Monthly Archives: June 2017

News Release: NCORPE Issues a Request for Wind and Solar Development Proposals

Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project (NCORPE) has approximately 20,000 acres of land that is currently being used for water management in Lincoln County, Nebraska. The large acreage is currently used for grazing and irrigated crops and some agriculture use leases.

NCORPE is considering allowing the property to be leased for the development, construction and operation of a wind and/or solar generation facility by a third party. Kyle Shepherd, NCORPE General Manager noted “existing land uses would generally remain the same albeit with the addition of wind or solar generation on site.”

An NCORPE wind and/or solar project would increase tax revenue in the county and help school districts. According to Shepherd “this project will allow us to use the property in a way that benefits the local community both in alternative energy generation and income that will help us with our operations costs.”

A study conducted by Bluestem Energy Solutions and Baird Holm, LLP in 2013 noted, depending on the size of the development, in a typical rural Nebraska county, an approximate 39 percent increase in tax revenue could be experienced.

To learn more about the NCORPE wind/solar energy development project or to locate the RFP, visit www.ncorpe.org. NCORPE will accept proposals through July 14, 2017.

The NCORPE board of directors is opening a public comment period to receive input from the public and interested stakeholders. Comments can be sent to Kyle Shepherd at kshepherd@urnrd.org or NCORPE, C/O Kyle Shepherd, 24871 S. Lone Star Road, North Platte, NE 69101. All comments must be received by July 26, 2017.

Interested parties are welcome to a public open house on July 26th at 10:00 a.m. to learn about the project and provide comment. Following the public comment period NCORPE will respond to questions and comments received on the NCORPE wind/solar energy development project page at www.ncorpe.org.

What is NCORPE?
NCORPE, the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project, is an interlocal agency that was formed in the fall 2012 by four Natural Resources Districts (NRDs) (Upper Republican NRD, Middle Republican NRD, Lower Republican NRD, Twin Platte NRD) to increase stream flows in the Republican and Platte Rivers.

The agency has purchased irrigated land in Lincoln County, Nebraska and retired it from irrigation so that water can be transported via pipelines and tributaries to the Republican and Platte Rivers. NCORPE guarantees that river flow obligations are met in the Republican and Platte Rivers. Not meeting those obligations, such as the Republican River Compact, would cause severe financial and regulatory penalties along with the permanent shutdown of over 300,000 irrigated acres. In addition to assurances NCORPE provides that interstate and intrastate river flow obligations are met, the project meets these obligations in a way that protects the economy.

Link to the release.

Mayors Could Shift Nearly 42 Percent of U.S. Electricity to Renewables by 2035

By Alexander C. Kaufman, The Huffington Post 

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, the country’s largest coalition of cities representing 148 million people and 41.8 percent of the country’s electricity use, plans to vote this weekend on a pledge to make 100 percent renewable power a top policy priority over the next decade.

Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

LES receives national award

ORLANDO, Florida — Lincoln Electric System was recognized for its continued excellence as a public power utility with the American Public Power Association’s E.F. Scattergood System Achievement Award, receiving it at the association’s national conference June 20, 2017.

The Scattergood Award honors APPA-member systems that have enhanced the prestige of public power utilities through sustained achievement and customer service.

LES is firmly positioned as an industry leader with a 99.99-percent reliability record, and the utility continues to take strides to make sure its power remains dependable. Its mobile meter-reading project upgraded nearly all of the system’s 137,000 analog meters.

In 2016, LES unveiled Nebraska’s largest and first utility-scale solar array, Lincoln’s 5-megawatt community solar facility, and customers can invest in virtual solar panels, receiving credits on their bill. Improvements were also implemented to LES’ rate structure with the goal of incenting energy efficiency and protecting customers sensitive to bill fluctuation.

In the Lincoln community, LES engages elementary students through its Energy Detective Kits, a program that teaches students and their parents about saving energy, reducing water usage and lowering their household bills.

The news release is posted here.

Photo: Lincoln Electric System’s 5-megawatt community solar facility, currently Nebraska’s largest utility-scale solar array

Lincoln Electric System’s Community Solar program offers two options:

1) SunShares: 
By adding a donation to their monthly bill, LES customers help support solar energy in the Lincoln area. Each SunShare is $1 per month; a three-share ($3) minimum is required.

2) Virtual Net Metering Program: LES customers can invest in “virtual” solar panels representing a portion of the community solar facility’s output. Each virtual panel requires a one-time $685 enrollment fee that results in a credit on the customer’s bill each month. This credit correlates to the level of investment and the actual energy production of the solar facility.
Brochure
LES’ Community Solar Program

Decorah, Iowa is latest town to consider parting ways with its utility

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

An effort is underway in a small Iowa city to create a municipal electric utility that would supplant the service now supplied by Alliant Energy, an investor-owned utility — the latest in a series of similar efforts around the country. Although the leaders of the initiative acknowledge that it’s a daunting challenge, they believe a locally owned electric utility would provide substantial benefits to the city of Decorah. Continue reading.

