Tri-State power wholesaler requests new solar projects as United Power, other members seek flexibility

By Sam Lounsberry, Longmont Times-Call

As Westminster-based regional power wholesaler Tri-State Generation and Transmission on Thursday announced it is seeking proposals to build a number of solar projects between 10 and 200 megawatts, its largest member United Power continues asking its parent for policy changes to allow more renewable energy development at the local level.

Tri-State’s pursuit of more solar power comes after announcements earlier this year of two projects — one wind farm and another solar farm being built by Boulder-based Juwi — totaling 204 megawatts, and the power wholesaler for 43 electric cooperatives and power districts serving rural communities across Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico claims its pursuit of a new solar project this year represents its increasing interest in owning solar. Continue reading here.

Photo: United Power’s recently-installed Tesla battery. United Power has said it has lost out on large commercial customers to nearby Xcel Energy’s service territory because the local utility can only offer so much renewable power on its grid under current Tri-State rules limiting its members from generating more than 5% of their demand loads themselves through renewables or other means.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

GLOBAL NEWS

Off-Grid Solar Energy Use Is About to Explode Thanks to These Key Regions: Employment could triple by 2020, Inverse

EV NEWS

Corporate World Weighs Up Trillions Of Dollars Of Climate Risks – And Opportunities

Mike Scott, Contributor, Forbes

Some of the world’s biggest companies, representing $17 trillion in market capitalization, have said that climate change could cost them almost $1 trillion, much of it within the next five years, with a potential $250 billion write-off of stranded assets.

However, they also said that there are climate opportunities of $2.1 trillion, “nearly all of which are highly likely or certain”. Financial companies alone saw potential revenue of $1.2 trillion from low emissions products and services but they also face almost 80% of the total financial impacts, increasing the urgency for them to shift their investments into lower-carbon projects. Read more here.

Previously Posted

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Papillion’s Facebook data center, now officially online, part of company’s global infrastructure

By Reece Ristau, Omaha World-Herald

On Thursday, two years after construction began, a portion of the data center officially came online, connecting Papillion with Facebook’s network of similar centers that allow 2.38 billion monthly active users to share photos with friends, post life updates and stay connected from thousands of miles apart.

Facebook also is investing in Nebraska’s alternative energy sources. Committed to using 100% renewable energy to power its data centers, the company is buying wind power from the Omaha Public Power District, which in turn is purchasing it from the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project in Dixon County, about two hours north of Omaha. Read more here.

Enel Green Power’s Photo of the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm in Dixon County, Nebraska

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & VIEWING

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS & OPINION

APPA’s National Energy Innovator Award presented to NPPD, NPPD News Release
Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) was recognized with the Energy Innovator Award from the American Public Power Association at the Association’s national conference held in Austin, Texas. NPPD was one of nine public power utilities recognized for service to APPA and the public power industry during the conference.

Innovation now NPPD’s calling card, Kearney Hub Editorial
NPPD has been on an innovative trajectory for at least the past 10 years, diversifying the ways in which it generates electricity, opening doors for innovation in communities such as Norfolk and Kearney, and re-purposing resources for experimental projects, such as the Sheldon Station plant that’s being retooled to burn hydrogen in a process that produces no greenhouse gases. In recent years, NPPD has been investing more in wind energy, and it’s helping local communities to explore how to broaden the use of new clean energy — including Norfolk with a battery storage experiment and Kearney with its 53-acre solar farm. 

LES CEO receives national public power award, LES News Release
AUSTIN, TX — Kevin G. Wailes, chief executive officer of Lincoln Electric System, received the Alan Richardson Statesmanship Award at the American Public Power Association’s national conference in Austin, Texas, on June 11, 2019. This award honors public power leaders who work to achieve consensus on national issues important to public power utilities.

Live Stream of Papillion Facebook Data Center’s Grand Opening

Facebook Announcement 

It’s an exciting morning in Papillion! Facebook invites you to join them via live stream for their Grand Opening ceremony this morning at 10:30 a.m. on the Papillion Data Center Facebook page.

Recommended News Story & Video

Powering your Posts: NE Nebraska wind farm powering new Facebook data center, Siouxland News 

Previously Posted

Compute North data center at Kearney tech park approved; council members tout development’s benefits

By Mike Konz, Kearney Hub

The addition of the Compute North data center at Kearney’s Tech oNE technology park will boost the tract’s attractiveness for other high-tech companies, Councilman Randy Buschkoetter said Tuesday. “This is one of the things we’ve really been working for,” Buschkoetter said after the Kearney City Council voted to approve the city’s agreement for the Minnesota-based Compute North to build its data center at Tech oNE. Read more here.

USDA Helps Farmers, Businesses and Ag Producers Cut Energy Costs

USDA News Release

Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (PDF, 146 KB) to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

USDA is providing the grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. Under today’s announcement, USDA is investing $1 million in renewable energy projects. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. Read the entire news release here.

INDUSTRY NEWS

SELF-COMMITTING IN POWER MARKETS

Are old Midwest coal plants pushing renewables offline?, E&E News
The utility process of self-committing or self-scheduling power plants to run even when there’s cheaper energy available on the grid is a complex issue and opaque to outsiders. Increasingly, there are questions about whether it’s slowing a transition to cleaner energy amid inexpensive shale gas and falling costs for renewable energy.

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets, by Joseph Daniel, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists
Markets are supposed to ensure that all power plants are operated from lowest cost to most expensive. Self-committing allows expensive coal plants to cut in line, pushing out less expensive power generators such as wind, depriving those units from operating and generating revenue.

Inspiring Solar Schools Example: Sedgwick County school now has Kansas’ largest privately-owned solar power system

By Abigail Hall, The Wichita Eagle

On Tuesday, a Sedgwick County school, Maize High School, set live a solar power system capable of producing enough energy in one day to power the school for a month. The 720 solar panel, 240 kw (kilowatt) system is the largest privately-owned system in Kansas, said Stan Bergkamp, physics and chemistry teacher, and the instigator of the project. The system is 400 feet long and 75 wide and stands in an empty field adjacent to the high school. Bergkamp said the threat of climate change was one of the driving forces  for pursuing the project . . . “Without doubt the strongest supporters I have are the students that I have, and kids I’ve taught,” Bergkamp said. “What I underestimated when I started the project was the emotional impact it would have on my students and how proud they are to be a part of it.”

Read more and view a photo gallery and brief video here.

Photo Credit: King Solar

FROM OPPD BLOG – THE WIRE

Kennedy’s role involves exploring energy solutions, by Laura King-Homan
Courtney Kennedy doesn’t just tour wind farms. Kennedy, OPPD’s manager for alternative energy programs, and her team also research new alternative energy technologies, explore partnerships with large customers and work with system planning groups on how to best meet OPPD’s future load needs with alternative energy solutions.

HAPPENING IN OTHER STATES

New $7.65 million data center planned for Kearney tech park

News Release Posted by KHGI, Fox Nebraska

KEARNEY, Neb. — A $7.65 million dollar data center will be coming to Kearney, the city and Economic Development Council of Buffalo County announced Tuesday. The city said Compute North, based out of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has entered into an agreement to begin construction on five acres at the Tech oNE Crossing technology park and create 10 new full-time technology and security jobs . . . The Kearney City Council will consider the development agreement for approval at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday June 11, at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council’s chambers. Read more here.

Compute North’s colocation services include renewable energy: “Cost-competitive infrastructure powered by a broad mix including low-cost renewable energy.”

