array will rival Kearney’s in size, but the size of the system isn’t nearly as important as its ability to successfully plow new ground in the development of green energy. Continue reading here.

Photo: Kearney’s $11 million, 53-acre solar farm, currently the largest in the state.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST: NEBRASKA / MIDWEST NEWS

City plans dedication for Oct. 1

The Fremont Tribune

The City of Fremont will be hosting a dedication for Solar Farm No. 2, the electric vehicle charging stations and the plug-in hybrid vehicles at 10 a.m. Oct. 1 at Solar Farm No. 2, located at 3851 East Hills Farm Road (near the intersection of Old Highway 275 and Hills Farm Road). The public is invited. Read more here.

Photo Courtesy of Troy Schaben, Assistant Fremont City Administrator of Utilities: Fremont’s First Solar Farm

RELATED NEWS STORY
City’s electric vehicle charging stations up-and-running, by Colin Larson, Fremont Tribune

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