Local decisions can and do move the clean energy market forward in Nebraska, said Lance Hedquist, city administrator of South Sioux City, in this interview. It is likely that if stronger policy and corporate leadership was in place, the state could set higher goals.
CEFF: How would you describe the solar energy market’s current successes and challenges in Nebraska?
Hedquist: In [South Sioux City], we have the second largest solar facility in the state. We have 20 acres of solar panels.
It’s been well received by the public. They like renewable energy. Especially the younger kids.
Companies want to be known as green, so we do have some interest from the industrial-based facilities that want [that]. They have a keen interest in getting electricity from the city that is renewable.
It’s been very consistent. It’s been run well. We have some prairie grass planted underneath it, so it’s a positive environmental project all the way around.
Our citizens are very appreciative of us going to renewables.
CEFF: What stakeholder decisions do you think would catalyze forward movement in these markets in Nebraska?
Hedquist: Well, I think that in Nebraska, it’s mostly a local decision, for the most part, that would lead to more renewable energy.
We’re seeing greater interest in it across the state.
We think the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance, a group of cities and public bodies across the state that we helped form, is going to be a key player in terms of advancing solar energy across the state.
We’re seeing that cities that historically had no interest are now very active in terms of trying to put together solar facilities for their particular areas.
Note: Emma McDonald contributed research to this article.