Category Archives: Nebraska / Midwest News

Nebraska Fire Marshal, Energy Office Director Stepping Down

US News & World Report

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) – Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has announced the retirement of State Fire Marshal Jim Heine and plans by state Energy Office Director David Bracht to leave that post next month . . . Bracht will end his service on Aug. 1 to return to his private law practice, Kutak Rock, in Omaha.

Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality Director Jim Macy will serve as interim director of the energy office.

Read the entire news release here,

David Bracht: Nebraska Energy Office Programs

David Bracht was appointed as the Director of the Nebraska Energy Office (NEO) by Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts in January 2015.  Bracht serves on the Governor’s Cabinet as the principle advisor on energy policy.

As Director, Bracht is responsible for leadership of agency operations including administration of Nebraska’s Weatherization Assistance Program, management of the state’s $48 million Revolving Energy Loan Program and implementation of the State Energy Program.

Since Bracht’s appointment, NEO has initiated several programs to encourage energy efficiency and save cost for local and state government facilities.

NEO also leads the Access Ethanol Nebraska program, which is focused on doubling the number of fuel dispensers in Nebraska offering E-85, E-15 and other high-ethanol blends utilizing a $2.4 million grant under the USDA Biofuels Infrastructure Partnership.

Prior to his appointment, Bracht co-founded and co-led the renewable energy and biofuels practice groups at two Midwestern-based law firms, advising clients involved in renewable energy development including biofuels, biomass, wind and solar energy, as well as agribusinesses and businesses involved in production and processing of agriculture products.

Bracht has more than 30 years experience in business, government and law, including positions in Washington, DC as Associate Manager of USDA’s Federal Crop Insurance Corporation and Director of Finance for the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture.

A Nebraska native, Bracht lives in Omaha and continues to be involved in his family’s farming operation in northeast Nebraska.

Source: Nebraska Department of Administrative Services: State Personnel

Additional Recommended Reading

Omaha Sustainability Town Hall Hosted By The Nebraska Conservation Education Fund

July 23, 2018, 5 pm at UNO’s Community Engagement Center, Room 201

The Nebraska Conservation Education Fund is hosting a Town Hall Event tomorrow with several local leaders to discuss the directions Omaha is taking in the next few years.

The first speaker will be OPPD Board Member and Verdis Sustainability Group Director Craig Moody, who will discuss the direction OPPD is taking in regards to being more sustainable. He will also be open to questions regarding his company, Verdis Group, and how he works alongside local businesses to help them be as sustainable as possible.

Additional guest speakers will be two representatives of First Star Recycling, the main collector of recycling materials in Douglas and Sarpy Counties. They will discuss what First Star is currently working on to make recycling easier and faster for the Omaha Metro, as well as their current programs that expand into smaller, more rural communities in Northeast Nebraska.

This event will be moderated by NCEF’s Northeast Directors, and will follow an interview-style format: asking questions gathered from the community via door-to-door canvassing and sit-down meetings, and then allowing for questions from our event attendees following their discussions.

Please sign in, as parking is limited for this event: Ticket Page
Facebook Event Page 

Organizers / Contact Persons: NCEF Directors Jamison Willis jamisonwillis@nlcvef.org and
Nic Nealy 
nicnealy@nlcvef.org

No Longer a Novelty, Clean Energy Technologies Boom All Across the US

By Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

Today, renewable energy is taking off in virtually every state in the nation. A new report and interactive map released this week by Environment America takes stock of U.S. clean energy progress to date. It finds that leadership is no longer concentrated in select parts of the country, but that it is distributed across states with varying economic and democratic makeups. “You’re seeing an evolution that’s happening everywhere; and it will be interesting to see what will happen 10 years from now,” [Rob Sargent, energy program leader at Environment America] said. The “Renewables on the Rise” report highlights how much has changed in a relatively short period of time, which can be easy to forget.

Read more here.

According to the report, Nebraska is 10th in the nation in wind-energy development. 

Qwest Renewables and Nebraska-based Interconnection Systems install 54.6kW PV canopy at South Dakota Harley-Davidson

By Kelley Pickerel, Solar Power World

The 54.6-kW system features the QuadPod solar canopy from Quest Renewables. About 90% of QuadPod’s construction takes place on the ground, making construction three-times faster than traditional carport designs. After on-the-ground assembly, panel placement, inverter mounting, wiring and lighting, the canopy units are lifted by crane for final attachment, minimizing overhead work and optimizing worksite safety. Learn more here. 

