Monthly Archives: February 2021

First Congregational launches Lenten speaker series on climate

By Andy Raun, Hastings Tribune

First Congregational United Church of Christ [in Hastings] is inviting the community to an online Lenten Justice Speaker Series on Climate.

Feb. 28, 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.: Ken Winston, policy director for the advocacy group Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light, on Nebraska legislative initiatives. (Guest preacher at morning worship will be UCC Pastor Penny Greer, a board member for Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light).

Anyone interested in the presentations and discussion may participate through Zoom or the church’s Facebook page, To participate by Zoom, email pastor@fcucchastings.org. The morning worship service also is streamed live on the Facebook page.

Read more and see a list of all upcoming virtual presentations and discussions here.

Religious Statements on Climate Change, National Interfaith Power & Light
Most religious communities have released statements on Climate Change and the need to care for Creation. The following list (organized alphabetically first by religion, then by denomination) demonstrates the unity within the religious community on these important issues.

Additional Statements & Books

AFBF President Zippy Duvall Testimony for House Agriculture Committee

Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, my name is Zippy Duvall. I am a third-generation farmer and president of the American Farm Bureau Federation, and I am pleased to offer this testimony, on behalf of the American Farm Bureau Federation and Farm Bureau members across this country.  America’s farmers and ranchers play a leading role in promoting soil health, conserving water, enhancing wildlife, efficiently using nutrients, and caring for their animals. For decades they have embraced innovation thanks to investments in agricultural research and adopted climate-smart practices to improve productivity, enhance sustainability, and provide clean and renewable energy. Continue reading here. 

Additional Recommended Reading

Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance Expands Membership, Drills Down on Policy Recommendations, National Farmers Union News Release

WASHINGTON – The Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance (FACA) today announced expanding membership and new policy working groups focused on developing a set of more specific policy proposals that drill down on the 40+ recommendations released by FACA in November 2020.

FACA’s eight founding members — American Farm Bureau Federation (co-chair), Environmental Defense Fund (co-chair), FMI – The Food Industry Association, National Alliance of Forest Owners, National Association of State Departments of Agriculture, National Council of Farmer Cooperatives (co-chair), National Farmers Union (co-chair) and The Nature Conservancy — welcomed 14 new groups to the Steering Committee.

FACA’s original 40+ recommendations cover six areas of focus: soil health, livestock and dairy, forests and wood products, energy, research, and food loss and waste. They are outlined in a 50-page report [PDF] and summarized in a one-page hand-out [PDF].

Photo Credit: Thomas Lin on Pexels / CC0

Illinois energy bill proposes ‘green bank’ as national movement builds

By Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

Illinois would get a “green bank” to finance equity-focused clean energy investments under the latest version of the Clean Energy Jobs Act pending in the state legislature. If the proposal passes, Illinois would join more than a dozen states including Florida, New York and Connecticut that use publicly funded green banks to leverage private investment for renewables, energy efficiency and other projects, especially in communities that have been underrepresented in the clean energy economy.  The state-level proposal comes as a federal bill with bipartisan support would create a national green bank — dubbed the Clean Energy Accelerator —  that would work in tandem with state banks. Continue reading here.

Photo by Jim Bowen / Creative Commons

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FEATURED STUDY

Recognition of and response to energy poverty in the United States, Nature Energy

Abstract
A household is energy poor when they cannot meet energy needs. Despite its prevalence, the US has not formally recognized energy poverty as a problem distinct from general poverty at the federal level, which limits effective responses. In this review, the authors examine the measurement and evaluative metrics used by the two federally-funded energy programs focused on reducing high energy bills to understand how program eligibility requirements and congressional funding appropriations have shaped the national understanding and implementation of energy poverty assistance. We find that current measurement and evaluative metrics hinge on the distribution of government resources and the number of vulnerable households assisted, rather than improving household well-being and reducing overall energy poverty.

SOLAR+STORAGE GUIDE

Understanding Solar+Storage: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Solar PV and Battery Storage, Clean Energy Group Publication

The guide is informed by more than six years of experience through Clean Energy Group’s work with property owners, developers, nonprofits, and communities to advance solar+storage in underserved communities. The questions and topic areas addressed in the guide are based on feedback from nearly one hundred stakeholders who submitted questions about solar+storage.

The information presented in the guide focuses primarily on customer-sited, behind-the-meter solar+storage installations, though much of the information is relevant to other types of projects as well, including storage-only projects and front-of-the-meter solar+storage projects. It is meant to serve as a starting point to establish a foundation of knowledge and understanding for individuals and organizations beginning to explore solar+storage options for their homes, businesses, or community facilities.

