Scottsbluff chosen for solar energy pilot project

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. (AP) - Nebraska Public Power District has selected Scottsbluff as the site for a community solar energy pilot project.

A solar energy farm would be built and connected to a distribution line that would feed into the local grid, according to the Scottsbluff Star-Herald (http://bit.ly/1H6OA0p ).

The district’s Tim Arlt told the City Council Monday evening that the community system would eliminate poor rooftop orientation, taxes, insurance and electrical inspections for businesses and residents who might otherwise install their own solar systems.

Scottsbluff was chosen because it’s a hub for the district in western Nebraska and has plenty of land available.

If the city and the district were to move ahead with the project, it wouldn’t affect the cost of electricity elsewhere, Arlt said.

“For example, if Norfolk wanted to go down this path, the residents of Scottsbluff shouldn’t be burdened with paying and vice versa,” he said.

The district’s role in the project would be to develop and issue a request for proposal from developers, provide a connection to the distribution system and make power purchase agreements for the output.

There’s no firm agreement between the city and the power district until a power purchase agreement is signed with a solar farm developer. It’s unclear how big the project might be and how many customers it could serve. A 100 kilowatt farm would require about a half-acre of land and could provide enough electricity for about 20 homes, Arlt said.

City Manager Rick Kuckkahn suggested asking residents whether they’re interested in the project and whether they prefer a site other than one the district has suggested.

“We have a lot of land that would be good for use for this,” said Mayor Randy Meininger. “But it wouldn’t be as visible to the public.”

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