Nebraska’s largest PV project is a community solar system

Construction has been completed on an 8.5 MW solar + storage system in Norfolk, Nebraska, which is currently the largest PV project in the state. In addition, this is the first large-scale battery storage system combined with solar energy on the Nebraska Public Power District grid.

The solar + storage project has been developed and is managed by: Sol systems in collaboration with EPC firm GenPro energy solutions and real estate development company Mesner Development. The array is part of NPPD’s solar program, SunWise, which allows local Norfolk residents to purchase clean energy produced from the array at a fixed price to offset normal retail electricity.

“The Norfolk community solar facility is commissioned and it’s great to officially celebrate the completion of the state’s largest solar facility,” said Brittney Koenig, account manager at NPPD. “Norfolk customers who signed up for community solar stock started seeing a credit in their account in June.”

Sol Systems and NPPD have entered into a 30-year power purchase agreement for the array’s energy, providing residents of NPPD and Norfolk with fixed energy costs for decades.

“We are delighted to officially launch this project. Participating community members will soon be able to use affordable, locally generated clean energy for the first time in this form and in this way. We are proud to have partnered with NPPD and the private sector to provide the opportunity. It contributes to our quality of life,” said Mayor Josh Moenning.

The large-scale battery storage system can store up to 2 MWh of electricity produced by the solar park. This allows NPPD to store solar energy for flexible discharge times, such as summer evenings or winter mornings during peak grid hours.

During construction, the project site was planted with pollinator habitats to support local bee and butterfly populations. Prairie flowers and grasses will build a thriving native habitat, stabilizing and supporting soil health, while providing a habitat for endangered species.

“Sol Systems is proud to be part of this solar and storage project with NPPD and the City of Norfolk as it fully captures the core of Sol’s mission,” said Anna Toenjes, senior director of business development at Sol Systems. “The project will provide this community with clean, renewable energy for decades while creating a strong impact on the community through our scholarship work with NECC. In addition, I am personally proud to be part of an all-female team at Sol that led the contract negotiations, development and financing of this solar + storage project.”

In addition to the array’s energy and education benefits, Sol Systems partnered with Northeast Community College (NECC) to create three scholarships for students interested in the school’s Electrical Construction and Control Program.

The scholarships, which will cover two years of college tuition for students, were awarded this spring. In further collaboration with NECC, internships at GenPro were set up for students already enrolled in the Electrical Construction and Control Program, giving them hands-on experience building the array.

“As the EPC that installed the most municipal solar panels in the state of Nebraska, it’s very important that we can give back to the communities we serve,” said Molly Brown, EVP Corporate Strategy at GenPro. “Education is at the heart of who we are, and partnering with NECC has enabled us to train the next generation of solar electricians. We need more skilled workers as this sector continues to grow.”

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