EDITOR’S NOTE: Story has been updated with corrected day for the Planning Commission meeting
A California company is seeking permission for a utility-scale solar project on private land in the southwest corner of Scotts Bluff County that would be capable of producing up to 400 megawatts of electricity.
Next Tuesday night, the County Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on the request for a conditional use permit for the project by Situla Energy Project, LLC of San Marcos, Calif., a project holding company of Dunlieh Energy, with a plan to start construction October 1, 2024, completion by September 2025, and the start of operations that December.
According to the permit application, the project would be built on just over 3,900 acres of ag-land on 16 contiguous parcels of the Preston Trust, generally between County Road 3 and Stegall Road, and north of County Road X. The land does not have any homes, and the current use is predominantly cattle grazing.
Project infrastructure would include solar panels and racking covering approximately half of the land, plus a Battery Energy Storage System (BESS), substation, inverters, a storage facility, access roads, and collection lines. An interconnect is proposed either onsite with a switching station tied to an existing transmission line that runs through the project area, or with a new line and off-site switching station that would connect to a substation about four miles to the north.
The documents prepared by 2DOT Consulting Inc. out of Arvada, Colo. say with the agricultural zoning of the land, the project would conform to the county’s regulations which allow conditional use for power generating facilities and related uses. In addition, the plan says while the new infrastructure may be visible from parts of Stegall and surrounding county roads, the solar panels themselves will be uniform in appearance, vegetation and landscape screening will be used, and the project is not anticipated to have an adverse impact on visual and scenic resources.
The companies applying for the permit further say the project is expected to increase job opportunities in the county, with construction that may provide temporary construction positions, many of which may be hired locally. They say increased sales tax revenues are also expected due to the influx of construction workers buying local goods and services, and the project is anticipated to create permanent operations and maintenance jobs.
Situla says it intends to operate the project for the duration of the 30-year lifespan of the facility, after which the site would be decommissioned.
The Planning Commission meets at 6 p.m. in the Commissioner’s Room at the County Administration Building in Gering.