Monthly Archives: January 2021

Biden Chooses Virginia Ag Commissioner For Deputy Secretary At USDA

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming

Two days before his inauguration, President-elect Biden selected Jewel Bronaugh, the Virginia state agriculture commissioner, as his nominee for deputy agriculture secretary, the No. 2 post at USDA. Bronaugh was among five women who were announced on Monday for deputy secretaries of federal departments and would be the first Black deputy secretary at USDA.

The National Black Farmers Association said selection of Bronaugh was “an historic moment” for USDA. “We hope she will use her knowledge of the department to level the playing field for NBFA members as well as other minority and small-scale farmers and to end the culture of discrimination at the USDA,” said NBFA president John Boyd. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Biden’s Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Meets With Black Farmers, Black Enterprise

According to the Guardian, there are only about 45,000 Black farmers today. In 1920, there were more than one million. During the meeting, Vilsack affirmed his commitment to forging and establishing strong partnerships with organizations that provide assistance and support to Black farmers. Vilsack also wanted to ensure that Black farming organizations have a seat at the table while he is serving . . . If confirmed, Vilsack will take over the USDA at a time when Trump’s trade war with China has made things worse for U.S. farmers, especially small farmers. Bankruptcies have increased for small farmers, even with record levels of federal assistance.

Nebraska Chapter 12 Bankruptcies

Carbon Markets for Farmers

Indianapolis Star News Stories by Sarah Bowman and London Gibson

  • There is a lot of money on the table with carbon markets. But farmers are skeptical.
    As more greenhouse gases enter the atmosphere and more companies pledge to go carbon neutral, interest in creating a market for carbon capture through agriculture is growing. Agriculture is now being seen by many as an untapped resource, and carbon markets the way to tap it.  “I think the potential is boundless, really,” said Mobley of The Nature Conservancy. “If it can work in Indiana, it can work anywhere in the country — politically, programmatically, with on-the-ground implementation, all of it.”
     
  • 5 things you need to know about what Biden’s plan for a carbon market means for farmers,
    The incoming administration is proposing to create a carbon bank at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which would buy credits from farmers and then sell them to corporations for offsets. Several other private carbon market programs have popped up, both from companies and non-profit organizations that are developing their own platforms. 

RegeNErate Nebraska

 

 

 

 

RegeNErate Nebraska is a network of farmers and ranchers, tribes, urban farmers, supporting businesses, organizations, food consumers, and communities who are committed to a shift away from extractive industrial food production in favor of an ethical and regenerative food system. Lying in the middle of the nation, Nebraska is the heart of our nation, and the culture and principles found here serve as a lifeblood for a well-functioning country. RegeNErate Nebraska’s mission is to redevelop and strengthen our communities from the soil up. This starts with building strong communities.

RegeNErate Nebraska Resource Guide

A Ready-Made Microgrid at Zero Cost? Yep. A Nebraska Utility Did It

By Ethan Howland, Microgrid Knowledge

Lincoln Electric System (LES), the public power utility serving greater Lincoln, Nebraska has set up a microgrid with 5 MW of load to serve critical facilities. The cost? Zero. The microgrid in downtown Lincoln is based around an existing duel-fuel, 29-MW generating unit and a substation and its infrastructure, according to Scott Benson, LES manager of resource and transmission planning. The project didn’t require any new equipment or a microgrid controller.

The US Department of Energy is preparing a publication that highlights the J Street microgrid project as an example of how to use existing infrastructure to provide new community benefits, [Scott Benson, LES manager of resource and transmission planning] said. Read more here.

More Articles About Utility Microgrids.

Midlands Voices: Clean-energy plan can help Nebraska

Written by Janece Mollhoff, Omaha World-Herald

In January of 2018 I, along with a group of Nebraska organizations, announced the Husker Energy Plan. “Husker Power Plan” aims to cut greenhouse emissions while keeping electric costs low, creating jobs. The aim was to: 1) reduce air pollution from power plants that sickens and kills Nebraskans, 2) ensure a sustainable, affordable system for generating our electricity for future generations, 3) reduce Nebraska’s use of out-of-state coal, keeping money and jobs in Nebraska and 4) reduce pollution produced by Nebraska’s utility sector that has been linked to climate change. These goals were seen as aspirational with a five-year timeline, and were backed by polling that showed a majority of Nebraskans favor cleaner energy. As we approach the third anniversary of this work, here is how Nebraska is doing: Continue reading here. Requires digital subscription.

Download the Husker Energy Plan here. 

OWH Editor: Janece Molhoff, of Ashland, is a member of the board of directors of the Omaha Public Power District, though this essay expresses only her personal opinion.

