Monthly Archives: December 2018

‘Kearney growing in every direction’

The Kearney Hub

KEARNEY — This week, Lt. Gov. Mike Foley honored city of Kearney officials for their continuing work in economic development. For the third time in 10 years, Kearney has earned recognition from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development as an Economic Development Certified Community . . . Active local, county and state economic support have contributed to growth within the community’s public and private sectors. Through ongoing efforts to build opportunities in the region’s technology industry, the city of Kearney and Economic Development Council of Buffalo County (EDCBC) partnered to purchase and develop Kearney’s shovel-ready technology park, Tech oNE Crossing. Since 2017, local leaders have successfully recruited two companies to the facility, including Xpanxion Software’s $5 million client briefing center and an $11 million solar farm. Read more here.

SoCore Energy Photo: Kearney’s Solar Farm, comprising 22,464 panels on 53 acres at Tech oNE Crossing, is currently Nebraska’s largest. The 5.7-megawatt solar array’s generating capacity is enough to power about 900 houses or supply 5 percent of Kearney’s energy load.

Cheapest AND Cleanest: Renewables Are Winning

By Nathanael Greene, Natural Resources Defense Council

When President Jimmy Carter put solar panels on the roof of the White House 40 years ago, renewable energy resources were a niche technology both expensive and quirky. Well, as Carter’s buddy Bob Dylan would say, “The times they are a changin’.”

Solar and wind energy are beating dirty fossil fuels and nuclear power in the marketplace. They are winning not because they are clean and necessary to combat carbon pollution, but because they are less expensive for power producers, companies and customers. As 2018 closes, it’s now safe to say that clean renewable energy is at an inflection point. Cost is no longer the biggest challenge to greater adoption of wind and solar; it is now the rules of the power markets that often keep the cheapest options from winning. Read more here.

Pixabay Photo

IN NEBRASKA

Lincoln Journal Star Letter: Farmers produce energy, too
By Matt Gregory, Clean Energy Advocate, Nebraska Wildlife Federation. Last year, Nebraska farmers collected nearly $4 million in lease payments to place wind turbines on their land. And that’s not to mention the indirect benefits of wind farms paying millions to counties and school districts, helping to lessen everyone’s property tax burden.

ALSO IN THE NEWS


NREL REPORT

U.S. utilities test distributed energy management, PV Magazine

Distributed energy management systems can capture added value from solar and storage by shaving peak loads, providing grid services, and deferring grid investments. Utilities testing such systems have shared their lessons learned, while Western Australia leapfrogs ahead.

Download Report: Expanding PV Value: Lessons Learned from Utility-led Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation in the United States (PDF)

ENERGY STORAGE NEWS

Tri-State policy change discourages battery projects in rural Colorado and New Mexico, Clean Cooperative

United Power will dedicate the largest battery storage system in Colorado next week, a 16 megawatt hour Tesla Powerpack in Longmont that the electric cooperative expects will save its members $1 million each year. But recent policy changes by Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, United Power’s wholesale power supplier, aim to discourage other cooperatives from pursuing similar projects, creating uncertainty for the deployment of battery projects in much of rural Colorado and New Mexico. United Power shifted its focus to battery projects last year, after the co-op reached the 5% limit on local renewable energy generation imposed by Tri State.

Colorado adopts rule to include storage in utility planning, Utility Dive
State regulators and lawmakers have focused on energy storage in 2018 as the governor signed a measure on consumer-installed storage and the PUC approved an Xcel Colorado plan to retire 660 MW of coal in favor of storage and solar.

NATIONAL SURVEY

Midterm Voters Want Action On Clean Energy Policy, Cres Forum Polling

Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions Forum and the Conservative Energy Network recently released national post-election survey results finding strong support among Republicans and Democrats alike for government action to accelerate development and use of clean energy in the United States.

NEW NON-WIRES SOLUTIONS GUIDE


Rocky Mountain Institute’s Non-Wires Solutions Implementation Playbook: A Practical Guide for Regulators, Utilities, and Developers delineates innovative approaches to spur Non-Wires Solutions (NWS) adoption and recommends planning and operational strategies to improve NWS processes.

