Omaha Public Power District’s latest renewable energy project will bring a former landfill site back to life as a solar array to help power our growing communities. It’s possible thanks to a $3.46 million grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET).
The proposed project, known as OPPD-Douglas County SOLUS (Solar on Landfills Utility Scale), is a joint-effort between the utility and Douglas County. It will be constructed on the Douglas County State Street landfill, a 160-acre parcel of land located at 126th and State Streets in Omaha. It would start with a feasibility study late this summer.
“OPPD deeply values our partnership with Douglas County and we are excited by the opportunity to install solar on Douglas County’s State Street landfill,” said OPPD President and Chief Executive Officer Javier Fernandez. “This is a great example of our Nebraskan ingenuity, and I hope that this project will be a model for how we can achieve dual use of other landfills and public property in the area.”
The landfill is capped, covered to isolate waste; therefore, there are few other practical uses for the property.
“There are limited development opportunities directly on landfills, and utilizing the property for renewable energy is a win-win,” said Kent Holm, director of Douglas County Environmental Services. “We already are using a third-party contractor to clean the landfill gas and pump it into MUD's pipeline. Adding solar can be another positive step in utilizing the former landfill property and providing renewable energy.”
The site’s location gets good sun exposure and it is near an existing OPPD substation, making it a prime spot for energy production.
“This project is exciting and makes good sense," said Douglas County Chairwoman Mary Ann Borgeson. “It also demonstrates a great partnership between Douglas County and OPPD and is an innovative use of our property.”
The NET grant will help support the cost difference between a typical ground-mounted utility-scale solar project and landfill solar, which requires differences in the way it needs to be designed and built.
The upcoming feasibility study will help determine the ideal size of the solar array and allow engineers to address any possible challenges, such as how to build around existing landfill features and the best way to fit it onto the contours of the land.
OPPD will share what it learns from the project with other utilities that are interested in similar initiatives, providing benefits that extend well beyond the district’s 13-county footprint.
Read more about OPPD-Douglas County SOLUS at OPPDTheWire.com.