Monthly Archives: July 2016

Big solar now eclipsing small-scale installations

 By Nichola Groom, Reuters, Published by The Toledo Blade 

Mojave desert solar array at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Mojave desert solar array at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area.

Many trace the tipping point for utility-scale solar to a 2014 announcement by Austin Energy that it would buy power from a new 150 megawatt solar plant — enough to light and cool 30,000 homes — for 5 cents a kilowatt hour. At the time, it was a record low price for solar power. Since then, projects have brought the price below 4 cents a kWh. Read more.

Image Credit: Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)

Bedford church appeals to higher power in climate change battle

By Nancy Shohet West, Boston Globe

Bedford Church

Last month, the town’s Historic District Commission denied a request from First Parish to install solar panels on the roof of its meetinghouse. The congregation, in turn, filed an appeal June 27 in Middlesex Superior Court, arguing that the decision violated members’ constitutional right to freely exercise their religious beliefs. “We consider this to be a religious act,” said Dan Bostwick, spokesman for the church’s solar energy committee. “Stewardship of our natural environment is central to our faith.” Click to read the entire article.

SEE ALSO
Unitarian Church in Coraville aims to be the ‘greenest church in Iowa’

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Solar Panels to power all of Indian Creek Nature Center, KCRG News. The installation of the 420 panels will make the Nature Center the largest commercial building in the state of Iowa to be net-zero energy.
These Deep Red States Are Going Green, Climate Progress
Rapidly falling prices for renewables have made clean energy profitable in communities flush with wind and sunshine. Wind power is now the cheapest source of energy in the United States, even without government subsidies. Solar trails close behind. Last year, renewables accounted for more than two-thirds of new U.S. generating capacity . . . According to a poll from the conservative ClearPath Foundation, 72 percent of Republicans want the United States to accelerate the growth of clean energy.
California Breaks Solar Record, Generates Enough Electricity for 6 Million Homes, Eco Watch
CAISO Expansion Supports Jobs, the Economy and Renewable Energy Across the West, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Blog 
US Bill brings ITC (Investment Tax Credit) to energy storage, Energy Storage News 

Under weightless energy, the future rolls in

By John Liesveld, Fremont Tribune

solar cars

Abundant energy permeates the very air inhaled on each breath you take. Next week a group of young minds demonstrates that reality…. After an almost 700 mile trek from Fort Worth, Texas, a convoy to the future rolls up Highway 77 Thursday, July 21, and stops off for some community interaction and an overnight interlude in the parking lot outside Walmart Supercenter before rousing early Friday morning to continue north. Destination: Minneapolis, Minn. Continue reading.

Photo: Solar cars built for the 2015 Solar Car Challenge. The cars were designed and built by young minds solving real world issues. On July 21st between 3:30 and 7:00 p.m., the 2016 Solar Car Challenge participants will roll into Fremont with several built-from-scratch solar car prototypes. Participants will display their vehicles in the Walmart parking lot that evening and encourage Fremont residents to come and visit.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Beatrice is one of 9 stops on a solar-powered voyage, Associated Press / Omaha World Herald

Construction has begun on largest solar project in the Midwest

Posted by Conor Ryan, PVTech

E. Shaw Renewable Investments announced that it has acquired the 100MW North Star PV project from Community Energy and has started construction on the installation, which is located in Chisago County, Minnesota . . . Once completed in late 2016, the North Star project is expected to be the largest solar installation in the Midwest and one of the biggest sites in the US. North Star will be constructed on private agricultural land and has a 25-year power purchase agreement with Xcel Energy. Read more.

The 100MW project (400,000 solar panels) is expected to generate enough energy for 20,000 homes. Image: Oregon Department of Transportation / Flickr

MORE MINNESOTA NEWS
Minnesota regulators have given EDF Renewable Energy a two-year extension to build the 105MW Stoneray wind farm.

League of Women Voters starts co-op program to expand solar energy – with price break, too

By Mary Ellen Klas, Miami Herald

League of Women Voters

TALLAHASSEE – Saying they face a “David and Goliath” fight against Florida’s utility giants in trying to bring rooftop solar energy collection to the Sunshine State, the League of Women Voters on Thursday announced the creation of a new organization that will form “solar co-ops” around the state to obtain bulk discounts for community-based solar installations. The group, FL SUN, is a non-profit established to solicit competitive bids from local installers and provide individualized proposals for groups of homeowners that reflect the group discounts.
Read more here:

Photo: Martin Cabrera and Joseph Molina of Cutler Bay Solar Solutions install solar panels at a home in South Miami-Dade in 2015. Credit: Al Diaz, Miami Herald

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Buying in bulk: Group effort helps bring down solar costs, by Thomas Content, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Kansas City Power & Light opens its first solar farm in Missouri

Kansas City Business Journal

KCP&L

Kansas City Power & Light has opened its first solar farm, which will produce enough electricity to power nearly 440 homes. Located in Greenwood, Mo., the 12-acre-plus solar facility is nearly 100 times larger than KCP&L’s solar array at Kauffman Stadium. Click to read more.

Photo: Kansas City Power & Light’s first solar farm. Credit: John West

ALSO IN THE NEWS
Ethanol makers consider renewable energy options to stay competitive, Nebraska Radio Network
Energy Storage Would Get U.S. Tax Credits in Bipartisan Bill, Bloomberg News
Democratizing DERs: What role should utilities play in spreading clean energy to all?, Utility Dive
New Report Finds That Efficiency, Clean Energy Put Dent in Co2 Emissions, Climate Central
Link to the Report: Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers In The United States
Thinking Big: Wind Industry Is Moving to Taller Turbines: Will the Transmission System Be Ready?Union of Concerned Scientists

USDA To Help 20 Rural Nebraska Small Businesses Boost Renewable Energy Use, Save On Energy Costs

USDA News Release. Posted on KTIC Radio’s Website

usdalogo

WASHINGTON, July 13, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced funding for 821 projects across the nation that will help rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. Twenty Nebraska recipients received nearly $198,000 for energy projects.  The funding is available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and will be used to make energy efficiency improvements and install renewable energy systems. Click here to read more, including the Nebraska awards by county. 

Continued search for energy diversification

Written by John Liesveld, Fremont Tribune

Wind Farm near HumboldtIn its continued efforts to diversify the sources of energy used to power the city of Fremont, General Manager of the Department of Utilities Brian Newton and Lon D. Wright Power [Plant]  Superintendent Jeff Shanahan have turned to the wind … so to speak. The Fremont Board of Public Works plans to begin pushing “requests for proposals” for the acquisition of wind energy that could supply the city between 30 to 40 megawatts of energy . . . “It would be leading edge in Nebraska,” Newton said of retaining that amount of wind energy. “(Such a) change would put us in the category of Omaha, Lincoln and Grand Island.” Click to read more.
Photo: Flatwater Wind Farm Near Humboldt
Credit: Lincoln Journal Star
 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Utility clean energy rankings reveal ‘unprecedented shift’ in power sector paradigms: Even among laggards, there’s a growing consensus that renewables are at the center of the 21st century energy system, Utility Dive
PG&E, Solar City partner for solar+storage, grid services pilot, Utility Dive
La Crosse’s sustainability future looks ‘bright’, La Crosse Tribune
How could energy storage technology affect solar jobs? Solar Power World
How the Grid Was Won: Three Scenarios for the Distributed Grid in 2030, Greentech Media
MGM Resorts International expands solar array, now nation’s largest, Las Vegas Sun

Grand Rapids brewery to make beer with solar power

By Shandra Martinez, MLive

brewery

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Brewery Vivant is tapping the sun to produce its beer. There are now 192 solar panels on the above Grand Rapids brewery and adjoining pub. The 54Kw rooftop system is expected to produce 20 percent of its energy needs. The rest will come from renewable energy purchased through Consumers Energy and its Green Generation program. Continue reading.

Image: Brewery Vivant owners Kris and Jason Spaulding by the pub’s new rooftop solar panels. (Courtesy photo)

ALSO IN THE NEWS
Duke Energy’s military solar project in Indiana moving forward, Charlotte Business Journal
USDA releases energy grants for 33 Iowa farms, businesses, Sioux City Journal
Bishop Richard Pates: Politicians should note Iowa’s action on climate, Des Moines Register – Opinion
Development of renewable energy is worthy of our support, Tri-State Neighbor – Opinion
2 gaming companies to leave Nerada Power staring Oct. 1, Las Vegas Review-Journal
Is Burning Trees Still Green? Some Experts Now Question Biomass, Iowa Public Radio 

News Release: USDA to Help 821 Rural Small Businesses Boost Renewable Energy Use, Save on Energy Costs

usdalogo

WASHINGTON, July 11, 2016 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced funding for 821 projects across the nation that will help rural small businesses and agricultural producers reduce energy usage and costs in their operations. The funding is available through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) and will be used to make energy efficiency improvements and install renewable energy systems . . . USDA is providing $43.2 million in loan guarantees and $11.6 million in grants through REAP for projects in every state. Read the entire release here.