Monthly Archives: February 2018

Center for Rural Affairs Releases Information Guide: Wind Energy Ordinances

Introduction
Wind turbines are multiplying across the U.S., and most are installed in rural areas overlooking crops, cattle, timber, and lakes. Rural communities have experienced several benefits from the development of wind energy, but the growth of the industry has also presented a challenge in the form of local regulations that may be insufficient or out-of-date.

Wind ordinances on the city, county, and state levels may be hard to understand, whether you are an expert or just becoming familiar with the industry. The Center for Rural Affairs has gathered some helpful items to note when reviewing ordinances. Download the guide here.

New White Paper: Owning the Benefits of Solar+Storage – Plus More News

By Lew Milford and Robert Sanders, Clean Energy Group

Summary
Current clean energy financing models do not sufficiently serve low-income communities. As a result, solar+storage projects are vastly underrepresented in affordable housing and community facilities, meaning that low-income communities are unable to enjoy the benefits of clean, affordable and resilient power.

This paper describes emerging finance models to address the energy equity challenge and to level the financing playing field. The paper explores additional ownership and financing options for solar+storage projects and low-income communities beyond direct ownership and conventional leasing models. It makes a simple point: there are ownership and financing strategies that can provide many of the economic and other benefits of direct ownership, while overcoming some of the risks and barriers that direct ownership may entail for many project developers. Learn more here.

Upcoming Webinar: New Financing Options for Solar+Storage in Low-Income Communities  

MORE SOLAR+STORAGE NEWS

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Pope’s Climate Expert Tells Nebraska Audience: It’s An Issue In The Laps Of Faith Leaders

By Bill Kelly, Senior Producer/Reporter, NET News

Dr. Veerabhadran “Ram” Ramanathan, an atmospheric and climate scientist, recently spoke to students at Creighton University. In an interview with Bill Kelly of NET News he talked about his post with the Vatican, why the pope made climate an ethical and spiritual issue, and why Nebraska needs to pay attention. Continue reading here.

More solar energy projects expected to come online this year

By Mike Loizzo, Nebraska Radio Network

The Nebraska Community Energy Alliance (NCEA) is planning to expand its solar power footprint. The cities of Superior and Fremont, and Allen Consolidated Schools, are the latest Alliance members seeking help paying for solar panels. The Nebraska Environmental Trust’s grant committee is recommending funding for those Nebraska Flyway Community Solar Projects. Learn more here.

Recent NCEA Reports

Nebraska Supreme Court orders NPPD to open its books, disclose costs

By Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Nebraska Public Power District must open its books and disclose specific cost information, including the expense of generating electricity from its individual power plants . . . A private company that seeks to compete with NPPD, Lincoln-based energy firm Aksamit Resource Management, had filed a lawsuit seeking the information from the public power firm. Aksamit argued that the information was public and that it would help the firm and Nebraska ratepayers better understand why NPPD’s costs were rising. Without the detailed information, the firm argued, the public could not determine why NPPD’s costs had risen. Read more here.

Public Domain Photo of a Hybrid Project

RECOMMENDED BACKGROUND READING

4 Happy Thoughts about the Trump Solar Tariffs

By John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst, Clean Energy,
Union of Concerned Scientists

I’ve talked about the many problems with President Trump’s recent decision to tax imports of solar cells and modules. I’m an optimist by nature, though, so I’m always looking for the silver lining. Here are four theories I’ll be testing with my sunny-side take on all this: Solar will grow, solar jobs will grow, the solar industry is strong, and we are strong. Continue reading here.

A DOZEN MORE STORIES IN THE NEWS

  1. Supreme Court called on to reject discrimination against rooftop solar, Wisconsin Gazette
    “The Salt River Project and other utilities shouldn’t be allowed to overcharge and discriminate against homeowners who embrace clean solar energy,” said Jean Su, associate conservation director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “In our era of runaway climate change, it’s critical for the Supreme Court to stop these outdated monopolies from abusing the law and trying to strangle renewable-energy development.”
  2. 5 takeaways from Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard report, Midwest Energy News
    Takeaways include: The cost of renewables is falling much faster than regulators expected. Renewables beat coal by a long shot – and they’re closing in on natural gas.
  3. Conservative MN counties benefit from clean energy, Opinion by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News Contributor. Posted by Granite Falls Advocate Tribune.
  4. Orleans School District Using Solar Panels To Power School, Indiana Public Media
  5. First Solar to build the largest solar plant in the South, PV Magazine
    Georgia Power has awarded a power contract to the PV maker and developer under its latest solicitation. The project will utilize First Solar’s large-format Series 6 modules.
  6. Solar advocate Lauren “Bubba” McDonald appointed GPSC chair, PV Magazine
    The outspoken proponent of solar will now chair a board with a pro-solar majority, as Georgia becomes one of the top U.S. markets for large-scale solar.
  7. Platte River Power Authority, Loveland’s electricity provider, is seeking more solar, Loveland Reporter-Herald. The Platte River Power Authority, which is owned by Loveland, Fort Collins, Estes Park and Longmont, put out a request for proposals from companies that could supply at least 20 megawatts of solar energy and, ideally, up to 5 megawatt-hours of storage capacity, according to a press release.
  8. Solar Generated Electricity Coming to More Six Flags Parks, Six Flags Entertainment Corporation. Posted by PV Magazine.
  9. Largest Wind Farm Coming to Oklahoma, EcoWatch
  10. Michigan utility will phase out coal by 2040, CEO says, PV Magazine
    Consumers Energy says it wants to reduce its carbon emissions by 80% on the same time frame as it completely phases out coal and replacing it with renewable sources like wind and solar.
  11. UI engineering students building solar car, driving to all 99 Iowa counties: Students also will compete in 2018 American Solar Challenge, University of Iowa News
  12. Study: Chicago Could See 80,000 Electric Cars by 2030, WTTW

