Category Archives: Community-Scale Solar

OPPD sells out of shares for Community Solar program

By Sydnie Holzfaster, Fox42

In less than two months OPPD sold out of their shares to provide renewable energy to their customers through the Community Solar programSunday the environmental group Green Bellevue welcomed Cliff Mesner of Mesner Development Company and Tricia McKnight from OPPD to talk about community solar programs across Nebraska. McKnight said OPPD sold over 8,400 shares for renewable energy. The program will pull solar energy from OPPD future solar farm in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska later this year . . . Don Preister, Bellevue city councilman for the fifth ward, said the concept of a solar share program isn’t new. He has been working to bring a solar share program to Bellevue for the last eight years. Read more here.

To be placed on OPPD’s community solar waiting list, call customer care at 402-536-4131.

Bellevue’s Proposed Landfill Solar Project – Previously Posted 

Given the dramatic decrease in solar energy’s costs over the past several years since Bellevue’s landfill solar project was first proposed, it would be good to see an up-to-date analysis of the project’s levelized costs through a twenty-year power purchase agreement.

About Power Purchase Agreements

  • Solar Power Purchase Agreements, Solar Energy Industries Association 
    A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost. 
  • Power purchase agreements, by Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog
    Currently, OPPD utilizes PPAs for the output of five wind farms: Grande Prairie, Prairie Breeze, Flatware, Petersburg, as well as Sholes, which is under construction. Also, OPPD has signed power sales agreements with NPPD for the partial output of five other wind farms. Those farms are Ainsworth, Broken Bow 1, Broken Bow 2, Crofton Bluffs and Elkhorn Ridge. The normal term of OPPD’s PPAs is 20 years. The new community solar project near Fort Calhoun is under a PPA, with NextEra Energy Resources.

About N-Solar

 

 

 

Sol Systems News Release
With a long history of serving Nebraska communities, Mesner Development assembled a team of solar energy experts, including GenPro Energy Solutions for site development and construction and Sol Systems for project development and power purchase agreements. To date, the companies comprising N-Solar have developed, constructed, or financed a combined 17.6 megawatts of solar electric generating capacity across Nebraska.

Top Photo by N-Solar: Central City’s 499-kW Municipal Solar System

NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar

Request Community Solar: If you are an NPPD customer and would like to request community solar for your community, click here to submit the SunWise Community Solar Interest Form.

Hearing held Tuesday at Fairbury City Council on possible solar panel field

By Tommy Rezac, KWBE

Rich Andrysik, an engineer with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN for short) presented information to the council on solar energy, and what it would cost for Fairbury if it were implemented. “I’m not here to sell you on the solar proposal,” he said. “I’m here to answer questions.” Andryski says he’s given the same presentation to Alliance, Sergeant Bluff IA, Pender, Stuart and West Point. “By putting these towns together, we have a big enough project that we expect to get the price down,” Andrysik said. Read more here.

Photo: Rich Andrysik of the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska speaks to the Fairbury City Council Tuesday on the possibility of bringing a solar field to Fairbury.

About MEAN
The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) is the not-for-profit wholesale electricity supply organization of NMPP Energy. Created in 1981, MEAN provides cost-based power supply, transmission and related services to 69 participating communities in four states: Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Michigan opens 3.3M farmland acres to bee-friendly solar projects

By Catherine Morehouse, Associate Editor, Utility Dive

Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced an executive decision that frees up 3.3 million acres of farmland protected under the state’s Farmland and Open Space Program to solar development. Previously, the land was allowed to host wind turbines and oil and gas exploration, but solar was historically restricted because it was considered to have a larger footprint, Tom Zimnicki, agriculture policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council, told Utility Dive. But innovations in solar siting are making those installations more compatible with agricultural land, and under Whitmer’s decision, solar projects on protected farmland will be required to meet Michigan’s pollinator-friendly guidelines. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading 

About Catherine Morehouse

Before joining Industry Dive, Catherine was at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where she worked as News Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of The Creightonian. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Creighton.