Photo by Qwest Renewables: Crane moving the QuadPod into place.

From Solar Examples: Interconnection Systems Projects In Nebraska

KEARNEY SOLAR FARM

Project: Kearney’s solar farm consists of approximately 23,000 panels on 53 acres located in the city’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing, The panels are mounted on a tracker-designed racking system. To date, the array is Nebraska’s largest solar project, generating 5.8 megawatts of electricity, or about 5% of Kearney’s peak demand.
Developer: SoCore Energy
Installer: Interconnection Systems based in Central City, Nebraska
NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar Program
Kearney Community Solar Q&A
Kearney NPPD customers can purchase shares here.

SMARTFLOWER INSTALLATIONS IN MARQUETTE AND CENTRAL CITY

The system is 40% more efficient in energy production than traditional solar. The SmartFlower generates 5.5 Mwh of energy per year. The SmartFlower shown in the photo is located at Timberlake Ranch Campus, a Christian family camp at 2709 North S Road, Marquette, Nebraska.  A second SmartFlower was installed at the Nebraska Christian School, 1847 Inskip Avenue in Central City, Nebraska.

City purchases hybrid cars

By Colin Larson, Fremont Tribune

Over the past several years the City of Fremont has made strides toward promoting and developing clean energy in the community. One community solar farm already drawing power from the sun and another currently being developed. Now, the city recently purchased five plug-in hybrid electric (PHEV) Kia Niro crossover vehicles with help from a grant from the Nebraska Environment Trust through the Nebraska Community Energy Alliance. The city received a $300,000 grant towards Solar Farm No. 2, 50 percent of the cost of two ChargePoint public electric vehicle charging stations, and 50 percent of the cost of five qualified vehicle. Qualified vehicles are those that are all electric, or are PHEV. Continue here.

The 2018 Kia Niro Plug-In Hybrid Electric Vehicle is capable of going fully electric (EV mode) with the push of a button for trips around town. – Kia.Com

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

EVs could drive 38% rise in US electricity demand, DOE lab finds, Smart Cities Dive
Rising electricity demand could lead to sustained absolute growth of 80 terawatt-hours per year, according to the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

In Farm Country, Grappling With the Taboo of Talking about Climate Change

By Bryce Oates, Climate, Rural Environment and Agriculture Project, Civil Eats

Despite the heated political rhetoric on both sides of the issue, the realities of the changing climate are driving farmers of all stripes to take action . . . [The] evidence that agriculture is a major contributor to greenhouse gases in the atmosphere—as well the role farm practices can play in both mitigating and helping farmers adapt to climate change—has only mounted. And while some advocates are working to bring the conversation to the fore among rural communities, others are more focused on supporting farmers to change their practices and build healthy soil, regardless of what language they use. Read the entire article here.

iStock Photo: Farmer surveying drought conditions.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION

  • USDA Climate Hubs
    Our new national and regional websites are designed to ensure that stakeholders from around the Nation can quickly and easily find the information they need to manage climate change risks and ensure the resilience of their production systems.
  • Northern Plains Climate Hub
    The Northern Plains Climate Hub, which serves Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota, delivers science-based knowledge, practical information, management & conservation strategies, and decision tools to farmers, ranchers, and forest landowners with the goal of helping them adapt to weather variability and changing climatic conditions.
  • National Farmers Union’s Climate Column
  • Nebraska Farmers Union
    Nebraska Farmers Union members approved five top priorities for 2018 at their last state convention. These Special Orders of Business include: Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS) and Net Metering: The members of the Nebraska Farmers Union support an increase of the maximum guaranteed access level for net-metering from 25 kilowatts to 100 kilowatts.  Secondly, the members support changing and updating current state law to allow single owners the option of aggregating their multiple meters for the purpose of net metering.
  • The Nebraska State Climate Office (NSCO) is an organization dedicated to delivering science-based climate services at the local and state level. NSCO’s focus is on weather and climate monitoring, climate services, and stakeholder engagement. NSCO’s office includes operation of the Nebraska Mesonet, a state-wide weather observation network with nearly 70 locations across Nebraska that assess local conditions.

NSCO’s Links to More Information

ADDITIONAL PUBLICATIONS OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

FEATURED YOUTH CLIMATE ACTION: OUR CHILDREN’S TRUST
Our Children’s Trust elevates the voice of youth to secure the legal right to a stable climate and healthy atmosphere for the benefit of all present and future generations. Through our programs, youth participate in advocacy, public education and civic engagement to ensure the viability of all natural systems in accordance with science. 

