- Associated Press - Monday, January 23, 2017

KEARNEY, Neb. (AP) - Kearney officials are hoping that the state’s largest solar energy array, which is on its way to the city, will help attract other technology projects.

Kearney developed a 160-acre technology park called Tech One Crossing years ago in a failed bid to bring in a Facebook data center, The Kearney Hub (https://bit.ly/2jLUZNi ) reports. Now, a 5.8 megawatt electrical generation project worth $11 million by SoCore Energy is proposed for the park.

The solar array doesn’t represent a high-volume of energy, but city leaders believe the project will make Kearney look more attractive to other tech companies and businesses. Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse says many clients considering Tech One Crossing prefer purchasing green energy.

Facebook ultimately picked a site near Des Moines, Iowa, because it offered wind energy.

“Not having access to renewable energy is one of the things that Facebook threw at us,” Clouse said



The Kearney City Council will look at a 25-year lease agreement for the solar project on Tuesday. Under the agreement, Chicago-based SoCore Energy would pay $3,000 per acre per year for a 53-acre tract of land on the site. SoCore would sell the electricity it produces at the Kearney facility to the Nebraska Public Power District. Current customers could opt to buy the solar power from the NPPD.

Clouse said solar-generated electricity is a bit more expensive than NPPD’s base rate. As part of the agreement, the city would pay SoCore the differential.

“There is some risk,” Clouse said, “but we decided at the end of the day we can use it to market our technology park. We believe that the interest level for high tech for lean, renewable energy is out there.”

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Information from: Kearney Hub, https://www.kearneyhub.com/

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