Additional Resources Of Potential Interest 

Solar Energy Generation in Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy 
In addition to OPPD’s planned 400 to 600 megawatts of solar, the following 1,152 megawatts of utility-scale projects are “committed” or “under development” in Nebraska, altogether totaling approximately 1.5 to 1.7 gigawatts.

Committed Projects

  • Bellwood: A 174.5–megawatt solar facility is planned.

Projects Under Development

  • Clay County: APEX Clean Energy is seeking permission to construct a 305–megawatt solar project in Clay County.
  • Lincoln: The 230–megawatt Salt Creek Solar project would be located on the east side of Lancaster County. This project could create enough energy to power 30,000 homes.
  • Pierce County: A 443–megawatt solar array, named the Goldenrod Solar Energy Center, has been proposed to be operational by 2023. It is estimated that the solar project will power about 80,000 households.

Related Reading

Energy News Network

Survey Finds Majority of Voters Support Initiatives to Fight Climate Change

 By John Schwartz, New York Times

A survey carried out after the November election found that 66 percent of respondents said that developing sources of clean energy should be a high or very high priority.

Of those polled, 83 percent said they supported creating a jobs program that would hire unemployed coal workers, shut down old coal mines safely, and restore the natural landscape. The same percentage said they supported a jobs program that would shut down the thousands of abandoned oil and gas wells around the nation, which pollute water and leak methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Read more here.

BIDEN CLIMATE TEAM

Biden Builds Out Administration-Wide Climate Team, American Institute of Physics
Adding to his early announcement of former Democratic senator and secretary of state John Kerry as special climate envoy, Biden’s team now includes a “national climate advisor” focused on domestic policy and nominees to lead the Environmental Protection Agency and the Departments of Energy and the Interior. Other Cabinet nominees and White House staff members named this month also have experience in climate policy.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NRDC’S REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE SERIES

Regenerative Agriculture Part 3: The Practices, Natural Resources Defense Council 
The first blog introduced the philosophy of regenerative agriculture, and the second blog covered the principles of regenerative agriculture. This blog summarizes some of the practices that regenerative growers use. The fourth blog will discuss the benefits of regenerative agriculture.

TESLA NEWS

Tesla (TSLA) launches its own solar power inverter, Electrek
Tesla has had success with its Powerwall, a home battery pack that matches well with a residential solar installation, and it is starting to have some success with its solar roof tiles. Surprisingly, considering Tesla’s extensive expertise in power electronics in its electric vehicles, the company never had its own solar power inverter, an important part of a solar installation… until now. Now the company is adding a new in-house designed ‘Tesla Solar Inverter’ to its lineup.

Previously Posted: Tesla partners with other companies to install solar roof tiles, Electrek

Tesla Solar Roof Available in Nebraska


Certified
 Tesla Solar Roof Installer in
Nebraska: Weddle & Sons Roofing
Office locations in Lincoln and Omaha

You Tube Video: We Installed A Tesla Solar Roof In One Day: Weddle & Sons Roofing

Gordon senator introduces bill that makes it harder for power districts to build long transmission lines

By Todd von Kampen, North Platte Telegraph


Public power districts that distribute electrical power would be blocked for two years from building long transmission lines under a bill introduced Thursday by state Sen. Tom Brewer of Gordon. Legislative Bill 409, which also would set up a special Unicameral committee to study transmission-line issues, reflects a years-long Sandhills dispute over Nebraska Public Power District’s currently mothballed R-Project.
Read more here.

Ørsted signs long-term power purchase agreements with PepsiCo for Nebraska and Texas wind farms

Ørsted Newsroom

PepsiCo Inc. has signed two agreements with Ørsted to purchase a portion of energy from the 298 MW Haystack wind project in Nebraska and the 367 MW Western Trail wind project in Texas.

“We’re excited to partner with PepsiCo in their efforts to decarbonize their operations,” said Ørsted Senior Vice President and Chief Commercial Officer for Ørsted Onshore. “These PPAs at Western Trail and Haystack are another demonstration of our ability to provide customized solutions across multiple geographies to support achievement of corporate sustainability ambitions.” Continue reading here.

Previously Posted
Ørsted starts construction of 298 MW Nebraska wind project, Ørsted Newsroom

PepsiCo’s Renewable Energy Commitment
PepsiCo is a member of RE100 and the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.
From RE100.Org: PepsiCo is committed to sourcing 100% renewable electricity across its company owned and controlled operations by 2030 and across its entire global operations by 2040.

Photo: Ørsted’s 230 MW Plum Creek Wind Farm in Wayne County, Nebraska, adjacent to the Haystack Wind Farm under construction.