Our mission is to protect earth’s atmosphere and natural systems for present and future generations. We lead a game-changing legal campaign seeking systemic, science-based emissions reductions and climate recovery policy at all levels of government. We give young people, those with most at stake in the climate crisis, a voice to favorably impact their futures.

YouTube Video: 

RECOMMENDED BOOK

Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming
By Paul Hawken  (Editor), Tom Steyer (Foreword)

The 100 most substantive solutions to reverse global warming, based on meticulous
research by leading scientists and policymakers around the world.

The Solar Foundation releases a new solar jobs toolkit

Strategies for Solar Workforce Development: A Toolkit for the Solar Industry was published by the Solar Training Network, a program The Solar Foundation leads that is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

The toolkit is designed to help meet the high demand for qualified employees and build a skilled and diverse solar workforce. Written for both large employers and small solar businesses, the toolkit includes a detailed guide for setting up work-based learning programs to invest in current and future workers.

This new toolkit includes a Workforce Development Action Plan showing how solar companies can partner with local workforce development boards and American Job Centers to support the hiring, recruitment, and training process.

The toolkit also includes a step-by-step implementation guide for building a work-based learning program, including internships, apprenticeships, and on-the-job training.

Download the toolkit here.

SOLAR TRAINING NETWORK INFOGRAPHICS – CLICK TO ENLARGE 

The Business Case for Solar Training                                                   Help Wanted 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Vintage hiring and training solutions for a better solar workforce

In this op-ed for pv magazine, The Solar Foundation’s Chris Walker explores issues of aligning solar training programs with workforce needs. Walker is Senior Program Manager for the Solar Training Network at The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing the use of solar and solar-compatible technologies worldwide.

Global students racing to catch rays in Hastings

By John Huthmacher, Hastings Tribune

A field of 21 collegiate clubs from around the globe are spending a week in Hastings to catch rays at the Formula Sun Grand Prix 2018 at Motorsport Park Hastings through July 12. Universities representing the U.S., Russia, Canada, Australia, Italy and Saudi Arabia will compete in eight-hour qualifying heats Tuesday through Thursday at the track in hopes of earning a trip to the bi-yearly American Solar Challenge Road Event from Omaha to Oregon July 13-22.

The three-day race runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday at MPH, 427 S. Showboat Blvd. Admission is free but visitors must sign a standard waiver and wear a wrist band while on the grounds. Team members will visit with the public as their schedules allow. Parking is available by the security station. Read the entire article here.

DISPLAY DAY & START LINE

Following the track race, teams will move to the starting point of the American Solar Challenge in Omaha, Nebraska at Lewis & Clark Landing. This is where the display day and multi-occupant judging will take place.

Display: July 13, 3:00-7:00pm
Start Line: July 14 at 8:00am

Nebraskans for Solar will be among organizations hosting booths at the American Solar Challenge Display Day at Lewis & Clark Landing on July 13. Please join us for a solar activity for all ages as you visit representatives from local nonprofits.

For the road portion of the event, teams can expect a journey covering more than 1,700 miles. The route will cover portions of the Oregon Trail from Nebraska to Oregon. Stops include Grand Island on July 14 and Gering on July 15 – 16.

For additional details, see our calendar or visit: americansolarchallenge.org.

Nebraska-based GRNE Solar installs 3,510 solar panels at Delta County Airport in Michigan

By Jordan Beck, Escanaba Daily Press

ESCANABA — The installation of solar panels for a solar energy farm at the Delta County Airport was recently completed, officials involved with the project said. “All the racking and all the panels are installed,” City of Escanaba Electric Superintendent Mike Furmanski said. The facility includes a total of 3,510 solar panels . . . Furmanski said he appreciated the work GRNE Solar has done to make this project a reality. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Jordan Beck

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

In Michigan, unwanted properties could see new life with solar projects

FROM SOLAR EXAMPLES: RECENTLY-COMPLETED GRNE SOLAR PROJECT IN NEBRASKA

The Sun Haven: Solar-Powered Net-Zero Energy Home 

GRNE Solar teamed up with Wilderness Construction to build this net-zero energy home, with solar on the roof and outlets for electric vehicles in the garage. The home, called The Sun Haven, is located at 6077 Chartwell Lane in Lincoln. Through the use of solar power this home will produce as much energy as it consumes. GRNE Solar featured the home on the 2018 Home Builders Association of Lincoln’s Spring Parade of Homes.
YouTube Video: Drone View of The Sun Haven