Category Archives: Community-Scale Solar

Solar project pricing should be available soon

Written by Tony Herman, Hastings Tribune

Derek Zeisler, director of marketing and energy supply for Hastings Utilities, gave an update on the power project during the Hastings Utility Board meeting Thursday. Members of the Hastings Utility Board voted recommend approval during their February meeting of a $2.38 million bid from GenPro Energy Solutions for a 1.5 megawatt AC solar project with the purchase option. The project has a completion date of Sept. 2, 2019 . . . Zeisler said Thursday this first phase of the solar project will include more than 6,000 panels within three arrays, most likely off of
Highland Road just west of the Hastings Municipal Airport. There is plenty of room there to
expand with future phases. Hastings Utilities is moving forward with three pricing options.
Read more here.

Photo: Fremont’s first of two 1.55-megawatt solar farms.
Credit: Troy Schaben, Assistant City Administrator, Fremont Department of Utilities

City of Norfolk, NPPD teaming up for solar project

Special to the Norfolk Daily News 

Approval was given Monday at the Norfolk City Council meeting regarding the state’s largest community solar project with NPPD. The project will be tied to a battery energy storage system (BESS) demonstration project expected to be in operation by mid-2020. NPPD, with support from the City of Norfolk, received a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust in the amount of $490,000 over two years for the battery energy project, which will be the first of its kind in the state . . . “As technologies have advanced and costs have decreased, rural Nebraska is now in position to produce energy as efficiently as it does food,” said Mayor Josh Moenning.

Read more here.

SoCore Energy Photo: Kearney’s 5.7-megawatt solar farm on 53 acres of the city’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing, The panels are mounted on a tracker-designed racking system. The solar farm generates about 5% of Kearney’s peak demand.

NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar Program

NPPD will seek proposals on community solar

By Record Editor Kerri Rempp, Rapid City Journal  

Chadron qualifies for a 1.15 megawatt community solar project, and all Nebraska Public Power District customers within city limits would be eligible to purchase shares to have up to 100 percent of their electrical usage generated by solar power. The city would be required to purchase any unsold shares. Read more here.

Photo: First  Fremont Solar Farm, 1.55-megawatts. The city completed a second solar farm of the same size in September 2018 to accommodate strong customer demand.
Credit: Troy Schaben, Assistant City Administrator, Fremont Department of Utilities

NPPD’s SunWise Program

NPPD customers can request community solar for their town or city by submitting the SunWise Community Interest Form here,

OPPD Launches Community Solar Program

By subscribing to one or more shares, OPPD customers will get to share, among the other
participants, in the opportunity to help produce clean energy today in support of a cleaner
energy future! Read about other benefits and watch a brief video featuring Green Bellevue
President Don Preister presenting his views on this new program here.

OPPD Community Solar: Frequently Asked Questions


Energy Equity: Bringing Solar Power to Low-Income Communities

By Maria Gallucci, Yale Environment 360. Published at the
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Isbel “Izzy” Palans lives in a small cabin nestled among mountain peaks and towering trees in the Colorado Rockies. Her home is often shaded and, during the long winters, buried under heaps of snow. Her monthly utility bills show credits for solar electricity production, but no solar panels are affixed to her roof. Instead, the power comes from a solar array some 60 miles away in a nearby valley. Last year, the panels nearly slashed her energy bill in half. “I’ve been thrilled,” said Palans, a 76-year-old retired waitress who relies partly on Social Security benefits to make ends meet.

Palans is a subscriber to a 145-kilowatt solar array project run by Holy Cross Energy, a rural
utility cooperative. Built with state funding, the program provides solar credits to more than 40
low-income households in western Colorado that otherwise wouldn’t have the financial or
technical means to access renewable energy. The venture is just one of a growing number of
so-called “community solar” projects across the United States focused on delivering renewable energy — and the cost-savings it can provide — to low-income households, from California to Minnesota to Massachusetts.
Continue reading here. 

Cooperative Energy Futures Photo: A 204-kilowatt community solar array being installed on the roof of the Shiloh Temple International Ministries in Minneapolis. 

Maria Gallucci is a freelance science journalist and the 2017-18 Energy Journalism Fellow at the University of Texas at Austin. She currently
covers clean energy development and environmental issues in the world of maritime cargo shipping. Maria was previously a reporter for
MashableInsideClimate NewsInternational Business Times, and Mexico City press, and an editor at Makeshift magazine.

Highly compatible: pollinator-friendly solar projects and farming

By Katie Siegner, Scott Wentzell and Whitney Mann, Minnesota Post

Installed solar capacity in Minnesota crossed the 1-gigawatt threshold last fall, and is set to grow sixfold by 2030 to meet the state’s 10 percent solar energy goal. The management of the land below the panels — most commonly seeded with turf grass — offers an important
opportunity to provide multiple environmental and agricultural benefits in addition to carbon-free energy generation. Last fall, our team of graduate students at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies conducted a cost-benefit analysis of solar development on farmland in
Minnesota, and the results were illuminating. By developing projects as pollinator-friendly — the practice of planting deep-rooted grasses and wildflowers throughout a project site — solar
developers have the potential to provide habitat for threatened pollinator species, restore
important prairie ecosystems, and boost the crop yields of nearby fields. Read more here.

