Category Archives: Energy Conservation

Nebraska to Become the Midwest’s Leader in Building Efficiency

By Tara Lukasik, Building Safety Journal. Republished in the Nebraska
Energy Office’s June 2019 Newsletter, Nebraska Energy Quarterly

The state of Nebraska is ready to update the state’s energy codes for residential and commercial buildings — from the 2009 to the 2018 edition — which will make the state a regional leader on building efficiency. Nebraska lawmakers presented LB 405 to Governor Pete Ricketts on May 2, 2019, which he signed into law (effective Sept. 7, 2019).

Shortly before, Governor Ricketts signed LB 348 into law (also effective Sept. 7, 2019) which updates the International Building Code, International Residential Code and International Existing Building Code from the 2012 to the 2018 edition. Read the entire article here.

Additional articles and resources in the electronic newsletter are posted here.

Click here to subscribe to the Nebraska Energy Quarterly.

OPPD Customers Embracing Programs, Pilots To Help Manage Their Energy Usage

OPPD News Release

Omaha Public Power District is leading the way the future is powered. The district has a number of customer program offerings to support that vision and provided an update to the OPPD Board of Directors at their monthly meeting.

Community Solar Program

OPPD launched its first community solar program this spring with an agreement to purchase all 5 megawatts (MW) of energy from an array that’s under construction in the City of Fort Calhoun. The facility will be owned and operated by NextEra Energy. Construction was delayed due to the recent floods, but it is expected to be completed and generating electricity by mid-August at the latest.

Continue reading here to learn more about this and the following three additional OPPD customer program offerings:

Electric Vehicle (EV) Rebate Pilot
Income-Qualified Energy Efficiency Pilot
LED streetlight conversion

Previously Posted
Local artist paints Nebraska’s story into mural at Facebook’s data center in Papillion, Omaha World-Herald. When employees of the Facebook data center in Papillion go to work each day, they’ll be greeted by a colorful 76-foot mural made by a Nebraskan, for Nebraskans. Created by Omaha native Justin Queal, the mural incorporates themes and images familiar to locals. Facebook officials say the mural, located in an administrative building at the 144-acre site on the northwest corner of Highway 50 and Capehart Road, helps connect Papillion’s roots with those of one of the biggest tech companies in the world. The first Facebook data center in Papillion is expected to go online in 2020. An expansion to the project is meant to launch in 2023.

Job growth foreseen in Madison County and Northeast Nebraska

By Nick Gebhart, Norfolk Daily News

In terms of specific occupations, among the fastest growing is in wind energy. The number of wind turbine technicians who will be employed in the region is expected to climb by more than 100, up 84 percent from 2016. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Bluestem Energy Solutions

Additional Recommended Reading

  • Helping your home stay cool: Contributed article written by Pat Feist, Beatrice Electric Superintendent, Beatrice Daily Sun
  • Nebraska Solar Schools Awarded $31,250, Rapid City Journal
    Nebraska Solar Schools has announced that it has been awarded $31,250 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for a pilot project within its Solar Energy Education and Development Program: 100 Solar Energy Kits for 100 Nebraska Schools. Nebraska Solar Schools is a program of the nonprofit Nebraskans for Solar.  To request a NEED Solar Energy Kit, visit: www.nebraskasolarschools.org.

Nebraska surprise: State poised to become Midwest building efficiency leader

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Nebraska lawmakers on Thursday passed LB 405 to update the state’s energy codes for residential and commercial buildings, potentially the first substantial changes to the regulations in a decade. The state is currently utilizing the 2009 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) for its building energy codes, but if Gov. Pete Ricketts, R, signs the bill, Nebraska will switch to the 2018 version, yielding the strongest efficiency codes in the Midwest, advocates  say . . . The bill was presented to Ricketts on May 2, and state law gives the Nebraska governor five days to act, not including Sundays. Absent a veto, the new codes will be adopted at the end of Wednesday. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Wind farm sites guided by data, science, relationships, The Wire, OPPD Blog
OPPD does not build its own wind energy facilities. Instead, they contract with developers such as NextEra Energy Resources on projects and enter into purchase agreements for the energy produced. OPPD and other public power utilities use PPAs for renewable projects to be eligible for federal production tax credits. They then pass these savings on to their customers. These partnerships occur after OPPD issues a request for proposal (RFP) and evaluates bids from companies competing for OPPD’s business. Wind facilities are often sited before OPPD enters into a purchase agreement. To date, all of the wind farms contracted with OPPD are located in Nebraska. And that is not a coincidence.

The fixed cost on your OPPD bill will now be $30 a month, up from $10.25 in 2015

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

Outgoing board member Tom Barrett, who represents northeast Omaha, asked OPPD management whether they had done the research to verify their prediction that most customers would pay the same or less under the new rate structure. Management officials said they had not yet done so. Read the entire article here

OPPD December 2015 Marketing Graphic: “Rethinking Rates”

Previously Posted

ALSO IN THE NEWS
OPPD set to replace old-fashioned streetlights with LEDs starting in January, Omaha World-Herald
OPPD management updated the utility’s board Tuesday about a five-year replacement plan for the roughly 100,000 streetlights the district maintains in 13 counties. The new lights are expected to save as much as 25 percent in costs to power them over traditional high-pressure sodium streetlights.

Previously Posted

EDITORIAL
Turbine plan would strike fair balance, Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Weatherization program pays off in long-term savings

McCook Gazette Editorial

Unfortunately, people who would benefit the most from lower energy bills often cannot afford the improvements to achieve them. That’s where the Nebraska Weatherization Assistance Program comes in. Tuesday is Weatherization Day in Nebraska, spotlighting an effort that has been weatherizing homes for low-income and elderly citizens for more than 42 years.

