HASTINGS, Neb. — More solar panels will soon be sprouting up next to the Hastings Airport.

The city council voted 6-2 on Monday to approve plans for phase two of the Hastings Solar Farm. Director of Energy, Production and Marketing Derek Zeisler says the project was spurred in part by three local companies looking for renewable power from Hastings Utilities.

“For us, it’s meeting the needs of our customers," Zeisler said. "We have customers that have very different needs, whether it’s philosophical needs for renewable power or whether they actually need to sell a product to a state that needs to see that renewable credit on there. We want to be sure to listen to our customers and then provide whatever they’re asking for.”

Phase two will add 4.63 MW of power generation from solar panels installed next to the 1.5 MW phase one site, which is sold out after opening in 2019. Zeisler expects shares to be available to residential and commercial customers. The initial phase one price point was essentially the same as non-solar, but the city bases the price off the energy market.

“So if that pricing becomes better in the market, there is an opportunity for that credit to grow,” Zeisler said.

$2 million in construction costs will be paid this year, filling part of a budget hole created by a $4.5 million transformer purchase that’s been delayed in the supply chain. The remaining $6 million will come from next year’s budget. The city expects to get at least 30 percent of the project cost paid back in the form of a new federal government rebate program.

Zeisler says it’s a growth-minded project.

“So if there’s an opportunity that a company has or a business would like to see, we’d ask them to reach out the utility company, let us talk to them and see if we can’t help them,” Zeisler said.

Councilman Marc Rowan voted against the project because he’s uncomfortable with the budgeting plan and thinks it’s only being considered because of the rebate. Councilman Steve Huntley voted no because he thinks it could prevent future growth of the airport.