Monthly Archives: August 2016

The Price of Solar Is Declining to Unprecedented Lows

By Robert Fares, Scientific American

Scientific American
The installed price of solar energy has declined significantly in recent years as policy and market forces have driven more and more solar installations. Now, the latest data show that the continued decrease in solar prices is unlikely to slow down anytime soon, with total installed prices dropping by 5 percent for rooftop residential systems, and 12 percent for larger utility-scale solar farms. With solar already achieving record-low prices, the cost decline observed in 2015 indicates that the coming years will likely see utility-scale solar become cost competitive with conventional forms of electricity generation.  Continue reading

MORE RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS
EIA: Solar generation to grow 8 GW in 2016, Utility Dive
Northwest Indiana churches champion clean energy, Chicago Tribune
New solar farm will harvest the power of the sun, Pine Journal
Faribault looks to bright future with potential of solar energy subscription,
Faribault Daily News
Iowa Utilities Board approves huge wind energy project, Des Moines Register
Renewable Energy Was 16.9 Percent of US Electric Generation in the First Half of 2016, Renewable Energy World
Sustainable Women Series: Amassing & Analyzing Zero Energy Building Data, Renewable Energy World

Lexington enters into solar energy partnership

By Ben Schwartz, Lexington Clipper-Herald

Downtown Lexington, Nebraska

LEXINGTON, Neb. – The Lexington City Council dealt with a range of projects Tuesday at their regular meeting, perhaps chief among them a partnership in what Mayor John Fagot called the biggest solar energy project in the state of Nebraska. The council voted unanimously to enter into a power purchase agreement with Sol Systems, a solar energy company. Sol will build a five-megawatt capacity solar panel array on city-owned land north of the Greater Lexington addition. Fagot noted that the city isn’t purchasing and won’t maintain any of the equipment, and will retain ownership of the land. Continue reading.

Photo: Downtown Lexington, Nebraska

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
EIA: Monthly renewable generation beat levels from previous year, Utility Dive
Data through June shows that renewable generation has surpassed levels from previous years in every month so far this year, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reports
U.S. solar PV prices hit “all-time low”, at rooftop and utility-scale, ReNew Economy
The falling costs of US solar power, in 7 charts, Vox
Ohio solar power has moved from cottage industry to growth industry, Cleveland.Com
Survey: Consumers Ready to Embrace Renewables, Electric Co-op Today
South Dakota plans to build a 201-megawatt wind farm on 36,000 acres, Finance & Commerce
MidAmerican Energy moves forward with $3.6 billion investment in Wind XI project, AltEnergy Magazine
things you didn’t know about the wind for schools program, Windpower Engineering Development

Apple’s Government-Approved Solar Plans and What They Mean for Utilities

By Indran Ratnathicam, Vice President, Marketing & Strategy at First Fuel. Published by Renewable Energy World

AAPL_solar_logo

The U.S. government has granted Apple approval to sell the company’s excess solar energy under the name Apple Energy LLC. If Apple becoming an energy “provider,” in addition to consumer, doesn’t serve as a proof point of the massive change happening in the utility industry today, not much else will. This move not only means Apple can now offload its surplus and make some extra cash; it also signals mounting pressure for traditional utilities to innovate, or else risk seeing customers turn elsewhere for energy services. Commercial customers make up over half the overall load and revenue at a typical utility — in smaller numbers and greater concentration than residential customers — and increasingly are taking matters into their own hands to meet their energy needs . . .  In a recent survey by PriceWaterhouseCoopers, 72 percent of U.S. companies indicated that they are actively pursuing procurement of clean energy. Read more here.
Corporate_Renewable_Energy_Buyers_Principles

To learn about other large U.S. companies increasing access to renewable energy, visit: Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles.Org.

The Buyers’ Principles have outlined six criteria to help companies meet their ambitious renewable-energy purchasing goals.

4 reasons net-zero energy should start with schools

By Kelly Vaughn, Green Biz

GreenBiz

Current discussions on how to improve education have focused on better teachers, better technology and more funding (which deepens the debate on who should pay for it). But consider that each year K–12 schools spend more than $8 billion on energy — more than they spend on computers and textbooks combined. Too commonly overlooked is the opportunity to cost-effectively improve our nation’s schools and enhance student performance by tackling the performance of the very buildings in which children, faculty and staff spend more than eight hours each day. With energy costs averaging about $300 per student per year, cash-strapped districts have found improving energy performance as the best way to lower operating and maintenance costs. Click to read more

Photo: Schools that integrate solar panels onto their campuses can teach valuable hands-on lessons to students about physics, technology and global stewardship. Credit: Shutterstock / pisaphotography

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
The enormous scale of all the energy that we never used, by Chris Mooney, The Washington Post
Click here to download the new American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (AEEE) Report that Mooney references in his article: The Greatest Energy Story You Haven’t Heard: How Investing in Energy Efficiency Changed the US Power Sector and Gave Us a Tool to Tackle Climate Change

Nebraska Among 16 States Awarded Department of Energy Grants to Develop Innovative Clean Energy Initiatives

DOE logo
The Energy Department today awarded $5 million to 16 states to advance innovative approaches for clean energy development that will reduce energy bills for American families and businesses, protect the environment by reducing carbon emissions, and increase our nation’s energy security and resiliency.

