Once the ground is ready, work will ramp up at Platteview Solar, OPPD’s 81-megawatt solar project in Saunders County.
OPPD’s board of directors recently received an update on the project. Residents who live around the site will see an uptick in activity at the site once winter is over and the ground is ready.
Crews have been busy the past few months. Grading and other site work will resume in a few months and major equipment will be making its way to the site, just south of Yutan.
Foundation duct work, fencing and grounding for the substation has begun, along with pile load testing for the steel pilings that will hold the solar panels. Soil composition testing has also been done to figure how deep the pilings will need to be, said Glen Seier, Alternative Energy Contract manager at OPPD.
“The pilings need to be deep enough to withstand wind forces and keep them in place for the duration of the facility’s life,” Seier said. “We’ve also had to move center pivots at the site, and wells will be capped so they will still be available if needed in the future.”
The 20-year contract with AES, the long-term owner of Platteview Solar, calls for the solar array to be fully energized by spring 2024.
There should also be some clarity in the coming months for OPPD and other utilities and companies around solar module (panel) imports. The Department of Commerce has been investigating several countries in Southeast Asia after a complaint from a U.S. solar panel manufacturer that alleged Chinese manufacturers were skirting U.S. tariffs by routing their equipment through other countries in Southeast Asia.
The investigation halted large portions of imports of solar panels and cells and delayed many projects. A ruling, initially expeced in August, was delayed. In early December the U.S. Commerce Department issued its initial ruling, naming Chinese and South Korean companies found to be in compliance as well as those found not in compliance with the U.S. tariff, said Courtney Kennedy, manager of OPPD’s Alternative Energy Program, in an update to the OPPD board. A number of companies have not turned in the necessary information.
Kennedy said the final ruling is expected May 23.
“There is still a lot to review and understand, but from what we are seeing and discussions we are having with developers and suppliers, we will be able to pinpoint more of the impact for new sourcing of solar and what that does to timing and pricing,” she said.
The Platteview solar project continues to move forward as planned because the manufacturer of the modules being used for the project was not involved in the investigation.
There are challenges that remain to be worked through, Seier said, including supply chain issues, partnering to update regulations with local jurisdictions that could host future solar arrays, and the continued backlog of generation interconnection studies through the Southwest Power Pool, the regional transmission organization to which OPPD belongs.
Yet despite those challenges, work continues, moving the Platteview solar project along the path to coming online and providing OPPD customers with another renewable energy source for the generation mix.
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