Monthly Archives: August 2018

How a Big Bank Fueled the Green Energy Boom

By Matthew Heimer, Fortune Magazine

[Green] bonds were the brainchild of dealmakers at Bank of America—the $87 billion, 209,000-employee giant that occupies the No. 3 spot on Fortune’Change the World list this year. Their work is part of BofA’s $125 billion Environmental Business Initiative, a campaign that has established the Charlotte based bank as a powerhouse in “climate finance”—the unglamorous but essential business of steering investor capital into the low-carbon economy. Green bonds, which the bank all but invented, have raised $442 billion worldwide since 2013, helping borrowers both tiny (the Antioch, Calif., Unified School District) and enormous (trillion-dollar Apple) pay for renewable-energy innovations. Read more here.

iStock Photo

RELATED:

Study: Using EVs Instead of Stationary Batteries Could Save Billions

Guest Post, Microgrid Knowledge

NRDC’s Pamela MacDougall and Vignesh Gowrishankar report on new energy storage research that indicates that using EVs for grid storage instead of stationary batteries could save electricity customers billions of dollars.

study recently published by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) shows that the electric vehicles (EVs) expected in California in 2025 could be used to meet the majority of the Golden State’s energy storage mandate that calls for 1.3 gigawatts (GW) of battery capacity by 2024. In fact, EVs can accomplish this both reliably and at about one-tenth the cost of stationary energy storage approaches. This level of storage could power nearly one million average homes, at least for a short while. That EVs can be this valuable to the grid is a hugely significant finding. Read more here.

Image Credit: Jessica Russo, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC)

 ALSO PUBLISHED BY MICROGRID KNOWLEDGE

Inspiring National Solar Example

Here comes the sun: How Hampshire College moved to
100 percent solar energy,
by Adam Wernick, PRI

Hampshire College, with about 1,400 students in Western Massachusetts, has become the first residential US college with 100 percent solar electricity. “This is a great story that people don’t know about,” says Hampshire’s president, Jonathan Lash. “There are a lot of colleges and universities around the country who have decided to just get on with it. Some of their systems are bigger than ours. We’re pretty proud that we decided to go 100 percent and that we’re a small, not-very-well-resourced college out in snow country that’s able to do this.”
Read more here.

This article is based on an interview that aired on PRI’s Living on Earth with Steve Curwood.
Before becoming president of Hampshire College, Jonathan Lash was president of the World Resources Institute.

Photo Credit: Hampshire College

Wind turbine approved for Polk County

Business Reports for Sunday, August 19, The Grand Island Independent

OSCEOLA — Bluestem Energy Solutions has been granted final zoning approval to install a 2.5-megawatt wind turbine one mile southwest of Osceola. Bluestem officials plan for construction to begin in September. Polk County Rural Public Power District, with headquarters in nearby Stromsburg, will purchase 100 percent of the General Electric turbine’s output through a long-term power purchase agreement that includes a guaranteed price for the life of the contract. Boyd Jones Construction of Omaha is engineering, procurement, and construction contractor for the project. Read more here.

ALSO HAPPENING IN NEBRASKA
Madison County gets input on wind regulations, by Jerry Guenther, Norfolk Daily News
On Thursday evening, the Madison County Joint Planning Commission continued discussions on the regulations, with hopes of hosting a public hearing on them next month. If there are no major changes based on the input from the hearing, the regulations could be forwarded to the board of commissioners for consideration in October.

USDA Seeks Applications for Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants

Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett seeks applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement projects.

The deadlines to apply for grants are Oct. 31, 2018, and April 1, 2019. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.

REAP helps agricultural producers and rural small businesses reduce energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations. Read the entire release here.

Who may apply?
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.

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.
Nebraska REAP Program

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

INCENTIVES

Federal Investment Tax Credit for solar systems and small wind turbines: 30% through 2018 and 2019. Small wind: 100 kilowatts or less. Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Lincoln Electric System’s Solar Incentive
LES offers customers a one-time capacity payment of up to $1,000 per kilowatt of peak demand reduced. The total amount customers can receive is determined by the primary direction the system is facing, for example:

  • Southern facing fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $375.
  • Western facing or single or dualaxis tracking fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475.
    Source: Customer-owned Renewable Generation

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Business Equipment Depreciation Resources

SMALL & COMMUNITY WIND INFORMATION
American Wind Energy Association / Distributed Wind Energy Association

What is small wind?
Small wind turbines are electric generators that use the energy of the wind to produce clean, emissions-free power for individual homes, farms, and small businesses. With this simple and increasingly popular technology, individuals can generate their own power and cut their energy bills while helping to protect the environment.

Unlike utility-scale turbines, small turbines can be suitable for use on properties as small as one acre of land in most areas of the country.

Small wind is defined as wind turbines with a capacity rating of less than or equal to 100 kW. Turbines in this category range in size from smaller than 1 kW for off-grid applications to 100-kW turbines that can provide village power. Fifty-four small turbine models are offered commercially in the United States for applications including homes, schools, commercial and industrial facilities, telecommunications, farms and ranches, and communities.

AWEA’s partner organization, DWEA (Distributed Wind Energy Association), is the leading expert on small and community wind power. Please visit the website to learn more about these types of wind energy applications.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCE
Small Wind Guidebook, WINDExchange, Department of Energy

Property values near wind energy projects show no decline

The Grand Island Independent, Opinion written by Lu Nelson,
Policy Associate at the Center for Rural Affairs

In many public forums across Nebraska, local residents have expressed concerns related to proposed wind energy projects in their communities. A consistent worry is the effect wind farms would have on neighboring property values.

