Monthly Archives: December 2016

Where Washington Fails to Drive Progress, Cities Will Act

By Michael Bloomberg, Chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy. Published by Time Magazine

Over the past decade, Congress has not passed a single bill that takes direct aim at climate change. Yet at the same time, the U.S. has led the world in reducing carbon-dioxide emissions. That progress has been driven by cities, businesses and citizens, and each group is determined to keep pushing ahead. In fact, if the new Administration withdraws from the Paris Agreement, as the chair of the Global Covenant of Mayors, I will recommend that the 128 U.S. mayors who are part of the group seek to join in its place. Cities would benefit from stronger leadership and support from Washington, but they aren’t waiting on it. To find out where the country is heading, don’t follow the national headlines. Get involved locally. That’s where the action is.
Read the entire article here.

The Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate & Energy
Press Release
Fact Sheet
Media Coverage

Midwest Cities & Towns Committed to the Compact of Mayors Include:

  • Ann Arbor, Michigan
  • Ashland, Wisconsin
  • Carmel, Indiana
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Cleveland, Ohio
  • Columbus, Ohio
  • Des Moines, Iowa
  • Dubuque, Iowa
  • Evanston, Illinois
  • Grand Rapids, Michigan
  • Iowa City, Iowa
  • Milwaukee, Wisconsin
  • Minneapolis, Minnesota
  • Muskegon, Michigan
  • Racine, Wisconsin
  • Saint Paul, Minnesota
  • South Haven, Michigan
  • St. Louis, Missouri
  • University City, Missouri
  • Urbana, Illinois
  • Wisconsin Rapids, Wisconsin

Shifting to a Clean Energy Economy Would Bring Billions in Economic Benefits, Shows New Report

By Karl Hausker, Renewable Energy World

We all know the science. The United States and the world as a whole must reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent or more by 2050 in order to significantly reduce the risks posed by unabated climate change. Intensifying droughts and heatwaves, inundation of coastal economies brought on by sea level rise, and increasing wildfires and extreme weather events across the United States are only some of those intensifying risks. While an 80 percent reduction may sound like a Herculean task, a new report from the Risky Business Project, From Risk to Return: Investing in a Clean Energy Economy, finds that achieving that reduction is both technically and economically feasible—and creates a huge business opportunity. Read more here.

Image: Wind farm in Idaho. Credit: Commons

How to Get Kids Interested in Renewable Energy in the New Year, Renewable Energy World
DOE’s Year in Review: The Coolest Clean Energy Stories of 2016, EERE Communications

Minnesota’s Commerce Department Launches Latest Round of Solar Incentives

Posted by Joseph Bebon, Solar Industry Magazine

“The Made in Minnesota program is helping drive growth in the state’s rooftop solar market,” says Commerce Commissioner Mike Rothman in a press release. “The program is boosting Minnesota’s clean energy economy by making solar more affordable, creating more clean energy jobs and diversifying the state’s energy resources.” Continue reading.

More information about the ten-year program, which Minnesota’s legislature established in 2013 to expand the state’s solar industry, is available here.

Shareholders supporting Ameren, KCPL energy efficiency goals

By Benjamin Peters, The Missouri Times
KCP&L was the first utility in the country to own and operate a commercial-scale wind facility in the state of Kansas. They’ve also continued looking into methods of harnessing solar energy, and partnered with the Kansas City Royals to place a 120-panel solar system at Kauffman Stadium. KCP&L also signed a 10-year agreement to buy renewable energy from Central Nebraska Public Power and Irrigation District’s three hydroelectric plants, the first addition of hydro power to their energy mix. Ameren Missouri currently operates three hydroelectric energy centers. Ameren Missouri has also explored a number of energy alternatives and recently received the green light by the Missouri Public Service Commission to begin their pilot program on solar energy. Read more.


State senators: Nebraska needs to act on climate change (AUDIO), by Brent Martin, Nebraska Radio Network
State lawmakers serving on a special legislative committee say Nebraska needs to adopt a state climate action plan. Sen. Tyson Larson of O’Neill, co-chair of the committee, says he wants to see the committee re-authorize so it can pursue recommendations finalized just prior to the legislative session. “In terms of our recommendations for legislation, I think members of this committee or the legislature will see pieces of legislation that are affecting these things,” Larson tells reporters during a news conference at the Capitol.

10 Reasons to Be Optimistic for a Low-Carbon Future

By Peyton Fleming, senior director of the nonprofit sustainability group Ceres. Posted on EcoWatch.

[There] is a movement taking hold that is far bigger than the
U.S.—I’ve seen it in the last year in Africa, in Europe and the U.S. Here are 10 shining lights for the irresistibility and inevitability of the low-carbon future. It’s here—and there is no turning back.
Continue reading.

