Monthly Archives: April 2018

Solar Power: A First for Omaha City Park

Joslyn Castle Neighborhood Association News Release
By Margie Magnuson, JCNA President

On Earth Day, Sunday April 22, at 1p.m., the Joslyn Castle Neighborhood Association, in partnership with Nebraskans for Solar, will celebrate the installation of solar panels in Clarkson Park, located at 124 North 42nd Street.  Clarkson Park will be the first Omaha city park to be equipped with solar panels providing electrical power to an outlet and charging station. Funding for this project was provided by the 2017 Mayor Neighborhood Grant to provide a reliable source of power in the park for neighborhood-sponsored events.

By bringing clean, reliable power to Clarkson Park, the community will be able to schedule more events and activities, such as movie nights, food festivals, and other activities that require a power source. In addition, this project could be a pilot project for other, larger city parks that need power. Solar panels could be a future cost savings, taking the burden off the city’s electrical grid, and helping Omaha move towards more sustainable green energy.

Margie Magnuson, JCNA president, calls this project a “win-win project.” “By creating our own power source,” she says, “we could host a variety of park events to expand on the sense of community we are fostering through our park events without any additional burden to the city power grid. Our ultimate goal is to make Clarkson Park a more fun and enjoyable place to be, using better sustainable solutions.”

For more information, contact:
Margie Magnuson

Many thanks to Dr. Bing Chen and to everyone who attended Nebraskans for Solar’s April forum

Nebraskans for Solar board members wish to thank our distinguished guest speaker for Earth Month 2018, Dr. Bing Chen, for his excellent and well-received presentation last evening at UNO’s Community Engagement Center. Dr. Chen is Professor of Electrical Engineering, UNL, and Passive Solar Research Group (PSRG) Director.

His discussion focused on PSRG’s current research project and the application of passive solar features to a demonstration assisted living unit (ALU) utilizing renewable energy, which the group has dubbed “Small House on the Prairie.” Dr. Chen also addressed steps audience members can take to conserve energy in their own homes, from the less-expensive to more comprehensive passive solar retrofits.

The rationale for the Small House on the Prairie project is both sound and timely, as the need to provide alternative housing solutions in lieu of expensive nursing home care is growing nationwide, with members of the “baby boomers” generation approaching retirement or having already retired. Dr. Chen cited the following notable statistics:

  • 76 million births occurred in the US between 1946 and 1964 – the 19 years usually referred to as the “baby boom”
  • Nursing home care costs more than $90,500 annually, according to a 2012 survey by MetLife

Dr. Chen’s presentation slides also highlighted the following renewable and sustainable features the Passive Solar Research Group have incorporated or plan to incorporate into the “Small House on the Prairie” demonstration project:

  • Passive solar energy for space heating
  • Photovoltaics (PV) power for electrical generation
  • High-efficiency heat pumps
  • High-efficiency appliances
  • Advanced insulated windows
  • Potable water from roof collection
  • Grey water reuse
  • Smart energy monitoring and patient/medical monitoring via Alexa/Echo

Additional Resource
Dr. Chen referenced the following book in his discussion, which is available at the Nebraska Energy Office website and which NEO describes as containing information “that remains timeless.”

Path To Passive: Nebraska’s Passive Solar Primer, written by Bing Chen and Passive Solar Research Group {PSRG) colleagues

Omaha World-Herald Community Events Calendar: Renewable energy program

Learn about solar energy research and the Small House on the Prairie project from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday. Bing Chen, an electrical engineering professor at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and director of the Passive Solar Research Group, will speak about sustainable assisted-living units and using renewable energy.

The program is at the University of Nebraska at Omaha Community Engagement Center, 6400 University Drive Road North. Admission is free.

Please see our calendar for additional details, including parking information.

GreenBiz’s First Quarter Corporate Clean Energy Deal Tracker: Facebook’s Nebraska PPA Biggest Single Deal

By Cassandra Sweet, GreenBiz Group

Facebook signed a deal in March to buy all the power generated from a 320-megawatt Nebraska wind farm by 2029 to power a new data center in Papillion, Nebraska, about 120 miles from the wind farm. The bundled, long-term power purchase agreement that Facebook signed with project owner and developer Enel Green Power North America is actually an amended version of a contract the companies signed in November for 200 megawatts of wind power. The wind farm, Rattlesnake Creek, is under construction and is expected to start generating power by the end of 2018. Click here to read the entire article.

GreenBiz Graphic: Biggest Corporate Renewable Energy Deals During First Quarter 2018 (PDF)

Enel Image: Rendering of Nebraska’s Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm


Zoltenko Farms Near Hardy, Nebraska Hosting Open House to Showcase New 1,164-Solar-Panel System

 Written by Amy Hadachek for The Fence Post

A boar stud operation on the Kansas/Nebraska border, which recently added a sophisticated geothermal (heating and cooling) system to keep boars at a consistently comfortable body temperature, has also recently completed a major installation of a solar energy system.

