Tag Archives: community solar development in Nebraska

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

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

Nebraska’s Three Major Utilities’ Community Solar Programs

OPPD’s Proposed Community Solar

On February 13th OPPD posted an update on their website about the utility’s proposed community solar program, including background information, proposed program highlights, and information on how a participant’s monthly solar charge would 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

SEPA Case Study – Selling Out 1.55 MW of Community Solar in 7 Weeks: Inside the City of Fremont, Nebraska‘s Community Solar Program

Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA)

Few think of rural towns as the perfect case study for community solar, but they don’t know Fremont, Nebraska. The town has a long history of environmental stewardship and latent demand for renewable energy. When Brian Newton arrived in Fremont as the new Utility General Manager, he set about discussing the possibility of a community solar farm for his customers. Through a series of public meetings, Brian was able to launch, and twice expand, the community solar farm within seven weeks. This case study lays out the principles and tactics Newton undertook to ensure the 1.55 MW community solar farm was a success.

  • Click here to read more and to download the free research report.
  • Learn more about Fremont’s Community Solar Farm by watching this YouTube video.

Nebraska Communities Embrace Solar

By Ariana Brocious, NET News

In the last year, solar power has taken off across Nebraska. Communities around the state have invested in small projects to help diversify their electricity sources and offer renewable energy alternatives to residents.

On the east side of the city of Fremont, a 10-acre parcel has sprouted thousands of metal posts, which will soon hold solar panels. Once fully built, Fremont’s new community solar farm will offer a sharp contrast to the nearby coal plant, which provides enough power to supply the whole city, according to Fremont City Administrator Brian Newton. But the coal plant is aging. So when Newton came to Fremont a couple years ago, city officials started looking at ways to diversify the power supply. They bought 40 megawatts of power from a wind farm south of Hastings. Then Newton used a federal grant to explore building a community solar project. “What we found out was, as a municipality, we could finance and do it cheaper than what we could buy it from a power purchase agreement or any other arrangement,” Newton said. The next step was a community survey to gauge interest from customers. Click here to continue reading. 

Photo by Ariana Brocious, NET News: Fremont’s new community solar farm will be adjacent to its existing coal-fired power plant. The posts are in but the solar panels haven’t yet been installed.

Your Invitation to a Public Forum on Community Solar

To learn more about different types of community solar development in Nebraska and the benefits to our cities and towns, join Nebraskans for Solar and co-sponsoring organizations on Thursday, December 14 at 7 pm at UNO’s Community Engagement Center.

Nebraskans for Solar Board Member Leo Arens will moderate a presentation and discussion on “Community Solar” by a panel of local Solar Champions:

  • Clifford Mesner, Mesner Development, Central City
  • Brian Newton, Utility General Manager, Fremont
  • Jeff Buhrman and Terry Wittler, Capitol Beach Neighborhood Solar LLC,  Lincoln
  • Jeff Berggren, GenPro Energy Solutions, Lexington
  • Michael Shonka, Solar Heat & Electric, Omaha
  • Nebraska Public Power District Spokesperson, Columbus

Co-sponsored by Green Bellevue and Sierra Club. All our events are open to the public. Please join us and contribute to the discussion! Refreshments provided. Click here for parking information.

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

Chadron explores solar project

By Kerri Rempp, Rapid City Journal

Chadron could become the next community in the state to implement a community solar program if it can generate enough interest and locate land for the project that fits within its budgetary constraints. The council discussed the idea with Terry Rajewich of the Nebraska Public Power District Monday . . . More than 150 homes are included on a list presented to NPPD as potential community solar customers. “That is phenomenal,” Rajewich said, who later added that she handles more inquiries about solar energy from Chadron than anywhere else in her service area. Read more here.

Photo: The City of Chadron is exploring the idea of a community solar farm like this one.

NPPD News Release: Kearney SunWise community solar shares on sale starting Sept. 15, 2017

Project slated to come online in February 2018

Columbus, Neb. – Starting Sept. 15, 2017, residential and commercial customers who live in Kearney will have the opportunity to purchase solar shares in the City’s SunWise Community Solar Program. The facility, which will be constructed in Kearney’s Tech oNE Crossing Technology Park, is expected to come online early next year. NPPD has been working with Kearney officials over the past year to develop their respective program, which will be the third of its kind in the state.

“NPPD’s community solar program enables NPPD to partner with its retail communities interested in pursuing their own solar projects,” said NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “Under this program, NPPD works with the community and a selected developer to purchase the output of a solar unit. End-use customers can then participate in the program and pay for shares via their electric bill.”

Read the entire news release.

Photo Credit: Nebraska TV (NTV)

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

What is SunWise?

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.

Participating Communities

  • Venango – fully subscribed
  • Scottsbluff – fully subscribed
  • Kearney – shares available starting September 15, 2017

City of Fremont Works for a Second Solar Farm After the First Sells Out

By Kari Lawrence, US92, Nebraska News Channel

FREMONT – Due to the first solar farm in Fremont selling out, and the overwhelming response from the community, the City of Fremont is planning a second farm. The City of Fremont is working toward a grant to help fund the making of the second solar farm in Fremont. The grant would come from The Nebraska Environmental Trust, which Executive Assistant of Communications and Grants, Lottie Mitchell says made the most sense. Read more here.

To learn more about Fremont’s First Solar Farm, click the following links:

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Fremont Business Park, Greater Fremont Development Council

  • 80 acres municipally-owned, shovel ready; Olsson Associates master planned site
  • 10MW power available with ability to grow with customer
  • Power rates in the 4.5 to 4.9 cent range per kWh – Municipally-owned utilities
  • Fixed rate period up to 5 yrs. available per Nebraska State law and dependent on size and scope of project
  • Municipality has two sources for power backup; NPPD & OPPD through automatic interconnect agreements

Earlier Articles Showing the Solar Farm’s Progression

Fremont’s Community Solar Farm in final approval stage

By Sam Pimper, Fremont Tribune

The farm itself will encompass approximately 5 of the 10-acre plot being developed. The Community Solar farm would consist of approximately 3,900 panels, and anybody who is a customer of the Fremont Department of Utilities would have the opportunity to purchase solar shares that would cover up to 80 percent of their used Kilowatt-hours. Currently, more than 40-percent of the farm has been sold, with nearly 50 percent of signups happening within two weeks. Read more here.

Photo: Dodge County Courthouse. Credit: Chris Bristol

ALSO IN TODAY’S NEWS

Community Solar Farm moving forward

By Sam Pimper, Fremont Tribune 

With the Fremont City Council unanimously approving a resolution during its Tuesday evening meeting authorizing $1.5 million in financing and allowing the Department of Utilities the authority to obtain participation commitments, it appears that the City of Fremont is moving ever closer to building its Community Solar Farm. Read more here.

Photo: Central City’s solar project: What a community solar farm might look like in Fremont.