More articles by Catherine


About Rob Davis

Rob Davis directs the Center for Pollinators in Energy and also leads the Media & Innovation Lab at Fresh Energy in Minnesota. Top photo by Davis.

Posts by Rob Davis

 

Kearney’s Solar Farm is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. 

South Sioux City to add 1.5MW battery to store solar power

By Mason Dockter, Sioux City Journal

The city of South Sioux City will become a “demonstration site” for the storage of electric power generated by the city’s 1,200-panel solar installation. A large-scale battery with the capacity to store 1.5 megawatts of power will be installed by Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. this winter, City Administrator Lance Hedquist said. The city’s two-year-old solar park provides roughly 5 percent of the city’s 45 megawatt electricity usage. That electricity costs roughly two-thirds the cost of electricity purchased from elsewhere, Hedquist said. Hedquist has said the city plans to fully phase out of its wholesale power contract with NPPD by 2020. Read more here.

Photo: South Sioux City’s solar array located on a 21-acre solar park south of the city, alongside C Avenue. This is the first Nebraska project for California-based developer Solar City, a Tesla Motors subsidiary.
News Story: Solar is South Sioux City’s latest investment in renewables, Sioux City Journal
Photo Credit: Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal
Installer: Solar City

Futuristic lawn care: UNK using technology to tackle yardwork

UNK Communications, The Kearney Hub

“Snips” and “Chopper,” a pair of appropriately nicknamed robotic mowers, were introduced to campus last week as part of a pilot project launched by UNK Facilities Management and Planning. The goal, according to assistant director Michael Cremers, is to increase efficiency and flexibility within the department while trimming the university’s annual landscaping expenses. Down the line, Cremers added, the charging stations [for the robotic mowers] could be set up to run entirely on solar power. UNK currently receives 25 percent of its electricity from a solar park in northeast Kearney. Read more here.

Kearney’s Solar Farm, which consists of approximately 23,000 panels, is located on 53 acres 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. Image Credit: SoCore Energy
Solar Farm Developer: SoCore Energy
Installer: Interconnection Systems based in Central City, Nebraska
NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar Program

OPPD Customers Embracing Programs, Pilots To Help Manage Their Energy Usage

OPPD News Release

Omaha Public Power District is leading the way the future is powered. The district has a number of customer program offerings to support that vision and provided an update to the OPPD Board of Directors at their monthly meeting.

Community Solar Program

OPPD launched its first community solar program this spring with an agreement to purchase all 5 megawatts (MW) of energy from an array that’s under construction in the City of Fort Calhoun. The facility will be owned and operated by NextEra Energy. Construction was delayed due to the recent floods, but it is expected to be completed and generating electricity by mid-August at the latest.

Continue reading here to learn more about this and the following three additional OPPD customer program offerings:

Electric Vehicle (EV) Rebate Pilot
Income-Qualified Energy Efficiency Pilot
LED streetlight conversion

Previously Posted
Local artist paints Nebraska’s story into mural at Facebook’s data center in Papillion, Omaha World-Herald. When employees of the Facebook data center in Papillion go to work each day, they’ll be greeted by a colorful 76-foot mural made by a Nebraskan, for Nebraskans. Created by Omaha native Justin Queal, the mural incorporates themes and images familiar to locals. Facebook officials say the mural, located in an administrative building at the 144-acre site on the northwest corner of Highway 50 and Capehart Road, helps connect Papillion’s roots with those of one of the biggest tech companies in the world. The first Facebook data center in Papillion is expected to go online in 2020. An expansion to the project is meant to launch in 2023.

Midwest utilities ‘overwhelmingly surprised’ by solar subscription demand

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

As Midwest utilities offer solar subscription plans, customers are sending a clear message: They want more. On May 4, the Omaha Public Power District sold the last available share for a utility-owned solar project under construction on a piece of degraded land a few miles from the utility’s shuttered nuclear plant.

