Monthly Archives: December 2015

LES using solar to get step up on shifting regulatory environment

LES Service Center. Photo: Randy Hampton, Lincoln Journal Star

LES Service Center. Photo: Randy Hampton, Lincoln Journal Star

By Nicholas Bergin / Lincoln Journal Star

Lincoln Electric System is hedging its bets by encouraging customers to put up solar panels a stalk of sweeping environmental regulations looms.

“As public power, we have a balancing act that we are always trying to achieve,” LES manager of energy services Marc Shkolnick said during a public meeting on revisions to the company’s policies and the rates it is paying for renewable power generation.

Read more here.

USDA REAP grants create 70 energy efficiency & renewable energy projects in Nebraska

Hehnke's Grocery StoreYesterday, Deputy USDA Under Secretary for Rural Development, Vernita Dore and USDA Rural Development Nebraska Director, Maxine Moul visited Hehnke’s Grocery Store in Paxton to honor the business for its energy efficiency improvements, made possible by one of 70 Nebraska USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant awards. The following excerpt is from a story published in today’s North Platte Bulletin:

“This REAP funding will help the storeowners save on energy costs and those savings can be reinvested into the business to further its success,” said Deputy Under Secretary Dore. “USDA is committed to increasing energy efficiency and renewable energy in America.”

In federal fiscal year 2015, USDA Rural Development’s Rural Energy for America Program delivered funds to 70 Nebraska projects for $1.8 millionfor renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. 

Read the entire article here.

Deputy Under Secretary For Rural Development Visits Hehnke’s Grocery Store In Paxton, KTIC
Spring Deadline for Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants

As criticism mounts to pull plug on plan, OPPD’s rate restructuring in flux

By Cody Winchester, Omaha World-Herald

Tim Burke
Under pressure to reject a rate restructuring that would increase bills for customers who use less electricity, Omaha Public Power District officials will modify their plan in an attempt to address concerns. The OPPD board is set to vote Dec. 17 on a proposal to raise the flat monthly service fee for the district’s 355,000 residential and small commercial customers while lowering the rate charged for actual use. Read more here.

Omaha Together One Community (OTOC) will hold a public meeting tomorrow night that will include a panel of OTOC and OPPD representatives, including OPPD President, Tim Burke and Board President, Anne McGuire. Details are available here.

Download OTOC Summary of Rate Restructuring (PDF)

Click here to post your comments on OPPD Listens

Omaha World-Herald: OPPD rate proposal would mean higher bills for the poor, critics say
Senators Letter to OPPD President Tim Burke and the Board of Directors
Utility Dive: Omaha public utility’s proposal to increase fixed charges draws opposition

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport’s solar array now the state’s largest

Solar panels atop parking ramps at MSP Airport. Photo: WDAY

Solar panels atop parking ramps at MSP Airport. Photo: WDAY


Holly Lahd/Fresh Energy: “Our statewide goal is around 3 hundred to 4 hundred megawatts of power by 2020, and we’re poised to meet or surpass that by the end of next year.”

Dennis Probst/Airport EVP: “Of the 25 million dollar investment made today to build it, this is worth 35 million dollars in energy savings to us over the life of the project.”

Read more here. 

Grand Island hopes to take giant leap in wind energy generation in 2016

By Tracy Overstreet, Grand Island Independent

AP File Photo

AP File Photo

Grand Island’s ownership in wind energy production may grow 20-fold in the coming year — from 2 percent now to nearly 40 percent by the end of 2016. The city is already scheduled to increase its wind energy portfolio from 2 percent to 18 percent of overall energy capacity in spring 2016 when the new Invenergy Prairie Breezes III project near Elgin comes on line. The city finalized that 27-megawatt power agreement last June. Read more. 

Opposition mobilizing to challenge Omaha utility’s fixed-charge proposal

Photo by Pat Hawks /  Creative Commons

Photo by Pat Hawks / Creative Commons

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

Omaha’s public electric utility aims to join the nationwide trend towards higher fixed charges, but opponents are organizing to defeat the measure.

The Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) has proposed gradually hiking its fixed fee for residential and small business customers from the current monthly charge of $10.25 to $35 by January 2019. The fixed-fee hike would be accompanied by a small reduction in the cost per kilowatt hour, which the company says would maintain revenue neutrality.

Continue reading.