In response to these concerns, the Center for Rural Affairs prepared a fact sheet that reviews findings of studies conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — as well as the Universities of Rhode Island and Connecticut — which analyze factors influencing property values prior to the announcement of a project, after the announcement, before construction and post-construction. Read more here.

The fact sheet may be found here.

Kevin Rabinovitch, Mars: “Every Movement Needs A Group Of First Movers And We Believed We Had The Capability To Step Up”

As a new RE100 leadership paper sets out guidance for companies everywhere to show leadership on renewable electricity, The Climate Group talks to Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Vice President of Sustainability, Mars  – the first US company to step up and join RE100, back in 2014. Continue reading here.

RE100 Guide for Corporate Suppliers
When RE100 reached its 100 members milestone one year ago, the nonprofit called on companies to engage their suppliers on renewable energy and produced a guide on how it’s done.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

ENERGY LOBBYING NEWS

Fossil interests, utilities spend almost 10x more than renewables industries on lobbying

INSPIRING NATIONAL SOLAR EXAMPLE
Solar Power to Help Provide 50K Meals Annually to the Lawrence Community
By Tom Duggan, The Valley Patriot

Bread & Roses, a community kitchen in the heart of Lawrence, Massachusetts, is keeping their energy local with their new solar panels installed by ReVision Energy from North Andover. The solar array, completed this past month, is a 6.7-kilowatt system consisting of 46 rooftop panels that will generate approximately 23,000 kilowatt hours per year while also offsetting 24,000 pounds of carbon pollution annually. ReVision Energy, an employee-owned company, was excited to partner with the local non-profit in an effort to transition away from fossil fuels and towards more socially-conscious, sustainable energy.

Norfolk Daily News: Reasonable wind regulations should be goal

Madison County officials — including members of the county board and the joint planning commission — have been prudent in taking their time before moving ahead with possible changes to the county’s regulations governing wind energy . . . Our desire is that Madison County be a place where reasonable restrictions are adopted that provide a level of reassurance and protection for those who aren’t big fans — pardon the pun — of the turbines in the countryside. Yet we want Madison County to be a place where its natural wind energy potential can be developed in order to provide additional property tax revenue, and jobs during the construction period and once operating. Read more here

Map: World Atlas

UPDATE: AUGUST 18
Madison County gets input on wind regulations, by Jerry Guenther, Norfolk Daily News
On Thursday evening, the Madison County Joint Planning Commission continued discussions on the regulations, with hopes of hosting a public hearing on them next month. If there are no major changes based on the input from the hearing, the regulations could be forwarded to the board of commissioners for consideration in October.

RESOURCES: CENTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS 

ALSO HAPPENING IN NEBRASKA

Third Nebraska Family Installs Solar in the Path of Keystone XL Pipeline in “Solar XL” Project

By Mark Hefflinger, Communications Director, Bold Nebraska

The coalition behind the Solar XL campaign includes the Indigenous Environmental Network, Native Organizers Alliance, Brave Heart Society, Dakota Rural Action, Bold Nebraska, and 350.org. The panels were installed by the family-owned rural solar business, North Star Solar Bears, run by Jim Knopik.

“The need for the KXL pipeline product is non-existent in the United States,” said Nebraska landowner Bob Allpress. “The monetary benefit to the peoples of Nebraska will be gone in 7 years, while the risks to our state are for the life of this pipeline. The installation of wind and solar production in Nebraska will provide many good Nebraska jobs and provide years of cheap electricity for everyone in our great state.”

Read the entire news release and additional quotations, and view photos of the first and second Solar XL projects here. 

Images: Nebraska landowners Bob and Nancy Allpress and supporters. Credit: Jason Shald / Bold Nebraska

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Federal judge orders environmental review of Keystone XL pipeline, by Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

A federal court in Montana has ruled that TransCanada must conduct an additional environmental review before it moves forward with the alternative route that has been approved for the controversial Keystone XL pipeline . . . Bold Alliance, an opponent that was among the plaintiffs in the case, welcomed the decision. “The court saw through the sham fast-track environmental review that TransCanada and the State Department were trying to shove past Nebraska landowners and Tribal Nations,” Mark Hefflinger of Bold Alliance said in a statement.

Ho-Chunk, Inc., owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, will install 320 additional kW of solar PV

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today nearly $9 million in funding for 15 tribal energy infrastructure projects. This funding through the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs will help Native American and Alaska Native communities harness their vast undeveloped energy resources to reduce or stabilize energy costs, as well as increase energy security and resilience.

These energy projects, valued in total at nearly $25 million, are the result of a competitive funding opportunity announcement (FOA) announced February 16, 2018.

Ho-Chunk, Inc., owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, will install 320 kW of solar PV to serve nine tribal facilities. This project will add 320 kW of installed solar capacity to the existing 400 kW, for a total of 720 kW toward the Tribe’s near-term goal of 1 MW.

  • Read the entire news release here.
  • Additional information and links to news stories are posted here.
  • To learn about DOE’s recent investments in tribal communities, visit the Office of Indian Energy’s project successes page.

Photo: The Winnebago Tribe’s Solar Farm