Monthly Archives: May 2015

Thank you notes from Nebraskans for Solar

First of all thank you to John Atkeison, Energy Policy JohnAtkeison
Director for the Nebraska Wildlife Federation and Co-Director of Clean Energy Nebraska, for his well-presented and well-received public forum on May 14th at the Community Engagement Center on the topic of “Renewable Energy Development in Nebraska.” His discussion generated numerous questions from the audience. We appreciate your leadership and your outstanding work, John, in renewable energy advocacy and education.

Thank you and congratulations to Creighton University Erin Cheesegraduate Erin Cheese, who served on Nebraskans for Solar’s Board of Directors for one-and-a-half years. At Creighton she was a double major in Energy Science and Applied Physical Analysis, working on material science research in the physics department. Collaborating with other Creighton students, she co-founded the Creighton Energy Science Club, with the objective of developing campus and community outreach projects with Nebraskans for Solar and other organizations. Erin was recently accepted as a Junior Fellow with the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Fellowship Program in Washington, D.C. We will miss her, and we wish her all the best.

Thank you to everyone who contributed to Nebraskans for Solar OG Logo
during Omaha Gives! Your donations will have a “double impact,” as an anonymous donor has matched each gift. Nebraskans for Solar is a completely volunteer organization, so 100% of all gifts will be put to work on our community outreach projects.

Thank you to Fuse Coworking and Lincoln Artist Jamie Burmeister FuseCoworkingSharedesk.net
for hosting today’s panel presentation in Lincoln from 4 to 6 p.m. @ Fuse Coworking, 800 P Street. The panelists are:

  • Robby Bearman, Senior Operations Manager for Uber, the ride-sharing service that has been gaining traction over the past few years.
  • Scott Benson: Manager, Resource & Transmission Planning, Lincoln Electric System.
  • Jon Dixon is a mentor of UNL Engineers Without Borders: World Energy Project, and he is a board member of Nebraskans for Solar.
  • Jamie Burmeister is the artist behind that LUV U LUV: Message Matters exhibition where he signaled a message in morse code with lights over the Haymarket. His small, life-like figures are currently in every nook and cranny at FUSE.

As always, there will be plenty of networking, cold beer, and fancy wine! See you there!

FUSE Coworking is located at 800 P Street in Lincoln, on the 3rd Floor above the Dock – the loading area on the West side of The Mill Coffee Shop.

For additional details, please visit: www.facebook.com/NebraskansForSolar 

Thank you to Ken Johnson, who is Vice President of Communications at the Solar Energy Industries Association and who is on NFS’ ListServe, for his information about SEIA’s new video, “Solar Energy in the United States: A Decade of Record Growth.” It’s just 4 minutes long & fun to watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFMkL2QIduY

Finally, thank you everyone for all you are doing to advance solar energy in our state!

Nebraskans for Solar

Solar Energy in the United States: A Decade of Record Growth (Video)

“Over the last 10 years, the deployment of solar energy in the United States grew at an unprecedented rate. To highlight the good news, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has produced a new video, Solar Energy in the United States: A Decade of Record Growth.

According to a SEIA analysis, in 2004 there were 500 megawatts (MW) of solar energy installed nationwide. But by the end of 2014, there were 20,000 MW – enough to power more than 4 million homes. 97 percent of that capacity was added after passage of the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC).  By the end of 2016, the solar industry is expected to double in size, offsetting more than 45 million metric tons of carbon dioxide – the equivalent of taking 10 million cars off U.S. highways or shuttering 12 coal-fired power plants.”

Ken Johnson,
Vice President, Communications
Solar Energy Industries Association

Watch the video.

Solar power application withdrawn, but developer still wants to build

By Michael Shoro / Lincoln Journal Star

The developer of Nebraska’s first commercial solar energy project is withdrawing its application for state approval of the 5-megawatt generation plant just west of Lincoln, but says it will continue with the project.

In lieu of Nebraska Power Review Board certification, alternative energy firm Coronal Development Services is hoping to expedite the project by getting self-certification through the Federal Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act.

Continue reading here.

Nance County solar energy tour Saturday

Announcement posted by Jim Knopik in The Grand Island Independent and reprinted with permission here:

FULLERTON — An informational tour on solar energy panels is set for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jim Knopik farm in Nance County.

The farm includes a 15-kilowatt solar panel system. The tour will offer information on solar panels, net metering, estimated costs, incentive grants and tax credits. Martin Kleinschmit of the Nebraska Sustainable Agriculture Society helped to design the system and will be on hand to answer questions.

Knopik’s farm is located nine miles west of Fullerton on Highway 22, then a half-mile north.

For more information, contact Jim Knopik at (308) 550-0288 or Nick Cook at (308) 550-0845.

A model for Nebraska? “Community solar farms can work for neighborhoods”

By Rob Ellis, Kennebec Journal

Excerpt:
For many folks, the optimal orientation, sun exposure and roof pitch is not achievable on their limited roof space or specific site. In these instances, with the adoption of community solar farms, neighbors can come together and build their own shared solar array. A community solar farm, or solar garden, is a cooperatively owned solar array that produces clean solar power and feeds it into the grid as a dedicated electric service.

[For this specific model:] Up to nine individuals can join a community solar farm and own a portion of the electricity that is produced. The electricity then is credited directly to the customers’ bills through net metering. Community solar farms have been built since the early 2000s; however, in the last few years as the cost of solar power has become increasingly competitive with traditional energy, the development of community solar farms has taken off.

