Monthly Archives: January 2017

Nebraska bills would allow more community solar, tap lottery for funding

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

A pair of bills now before the Nebraska legislature would provide a new potential funding source for community solar projects, and mandate that utilities allow community solar projects initiated by their customers.
LB 610 would explicitly allow the Nebraska Environmental Trust to consider issuing grants to community solar projects. The trust’s funds, coming from a portion of the state’s lottery proceeds, amount to roughly $16 million yearly . . . The other community solar bill, known as the Shared Community Solar Act, essentially legalizes community solar projects and requires utilities to allow them.

Read more
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ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH
Nebraska making efficiency push for state-owned buildings

NEBRASKA ENERGY OFFICE PRESS RELEASE
State Government Buildings To Be Benchmarked By 2020

MORE MIDWEST NEWS 

Trump Administration’s initial infrastructure list includes clean energy projects

The projects, below, made the initial priority list of 50. According to Forbes (see the article link below), these could add 9 gigawatts of clean energy to our nation’s infrastructure. Included, too, are several mass transit and electric rail projects that would generate many thousands more new jobs.

Project #9 Plains and Eastern Electric Transmission Lines
This 720-mile transmission line will move cheap, clean, wind power energy from the Oklahoma panhandle to Memphis, Tennessee, providing enough low-cost clean energy for more than 1 million homes in the mid-South. Would create 3,300 jobs.

Project #12: Hydroelectric Plants operated by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

The Corps produces revenue of $5 billion per year from hydro plants they own and operate throughout the country. The turbines are 50 years old and replacing them will dramatically increase the production of clean energy desperately needed. Would provide 550 jobs.

Project #16. The TransWest Express Transmission is a high-voltage, direct current regional electric transmission system that will reliably deliver cost-effective renewable energy produced at a Wyoming wind farm to the Desert Southwest region (California, Nevada, Arizona). Private funding: Anschutz Corporation. Would generate 3,000 jobs.

Project #17. Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Farm Power Company of Wyoming LLC’s Chokecherry and Sierra Madre Wind Energy Project is an up-to-1,000-turbine wind farm to be located south of Sinclair and Rawlins in Carbon County, Wyoming. Authority: Wyoming Power Company ( Anschutz Corporation). Would create 1,000 jobs.

Project #21: Champlain Hudson Power Express
The Champlain Hudson Power Express project would bring up to 1,000 megawatts (MW) of clean, renewable power to the New York metro area. Would generate 1,000 jobs

Project #49: Energy Storage and Grid Modernization
Fearing blackouts, the California Public Utilities Commission has mandated a series of mitigation measures, including an expedited procurement for local energy storage resources. The more renewable energy that can be store during the day, the less need to fire up fossil fuel generators as electricity demand increases in the evening. Jobs: Variable

COMPLETE LIST OF INITIAL 50 PROJECTS.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

National Workforce Programs Administered by The Solar Foundation

Click image to view YouTube Video – Solar Ready Vets:
Preparing Veterans for the Solar Workforce

In September 2014, the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative launched a pilot phase of the Solar Ready Vets training program for transitioning military personnel to prepare our nation’s skilled veterans to join the growing U.S. solar energy industry. After successful completion of the pilot program on several military bases, Solar Ready Vets became a fully funded program in 2016, administered by The Solar Foundation. All future military bases will be determined by The Solar Foundation in conjunction with the Energy Department and the Department of Defense. View the above video to learn more about Solar Ready Vets. 

Click infographic to enlarge it. 

How To Hire Veterans In Solar Energy
The Department of Veterans Affairs created the Veterans Employment Center to help connect employers and veterans who are seeking employment.

  • If you are a veteran, type “solar” into the search bar, and a location if you are searching for employment within a specific geographic area.
  • If you are a solar employer, search veteran profiles and post job openings within your company.

The Solar Training Network is another national program administered by The Solar Foundation. This program is designed to help meet the workforce needs of the solar industry through solar training and strategic employment partnerships.

The Solar Training Network Benefits:

  • Connection opportunities with training providers, employers, and job seekers
  • A job seeker-to-employer connection platform through a robust, member-only web portal
  • Solar job fairs and other regional training events
  • Solar training resources and content
  • A national directory of solar training providers
  • A comprehensive national solar company directory

Solar energy jobs are growing 12 times as fast as the US economy

By Dana Varinsky, Business Insider

If you’re looking to switch careers, you may want to listen to the wind. A new report says wind turbine technician is the fastest-growing profession in the US. The growth in wind power is just one example of the rising employment numbers associated with the clean energy and sustainability sector. According to the report, published by the Environmental Defense Fund’s Climate Corps program, the industry now has at least 4 million jobs, up from 3.4 million in 2011. The report estimates that solar and wind jobs are growing at a rate 12 times as fast as the rest of the US economy and suggests that 46% of large firms have hired additional workers to address issues of sustainability over the past two years. Read more.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Reports Dana Varinsky references in her article:  

Investors transitioning to renewables are contributing to the growing demand for solar & wind industry workers: Cities Divest from Fossil Fuels, by Bruce Lieberman, Yale Climate Connections

Going green: Kearney on renewable energy map

Kearney Hub Opinion

How the new 5.8-megawatt community solar project will benefit Kearney:

First, residents and commercial consumers will be able to buy the solar energy, if powering their homes and businesses with green power is important to them. Second, and perhaps more important, the project will serve as a giant billboard for Kearney’s Tech oNE Crossing to aid in recruiting technology firms to the city’s tech park. Kearney lost the bid a few years ago for a $1 billion Facebook data center not because we offered sharply reduced electrical rates for the power-gobbling data center, but because the winning bid from Iowa included renewable wind energy. With an $11 million solar array in the works, Kearney is now a player in the technology recruitment game. Third, the city, school district, county and other taxing entities will get a bump in their tax draws as the solar array and new tech firms fill the Tech oNE park.
Read more here.

