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

As crop prices fluctuate, wind turbine income becomes critical for farmers

By Sarina Weiss, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog

2.1 million farms cover our country’s rural landscapes, and 99 percent of them are family-owned and operated. And now, a growing number of them host wind turbines. Increasingly, the extra income from wind projects helps keep these farms in the family and the family on the farm, even in uncertain times.

In 2017 alone, Texas landowners received more than $60 million in lease payments. Across the country, wind projects paid farmers and ranchers an estimated $267 million.

Read more here.

AWEA YouTube Video featured in Sarina Weiss’ article: Wind projects: keeping the family farm in the family

Canadian company reboots northern Minnesota solar panel factory

By Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

Ontario-based Heliene, Inc. has begun operations in a 25,000-square-foot factory in Mountain Iron, a city of nearly 3,000 people on Minnesota’s Iron Range, and it plans to hire 130 employees by September . . . Minnesota’s growing community solar garden program, the largest in the country, has been a boon for the company, and Illinois may represent the next big market for Heliene.  Read more here.

Thinkstock Photo

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS

WEC Energy bets on solar, wind and natural gas. So, what about coal?, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Wisconsin Public Service, the subsidiary of WEC Energy Group that operates in northeastern Wisconsin, and Madison Gas and Electric plan to invest a total of $390 million to buy 300 megawatts of generating capacity — enough electricity for more than 70,000 residential customers — in two solar power projects . . . WEC also plans to invest $424 million in wind projects in Illinois and Nebraska that will sell power to other companies.

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The Low-Income Solar Policy Guide was originally developed and launched in 2016 by nonprofits GRID AlternativesVote Solar, and the Center for Social Inclusion, to help drive the proposal and adoption of new low-income solar policies and programs, both as stand-alone efforts and as part of broader renewable energy programs. GRID Alternatives and Vote Solar are current contributing partners to the Guide. It is meant to be a tool for policymakers, community leaders and others who are working on solar access at the federal, state and local level.
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NEW EV ANALYSIS

Electric vs. Diesel vs. Natural Gas: Which Bus is Best for the Climate?, by Jimmy O’Dea, Vehicles Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

GLOBAL NEWS

Fun & Easy DIY Project: Homemade Air Conditioner – Can be Solar Powered

Great for home, RV, cabin or glamping – glamourous camping.
Click photo to watch YouTube Video.

Description: Homemade AC Air Cooling unit produces very cold air: 42F in an 80F room.
Items needed: ice chest (hard-sided or styrofoam), pvc pipe, small fan and ice. (small solar panel is optional). Great for space cooling. 3 ways to power it: a solar panel, a battery or an automobile (using 12v socket cigarette plug. Specs: fan: 12VDC 10w 0.8A and solar panel: 15 watt (1 amp). Works best in semi-dry or dry climates. Drier air cools down easier/faster than humid. To run the cooler 100% off-grid check out my solar ice making/freezer videos. – DesertSun02

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

New ILSR Report & Q&A With John Farrell: A Solar Power & Energy Storage Revolution Is Upon Us

By Jake Richardson, CleanTechnica

new report from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance describes some of the implications of the growing solar power and energy storage trend as it relates to the current, centralized utility-based electricity distribution model. Because solar and energy storage can be cost competitive with grid electricity prices in some places, consumers now have an alternative to only using utility-based electricity. Report author John Farrell answered some questions for CleanTechnica.

Continue here.

Inspiring community service story: Lee’s Summit animal shelter goes green with help from teen

By Anne Marie Hunger, Kansas City Star

The community dedicated to the animals at Lee’s Summit Animal Control extends beyond the staff and volunteers who meet their needs. Advocates and activists focused on the long-term future of the shelter help ensure it can continue to care for more than 4,000 animals a year. 18-year-old Zach Burton is one of those activists.

In 2016, Burton approached city officials with a plan to promote green energy in Lee’s Summit through a solar power project. Burton has worked with the city, architects and energy professionals over the past two years to bring his project to fruition at Lee’s Summit Animal Control. Read more here.

Photo: The 96 solar panels at the shelter will reduce energy expenses by over $135,000 over the course of 25 years.

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RENEWABLE ENERGY LOAN PROGRAM
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SMART INVERTERS

Smart residential solar inverters prepping to run the grid

Proposed coal, nuclear power plant bailout could exceed $34 billion

American Wind Energy Association News Release

WASHINGTON – Today, a new report was released by The Brattle Group, a leading consultant on utility operations and energy markets, analyzing the cost of providing extra financial support to uncompetitive U.S. power plants. The independent assessment was commissioned by a diverse group of energy industry associations representing natural gas, oil, energy efficiency, storage, grid services, solar, wind and other renewables, to estimate the cost of the Trump Administration’s proposed plan to bail out failing coal and nuclear plants across the country.

National business groups: Advanced Energy Economy (AEE), American Petroleum Institute (API), American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Electricity Consumers Resource Council (ELCON), Electric Power Supply Association (EPSA) and Natural Gas Supply Association (NGSA), which funded the Brattle Group report, issued the following statements on the findings: Click here to read more.

Download the Report: The Cost of Preventing Baseload Retirements

Pixabay Photo

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

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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. 

CleanChoice Energy Offers New Renewable Energy Broker Program

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Missouri Supreme Court gives new life to $2B Grain Belt Express transmission project, Utility Dive. The proposed 780-mile transmission line would move wind energy from western Kansas to utilities and customers in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and neighboring states.