Utility scale solar development is here — in the eight months since the solar leasing article was published in August 2020, Nebraskans have seen continued land lease activity, county zoning rule adoption, an extension of the federal tax credit, and projects approved by county commissioners/supervisors. Additionally, one project (Saunders County [OPPD electrical purchase]) has reached the important step of electricity sales, which is the most common tipping point between a proposed project and a project that will get built. Many smaller solar projects have been built in the years prior to 2021, with the largest at about 8 MW, or about 50 acres. The utility scale projects being proposed and approved are many times larger, with 500 or more acres.
Solar, wind and other renewable electricity projects have access to federal tax credits, which are only accessible to private (taxable) companies. For our public power utilities to benefit, they are contracting to purchase electricity from the private developers, with some of the tax credit benefit flowing to the utility in the form of lower purchase prices.
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