Monthly Archives: May 2019

Nebraska Environmental Trust Awards $200,000 Grant to Independent Colleges Foundation to Support Development of Sustainability Learning Lab at Bellevue University

Business Wire

The Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation (CINCF) announced today that it has received a $200,000 grant from The Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to help establish a sustainability learning lab at Bellevue University. The grant funding from NET will be matched by Bellevue University and its partners and donors over the next three years.

According to Dr. Dennis Joslin, Executive Director of CINCF, “The Sustainability Learning Lab has tremendous potential to benefit the State of Nebraska by raising awareness and educating future generations of students and citizens about how to conserve, enhance and restore natural environments.” Dr. Joslin added that the grant and lab project aligns well with CINCF’s mission to provide support for students attending Nebraska’s private colleges and universities. Continue reading here.

Abigail Ross Hopper: Welcome to the Solar+ Decade

By Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO,
Solar Energy Industries Association 

As part of our planning for the next decade, we will produce a roadmap that will outline the policy, social, environmental and economic considerations needed to make the Solar+ Decade a reality. If we achieve 20 percent solar by 2030, the potential payoff to our economy would be enormous. Picture this: solar could add more than $345 billion to the U.S. economy over the next ten years, reaching $53 billion annually. The solar workforce would grow to 600,000 professionals and Americans would enjoy greater energy choice, lower utility bills and cleaner air. Moreover, our success could prove that climate solutions don’t hurt the economy, but instead, are some of the strongest economic growth engines we’ve seen in decades. Read more here,

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & VIEWING

NEW GEOTHERMAL ENERGY REPORT

DOE Releases New Study Highlighting the Untapped Potential of Geothermal Energy in the United States

The Energy Department has released a groundbreaking analysis detailing how the United States can benefit from the vast potential of geothermal energy. The analysis culminated in a report, GeoVision: Harnessing the Heat Beneath Our Feet, summarizes findings demonstrating that geothermal electricity generation could increase more than 26-fold from today—reaching 60 gigawatts of installed capacity by 2050.

A radical idea to get a high-renewable electric grid: Build way more solar and wind than needed

The Conversation

Article contributed by Richard Perez, Senior Research Associate in Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, University at Albany, State University of New York and Karl R. Rabago, Professor of Law; Executive Director, Pace Energy and Climate Center, Pace University.

Excerpt: Once firmed up through a combination of overprovisioning and storage, variable renewable energy resources become effectively dispatchable – able to provide power when as needed – and functionally equivalent to traditional power plants. In this way, renewables can replace these generators without major grid reengineering.

Our team has modeled a high-solar and overbuilt solution for the not particularly sunny state of Minnesota. The goal was to determine the least costly combination of grid-connected solar, wind and storage necessary to provide round-the-clock, year-round energy services. Read more here.

Recommended Viewing: Richard Perez’s 3-minute YouTube video summarizes his scalable strategy to achieve 100 percent renewables, which he refers to as the “Perfect Forecast.”

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING 

NEW IRENA REPORT

Renewable energy costs hit new lows, now cheapest new power option for most of the world, Electrek
The findings come from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in its new report, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018

SEIA Adds Storage, Manufacturing Divisions as Part of Planning for the Solar+ Decade

SEIA News Release

“These changes in our structure emphasize the massive overhaul the electricity system is undergoing,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA’s president and CEO. “Adding board seats for storage companies and manufacturers and creating policy committees to advance solar plus storage and community solar will help us build toward the Solar+ Decade and achieve our ambitious goals.” Read more here.

City looks to roll out electric vehicle incentive program this summer

By Colin Larson, Fremont Tribune

The City of Fremont plans to unveil a new electrical vehicle incentive program which will provide ten individuals with a $4,500 rebate toward the purchase of a new electric vehicle and charger later this summer. The incentive program is part of a pilot program to study the effect electric vehicles have on Fremont’s electric system, according to City Administrator Brian Newton. Read more here.

