Monthly Archives: February 2017

Clean energy advocates skeptical, cautious about retail choice bills in Nebraska and Kansas

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

Bills before the Nebraska and Kansas legislatures to allow electricity customers to choose their power provider are being viewed with caution, and a little skepticism, by clean-energy promoters in the two states. A Houston-based energy developer with Nebraska ties, Gary Aksamit, appears to be the driving force behind the legislation. Aksamit argues that a freer energy marketplace could mean more access to renewable sources. However, such a fundamental remaking of the electricity marketplace has people concerned about possible unintended consequences. Continue reading.

Photo by Garry Jones / Creative Commons: Nebraska Wind Farm

Nebraska bills would allow more community solar, tap lottery for funding

Midwest groups seek share of Volkswagen settlement funds for electric vehicles, by Andy Balaskovitz
Bipartisan effort seeks to double Minnesota’s renewable energy standard, by Frank Jossi

Interfaith Power & Light Announces 2017 Winners of the Cool Congregations Challenge

Every year the Cool Congregations Challenge celebrates the hard work being done by congregations across the county who are addressing global warming by reducing their carbon footprint and by becoming inspirations to their members and communities.

The Cool Congregations Challenge shows that people of faith are united by concerns about climate change and are taking action – with or without the support of government policies. The winners provide strong moral role models for their communities, and their activities have a ripple effect with people in their own homes.

Interfaith Power & Light is pleased to announce the inspiring five winners of the 2017 Cool Congregations Challenge in the following categories: Community Inspiration, Energy Saver, Renewable Role Model, Sacred Grounds Steward, Cool Congregation Planner.

The winners are:

  • Community United Church of Christ in Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Temple Shalom in Chevy Chase, Maryland
  • Congregational Church in Cumberland, Maine
  • Sisters of St. Joseph in Brentwood, New York
  • Manchester United Methodist Church in Manchester, Missouri

“The Cool Congregations Challenge winners inspire and show us what is possible.  We awarded Catholic Sisters for creating sustainable farms in New York, a church in North Carolina that rallied 15 other churches to work together to weatherize low-income homes, and a synagogue in Maryland that swapped out 477 light fixtures. These winners are creating jobs, saving money, and saving creation. There were dozens of excellent applications, but the five winners really stand out for the creativity and impact of their projects.”  – Reverend Sally Bingham, founder and president of Interfaith Power & Light

You can read their stories here.

For more information, visit:

Wind farm expansion work begins

By Patrick Murphy, Norfolk Daily News

Work started in mid-February and turbine delivery is tentatively scheduled for end of May. The farm will go operational in July. The expansion will consist of three 2.3Mw (megawatt) machines. Bluestem also is currently working on developments across Nebraska and the Midwest.
Read more here.

Photo: Norfolk Daily News / Patrick Murphy. With the wind turbines from Creston Ridge Wind Farm Phase I in the background, construction is underway on Phase II. Developer: Omaha-based Bluestem Energy Solutions.


A Beginner’s Guide to Energy Storage – Free Energy Storage Association Webinar

 March 8, 2017 – 1 to 2 p.m.

New to the energy storage or curious about the industry? Join this complimentary webinar hosted by the Energy Storage Association that outlines what energy storage means, what it does, its benefits and its applications. Plus, get insight into the mission of the Association itself. Participants will also hear different perspectives about the industry from developer and utility points-of-view, as well as the types of jobs in the energy storage sector.

This webinar is supported by the National Society of Black Engineers.


  • Craig Horne, VP, Business Develepment, RES
  • Peter Muhoro, Chief Strategy Officer, Pedernales Electric Cooperative
  • Ricson Chude, P.E., Energy SIG Professional Development Lead, National Society of Black Engineers
  • Matt Roberts, Executive Director, Energy Storage Association

Register here. 


60% of solar installers now offer storage options, Solar Power World

Omaha-based Tenaska partners with renewable energy company Soltage to complete 3.68-megawatt brownfield solar project

By Kathie Zipp, Solar Power World

Solar brownfield development is a particularly promising market, with more than 80,000 brownfields and contaminated lands pre-screened by the U.S. EPA for renewable energy development. Brownfields provide ideal locations for solar projects with flat, unshaded areas and proximity to grid infrastructure. Soltage also recently announced three landfill-sited solar projects in Massachusetts totaling 15 MW. Click here  to read more.

