Monthly Archives: March 2017

Report: Wind power saves Iowans on energy costs

By Mitchell Schmidt, The Gazette

IOWA CITY — A new Iowa Policy Project report claims Iowa’s electricity prices, which are lower than the national average, can be attributed to the state’s growing wind industry.

David Osterberg, a professor in the Department of Occupational and Environmental Health at the University of Iowa and Iowa Policy Project’s lead environmental researcher, said energy price data finds the cost per kilowatt-hour in Iowa remains lower than the national average and that the gap has been increasing. Click here to read more.

Photo: Travis Bryant of Springville (left) and Matthew Graves of Tipton begin work to replace batteries in the turbine hub of Kirkwood Community College’s wind program lab on Friday, Feb. 10, 2017. Students in the second year in the Energy Production and Distribution Technologies program train on direct replacements for a wind turbine hub and nacelle. Credit: Liz Martin / The Gazette

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

New website highlights solar advancements made by rural co-ops

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News


Electric cooperatives that have taken the plunge into solar energy are the stars of a new website aimed at persuading more co-ops to add solar energy to their mix. RuralSolarStories.org, produced by the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC),  features the tales of three rural electric cooperatives across the Midwest that have responded to customer interest by investing in solar generation. More stories are on the way. Continue reading.

Photo: Warren McKenna of Farmers Cooperative in Iowa explains the decision to pursue solar power

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What are wind techs, why are they so much in demand, and how do you become one?

By Anna Luke, Into the Wind, American Wind Energy Association Blog


Where are wind tech jobs located?

Most wind tech jobs are located in the center of the country and west coast. This makes
sense – the jobs are near the turbines, and those areas are where most of the country’s wind towers have been built. But there are utility-scale wind projects in 41 states, and every one of those wind farms needs a team of technicians to keep things running smoothly. As wind energy expands to other areas, including offshore development, even more techs will be needed.

For more information about the profession, visit the U.S. Department of Labor website. And check out this video to hear what it’s like to work as a wind tech:

Read the entire AWEA blog post here.

NEWS STORIES ABOUT NEBRASKA WIND TECH TRAINING PROGRAMS

NEBRASKA COMMUNITY COLLEGE GAP ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Nebraska’s Community College Gap Assistance Program offers financial aid to community college students taking non-credit courses that could lead to jobs in high-need fields. Eligible fields include renewable energy. 

Qualifying applicants are low-income students who would not be eligible for federal financial aid because, although they’re enrolled in college, they are not enrolled in courses for credit that lead directly to a degree.

The program, which launched July 1, 2016, receives 9 percent of the available Nebraska Lottery funds set aside for education every year. This equates to about $1.4 million for FY 2016-17. Gap Program funds will be distributed to the state’s community colleges, which will recruit and select eligible low-income students in identified high-need fields to receive grants.

Eligible students must have a family income at or below 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Student grants can be used for tuition, direct training costs, required books and equipment, and fees, including those for industry testing services and background check services.

ADDITIONAL PROGRAM INFORMATION

COMMUNITY COLLEGE GAP CONTACT INFORMATION
Central Community College: Ronald Kluck: 402-562-1253 rkluck@cccneb.edu
Metropolitan Community College: Scott Broady: 402-738-4526 sbroady@mccneb.edu
Mid-Plains Community College: Angela Raby: 308-535-3678 rabya@mpcc.edu
Southeast Community College: Amy Chesley: 402-437-2711 achesley@southeast.edu
Western Nebraska Community College: Doug Mader: 308-630-6556 madder@wncc.net

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING / VIEWING

Trump eases way for coal, but market leans away

Written by Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

It’s business as usual for Nebraska electric utilities officials despite President Donald Trump’s long-promised rollback of Obama-era climate change rules. Utilities here and across the U.S. have already spent years bracing for and adapting to sweeping regulatory, environmental and economic changes in the energy industry. Officials said the president’s executive order on Tuesday isn’t prompting them to shift direction. Continue reading.

Photo: Coal-fired Gerald Gentleman Station at Sutherland near North Platte. Credit: World-Herald News Service

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Why utilities don’t think Trump will stop the clean energy transition. According to Utility Dive’s fourth annual State of the Electric Utility Survey, the sector plans to keep moving steadily toward a cleaner, more distributed energy future — no matter what happens with the Clean Power Plan.