Photo: A Tesla electric vehicle uses one of the city’s two ChargePoint charging stations in the Fremont Mall. Credit: Colin Larson, Fremont Tribune

1.6 Gigawatts Of New Solar Energy Potential From The Grassroots

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

Along with the usual funding for established research organizations and private sector partners, DOE is also working under the media radar with grassroots organizations to bring more solar energy to more people — especially lower and middle income populations that are falling behind in the solar race. Read more here.

ECO-Omaha’s Solar in Your Community Challenge Project

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

‘Stranded costs’ mount as coal vanishes from the grid

By Jeffrey Tomich, Reporter, E&E News 

study by consultants Vibrant Clean Energy LLC and Energy Innovation said the United States has reached “the coal crossover,” at which renewables could replace almost 75% of the U.S. coal fleet and at an immediate savings to customers. By 2025, the number is set to rise to 86%. But in most cases, what’s left behind as utilities pull the plug on old coal plants is more than industrial shells awaiting demolition. They’re also leaving behind millions of dollars of so-called stranded costs on the companies’ books — costs someone must shoulder . . . Environmental and consumer advocates, utilities, and regulators across other states in the coal-heavy Midwest are trying to find balance between cutting carbon and keeping utility bills affordable. A potential solution to accomplish those goals is securitization — refinancing higher-cost debt with low-interest, ratepayer-backed bonds. Read more here.

Photo Credit: We Energies

What are “stranded assets?”
Stranded assets are now generally accepted to be fossil fuel supply and generation resources which, at some time prior to the end of their economic life (as assumed at the investment decision point), are no longer able to earn an economic return (i.e. meet the company’s internal rate of return), as a result of changes associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Source: Carbon Tracker Initiative

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Securitization fever: Renewables advocates seize Wall Street’s innovative way to end coal, by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

State legislation authorizing the use of securitization:

GREEN BONDS

U.S. Green Bank Act of 2019 Would Provide $10 Billion+ of Capital to State and Local Green Banks, Coalition for Green Capital. The Green Bank Act of 2019 would inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy to accelerate clean energy deployment, grow clean energy businesses, and deliver affordable clean energy to all Americans. The members of the global Green Bank Network and the American Green Bank Consortium have already shown that public investment in clean energy deployment drives greater total investment, job growth and lower energy costs. The bill creates a new USGB as a wholly owned corporation of the U.S. government, housed within Treasury. It would be capitalized through the issuance of federal Green Bonds.

SUBSIDIES

According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States subsidizes fossil fuels at a cost of $649 billion a year.

OPINION

Thriving in a low carbon future: M&A and the new energy economy, Utility Dive
Contributed article by Mary Anne Sullivan, Sarah Shaw and Alex Harrison, Partners at Hogan Lovells.

Young’s focus: Supporting businesses, building teams

By Paula Lukowski, The Wire, OPPD Blog

An engineer by trade, Wyndle Young enjoys math and science, but he also has an affinity for music, entertainment and sports. That combination has come in handy for Young. He has shaped a successful career on the customer-side of the energy business over the past 27 years by blending his technical and social interests. Now, he is developing a new business strategy for small and mid-size commercial customers as manager of Mid/Small Commercial & Industrial Sales & Services for OPPD. The department develops, implements and manages core business and product and service programs for approximately 40,000 commercial customers. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

  • OPPD solar program sold out, waitlist has begun, by Laura King-Homan, The Wire
    It only took 49 days for OPPD residential customers to purchase all available shares of the utility’s new community solar program.
  • 5,000 Square Miles, by Paula Lukowski, The Wire
  • Legislation would make public power eligible for storage grants, American Public Power Association Blog. The American Public Power Association is voicing support for legislation recently introduced in the House and Senate that would boost research and development of technologies to increase energy storage capabilities and make public power utilities eligible for storage technical assistance and grants. 

