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City eyes possible solar power arrangement

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City of Plattsmouth

PLATTSMOUTH – The possibility of Plattsmouth using solar power for electricity got a closer look Monday evening.

The City Council approved a letter of intent from the city to the Nebraska Public Power District to better understand the costs involved and where a solar power facility could be built.

Recently, an official from NPPD came before the council to discuss the utility’s Sunwise Community Solar Program.

“It’s a service to communities to facilitate a solar energy product for communities to use and residents to take advantage of,” said Craig Vincent, account manager for NPPD.

The program features a utility scale solar facility interconnected to an electric distribution or sub-transmission line where multiple end-use customers within the community cold participate, Vincent said.

End-use customers would avoid “up front” capital investments for solar power with the developer responsible for installation and maintenance of a solar facility, he said.

It would also eliminate taxes, insurance and electrical inspections for end-use customers, he added.

For its part, the city would identify available land where a 1.7 megawatt facility would be located on 10 acres.

For customers wanting to participate, they would subscribe to “shares” that are blocks of energy equal to 150 kWh per month. Customers would receive credit/charge on monthly bills per subscription.

With city approval, NPPD would sign an agreement with a developer for a 20- to 30-year term. The city would sign a land lease agreement with the developer, who would construct the facility with NPPD providing interconnection.

The council-approved letter of intent states the city and NPPD would cooperate in evaluating construction bids with the city providing formal approval to proceed prior to NPPD awarding a contract with a developer.

The city would also have the right not to move forward should an acceptable site not be identified.

In its letter of intent, the city identified three sites where a solar facility might be built. One is along the Missouri River near the current wastewater treatment plant with the other two in the Four Mile Industrial Park.

The letter of intent does not mean the city has officially committed to solar power at this time, according to Mayor Paul Lambert.

“It’s just another step to see if it is something the council might want to do,” he said.

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