Author Archives: Helen Deffenbacher

Local Do-It-Yourself Solar Project & Two How-To Guidebooks

Featured Solar Example
Colin Croft’s Do-It-Yourself Project in Gering, Nebraska

Project Description: Grid-tied 5.4-kilowatt PV system in rural Scotts Bluff County, Nebraska, which generates enough to about “break even” in overall consumption/generation for this year-round home (electric heat supplemented by wood stove).  Twenty 260/270w panels tied to Enphase M250 micro-inverters/Enphase Envoy gateway were used.  The array was mounted about 25 degrees east of due south using basic and inexpensive Unistrut framing, bolted to E mounts by Quick Mount PV, which were installed during replacement of the old roof with a new composite roof.
Production/consumption monitoring using SiteSage for Homes/Powerhouse Dynamics.
PDF Download: DIY PV Installation & Passive Solar Sunroom, written by Colin Croft

DO-IT-YOURSELF BOOKS

Mobile Solar Power Made Easy!


Subtitle: Do-it-yourself Guidebook to Vehicle Mounted Solar System Design and Installation, by William Errol Prowse IV. The guide provides step-by-step instructions on how to size and install a solar system for an RV, van, car and boat.

Install Your Own Solar Panels

Subtitle: Designing and Installing a Photovoltaic System to Power Your Home
Through detailed directions and step-by-step photos, veteran solar installer Joseph Burdick and seasoned builder Philip Schmidt teach you how to determine the size, placement, and type of installation you’ll need. This comprehensive DIY guide covers everything from assembling rooftop racking or building a ground-mounted structure to setting up the electrical connections and making a battery bank for off-grid systems.

LINKS TO INCENTIVES TO REDUCE YOUR PROJECT COST
PLUS ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Federal Investment Tax Credit for solar systems: 30% to December 31, 2019.
Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Solar Energy Industries Association 

LES Solar Incentive
Additionally, LES customers may qualify for 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 system size and 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 dual axis tracking fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475.

Source: Customer-owned Renewable Generation

US cities back green power

Innovators Magazine

Athens has become the fourth city in the US state of Georgia to commit to transitioning to 100% clean and renewable energy. The Athens-Clarke County (ACC) Commission unanimously backed a shift to 100% clean and renewable electricity by 2035. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Athens, Ga., commits to 100% clean energy by 2035, Atlanta Business Chronicle

100% RENEWABLE ENERGY INITIATIVES

MORE 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCUREMENT 

Newly independent REBA and founding NGOs plan to supercharge corporate renewables procurement, GreenBiz. REBA has an ambitious goal; it aims to catalyze 60 gigawatts of new renewable energy by 2025 — an amount about equal to the total solar capacity in the United States, which reached 64 gigawatts at the end of 2018.

Solar for All: Illinois incentive program aims to make solar more accessible

By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Solar incentives in Illinois’ 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act helped Josh Lutton grow his Chicago solar company to 30 employees in the span of just a few years. Now, Lutton is hoping for even more growth with the rollout of one of the law’s marquee programs aimed at making solar accessible to more people. Illinois Solar for All is designed to serve people traditionally left out of the solar market: low-income households, including rural homeowners and renters in urban apartment buildings; people of color; and residents of environmental justice communities most impacted by pollution from fossil fuels . . . The Clean Energy Jobs Act and another bill that would expand solar incentives in Illinois, Path to 100, are before the Illinois Legislature, which closes its session at the end of the month. Read more here.

HAPPENING IN OTHER STATES

VW SETTLEMENT NEWS

Report: States missing opportunities to electrify transportation with VW money, by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and the Environment America Research & Policy Center created a scorecard to grade states on how they are allocating money from the settlement. Most states earned D or F grades for allowing money to be spent on diesel and other fossil fuel vehicles. The program’s second phase could offer bigger, if fewer, grants to pay for electric vehicle purchases.

Finding New Opportunity For Old Coal-Fired Power Plant Sites

By Jeff Brady, NET Nebraska

Nearly 300 coal-fired power plants have been “retired” since 2010 according to the Sierra Club, a trend that continues despite President Trump’s support for coal. That’s left many communities worried those now idled places will simply be mothballed. “We don’t want to see sites like this rust away, be eyesores on the community and offer no real tax revenue going forward, no employment opportunities,” says Denise Brinley, Executive Director at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of Energy. Her state has been hit with 14 coal plants shut down in the past 9 years, and so the Department of Community and Economic Development has created a plan for redeveloping some of them. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted

Doane university divests from fossil fuels

KLKN TV News

Doane University students and staff are working together to get the university to divest from the fossil fuel industry by 2030.  They will be switching to sustainable technologies through investing in renewable resources as the source of their power. Doane currently has two investments in the oil and gas industries that are set to expire in the next 10 years. Through the influence of the student movement, the university has agreed to no longer renew these partnerships. Doane University’s agreement is the first in Nebraska. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Doane Commits Divestment of Fossil Fuels, Doane Line
Doane University has committed to no longer investing in fossil fuels, according to a press release on Monday May 21st. “On May 3, 2019, Doane University’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution to stop and end all future investments in fossil fuel companies,” the press release stated.

