Category Archives: Nebraska / Midwest News

Proposals could make it easier for farmers to profit from manure bioenergy

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

A pair of federal efforts could make it more profitable to turn organic waste from agriculture and other sources into energy by taking advantage of the Renewable Fuel Standard. One is a bill recently introduced in the U.S. Senate that would create a 30 percent investment tax credit for qualifying biogas and nutrient-recovery systems. That would put renewable compressed natural gas on a similar footing with solar and wind energy. A separate approach, currently before the Environmental Protection Agency, aims to create a pathway that would pay biogas producers for providing power for electric vehicles. Read more.

Photo by USDA

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Kim Reynolds becomes Iowa’s first female governor

KCCI Des Moines

Governor Terry Branstad has stepped down [to serve as U.S. Ambassador to China] and Lieutenant Governor Kim Reynolds has become the 43rd governor of Iowa. . . She told an audience Wednesday at the Iowa Capitol she wants to reform the state tax code and encourage innovation in energy production, especially wind power and renewable fuels. She wants to stress science, technology, engineering and math education in K-12 schools and expand workforce training for adults. Read more here.

South Sioux City to receive wind energy from statewide grid

By Michelle Kuester, Dakota County Star

In an effort to lower utility costs and further the city’s sustainability initiative, South Sioux City will take part in a statewide wind energy project headed up by NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. The project is the Cottonwood Wind Energy Center, which is a series of wind turbines located in Webster County, Neb., connected to an electrical grid that flows throughout the entire state. Construction on the project will start up within the next week and will complete in November, said Phil Clement, project developer with NextEra Energy Resources LLC.
Click here to continue reading.

Photo by NextEra Energy Resources:  Wind turbines that are part of the Steele Flats Wind Energy Center in Jefferson and Gage Counties in Nebraska.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

MORE ABOUT SOUTH SIOUX CITY’S OUTSTANDING SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVE

South Sioux City’s Solar Park: 2.3-megawatt array (1,200 panels) located on a 21-acre solar park south of the city, alongside C Avenue. The array generates enough energy to provide 5% of South Sioux City’s electrical needs. This is the first Nebraska project for California-based developer Solar City, a Tesla Motors subsidiary.

American Wind Energy Association Report – First quarter highlights: We’re about to build a Texas-sized amount of wind power

By Greg Alvarez, head editor and writer for Into the Wind, the AWEA Blog

American wind power is in the midst of a Texas-sized boom to start 2017. The industry just posted its best first quarter in eight years, and put up a new turbine every two hours and 24 minutes over the year’s first three months. So what top trends are emerging?
Continue reading.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

AWEA’s Updated Nebraska Wind Energy Fact Sheet:

  • Nebraska is one of the top states in the country for potential wind energy generation, with a technical potential of approximately 880,000 megawatts (MW) according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.
  • Nebraska now has 1,328 MW of installed wind power.
  • State rank for installed wind capacity: 17th
  • Number of wind turbines: 741
  • Wind projects online: 21 (Projects over 10 MW: 14)
  • Direct and indirect jobs supported: 3,001 to 4,000
  • Total capital investment: $1.7 billion
  • Annual land lease payments: $1-5 million
    Nebraska Wind Energy Fact Sheet, American Wind Energy Association

BENEFITS TO RURAL COMMUNITIES

JOBS & LOCAL WIND TECH TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
What are wind techs, why are they so much in demand, and how do you become one?

Nebraska Community Colleges’ Training Programs

Nebraska Community College Gap Assistance Program
Nebraska’s Community College Gap Assistance Program offers financial aid to community college students taking non-credit courses that could lead to jobs in high-need fields. Eligible fields include renewable energy. 

Qualifying applicants are low-income students who would not be eligible for federal financial aid because, although they’re enrolled in college, they are not enrolled in courses for credit that lead directly to a degree.

The program, which launched July 1, 2016, receives 9 percent of the available Nebraska Lottery funds set aside for education every year. This equates to about $1.4 million for FY 2016-17. Gap Program funds will be distributed to the state’s community colleges, which will recruit and select eligible low-income students in identified high-need fields to receive grants.

Eligible students must have a family income at or below 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Student grants can be used for tuition, direct training costs, required books and equipment, and fees, including those for industry testing services and background check services.

