Monthly Archives: January 2020

La Vista resident spurs city to update solar panel regulations

By Brody Hilgenkamp, Omaha World-Herald

La Vista’s Planning Commission unanimously approved Thursday a recommendation to the City Council to update the city’s zoning ordinances. The city’s ordinances regulating solar panels have not been updated since 2001 and only allow for solar systems in residential districts, but the technology and aesthetics of the panels has advanced a lot since then and the new rules would allow for solar systems in all zoning districts, with some restrictions and guidelines. The city’s comprehensive plan includes a goal to promote environmental sustainability, and the City Council will hold a first reading on the changes during its Feb. 4 meeting. Read more here.

Photo by Gerald McNerney, whose all-electric home in La Vista is powered by 50 solar panels paired with storage batteries. He would also like to install solar on a new building he plans to construct for his HVAC contracting business located in a commercial district, for which he needs La Vista to change its zoning laws.

More Nebraska News

Northstar Endeavors Partners with IntelStor to Accelerate Segmented Tower Technology Adoption, News Release, EIN

New CESA Resource: State Pollinator-Friendly Solar Initiatives

By Georgena Terry, Clean Energy States Alliance

Recognizing that solar installations can coexist with pollinator habitats, seven states have enacted legislation to promote pollinator-friendly solar development. This white paper provides an overview of these state efforts and offers suggestions for what other states can do to promote solar while also creating or preserving healthy habitats for pollinators. Download the paper.

Renewable Energy Prices Hit Record Lows: How Can Utilities Benefit From Unstoppable Solar And Wind?

By Silvio Marcacci, Communications Director at Energy Innovation

Over the last decade, wind energy prices have fallen 70% and solar photovoltaics have fallen 89% on average, according to Lazard’s 2019 report. Utility-scale renewable energy prices are now significantly below those for coal and gas generation, and they’re less than half the cost of nuclear. The latest numbers again confirm that building new clean energy generation is cheaper than running existing coal plants.

In other words, it is now cheaper to save the climate than to destroy it. Capacity installation trends reflect this economic reality, with new wind and solar generation coming online at a breakneck pace. Wind power capacity in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2010 and reached nearly 100 GW in 2018. Read more here.

ØRSTED NEWS

Global 100 Index: Ørsted Is the World’s Most Sustainable Company, Ørsted News Release, CSR Wire
Having completed a fundamental business transformation from fossil fuels to renewables over the past decade, Ørsted urges all countries and companies to reduce their carbon emissions to help limit global warming to 1.5°C. The global leader in offshore wind outperformed more than 7,300 global companies with billion-dollar revenues to rank #1 in Corporate Knights’ 2020 index of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world. Ørsted becomes the first-ever energy company to top the index.

Previously Posted

100% CLEAN ENERGY NEWS – PLUS NEBRASKA DATA

MICROSOFT’S NEW CARBON NEGATIVE PLAN

How Microsoft’s new carbon-negative plan will test the idea of a climate economy, CNBC
Microsoft’s plan to make up for every bit of carbon it has put into the atmosphere since it was founded in 1975 will require a mix of old and new solutions. 100% renewable electricity by 2025, electric vehicles on campuses and alternate sources of business travel are familiar pledges. But soaking up all the carbon in the air already is a new corporate goal and will require novel technology, such as direct air capture. Microsoft is counting on everything from planting massive numbers of trees to soak up carbon and using technologies to capture carbon and sequester it in soil — burying it, essentially — to more exotic technologies.

EV NEWS

Tesla can sell vehicles in Michigan under legal settlement, Associated Press News
Tesla will be able to sell and service its vehicles in the backyard of Detroit’s three automakers under a lawsuit settlement, a person briefed on the matter says. The deal between the state of Michigan and Tesla is likely to be announced Wednesday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because terms of the deal have not been made public.

FEATURED NATIONAL INITIATIVE

SolSmart is a national designation program recognizing cities, counties, and regional organizations that foster the development of mature local solar markets. The program is led by the International City/County Management Association and The Solar Foundation.