Read the entire article.

More Recommended Reading
Shared Solar: Current Landscape, Market Potential, and the Impact of Federal Securities Regulation 
According to this new National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report, about 50% of all households are suitable for solar, revised upward from the previous, longstanding 25% estimate.

Central City plans to build state’s first community solar farm

Berkshire Hathaway Banking on Midwest Solar?

By Chris O’Malley, RTO Insider 

Warren Buffett’s energy businesses have been buying and building wind generation facilities in the Midwest and Great Plains for years.

But the Oracle of Omaha now has his eyes on bringing solar power to the central U.S., according to a recent filing with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Read more.

For solar industry, Midwest ‘not just flyover land anymore’

By Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

As Minnesota emerges as a leader in solar power, an event here next week will take a broader regional perspective on the growing industry.

The second annual Midwest Solar Expo, which takes place May 13-14 in Minneapolis, is expected to draw as many as 300 people, including speakers from industry and advocacy groups.

Read more.

Filibuster kills proposed tax credits for wind farms, other renewable energy facilities

By Martha Stoddard / World-Herald Bureau

Excerpt:
State Sen. Jeremy Nordquist of Omaha, who introduced LB 423, expressed disappointment about the outcome of the vote.

“This was a decision today that’s going to have negative consequences long-term for the state,” he said. “It’s a decision that my daughter’s generation is going to be paying the cost for.”

The tax credits would have allowed Nebraska to take advantage of rapid changes in the energy industry, Nordquist said. Utilities are in the process of closing dozens of coal-fired power plants and will be looking to invest in clean-energy projects.

Read the entire article. 

SEE ALSO:
Nebraska wind PTC bill dies at hands of filibuster, by Gavin Bade, Utility Dive
Dive Insight: Despite having some of the best wind energy resources in the nation, Nebraska ranks 18th in terms of installed wind capacity, with 812 MW at the end of 2014. Just to the east, Iowa has more than 5,100 MW installed, thanks in part to its state production tax credit of $0.015 per kWh.

However, Nebraska did add 272 MW of wind last year, the fifth highest in the U.S. That 51.9% increase made it the fastest growing wind energy state of 2014. Backers of the state tax credit, led by bill sponsor Sen. Jeremy Nordquist, hoped to build on that success and catapult Nebraska into a leadership role on wind energy. Nordquist said he was disappointed they couldn’t break the deadlock.

Wind energy development bill blocked, by Don Walton, Lincoln Journal Star
Excerpt: Although the focus of the debate was on wind energy, Sen. Matt Williams of Gothenburg reminded the Legislature that the tax credits also would stimulate development of solar power. Both Gothenburg and Lexington have such projects “on the verge of moving forward,” he said.

Solar power facility eyes Kearney for its $20M operation, by Ashley White, Kearney Hub Staff Writer  

Thanks to Warren Buffett, Omaha Is Getting Less Reliant on Coal

By Daniel Gross, MONEYBOX

Warren Buffett, wind-farm enthusiast. Photo by David Silverman, Getty Photos

Warren Buffett, wind-farm enthusiast. Photo by David Silverman, Getty Photos

Excerpt:
“Last week, BHE Renewables moved to become a player in Buffett’s backyard. It announced it would start building a 400-megawatt wind farm in Holt County, Nebraska, about 180 miles northwest of Buffett’s home base of Omaha. Upon completion, OPPD has committed to buy the output of the Grand Prairie Farm, which will be the biggest in the state. That move alone will double the amount of the utility’s renewables. And . , . it will substantially change OPPD’s electricity mix by 2018: to one-third nuclear, one-third renewables, and about 31 percent coal. In the following years, as noted, OPPD says it will further reduce its reliance on coal to 15 percent by using natural gas at one of its existing plants . . . Renewable energy is no longer a luxury product—especially when someone with a low cost of capital like Warren Buffett can build massive wind farms on the prairie. OPPD notes that as a result of its plan, which will reduce its operations’ carbon dioxide emissions by nearly 50 percent by 2033, ‘rates should increase no more than 2 percent.'”

Read the entire article here.

About BHE Renewables
BHE Renewables is a wholly owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy and is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa. Since 2012, BHE Renewables has invested extensively in solar, wind, geothermal and hydro projects. As a long-term owner of assets, the company’s wind projects include the 300-megawatt Jumbo Road project near Hereford, Texas; 168-megawatt Pinyon Pines I and 132-megawatt Pinyon Pines II projects, located near Tehachapi, California; 81-megawatt Bishop Hill II project in Henry County, Illinois; 400-megawatt Grande Prairie project in Holt County, Nebraska, which will begin construction in 2015; and the up to 225-megawatt Walnut Ridge project in Bureau County, Illinois, which is still in development. More information is available www.bherenewables.com.

MITEI releases report on the future of solar energy

“Report highlights enormous potential and discusses pathways toward affordable solar energy.” Melissa Abraham / Massachusetts Institute of Technology News / MIT Energy Initiative

MITEI

Solar energy holds the best potential for meeting humanity’s future long-term energy needs while cutting greenhouse gas emissions — but to realize this potential will require increased emphasis on developing lower-cost technologies and more effective deployment policy, says a comprehensive new study, titled “The Future of Solar Energy,” released today by the MIT Energy Initiative (MITEI).

Read more.

Download the full report.