Photo: Downtown Kearney. Credit: Nebraska Business First

RECOMMENDED READING
Facebook is one of 65 signatories to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles.

Corporate Renewable Strategy Map

Corporate Buyers’ Principles signatories need to buy nearly 44 million megawatt hours of renewable energy across the US by 2020. States that offer products can compete for this economic development and these companies more effectively. The Corporate Renewable Strategy Map shows where large energy buyers can access the renewable energy they want at the scale they need.

More websites of potential interest

The power of solar energy

Written by Fremont Tribune Staff

After survey results indicated that a large portion of Fremont residents are interested in solar energy, the Fremont Department of Utilities is moving forward with planning a community solar farm in Fremont. More than 70 percent of Fremont’s residential population responded through an August, 2016, survey saying that they were interested in getting power from a community solar farm. The first step in the process will be to present information about community solar at the Fremont Home and Builders Show held Friday through Sunday at Christensen Field Community Center. Read the entire article here.

Photo: Central City, Nebraska. What a community solar farm might look like in Fremont.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE EVENT

32nd Annual Fremont Home and Builders Show to open this weekend, by Chris Zavadil, Fremont Tribune. Free admission to the public! 

The show, sponsored by the Construction Employers Association of Fremont, will open at the Christensen Field Community Center from 6-9 p.m. Friday, and continue from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday, and from noon until 5 p.m. Sunday.  All 93 vendor booths, as usual, have been sold, Event Coordinator Ron Spahni said. Read more.

Photo by Chris Bristol / Fremont Tribune

SunShot $1 per Watt Solar Cost Goal: Mission Accomplished, Years Ahead of Schedule

By Eric Wesoff, Greentech Media

With the advent of $1.00-per-watt (DC) pricing for utility fixed-tilt PV systems, the solar industry has crushed the SunShot Program’s $1.00-per-watt goal for 2020 three years early . . . The intrepid analysts at GTM Research were tracking utility solar at close to $4.00 per watt in early 2011. The SunShot initiative hoped to reduce the total costs of PV solar energy systems by about 75 percent so that they were cost-competitive with other forms of energy without subsidies before 2020. Chu said that SunShot would work to bring down the cost of solar — by focusing on four main pillars: Read more here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Eric Wesoff is Editor-at-Large at Greentech Media. His expertise covers solar power, fuel cells, biofuels and advanced batteries. His strengths are in market research and analysis, business development and due diligence for investors. He frequently consults for energy startups and Silicon Valley’s premier venture capitalists. – Greentech Media’s Website

OPPD-funded intern has a sunny future in energy

By Jason Kuiper, OPPD NewsBlog, The Wire

Erin Cheese, a former OPPD intern, is currently a Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative

Cheese said expanding solar access, particularly to low-income households and regardless of roof space accessibility, is what she is dedicated to. In Washington, the 24-year-old is working to do just that. Nebraska and the Midwest have great potential for solar,” she said. “I want to see the partnership between those who want solar and the utilities to grow.” Cheese was in Omaha this fall talking about the National Community Solar Partnership at a conference at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Now she hopes her hometown will take part in a new SunShot Initiative program called the “Solar in Your Community Challenge.” The early application deadline was Jan. 6 and the next deadline is March 17. Read more.

As Jason Kuiper states in his article, Erin was also a former Nebraskans for Solar board member, serving for two years. Her many achievements during that time included co-founding the Creighton Energy Club with other student leaders. Nebraskans for Solar workshop attendees will recall that Erin, along with Cliff Mesner, owner of Mesner Solar Development, were co-presenters of the conference at UNO’s Community Engagement Center last October.

Solar In Your Community Challenge

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Alumna Energized by SunShot Experience, by Kristine Rohwer, Creighton University Magazine

Power grid taking on more renewables amid policy, technical challenges

By David J. Unger, Midwest Energy News

One major obstacle to increasing the proportion of renewables to non-renewables lies in the engineering challenge of adding variable power sources like wind and solar to an electric grid largely designed for the stable, predictable output of sources like coal, natural gas and nuclear. That helps explain why utilities, power producers and grid operators are scrambling to embed advanced information technology into a system that has relied on analog, human-based data collection for over a century. By equipping the grid with wireless sensors, real-time data collection and complex algorithms, experts hope to build a 21st-century grid that better supports cleaner, more-distributed and less predictable forms of renewable energy. In common parlance, this is called the smart grid. Read the entire article here.

Photo by Thomas Kohler / Creative Commons

OPPD’S PILOT SMART GRID PROJECT

 ALSO IN THE NEWS