Hastings Utilities will soon play host to customer informational meetings about the city’s 6,000-panel 1.5 megawatt AC solar project.

Derek Zeisler, HU director of marketing and energy supply, told members of the Hastings Utility Board during their regular meeting Thursday the project is still on schedule to go online in early September.

He said racking and panels for the project should go up third week in July.

“The rain is a nuisance, but hasn’t seemed to slow them down much, so we’re pushing forward with that,” he said.

This first phase of the solar project will include 6,012 panels within three arrays just west of Hastings Municipal Airport.

Pamphlets with information about pricing for participation in the project will be sent out with customer bills.

“We’re excited to get this out,” Zeisler said. “Now that we have the rates set we’ll have something we can work with the customers.”

A bill-forecasting tool should soon be available at cityofhastings.org/solar.

Monday Aug. 12 has been identified as the first day for registration in the solar project.

In advance of that a customer meeting has been scheduled for 5 p.m., Aug. 8 in the Hastings Utilities board room at 1228 N. Denver Ave.

“It’ll give people a chance to come in, ask their questions and we’ll send them with the information,” Zeisler said. “We’ll have applications available for people to start reviewing, so they can start playing with it online or get the information they need for us to see how or if they want to sign up for it.”

He thanked Utility Board and Hastings City Council members for their support of the solar project to help it move forward.

“This was a project that came together really fast,” he said.

HU Manager Kevin Johnson recently visited Florida. While there he went to the offices of renewable energy company NextEra where he saw solar trees.

“They literally looked like trees that had five or six solar panels,” he said.

“I’m already thinking about talking to (Parks and Recreation Director) Jeff Hassenstab about expanding his tree program to include solar,” Johnson said, referring jokingly to the Parks and Recreation Department’s program offering trees to be planted on residential terraces in Hastings.

Zeisler said HU customers have contacted him, suggesting the city add solar panels and carports at city parking lots.

“There’s a lot of really good ideas out there,” he said. “Of course we went with the one we felt was the most economical at this time.”


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