Monthly Archives: March 2018

U.S. Utilities Look To Electric Cars As Their Savior Amid Decline In Demand

By Samantha Raphelson, NET

The U.S. electricity sector is eyeing the developing electric car market as a remedy for an unprecedented decline in demand for electricity. After decades of rising electricity demand, experts say the utility industry grossly underestimated the impact of cheap renewable energy and the surge of natural gas production. For the first time ever, the Tennessee Valley Authority is projecting a 13 percent drop in demand across the region it serves in seven states, which is the first persistent decline in the federally owned agency’s 85-year history. Read more here.

MORE NATIONAL NEWS & AN OP-ED

GLOBAL NEWS

Center for Rural Affairs explores renewable energy issues

By Joseph Hopper, Spencer Daily Reporter

The Nebraska and Iowa-based nonprofit, the Center for Rural Affairs, recently published a number of publications focusing on renewable energy in Iowa. Its most recent research publication, entitled “Powering Iowa: Rural Perspectives on Iowa’s Renewable Energy Transformation,” highlighted current opinions on various renewable energy issues, such as wind turbines and transmission line development. In addition to the center’s study on opinions of renewable energy, the center authored a white paper on wind energy ordinances in the state and a second publication examining incentives for tax revenue from transmission lines. Read the entire article here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Highline is 80 Years Strong: Electric cooperative celebrates with members at annual meeting
By Darci Tomky, The Holyoke Enterprise

Of the energy sold to members from Tri-State, about 30 percent was generated from renewable sources last year. That’s a considerable increase from the 17 percent reported in 2007. “That is the largest percentage of renewables in generation and transmission companies across the country and one of the highest of any utility in the U.S.” said Farnsworth. Included in Highline’s renewable projects is the Trailblazer Waste Heat Generation Site. Emphasizing its value to Highline, Farnsworth said it has brought $2.3 million to Highline’s bottom line since 2009. Highline is currently looking at options for a utility scale solar project that could provide savings to members over the next 20 to 25 years.

Nebraska Cooperatives Currently Using Solar & Wind

  • NRECA’s Interactive Map: Cooperative Solar Across the Country, shows that 443 cooperatives in 43 states utilize solar as a source of power. Eight Nebraska co-ops currently use solar, following: Georgia (42), Minnesota (37), North Carolina (26), Tennessee (24), Colorado (23), Indiana (23), Iowa (22), Oklahoma (21), South Carolina (21), Wisconsin (19), Arkansas (18), New Mexico (16), Mississippi (14), Illinois (13) Texas (11), Virginia (11), Alabama (10), Florida (9), and Wyoming (9). Click here and scroll down to individual states’ information.
  • NRECA’s Interactive Map: Cooperative Wind Across the Country, shows that.564 cooperatives in 37 states use wind as a source of power. Thirty Nebraska co-ops utilize wind energy, following Minnesota (44), Missouri (41), Indiana (38), and Iowa (31). Click here and scroll down to individual states’ information, including a list of all 30 Nebraska cooperatives using wind.

From Nebraska to Federal Court, the Sierra Club Keeps Up the Fight on Keystone XL

By Doug Hayes and Ken Winston, Compass

It’s been a long road in the fight to protect our land, water, communities, and climate from TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. Right now, a focus of the fight is what is happening in the courts, where Sierra Club and our allies are continuing our work to stop this terrible project.

In November, the Nebraska Public Service Commission (PSC) dealt TransCanada a major setback by rejecting the company’s preferred route through the state and instead approving an alternate route. Though an outright rejection would have been the best outcome, this was still a victory for our side. TransCanada had previously called the alternate route unworkable, and the PSC’s decision creates new legal issues, raises new environmental review questions, and affects a whole new set of landowners who have not agreed to let TransCanada build on their land. Click here to continue reading.

Photo: Nebraska landowners and supporters celebrating completion of a Solar XL project.
Solar XL – Scroll down for photos of projects.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

 NATIONAL NEWS

FEATURED RESOURCES: SURVEY & WHITE PAPER 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS
UPS adds battery energy storage for 118 electric vans in UK, Green Car Reports

March 2018 Issue of The Nebraska Energy Quarterly Now Available

The Nebraska Energy Quarterly is a newsletter produced by the Nebraska Energy Office devoted to energy efficiency and renewable energy issues.

