Monthly Archives: November 2019

Opinion: Bill Ruckelshaus, Conservationist Who Also Protected The Rule Of Law

By Scott Simon, NPR

William Ruckelshaus was a conservationist, an Indiana Republican conservative who believed in conserving balanced budgets, limited government powers, constitutional checks and balances, and clean air and water. “Nature provides a free lunch,” he said, “but only if we control our appetites.”  He helped write Indiana’s first air pollution laws as a state deputy attorney general in the 1960s, and was appointed the first head of the Environment Protection Agency by President Nixon in 1970. Continue here.
Photo Credit: The William D. Ruckelshaus Center

Gunnison navigates net-zero scenario

Gunnison Country Times

The City of Gunnison is narrowing in on its goal of becoming “net-zero” in its electric power supply next year. MEAN [Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska] representative Sarah Jones said the agency is currently working with city leaders to craft a new resource portfolio to meet Gunnison’s net-zero goal. “We are actively working with them to achieve their goals right now,” said Jones. Jones pointed to two other communities in Colorado, Aspen and Glenwood Springs, that have followed a similar path of pursuing renewable energy in lieu of reliance on fossil fuels. Both those municipalities served by MEAN are now sourcing energy from non-carbon emitting sources to be 100 percent renewable. However, according to City Manager Russ Forrest, while the goal is to be net-zero, there are still contractual details to be worked out. Read more here.

Photo: MEAN’s 30-MW Kimball, Nebraska Wind Facility. See: GE-Powered Kimball Wind Project Begins Operations In Nebraska, North American Windpower

About MEAN

The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) is the not-for-profit wholesale electricity supply organization of NMPP Energy. Created in 1981, MEAN provides cost-based power supply, transmission and related services to 69 participating communities in four states: Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Previously Posted 

A Renewable Energy Future for Colorado Communities Served by the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska, report completed in February of 2019 by Sustainable Development Strategies Group (SDSG), a nonprofit research group based in Gunnison, Colorado.

Will Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska remain reliant on coal?, by Joe Smyth, Clean Cooperative
One striking finding in the SDSG report: coal accounted for 61% of MEAN’s resource mix in 2017, according to its 2017 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). And in contrast to major power suppliers for other Colorado towns and cities like Platte River Power Authority and Xcel Energy, MEAN expects that coal will remain a large portion of its energy mix, and even increase slightly to 64% by 2030.

Most electric cooperatives in Colorado face limits on local renewable energy development, because of their contracts with Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. The SDSG report details how the towns and cities that buy power from MEAN also face limits on local energy projects, following a 2005 decision by MEAN to place a moratorium on new generation. But MEAN has also made exceptions to that policy – most notably, the city of Aspen is a member of MEAN, but was able to reach its 100% renewable energy goal in part by negotiating with MEAN.

How heat pumps can cut carbon pollution from buildings

Contributed by Sarah Kennedy, ChavoBart Digital Media.
Posted on Yale Climate Connections

“These new cold climate air source heat pumps are functional down to -10, -15 degrees,” [Chris Carrick with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board] says. And they run on electricity, so they generate heat without burning oil, natural gas or other fuels on site. According to a report by the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute, switching to heat pumps could dramatically reduce the carbon pollution caused by home heating. They have the most impact in places with renewable electricity. Read more here.

More Yale Climate Connections Posts / Audio 

Nebraska Information Sources on the Above Topics 

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act will improve the state’s economic climate

By Christine Hicks, Environmental Defense Fund

A recent study developed by The Accelerate Group measured the economic impact of CEJA and found the answer — it’s tens of billions of dollars. The new economic impact report released by the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition shines a light on just how much CEJA would contribute to the state’s economy. Here’s the bottom line: the legislation, if enacted, would result in $39 billion in new private investment in Illinois through 2030. Read more here. 

