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Oct 15, 2019

More power needed: OPPD plans to build Nebraska’s largest solar farm, plus natural gas plants

By Reece Ristau

Omaha World Herald | Oct. 15, 2019

Omaha’s electric utility plans to build Nebraska’s largest solar power farm as part of a broader green power initiative.

The Omaha Public Power District board will vote as early as Nov. 14 to seek bids to produce 400 to 600 megawatts of solar power, officials said Tuesday.

That would be roughly double the size of the state’s largest solar installation announced to date, a 230-megawatt, $230 million project proposed east of Lincoln by Ranger Power.

OPPD is still deciding whether it’s more cost-effective to own and operate the farm, or to partner with a private company to operate it.

Board Chairwoman Anne McGuire asked OPPD president and CEO Tim Burke about the project’s costs during an OPPD committee meeting Tuesday.

Burke declined to discuss costs until bids come back but said OPPD expected no general rate increase from the solar farm or related projects.

The publicly owned utility will ask bidders to propose locations in eastern Nebraska for the solar farm, Burke said. The site or sites would need access to OPPD’s transmission lines.

Burke said the OPPD installation, if built, would be the largest solar power project in this part of the Midwest.

OPPD is still deciding whether it’s more cost-effective to own and operate the farm, or to partner with a private company to operate it.

Board Chairwoman Anne McGuire asked OPPD president and CEO Tim Burke about the project’s costs during an OPPD committee meeting Tuesday.

Burke declined to discuss costs until bids come back but said OPPD expected no general rate increase from the solar farm or related projects.

The publicly owned utility will ask bidders to propose locations in eastern Nebraska for the solar farm, Burke said. The site or sites would need access to OPPD’s transmission lines.

Burke said the OPPD installation, if built, would be the largest solar power project in this part of the Midwest.