Douglas County landfill to turn into solar panel facility

It’s the first of its kind in Nebraska
OPPD and Douglas County are partnering to turn a former landfill into a solar power facility.
Published: Jan. 12, 2023 at 6:01 PM CST
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - There’s not much you can do with an old mound of trash, but the Omaha Public Power District and Douglas County have a plan.

It’s to take a capped landfill that closed in 1989 and turn it into a solar array. A solar facility of utility-scale on a landfill is the first of its kind in Nebraska. The project is a partnership between OPPD and Douglas County.

“The fewer people that are on the landfill is probably the better,” said Kent Holm, director of Douglas County Environmental Services. “Maybe in the future, there will be some uses that potentially could be here. But for now, we see this as a potentially viable use and a good renewable energy source.”

The transformation is made possible by a $3.5 million grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.

“We had been working to find ways to get this done and look for key enablement things to occur that would allow us to move this forward. And so the Nebraska Environmental Trust really did that for us,” said Brad Underwood, OPPD’s vice president of systems transformation.

The 160-acre plot of land is expected to generate just a fraction of OPPD’s overall energy output, but they say it’s worth it.

A closed Douglas County landfill is getting second life thanks to OPPD.

“And the reason we’re interested in it is our community continues to grow. Our community needs energy and specifically, we need more energy during those times our systems are stressed, specifically in the summer,” said Underwood.

The energy will be processed by an existing OPPD substation nearby, helping to power homes in the area.

“Anything around the location will be able to benefit from the facility itself,” said Underwood.

The radius and number of houses it will power are unknown. That’ll be determined in a feasibility study happening in the first half of this year. According to OPPD, the project will take three years to complete.

Josh Wilshusen lives across the street and says he’d support the facility.

“Green energy is good as long as it’s sustainable…if it’s an economical choice, I’m 100% for it.”

Since this was funded through a grant, OPPD says that the project won’t change customers’ rates.