ALSO IN THE NEWS

UPCOMING WEBINAR

Solar Plus Storage as Resiliency: Friday, December 13, 9 to 9:45 a.m. 
As part of Michigan Energy Options’ Winter Solar Webinar Series, Seth Mullendore, Vice President and Project Director for Clean Energy Group, will discuss how solar PV with battery storage can create resiliency in communities and replace traditional power plants with clean technologies. 

Register here.

NEW STUDY

Biased capacity markets accelerating gas over solar, storage, PV Magazine
Regional markets for energy capacity favor new gas generation over solar and storage, at a high cost to consumers. Eight U.S. Senators have taken notice, while a new report marshals the evidence. The Grid Strategies report, titled Too much of the wrong thing: the need for capacity market replacement or reform, was written by Rob Gramlich and Michael Goggin. The Sustainable FERC Project, which commissioned the report, is a partnership among 24 citizens’ groups.

WOMEN IN AG LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE

Generations of leadership is focus of Women in Ag Leadership Conference, LeMars Daily Sentinel
Iowa State alumnus Elizabeth Burns-Thompson is the capstone speaker. Among the nation’s first cohort of 30 Under 30 leaders in agriculture, she is passionate about Iowa’s renewable energy. She will encourage women of all generations to follow their dreams and trust their own abilities and opportunities. Online registration is available at www.aep.iastate.edu/leadership
General registration is $60 and student registration is $30.

ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES

RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVE RESOURCES

NRECA’s Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration (SUNDA) Resources
NRECA Electric Cooperatives & Solar
NRECA Electric Cooperatives & Community Solar
NRECA Electric Cooperatives & Wind

FEATURED HOLIDAY WISH LIST

2019 holiday wish list: Power sector edition, Utility Dive 
With the holiday season upon us, many kids — and some adults — are making wish lists. In that spirit, Utility Dive queried a dozen industry and environmental/advocacy groups about their policy wish list.

Small town citizens make it happen in Rural Communities of the Year

By Janelle Atyeo, Midwest Messenger Regional Editor

Mother Nature tested Nebraska this year with massive floods and crippling blizzards, but as always, the people pulled together and made it through. In trying times like these, the power of community shines through.

This year, the Midwest Messenger has selected three rural towns where residents work together every day toward the betterment of their community. The 2019 Midwest Messenger Rural Communities of the Year are Stuart in northern Nebraska, and the Platte River communities of Osceola and Aurora further south. Continue reading here.

Written by Jon Burleson, Midwest Messenger Reporter

Stuart: Making it work – together
The village has plans to acquire land and develop sub-divisions north of town, get smart electric meters for dwellings, upgrading the town’s electric grid and looking at obtaining an independent solar array network (possibly with a fuel-cell link) as a backup against outages.

Osceola: A town that gets things done
“The city, businesses, organizations and residents work together to achieve a balance of positive, social, economic and environmental outcomes,” Mayor Graff said. “It is for these reasons that Osceola is a wonderful place to live and raise a family.”

Aurora: Building on achievement
The success story that is Aurora, Nebraska, was a gradual process. It starts with the original settlers, who laid the groundwork and then were followed by a progression of resilient people that incrementally improved upon existing ideas. “We all stand upon someone else’s shoulders,” Aurora Mayor Marlin Seeman said. “We have been blessed with dynamic and aggressive visionaries.”

Additional Article Written by Jon Burleson
Soil task force sets foundation for future operations

Related Article & Resources Previously Posted
Farm practices could be a way to reduce impact of heavy rains, UNL researcher says, by Roseann Moring, Omaha World-Herald. This post includes additional links to healthy soil resources.

