NPPD to plug in more solar energy

February 22, 2019

SCOTTSBLUFF — A new source of electricity will soon be available to Scottsbluff residents and businesses when a 4.6 megawatt solar project comes online by the end of the year.

Construction on the solar array should begin during the summer of 2019 at the southeast edge of the Landers Soccer Complex north of Scottsbluff. The array will include more than 14,000 solar panels that will track the sun throughout the day.

It will be the second community solar project by Nebraska Public Power District. The first project, which went into operation in 2017, was a 112-kilowatt array located at the Scottsbluff NPPD offices on the Beltline Highway.

NPPD has entered into a 25-year purchase agreement with solar finance and development firm Sol Systems for a fixed solar electricity rate of 5.19 cents per kilowatt hour.

NPPD Account Manager Terry Rajewich spoke about the project to the Scottsbluff City Council at its Feb. 19 meeting. She said the electric rates from both solar arrays will be blended for a rate of $52.39 per megawatt hour. That’s compared to the $58 per megawatt cost of traditional power.

“We’re putting as much of the city as a whole onto the system,” said Scottsbluff City Manager Nathan Johnson. “It will not only reduce our carbon footprint, but also allow us to lock in our electric rates for the next 25 years.”

The average home will use about 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per month. Using solar energy, the rate comes to 5.8 cents per kilowatt hour. Residents will be able to purchase that equivalent amount from the solar project. Any additional usage would be billed at the traditional rate.

“The way that it works, the majority if not all of your power should be at the solar rate,” Johnson said.

Scottsbluff NPPD residential customers are invited to sign up for solar shares in the project. The minimum solar share is equivalent to 150 kilowatt hours per month of solar energy.

Residential customers within the Scottsbluff city limits may purchase solar shares in increments of 150 kilowatts up to 100 percent of their average one-year electricity consumption.

In order to assure a sufficient quantity of solar electricity, NPPD reserves the right to limit maximum shares for commercial and industrial customers.

The enrollment fee into the community solar program is $50 for administrative costs, which is refundable after three years. Customers may sign up for a minimum of one month and can exit at any time. The maximum term length is 25 years, the length of the power purchase agreement signed by NPPD.

Participation in the program is transferable as long as the enrolled customer stays within the city. The amount of solar electricity used will appear as a line item of the current electric bill the customer receives.

“NPPD has a waiting list of customers through the existing solar project,” Johnson said. “We hope that subscription for the solar project will be 100 percent when it goes online. It makes sense and will be a huge benefit to the community.”