FEATURED VIDEO
 The ConnectDER: Innovative Technology Reducing Solar Installation Costs

Nebraska’s Three Major Utilities’ Community Solar Programs

OPPD’s Proposed Community Solar

On February 13th OPPD posted an update on their website about the utility’s proposed community solar program, including background information, proposed program highlights, and information on how a participant’s monthly solar charge would be calculated.

NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar

SunWise is a community solar program available in participating Nebraska Public Power District retail communities. Eligible customers have the opportunity to use solar energy to partially power their homes and businesses without the need to invest in a rooftop or home-based system. 

  • Current Participating Communities
    Venango – fully subscribed
    Scottsbluff – Pilot project fully subscribed. NPPD and the City of Scottsbluff are now working on a 5-megawatt project. 
    Kearney – shares available
    Kearney Community Solar Q&A
  • Customers living in other communities served by NPPD may request community solar for their town or city by submitting the online form available at the link, below. NPPD serves 80 communities throughout Nebraska.
    Request community solar in your community.

LES SunShares


Generating 5 megawatts of solar energy, the LES community solar facility is the largest and first utility-scale solar installation in Nebraska, as well as one of the largest in the region.

The project was developed by Enerparc, and LES contracted for all energy produced by the facility. The installation, located at Northwest 75th and West Holdrege streets, uses 15,333 solar panels to produce enough energy to power 900 typical homes in Lincoln. Enerparc began construction in March 2016, and the solar facility went online in June 2016. At the time of its completion, over 1,200 residential and business customers voluntarily contributed funds through the LES SunShares program to help support a portion of the facility.
Businesses enrolled in LES SunShares
LES Community Solar Facility
LES Community Solar Brochure
Lincoln Electric System’s Sustainable Energy Program

Links to more Nebraska communities’ completed solar projects or plans, and general community solar information sources are available here:
Resources For Nebraska Communities Considering A Community Solar Project

Bipartisan congressional solar caucus coalesces after tariff decision

By Frank Andorka, PV Magazine

Congressmen Raja Krishnamoorthi (D) and Ralph Norman (R) have founded what appears to be the first solar-specific caucus in Congress . . . The Solar Caucus will work on a bipartisan basis to find common ground to tackle issues facing solar business and communities,” Krishnamoorthi said. “We will raise awareness for how policymakers, business leaders, and academic experts can work together to foster jobs, growth, and America’s leadership in the solar industry.”
Read more here.

Photo: Congress – Wikimedia Commons

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Engie’s North American subsidiary has acquired wind and solar developer Infinity Renewables and its 8GW-plus pipeline

By Craig Richard, Wind Power Monthly

Engie North America said it intends to retain Infinity’s entire workforce and work alongside the developer to build, own and operate its pipeline of 24 projects in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas. Read more here.

Public Domain Photo of a Hybrid Renewable Energy Project

NEBRASKA WIND PROJECTS IN ENGIE NORTH AMERICA’S PORTFOLIO

  • In the pipeline: Little Blue. Projected Size: 250 MW
  • In operation: Cottonwood, 115 MW and Steele Flats, 74 MW

Fremont moves forward on second solar farm due to high demand

By James Farrell, Fremont Tribune

Before Fremont’s first-ever community solar farm has produced a kilowatt of energy for its pioneering subscribers, the city has started seeking a contractor for a second farm. That’s because of the overflowing demand from residents who couldn’t get spots in the first farm, which is filled to capacity, according to Troy Schaben, assistant city administrator of utilities . . . The city put out a Request for Proposals for the new farm on Feb. 14 with a March 2 deadline for submissions. A contract should be doled out by the middle of March or beginning of April, Schaben said. The city hopes to have the second farm online by the beginning of October.
Learn more here.

Photos Courtesy of Troy Schaben, Assistant Fremont City Administrator of Utilities: Fremont’s First Solar Farm and Inverter Station

FREMONT SCHOOLS & COMMUNITY SOLAR
When asked in an email if local schools may participate in Fremont’s Community Solar Program, Mr. Schaben replied, “While they did not participate in this phase of the solar farm, they were eligible to participate.”

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Solar Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) Case Study: Inside the City of Fremont, Nebraska’s Community Solar Program
Based on multiple interviews with citizens of Fremont, Nebraska, this case study describes how program design and a latent demand for solar power led to selling out the 1.5 MW solar farm in seven weeks. This case study also includes insight into the commercial and industrial demand in small town Nebraska.

Save the Date! Avoiding the Growing Pains of Community Solar – SEPA Webinar Includes Fremont’s Program: April 5, 2018 @ 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm. Speakers will include Brian Newton, Assistant Fremont City Administrator of Utilities. Click here for additional details.

SEPA RESOURCE LIBRARY