River of No Return: How austerity and climate change put northeastern Nebraska underwater

By Ted Genoways, Contributing Editor, The New Republic

Willard Ruzicka saw it all in a dream. The Niobrara River, which runs a few hundred feet from his family’s farmhouse in the unincorporated village of Pishelville, Nebraska, had topped its banks. But instead of water edging toward his house from the north, the dream river—somewhere upstream, in the direction of Spencer Dam—had jumped the channel and cut a new course from the south. Water came rushing down the road, stranding the house as the river closed in from all sides. “I woke up and was just shaking,” Ruzicka remembers now. It was after 2 a.m., midwinter, the braided river through the trees still thickly iced and unmoving. Outside the second-story window of his bedroom, the moon was bright above the snow. “I don’t know why you sense some of these things,” he said, “what it is in your mind that brings these things up.”
 Continue reading here.

Ted Genoways is the author of This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Farm and The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food

Additional Recommended Reading

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

  • A small company sees opportunity in revolutionizing Colorado’s energy supply, Energy News Network. Guzman Energy has offered to buy and shut down three coal units in Colorado and replace the 800 megawatts of generation with renewables. “We would finance the early shutdown of these coal plants, giving Tri-State a substantial cash infusion, in the vicinity of a half-billion dollars, and we would replace the portfolio (that would be lost) with in excess of 70% renewables,” said Chris Riley, president of Guzman Energy, in an interview last week at the firm’s office in downtown Denver. Of Tri-State’s 43 member co-ops, 29 are in Colorado and New Mexico, with the others in Wyoming and Nebraska. More significantly, most of the largest members — constituting roughly half of Tri-State’s electrical demand — have told Tri-State they want to see a more rapid decarbonization. Tri-State has lately begun taking steps to accommodate those requests.
  • Tri-State rebuffs offer from Guzman Energy to buy and close 3 coal plants, Utility Dive
    According to Guzman, Tri-State officials indicated they are not currently interested in the proposal, but could revisit the idea after a legislative rulemaking process in Colorado has been finalized. Lawmakers in that state recently passed legislation subjecting Tri-State to oversight by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
  • Glenwood to go 100 percent renewable June 1; power contract signing Wednesday at Glenwood Caverns, Post Independent. The vast majority of Glenwood’s renewable energy will come from wind power supplied by the [Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska] at generating stations on the eastern plains. However, the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) will supply 6.8 percent from hydroelectric renewable power, too.

Lego builds its way to 100% renewables – with its own pieces

Smart Energy International

The company’s transition was originally expected to be reached by 2022, but it became possible to complete the transition sooner, thanks to the completion of a 258MW offshore wind farm in the Irish Sea. Lego has 42 offices around the world, and remains a major influence in culture across generations. Read more here.

RE100: Lego became a member in May 2017. RE100 is a global corporate leadership initiative bringing together leading companies committed to 100% renewable electricity.

Lego Wind Turbine Kit Developed in Partnership With Vestas 

In 2018 Lego “released a fully-functional Lego wind turbine playset, “which allows budding engineers a chance to see the technology in effect, rather than theory.” The Lego bricks are made from a plant-based material sourced from sugarcane. Lego’s ultimate goal is to produce all their products and packaging with sustainable materials by 2030.


Also Of Potential Interest to Teachers

Lego is now on DonorsChoose.org, a non-profit organization that connects public school classrooms with the community to help fund student learning. Find out more about posting your classroom project to DonorsChoose.org and raising funds to benefit your classroom.

Lego’s List of Popular Educational Grant Providers

Nebraska Solar Schools Grant

Nebraska Solar Schools, a Nebraskans for Solar program, is offering 100 NEED Solar Energy Kits to up to 100 Nebraska public and non-public schools. The kits provide K-12 teachers a convenient and fun way to incorporate more solar energy education into their Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) programs.

Teacher and student curriculum guides are available for free download and review at the following links, as well as descriptions of each grade-level solar kit:

The Sun and Its Energy: Grades K-2
Wonders of the Sun: Grades 3-5
Energy from the Sun: Grades 6-8
Exploring Photovoltaics: Grades 9-12

Click here to learn more.