Monthly Archives: November 2017

NFS Has Battery-Generators for Solar Powered Events and Education

 By Jared Friesen, Nebraskans for Solar President, NABCEP Solar Designer

Nebraskans for Solar is always looking for ways to bring clean and reliable solar energy to events and to those interested in learning more about renewable energy in general. With special support from the Omaha Venture Group, we now have tools to store solar energy in a battery and convert it back to standard plug power to provide usable solar energy day or night, indoors or out.

A battery-generator is similar to a “powerbank” that provides USB power for charging a cell phone. However, these battery-generators provide 120 AC volts capable of powering almost all household appliances such as coffee makers, refrigerators, TV’s, fans, or power tools (up to 1500 watts!). The length of time the connected devices can run can be calculated based on the battery-generator’s 640 watt-hour usable energy rating. The batteries supporting these systems are in the Lithium Ion family used in cell phones, drones, and electric vehicles, but are of a Lithium Iron Phosphate sub-category which provides the highest levels of safety while still providing significant size, weight, and charge cycle advantages over lead-acid based batteries often used to start internal combustion engine vehicles.

Paired with the two new Humless Go Mini battery-generators are two foldable 130-watt portable solar panels. These solar panels have integral stands, latches, and carrying handles and come with soft cases to simplify transport. A full battery-generator charge from empty can be completed in 2.5-4 hours with these solar panels, or charging can be done with wall outlet 120 AC volt power in a pinch (of course charging during the day from a home or business with grid-connected solar panels is preferred in this case!).

One way this device can be used for educational purposes is to combine with a Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitor to see how much power different devices use and what effects they have on the run time of the battery-generator. Other electricity monitoring devices can be used to test estimates of DC voltage and current generation by the solar panels if set up outdoors (estimating output based on ambient air temperature, estimated solar irradiance, panel voltage-current curves, etc.).

The battery-generators will also be made available for events where a modest amount of solar-derived power is desired for tasks like running public address speakers or powering a video monitor.

If you could use a solar battery-generator for an educational session, are interested in using a solar battery-generator at a sustainability-related event, or have other questions – we want to hear from you! Please contact us today for more information, or donate here if you would like to support our efforts to promote the use of solar power in Nebraska.

News Release: Keystone XL Partially Denied; Landowners Vow to Keep Fighting

By Mark Hefflinger, Bold Nebraska

Landowners, Tribes, Bold and other official intervenors now have the option to within 30 days file an appeal in the Nebraska courts of portions of the PSC’s decision, to ensure that property rights, cultural and natural resources receive maximum protections. Separately, intervenor parties may also petition the Public Service Commission for a rehearing within ten days of the decision.

As landowners, attorneys and other intervenor parties consider legal options, Bold Nebraska has announced an expansion of the Solar XL project, and will continue crowdfunding to build additional solar installations with landowners in the path of Keystone XL.

Read the entire release.

About Solar XL

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • Lincoln Journal Star: Nebraska OK’s Keystone XL pipeline, but not its preferred route. Nebraska regulators have approved TransCanada’s controversial Keystone XL pipeline, but not its “preferred” route through this state — raising questions about whether the company will continue to pursue the project.
  • Omaha World-Herald: Controversial Keystone XL pipeline route across Nebraska is approved, but hurdles likely remainThe decision, while giving the Canadian firm a route across Nebraska, raises many questions. One is that about 40 new landowners, along the 63 new miles of the alternative route, must be contacted to obtain right-of-way agreements for the underground pipe. Some major oil companies have pulled out of the tar sands region in recent months due to a worldwide glut of oil and the higher cost of turning the tar sands into synthetic crude.
  • Chicago Tribune: Nebraska panel approves alternative Keystone XL route. Jane Kleeb, director of the pipeline opposition group the Bold Alliance, said her group believes TransCanada will have to seek another federal review of the route, a process that would add even more years to the timetable. The mainline alternative approved Monday includes 63 miles of new pipeline that hasn’t been reviewed by the federal government. Opponents are expected to appeal the Nebraska commission’s decision in a state district court, and the case is likely to end up before the Nebraska Supreme Court. The commission was forbidden by law from considering a recent oil spill in South Dakota on the existing Keystone pipeline in its decision.

Highlights from 2017 Congressional Education Day

By Flannery Winchester, Citizens Climate Lobby

What an incredible week! CCL’s 4th annual Congressional Education Day was our largest November lobbying event to date, with more than 600 attendees registered and more than 400 lobby meetings scheduled on the Hill.

Even with 600 CCLers there in person, we know there were thousands more across the country who would have loved to be with us. For that reason, we captured and shared lots of the conference on social media, so everyone could join in virtually. Here is a roundup of the highlights.

About Citizens’ Climate Lobby (CCL)
CCL is working toward legislation that would:

  • Place a fee on fossil fuels at the source: well, mine or port of entry.
  • Distribute the net revenues to U.S. households to offset higher energy costs.
  • Include a border tariff adjustment to discourage businesses from relocating where they can emit more CO2. This will also encourage other nations to adopt equivalent carbon pricing.

Nebraska currently has 5 CCL Chapters. To learn more, click a link, below, to a chapter near you, or visit CCL’s website to read about ways you can become involved.

The Climate Solutions Caucus: Currently there are 62 Members: 31 Republicans and 31 Democrats.

Climate Solutions Caucus

It’s Electrifying

By Scott Koperski, Beatrice Daily Sun

Beatrice currently purchases power from Nebraska Public Power District, though the power that arrives can come from other areas, as well. This arrangement will change after next year, however, when Beatrice begins the process of transitioning to its new provider, AEP Energy Partners Inc., based out of Columbus, Ohio. A new provider isn’t the only change in store for the department. Renewable energy will likely come to Beatrice at some point, in the form of wind or solar generation.

