Norfolk, Neb. – Approval was given Monday evening on an agreement by the Norfolk City Council for the state’s largest community solar project with Nebraska Public Power District, that will be tied to a battery energy storage system (BESS) demonstration project expected to be in operation by mid-2020.
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, which will be the first of its kind in the state.
Action Monday by Norfolk leaders will bring a community solar project to the community 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, work with customers interested in purchasing solar energy and explaining the details of the program and assisting with registration.
“As technologies have advanced and costs have decreased, rural Nebraska is now in position to produce energy as efficiently as it does food,“ said Norfolk 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.”
The planned Norfolk solar project is 8.5 megawatts 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 be working with the city of Norfolk for being the host community in this first of a kind project,” said NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “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 megawatts 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 having to install rooftop panels on their home.Solar subscribers can buy different amounts of solar energy based on their annual electricity usage.
This past fall, NPPD with the support of the city of Norfolk, submitted a grant request to the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) that was approved earlier this month. Norfolk committed to participate in the funding request as a grant partner and would be providing in-kind support by providing the real estate for the project site, weekly inspections,and guiding public tours.
The BESS would be charged through generation provided by the solar unit and discharged daily to accomplish several goals. The BESS unit would store approximately the amount of electricity that a small home would use over the course of two months.