Monthly Archives: December 2015

Despite pleas to consider the poor, OPPD board OKs revised rate plan

OPPD rate increase

People line up to speak to the OPPD board on Thursday. Dozens complained that a rate restructuring would unfairly hurt poor and low-use customers. Photo by Sarah Hoffman / The World Herald

The fixed service charge for residential customers will start to increase from the current $10.25 a month to $30, or $360 a year, by 2019. The increase for small commercial customers will rise from $13.53 to $33 each month or $396 per year.

By Cody Winchester, World-Herald staff writer

Board members Tom Barrett and Tim Gay voted no. Both said OPPD officials hadn’t provided enough detail on a new bill credit program intended to mitigate the impact of the change to low-income customers. Gay said the changes are too sweeping — why not go a year at a time, he asked fellow board members. “What’s the rush? “We’re making a four-year rate adjustment with one vote,” he said . . . Barrett said he couldn’t support the plan because it reduces the incentive to conserve energy and translates into higher bills for many low-income customers. OPPD has estimated that six in 10 low-income customers would see higher bills under the new rates. “I’m just tired of us living in relative comfort and having a blind eye to people who aren’t as fortunate as we are,” said Barrett, who represents east and north Omaha.

Read the entire article here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Utility Dive: Nebraska municipal utilities move to increase fixed charges, by Herman K. Trabish

Lincoln Journal Star: LES to follow national trend increasing fixed portion of bills, by Nicholas Bergin. The fixed rate charge for residential customers will increase from $11.15 to $13.40 in 2016.

Columbus Telegram: Loup board members cautiously optimistic about wind energy, by Christina Lieffring

Omaha World-Herald: Report: Coal demand stalls for 1st time since ’90’s, Associated Press

SEIA Commends Congressional Leaders for Including the Solar Investment Tax Credit Extension in Omnibus Bill

SEIA Press Release
Following is a statement from Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), on the inclusion of a five-year solar investment tax credit (ITC) extension in the omnibus appropriations bill filed this morning by the U.S. House of Representatives:

RhoneResch“By extending the solar investment tax credit for five years with a commence construction provision and a gradual ramp down, bipartisan members in both Houses have reestablished America as the global leader in clean energy, which will boost our economy and create thousands of jobs across America. 

Currently there are 200,000 solar jobs, and the extension is likely to add another 140,000 jobs or more. And with this extension, the solar industry can achieve its pledge of employing 50,000 veterans by 2020, a goal our industry takes very seriously. These jobs are stable, well-paying and cannot be exported overseas.

A five-year extension of the ITC will lead to more than $125 billion in new, private sector investment in the U.S. economy. And much of this growth will come from small businesses, which make up more than 85 percent of America’s 8,000 solar companies. Over the last year, these companies told us they needed the extension of the ITC to provide their businesses with certainty, and SEIA has been working tirelessly to achieve that goal. Tonight, we’re happy to see that Congress has responded.

Solar power in this nation will triple by 2022, hitting 95 gigawatts. That’s enough to power 19 million homes and represents 3.5 percent of U.S. electricity generation- up from 0.1 percent in 2010. And the extension will offset 100 million metric tons of CO2 annually- equivalent to the emissions from 26 coal fired power plants. 

We commend members of Congress in both parties for taking this bold step and we look forward to delivering on the promise that this policy now offers all Americans for clean, affordable and reliable energy.”

PRESS RELEASE

About SEIA
Celebrating its 41st anniversary in 2015, the Solar Energy Industries Association is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry. Through advocacy and education, SEIA is building a strong solar industry to power America. As the voice of the industry, SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to champion the use of clean, affordable solar in America by expanding markets, removing market barriers, strengthening the industry and educating the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

Rural Nebraska lawmaker sees wind energy as an urgent lifeline

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

Senator DavisNebraska state Sen. Al Davis is a rancher, a longtime resident of rural Nebraska, a proponent of renewable energy, and a Republican. Now going into his fourth year as a state legislator, Davis views this as a propitious moment for his home state to convert much more its abundant wind into exportable energy.