OPPD board approves $1.18 billion budget

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

[Monthly fixed fees] will increase to $30 a month in 2019, up from $10.25 in 2015. Utility officials have said the shift is needed as appliances and devices become more efficient and as more people start generating power at home, including by using solar panels. Read the entire article here.

Note: According to OPPD, a total of only about 100 customers have installed solar energy systems, to date. In a recent Omaha World-Herald article, OPPD management stated that it “had not yet determined how much more, if any, customers are paying for electricity because of the renewable energy the utility has already added to the mix . . . People should not draw a direct correlation between renewables and rising rates, said Javier Fernandez, the district’s chief financial officer.”

Those who take measures to make their homes more energy efficient or who install solar energy systems benefit not only their own households but also their neighbors’ and their local utility in a number of ways. Six benefits of rooftop solar are excerpted below from the following source: Let’s Be Clear: Solar Energy Benefits Everyone, Solar Energy Industries Association

Widely-recognized benefits of rooftop solar:

  • Rooftop solar reduces the need for utilities to build new transmission and distribution infrastructure.
  • In the long run, “fixed costs” are not truly “fixed”. The need for them ultimately depends on demand for electricity, and rooftop solar reduces that demand.
  • Expensive utility transformers can get overloaded on hot summer days when people are using more energy to cool their homes. Rooftop solar can reduce strain on the system on these days, which extends the life of expensive utility equipment and creates savings for everyone.
  • Avoided fuel hedging costs created by volatile fossil fuels like natural gas is another widely-recognized benefit of rooftop solar.
  • Avoided electricity losses from power plants that are located far away from cities is another benefit rooftop solar provides.
  • Solar and other renewables reduce the state’s reliance on expensive “peaker” generation plants that would drive prices higher if they had to run.

PUBLISHED BY THE OMAHA WORLD-HERALD

  • The fixed cost on your OPPD bill will now be $30 a month, up from $10.25 in 2015
    Outgoing board member Tom Barrett, who represents northeast Omaha, asked OPPD management whether they had done the research to verify their prediction that most customers would pay the same or less under the new rate structure. Management officials said they had not yet done so. 
  • OPPD’s board set to take an environmental tilt. What will it mean for electricity costs? 
    The costs of OPPD going further, faster on renewables and carbon are not yet clear. OPPD officials have said they had not yet determined how much more, if any, customers are paying for electricity because of the renewable energy the utility has already added to the mix . . . People should not draw a direct correlation between renewables and rising rates, said Javier Fernandez, the district’s chief financial officer.

Solar Tariffs Hold Back Q3 Installations, Scramble Project Timelines As Procurement Pipeline Booms

SEIA News Release

BOSTON, Mass. and WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Section 201 solar tariffs took a toll on utility-scale solar installations in the third quarter according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Report for Q3 from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Wood Mackenzie Power & the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). The residential market, meanwhile, continued to stabilize after a down 2017. Overall, the analysts expect 2018 growth to be flat.

For the first time since 2015, quarterly additions of utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) fell below 1 gigawatt (GW), highlighting the impact of the tariffs and the uncertainty surrounding them in late 2017 and early 2018. As a result, the U.S. solar market was down 15 percent year-over-year in the third quarter of the year, but the report notes that a strong project pipeline lies ahead. Continue reading here.

MORE U.S. RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS & AN OP-ED

GLOBAL NEWS

Expect 680 GW Of New Wind Energy In Next Decade, North American Wind Power

A new report from research and consultancy firm Wood Mackenzie predicts more than 680 GW of new wind power capacity to come online globally over the next decade.


ENERGY STORAGE

U.S. energy storage project pipeline hits 32.9 GW this year, Solar Power World. The pipeline for energy storage projects in the United States doubled this year, ballooning to 32.9 GW, according to the latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Energy Storage Association (ESA). While not all of the projects will come to fruition, this is a clear signpost that developers are bullish on energy storage. The report’s free executive summary is available here.

100% RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS & A PODCAST

PROJECT AGGREGATION

NREL highlights DER aggregation project challenges, American Public Power Association. A new study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory identifies challenges and makes recommendations for utilities implementing distributed energy resource (DER) aggregation programs. For the study, Expanding PV Value: Lessons Learned from Utility-led Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation in the United States, NREL analyzed DER aggregation programs at five utilities.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

In Minneapolis-St. Paul, the days of diesel buses may be numbered, Midwest Energy News. Metro Transit officials have have committed to add as many as 125 electric buses over the next four years, after which they may stop buying diesel buses altogether. The multi-year strategy comes two months after clean energy advocates successfully pressured the agency to suspend the purchases of new diesel and hybrid buses so that it could study the potential for electrification.

MICROGRIDS

Homeland Security Calls for Microgrid-Driven Community Enclaves

A new Homeland Security report calls for creation of microgrid-driven community enclaves as part of a larger safety strategy should the United States experience a catastrophic power failure. Surviving a Catastrophic Power Outage finds the nation outmatched by an outage lasting weeks or months.


LOCAL NEWS

NPPD eyes hydrogen as conversion fuel at coal-fired unit, American Public Power Association. NPPD plans to change Sheldon Unit 2 near Hallam, Nebraska, from coal to hydrogen between 2021 and 2023, according to John Swanson, NPPD’s generation strategies manager. The hydrogen will flow through a pipeline from a facility Monolith Materials is building across the road from the generating unit. to manufacture carbon black, which is used in tires, cell phones, computers, wiring, etc. The process to make carbon black produces hydrogen as a by-product.

The fixed cost on your OPPD bill will now be $30 a month, up from $10.25 in 2015

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

Outgoing board member Tom Barrett, who represents northeast Omaha, asked OPPD management whether they had done the research to verify their prediction that most customers would pay the same or less under the new rate structure. Management officials said they had not yet done so. Read the entire article here

OPPD December 2015 Marketing Graphic: “Rethinking Rates”

Previously Posted

ALSO IN THE NEWS
OPPD set to replace old-fashioned streetlights with LEDs starting in January, Omaha World-Herald
OPPD management updated the utility’s board Tuesday about a five-year replacement plan for the roughly 100,000 streetlights the district maintains in 13 counties. The new lights are expected to save as much as 25 percent in costs to power them over traditional high-pressure sodium streetlights.

Previously Posted

EDITORIAL
Turbine plan would strike fair balance, Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Omaha utility’s carbon intensity goal obscures ongoing fossil fuel use

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

The carbon intensity goal passed on a 6-2 vote. The goal could change if the board revisits the issue after January, when newly elected board members — including three clean energy supporters — are seated. A debate about carbon intensity also surfaced recently in Iowa, where
MidAmerican Energy won regulatory approval last week for a 591-megawatt wind farm known as Wind XII. In its application, the utility’s president and CEO, Adam Wright, noted that the project would lower the utility’s carbon intensity to about 638 pounds per net megawatt-hour, compared to 1,839 pounds per megawatt 15 years ago, before it began investing in wind energy. “The carbon intensity, even if it’s calculated correctly, doesn’t mean they’ve reduced their emissions that much,” said Paul Chernick, an attorney representing the Sierra Club in the case.
Read the entire article here.

Pat Hawks / Flickr / Creative Commons Image

Related News Stories

CARBON CAPTURE RESEARCH
DOE spent more than $500M on dead projects, E&E News
Nearly half the $2.7 billion in fossil research money spent by the Department of Energy over the last seven years supported nine carbon capture demonstration projects, the majority of which were canceled or withdrawn.

SEIA Statement on the 2018 Farm Bill Conference Report

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), on today’s release of the 2018 Farm Bill conference report:

“We’re pleased to see continued bipartisan support for the Rural Energy for America Program, which enables the spread of renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements throughout America’s heartland. This USDA program finances projects in every state, helping entrepreneurs in rural communities reduce their energy costs.

Solar power is an affordable, clean, job-producing solution that America’s farmers and small businesses can greatly benefit from. We urge Congress to pass this important legislation before the end of the year.”  – SEIA News Release

USDA Rural Energy for America Program
Nebraska USDA Rural Development

Top Senate Democrat calls for permanent renewable energy, storage, EV tax credits

By Christian Roselund, PV Magazine

Last Thursday, Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY), the Democratic Leader in the Senate, sent a letter to President Trump demanding that any infrastructure package taken up in 2019 include “policies and funding to transition to a clean energy economy and mitigate the risks that the United States is already facing due to climate change.”