Photo by Matthew Robey / Creative Common

ALSO IN THE NEWS

PURPA Reign: Michigan Could Grow Solar Market With New Avoided Cost Methodology

By Sol Systems, The Energy Collective

Recently, the Michigan Public Service Commission (“MPSC”) approved a final order to the approach the Consumers Energy Company (“Consumers Energy”) determines the avoided cost under the federal Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (“PURPA”). Consumers Energy is a public utility providing power to 6.7 million of the Michigan’s 11 million residents.

What’s PURPA?

In 1978, Congress enacted PURPA with the purpose to promote the development of alternative electric energy sources while reducing dependency on fossil fuels. PURPA requires utilities to purchase energy from qualifying facilities (“QFs”) within their service territories. PURPA allows small QFs to sell electricity to utilities at an avoided cost, which is the cost the utility would have incurred if the utilities had bought power from fossil fuels such as coal.

Read more here.

New report: Adding renewables keeps the lights on and money in America’s pockets

By Greg Alvarez, head editor and writer for Into the Wind, American Wind Energy Association Blog

[On Tuesday], a new report from Analysis Group reconfirmed an important point: adding renewable energy to America’s electricity grid strengthens reliability and saves consumers money. AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan penned a column in the Huffington Post explaining some of Analysis Group’s findings. Here are a few highlights: Continue reading.

Read the Huffington Post column here.

Watch the American Wind Energy video: Wind power: Keeping the lights on

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED VIEWING
Wind power: An economic engine for rural America

Hear From the Bold Nebraskans Who Won’t Give Up Fighting Keystone XL Pipeline

By Nicole Greenfield, EcoWatch

When TransCanada began knocking on doors throughout Nebraska in 2008, most residents didn’t know much about its Keystone XL pipeline or the dirty tar sands oil it would be transporting. The energy company was negotiating easements with local landowners in order to secure a route for its multibillion-dollar project—which would run north to south through the state, directly through the Ogallala Aquifer and across hundreds of Nebraskan rivers and streams. TransCanada threatened landowners with eminent domain if they didn’t comply. Click here to read their stories. 

Photo: Susan and Bill Dunavan on their land. Credit: Alex Matzke/Bold Nebraska

PUBLIC HEARINGS

The Nebraska Public Service Commission has scheduled the following public hearings to take formal testimony on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline across the state:

Date: Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Location: Divots Conference Center, 4200 West Norfolk Avenue, Norfolk, Nebraska
Time: 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Doors open at 9:00 a.m.)

  • Public comments accepted on a first-come, first-serve basis.
  • Commenters will have three to five minutes to speak.

The commission has also scheduled five days of public hearings August 7th through 11th beginning at 9 a.m. each day at Lincoln’s Marriott Cornhusker Hotel, 333 South 13th Street.

The commission also provides an online form for the public to submit comments.

ADDITIONAL UPCOMING EVENT
Eminent Domain – World Premiere of an Omaha Playwright’s Work, Omaha Community Playhouse, August 25, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.

Description: On the surface, Eminent Domain exposes the hard-fought battle between Nebraska farmers and corporate energy. Dig deeper and the greater struggle is revealed: the fight to preserve our Heartland’s farms and the livelihood of the people who live here. Our most crucial resource is not just the land we are privileged to attend with cracked and calloused hands—it is our kin, our clan and our heritage.

Visit the Omaha Community Playhouse’s website

Solar is South Sioux City’s latest investment in renewables

By Ty Rushing, Sioux City Journal

Panels that are part of a 21-acre solar farm are shown on the south end of South Sioux City. The solar park produces 2.3-megawatts of capacity, enough to meet 5 percent of the city’s total electrical needs. Photo Credit: Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

In addition to the 5 percent from solar, future plans call for South Sioux City to purchase 7 percent of its power from hydroelectric sources, another 7 percent from under-construction Green Star Gasifiers and 33 percent from Florida-based NextEra Energy Resources LLC via the Cottonwood Wind Farm, a project currently under construction in Webster County. Once all of those entities are in place, 52 percent of the electricity used to power South Sioux City will have originated from renewable sources, which also brings with it significant cost savings, [City Administrator Lance Hedquist] noted.

Click here to read more.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
South Sioux City enters wind energy agreement, by Ian Richardson, Sioux City Journal

Celebrate National Pollinator Week June 19-25 With Free Fresh Energy Webinar

Ten years ago the U.S. Senate’s unanimous approval and designation of a week in June as “National Pollinator Week” marked a necessary step toward addressing the urgent issue of declining pollinator populations. Pollinator Week has now grown into an international celebration of the valuable ecosystem services provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats and beetles.

The Pollinator Partnership is proud to announce that June 19-25, 2017 has been designated National Pollinator Week by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Watch Solar and Pollinators, a Fresh Energy Webinar this Thursday, June 22nd from 12 to 1 p.m.

RECOMMENDED READING

Utilities in hot water: Realizing the benefits of grid-integrated water heaters

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

A wave of interest is building in grid-integrated water heating (GIWH) as a path to system flexibility at a fraction of the cost of battery energy storage. At last count, 53.6 million of the 118.2 million U.S. water heaters were electric. Each could act as a battery for load shifting, peak shaving, or to integrate renewables, according to a Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) paper. Hot water is used largely by residential utility customers in morning and evening hours, wrote RAP Sr. Advisor Jim Lazar. But it can be heated “when power is most available.” Click here to read more.

Photo credit: iStock

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