It’s Official: Solar Energy Cheaper Than Fossil Fuels

Bipartisan committee recommends Nebraska develop action plan on climate change

By Joe Duggan, Omaha World-Herald

A seven-member bipartisan committee voted unanimously to recommend that the Legislature authorize the plan, said State Sen. Ken Haar of Malcolm, one of the co-chairs of the committee. The plan should address a wide range of topics related to improving efficiency in transportation and irrigation as well as increased development of renewable energy. It also recommends further study of carbon and methane capture, next-generation nuclear technology and smart grid systems, as well as exploring changes to how the Nebraska Environmental Trust awards monetary grants.
Read more. 

Photo: Senator Ken Haar

Download: Final Report Of The LR 455 Special Committee To Create The Framework For a State Climate Action Plan

2016 was the year that . . .

By Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group


Many of us are quite happy to keep truckin’ on to a new year. And yet 2016 had its better moments. Viewed through the lens of sustainable business, it was more of the same — “more,” in this case being a continued acceleration of activity across a steadily expanding landscape of opportunity. Lest we forget, here, in no particular order, are 10 story lines we covered during the year that showed the promise and progress of sustainable business.



Study: The sky’s the limit for Nebraska’s wind energy industry

By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Nebraska Radio Network

Our region of the country is securing its popularity for renewable energy projects, according to a report from the Lyons-based Center for Rural Affairs. Lucas Nelsen, who authored the report “Link to Rural Development and a Renewable Future,” says 41% of the new energy generation projects that went online last year were specifically wind energy projects. Read more.

Photo by Megan Farmer, The World-Herald. Grand Prairie wind farm, Nebraska’s largest, near O’Neill in Holt County.

Link To Rural Development And A Renewable Future (PDF).



Off Grid Solar

By Joseph P. O’Connor

Off Grid Solar is a pocket guide and quick reference for anyone looking to build a solar system with the free sunshine available to us all. “The limitations to widespread solar are not centered on the cost, the efficiency, or the need for advancements in technology. The limitations are solely due to the lack of widespread knowledge on the subject.”

About the Author

Joe O’Connor is a solar manufacturing entrepreneur as well as a consultant, speaker, and writer on solar energy. He has built off grid solar energy systems in the U.S., Haiti, Nepal, Portugal, Guatemala, and most recently in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo. To learn more about his work in the Congo, click here to read SolarCity, Tesla, and Virunga: Building Solar Micro Grids for the guardians of Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse national park.

Seeking to amplify his impact after over a decade of traveling to remote places to install solar, Joe decided to share his knowledge and experience of off-grid solar energy systems by writing this book.

He is currently a Senior Applications Engineer for Energy Storage at Mercedes-Benz Energy. In his previous position at SolarCity, he supported the Micro Grid Team and the GivePower Foundation by designing solar photovoltaic and Tesla Powerwall systems. He also prototyped, designed, and patented a new solar racking system that enabled SolarCity to become one of the largest commercial installers in the U.S.

Prior to his work at SolarCity, Joe launched a cost-efficient solar racking product at solar manufacturing start-up, Sollega. He has also worked with Sustainable Energy Partners in San Francisco, completing dozens of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.

Joe earned his M.S. from NYU Polytechnic University in Manufacturing Engineering and was selected as a recipient of the Catherine B. Reynolds Foundation Fellowship for Social Entrepreneurship. He earned his B.S. from Cal Poly University in Industrial Technology.

He first became passionate about renewable energy after volunteering with GRID
Alternatives—the Habitat for Humanities of the solar industry—when he teamed up with other volunteers to install solar electric systems on homes of low-income families in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Joe believes that advancements in the renewable energy industry will help our global society break its dependency on oil, coal, and natural gas. He is on a mission to make renewable energy the dominant energy source on our planet.

Source: Amazon

Ten Predictions for Rooftop Solar in 2017

 By Barry Cinnamon of Spice Solar. Published by Greentech Media

I got lucky with my predictions for rooftop solar in 2016 — pretty much on target with nine out of the 10 darts that I threw. But this year is shaping up to be much more challenging, with routine solar-coaster turmoil combined with political uncertainty. Looking forward to 2017, my list no longer includes the benefits of the Clean Power Plan and 500 million solar panels (along with the EPA and half the equity in the remaining solar module companies). Nevertheless, I remain very optimistic about the future of clean technology industries simply because their economic benefits have been proven. So here are my 10 predictions for rooftop solar in 2017. Continue reading.

Vote Solar’s Take on the Top 10 Solar Trends of 2016, Greentech Media
What’s Ahead For Community Solar in 2017?  Solar Industry Magazine