Norfolk is ready to embark on the state’s largest community solar project, a cooperative agreement between the city and NPPD. Unique to the Norfolk project is the inclusion of a battery energy storage system (BESS) tied to the solar array as a demonstration project.
The city council approved the project during a city council meeting September 21.
“We’re anxious to move forward on this first-of-its-kind project in Nebraska,” said Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning. “Building the largest community solar project in the state, and the first tied to a battery storage system, further positions Norfolk to be a leader in clean, cost-competitive renewable energy that will boost and support the local economy.”
Norfolk is the fourth Nebraska community to be part of NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar program. Other communities in the program include Venango, Scottsbluff and Kearney.
“We are pleased to be adding Norfolk to our Community Solar program,” said Tim Arlt, NPPD vice president and general manager-retail. “The interest in solar energy continues to grow and we have interest from other NPPD retail communities and we anticipate adding more units in the future.”
NPPD plans to enter into a 30-year agreement with N Solar for an 8.5 megawatt solar unit constructed on land at the city’s well field, with operations beginning by the end of 2021.
“We are excited to see this project serve as a model for other communities in Nebraska looking to provide clean, reliable energy,” said Mary Plettner, Economic Development Manager. “It makes Nebraska an even more attractive place to grow or start a business.”
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 is providing the real estate for the project site, weekly inspections and guided public tours.
The BESS will be charged through generation provided by the solar unit and can be 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.
With the BESS connected to a variable non-dispatchable renewable energy source such as wind or solar, the renewable generation now becomes dispatchable and will reduce fossil fuel generation in the future.
N Solar, a three-company partnership that includes Messner Development, Gen Pro Energy Solutions and Sol Systems, will have a lease agreement with the City of Norfolk for the well field site. Eventually the site will have more than 25,000 solar panels in place. Collectively, the three N Solar companies have been involved in 20 solar projects across Nebraska, including three of the four NPPD SunWise Community Solar projects.