BEATRICE – Gage County officials have approved an agreement with a public power district and an Arkansas company regarding two planned commercial solar power generation facilities.

The agreement between the county, Norris Public Power District and Today’s Power, Inc., spells out escrow of funds and who backs decommissioning costs of the sites in the future.

Norris Public Power District is planning six solar sites in its service territory, two of them in Gage County…..southwest and northwest of Beatrice. Norris General Manager Bruce Vitosh spoke of the projects that will produce electricity through the Norris system, on property leased for 25 years from separate landowners.
"In our agreement with Today's Power, Inc., there is a decommissioning requirement that they have to set aside in escrow $30,000 up front...and that money will sit there for decommissioning at the end of the life of the project, so ultimately TPI's responsible for decommissioning these sites, but again we're there as the backstop....really to protect the landowner."

The half-dozen projects across the Norris Public Power District would produce about two-percent of its total electric supply. Two sites would be in Gage County….and one each in Lancaster, Seward, Saline and Thayer Counties.

"We lease up to ten acres, so of the six sites, we actually own one site up south of Lincoln, it's in Lancaster County. We own that site, the other five sites we lease. We lease anywhere up to ten acres....there's one site that's less than that. The solar arrays, the actual arrays themselves, will sit on anywhere from six to eight acres...and it's all enclosed."

Vitosh said the district has been able to lock in power costs over the long-term.  "The reason the Norris Board of Directors and the management team are pursuing's a little less than two percent of our peak load, but we're able to lock in an energy price that is lower than we're paying Nebraska Public Power District today...over the life of these 25 years, or 25-year-contract. We're locking in a rate with no's a fixed rate. We feel pretty good that over the life of this we're going to save our customers some money....and that's really why we're doing these projects."

Among the next steps is for the power district and developer to apply for special use permits for the Gage County solar sites…..which go before the county’s planning commission with final action by the Gage County Board.