When did Nebraska become the epicenter of solar development?
OK, maybe calling it an epicenter is a bit of a stretch. But there have been two community solar stories out of the Cornhusker State in the past week, which is two more than anyone imagined there would be. GTM Research and SEIA don’t even include Nebraska in their quarterly solar-market evaluations (although it might be time they did).
The latest town in the state to open its doors to a solar solicitation is Fremont, which is about to close its community solar RFP on Friday. Interestingly, the proposal does not specify the size of the project, though it does specify that it will be a ground-mount system.
Contractors interested in bidding on the project have until tomorrow to send questions to the city, which presumably could tell them how big the project will be. The deadline for bids is March 2.
Fremont already has one community solar farm, 1.5 MW project that sold out in 7 weeks last year.
Fremont is the second Nebraska city in the past week to announce plans for community solar. Last Thursday, the Omaha Public Power District presented the outlines of a community solar program it is in negotiations to launch later this year.
Until Fremont gets its community solar project up and running, the Omaha project will be the fourth community solar project in the state.
And although GTM Research doesn’t include Nebraska in the U.S. Solar Market Insight Series, it hasn’t completely ignored the state. Its research indicates there are already two community solar projects installed in Nebraska – the 5 MW Lincoln Electric System Community Solar Project and the 6.7 MW Tech oNE Crossing Solar project.
According to the solar advocacy group Nebraskans for Solar, each of the state’s three major utilities have community solar programs they plan on expanding in the coming years.
While solar development in the state has been scarce, Nebraska has still been one of the leaders in renewable energy development, harnessing its vast wind resources as an electrical production source. If recent actions in the state are any indication, however, solar may finally be on the state’s radar as a viable option.
This article was updated at 10:18 am on 2/27/2018 to reflect that Fremont, Nebraska, built its first community solar project last year.