The Winnebago Community’s Renewable Energy Development A Part of Overall Mission

By Sam Burrish, Communications Manager, Ho-Chunk, Inc.

A community-scale renewable energy effort in the northeast Nebraska community of Winnebago is creating one of the largest renewable energy infrastructures in the state. A solar panel farm is among 14 renewable energy projects recently completed, part of a $700,000 total investment in renewable energy with the support of U.S. Department of Energy grants.

Ho-Chunk, Inc. and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska received two of only 13 national awards from the DOE. The funding includes $395,000 in grants from the Office of Indian Energy at the Department of Energy and $395,000 in matching funds from tribal sources, including Ho-Chunk, Inc.

Currently, Ho-Chunk, Inc. is working with Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems for these multiple projects. They’ve installed 1,000 solar panels at 14 sites across the Winnebago Reservation that will generate over 300 kilowatts of solar power, effectively reducing energy bills by about $40,000 a year. These projects will offset 25 to 75% of total energy usage at the sites.

Solar installation sites include the Tribal Pow Wow Grounds, Winnebago Senior Center, the Senior Housing Complex in Ho-Chunk Village, and the solar panel farm on the north end of the community. The project also includes wind turbine replacement for Little Priest Tribal College.
Ho-Chunk, Inc.’s mission is to drive the socio-economic development of the Winnebago people through a world-class tribally-owned company. Their award-winning business model reinvests in the Tribe through programs including employment, housing, education and health. Located in northeast Nebraska, Winnebago has a tribal membership of 5,300.

Ho-Chunk, Inc’s Website

Images Courtesy of Sam Burrish: Robert Byrnes, owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems (top photo) and the Winnebago Tribe’s Solar Panel Farm on the north end of the community, with one of Byrnes’ crew members working on it.

Winnebago Tribe sees power from solar energy as boost to sovereignty, by Kevin Abourezk, Indianz.Com


  • Spring Ribbon Cutting
    The Winnebago Community and Renewable Energy Systems are planning a ribbon cutting ceremony later on this spring. Details will be announced in Nebraskans for Solar’s newsletter and posted on our calendar and NewsBlog.
  • Summer Tour of The Winnebago Reservation’s Solar Sites
    Robert Byrnes, owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems, is coordinating with the Winnebago Community to host a requested August tour for Nebraskans for Solar’ and Nebraska Solar Schools’ ListServe members. Watch our calendar and newsletters for more information.

Another Renewable Energy Baby Step For BP, Another Deep Dive For Enel

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

At the recent Symposium on Sustainability in Venice, CleanTechnica got a first-hand chance to compare how two energy giants, BP and Enel, are managing the road to decarbonization. Enel reinforced its headlong dive into renewable energy while BP underscored a much more cautious path. That contrast came into full force just this week with new announcements from the two companies. Enel’s big renewable energy news came earlier this week, when the company confirmed that electricity from its new 320 megawatt Rattlesnake Wind Farm in Nebraska would go to two high profile buyers, Facebook and Adobe . . . Meanwhile, baby steps for BP. Read more here.

Enel Press Release: Enel sells energy from new US wind farm to Facebook and Adobe
BP Press Release: BP Ventures to Invest $500,000 in Clean Energy Consortium

Image: Nebraska Rattlesnake Wind Farm rendering

Why smart irrigation startups are bubbling up, GreenBiz
“One thing that differentiates WaterBit is its use of solar power, rather than short-lived batteries, to keep gadgets up and running in the field.” Besides WaterBit, the article briefly describes an additional “10 ventures that have captured the attention of the venture capital and incubation community,” including AquaSpy: “This venture, which originally tested its technology in Adelaide, South Australia, is finding a following in Nebraska, where it helps farmers save an average of 2 inches per acre. It is funded with close to $11 million.” To read more about WaterBit and the other 10 startups, click the article title.

To learn more about WaterBit’s use of solar power in irrigation, listen to Episode 117, GreenBiz 350 Podcast starting tomorrow.

A huge new record in the Southwest Power Pool, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) just set a huge new wind penetration record: on March 16 a little over 60 percent of the system’s electricity came from wind power. That’s a big deal for a system that provides electricity to customers across 14 states.

An Overview of the SPP System
SPP has members in 14 states: Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming.

  • Service territory: 546,000 square miles (approx.)
  • Substations: 4,835
  • Generation plants: 790
  • Miles of transmission: 65,755
  • Coincident peak load: 50,622 MW (July 21, 2016)
  • Generating capacity: 83,945 MW
  • Energy consumption: 266.4 TWh

Eight Solar And Storage Trends To Keep An Eye On

By Betsy Lillian, Solar Energy Magazine

With the global solar industry expected to reach 100 GW this year, following nearly 20% year-over-year growth in annual installations in 2017, IHS Markit has identified eight solar and energy storage market trends to watch. “Solar Energy and Storage Trends,” a new white paper from IHS Markit, identifies the following significant trends with the most impact on the global solar market: Click here to continue.

The IHS Markit white paper can be downloaded here.