Zoltenko Farms near Hardy, Neb., which was founded just over 100 years ago in 1917, will showcase their new 1,164-solar paneled system to the community during their Solar Power Open House at the Zoltenko Farms site on April 21 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Click here for additional details. 

Photo by AB27 / Creative Commons

Amy Hadachek is a freelance writer who lives on a farm with her husband in north central Kansas and is also a meteorologist and storm chaser. She can be reached at:

American AgCredit
Founded in 1916, American AgCredit is part of the nationwide Farm Credit System, specializing  in providing financial services to agricultural and rural customers throughout California, Nevada, Kansas, Oklahoma, Colorado, and New Mexico – as well as to capital markets customers throughout the country.

Farm Credit Services of America
Farm Credit Services of America, based in Omaha, Nebraska, is also a part of the Farm Credit System, serving the financing needs of agricultural producers, agribusinesses and rural homeowners in Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

Farm Credit System
The Farm Credit System is a nationwide agricultural network providing credit and affiliated services to farm and ranch operators across the United States. See a list of participating associations here.


Steps to success for utilities moving into community solar projects – Featuring Fremont’s solar farms

By Kim Riley, Daily Energy Insider

U.S. electric utility companies plan new or additional renewable energy investments, particularly in solar, thanks to the enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which retained renewable energy development incentives, according to industry analysts . . . Among the many shared renewable energy models is the utility-sponsored model in which utilities provide customers with the option to purchase renewable energy from a shared facility at a fixed rate (which might be a bit higher than the current retail rate) for a set term (usually a number of years, say 10 or 20 years) that’s designed to provide protection and stability against rising rates for grid electricity, SEIA says. Brian Newton, city administrator and general utility manager for the City of Fremont, Neb., convinced local officials and residents with tweaks to the utility-sponsored model that the adoption of renewable energy was a smart choice for their rural town, which is located about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, population roughly 27,000. Read more here.

Photo Courtesy of Troy Schaben, Assistant City Administrator, Fremont Department of Utilities: Fremont’s First Solar Farm. The city’s second solar farm is being built by GenPro Energy Solutions.

Fremont moves forward on second solar farm due to high demand, by James Farrell, Fremont Tribune




Interfaith Power & Light’s 2018 Faith Climate Action Week starts tomorrow, April 14th. A kit accompanies this event, which includes everything faith communities need to implement Climate Action Week activities. The kit can be used any time during 2018. Everyone who participates in Faith Climate Action Week will receive an invitation to a special webinar with Happening filmmaker Jamie Redford and Climate Champion NV State Senator Pat Spearman on April 20th.

To learn more and download the free kit, click here.

“Climate and Weather Reporting” With Meteorologist Amber Sullins – Citizens’ Climate Lobby Conference Call Tomorrow!

Omaha CCL’s April Meeting
Saturday, April 14th – 11:45 a.m.
Augustana Lutheran Church Fellowship Wing

38th and Lafayette

Guest Speaker: Meteorologist Amber Sullins

Conference Call Description
With surveys showing a persistent gap between what scientists say about climate change and what the public thinks scientists believe, it’s clear that Americans need more exposure to the views of scientific experts. As Amber Sullins says, the only scientist most people hear from is the person who delivers the weather forecast every evening. That’s why the Phoenix meteorologist talks about climate change during her reports.

Sullins, who holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Atmospheric Science from the University of Arizona in Tucson, joins Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s conference call tomorrow to discuss how meteorologists are helping the public to connect the dots between climate change and our changing weather.


NOVA Video: “Decoding the Weather Machine,” in which scientists explore the question, “How Is Earth’s Climate Changing?” airs next Wednesday, April 18 at 7 p.m. on NET.

Watch the trailer here. 

Google And Apple Lead The Corporate Charge Toward 100% Renewable Energy

Post written by Silvio Marcacci, Communications Director at
Energy Innovation. Published by Forbes

America’s technology corporate giants have led the corporate renewables procurement trend, but two of the biggest names in tech just reached a new mark: Apple and Google are now both 100% powered by renewable energy . . . This trend is opening up new markets for renewable energy, leading corporate suppliers to decarbonize, and saving money on corporate bottom lines – and it isn’t slowing down anytime soon. Read more here.

Photo Credit: hpgruesen / Creative Commons


The Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles and the Business Renewables Center, which Silvio Marcacci references, are the core initiatives of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, or REBA. The alliance’s goal is to help US corporations procure renewable energy to meet their needs.

Click these links to learn more:

U.S. Renewable Energy Map: Click map to link to it. 


About RE100, which Marcacci also references in his article:
is a collaborative, global initiative uniting more than 100 influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity, working to massively increase demand for – and delivery of – renewable energy.

RE100 is sponsored by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP. Both organizations are part of the We Mean Business coalition, working with leading businesses around the world.


Facebook’s recently-announced expansion increases the corporation’s total investment in the Papillion Data Center to
$1 billion. Facebook is partnering with Adobe to help them enter
the U.S. renewable energy market with Enel; 10 MW of Nebraska’s Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project will be allocated to Adobe.