In Iowa, grassroots energy districts aim to spur local clean energy conversations

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

A decade ago, Craig Mosher was one of a half-dozen people trying to rethink energy in their small hometown of Decorah in northeast Iowa.  “The general concern was climate change, but the specific concern was energy, and what we could do to reduce energy use and to shift to renewables,” Mosher recalled about the group’s early meetings at Luther College, a Lutheran school with a heavy environmental emphasis. Their solution? To create an “energy district,” an entity modeled after the soil and water conservation districts of the 1930s, but with a focus on energy. In the 10 years since the founding of the Winneshiek Energy District in Decorah, energy districts have become a movement in Iowa. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Winneshiek Energy District

Also In The News

Renewable energy customers in Hastings are showing interest in solar panel shares

By Danielle Davis, KSNB Local 4 

The Community Solar Farm in West Hastings is seeing customers gravitate to solar panel shares. The community solar farm has 6,000 solar panels and more than a thousand have already been bought. This form of renewable energy reduces air pollution, makes us less dependent on imported fuels and can create more jobs in our hometown. “With the solar panel you are paying for that upfront and then we are paying you for the power it generates,” said Derek Zeisler, Director of Marketing and Energy Supply, Hastings Utilities. Watch the video here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Hastings Community Solar Farm, City of Hastings

Road to 100: How one man’s mission to power his hometown by wind created a Northwest Missouri boon

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

This is the first of a four part series based on Utility Dive visits to cities that produce more renewable power than they consume.

ATCHISON COUNTY, MISSOURI — In the early 2000s, Eric Chamberlain was leading a funeral procession toward southern Minnesota when he saw several wind turbines spinning slowly over the low Iowa bluffs.

“On the way back, I pulled off. I did not pull off during the procession. I was very polite — I did not pull the hearse over,” he told Utility Dive while driving down the Rock Port, Missouri, street he grew up on, toward the four turbines that made the town of just over 1,200 famous. “But on the way back, I stopped at a local newspaper, which is always a good clearinghouse for information, and asked about some of the wind projects.” Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Additional Recommended Reading

NREL Research 

Tell the kids, that 50% solar powered future of ours, it’s going to work just fine – NREL says so, PV Magazine USA. Modeling done by researchers from the Strategic Energy Analysis Center at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in Sunny with a Chance of Curtailment: Operating the US Grid with Very High Levels of Solar Photovoltaics, shows how the three main power grids in the United States might run on the highest penetration solar days (90%+ of demand being met by solar), when 55% of annual electricity use is met with solar photovoltaics. The hourly model also shows how much extra solar electricity we’d have to do something with, when we’d have it (springtime), and how it might affect (lower) pricing of competing electricity generation sources.

Related Op-Ed

 ‘Economic Curtailment’ – what it is and how to embrace it, PV Magazine
In this op-ed for pv magazine, Morgan Putnam outlines a five-step process for renewable developers, environmental advocacy organizations and state agencies to embrace economic curtailment. My experience is that many utility employees quickly realize that the economic curtailment of excess renewable energy isn’t so terribly different from the use of gas peakers.

Thank you to everyone who participated in last evening’s Nebraskans for Solar event!

First of all, thank you to our guest speaker, John Hay, Extension Educator for Bioenergy at UNL, who provided an excellent discussion on the steps for completing a good economic analysis for a Solar PV system. His presentation included the common mistakes that lead to poor or misleading analysis; the best economic metric for describing economics of a system; and beyond economics, how individual goals, values, and motivations impact solar PV decisions.

John is a do-it-yourselfer who designed and installed a photovoltaic system for his own home. He also has given presentations and taught hands-on workshops in communities throughout Nebraska, solely or in partnership with Jon Dixon, owner of Dixon Power Systems based in Lincoln.

We also extend our appreciation to our attendees, who came from as far away as Allen, Nebraska. Audience members contributed many insightful questions and comments to the discussion that followed Mr. Hay’s presentation.

Photo Credit: David Corbin, Nebraskans for Solar Board Member and Facebook Coordinator

If you missed last night’s event, check out the following resources:

Web Seminar Series

Recent Publication

Solar Electric Investment Analysis Series, by Eric Romich and F. John Hay, Sustainable Agriculture Research & Education (SARE)

How-To Guide For Do-It-Yourselfers

 

Install Your Own Solar Panels: Designing and Installing a Photovoltaic System to Power Your Home is a fully-illustrated step-by-step guide written by veteran solar installer Joseph Burdick and long-time builder Philip Schmidt.