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Pilot Project Tests Potential Of Solar Energy For Grand Island, Neb.

July 23, 2020

by Taelor Bentley
Posted July 23, 2020

A solar panel array built in 2018 is a part of a pilot project in Grand Island, Neb., which is testing the potential of solar as a source of energy for Grand Island.

The intent is to get operational data on projects and give the City of Grand Island Utilities Department hands-on information on how it might interact with their system.

Grand Island solicited proposals for renewable energy projects in the summer of 2016, with a 50-megawatt wind project being the primary goal, noted Tim Luchsinger, Utilities Director, in an email. A contract was awarded to Sempra Renewables in January 2017. That project has since been assigned to AEP Energy Partners.

The solar project size and term were based on iterations during the contract negotiations, “which enabled a price point that we were comfortable to propose to our city administration and council,” Luchsinger noted.

The solar project is connected to an adjacent substation through a dedicated 13.8 kV feeder breaker. This arrangement minimizes possible system effects on customers and allows the project output to be recorded through the substation Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA).

The supplier provides additional information through a web portal that includes forecasted versus actual generation along with inverter performance.

The project represents a 25-year commitment by the city at no cost. The solar farm is owned by private investors who sell the city the power it produces. The solar panels generate 1-MW, producing about 1% of the city’s load when it’s at full operation.

Luchsinger said that Grand Island anticipates that this project will be considered for a future storage arrangement, “but we don’t have a set plan at this time as the current pandemic situation has affected our immediate and short term future outlooks.”

Additional information about the City of Grand Island’s renewable energy supplies is available here.