Monthly Archives: June 2015

Expanded Iowa incentive likely to nudge some utilities to invest in solar

By Karen Uhlenhuth

Iowa utilities historically have been tepid about investing in solar generation, but some may find it more enticing now thanks to an expanded incentive signed by Governor Terry Branstad on Friday and passed by the Iowa legislature hours before it adjourned on June 5.

The municipal utility’s community solar garden at Traer. Photo courtesy of Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities.

The municipal utility’s community solar garden at Traer. Photo courtesy of Iowa Association of Municipal Utilities.

HF 645, which passed both chambers nearly unanimously, will increase from from 53 to 63 MW the amount of solar power that can qualify for a production tax credit of 1.5 cents per kilowatt hour. The bill also boosted from $4.5 million to $5 million the pool of tax credit funds available each year for individuals and businesses that invest in solar panels.

Continue reading.

Local Solar Examples & Solar Watch Parties

The first Nebraska “Solar Examples” are now posted in alphabetical order on our website. Click on the icon on the menu bar at the top of this page to view them. This is a work-in-progress. If you’ve installed solar on your home, business, or nonprofit and would like to include your project in this resource, please send a brief description, one or two photos, and any news stories or announcements about it to Helen Deffenbacher at:

Fifty-eight solar panels line the roof of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln. The panels were part of a $2.5 million renovation project, which included geothermal heating and cooling, as well as room for 42 more solar panels in the future. Photo: Lincoln Journal Star

Fifty-eight solar panels line the roof of the Unitarian Church of Lincoln. The panels were part of a $2.5 million renovation project, which included geothermal heating and cooling, as well as room for 42 more solar panels in the future. Photo: Lincoln Journal Star

The primary focus is on the projects themselves rather than on the installer or developer. News stories and other links may include this information, however. Thank you to everyone who sent examples. Questions about any of the current “Solar Examples” can also be sent to the same email address and, upon request, forwarded to the project designer and installer.

If you plan to install solar on your home, business, or nonprofit and you and your installer would like to host a Solar Watch Party, please email Helen Deffenbacher at the above address. As announced at our last workshop on May 14th, we’re planning fun and educational watch parties this summer and fall in collaboration with local solar professionals and DIY installers in Omaha, Lincoln, Bellevue, and other communities. Our goal is to have at least one watch party at a solar-powered farm.

Tanderup Farm’s Solar Array

The purpose of these parties is to demonstrate that going solar is not as complicated as some may think. Everyone interested will be invited to bring lawn chairs to watch an installation, for as long as you care to stay, and to learn, firsthand, the steps involved in going solar. Children, with the suggested ages of 8 and older, are invited but must be accompanied by a parent or grandparent. Pastries from Two Birds Bakery as well as a list of additional solar installations, with addresses and maps, from our “Solar Examples” will also be available for self-guided tours. Watch our website calendar and Facebook page for an announcement of our first Solar Watch Party.


 Solar Electricity Handbook – 2015 Edition, by Michael Boxwell. In January Nebraskans for Solar donated two copies to the W. Dale Clark Library. If you live in the Omaha area, you can request that it be sent to your neighborhood library. Telephone: 402-444-4800

Solar Electricity Handbook1

Solar Energy Basics – Videos
Energy 101 Video: Solar Photovoltaics
Solar Water Heater Basics
Small Solar Electric Systems

For more educational resources, projects and activities for all ages, and links to local, national, and global renewable energy news, click on “Resources” and “News/Blog” on the menu bar above, or visit Nebraskans for Solar’s Facebook page.

Renewable Energy Purchase in Grand Island

 By Amanda Kerstetter, NBC Nebraska

Photo: NBC Nebraska

Photo: NBC Nebraska

“We have our primary source right now is coal, we do have some natural gas, this wind energy will obviously be a bigger factor in that portfolio that we have,” said Tim Luchsinger of the Grand Island Utilities Department . . . “Environmentally, it is a clean source, it’s definitely the way of the future and it’s going to be good for Grand Island, it’s going to be good for Nebraska and it’s going to be good for the country,” said Luchsinger.

Read the entire story here.

City of Grand Island announces first renewable energy purchase, signs agreement with Invenergy Nebraska wind power, PRNewswire

Update: Grand Island Announces First Renewable Energy Purchase

By Megan Johnson, Reporter for NTV

Photo: NTV

Photo: NTV

Buying in to wind energy now might not make much difference for Grand Island Utilities customers in the near future, but officials say it could pay off down the road.

Twenty turbines will make up Prairie Breeze Phase III when it’s finished in 2016, turning in the wind and creating power for Grand Island.

“We were asked to participate in a wind energy project up at Elgin, Nebraska; it’s actually the third phase of the project up there,” explains GI Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger.

Continue reading.

Gering to update wind, solar codes: Interest in alternative energy on the rise, KOTA TV

Shining Rewards: The Value of Rooftop Solar Power for Consumers and Society

New report released today by the Environment America Research and Policy Center By Elizabeth Ouzts and Rob Sargent

News Release Excerpt
BOSTON, MA – Homes and businesses with solar panels deliver more benefits than they receive through programs like net metering, a report said today, countering increasing complaints from utilities that solar homeowners don’t pay their fair share.