Eight non-profit community service providers operate the program. Since the Weatherization Assistance Program began, over $204 million went to make energy efficiency improvements in more than 68,800 Nebraska homes affecting the lives of thousands of Nebraskans, many of who are elderly, disabled, and families with children. Learn more here.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

Photo: Walmart Rooftop Solar 

CLEAN ENERGY JOBS & TRAINING PROGRAMS 

RESEARCH

Researchers at Case Western Reserve University want to push solar panel lifespans to 50 years, Solar Power World. A team of solar energy researchers from Case Western Reserve University in Ohio has been awarded $1.35 million from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office to continue its work toward increasing the efficiency and lifetime of photovoltaic modules—specifically aimed at pushing their lifespan to 50 years.

FEATURED VIDEO

What Happens in the Arctic Doesn’t Stay in the Arctic is a six-minute video produced by the Aspen Global Change Institute. 

$1.6 million 2 megawatt energy storage unit project in South Sioux City

Posted by Hannah Norton, Multimedia Journalist, KTIV

Click image to watch video. 

The South Sioux City Council has applied to the State of Nebraska for funding that would go toward a two-megawatt energy storage unit to ensure lower rates on the utility bills of residents. Here’s how it all works: Read more here.

Free Online American Solar Energy Society Workshop Tomorrow!

13 Ways to Harness the SUN to Save Money & Live Naturally!

This free online workshop will be filled with practical, no-nonsense information about harnessing the power of the sun to improve your lifestyle while saving money.

Date: Tuesday, July 17, 2018
Time: 8 p.m. CDT
Duration: 60 minutes plus Q&A
Click Here to Register

Spring into Summer SUN OVEN Giveaway

Everyone who registers will be entered in a drawing to win an All American SUN OVEN with Dehydrating and Preparedness Accessory Package. Drawing will be held after the workshop.

HAPPENING THIS FALL 

The American Solar Energy Society’s National Solar Tour October 6th – 7th
Host a solar open house on the Tour! Click image for event details.

OPPD Blog: Prime time for “peakers “

 By Jason Kuiper, The Wire  

May 2018 – one of the hottest Mays in years – kept OPPD’s generating stations running overtime to keep up with the air conditioners. OPPD’s two baseload facilities – Nebraska City and North Omaha stations – were at the forefront of that generation. But so were OPPD’s peaking stations at Cass and Sarpy counties as well as Jones Street Station, one of OPPD’s oldest stations. Continue reading here.

Photo: Telesis Inc’s Net-Zero Energy Business Complex in Lincoln’s Haymarket.
J-Tech’s thirteen-member installation crew worked closely with restoration contractors to integrate the 300-kilowatt system into existing and historical structures. Federal tax incentives, rebates from Lincoln Electric System and the steady rise in the cost of electricity were driving factors in the owner’s decision to complete such a large project. Also, the price of solar systems has decreased more than 62% since 2009. News Story: Telesis going for net-zero energy use in Dairy House complex, by Nicholas Bergin, Lincoln Journal Star

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING AND VIEWING

  • Using Solar to Reduce Peak Loads: Evaluating Rhode Island’s Distributed Solar Pilot – Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) Webinar, July 12, 2018, 12 to 1 pm CDT. Register here.
  • Replacing Peaker Plants with Battery Storage: Clean Energy Group Webinar, July 19, 2018,
    1 to 2 pm CDT. Register here. 
  • How to Estimate Demand Charge Savings from PV on Commercial Buildings, National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • 4 Peak Demand Reduction Strategies, by Jeff Gorrie, Energy Manager Today
    Due to the complexity of energy pricing, two identical buildings can consume the same amount of energy and have profoundly different utility bills. Demand charges are a reality for every building but with the right data it is possible to identify and solve the issues that cause high peak demand and expensive utility bills. – Jeff Gorrie is an energy efficiency professional who lives in Des Moines, Iowa. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Iowa State University. Jeff works at a national energy efficiency consulting firm and has completed over 1,000 commercial energy assessments. Jeff is certified as an Energy Manager (CEM), Building Analyst (BPI BA), and Envelope Professional (BPI ENV).

Editorial: UNL displays impressive success with sustainability

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Among the 11 Big Ten universities whose carbon dioxide emissions are publicly known, UNL ranks first by a wide margin with 182,600 metric tons in 2016. That’s nearly a third better than the University of Maryland at College Park, which recorded 239,800 metric tons over the same interval.

Plus, even as UNL has reported years of record enrollment, added research staff and constructed several new facilities, its energy usage has been nearly halved in the last two decades. The university provides living proof that investing in energy-saving techniques can pay for itself through decreased utility costs. As a result, UNL hasn’t operated its coal-fired power and heating plant to power campus for several years . . . Read the entire editorial here.

Related Reading
UNL inching toward setting greenhouse gas reduction goals, by Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star
No longer does UNL use a coal-fired power and heating plant built at 14th and W streets in 1930 (now the site of the City Campus utility plant), giving the university an advantage over the University of Iowa, University of Illinois and others within the Big Ten still generating electricity on their campuses and expanding their carbon footprint. UNL instead purchases 100 percent of its electricity to power lights and computers, charge cellphones and run other equipment through Lincoln Electric System, which in turn buys power from the Southwest Power Pool and Western Area Power Administration.

Photo Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln