NORFOLK, Neb. (KCAU) — Construction work is progressing on Norfolk’s first solar farm, an 8.5 megawatt solar unit, located on land at the city’s well field on Highway West 275.

Last year, it was announced Norfolk will be part of Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) SunWise Community Solar program.

Community solar is a way for community members to purchase solar energy without having to install rooftop panels on their home or business. Solar subscribers can buy different amounts of solar energy based on their annual electricity usage.

“We’re excited to offer this power option to citizens,” said Mayor Josh Moenning. “Solar costs have declined significantly in the last 10 years, making this energy accessible at a very competitive rate. This project, paired with a battery storage system that will help us efficiently manage distribution, will be the largest of its kind in the state.”

There will be an added aspect of the project for NPPD with the installation of a 1MW battery energy storage system (BESS) that will be charged through generation provided by the solar unit and can be discharged daily to accomplish several goals such as demand management, frequency regulation, voltage support, and smoothing and shifting variable renewable energy generation.

The unit will store approximately the amount of electricity that a small home would use over the course of two months.

NPPD entered into a 30-year agreement with Sol Customer Solutions, a joint venture between Sol Systems and Arevon Energy, Inc. Arevon will manage the asset and Sol Systems will operate and maintain the array. Sol Systems, along with partners GenPro Energy Solutions and Mesner Development, executed a lease agreement with the City of Norfolk for the land where the solar panels are being installed. Eventually the well field site will have over 25,000 solar panels in place to generate electricity from the sun.

“We’re making exciting progress in Norfolk on what is certainly the most impressive municipal solar build in Nebraska to this point. The incorporation of pollinator habitats to support the local ecosystem and our collaboration with Northeast Community College bring local impacts that are setting the example for true community solar,” said Anna Noucas, Senior Director of Business Development for Sol Systems.

The solar farm is also Nebraska’s largest solar project to date and, in addition the project incorporates an on-site pollinator habitat to support the local ecosystem and local pollinator populations.

Commercial operation, is anticipated to be achieved in the spring of 2022.