Pixels Photo




American Conservation Coalition (ACC)

  • One of ACC’s ten Principles of Conservative Environmentalism: “A conservatism that does not practice restraint, humility, and good stewardship—especially of the natural world—is not fundamentally conservative.” Initiatives include the development of an environmental scorecard of Republicans in Congress.
  • ACC Press Release: College Republican Clean Energy Coalition Expands to 30 states

USDA Rural Energy for America Program Grant Applications Now Open

USDA Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Anne Hazlett recently announced that the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) is accepting grant applications for renewable energy and energy efficiency improvement projects. The application deadline is April 30, 2018 for grants and loan/grant combinations. Small businesses in eligible rural areas and agricultural producers, both rural and non-rural, who have at least 50% of their gross income coming from agricultural operations, may apply. Check eligible business addresses.

REAP grants provide up to 25% of the total project costs, and a grant and loan combination up to 75%. Eligible projects include renewable energy systems and the purchase, installation and construction of energy efficiency improvements. See REAP Fact Sheet for a complete list of eligible projects.

The terms for renewable energy system grants are from $2,500 minimum to $500,000 maximum and for energy efficiency grants, from $1,500 minimum to $250,000 maximum.

Nebraska REAP Program

Jeff Carpenter
Nebraska Rural Development Energy Coordinator
Telephone: 402-437-5554 

Facebook’s Nebraska reach expands

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog

Facebook announced today their Nebraska data center will be three times the size of its original announcement. The Papillion data center will be six buildings instead of two with groundbreaking set to begin in May on the additional buildings. Facebook announced last April their plan to build its next data center here and credited the development of OPPD’s Rate 261M as one of the biggest draws. Read the entire blog post.

Facebook’s Press Release: Papillion Data Center Expanding to Six Buildings
Author: Jim Piazza, Director of Data Center Operations, East. Last year, we worked with Omaha Public Power District to create a new renewable energy tariff that ensures we can power our data center with clean and renewable energy. With the tariff in place, we could seek new, in-state wind projects, which we found in Enel Green Power‘s Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project. We will now increase our purchase from 200 MW to 320 MW to support our growth, and we are excited to share that we have partnered with Adobe to help them enter the U.S. renewable energy market with Enel; 10 MW of Rattlesnake Creek will be allocated to Adobe.

Enel sells energy from new US wind farm to Facebook and Adobe, Enel Press Release
The new deal between Enel and Facebook widens the scope of the bundled, long-term power purchase agreement for 200 MW signed in November 2017 to gradually include the plant’s overall output by 2029, following Facebook’s decision to significantly expand its data centre in Papillion, around 120 miles from Rattlesnake Creek. The energy produced by the entire wind farm will enable the expanded data centre to be 100% renewable-powered.

“Powering our data centers with 100% clean and renewable energy is not just a goal for Facebook, it is a requirement of our business,” said Bobby Hollis, Director of Global Energy at Facebook. “The Rattlesnake Creek wind farm will enable us to power our future Papillion Data Center, and fulfills our passion to expand the energy market for other corporate buyers, like Adobe.”

The expansion increases Facebook’s total investment in the Papillion Data Center to
$1 billion.

DIY PV Installation & Passive Solar Sunroom in Gering, Nebraska

By Colin Croft

Brief overview
This article includes a discussion of a DIY installation of a grid-tied 5.4-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system using Enphase microinverters, as well as the conversion of a two-level sunroom into a passive solar heating space using a thermostat-controlled fan/vent system. I also discuss my limited experimentation with micro wind turbines (not for the faint of heart!), and the hardware and software I’ve used to monitor my energy consumption and generation.

Download and save DIY PV Installation & Passive Solar Sunroom

About the Writer
Colin is a philosophy instructor at Western Nebraska Community College in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, who enjoys hiking, backpacking, biking, birding and generally exploring the wild places of Western Nebraska and nearby western states.

Note to Other Do-it-Yourselfers

If you have completed a DIY solar project and would like to share it with other solar enthusiasts,
please email your information to Helen Deffenbacher at

Green Schools Virtual Roundtable: Benchmarking in Schools

March 21, 2018 – 4 to 6 pm
Click flyer for more information and to register.
Nebraska Energy Office News Release Announcing Benchmarking Initiative: State Government Buildings To Be Benchmarked by 2020

OPPD Community Solar Primary Focus of March Board of Directors Meeting

Click image to watch YouTube Video of the meeting.


After Back-to-Back Years of Double-Digit Growth, U.S. Solar Passes 50 GW Milestone

Solar Energy Industries Association Blog

At the end of 2015, there was just north of 25 gigawatts (GW) of solar PV installed in the United States. Now, after back-to-back years of double-digit gigawatt growth (15 GW in 2016 and 10.6 GW in 2017), the solar industry has more than doubled its total installed capacity to 53.3 GW through the end of 2017. The release of the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2017 Year in Review finds that the solar industry is doing pretty well, even after a year of obstacles, from the trade case to a number of state policy actions. Read more here.



OPPD to convert streetlights to LED fixtures

By Laura King-Homan, The Wire, OPPD Blog

Streetlights across the OPPD service territory will get a facelift over the next five years. And their new look will mean brighter, longer-lasting fixtures, better efficiency, and monetary savings for the communities they serve . . . OPPD owns the majority of streetlights in its service territory. The utility has 298 streetlight customers ranging from small towns to the Nebraska Department of Transportation . . . A total of 98,744 streetlights cover the roads and highways of the service territory. By converting the streetlights to LED fixtures, the municipalities that contract with OPPD would see a 25-percent reduction in their overall streetlight costs. This is why:

Click link, below, to learn more.

The future of LED streetlights looks bright


Replacing all Lincoln street lights with LEDs could be first task if City Council OKs energy efficiency financing tool, Lincoln Journal Star