2021 Outlook: 10 power sector trends to watch

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Utility Dive spoke to over half a dozen power sector experts who tentatively predict big changes on the horizon in 2021. A new administration under a new party is one of many signs that 2021 will look different for policymakers, regulators, utilities and other stakeholders, but the continuation of some older trends is expected as well: Utilities will continue to invest aggressively in renewable energy resources, and the power sector will continue to evolve toward a less centralized model. Here are 10 stories to watch in 2021: Read more here.

Also Published by Utility Dive
New transmission approaches can cut billions in decarbonization costs: MIT, clean energy coalition, by Robert Walton

How the Fed can save the earth

By Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

Just before Christmas, America’s central bank took a major step, albeit one long overdue: It recognized the threat that the climate crisis poses to the nation’s — and the world’s — financial system. It did that in part by becoming a member of the Network of Central Banks and Supervisors for Greening the Financial System, or NGFS.

The group, launched in 2017, aims “to enhance the role of the financial system to manage risks and to mobilize capital for green and low-carbon investments in the broader context of environmentally sustainable development.” That is, its goal is to help central banks and other regulatory bodies exchange ideas and research on how to mitigate climate risk within banks and other financial systems. NGFS membership has grown from eight central banks three years ago to 83 banks across five continents, from Canada to Colombia to Cambodia. That the United States has joined is no small change. Read more here.

Securitization News
Can a 1990s strategy help states quit coal?, by Jeffrey Tomich, E&E News

The Solar Power Bonanza: Farmers Can Readily Tap Into The Explosive Growth In Solar Generation

By Dave Mowitz, Successful Farming

Sandy and Greg Brummond know a good deal when they see one. Five years ago they cashed in on incentives offered on solar systems and invested in a $39,000 solar array that sits atop their farm shop near Craig, Nebraska. The payoff was twofold for the Brummonds. Their current system (which can be expanded) generates 43% of the electricity their farm and home uses. Second, their solar array came with financial help. “To offset some of the cost, we got a $9,000 federal grant,” Sandy Brummond explains. “We also qualified for a 30% federal tax credit that offset $12,000 from the purchase and installation cost.”  Read more here.

Photo by Brian Seifferlein, NET Videographer: The Brummonds’ 10-kilowatt solar system. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Solar ITC Extension
COVID Aid Package Makes Initial Commitment to a Clean Energy Recovery, News Release, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Under this legislation, the solar ITC will remain at 26% for projects that begin construction in 2021 and 2022, step down to 22% in 2023, and down to 10% in 2024 for commercial projects while the residential credit ends completely.

New EIA Report
Renewables account for most new U.S. electricity generating capacity in 2021
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest inventory of electricity generators, developers and power plant owners plan for 39.7 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity generating capacity to start commercial operation in 2021. Solar will account for the largest share of new capacity at 39%, followed by wind at 31%. About 3% of the new capacity will come from the new nuclear reactor at the Vogtle power plant in Georgia.

New SCE Paper: “Reimagining The Grid”
2021 Outlook: The DER boom continues, driving a ‘reimagining’ of the distribution system, by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive. Continued falling prices of DER, ambitious new state and federal policies, and customer demand in 2021 will drive growth, power industry representatives said. And while utility-scale renewables growth will still boom, DER, including rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles (EVs), can be central to protecting reliability, according to a new Southern California Edison (SCE) paper describing the evolution of tomorrow’s grid.

Biden’s “Green Brain Trust”
Renewables and unions: Biden rounds out energy Cabinet, by Lesley Clark and Heather Richards, E&E News. Biden is gathering a “green brain trust” of officials with technical expertise as well as political ambassadors to serve as evangelists for his policy initiatives, said Kevin Book of the consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners LLC. “Biden appears to be deliberately deploying technical experts to strategic roles and political champions to operational ones,” Book said.

Growing numbers of students are calling on Nebraska colleges to divest from fossil fuel firms

By Omaha World-Herald Staff Writer Rick Ruggles, Kearney Hub

Creighton University announced late last week that it would divest from its investments in fossil fuels within 10 years and pursue solid investments in renewable energy. Creighton University students marched early last year for divestment. Doane University pledged in 2019 to cease new investments in fossil fuels. The NU system, with campuses in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney, has heard calls for divestment from students at Board of Regents meetings and elsewhere. Read more here.

Nebraska-Based Bluestem Energy Solutions In The News  

Jo-Carroll Energy completed solar project, Freeport Journal-Standard
Jo-Carroll Energy, in partnership with Bluestem Energy Solutions, has completed a 2.3 megawatt solar project in Jo Daviess and Carroll counties. The now-operational solar farm consists of two solar array sites located near Apple Canyon Lake and Mount Carroll. It will provide a tax boost to both counties along with additional benefits to Jo-Carroll and its member-consumers. 

Photo Credit: Fresh Energy