Living in the Sandhills community of Hyannis, with a population of just under 200, he has witnessed the challenges that threaten sparsely populated rural America. His district, which is roughly twice the size of New Jersey in area, has fewer than 40,000 people, and that population is declining.

One way to reverse that trend, he believes, lies in the development of wind energy.

Click here to read Karen Uhlenhuth’s interview of Senator Davis.

Minnesota Public Radio: “Solar energy for powering light rail trains will expand”

This 37-kilowatt solar array on the Spruce Tree Center at University and Snelling avenues in St. Paul was installed in 2010. Innovative Power Systems will install similar arrays on four more commercial buildings along the light rail corridor next year. Elizabeth Dunbar | MPR News

This 37-kilowatt solar array on the Spruce Tree Center at University and Snelling avenues in St. Paul was installed in 2010. Innovative Power Systems will install similar arrays on four more commercial buildings along the light rail corridor next year. Elizabeth Dunbar | MPR News

By Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio (MPR) News 

Next year, Innovative Power Systems will install solar panels on four commercial building rooftops in the area, thanks to a $1.9 million grant from Xcel Energy.

The trains use a lot of electricity. But once the new panels are installed, solar power will make up 17 percent of the light rail’s annual electricity use.

Read more here.

Sandhills Publishing in Lincoln Announces Construction Of LEED Gold “Cyber Center”

Sandhills PublishingNews Release Excerpt
Sandhills will soon break ground on a new facility on its 68-acre global headquarters in Lincoln, Nebraska. The announcement comes on the heels of a recently constructed IT facility, completed in October. The new 42,000-square-foot building, called the Cyber Center, will house 240 employee workstations, a reception area and café space, as well as classrooms and other training facilities. The new addition is part of a larger trend of sustainable, companywide growth for Sandhills . . . Constructed largely of recycled and reclaimed materials, the facility will be gold certified by the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) program (www.usgbc.org/leed). The design incorporates state-of-the-art technologies that increase water and energy efficiencies through the use of solar panels, light harvesting sensors, and motion sensors that control plumbing and electricity. The new facility will also feature one of the most advanced heating and cooling system designs in the world: a closed-loop, geothermal well field confirmed by the EPA to operate at greater efficiency than oil furnaces, gas furnaces, and air source heat pumps.

Read the entire News Release here.

2015: A banner year for energy storage

Image Credit: Portland General Electric

Image Credit: Portland General Electric

By Peter Maloney, Utility Dive

Energy storage is shaping up to have its strongest year ever in what could be a turning point for the technology and the industry.

As of the third quarter, 108 MW (94 MWh) of energy storage was deployed in 2015, compared with 38 MW (65 MWh) installed during the same period in 2014, according to a new report from GTM Research.

At that pace, GTM estimates energy storage installations will hit 192 MW this year, triple the amount of storage put in place in 2014.

Continue reading.

Scottsbluff Star-Herald: “Solar project takes another step into the sun”

By Irene North

Proposed Community Solar Project in Scottsbluff: Vist: www.scottsbluff.com

Proposed Community Solar Project in Scottsbluff

The Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) is another step closer to making the city of Scottsbluff a pilot site for solar energy. The Scottsbluff City Council moved to accept NPPD’s Community Solar project, which aims to bring community solar to western Nebraska. The project would see a solar facility next to the NPPD building in Scottsbluff. It would be interconnected to a distribution line where multiple end-use customers within the community could participate. Continue reading.

ADDITIONAL MIDWEST COMMUNITY SOLAR NEWS
The Kansas City Star: Independence community solar farm proposed If built the solar farm could be the largest in the Kansas City area.

Nebraskans for Solar recognizes this year’s board members’ service and prepares for a New Year

cropped-NFS2.png

Nebraskans for Solar has a board governance structure of President, President-Elect and Past President. Our current officers, until December 31, 2015, are: David Corbin, President; Eric Williams, President-Elect; and Ken Deffenbacher, Past President.