Photo by SoCore Energy: Kearney Solar Farm

Previously posted article with information about Kearney’s Pollinator-Friendly Solar Farm and links to additional resources:
In bid to help bees, Xcel to require vegetation disclosure in solar RFPs

Note about OPPD’s Community-Scale Solar Farm now under construction by NextEra:
Courtney Kennedy, OPPD Alternative Energy Program Manager, announced at Nebraskans for Solar’s March 13th public forum on OPPD’s Solar Farm, located on an acreage in Fort Calhoun, that it will be pollinator-friendly, with native plants, as well.


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

Customers can now enroll in community solar

By Laura King-Homan, The Wire, OPPD Blog

OPPD customers can now buy a piece of solar energy. Beginning April 1, customers can enroll in the utility’s community solar program on The program allows participants to use clean, locally generated energy without the expense of installation and maintenance costs of solar panels on their roof. Customers who currently rent their homes are also eligible. In June, 2018, OPPD awarded a 20-year power purchase agreement to a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. The agreement is to build a 5-megawatt solar facility in Fort Calhoun, Neb. Learn more here.

Image Credit: George Parker

‘If You Build It, They Will Come’: Saving Pollinator Habitat With Solar Power’s Help

By Madelyn Beck, NPR Illinois

Researchers at Argonne National Lab in Illinois and the National Renewable Energy Lab in
Colorado think that a rapidly growing energy sector may be a key opportunity. Not only could
pollinator habitat mitigate possible solar-field damage, like soil erosion and the loss of plant
species, but could actively help fortify the soil and environment.

Rob Davis with Minnesota-based nonprofit Fresh Energy, which advocates for things like
renewable energy, said putting pollinator habitat under solar panels could also be a boon for
rural areas. He said the combination gives landowners another form of steady income and helps pollinate crops around the area. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Rob Davis / Fresh Energy

Thank you to everyone who attended our event last evening at UNO’s Community Engagement Center


Many thanks to everyone who turned out last night for Nebraskans for Solar’s March
presentation on “OPPD’s Community Solar Program.”

Our guest speakers, Tricia McKnight, OPPD Product Specialist, and Heather Siebken,
Director of Product Development & Marketing,
provided a concise overview of OPPD’s
community solar program and how customer-owners will be able to participate. Their
presentation generated a great number of thoughtful audience questions. 

Thank you, too, to our co-sponsoring groups: Green Bellevue, Nebraska Sierra Club, OTOC’s Environmental Sustainability Action Team, and Nebraska Conservation Education Fund. 

Starting April 1st OPPD residential customers will be able to purchase “solar shares” in the program. Each 100kWh share will cost 79 cents, which will be added to your monthly bill. Eight-thousand shares will be available. A five-year contract commitment and a one-time, refundable $100 fee will also be required to participate in the program. Commercial enrollment will start in June 2019.

OPPD “solar shares” will not offset a customer’s energy use. Each share will contribute to the building of a utility-scale solar project. The program is similar to OPPD’s original Green Power Program in that it supports renewable energy. OPPD has stated that the Green Power Program, which is voluntary and doesn’t require a participation fee or a contract, supports wind energy development.

This new community program provides the opportunity for OPPD customer-owners to
contribute to a specific renewable energy project, the 5-MW solar farm in Ft. Calhoun, which Heather said during the presentation NextEra Energy Resources has started to construct.

To learn more about the program, visit:

Photo by OPPD Board Member Eric Williams

OPPD Community Solar Program

OPPD’s Community Solar Program will be the topic of Nebraskans for Solar’s March
presentation tomorrow evening at UNO’s Community Engagement Center, OPPD Dialogue Rooms 230/231, 7 to 8:30 pm.

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

OPPD spokespersons 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.

Some Background Information:

At the OPPD Board of Director’s June 7, 2018 meeting, the board received an update on the project, including size and location. OPPD awarded a 20-year power purchase agreement to a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, to build a 5-megawatt solar facility in Fort Calhoun. The OPPD
facility will be built east of Fort Calhoun in Washington County, covering approximately 35 acres. Per
contract terms, the facility will go into operation by June 30, 2019.
Source: Here comes the sun, The Wire

Reserved parking is available in the lot near the Community Engagement Center. An attendant will be in the lot kiosk until 7 pm. Refreshments provided. Please join us and bring a friend!

Photo: Lincoln Electric System’s 5-megawatt community solar facility located on a portion of a 46-acre site near Northwest 75th and Holdrege Streets.

Previously Posted News Stories & Editorial

OPPD celebrates role in national award, The Wire, OPPD Blog
Community? Rooftop? What solar is right for you?, The Wire, OPPD Blog
Fort Calhoun area will be home to OPPD’s first community solar array,
Omaha World-Herald
Editorial: OPPD’s solar-shares program may stir customer interest,
Omaha World-Herald



NextEra will build OPPD’s 5-MW community solar project and is currently developing the 160-MW Sholes Wind Energy Center in Wayne and Stanton Counties, which is planned to be operational in July 2019.



Nebraska towns and cities that have built community-scale solar, or are in various stages of planning or developing a project, include:

Ainsworth, Central City, Chadron, Fremont, Gothenberg, Grand
Island, Hastings, Hemingford, Kearney, Lexington, Lincoln, Loup City, Norfolk, Omaha / Fort Calhoun, O’Neill, Pawnee City, Schuyler,
Scottsbluff, South Sioux City, and Venango.

Click on the following resource to access news stories and other information about this statewide development: Community-Scale Solar, Nebraskans for Solar

Links to Information About NPPD & LES Community Solar Programs


NPPD’s SunWise Program
NPPD customers can request community solar for their town or city by submitting the SunWise Community Interest Form here, potentially helping to grow community-scale solar in our state.



LES Community Solar Facility
LES Community Solar Brochure