Purchase photos

Construction to begin on solar farm

8/31/2014

By MIKE CORN

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

COLBY -- Construction on the 3,960-panel, 1-megawatt community solar array north of Colby could begin within the next 10 days, a Midwest Energy spokesman said Friday.

Officials from both Midwest Energy and Clean Energy Collective, the Colorado firm actually constructing the solar farm, broke ground Thursday on the site.

Midwest Energy President General Manager Earnie Lehman told those assembled the array is being built in response to member demand for a solar option, and would be a capstone of the cooperative's 75th anniversary.

Lehman also used the event to announce Midwest Energy is using money it has to create a rebate program for the purchase of the panels by electric customers.

With the rebate, the price of the panels now has been lowered to $891.

Midwest Energy members who already have reserved panels will be eligible, as well as members making new reservations.

Customers who purchase the solar panels will receive credit on their monthly bill for the electricity produced.

The solar farm is being constructed on land already owned by Midwest Energy north of Colby, but it will only require approximately 6 acres.

Construction on the site could begin within 10 days, Midwest spokesman Mike Morley said, and it will be a fast project to complete.

After constructing a fence and completing dirt work, the pilings to hold the panels will be next up.

That part of the project, Morley said, could take less than a week as crews come in and bore holes, installing concrete and the pilings themselves.

Actual construction is only supposed to take about two months to complete.

"They're required to have that up and running before the end of the year," Morley said of the contract between Midwest and CEC.

In addition to the construction itself, CEC also handles the sale of individual panels to Midwest customers.

"It's going well," Morley said of the sales. "It's going well, using their words."

There are, however, still panels that can be purchased, he said.

Residential customers will be able to purchase up to 26 solar panels, capable of producing about 8 kilowatts of electricity.

Industrial and commercial customers can purchase enough to supply all their electrical needs, as long as it doesn't exceed 75 kilowatts of power.