US Wind Industry’s Response to Solar’s Rise: Embrace It

By Karl-Erik Stromsta, Greentech Media

Onshore wind is the largest and cheapest source of renewable power in the U.S. today, but solar is catching up quickly. No one is more aware of that urgent reality than the wind industry itself. Renewables markets long dominated by wind, including Texas, are set for a wave of solar projects over the next few years. Many of the country’s largest wind developers are amassing in-house solar teams. Amid these changes, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) trade group announced Tuesday that its flagship annual Windpower conference and exhibition will expand to include solar and storage, starting next year in Denver. Continue reading here.

Photo of a Texas Wind Farm from AWEA’s Free Use Image Gallery.

Powering the Future: where the wind energy industry has been and what lies ahead

By Al Joens, KTIV, Siouxland’s News Channel

Siouxland is naturally-suited for wind farms, and Iowa is one of the biggest players in the industry. 42-hundred-plus turbines; 3rd in the nation in wind power capacity installed, number 1 in percentage of electricity generated by wind. Almost 40 percent of Iowa’s electricity comes from wind turbines.

Nebraska’s numbers are about one-fourth those of Iowa, but the Husker State is on track to double its installed wind capacity. In 2018, no other state added new wind capacity at a faster rate than Nebraska. That’s due in large part to the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project in Dixon County. Read more here.

Enel Green Power North America’s Photo of the 320-MW Rattlesnake Creek wind farm located in Dixon County, Nebraska.

Also in the News

Drinking Buddies: How to pair a beer with your next solar farm (and why)

By Chris Crowell, Solar Builder

So, a solar developer and a beekeeper walk into a craft brewery … have you heard this one before? No? Then you need to chat with Rob Davis. He’s the director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy, a non-profit that promotes better vegetation on solar farms and pulls together partnerships to include bee apiaries as well.

“Whenever a solar farm is built on arable land, we want to make sure that we make productive use of that land,” Davis says, whose team has developed solar farm vegetation programs for more than 3,500 acres of projects in 10 states. “We want solar farms treated like rich soil that we’re borrowing from our grandkids, who will be inheriting it after that solar asset hits its end of life in 30 or 40 years.” Continue reading here.

Photo: A pollinator-friendly solar farm designed and managed by Engie.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

ENERGY STORAGE

OPINION

  • Trump should back renewable energy, it’s fiscally responsible, by Jon Anderson and Heather Reams, Opinion Contributors, The Hill
    Jon Anderson is a founder of The Western Way, a non-profit organizations focused on free-market solutions to U.S. environmental challenges. Heather Reams is the executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a non-profit dedicated to advancing Republican solutions to address our nation’s energy, economic and environmental security while increasing America’s competitive edge.
  • Renewable energy ownership: A game plan for utilities, Utility Dive. Contributed Opinion by Brian R. Murphy, Energy Tax Partner, Ernst & Young LLP.

SOLAR & WIND ENERGY JOBS

OPPD launches low-income efficiency pilot program

By Ethan Howland, American Public Power Association

The Omaha Public Power District is launching a pilot program aimed at expanding the public power utility’s energy efficiency program among its low-income customers. “We want to make our customers aware of energy efficiency to reduce their energy burden and cut their costs,” said Britton Gabel, OPPD product specialist. The pilot project is a redesign of OPPD’s Smart Steps low-income energy efficiency program, according to Gabel. Through a revamped program, OPPD hopes to reach segments of the low-income population the utility hasn’t reached before. Continue reading here.

OPPD’s Income-Qualified Energy Efficiency Pilot begins in June.

Previously Posted
OPPD Customers Embracing Programs, Pilots To Help Manage Their Energy Usage, OPPD News Release

Links to additional OPPD programs included in the news release: 

New OPPD Resource: Energy Conservation Video
4 little-known summer energy tips, The Wire

Nebraska needs more clean energy, NPPD board member Melissa Freelend says

By Mike Konz, The Grand Island Independent

Melissa Freelend wants Nebraskans to have more clean, renewable energy, and she’s working toward that goal as a member of the board of directors at Nebraska Public Power District. Elected in 2016, Freelend, 32, is the NPPD Board’s youngest member. She’s a Grand Island native and is employed in media and broadcasting. Her District 3 encompasses Buffalo and Hall counties. Continue reading here.