“We knew the demand was there, but I can say we were overwhelmingly surprised it sold out so quickly,” said Tricia McKnight, a product specialist with the Omaha Public Power District. “I think customers are a lot more environmentally sensitive than we expected.” Continue reading here.

Click here to learn more about OPPD’s community-scale solar project and watch brief videos about the program by two well-known OPPD customers and community leaders, David Corbin and Don Preister.

Lincoln Electric System Photo: Generating 5 megawatts of solar energy, the LES solar facility was Nebraska’s first community-scale solar installation. The solar farm is located on a portion of a 46-acre site near Northwest 75th and Holdrege Streets.

See Solar Examples for brief descriptions and photos of more Nebraska community-scale projects and Community-Scale Solar to read news stories about local and national projects, completed or under development.

Minnesota nonprofits using community solar to help veterans, families in need

By Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

Minnesota nonprofits are turning to community solar as a tool to fight poverty. Community solar typically involves households or businesses buying subscriptions to projects owned by a third-party developer. The power generated is credited to subscribers’ utility bills and generally reduces monthly payments. But the model comes with barriers such as credit score checks that can put it out of reach for some of those who have the most to potentially gain. Several Minnesota charities are experimenting with ways to spread the benefits. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Rural Renewable Energy Alliance

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS HERE

  • Wind energy may flow to Maryville in future, The Edwardsville Intelligencer
    Bluestem Energy Solutions of Omaha, Nebraska is partnering with five or six towns in the state. The Future Energy Jobs Act, or FEJA, passed in 2016, requires 4,300 megawatts of new solar and wind power to be built in Illinois by 2030. Illinois is giving out $30 million in incentives to build clean energy-related job training programs and support future employees between now and 2030.
  • Gordon City Council Minutes May 9, 2019, Sheridan County Journal Star
    City Manager Glen Spaugh updated council on the current solar project. The state electrical inspector has done the final inspection. Once GenPro receives the certificate of inspection they will file it with Northwest Rural Public Power District. City Manager Spaugh also needs to complete some paperwork with NWRPPD. The solar panels are projected to be on line in June.
  • Glion Scooters in Holdrege focuses on taking care of local customers, even though its scooters are manufactured in China, Kearney Hub

OPPD solar project shares sold out

As of May 9, 2019 OPPD’s community solar program has sold out with 8,403 shares allocated. A waitlist has been started to keep track of continuing interest in a community solar program and will be used to fill any vacancies in the future. The physical solar facility was impacted by the recent floods and is expected to be live in the month of August. Click here to learn more.

Watch brief YouTube videos about the program by two well-known OPPD customers and community leaders:

David Corbin, Nebraskans for Solar board member and Nebraska Sierra Club Chair.

Don Preister,
 former Nebraska State Senator, serving for sixteen years, past Bellevue City Council president and current council member, Immediate Past President of Green Bellevue and current board member.

That solar panel? It’s mine

Norfolk Daily News Editorial

Members of the city council recently gave approval to what could turn into the state’s the state’s largest community solar project with NPPD. Three such projects already exist elsewhere in Nebraska.  The project also will be tied to a battery energy storage system demonstration project expected to be in operation by mid-2020.

“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. “We are excited to initiate Nebraska’s largest solar project, tied to the state’s first battery energy storage system, while helping lower energy bills and provide renewable options to interested citizens and businesses.” Read more here.

Previously Posted: This Nebraska Republican says it’s time to think big on rural investment, The Christian Science Monitor

Nebraska’s Community-Scale Solar 

  • See Solar Examples for additional photos and descriptions of community-scale solar projects in Nebraska.
  • Read additional editorials, news releases and stories about Nebraska’s Community-Scale Solar projects, completed or under development.

Photo Credit: SoCore Energy
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. The array is currently 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

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 for your community, click here to submit the SunWise Community Solar Interest Form.