And in a list of policies that Schumer says should be included, the top item is “permanent tax incentives for domestic production of clean electricity and storage, energy efficient homes and commercial buildings, electric vehicles, and modernizing the electric grid.” In concrete terms, this could mean an extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar and energy storage, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind and the federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

ENERGY STORAGE ITC: AWEA NEWS RELEASE

Yesterday a coalition of more than 150 companies and energy groups issued a letter to Congressional leadership asking for a stand-alone storage Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act would ensure a level playing field for energy storage to compete with all other energy resources currently eligible for the ITC.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) signed onto the letter and issued the following statement in support:

“Energy storage technology will play an important role as we build an even more affordable and reliable electricity grid for the 21st Century,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA. “We’re asking Congress to reduce uncertainty for investors by creating a stand-alone energy storage ITC for which all storage technologies can qualify. A level playing field for the full range of storage technologies will ensure consumers benefit from competition and will boost job-creating investment in infrastructure projects, including new opportunities for wind farm development.”
Read the entire news release here.

Mars, Microsoft, JP Morgan Chase: Insights From Early Adopters Of Corporate Climate Policy

By Jeff McMahon, Forbes

It’s a story of stunning progress and staggering challenges. Some of the first corporations to make climate commitments have found that clean energy saves them money wherever they can find it, but often they can’t find it where they need it most.

Mars Corporation, for example, has signed power purchase agreements with wind farms in Texas, Mexico and Scotland and with a solar farm in Australia. In each case, the agreement covers 100 percent of the power demand for the direct operations of a Mars facility.
Continue reading here.

Photo by Mars Corporation: Mars candies and pet foods are powered in part by the Moy Wind Farm in Scotland.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Commitments to renewable energy are a great start — what comes next?, GreenBiz. This essay was contributed by one of the NGOs that make up the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), a consortium dedicated to growing large buyer demand for renewable power and helping utilities and others meet it. 


To date, 158 RE100 companies have made a commitment to go ‘100% renewable’. Read about the actions they are taking and why here.


COP24 NEWS


Cop24 live blog
PV Magazine’s Max Hall will be pounding the vast spaces of the COP24 venue in Katowice to bring you the latest developments in Poland and trying to shine a light on solar’s presence here.


NEW INVESTMENT ALLIANCE

  • The U.S. Alliance for Sustainable Finance (USASF), based in New York City, will work to encourage more climate-friendly and sustainable finance innovation across the U.S. capital markets. This initiative brings together private sector actors in line with the aim of meeting the United States’ targets of the Paris Agreement.
  • Wall Street staking claim for sustainable finance supremacy, by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine. The press release noted that research indicates a sevenfold increase in global clean energy investment — $2.4T annually versus the current investment levels of $333.5B as estimated by BloombergNEF — is needed to limit the most devastating effects of climate change.

As coal economics worsen, rural renewables development propels Midwest growth: NRDC

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Approximately 5 GW of new renewables were added across nonmetropolitan areas of 12 Midwest states between 2016 and 2017, compared to about 1.7 GW of capacity added in urban areas, according to the report. NRDC’s analysis focused on Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Development in the region is not slowing down either. Last week Capital Dynamics announced an agreement with power company Tenaska to develop 2,000 MW of solar across half the states listed in the report. And Illinois has 600 MW under construction with another 1.2 GW planned, which will more than double the state’s current rural renewables capacity of 1.6 GW.
Read the entire article here.

Download NRDC Report: Clean Energy Sweeps Across Rural America

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE
Data centers, EVs and cannabis poised to boost demand, American Public Power Association
An example of a public power utility attracting a data center can be found with the Omaha Public Power District. Facebook in 2017 said that it had selected a new Nebraska wind project that will supply power to the social media company’s new data center in Papillion, Neb. OPPD played a key role in bringing the data center to Nebraska through an innovative rate plan.