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UPDATE: the village of Venango and NPPD officially launch Community Solar Project

(KNOP)
Published: Dec. 14, 2016 at 9:15 PM CST
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Venango residents and officials from the Nebraska Public Power District, NPPD, braved the wet and raw weather on Friday morning to unveil a new solar farm located on the east side of town.

The project began began back in July of 2014 and the first solar panels were installed last December. On resident, Dick Dudden, said the project promotes the use of clean energy and he is proud of how his community banded together to complete the project.

"It's a wonderful feeling to know that a small community like Vanengo in cooperation with a large entity like NPPD can work together with a developer and put together a solar system in a small town like this," Dudden said.

According to Brain Vasa of NPPD, the Venango solar project has 400 solar panels in the 96-kilowatt system. This means the solar farm can meet about six and half percent of the town's energy demands.

"The community was great to work with us," Vasa said with a smile on his face. "It's a great feeling to be able to get to this point and be accomplished and having the unit online."

Vasa said NPPD is working on additional community solar projects in Scottsbluff and Kearney.

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ORIGINAL STORY:

Dec 14, 2016: Solar power harnesses the sun's energy to produce electricity and it's rapidly expanding across the country.

Now, one Southwest Nebraska town, with a population of less than 200 people is breaking ground on their own community solar project.

The idea started back in July of 2014. One local man, who previously used solar power in his Arizona home, brought the idea to the town of Venango.

"He thought it would be good for not only the citizens, but for the commercial customers here in town too. To be able to see Venango is doing things that nobody else in Nebraska is doing" Brian Vasa, Economic Development Consultant, said.

Now, a pilot program is being developed by the town of Venango and Nebraska Public Power District, or NPPD.

"It's a renewable resource. We're utilizing the natural effects of the sun to be able to generate energy and offset some of our other generation" Vasa said.

The Sunwise Community Solar Project will allow NPPD customers to partially power their homes and businesses with solar energy.

"Talking to some of the folks here in Venango they are really excited to be able to participate in a renewable energy such as solar" Vasa said.

Wednesday morning, solar panels began being installed at the project site.

Vasa said Mesner Development will be the owner. There will be a contract between NPPD and Mesner to purchase the energy, then NPPD will resell the energy to the citizens of Venango.

Citizens have the opportunity to purchase green shares and 108 are up for grabs.

"Each share is 150 kW and they will be $2.17 per share. We do have a max of 10 shares per customer" Vasa said.

Community Solar takes advantage of economies of scale, which allows efficient and economical energy generation.

The project is estimated to start in early January.