Articles and news items in this issue:

Nebraska Energy Quarterly
Nebraska Energy Quarterly Archives

Are utilities co-opting community solar? Critics question term’s use

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

In Omaha, critics say the public utility’s community solar offering doesn’t share enough benefits with participants.

Last month, Omaha’s public utility unveiled details for a program that will help customers buy solar power without having to install their own panels. Omaha Public Power District’s community solar program follows a year of stakeholder meetings, but some critics say it’s a stretch to call it “community solar” because participants won’t share enough of the financial benefits. “It’s not really community solar,” said Don Preister, a customer who recently put solar panels on his home. Click here to read more.

Photo: PressReleaseFinder / Creative Commons

ABOUT KAREN UHLENHUTH
Karen spent most of her career reporting for The Kansas City Star, focusing at various times on local and regional news, and features. More recently, she was employed as a researcher and writer for a bioethics center at a children’s hospital in Kansas City.

MORE BY KAREN

Crowdfunding campaigns give nonprofits access to solar power

By Kari Lydersen,  Energy News Network

Mission of Mary, a faith-based urban farming organization, creates oases of sustainability in economically struggling East Dayton neighborhoods, with five plots growing organic produce and bringing together neighbors in the Ohio city. The expanding organization is installing a geothermal heating system for its new headquarters. And using solar to power the renovated inner-city building would be a natural choice. But especially since it is a nonprofit that cannot take advantage of federal tax incentives, the price tag for solar had seemed too high. Now, however, Mission of Mary is on its way to going solar thanks to RE-volv, a national nonprofit organization that is enlisting “solar ambassadors” at colleges to raise money to put solar on nonprofits, and creating a revolving seed fund to buy solar for more nonprofits in the future.
Continue reading here.

Photo: Open Source Ecology

The Winnebago Community’s Renewable Energy Development A Part of Overall Mission

By Sam Burrish, Communications Manager, Ho-Chunk, Inc.

A community-scale renewable energy effort in the northeast Nebraska community of Winnebago is creating one of the largest renewable energy infrastructures in the state. A solar panel farm is among 14 renewable energy projects recently completed, part of a $700,000 total investment in renewable energy with the support of U.S. Department of Energy grants.

Ho-Chunk, Inc. and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska received two of only 13 national awards from the DOE. The funding includes $395,000 in grants from the Office of Indian Energy at the Department of Energy and $395,000 in matching funds from tribal sources, including Ho-Chunk, Inc.

Currently, Ho-Chunk, Inc. is working with Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems for these multiple projects. They’ve installed 1,000 solar panels at 14 sites across the Winnebago Reservation that will generate over 300 kilowatts of solar power, effectively reducing energy bills by about $40,000 a year. These projects will offset 25 to 75% of total energy usage at the sites.

Solar installation sites include the Tribal Pow Wow Grounds, Winnebago Senior Center, the Senior Housing Complex in Ho-Chunk Village, and the solar panel farm on the north end of the community. The project also includes wind turbine replacement for Little Priest Tribal College.
Ho-Chunk, Inc.’s mission is to drive the socio-economic development of the Winnebago people through a world-class tribally-owned company. Their award-winning business model reinvests in the Tribe through programs including employment, housing, education and health. Located in northeast Nebraska, Winnebago has a tribal membership of 5,300.

Ho-Chunk, Inc’s Website

Images Courtesy of Sam Burrish: Robert Byrnes, owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems (top photo) and the Winnebago Tribe’s Solar Panel Farm on the north end of the community, with one of Byrnes’ crew members working on it.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Winnebago Tribe sees power from solar energy as boost to sovereignty, by Kevin Abourezk, Indianz.Com

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • Spring Ribbon Cutting
    The Winnebago Community and Renewable Energy Systems are planning a ribbon cutting ceremony later on this spring. Details will be announced in Nebraskans for Solar’s newsletter and posted on our calendar, NewsBlog and Facebook Page.
  • Summer Tour of The Winnebago Reservation’s Solar Sites
    Robert Byrnes, owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems, is coordinating with the Winnebago Community to host a requested August tour for Nebraskans for Solar’ and Nebraska Solar Schools’ ListServe members. Watch our calendar and newsletters for more information.