At our monthly meeting today, Nebraskans for Solar’s Board of Directors thanked them for their service. We also elected Jared Friesen to the position of President-Elect, who previously served on Nebraskans for Solar’s Advisory Board for more than a year and is employed as Morrissey Engineering’s Renewable Energy Specialist and Project Manager.

In 2016 Eric Williams will serve as Board President and David Corbin as Past President. Ken Deffenbacher will continue serving as Secretary-Treasurer.

Additional Nebraskans for Solar Board Members
Anton Yanchillin
Barbara Johnson
Blake Johnson
Donnis Arens
Helen Deffenbacher
Ian Santos-Meeker
Jon Dixon
Leo Arens
Michael Shonka
Syed Ali

Advisory Board Members
Albert Lierz
Doug Perry

SEIA’s CEO provides update on the solar investment tax credit (ITC) fight on Capitol Hill

In Solar Power World’s latest E-Newsletter, Editor Kathie Zipp summarizes and provides commentary on Solar Energy Industries Association’s CEO Rhone Resch’s update on the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC} :

RhoneResch
“I am writing to give you the latest information and to put you on the lookout for regular ITC updates over the next several weeks.

The response of our SEIA members in the face of significant head winds has been nothing short of incredible. Earlier this week, SEIA arranged for 14 solar CEOs to come in from all over the country to meet with members of the House and Senate from both parties and with administration officials to hammer home the point that we need an extension of the ITC and we need it this year.

On a daily basis, SEIA staff and lobbyists have fanned out across Capitol Hill, talking to Senators, Representatives and their staffs, carrying the ITC message. And in all of our meetings, we emphasized that the solar industry is speaking with one voice,” he said in the mass email. 

Resch said he sees two possible paths forward, based on published reports and SEIA intelligence. One is a roughly $800 billion tax extenders package. He noted that negotiations among Congressional leaders and the White House continue. If some of these larger issues get resolved, such as the Child Tax Credit and provisions to protect fraud, SEIA believes that Congress will include an expansion of the ITC. This could mean anything from a multi-year extension of the ITC, to a gradual reduction over time. A second possible legislative vehicle is a tie in with legislation lifting the current ban on crude oil exports from the U.S.

“We are working closely with our champions to extract the best possible deal for the ITC if that scenario unfolds,” Resch said referring to the latter path. 

Resch also warned of an alliance driven to block even the slightest of advances for solar energy on Capitol Hill. This includes the Edison Electric Institute and Sunnova’s CEO. But in his email, Resch promises SEIA is working to fight for the future of the solar industry.

“Be assured that we are taking diligent steps to address these issues on a multitude of fronts. Look for regular ITC updates, and know that we will not stand for getting lumps of coal in our stockings this year.

We are pushing with every ounce of effort to get the ITC extension approved.”

This update is posted here

Sign up for Solar Power World’s free weekly E-Newsletters here.

Subscribe to SEIA’s free E-Newsletters & updates on their home page by providing your email address: www.seia.org

The Solar Energy Industries Association has created an online form for solar advocates to support extension of the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). Click HERE to learn more. 

US Solar market prepares for biggest quarter in history

By Kathie Zipp, Editor, Solar Power World

Photo Credit: Greentech Media

Photo Credit: Greentech Media

A new report shows 2015 shaping up to be the United States solar market’s best year in history with record-breaking fourth quarter projections. The U.S. installed 1,361 megawatts  (MW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the third quarter of the year.  According to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, Q3 2015, this marks the eighth consecutive quarter in which the U.S. has installed more than a gigawatt (GW) of PV capacity.

“This past quarter marked the calm before the storm,” said GTM Research Senior Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman. “The one-gigawatt mark for quarterly capacity additions will serve as a distant floor as project developers ramp up installations in the next five quarters before the planned step down of the 30 percent federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC).”

Read more here.