Work continues on a five-megawatt solar array to supplement the electrical supply in the City of Scottsbluff.
The solar array, located north of Scottsbluff near the Landers Soccer Complex, includes more than 14,000 solar panels that will track the sun throughout the day. It’s expected to be online sometime in the first quarter of 2020.
It’s the second solar project in the community for Nebraska Public Power District. The first one, a 128-kilowatt array that went into operation in 2017, is located at the Scottsbluff NPPD offices on South Beltline Highway.
Traditional power generation costs about $58 per megawatt to produce at the wholesale level. Because solar power comes in at a lower rate, it will help lower the overall cost of electricity for NPPD consumers.
The average home will consume about 1,200 kilowatts of electricity per month, depending on usage. Residents will be able to purchase that equivalent amount of solar electricity once the new array is operational.
NPPD Account Manager Terry Rajewich said residential customers within the Scottsbluff city limits may purchase solar shares in increments of 150 kilowatt hours, up to 100 percent of their average one-year electricity consumption.
“People can sign up now on our website at nppd.com under Powering Nebraska,” Rajewich said. “They can also learn more about the project there.”
She said there’s an enrollment fee of $50, but consumers can sign up for as little as one month, billed on a month-to-month basis. The amount of solar electricity used will appear as a line item on the consumer’s current electric bill.
For consumers who want to sign up for a longer term, they can enroll for up to the length of the NPPD purchase agreement, which is 25 years.
Participation in the program is transferable as long as the enrolled customer stays within the city.
In order to assure a sufficient quantity of solar generated electricity, NPPD reserves the right to limit maximum shares for commercial and industrial customers.
The City of Scottsbluff will be one of those customers. City Manager Nathan Johnson said they’re pleased with their continuing relationship with NPPD.
“One of our goals for the city is to minimize some of the residents’ tax burden,” Johnson said. “We plan to take as much renewable solar energy as possible for city purposes. It will be a benefit to the city and its residents for years to come simply because we can lock in our power rate for the duration of the power purchase agreement, which is 25 years.”
He added the price per kilowatt for solar power is less than what the city pays for electricity generated from other sources.
“We’ll see initial savings right off the top,” he said. “Over the next 25 years, we think those savings will only increase.”
According to Rajewich, the solar project is a nice way for consumers to add a solar component to their electric consumption without the cost of investing in it on their own by putting it on their rooftops.