KEARNEY, Neb. — Construction of Nebraska’s largest solar energy array got underway Tuesday — ceremonially and physically — with groundbreaking for the $11 million project in northeast Kearney’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing.
Officials with the Chicago company that is building the solar array and officials from the Nebraska Public Power District, the city and state, and local economic development organizations were a part of the groundbreaking.
When complete, the solar array in northeast Kearney will generate 5.8 megawatts of electricity — about 5 percent of Kearney’s peak demand.
Although the SoCore panels won’t come close to meeting Kearney’s power demands, they will allow people and companies who are environmentally minded to fill at least some of their electrical needs with green energy.
“We have some large energy-using customers that have a renewable standard in their portfolio, and this will be of interest to them,” Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse said in February, when SoCore, NPPD and the city entered the agreement to build the solar array and market its output.
As an account manager for NPPD, Clouse will be involved in selling its energy. He said last week that details were still being worked out on how rates will be set for the power, but in February officials expected the solar power to be just a bit more expensive than conventionally generated electricity.
Clouse and other Kearney leaders believe the availability of green energy will be an attraction for Kearney’s Tech oNE Crossing, bringing jobs and broadening the local tax base. Xpanxion already is building its new Kearney headquarters at Tech oNE.
SoCore operates solar projects in 17 states, including Kansas, and is developing other projects in Nebraska, Colorado, Kansas and South Dakota.