A total of seven contracts for the Hemingford Solar Project were signed by Village of Hemingford Chairman John Annen last Thursday, October 3.

GenPro first reached out to Annen and the Village Board not quite three years ago. Solar power wasn’t necessarily on their radar at the time so the initial email was passed off to Village Clerk Barb Straub. Just over a year ago plans really began taking place when GenPro held a town hall meeting in Hemingford to discuss the benefits of solar energy.

Over the past year contracts were worked and reworked to ensure that the Village of Hemingford was getting the best deal and history was made on October 3, 2019 when the solar project plans were signed.

For the solar farm, the Village leased five to ten acres of land from the Ag Society. Chris Thomas and crew with MCT Trucking were busy over the weekend tearing out the trees and filling in the holes on the land just north of the Box Butte County Fair Ground. Overall 100 trees were removed from the leased land. Some of those trees were in rough shape but there were some that were nice trees. Next spring, GenPro will be planting 25 trees around Hemingford to make up for the loss of those trees.

“There are around 10 communities in Nebraska that currently have GenPro Solar Farms with a few more in the works,” said Project Manager Michael Larson. “Nebraska has quite a few towns like this that own their own utilities. South Dakota doesn’t have much of that.”

The company is based out of South Dakota.

“The system that we are installing here is a really good size for this community and will be a really good fit with the utilities,” Larson added.

GenPro will begin delivering products, parts and pieces next week

The solar energy will decrease the amount of money that the Village pays to NPPD.

Currently, the village purchases 100 percent of its electricity as a wholesale customer from Nebraska Public Power District. However, during times of peak demand, NPPD affixes an additional demand charge per kWh on the electricity the village consumes.

Under the PPA, the village would only need to get 90 percent of its electricity from NPPD; the remaining 10 percent would be generated by the solar project and sold to the city at a fixed cost, which potentially help shave off the demand charges from NPPD.

That number is set by NPPD as the maximum allowable amount for wholesale customers to generate their own electricity, based on a projection NPPD developed. As more communities are exploring community solar projects, NPPD had to adapt to meet the market changes.

“The result is a savings that can be then put to other utility projects,” said Village Administrator Barb Straub. “The first year the savings aren’t enormous but each year that will increase as we pay that purchase agreement off.”

“We can market Hemingford as a green community which will help with our leadership community and helps get grant funds for other projects. It really opens up a lot of financing doors,” Straub said. “We have a lot of stuff going on this year in Hemingford, it’s exciting.”

“I am so excited, just so excited,” said Village Trustee Lynda Novotny. “I think it speaks well of our city, its forward thinking for our town.”

GenPro installed a solar farm for the City of Scottsbluff and are currently in the process of installing a second solar farm.

The solar industry is changing rapidly as it experiences unprecedented growth. GenPro provided some facts that may surprise you about this increasingly popular source of power:

At any given moment 173,000 terawatts of solar energy are striking the earth. That is more than 10,000 times the world’s energy use. Solar technologies capture and convert the sun’s energy into electricity that can be used to power our homes and businesses. Currently, solar energy supplies only 6% of the United States energy needs but as solar technologies become more efficient this is expected to exponentially increase.

BENEFITS OF SOLAR ENERGY

COST-EFFECTIVE - With continued improvements in technology and production, solar energy solutions can now provide electricity at cost often equal or less than grid-supplied electricity.

LITTLE TO NO MAINTENANCE - With no moving parts, solar energy solutions require very little maintenance or upkeep. Real-time monitoring allows transparency into exactly how much each system is producing at any given time.

RENEWABLE RESOURCE - Solar energy is not only sustainable, it is renewable. Which means we will never run out of it. It is about as natural of a source of power as possible to generate electricity.

SILENT PRODUCER - There is absolutely no noise made from photovoltaic panels as they convert sunlight into usable electricity.

ZERO EMISSIONS - Solar electricity systems produce zero emissions.

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