Monthly Archives: June 2016

Q&A: Minnesota companies create ‘circular economy’ coalition

Written by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

Mike-HarleyMore than 25 Minnesota businesses, which include the state’s largest employers, have come together on a strategy for creating a “circular economy” to eliminate waste and rely on renewable energy. The Minnesota Sustainable Growth Coalition will be led by the Environmental Initiative. The members include many familiar names with local and international reach — 3M, Andersen Corp., Aveda, Best Buy, Cargill, General Mills, Hormel Foods, Target and Xcel Energy, to name a few. Continue reading. Photo: Mike Harley, Executive Director of the Environmental Initiative

New Resource: Energy Storage Procurement Guidance Documents for Municipalities



Clean Energy Group and the Clean Energy States Alliance, with support from Bright Power, Sandia National Laboratories, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Electricity, and the Barr Foundation, have drafted a series of energy storage procurement guidance documents for municipalities.

The materials are designed to give specific examples of the elements that should be included in a solicitation for the procurement and installation of a battery energy storage project that is designed to provide backup power during outages.

This document is available here.

The document is a revised version of material previously presented in a webinar on the topic of energy storage procurement. The webinar, “Procurement Guidance for Energy Storage Projects: Help with RFIs, RFQs and RFPs,” is available here. The Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) produced the webinar. Learn more about ESTAP here.

Why The Commercial Solar Market Needs Shorter-Term Loans

By Cameron Ramey, Solar Industry Magazine

Solar Panels

According to industry groups – and Wunder Capital’s experience lending in the space – comparatively anemic solar growth in the commercial market is largely due to limited access to affordable capital, an issue especially true for smaller commercial projects (less that 200 kW in size). Much of the lending for these types of projects is done by local banks and credit unions that make traditional loans based on the business principal’s credit and general business assets. Most of this lending is both inefficient and time consuming. Fortunately, we’re starting to see more solar-specific financing options. For larger commercial projects, there are several solar finance organizations that can be a good fit. In addition, states have started to get on board with loan programs like Nebraska’s Dollar and Energy Savings Loan Program and Colorado’s C-PACE Program. Click to read more.

Cameron Ramey is director of operations at Wunder Capital, a financial technology company that provides financing to commercial solar projects.

Nebraska renewable energy & energy efficiency incentive programs. Source: DSIRE

NEO loansNebraska Dollar and Energy Saving Loans are offered statewide by the Nebraska Energy Office and the state’s lending institutions. The simple interest rates are 2.5%, 3.5% and 5%. Final annual percentage rate (APR) may vary by lender and loan fees charged. For more information, visit:

EIA: Expanding energy policies would spur renewables, efficiency


By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Extending tax credits for renewable energy, efficiency standards for appliances and vehicles, and making the Clean Power Plan more aggressive past 2030, would reduce carbon dioxide emissions from energy sources and boost renewable production, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Solar and wind generation could grow to 1,236 billion kWh in 2040, 30% above a projected 950 billion kWh in the current reference case if tax credits are kept in place. Click to continue reading.

Photo: Blakeman Ranch’s 650-kilowatt solar array in Custer County, Nebraska. Credit: Innovative Solar LLC

Texas on Track to Become the Fastest-Growing Utility-Scale Solar Market in the U.S., Solar Energy Industries Association. WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kicking off the year with record growth across all solar sectors, Texas is on track to become the fastest-growing utility-scale solar market in the U.S. within the next five years, according to the recently released U.S. Solar Market Insight, Q2 2016, compiled by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) . . . Of the 4,600 MW projected to come online in Texas by 2020, 4,000 MW will be utility-scale. Read more here.

Confidence in public power model is at stake

Kearney Hub logo

Guest Opinion: Kearney Hub

The issue of confidentiality on the costs of generation has become high-profile recently because Gary Aksamit, a Bruning native who heads First Security Power, an energy marketing company based in Dallas, has gone to court to get more information from the Omaha Public Power District, Nebraska Public Power District and Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska. Aksamit last year also claimed at an energy symposium that Nebraska ratepayers could save $250 million a year by opening the state’s retail market to outside competition. Nebraska is the only state where all electricity is delivered by publicly owned utilities. Read more here.

Vocal crowd asks, ‘Where’s the clean energy?’: State’s energy future focus of gathering at UNK

Community solar exploding in Minnesota

Minnesota Community Solar

1,003 community solar proposals are awaiting action from Xcel Energy, Minnesota’s largest electric utility. 

Written by Daniel Cusick, Climate Wire. Republished by Midwest Energy News

“It’s bigger than anyone ever anticipated, and bigger things are coming,” said [Ellen] Anderson, who, before joining academia, spent decades working on Minnesota energy policy as a state senator, as chairwoman of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission and as senior policy adviser to Gov. Mark Dayton (D).

Anderson was among the more than 80 people, both experts and neophytes, gathered here last week for the last of four regional workshops on community solar sponsored by the Department of Energy’s National Community Solar Partnership. Click to read more.

National Community Solar Partnership

Photo: The community solar garden is just one model of solar energy project developing around the state; the electrical cooperative is another. This array of panels in Pelican Rapids, Minnesota was built by Lake Region Electric Cooperative workers. Credit: Ann Arbor Miller | MPR News file

Nebraska working to catch up on wind energy, KETV video
North American leaders to pledge more reliance on renewables, Associated Press / Nebraska TV. “The transformation of the American energy sector that’s underway is going to continue,” [Brian Deese, senior adviser to President Obama] said. “That has been driven by some of the policy choices this president has made, but it’s also being driven by market forces that are bringing down the cost of clean energy at rates that even the smartest analysts weren’t predicting only a couple of years ago.”
Obama To Set New Clean Energy Goal: 50 Percent Carbon-Free Power By 2025, NET Nebraska
Dialogue before dispute: Clean energy groups call on regulators for uniform rate design approach: Over 30 consumer, renewable energy and environmental groups are calling on NARUC to set a ‘holistic’ model for rate reforms, Utility Dive
Survey: Global interest in efficiency at ‘all-time high’, Utility Dive
The new EV playbook: How utilities can gain from the coming boom in electric vehicles: Electric vehicles can offer grid services at bargain prices of charging is done when and where utilities need it, Utility Dive
Resilient Cities: Some Great Examples, EDM Digest

Nominations for Midwest Energy News’ 40 Under 40 Awards now open


Nominate a leader today. Nominations close August 5 at 12:00 noon CT. Midwest Energy News’ 40 Under 40 award program highlights emerging leaders throughout the region and their work in America’s transition to a clean energy economy. The 40 Under 40 relies on the expertise of a selection advisory committee to choose the final group of winners. Read more about the 2016 selection advisory committee.

See the 2016 promotional partners.

The inaugural 40 Under 40 to celebrate Midwest Energy News‘ fifth anniversary was launched last summer and received hundreds of nominations of Midwest-based leaders and innovators from all sectors —industry, government, regulatory, business, academic, and advocacy.

Review the 2015 cohort of 40 Under 40 recipients .

Link to 40 Under 40:

Teen activism moves Minneapolis suburb to pass climate initiative


By Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

Officials in a Minneapolis suburb adopted an aggressive greenhouse-gas-reduction policy last month that was brought forth by a group of local high schoolers who are part of a national climate change movement. Drafted by iMatter, a national youth-led group, the resolution aims for net-zero emissions by 2040 in St. Louis Park,  a suburb immediately west of Minneapolis with a population of roughly 47,000. The resolution also commits the city to working with youth activists on its future goals and planning . . . The students were the first in the country to have a resolution passed that was prepared by iMatter, which is training high school students across the nation to lobby their communities to pass a “Climate Inheritance Resolution.” The group’s website says similar efforts are underway in cities in New York, Iowa, Illinois, California and Canada. Click to read more.

Photo by iMatter

California University’s 23 campuses to Install Megawatts of Solar+Storage


Officials said the energy storage project will be the largest of its kind at an educational institution in the United States.

By Josh Dulaney, LA Daily News

Cal State University announced Wednesday a landmark energy project expected to cut costs by millions and provide a boost to the electricity grid. The 23-campus university and San Francisco-based Advanced Microgrid Systems will install advanced battery storage facilities at several locations — starting at Cal State Long Beach this summer — with the first phase aimed at reducing electricity costs by $3.3 million and storing enough energy to power 2,000 homes.
Where CSU will install massive energy storage facilities

Photo: Cal State Long Beach will be among the first campuses in the Cal State University system to install an energy storage system under a new partnership with Advanced Microgrid Solutions. LA Daily News File Photo

“Solar for All”: How Utilities Can Increase Access to Solar Energy

By John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists


A new report looks at what utilities can do to “bring solar within reach” for a broader swath of U.S. households, particularly in lower-income areas and communities of color. The answer: a lot.

Solar for All is a product of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), the Partnerships for Southern Equity, and the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development, and is supported by more than a dozen other state and regional organizations. Click to continue reading.