Another Renewable Energy Baby Step For BP, Another Deep Dive For Enel

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

At the recent Symposium on Sustainability in Venice, CleanTechnica got a first-hand chance to compare how two energy giants, BP and Enel, are managing the road to decarbonization. Enel reinforced its headlong dive into renewable energy while BP underscored a much more cautious path. That contrast came into full force just this week with new announcements from the two companies. Enel’s big renewable energy news came earlier this week, when the company confirmed that electricity from its new 320 megawatt Rattlesnake Wind Farm in Nebraska would go to two high profile buyers, Facebook and Adobe . . . Meanwhile, baby steps for BP. Read more here.

Enel Press Release: Enel sells energy from new US wind farm to Facebook and Adobe
BP Press Release: BP Ventures to Invest $500,000 in Clean Energy Consortium

Image: Nebraska Rattlesnake Wind Farm rendering

ALSO IN NEBRASKA
Why smart irrigation startups are bubbling up, GreenBiz
“One thing that differentiates WaterBit is its use of solar power, rather than short-lived batteries, to keep gadgets up and running in the field.” Besides WaterBit, the article briefly describes an additional “10 ventures that have captured the attention of the venture capital and incubation community,” including AquaSpy: “This venture, which originally tested its technology in Adelaide, South Australia, is finding a following in Nebraska, where it helps farmers save an average of 2 inches per acre. It is funded with close to $11 million.” To read more about WaterBit and the other 10 startups, click the article title.

To learn more about WaterBit’s use of solar power in irrigation, listen to Episode 117, GreenBiz 350 Podcast starting tomorrow.

SOUTHWEST POWER POOL NEWS
A huge new record in the Southwest Power Pool, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) just set a huge new wind penetration record: on March 16 a little over 60 percent of the system’s electricity came from wind power. That’s a big deal for a system that provides electricity to customers across 14 states.

SPP FAST FACTS
An Overview of the SPP System
SPP has members in 14 states: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

  • Service territory: 546,000 square miles (approx.)
  • Substations: 4,835
  • Generation plants: 790
  • Miles of transmission: 65,755
  • Coincident peak load: 50,622 MW (July 21, 2016)
  • Generating capacity: 83,945 MW
  • Energy consumption: 266.4 TWh

Eight Solar And Storage Trends To Keep An Eye On

By Betsy Lillian, Solar Energy Magazine

With the global solar industry expected to reach 100 GW this year, following nearly 20% year-over-year growth in annual installations in 2017, IHS Markit has identified eight solar and energy storage market trends to watch. “Solar Energy and Storage Trends,” a new white paper from IHS Markit, identifies the following significant trends with the most impact on the global solar market: Click here to continue.

The IHS Markit white paper can be downloaded here.

Pixels Photo

MORE CLEAN ENERGY NEWS & REPORTS

NEWS FROM CAMPUSES

RENEWABLES & RESILIENCE – NEW & ARCHIVED RESOURCES

FEATURED ORGANIZATION
American Conservation Coalition (ACC)

  • One of ACC’s ten Principles of Conservative Environmentalism: “A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.” Initiatives include the development of an environmental scorecard of Republicans in Congress.
  • ACC Press Release: College Republican Clean Energy Coalition Expands to 30 states

USDA Rural Energy for America Program Grant Applications Now Open

USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett recently announced that the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is accepting grant applications for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement projects. The application deadline is April 30, 2018 for grants and loan/grant combinations. Small businesses in eligible rural areas and agricultural producers, both rural and non-rural, who have at least 50% of their gross income coming from agricultural operations, may apply. Check eligible business addresses.

REAP grants provide up to 25% of the total project costs, and a grant and loan combination up to 75%. Eligible projects include renewable energy systems and the purchase, installation and construction of energy efficiency improvements. See REAP Fact Sheet for a complete list of eligible projects.

The terms for renewable energy system grants are from $2,500 minimum to $500,000 maximum and for energy efficiency grants, from $1,500 minimum to $250,000 maximum.

Nebraska REAP Program

Jeff Carpenter
Nebraska Rural Development Energy Coordinator
Telephone: 402-437-5554 
Email: Jeff.Carpenter@ne.usda.gov