OPPD to hold “community conversation” this week, regarding solar project near McCool

Solar Field stock photo

YORK COUNTY – The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) will be hosting a “community conversation” event this week, regarding the solar field project near McCool Junction.

Dustin Marvel, a government and community relations/public affairs strategist for OPPD, earlier met with the York County Commissioners to talk about the event and encourage attendance.

He said the community forum will be held Thursday, Oct. 26, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the Stone Creek Event Center in McCool Junction. He explained there would be a brief OPPD presentation “followed by a facilitated listening session for attendees. We are excited we will be having this public forum, a community conversation to hear people’s thoughts and opinions as we do our due diligence to determine the feasibility of the K-Junction Solar Project.”

Marvel said OPPD mailed out a number of postcards, to invite residents in that area of the county. Regardless if someone received a postcard, they can absolutely attend if they are interested.

“We want to get the word out, for those who want to learn more about this project,” Marvel said.

It was announced in early August that OPPD acquired the rights to the potential K-Junction Solar Project from EDF Renewables North America. As explained at that time, by Brad Underwood, vice-president of OPPD systems transformations, “OPPD’s interest in acquiring this project does not guarantee that construction or other activities will being immediately. Rather, it will allow us to assess the viability of the opportunity and determine necessary next steps. We are committed to conducting thorough due diligence, including evaluating technical feasibility, financial considerations, environmental constraints and community impacts. This process will support informed decisions that align with our long-term goals and core value of honoring the communities we serve and in which we operate.”

What does this acquisition mean? OPPD says it acquired the K-Junction Solar project, including the rights and agreements affiliated with it. Perennial Public Power District would continue to serve local customers while OPPD would collaborate with others to deliver power to the energy grid that serves all of Nebraska through the Southwest Power Pool. The earliest anticipated commercial operating date would some time in 2027. EDF has already obtained interconnection approval from SPP, which Underwood said is a significant benefit that OPPD “would be remiss to not pursue on behalf of all Nebraskans.”

However, there has been some push-back from residents and property owners in the vicinity of the proposed solar project – that push-back existing since there were the first whispers of a project as EDF began pursuing easements.

As Marvel stressed, the upcoming event will be an opportunity for the public and OPPD to get together and talk about the project, concerns, support and questions.

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