Additional Program Information

Community College Gap Assistance Program Contacts

Central Community College: Ronald Kluck: 402-562-1253 rkluck@cccneb.edu
Metropolitan Community College: Scott Broady: 402-738-4526 sbroady@mccneb.edu
Mid-Plains Community College: Angela Raby: 308-535-3678 rabya@mpcc.edu
Southeast Community College: Amy Chesley: 402-437-2711 achesley@southeast.edu
Western Nebraska Community College: Doug Mader: 308-630-6556 madder@wncc.net

Lexington’s solar array system nearly complete

Nebraska TV 

The 3.9-megawatt solar array is expected to be fully operational by June.
Watch the video here.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Women of Wind Energy announces name change

By Robin Whitlock,
Renewable Energy Magazine

American professional development organization Women of Wind Energy has announced a change of name to Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), with a new logo.

Women of Wind Energy (WoWE), now known as Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy (WRISE), was founded in 2005. It promotes the education, professional development, and advancement of women to achieve a strong diversified workforce and support a renewable energy economy. It has local chapters in the US and Canada with national programmes that include an annual lunch, leadership forum and webinar series. It also has a growing grassroots network of more than 4,000 women and men and is supported through hundreds of volunteer hours and the generous contributions of individuals as well as corporate partners. Continue reading.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
7 questions with: Kristen Graf, Executive Director of the new formed group WRISE, PV Magazine

MORE PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ORGANIZATIONS / INITIATIVES  

Michigan’s two major utilities announce increased commitment to renewables

Written by Andy Balaskovitz, Midwest Energy News


Michigan’s two largest utilities announced separate plans this week to increase their commitments to renewable energy based on the continued transition away from coal and in response to customer demand. On Tuesday, DTE Energy committed to cutting carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050, which includes adding 6,000 megawatts of renewable energy from wind and solar . . . On Monday, Consumers Energy announced a tariff it filed with state regulators that allows large commercial customers to purchase generation specifically from new renewable energy projects. Consumers said the three-year, voluntary pilot program is in direct response to growing demand from corporations for renewable energy.
Read the entire article here.

Photo by Consumers Energy / Creative Commons: Dedication of a Consumers Energy solar project at Western Michigan University in 2016.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Central City Community Solar Garden, First of Its Kind

USDA Rural Development News Release – Nebraska

Community leaders in Central City expressed interest in making their community a trailblazer in clean energy by organizing a community solar garden. The project was kick-started by Mesner Development Company and their donation of a neutral site on which other Central City businesses could construct solar panels to offset their energy usage. Continue reading.

Photo: Central City Administrator Chris Anderson (left) and Mesner Development’s Cliff Mesner

MORE USDA NEWS

Bringing the Benefits of Solar Energy to Low-Income Consumers: A Guide for States and Municipalities

Clean Energy States Alliance has just published a new guide, Bringing the Benefits of Solar Energy to Low-Income Consumers, which outlines the obstacles that low-income households face in accessing solar power. It  provides a detailed overview of strategies that policymakers and government agencies can use to encourage low-income solar adoption.
Watch the companion webinar this Thursday.

The business case for pollinator-friendly solar sites

By Steve Levitsky, Brian Riddle, Dennis Van Engelsdorp, and Albert Todd Published by GreenBiz

Pollinator habitat on solar sites is a common practice in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and is abundantly feasible wherever solar installations are replacing row crops. The practice simply uses a different seed mix — not turf grass — to create a low-growing and shade-tolerant flowering meadow. These flowering plants have many agricultural and ecological benefits. The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that globally, 75 percent of food crops rely at least partially on pollination. Pollinator-friendly solar sites can bring pollinators into closer contact with food crops. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Fresh Energy

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

What is the Climate Solutions Caucus?
Citizens Climate Lobby Website Post

The Climate Solutions Caucus is a bipartisan group in the US House of Representatives which will explore policy options that address the impacts, causes, and challenges of our changing climate. The caucus was founded in February of 2016 by two south-Florida representatives Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) who will serve as co-chairs of the caucus.

“The Caucus will serve as an organization to educate members on economically-viable options to reduce climate risk and protect our nation’s economy, security, infrastructure, agriculture, water supply and public safety,” according to documents filed with the Committee on House Administration. Membership will be kept even between Democrats and Republicans.
Click here to read more.