Through the department’s State Energy Program (SEP), each state will substantively advance energy efficiency and/or renewable energy, addressing a broad range of areas for advancement. Read the entire Department of Energy announcement here.

To read expanded descriptions of each state award, click here.

DOE’s State Energy Program

LES plans to dedicate solar park

By Nicholas Bergin, Lincoln Journal Star

LES solar park

Lincoln Electric System plans to dedicate the state’s first commercial solar energy park next month and commemorate the event with tours for SunShares supporters. Construction on the nearly 5-megawatt facility began in March, and it went online in late June, producing enough electricity to power about 900 homes . , . LES officials have said it’s also a possible stepping stone to additional solar projects . . . LES will host a dedication ceremony at 10:30 a.m. on Sept. 16, which will be live broadcast on the Cube in the West Haymarket’s Railyard, then take people from the Railyard for two one-hour tours. The first bus leaves the Railyard at 11 a.m. and the second at 12:30 p.m. Space is limited. Read more here.

Photo: Rafeal Bermudes works on LES’s community solar project at Northwest 75th and Holdrege Streets. Credit: Eric Gregory, Lincoln Journal Star

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Local Lincoln neighborhood looks to go green, KOLN

Renewable Energy Storage News

US Energy Dept says “holy grail” of clean energy storage is imminent, by Cat DiStaslo, Inhabitat

Portland Storage photo

Many countries are on the brink of becoming self-sufficient in their clean energy production, thanks to advances in battery technology that allow electricity from renewable sources to be stored and used on demand. Over the years, as renewable energy generation methods have charged forward, utility companies have struggled with how to integrate that clean energy in usable ways. Now, scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, the Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs, and other agencies are working on energy storage projects funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, with their sights set on what the department calls the ‘holy grail’ of energy policy. The department says the industry could be transformed in as little as five to ten years. Read more here.

Photo: Energy Storage Systems in Portland, Oregon. Credit: Oregon Department of Energy

Sandia National Laboratories maintains a clearinghouse of state and federal policies as well as a list of projects, called the Energy Storage Exchange.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Energy Storage and the Supermajors, Microgrid Knowledge
French oil company Total is the first oil “supermajor” entering new areas of business including solar plus storage and distributed energy generation, Lux Research says, and the other global oil supermajors — BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell and Total

[U.S.] — should follow its lead. Total recently bought energy storage company Saft for $1 billion, allowing it to compete with Tesla-SolarCity.

Michigan Team Advancing Renewable Energy Storage, Yale Climate Connections
Why the White House is Counting on Energy Storage, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit
New Massachusetts Law Bodes Well For Energy Storage, Solar Industry Magazine

Should Troubled Nuclear Reactors Be Subsidized?

By Peter Bradford, Adjunct Professor at Vermont Law School. Published by GovTech Gov Tech

A former state regulator and member of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission argues that subsidizing reactors to keep them running is unnecessary and will be bad for consumers and the environment.

In California and in Nebraska, utilities plan to replace nuclear plants that are closing early for economic reasons almost entirely with electricity from carbon-free sources. Such transitions are achievable in most systems as long as the shutdowns are planned in advance to be carbon-free. In California these replacement resources, which include renewables, storage, transmission enhancements and energy efficiency measures, will for the most part be procured through competitive processes. Indeed, any state where a utility threatens to close a plant can run an auction to ascertain whether there are sufficient low-carbon resources available to replace the unit within a particular time frame. Read more.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
What’s the future of nuclear in the Midwest? A state-by-state look, Midwest Energy News

REAP one of many programs offered by USDA

By Bill Sheppard / USDA, Fremont Tribune

Minden Farm

REAP [Rural Energy for America Program] is available to agricultural producers (51 percent or more of gross income comes from agriculture production) and rural (any area that has a population of 50,000 or less and is not adjacent to or is not a contiguous part of an urbanized area) small businesses (as classified by the Small Business Administration). The goal of the program is to reduce energy use and cost, and to help meet the Nation’s energy needs. REAP has two types of funding assistance available: grants and/or guaranteed loans. Assistance is available for energy efficiency improvements and renewable energy systems. Read the entire article here.

Photo: 21-kilowatt solar array at a family farm in Minden, Nebraska, which provides most of the farm’s energy needs. The project was partly funded by a USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant, which covered 25% of its cost. Additional financing was obtained through the Nebraska Energy Office’s low-interest loan program for solar installations. Courtesy of Graham Christensen / GC Resolve

Bill Sheppard is a USDA Rural Development Business Programs Specialist in Norfolk. He can be reached at 402-371-5350 Extension 104 or by email at bill.sheppard@ne.usda.gov.

Click here for a list of all Nebraska USDA Contacts.

Pay As You Save: Co-ops are reaching new customers with a novel way to pay for efficiency

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Spruce Financial

“The Pay as You Save system has been active in the power sector for nine years now, but the leaders who have been demonstrating its efficacy have been in a part of the power sector that’s little tended and not particularly well known,” said Holmes Hummel, founder of Clean Energy Works, which advocates for the use of PAYS . . . “Electric cooperatives have been by far the leaders in this innovation and the reason for that is the alignment they have between shareholder interests and customer interests,” said Hummel. “Electric co-ops are, frankly, more nimble. They’re relatively efficient organizations.” Read more here.

Pay-As-You-Save