MORE RECOMMENDED ARTICLES ADDED MARCH 31ST

Solar Will Dominate Globally. Let’s Make Sure the US Industry Profits From It

By Nat Kreamer, outgoing board of directors chair at the Solar Energy
Industries Association. He’s also the CEO of Spruce Financing.
Posted on Greentech Media.

Since 2013, I have had the honor of leading the SEIA board of directors as its chairman and vice chairman, working with many members from all sectors of our industry to win critical policy fights and shape the future for solar and the technologies that complement it. Thank you to the board, the SEIA team and member companies for working together to make solar stronger. Next month marks the planned completion of my time as chairman, following a successful CEO selection and on-boarding of Abby Hopper, who is an outstanding leader for the SEIA team. Tom Starrs, vice chairman, dear friend and partner in leading the board, will become the acting chairman. Based on what I have learned over the last four years, please accept these recommendations for the future . . . Continue reading. 

Nebraska cities, state lawmakers express growing interest in PACE financing

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

An ordinance to create the infrastructure for a PACE district — which provides a long-term financing option for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects — is likely to be introduced in the state’s largest city by mid-April. “This seems like a great tool,” said Omaha City Council member Aimee Melton, who has been working for months on developing a PACE program for her hometown. “I believe the council will be supportive.” Several other
cities — including Lincoln, Grand Island and the Omaha suburbs of Papillion, Bellevue and La Vista — also have expressed interest in joining the PACE movement, according to Chris Peterson, a managing partner with PACE SAGE, a loan originator and PACE lender based in Kansas City. Read more here.

Photo by Pat Hawks / Creative Commons: The Omaha City Council is expected next month to consider establishing a Property Assessed Clean Energy financing district. 

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS STORIES BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

California is shattering solar records. This bill could take renewable energy to the next level.

By Sammy Roth, The Desert Sun

Introduced by Assembly member Kevin Mullin, D-San Mateo, the bill would create a “clean peak energy standard” for California utilities. By 2029, utilities like Southern California Edison, PG&E and SDG&E would be required to get 40 percent of their energy from clean sources during “peak demand” periods — the handful of hours each day when homes and businesses use the most energy — on at least 15 days each month. That requirement would encourage the development of battery storage systems, which could soak up excess solar generation during the middle of the day and release that energy onto the grid after sundown, reducing the need for gas plants. The bill could also speed the adoption of energy efficiency and conservation programs that reduce electricity use during peak periods. Click here to read more. 

Photo by Jay Calderon, The Desert Sun: NextEra’s 250-megawatt McCoy solar project, just west of Blythe, California.

MORE GOOD NEWS  

New! “Stories of Solar”

Stories of Solar is a new website created by the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC). SELC’s solar initiative focuses on removing barriers so that solar power will be available to families and businesses across the Southeast. The following states are involved in this initiative: Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia.

Four “Stories of Solar:” Click an image to listen to each one.

In North Carolina, entrepreneur Maria Kingery creates jobs with rooftop solar

           Nathaniel Smith believes solar can bring energy and equity for
those most in need

 Former Alabama coal miner, Chuck Jay is now a solar installer

 Students Amory Fischer and Elinor Glassco lead the
solar charge for Virginia Schools

Listen to more stories here.

Wisconsin’s capital city sets a high bar with ambitious renewable energy goal

By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Madison, Wisconsin committed to getting 100 percent of its energy from clean, renewable sources in a resolution passed unanimously by the City Council on Tuesday. It became the 24th city to make such a promise, according to a tally by the Sierra Club, which has a “Ready for 100” nationwide campaign. Madison’s resolution sets a high bar in a state that gets most of its electricity from coal and where, as in most places, natural gas is almost exclusively used for heating during harsh winters. Continue reading here.

Photo by Jordan Richmond / Creative Commons

MORE MIDWEST NEWS

Co-Ops Bring Solar to Hundreds of Rural Communities

By Tina Casey, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit

The U.S. Energy Department pushed out a raft of good news for renewable energy fans this past week. Of particular note is an update on the PV System Toolkit supported by the agency’s SunShot solar initiative. The toolkit focuses on helping rural communities partake in the surging solar market that cities and suburban communities now enjoy. The new PV System Toolkit demonstrates just how deeply the solar industry is now embedded in the civic infrastructure of the US. The effort is helmed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), which won an Energy Department ‘Sunrise’ award designed to cut costs by developing templates for replicating solar innovations. Read more.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING