Monthly Archives: October 2016

No One Saw Tesla’s Solar Roof Coming

Elon Musk just showed us the grand unification of Tesla: Fast Cars, big batteries, and a stunning solar rooftop


By Tom Randall, Bloomberg 

On Friday evening as the sun descended over the old Hollywood set of “Desperate Housewives,” Elon Musk took to a stage and fired up his presentation about climate change. It was a strange scene, with hundreds of people crowded into the middle of a subtly artificial suburban neighborhood. It wasn’t until about a minute into the speech that Musk casually let the crowd in on Tesla’s big secret. “The interesting thing is that the houses you see around you are all solar houses,” Musk said. “Did you notice?” Continue reading.

solar-roofsAvailable in different styles, Tesla’s solar roofs are designed to mimic traditional styles. Photos from Tesla Media Release.

5 unanswered questions after Tesla’s big solar roof and battery announcement, Utility Dive
Tesla Surprise: It’s a Profit, NET – Nebraska’s PBS & NPR Stations

Presentations, demonstrations to highlight Smart Energy Talks

 Written by Mike Whye, World-Herald Correspondent


This year’s Smart Energy Talks event is designed to help you identify and correct barriers to your health and comfort at home through presentations, demonstrations and discussions with experts. The free event is scheduled for Saturday at the Milo Bail Center on the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Dodge Street Campus near 62nd and Dodge Streets. Starting at 9 a.m., author and lecturer Corbett Lunsford will present his “Home Performance Crash Course” — a 90-minute presentation about improving performance in existing homes and how to build a healthy, efficient new home. Lunsford will also discuss and show video of his #TinyLab — a 210-square-foot home. Attendees will receive a free “Proof is Possible” workbook written by Lunsford. Click here for additional event details and opportunities.

Photo: Corbett Lunsford poses near his #TinyLab and an array of solar panels. Lunsford will speak Saturday during the Smart Energy Talks at the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Milo Bail Student Center.

Solar+Storage Microgrid Saves Vermont Customers $200,000 in One Hour

Green Mountain Power’s Solar Storage Project Becomes First in
New England to Use Solar Battery Storage to Reduce Peak Demand


On August 12th of this year, the Vermont utility Green Mountain Power discharged its 2-megawatt solar and 3.4-megawatt-hour storage microgrid to reduce the utility’s contribution to New England’s annual peak demand. By reducing demand during this one-hour regional peak, the microgrid saved the utility’s customers $200,000. Throughout the rest of the year, the batteries are helping reduce system-operating costs by reducing the utility’s demand during monthly transmission peaks and providing quick-response to balance fluctuations in renewable energy generation. Read more here and here

Photo: Green Mountain Power’s Hartford Solar facility: Green Mountain Power Facebook page.

Central Community College recognized for going green

Written by Julie Blum, The Columbus Telegram


Visitors at the Columbus campus can see some of the efforts undertaken in recent years to reduce the carbon footprint there, such as hybrid cars, electric maintenance vehicles, a bike-sharing station, water bottle station, landscaping with native plants and recycling
bins . . . Across other Central campuses, there are composting sites, bee colonies and solar panels, and the campus in Hastings is adding a 1.7-megawatt wind turbine. The $3.5 million to $4 million wind turbine project is currently underway and expected to be operational by 2017. Bluestem Energy Solutions of Omaha, which will operate the turbine, has a 25-year agreement with Hastings Utilities to purchase the power. Click to read more.

Photo Credit:  Julie Blum / The Columbus Telegram. Tanner Gasper, a freshman at Central Community College-Columbus, recycles a plastic bottle Thursday at the local campus. CCC earned the Green Team of the Year Award for its environmental sustainability initiatives.

9th Annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference & Exhibition

November 7th & 8th at the Lincoln Marriott Cornhusker Hotel
333 S 13th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska 68508

Click logo to link to the conference website.

This year’s conference will kick off with a site tour of Lincoln Electric System’s SunShares Community Solar Project, Sunday, November 6 from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The tour will leave from the Cornhusker Marriott Hotel and the fee is just $10. Registration for the conference is $150, and $175 for walk-in registrations the day of the conference. Student registration is $65. Click here to register for the conference and solar project tour. Also check out this year’s conference schedule and news releases. 

Nebraskans for Solar & Nebraska Solar Schools will be among the exhibitors sponsoring booths this year. Stop by and see us!

State senators set to discuss past, future of renewables, Hastings Tribune

Solar Power Capacity Tops Coal for the First Time Ever

By Geoffrey Smith, Fortune 

ShutterstockSolar power now accounts for more installed capacity than any other form of electricity generation, according to new data out Tuesday. “About half a million solar panels were installed every day around the world last year,” the Paris-based International Energy Agency said in a new report on the renewables sector, as emerging markets in particular bet heavily on green power. China also installed the equivalent of two wind turbines every hour last year. In total, over half the new power capacity installed last year—153,000 megawatts, or 153
gigawatts—was renewable-sourced. That’s a 15% increase from the previous year, and three-quarters of it came in the shape of wind (66 GW) or solar photo-voltaic (49 GW). Read more.
Photo Credit: Shutterstock




In 2015, 11 states generated at least 10% of their total electricity from wind. As recently as 2010, only three states had at least a 10% wind share. Iowa had the largest wind generation share, at 31.3%, and South Dakota (25.5%) and Kansas (23.9%) had wind generation shares higher than 20%. Two additional states, Texas and New Mexico, are on track to surpass a 10% wind generation share in 2016, based on data through July. Wind generation in Texas, the highest wind electricity-producing state, made up 24% of the national total wind generation and 9.9% of Texas’s total electricity generation in 2015.

State-Backed Community Solar To Help Low-Income Families In Colo.

By Joseph Bebon, Solar Industry Magazine


On Friday, Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., joined project partners and volunteers to help install a community solar array that will provide 50% of the power demand for up to 20 qualified low-income families served by Fort Collins Utilities. Last year, the CEO awarded GRID a $1.2 million grant to add low-income community solar with utilities across the state.
Continue reading.

Photo: Governor Hickenlooper


USDA Makes Investments To Support 40 Nebraska Renewable Energy And Energy Efficiency Projects

By USDA / Posted by KTIC Radio


LINCOLN, NE. October 25, 2016 – USDA Rural Development Nebraska State Director Maxine Moul announces the awarding of nearly $962,000 in grants for 40 renewable energy and energy efficiency projects that are supported through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). “Investing in renewable energy and energy efficiency projects supports rural and local energy sources.  Energy creates jobs, reduces greenhouse gas pollution and aligns us for a more secure energy future,” said Moul.

Click here to see a list of all 40 award recipients and their counties.

The Rural Energy for America Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.

Who may apply?
Agricultural producers with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations, and small businesses in eligible rural areas.

Current Deadlines
Grants of $20,000 or less: October 31, 2016 and March 31, 2017.
Unrestricted Grants (up to $500,000): March 31, 2017.
Loan Guarantees are completed continuously throughout the year.

Program Fact Sheet (PDF)

Jeff Carpenter, USDA Rural Development 100 Centennial Mall North, Suite 308
Lincoln, NE 68508
402) 437-5554

An energy audit is required for a REAP application. The Nebraska Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) at UNL conducts energy audits to meet USDA Rural Development grant and/or guaranteed loan application requirements. Energy audits can be conducted at any time by Nebraska MEP staff but must be completed in advance of USDA application submission deadlines. MEP focuses on areas where local electric utility providers do not offer free audits.
Nebraska MEP, which received an Energy Audit Program grant from USDA Rural Development, will pay 75% of the cost of an audit. Applicants will be required to pay 25% of the cost.

Matthew Jorgensen

Project Specialist
Nebraska MEP
(308) 293-5884

Nebraska research shows ‘profound’ economic, environmental benefits of electric cars

By Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald

moe_alahmad“At today’s gasoline and electricity prices in Nebraska, you can spend $50 on gasoline and drive 454 miles or you can spend $50 on electricity and drive 1,666 miles, cutting the carbon emissions in half or more,” said Moe Alahmad, an associate engineering professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln on the Omaha campus. He reported his research Friday to a special legislative committee charged with working toward a state action plan on climate change. State Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill, co-chairman of the committee with Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, said Monday that he believes that electric vehicles have a role to play in the state’s response.
Read more.

Photo: Moe Alahmad


Hastings introduces its first electric vehicle charging station for use by publicOmaha World-Herald. Hastings officials gave the traveling public a jolt Monday afternoon. The city introduced its first electric vehicle charging station, as well as the newest addition to its city fleet — a 2016 Ford Fusion hybrid vehicle. The electric vehicle charging station, which is available for public use, is in the parking lot of the Hastings Museum, 1330 N. Burlington Ave.

State senators set to discuss past, future of renewables, Hastings Tribune
ne wind and solar logoOn Monday, Nov. 7 Nebraska State senators Ken Haar, Heath Mello, John McCollister, Patty Pansing Brooks and Ken Schilz will discuss what has happened in the Legislature regarding wind and solar energy legislation, and what needs to happen in the future to advance those industries. The discussion begins at 8:45 a.m. during the Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference. “This is a great opportunity to not only hear from but meet the State Senators who have been instrumental in the legislative changes made in recent years to improve the competitiveness of Nebraska wind and solar energy,” said Adam Herink, conference co-chairman. Click logo to link to the Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference website. 

USDA Invests Over $300 Million to Help Hundreds of Small Businesses Improve Energy Efficiency, Adopt Renewable Energy Systems

Tom Vilsack
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing more than $300 million to help hundreds of small businesses across the country save money on their energy costs by adopting renewable sources or implementing more efficient energy options. Vilsack made the announcement at Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, Texas, today during a meeting with several local business owners who will make use of these loans and grants.

Continue reading.


REAPing America’s Clean Energy Future, USDA Blog, Posted by Sam Rikkers, Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Servicecentral-city

Today, Secretary Vilsack announced hundreds of new projects like the one I visited over the summer in Central City, Nebraska.  It exemplifies the strategic thinking our rural communities use daily to find new ways to prosper.  A community just shy of 3,000 residents, Central City is home to the first community solar garden project ever developed in Nebraska. Read the entire post.

Photo: Administrator Sam Rikkers (left) discusses the Central City Solar Garden Project with (L-R) City Administrator Chris Anderson, Cliff Mesner of Mesner Development Company (with his back to the camera), and Bill Sheppard and Jeff Carpenter of USDA Rural Development’s Nebraska offices.

USDA Seeks Applications for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Loans and Grants
Nebraska Contact for the Rural Energy for America Program