To help communities achieve designation, SolSmart provides no-cost technical assistance from a team of national experts who work to evaluate programs and practices that impact solar markets, and identify high-prospect opportunities for improvement. A select number of communities also hosted SolSmart Advisors: fully-funded, experienced staff who work in communities for periods of up to six months. All cities, counties, and regional organizations are eligible to join SolSmart and receive no-cost technical assistance to achieve designation.
Learn more: Why Should You Apply?
Meet the SolSmart team

Lincoln, Nebraska SolSmart Gold Designee
City Receives National Recognition for Promoting Solar Energy, City of Lincoln Mayor’s Office News Release, September 9, 2019

Careers in Solar Energy

By Sarah Lozanova, Earth911

The solar energy industry is booming across the United States and beyond.      If you are interested in entering the solar energy field, there are a variety of different careers available.   Read more here.

MORE NEWS, OPINION & RESOURCES

SOLAR LEASES FOR LANDOWNERS

Understanding Important Solar Lease Terms, Ohio’s Country Journal and Ohio Ag Net

ENERGY STORAGE

2020 Outlook: Renewables, resilience and reliability needs will drive storage, by Kavya Balaraman, Utility Dive. Thirty-two states currently include storage in their planning requirement and more than 20 states have passed some type of legislation providing incentives, target or planning rules for storage, according to Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO at the Energy Storage Association (ESA).

“If transmission costs continue to increase and distribution companies can make investments on the distribution system… I think they’re going to deploy storage to avoid transmission charges.” – Judy Chang, Principal, Brattle Group

An energy source that lies right under your feet

By Laura King-Homan, OPPD The Wire

More than 100 holes dot a construction site around Mammel Hall. Soon, tubing will wind through the holes to heat and cool a new addition to the building on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus. The project is an example of how commercial electricity customers utilize geothermal heating and cooling to reach their energy goals. OPPD has offered expertise in this area for decades, including testing potential building sites for suitability. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: OPPD The Wire

About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan


Previously Posted News & Resources

Web Links 

Examples of Nebraska homeowners who have installed geothermal heat pumps – Click on “Solar Examples” on the above menu bar and scroll down to:
Dageforde Net Positive Energy Home
Don Preister’s Home In Bellevue

Incentives for Homeowners & Businesses
Geothermal projects qualify for the Federal Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is now 26% through December 31, 2020.
Resource: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

All Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency
Resource: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

UNK event to help advance, prioritize Blueprint Nebraska ideas at Feb. 14 workshop

News Release by Todd Gottula, UNK Communications

KEARNEY – An upcoming forum in Kearney will bring together experts, leaders and influencers to identify action steps to support economic development in south-central Nebraska. Hosted by the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the Feb. 14 workshop at the Younes Conference Center will help advance and prioritize information and analysis in the 2019 Blueprint Nebraska report. There is no charge to attend the event – called Building on the Blueprint: Economic Development in Central Nebraska – but registration is requested by Feb. 10. To register, visit www.unk.edu/blueprintContinue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Survey of Plains, Western bankers says rural economy growing, Kearney Hub

Rhode Island Gov. steers state toward 100% renewable electricity by 2030

Environment America News Release

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The rapidly growing group of states looking to thwart climate change by adopting 100% renewable energy policies has a new member. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order establishing the goal of meeting all of the state’s electricity needs with renewable energy by 2030. The state’s Office of Energy Resources is now tasked with creating a plan to meet the governor’s goal, and a complete analysis is expected by the end of the year. Continue reading here.

Environment America’s Goal: Convince 10 states, 50 college campuses and key cities to go 100% renewable. Learn more here.

 ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

ENERGY STORAGE

EV NEWS

ANNOUNCING NEW SMART PHONE GAME

Tri-State plans 50% renewable energy by 2024 as member co-ops press for exit

By Dan Mika, Loveland Reporter-Herald

In a statement, La Plata said it supports Tri-State’s push toward renewable energy, but said the power provider’s rules are preventing it from creating its own series of renewable energy sources to meet its local carbon reduction targets. “While Tri-State’s future goal will help meet our carbon reduction goal, we do not yet know what the costs of its plan will be to our members and what LPEA’s role will be for producing local, renewable energy into the future,” said La Plata Energy Association CEO Jessica Matlock. Member co-ops are required to buy 95% of their power from Tri-State. [Tri-State Association’s 43 member co-ops are located in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico]. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Rob Davis / Fresh Energy

Additional Recommended Reading 

National Trade Association

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landmass. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.

