By TAMMY BAIN firstname.lastname@example.org | Posted: Wednesday, December 14, 2016
The western Nebraska village of Venango will soon have access to solar power.
The Venango Community Solar Project will host a groundbreaking ceremony just northeast of the village at 3:30 p.m. MST Wednesday, with an open house from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Tin Can Diner, 116 N. Pennsylvania Ave. At the open house, potential customers will learn about solar power and its uses.
The project is expected to be producing power and available for commercial use by January, said Tim Arlt, general manager of Nebraska Public Power District’s retail division.
The community solar project will allow regional customers to sign up for shares in a “solar garden,” which converts energy from the sun into electricity. Using the same wires and infrastructure as public power, customers will have renewable energy at their doorstep, Arlt said.
He said project officials have worked with the village for the last six months, calling it “very supportive and very proactive.”
One solar share is equivalent to about 150 kilowatt hours, whereas one household uses about 1,000 kilowatt hours a month, Arlt said. Subscribers to the community solar garden will have to use a minimum of one solar share and can use a maximum of 80 percent of their typical household usage.
He said the benefits of using solar power are that it’s both renewable and environmentally friendly. While the solar garden won’t be “tremendously large,” it can serve 18-20 homes in the village, which has a population of 166. Arlt said project officials have done extensive research and data reviews to ensure that there will be enough solar power to go around.
Arlt said there is increasing interest in solar power, with similar projects either in the works or existing in places like Kearney, Lexington and Scottsbluff.
“I see it becoming more and more prevalent as we evolve,” he said.