Photo by Greg M. Cooper / Soltage LLC


Excel Energy switches on 32MW of community solar in Minnesota

 By Danielle Ola, PVTech

Xcel Energy has commissioned seven new community solar gardens, totaling 32MW in Minnesota. The projects were developed under the utility’s Solar Rewards Community programme that aims to spur community solar among residential subscribers and local businesses. Xcel Energy currently has 57MW of community solar gardens online at 17 project sites as part of its programme, which was launched in 2014. The projects are also part of a larger 96MW of community solar to be developed by BHE Renewables and Geronimo Energy that will provide clean energy throughout the Twin Cities metro area and greater Minnesota. Continue reading.

Photo: More community solar comes online in Minnesota, with seven new projects by Xcel Enegy, Geronimo Energy and Berkshire Hathaway Energy Renewables. Source: Xcel Energy


Telesis going for net-zero energy use in Dairy House complex

Written by Nicholas Bergin, Lincoln Journal Star

Telesis, parent company of Lazlo’s restaurants and Empyrean Brewing Co., among other ventures, is acting now [on climate change]. The privately-owned family business is taking steps to make its Dairy House complex, the former Meadow Gold plant at Seventh and M streets, have a net energy footprint of zero by installing geothermal heating and cooling, efficient lighting and 940 solar panels. And the entire building can be managed from a smartphone. Read more here.

Photo by Gwyneth Roberts, Lincoln Journal Star: Solar panels fill the roof of a former Meadow Gold building at Seventh and M streets. Once the installation is complete, Telesis will produce 85 percent of the energy it uses at the building.

Energy Storage Facts & Figures

Source: Energy Storage Association

“A next-generation smart grid without energy storage is like a
computer without a hard drive: severely limited.”
– Katie Fehrenbacher, GigaOm

The Energy Storage Association (ESA) believes that energy storage is integral to all systems planning and deployment. The organization works to make electricity smarter, more efficient, and better. “Drawing on decades of research and development, ESA’s members are storing energy today for its best use tomorrow. Energy storage is entirely resource neutral – and allows us to integrate electricity from any source into a more resilient and reliable grid, creating jobs, lowering energy bills, and helping to secure our energy future.”

Energy Storage Facts & Figures posted on ESA’s Website

Did you know?

  • According to market research firm IHS, the energy storage market is set to “explode” to an annual installation size of 6 gigawatts (GW) in 2017 and over 40 GW by 2022 — from an initial base of only 0.34 GW installed in 2012 and 2013.
  • The U.S. energy storage industry comprises hundreds of companies and thousands of American workers building commercial energy storage systems throughout the country.
  • Flywheel and battery energy storage systems are operating today in the competitive ancillary services power market – providing a 10x faster and more accurate response to a power dispatcher’s signals compared to power turbine generators.
  • An IMS Research report expects the market for storing power from solar panels – which was less than $200 million in 2012 – will catapult to $19 billion in 2017.

To learn more, visit:  Energy Storage Association

Energy Storage: Falling Costs, Major Gains

As costs drop, solar projects get attention

Written by Mike Konz, Kearney Hub Managing Editor

The Kearney project, at $11 million and 5.8 megawatts, will be the largest solar array in Nebraska when its solar panels spanning 53 acres go online in the fall. The Kearney project is among community solar projects that are flying off the drawing board as creative partnerships, technological advancements and other factors have turned solar into a cost-effective, long-term alternative among renewable energy sources. Read the entire article here.

Photo: Chicago-based SoCore Energy will build Kearney’s community solar project. The company recently partnered on the Dairyland Power Cooperative’s solar array in Wisconsin, which received a “Project of Distinction” award at the 2016 PV Conference & Expo in Chicago. The award recognizes the best photovoltaic projects in the Midwest. Dairyland Power Cooperative and its project partners — SoCore Energy, Faith Technologies Inc. and Distribu-Gen Cooperative — were recognized for Dairyland’s 18 MW solar portfolio. The 14 sites in the portfolio are spread across Wisconsin and Iowa, with installations ranging from 600 kilowatts to 2.75 megawatts in size. – Source: SoCore Energy Blog

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial: Wind energy proves worth in red states

Journal Star Editorial Board

For years, skeptics have scoffed about the future of wind energy, presuming to silence enthusiasts with the line, “Well, what do you do when the wind doesn’t blow?” As it turns out, there is a modern answer for that question. It’s called a power pool. This month, the Southwest Power Pool became the first regional transmission organization in North America to supply more than 50 percent of its demand from wind turbines, hitting 52.1 percent of its load at 4:30 a.m. on Feb. 12. Continue reading.