Approval was recently given by the Norfolk City Council for the Nebraska’s largest community solar project in conjunction with Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD). This solar farm will be tied to a first-of-its-kind battery energy storage system (BESS) demonstration project expected to be in operation by mid-2020.
The BESS will be charged through generation provided by the solar unit and discharged daily to accomplish several goals. The BESS unit will store approximately the amount of electricity that a small home would use over the course of two months.
NPPD, with support from the city of Norfolk, received a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) in the amount of $490,000 over two years for the BESS project. Norfolk committed to participate in the funding request as a grant partner and will be offering in-kind support by providing the real estate for the project site, weekly inspections and guiding public tours.
This action in Norfolk is similar to what has been done by NPPD in three other Nebraska communities. As the project comes closer to completion, NPPD, in partnership with the city, will host an open house for Norfolk customers to explain its Sunwise Community Solar program, answer questions and work with customers who are interested in purchasing solar energy.
“As technologies advance and costs decrease, rural Nebraska is now in position to produce energy as efficiently as it does food,” Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning said. “This project will help lower energy bills and provide renewable options to interested citizens and businesses.”
The planned Norfolk project will be 8.5 megawatts (MW) in generating capacity, eventually making it the largest in Nebraska. The project will be built on land owned by Norfolk at the city’s well fields.
“NPPD is pleased to work with the city of Norfolk in this unique project,” NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt said. “We look forward to working with Norfolk customers who want to participate in a renewable energy project as we move forward with the construction process.”
As part of the Sunwise Community Solar Program, NPPD has a facility in Kearney that has been in operation for nearly a year, generating 5.7 MW of energy through photovoltaic panels. Smaller solar arrays in the program are located in Scottsbluff (128 kilowatts) and Venango (98 kilowatts). Community solar is a way for community members to purchase solar energy without installing rooftop panels on their home. Solar subscribers can buy different amounts of solar energy based on their annual electricity usage.