People in Kearney, NE, will have the opportunity to get their energy from the state’s largest solar development without investing in rooftop solar for their home or business. That’s thanks to the 6 megawatt Kearney SunWise Community Solar Project. When it comes online in February 2018, the facility is expected to generate up to 5 percent of Kearney’s peak energy demands—the equivalent to powering approximately 900 local homes.
SoCore Energy, the project devloper and owner, will sell electricity generated by the project to Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD). The utility will resell the energy to project subscribers at cost. Power generated by the community solar project will be virtually net-metered and reimbursed to customers on their monthly electricity bills based on thier share of the project.
“NPPD’s community solar program enables NPPD to partner with its retail communities interested in pursuing their own solar projects,” said NPPD Retail General Manager Tim Arlt. “Under this program, NPPD works with the community and a selected developer to purchase the output of a solar unit. End-use customers can then participate in the program and pay for shares via their electric bill.”
Community solar project development has increased significantly across the US, with an anticipated 410 megawatts under development in 2017 comapred to 218 megawatts in 2016, according to GTM Research’s US Community Solar Outlook 2017. Community solar is expected to grow rapidly through 2019, with an estimated 500 megawatts of community solar projects being installed annually to meet growing consumer demand.
Indeed, the Kearney SunWise project has garnered a lot of interest already. It's already sold 5,499 of the 7,099 project shares to commercial customers at the Tech oNE Crossing Technology Park and the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK). UNK has agreed to purchase 3,600 shares in the project, offsetting approximately 25 percent of its annual energy use. Starting Sept. 15, 2017, 1,600 shares, sold in 150 kilowatt-hour increments, will become available to NPPD’s residential customers for 81 cents a share. Residential customers who use an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours per month will be eligible to purchase up to 5 shares.
The Kearney SunWise project will be the third community solar facility in Nebraska to date. The $11 million project will create construction and clean energy jobs, while stimulating Kearney’s economy. Kearny’s Mayor Stan Clouse hopes that the success of the project will attract businesses from outside the area to open shop in Kearney in the future. “When you look at society as a whole there’s a lot of emphasis on renewable energy and green energy, and I think what this does is promote our community, to promote our tech park, as a player in the renewable energy field,” Clouse told NBC Nebraska in February 2017 during the initial announcement of the project.Tweet