Links to More Information

  • Facebook’s Nebraska reach expands, by Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD March Blog Post
    Facebook announced today their Nebraska data center will be three times the size of its original announcement. The Papillion data center will be six buildings instead of two with groundbreaking set to begin in May on the additional buildings. Facebook announced last April their plan to build its next data center here and credited the development of OPPD’s Rate 261M as one of the biggest draws. Read the entire blog post.
  • Facebook’s Press Release: Papillion Data Center Expanding to Six Buildings
    Author: Jim Piazza, Director of Data Center Operations, East. Last year, we worked with Omaha Public Power District to create a new renewable energy tariff that ensures we can power our data center with clean and renewable energy. With the tariff in place, we could seek new, in-state wind projects, which we found in Enel Green Power‘s Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project. We will now increase our purchase from 200 MW to 320 MW to support our growth, and we are excited to share that we have partnered with Adobe to help them enter the U.S. renewable energy market with Enel; 10 MW of Rattlesnake Creek will be allocated to Adobe.

Additional Recommended Reading 

Enel sells energy from new US wind farm to Facebook and Adobe, Enel Press Release
The new deal between Enel and Facebook widens the scope of the bundled, long-term power purchase agreement for 200 MW signed in November 2017 to gradually include the plant’s overall output by 2029, following Facebook’s decision to significantly expand its data centre in Papillion, around 120 miles from Rattlesnake Creek. The energy produced by the entire wind farm will enable the expanded data centre to be 100% renewable-powered.

“Powering our data centers with 100% clean and renewable energy is not just a goal for Facebook, it is a requirement of our business,” said Bobby Hollis, Director of Global Energy at Facebook. “The Rattlesnake Creek wind farm will enable us to power our future Papillion Data Center, and fulfills our passion to expand the energy market for other corporate buyers, like Adobe.”

Editorial: OPPD’s solar-shares program may stir customer interest

Omaha World-Herald Editorial Staff

Many Nebraskans say increased use of renewable energy needs to be a priority for our state and nation. Omaha Public Power District, in response, is about to promote solar power via sales of shares to customers. Continue reading here.

Photo: Lincoln Electric System’s SunShares Solar Farm. Courtesy of LES

Also Published by the Omaha World-Herald
OPPD customers will soon be able to buy shares of solar power, by Aaron Sanderford

OPPD’s Solar Shares Program

OPPD has posted information on their website about the Solar-Shares Program, including background information, program highlights, and information on how a participant’s monthly solar charge will be calculated.

NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar

SunWise is a community solar program available in participating Nebraska Public Power District retail communities. Eligible customers have the opportunity to use solar energy to partially power their homes and businesses without the need to invest in a rooftop or home-based system.

  • Current Participating Communities
    Venango – fully subscribed
    Scottsbluff – Pilot project fully subscribed. NPPD and the City of Scottsbluff are now working on a 5-megawatt project. 
    Kearney – shares available
  • Customers living in other communities served by NPPD may request community solar for their town or city by submitting the online form available at the link, below. NPPD serves 80 communities throughout Nebraska.
    Request community solar in your community.

LES SunShares

Generating 5 megawatts of solar energy, the LES community solar facility is the largest and first utility-scale solar installation in Nebraska, as well as one of the largest in the region.

The project was developed by Enerparc, and LES contracted for all energy produced by the facility. The installation, located at Northwest 75th and West Holdrege streets, uses 15,333 solar panels to produce enough energy to power 900 typical homes in Lincoln. Enerparc began construction in March 2016, and the solar facility went online in June 2016. At the time of its completion, over 1,200 residential and business customers voluntarily contributed funds through the LES SunShares program to help support a portion of the facility.
Businesses enrolled in LES SunShares
LES Community Solar Facility
LES Community Solar Brochure
Lincoln Electric System’s Sustainable Energy Program

American Public Power Association urges DOE to reject FirstEnergy plea for emergency order

By Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association News

The American Public Power Association is urging the Department of Energy to reject a request by FirstEnergy Solutions that the Secretary of Energy issue an emergency order requiring PJM Interconnection and, by extension, electricity consumers in the PJM region, to provide “full cost recovery” for certain merchant generating plants in PJM. Such a request is unjustified, the Association said in its April 9 submittal to the DOE. FirstEnergy Solutions has neither demonstrated the existence of an emergency that would support action by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry under Federal Power Act section 202(c), nor shown that its requested relief is reasonable, the public power group argued. At issue is a March 29 request made by FirstEnergy Solutions, on behalf of certain of its subsidiaries (collectively, FirstEnergy), with the DOE. Continue reading here.

Photo: Benita5 / Creative Commons



Muncie couple promotes solar panels throughout Indiana, The Daily News
A retired Ball State University married couple John Vann, retired marketing professor, and Carolyn Vann, retired biology professor, are taking their knowledge of sustainability and clean energy to the forefront of East Central Indiana to help households procure solar energy for their own properties. They are working to help Hoosiers obtain discounted panels.