Tag Archives: Midwest Energy News

How Land Under Solar Panels Can Contribute to Food Security

By Frank Jossi, Ensia

With more land being devoted to solar energy production, the idea of making those acres pollinator friendly seems to make ecological and economic sense. “Incorporating habitat into these solar farms across the nation is a good way to promote and protect pollinator health,” says Val Dolcini, president and CEO of the San Francisco­–based Pollinator Partnership, a non-profit organization promoting pollinator environments.

Under-panel native plants benefit not just their immediate solar farm surroundings but nearby cropland. Lee Walston, an ecologist at Argonne National Laboratory, says pollinating insects roam beyond solar installations to other agricultural fields, where they help increase production. Native plantings offer refuge for declining species such as monarch butterflies and rusty patched bumblebees while serving the additional purpose of controlling stormwater and erosion, he adds. Read more here.

Ensia Editor’s Note: Frank Jossi is Minnesota correspondent for Midwest Energy News, an editorially independent publication of Fresh Energy. Rob Davis, who is quoted in the article, is the director of Fresh Energy’s Center for Pollinators in Energy.

Photo Credit: Prairie Restoration Inc.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Small as energy maker, solar farm generates big interest

Women look to close renewable energy’s employment gender gap

By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Women make up about a third of U.S. wind and solar energy jobs,
higher than other technology fields.

Sarah Fischer’s journey into the renewable energy field began with a high school French teacher whose husband had been a child slave in Haiti. The couple opened Fischer’s eyes to human rights and international development issues and sparked a desire to make a difference in such situations.

The more she learned about the role of deforestation and natural resource exploitation in creating poverty, the more she became interested in sustainability and renewable energy as ways to address injustice.  Continue reading here.

Organization Kari Lydersen references in her article:
Women of Renewable Industries and Sustainable Energy, previously called Women in Wind Energy

More Professional Networks

Kansas City clean energy goals could get a boost from utility partnership

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

Kansas City has an important ally in its push to cut the city’s energy consumption and increase its use of renewable power. Kansas City Power & Light, the city’s electric utility, says it is on board with helping the city achieve a list of ambitious clean energy goals drafted last summer. “We found that there was an alignment between the direction the city wants to go, and… .the business model that KCP&L is pursuing,” said Dennis Murphey, the city’s chief environmental officer. Read more here.

Photo by Brian Smarker, Flickr

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Are utilities co-opting community solar? Critics question term’s use

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

In Omaha, critics say the public utility’s community solar offering doesn’t share enough benefits with participants.

Last month, Omaha’s public utility unveiled details for a program that will help customers buy solar power without having to install their own panels. Omaha Public Power District’s community solar program follows a year of stakeholder meetings, but some critics say it’s a stretch to call it “community solar” because participants won’t share enough of the financial benefits. “It’s not really community solar,” said Don Preister, a customer who recently put solar panels on his home. Click here to read more.

Photo: PressReleaseFinder / Creative Commons

ABOUT KAREN UHLENHUTH
Karen spent most of her career reporting for The Kansas City Star, focusing at various times on local and regional news, and features. More recently, she was employed as a researcher and writer for a bioethics center at a children’s hospital in Kansas City.

MORE BY KAREN

Nebraska Supreme Court orders NPPD to open its books, disclose costs

By Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Nebraska Public Power District must open its books and disclose specific cost information, including the expense of generating electricity from its individual power plants . . . A private company that seeks to compete with NPPD, Lincoln-based energy firm Aksamit Resource Management, had filed a lawsuit seeking the information from the public power firm. Aksamit argued that the information was public and that it would help the firm and Nebraska ratepayers better understand why NPPD’s costs were rising. Without the detailed information, the firm argued, the public could not determine why NPPD’s costs had risen. Read more here.

Public Domain Photo of a Hybrid Project

RECOMMENDED BACKGROUND READING

Commentary: To fight climate change, we must change our vocabulary

By Dick Munson, Director of Midwest clean energy for the Environmental Defense Fund, Guest Opinion, Midwest Energy News

Each fall, Chicago throws a Humanities Festival to promote “the lifelong exploration of what it means to be human,” attracting thoughtful authors and expressive performers. Two lectures on a recent Saturday afternoon provided fresh perspectives on how environmentalists combat pollution and envision a healthier planet.

For me, those discussions revealed how we can tap different threads — specifically faith and literature — to make our cases more effectively.

Read more here.

 

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Year in review: The top stories of 2017

Written by Ken Paulman, a founding editor of Midwest Energy News
and managing editor for digital projects at Fresh Energy

Midwest Energy News is taking a short holiday break, and we want to pause briefly to thank you, our readers, for another great year. From its launch in 2010, this site has grown into a widely recognized resource for coverage of the clean energy transition that might otherwise go unnoticed in other media outlets.

Starting next year we will be rebranding as the Energy News Network to reflect our nationwide expansion. But fear not! Our Midwest reporting and daily email digest will continue unchanged and uninterrupted. You’ll hear more from us about this in January. For now, without further delay, here are the top ten most-read Midwest Energy Newsstories from 2017. Thanks for reading, and we’ll see you next year! Read more here.

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Photo by Maricel / Creative Commons

Iowa solar installer using storage to help customers avoid costly demand charges

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

In Iowa, a state with some of the highest demand charges in the nation, a solar installer is offering a storage solution that the company claims could cut power bills in half for some large electricity customers. One year ago the company, Ideal Energy, installed its first solar-plus-storage system at Stuff Etc., a large consignment store in Coralville. Amy Van Beek, the company’s co-founder and its chief marketing officer, said the project has been performing well and the company is now working with several large electricity customers in the state to determine how solar-plus-storage could work for them. Continue reading.

Photo: An Iowa solar company installed battery storage at this consignment store near Iowa City to help avoid high demand charges. Credit: Ideal Energy

INFORMATION LINKS

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

New connection technology is cutting cost of solar installation

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

ConnectDER, as it’s known, generally eliminates the need to enter a home and it greatly reduces the amount of electrical work required. “It allows you to inject the solar on the customer side of the meter prior to getting into the home,” said Michael Shonka, a solar installer who has put the new equipment in a half-dozen homes in the Omaha area.  “This means we can cut out $1,000 to $2,000 worth of cost in the system because you don’t need electricians to go through foundations trying to get to the service panel, and you don’t need to rearrange the panel.” Read more here.

Photo: The ConnectDER device allows a solar array to be connected directly to the meter, eliminating the need for electrical work inside the home.

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH
Midwestern poultry farmers cut bills in half with new heating system: Maintaining a tropical temperature for his turkeys, even through a Nebraska winter, used to cost Bill Bevans in the neighborhood of $60,000 annually. Not any longer.

Q&A: Michigan economist discusses the market forces pushing electric vehicles, clean energy

Written by Andy Balaskovitz, Midwest Energy News

After serving 18 years as chief global economist at Ford Motor Co. and then as chief economist at the U.S. Department of Commerce under President Barack Obama ,Ellen Hughes-Cromwick brings a market-driven perspective to the way energy use and transportation could mitigate the impacts of climate change.

In late July, Hughes-Cromwick started as senior economist at the University of Michigan’s Energy Institute, where she will help lead research on this “intersection of energy, economics, policy, and human behavior.”

Click here to read Midwest Energy News’ interview with Hughes-Cromwick.