Compute North’s FAQs Include:

What is cryptocurrency and how does mining work?
Cryptocurrency is a computer-generated monetary system. It’s created by specialized, powerful computers called “miners,” which compete mathematically to secure “transactions.” The transactions are bundled into a “block,” which the cryptocurrency miner digitally verifies to assure the validity of all transactions. The miner computes a “cryptographic hash,” a computerized method to ensure the block’s validity and prevent invalid block construction. Blocks are accumulated and accounted for in the blockchain, functioning as digital ledgers. Miners are rewarded for their transactions with a set amount of cryptocurrency.

How does Compute North economize on energy consumption?
Crypto mining computers require significant energy. Compute North has established facilities where energy costs are low. We also partner with renewable energy companies to conserve energy and lower costs. Our data centers are in geographic locations where the innovative use of ambient cooling technologies further reduce costs for our mining operations.

Photo by SoCore Energy: Kearney’s solar farm located in the city’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing. The array generates 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

Kelly calls for public power to address three critical issues

By Susan Partain, American Public Power Association Blog

In her keynote at the American Public Power Association’s 2019 National Conference on June 10, Association President and CEO Sue Kelly urged public power utility executives to focus on what she called the industry’s three greatest challenges: customers’ increasing use of technology, cyber and physical security, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Kelly cautioned that if public power utilities do not face these challenges head on, “we could lose our customers’ business and risk being disrupted—indeed, we could be left behind.”  Conversely, Kelly said tackling these challenges can help public power “become shining examples of nimble, customer-focused and respected twenty-first century utilities.” For each challenge, Kelly laid out the landscape and offered advice on how utilities can take them on. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading
A Vision for Midwest Zero-Carbon Power Starts to Takes Shape, Natural Resources Defense Council 

OPPD sells out of shares for Community Solar program

By Sydnie Holzfaster, Fox42

In less than two months OPPD sold out of their shares to provide renewable energy to their customers through the Community Solar programSunday the environmental group Green Bellevue welcomed Cliff Mesner of Mesner Development Company and Tricia McKnight from OPPD to talk about community solar programs across Nebraska. McKnight said OPPD sold over 8,400 shares for renewable energy. The program will pull solar energy from OPPD future solar farm in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska later this year . . . Don Preister, Bellevue city councilman for the fifth ward, said the concept of a solar share program isn’t new. He has been working to bring a solar share program to Bellevue for the last eight years. Read more here.

To be placed on OPPD’s community solar waiting list, call customer care at 402-536-4131.

Bellevue’s Proposed Landfill Solar Project – Previously Posted 

Given the dramatic decrease in solar energy’s costs over the past several years since Bellevue’s landfill solar project was first proposed, it would be good to see an up-to-date analysis of the project’s levelized costs through a twenty-year power purchase agreement.

About Power Purchase Agreements

  • Solar Power Purchase Agreements, Solar Energy Industries Association 
    A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost. 
  • Power purchase agreements, by Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog
    Currently, OPPD utilizes PPAs for the output of five wind farms: Grande Prairie, Prairie Breeze, Flatware, Petersburg, as well as Sholes, which is under construction. Also, OPPD has signed power sales agreements with NPPD for the partial output of five other wind farms. Those farms are Ainsworth, Broken Bow 1, Broken Bow 2, Crofton Bluffs and Elkhorn Ridge. The normal term of OPPD’s PPAs is 20 years. The new community solar project near Fort Calhoun is under a PPA, with NextEra Energy Resources.

About N-Solar

 

 

 

Sol Systems News Release
With a long history of serving Nebraska communities, Mesner Development assembled a team of solar energy experts, including GenPro Energy Solutions for site development and construction and Sol Systems for project development and power purchase agreements. To date, the companies comprising N-Solar have developed, constructed, or financed a combined 17.6 megawatts of solar electric generating capacity across Nebraska.

Top Photo by N-Solar: Central City’s 499-kW Municipal Solar System

NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar

Request Community Solar: If you are an NPPD customer and would like to request community solar for your community, click here to submit the SunWise Community Solar Interest Form.