“While some utilities claim they’re subsidizing solar panel owners, our report shows the opposite is probably true,” said Rob Sargent, senior program director at Environment America and the report’s co-author. “If anything, utilities should be paying people who go solar more, not less.”

Read the entire News Release here.

Report: Solar’s value is nearly 17 cents/kWh, utilities under-compensating, by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

New GTM Report: US Community Solar Market to Grow Fivefold in 2015

By Mike Munsell, Greentech Media

Greentech Media-CommunitySolar

The U.S. community solar market is approaching a tipping point. In its latest report, U.S. Community Solar Outlook 2015-2020, GTM Research forecasts the market to grow fivefold this year, with 115 megawatts installed. By 2020, community solar in the United States will be an annual half-gigawatt opportunity.

With 66 cumulative megawatts installed through the end of 2014, the U.S. community solar market is just getting off the ground. However, GTM Research has pegged it as the most significant solar growth market for the United States. Between 2014 and 2020, GTM Research expects U.S. community solar to have a compound annual growth rate of 59 percent.

Continue reading.

Clean Energy Champions – The Importance of State Programs and Policies

By Warren Leon, Executive Director, Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA)


Clean Energy Champions: The Importance of State Programs and Policies, by the Clean Energy States Alliance provides the first-ever comprehensive look at the ways in which states are advancing clean energy and suggests how to further encourage growth. The report describes the many important ways that states across the nation are supporting clean energy generation and markets. It highlights 31 case studies from 22 states, covering a variety of state programs such as renewable portfolio standards, rebates for purchasing solar panels, and wind energy tax credits, as well as lesser known ones to build necessary infrastructure, grow small businesses, and protect consumers.

To download a high resolution version of the report (14 MB), go to

Climate Change in the United States: Benefits of Global Action

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Report


Click arrow to watch the video.

The report examines how the impacts and damages of climate change across a number of sectors in the United States can be avoided with global action.   The findings include:

  • Global action on climate change reduces the frequency of extreme weather events and associated impacts. For example, by 2100 global action on climate change is projected to avoid an estimated 12,000 deaths annually associated with extreme temperatures in 49 U.S. cities, compared to a future with no reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. This is more than a 90 percent reduction from what we would expect with no action.
  • Global action now leads to greater benefits over time. The decisions we make today will have long-term effects, and future generations will either benefit from, or be burdened by, our current actions. Compared to a future with unchecked climate change, climate action is projected to avoid approximately 13,000 deaths in 2050 and 57,000 deaths in 2100 from poor air quality. Delaying action on emissions reductions will likely reduce these and other benefits.
  • Global action on climate change avoids costly damages in the United States. For nearly all of the 20 sectors studied, global action on climate change significantly reduces the economic damages of climate change. For example, without climate action, we estimated up to $10 billion in increased road maintenance costs each year by the end of the century.  With action, we can avoid up to $7 billion of these damages.
  • Climate change impacts are not equally distributed. Some regions of the United States are more vulnerable than others and will bear greater impacts. For example, without action on climate change, California is projected to face increasing risk of drought, the Rocky Mountain region will see significant increases in wildfires, and the mid-Atlantic and Southeast are projected to experience infrastructure damage from extreme temperatures, heavy rainfall, sea level rise, and storm surge.
  • Adaptation can reduce damages and costs. For some sectors, adaptation can substantially reduce the impacts of climate change. For example, in a future without greenhouse gas reductions, estimated damages from sea-level rise and storm surge to coastal property in the lower 48 states are $5.0 trillion dollars through 2100.  With adaptation along the coast, the estimated damages and adaptation costs are reduced to $810 billion.

The report is a product of the Climate Change Impacts and Risks Analysis (CIRA) project, led by EPA in collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Pacific Northwest National Lab, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and other partners. The CIRA project is one of the first efforts to quantify the benefits of global action on climate change across a large number of U.S. sectors using a common analytic framework and consistent underlying data inputs.  The project spans 20 U.S. sectors related to health, infrastructure, electricity, water resources, agriculture and forestry, and ecosystems.

Explore the report
See a short video:
Register for Webinar: June 23, 2015 at 2:30 p.m. Central Standard Time

Pope Francis would already be proud of our conservation efforts, Nebraska and Omaha-area utilities say

By Russell Hubbard, World-Herald staff writer

Photo: Omaha.Com

Photo: Omaha.Com

Nebraska and Omaha-area energy companies say they’re already on the way to scrubbing up their industry, actions that jibe with Pope Francis’ call this week to curb climate change.

“The pope’s message reinforces a lot of the changes we have undertaken,” said Russ Baker, manager of environmental and regulatory affairs for the Omaha Public Power District, which has 800,000 customers in the region.

 Continue reading.

Science vine: how do solar panels work?

Photo: The Guardian

Photo: The Guardian

This week’s “Guardian Science-in-Six” attempts to show, in six seconds, how solar panels work. If you think you could do a better job, or have another science concept you would like to explain in six seconds, you’re invited to submit your idea to The Guardian. The science editor will publish the best ones and feature a collection on The Guardian’s Youtube channel.

Check out this week’s “Science-in-Six” here.