Military takes clean energy seriously, and it’s not alone

By Justin Ford, Las Vegas Sun / Other Voices

The U.S. military has long since decided climate change is a “threat multiplier.” Increasing global temperatures mean more dangerous situations around the world — stressing already-fragile states with resource shortages and mass migrations, for example — and a higher likelihood of U.S. troop deployments to aid in disaster relief from stronger and stronger superstorms. The military is an action-oriented institution, so we’ve decided to do something about it. Solar and wind power are powering technologies used by troops deployed in Afghanistan and Iraq as well as bases that provide mission-critical support from back home. And it turns out biofuels aren’t just for VW buses; they now power the most advanced fighter aircraft and naval assets in the world. The notion that clean energy is good for everyone is catching wind (if you’ll pardon the pun) in the civilian sector, too, and with good reason. Read more here.

Justin Ford is a former Army airborne combat engineer and a member of the Truman National Security Project’s Defense Council. 

New! Community Energy Resource Guide

Click image to download the Community Energy Resource Guide (PDF)

Click image to download the Community Energy Resource Guide (PDF)

The Rocky Mountain Institute has released a new resource guide to assist leaders and practitioners in U.S. communities with a desire to transform their energy use. This resource guide is intended to be a reference tool for ongoing community-level energy work, and to serve as a roadmap and methodology to help communities create a comprehensive energy action plan. It is designed to assist community leaders, policy makers, stakeholders, and business leaders in communities of all sizes.  

Regional Solar Deployment Handbook (PDF)
This handbook, created by the National Association of Regional Councils, is a comprehensive guide to implementing solar energy at the regional level. It identifies seven key strategies that regional councils can use to successfully drive solar adoption in their jurisdictions. Focused on regionally-specific actions, tools and case studies, this handbook seeks to be a practical resource for understanding the complexities of solar energy and learning how other regional councils have worked on solar throughout the country. Click HERE to access the handbook.

Solar Powering America By Recognizing CommunitiesSEE ALSO: Local Nebraska governments can now apply to the new “Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC)” program. For more information & the application link, click HERE. How you can help: Share this information with one or more community government leaders: your mayor, regional council, municipal board, community sustainability coordinator, or planning department director–and encourage them to apply if they haven’t already. Let’s put Nebraska on the Department of Energy’s “Solar Ready” map!

Solar Energy’s Emerging Role in Agriculture
Today farmers are noticing the benefits of integrating solar energy onto their farms. Solar energy allows farmers to independently meet their high energy needs, eliminate risks associated with fossil fuels, and reduce the farm’s impact on the environment. Learn about Pinehold Gardens, a farm in Milwaukee, that selected to adopt solar energy in order to reduce the farm’s carbon footprint and monthly electricity bill. Click HERE to read the case study created by the National Association of Regional Councils.

SEE ALSO: Spring Deadline for Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Grants.
Applications can be submitted anytime before the deadline. Please share this information with Nebraska farmers & rural small business owners you know. Also, rural utilities and rural electric cooperatives are typically eligible.

Solar Power Prices Already Low – Are Breakthroughs Even Needed?

100--MW dual-axis solar power plant, Pecos County, Texas

100–MW dual-axis solar power plant, Pecos County, Texas

By Zachary Shahan, Clean Technica

Within the past 18 months, we’ve seen record-low solar price bids and power purchase agreements for 5.84 cents/kWh in Dubai and then under 4 cents/kWh (or 5.71 cents/kWhexcluding subsidies) in Texas. We’ve seen prices cheaper than electricity from coal, natural gas, and nuclear energy in many other parts of the world as well . . . Solar panel prices have dropped approximately 100 times over since the late 1970s . . . We no longer need a breakthrough to achieve one,” an anonymous and keen observer of the industry noted to me. That is the story in a nutshell.

Read the entire article. 

Company planning to build three wind farms in SE Nebraska

By Nicholas Bergin, Lincoln Journal Star

Wind turbines dot the landscape near Odell in Gage County earlier this year. Photo Credit: Jenna Vonhoff, Lincoln Journal Star

Wind turbines dot the landscape near Odell in Gage County earlier this year. Photo Credit: Jenna Vonhoff, Lincoln Journal Star

An energy company is moving forward with plans to create three wind farms in southeastern Nebraska representing a $725 million investment in Saline, Thayer and Fillmore counties. . . [Aksamit Resource Management] this week announced it has filed with the Southwest Power Pool to get permission to hook up two of the wind farms to power transmission lines. The lines are owned by the Nebraska Public Power District but managed by the Southwest Power Pool.

Read the entire article here.

Wind talks progressing, by Scott Koperski, Beatrice Daily Sun News Editor