NRECA’s Renewable Energy Data

Solar Energy 

Wind Energy

564 cooperatives in 36 states utilize wind as a source of power.
Nebraska ranks 5th among these states, with 29 cooperatives utilizing wind energy, behind Minnesota (44), Missouri (41), Indiana (38), and Iowa (32).

Hydro Power

724 cooperatives in 43 states utilize hydro power.
Nebraska is 6th among these states, with 30 cooperatives utilizing hydro power, behind
Minnesota (44), Texas (43), Georgia (42), Missouri (41), and Iowa (35).

Heat Recovery

141 cooperatives in 10 states utilize heat recovery. Nebraska is 9th, with 6 cooperatives utilizing heat recovery.

Thermal capture technologies, including geothermal technologies, use heat to generate power. Geothermal power capturing the earth’s heat is cost-effective, reliable and available 24/7. Similar technology can also be used to recover heat that otherwise would have gone to waste from industrial processes, such as exhaust from natural gas pipeline compressors.

Links to More Information

City adopts financing tool for environmentally friendly projects

By Tony Herman, Hastings Tribune

Hastings became the latest Nebraska city to adopt Property Assessed Clean Energy program when the Hastings City Council approved the program’s manual, application and contract form during the council’s regular meeting Jan. 13. Participation in PACE promotes energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy as an economic development tool. PACE financing is for commercial real estate and finances energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy systems. PACE loans serve as gap financing, so the developer would not have to spend as much of its capital to undertake an energy efficiency component of a project. Read more here.

Photo of the Nebraska State Capitol by Rick McCharles / Creative Commons. The Nebraska Legislature passed PACE-enabling legislation in 2016.

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

CONSERVATION NEBRASKA’S COMMON GROUND EDUCATION PROGRAM 

Workshop aims to build ‘A Sustainable You’ in 2020, by Tim Johnson, The North Platte Telegraph
The meeting was the kickoff to a yearlong program with monthly themes for Conservation Nebraska’s Common Ground Program. Solar energy will be February’s topic.

Links to More Information

Morgan Stanley expects a surge of renewables, coal retirements

By Ethan Howland, American Public Power Association

Partly driven by falling renewable energy prices, at least 70,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity could be shuttered this decade, on top of the 24,000 MW that is already set to retire, according to Morgan Stanley & Co. “We are at the start of a ‘second wave’ of renewables deployment and coal plant retirements, led by utilities that have historically not been leaders in decarbonization,” analysts with the investment firm said in a report released in December. Replacing coal with renewables could save consumers $3 billion to $8 billion a year, according to the report, The Second Wave of Clean Energy. It also represents a renewable energy investment opportunity of $93 billion to $184 billion, the analysts said. Read more here. 

IOWA CITY SCHOOLS’ CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

CORPORATE CLEAN ENERGY PROCUREMENT

Clean Energy Deal Tracker: Don’t say Amazon isn’t doing anything — international PPAs on the rise, GreenBiz. Here are five trends and notable developments based on last quarter’s clean energy procurement deals. 

REGENERATIVE FARMING / REGENERATIVE ENERGY

NEW OPPORTUNITY ZONES TOOL

U.S. Economic Development Administration And Indiana University Launch New USA Opportunity Zones Tool, EDA January 2020 Newsletter

On January 14, EDA and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business announced the launch of the USA Opportunity Zones tool. This new web-based tool will help local economic and community developers, investors, the more than 390 EDA-designated Economic Development Districts (EDDs), and others across the nation better target private investment to Opportunity ZonesAs economic development practitioners build their five-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS), incorporating Opportunity Zones is a new and promising tool for further enhancing economic growth.