Click here to read the complete news story.

Photo Credit: Scott Koperski / Beatrice Daily Sun. Beatrice’s electric department operates out of the BPW service center in North Beatrice. The department includes 16 workers who maintain and repair Beatrice’s systems.

Keystone Pipeline Oil Spill Reported In South Dakota

By Richard Gonzales, NPR

The conduit is not the controversial and long-delayed Keystone XL Pipeline that TransCanada is still shepherding through the approval process. But as NPR’s Jeff Brady reports, the spill comes at a sensitive time for TransCanada.

“Regulators in the neighboring state of Nebraska are expected to announce a decision on the company’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline next week. The project and its route through Nebraska have been controversial. Some landowners are concerned about how an oil spill might harm their property and water supplies.” Click here to read more.

Photo: A protest sign sits in the proposed path of the Keystone XL Pipeline in Silver Creek, Nebraska. Credit: Nati Harnik / Associated Press

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Washington Post: Keystone pipeline spills 210,000 gallons of oil on eve of permitting decision for TransCanada

The spill comes just days before a crucial decision next Monday by the Public Service Commission in Nebraska over whether to grant a permit for a new, long-delayed sister pipeline called Keystone XL, which has been mired in controversy for several years. Both are owned by Calgary-based TransCanada. The spill on the first Keystone pipeline is the latest in a series of leaks that critics of the new pipeline say shows that TransCanada should not receive another permit.

New Facebook wind farm to cost $430M

 By Ty Rushing, Sioux City Journal

WAKEFIELD, Neb. — A new Facebook supported wind farm being built in Dixon County should give local residents a few million reasons to like it. The upcoming Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project will distribute $80 million in property tax and landowners payments over the first 20 years of its existence, according to officials at Enel Green Power North America Inc.

Read more here. 

Image: A rending of the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project. The $430 million wind farm is being built in rural Dixon County, Nebraska. Upon completion, it will be the second largest wind farm in Nebraska. The 400MW Grande Prairie Wind Farm near O’Neill in Holt County is currently the largest wind energy development in the state.

 ALSO IN THE NEWS

UTILITY DIVE FEATURE
Does Customer Choice Aggregation spell the end of the regulated electric utility in California?
One of the biggest ideas challenging today’s utility business model is the customer choice aggregation (CCA) movement in California. By the end of 2017, a third or more of California’s investor-owned utility (IOU) customers will get electricity from alternative sources and/or providers and there will be 915,000 CCA customers. But that is just the beginning, according to a recent white paper from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The counties of San Diego (3.3 million) and Los Angles (10.2 million) are about to launch CCAs.

Rocky Mountain Institute Releases Carbon-Free City Handbook

RMI Press Release

The Carbon-Free City Handbook is a resource for city leaders around the world to take real and meaningful action toward their commitments with 22 ready-to-implement, no-regrets solutions that have proven success. Each recommendation draws off the work of more than 50 city leaders and sustainability directors and is a meaningful action that almost any city can pursue and apply locally, seeing results within a year. Ideas are nearly universally applicable for cities with a population of 100,000+ with compelling economics.

Actions are organized into five chapters, covering key areas for impact:

  1. Buildings, which contribute an average of 48 percent to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in large cities
  2. Transportation and mobility, which account for an average of 36 percent of GHG emissions in large cities
  3. Electricity, which accounts for 25 percent of urban GHG emissions from all sectors
  4. Industry, which accounts for an average of 7 percent of GHG emissions in large cities, and often much more
  5. Biological resources, which can contribute to reduction in waste and account for 7 percent of GHG emissions on average in large cities while providing new carbon sink opportunities

Read the entire press release here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
PV Magazine:
Rocky Mountain Institute issues guide for greener cities
The “Carbon-Free Handbook” can serve as a useful template for localities planning or actively engaged in large-scale solar and related initiatives like the Sierra Club’s “Ready For 100 and the U.S. Department of Energy’s “SolSmart programs.

Tesla’s electric semi truck: Elon Musk unveils his new freight vehicle

By Umair Irfan, Vox

The semi is a fully electric Class 8 truck, a category of freight vehicles that weigh more than 33,000 pounds, including tractor-trailer rigs that form the backbone of commercial road freight. This one, Musk said, can haul 80,000 pounds.Tesla’s offering has a range of 500 miles at maximum weight at highways speeds, much higher than early spec reports of a range of 300 miles. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Tesla Roadster: Elon Musk unveils ‘fastest production car ever’ in shock announcement, The Telegraph

More states use solar plants to protect bumble bee populations

By Frank Andorka, PV Magazine

Following dire reports of bee-colony collapses in recent years, at least three new solar sites in Florida and Maryland are trying to provide safe havens for these critical links in the food chain.
Learn more here.

Photo by Wikipedia Commons: Maryland has a law that gives preference to solar farms that protect bees, and Florida Power & Light is partnering with Audubon Florida to create “Solar Sanctuary” sites.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Legislation

Articles

Webinars

PowerPoint

OPPD adding to greener pastures with renewables

By Jason Kuiper, OPPD Blog, The Wire

OPPD is developing a community solar project and continues to do deep research to determine how and when to proceed on solar. [CEO Tim] Burke compared the development of solar to OPPD’s investment in wind energy. Wind prices are much lower now than they were 2009, when OPPD really started looking at adding wind to the generation mix. Burke said changes are certainly coming to the industry along with new technologies, and he expects solar prices to start coming down, just as wind prices have. Read the complete blog post here.

Photo: OPPD CEO Tim Burke who spoke at the 2017 Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Lincoln.

 

About Jason Kuiper
Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He formerly worked as a staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald.