FREMONT, Neb. (AP) — An eastern Nebraska city has started seeking a contractor for a second community solar farm before its first project has even produced a kilowatt of energy because of high demand.

Troy Schaben is Fremont's assistant city administrator of utilities. He told the Fremont Tribune that the first farm is filled to capacity and there are more than 100 people who've been waitlisted for a spot on the second farm. An additional 300 people have expressed general interest in solar energy.

The city put out proposal requests for a new farm on Feb. 14 with a March 2 deadline for submissions. The city will likely award the contract in March or early April, with the goal of having the second farm online by October, Schaben said.

The first solar farm is expected to go live at the end of the month and will accommodate 200 subscribers who've purchased physical solar panels or shares of solar energy. Panels initially cost $180 and have a lower monthly rate, while energy shares can be purchased at a slightly higher monthly rate.

The first farm is account for 1.55 megawatts and the second farm is expected to produce the same amount. Energy from the first farm could account for up to 80 percent of residents' electricity consumption and 50 percent of commercial customers' energy consumption.

The second solar farm will operate in a similar manner as the first, said Lottie Mitchell, Fremont's executive assistant. The city is seeking a $300,000 grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust through the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance to keep rates similar.

"We're also exploring the option of trying to allow the farm to be feasible to more residents, more income levels, because it comes at a premium and we want to make sure that everybody has the ability to participate," Mitchell said.


Information from: Fremont Tribune,