A Spanish-language version of this guide is available here.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

NYC installing solar at nearly 50 public schools, other facilities, PV Magazine
The 22 MW of solar projects are expected to include some energy storage systems and help New York City and the state meet sustainability goals.

ELECTRIC MACHINES & VEHICLES

AFFORDABLE ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES 

Report: Accelerating The Transition To Electric School Buses: How schools, lawmakers, and utilities can work together to speed the transition to zero emission buses. Released by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

The vast majority of school buses in the United States run on diesel, a fossil fuel that has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and cancer. Diesel exhaust is also a greenhouse gas, which contributes to climate change.

However, there is an alternative: zero-emission battery electric school buses. The technology is here, and electric school buses are ready to roll, but the question remains: how do schools pay for them? While electric buses can save schools money over the lifespan of the bus, the initial price tag of a new electric bus can turn many schools off to the idea of electrification.

Particularly promising options are vehicle-to-grid technology and Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS) programs. By pairing them, “each electric bus could save school districts up to $130,000 per electric bus.”

Download the Report.

FEATURED LEGAL ACTION

Midwest Renewable Energy Association Files Lawsuit to Open Solar and Other Clean Energy Opportunities for Wisconsinites, Earthjustice News Release

STEVENS POINT, WI — The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin Circuit Court to remove barriers preventing Wisconsinites from accessing the benefits of local clean energy development. MREA’s filing asks the court to ensure that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) sticks to regulating monopoly utility companies and does not illegally interfere with competitive clean energy alternatives for Wisconsin families and businesses.

MREA’s lawsuit specifically challenges two unlawful policies that stifle Wisconsin’s clean energy economy. First, MREA challenges guidance documents from the PSCW that preclude financing options available in most other states where solar energy is more affordable. MREA also challenges a PSCW order that unlawfully prohibits Wisconsin homes and businesses from utilizing market incentives to reduce their power consumption during peak hours and thereby reduce power costs for everyone.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.

About The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration.Together with partners around the Midwest, we work to expand renewable energy adoption through innovative programs, renewable energy training, and educational events. MREA is a nonprofit organization.

Senate Confirms Granholm to Head US Energy Department

By Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

The U.S. Senate voted on Thursday to confirm former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm as Secretary of the Department of Energy, kicking off the administration’s grand plans to shift the country toward decarbonization while boosting the economy. After the vote, Granholm tweeted what has become a common refrain for her nomination: “I’m obsessed with creating good-paying clean energy jobs in all corners of America in service of addressing our climate crisis.”

Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Biden says U.S., Canada to work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050

By Reuters Staff

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050. “We’re launching a high-level, climate-ambition ministerial and to align our policies and our goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” Biden said in a speech following a bilateral meeting with the Canadian leader. Read more here. 

Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership, The White House Briefing Room

Rolling blackouts show need for climate action plan

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Specifically, the Legislature should pass Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh’s LB483, which would direct the University of Nebraska to develop “an evidence-based, data-driven strategic plan to provide methods for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events or climate” that could be considered by the Legislature. Nebraska must develop a plan to seriously address climate change. And it needs to do so as quickly as possible, after several efforts similar to Cavanaugh’s failed to advance in recent years. Read more here.

LB483 – Provide for a climate change study and action plan

Wikimedia Commons Photo: George W. Norris Legislative Chamber, Nebraska State Legislature

POWER A CLEAN FUTURE OHIO COALITION

Ohio refinery city joins coalition to support local clean energy transitions, by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

Ohio’s clean energy policy has moved backward at the state level over the past decade. Various lawmakers have fought against the state’s clean energy standards and have been hostile toward renewable energyespecially wind energy. Allegations of corruption also surfaced last summer around House Bill 6, which gutted the clean energy standards and codified subsidies for certain nuclear and coal plants.

Against that backdrop, various cities and communities in Ohio have taken steps to increase their use of clean energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Power a Clean Future Ohio formed last year to expand that progress. Power A Clean Future Ohio 

SECURITIZATION

XCEL ENERGY INITIATIVE

Xcel plans to double its renewable energy generation by 2030. It’ll cost consumers $8 billion to do it, The Colorado Sun

Xcel Energy will spend $8 billion to double its renewable energy generation and storage and add new transmission lines, while closing all of its coal-fired power plants in Colorado by 2040. The initiative, unveiled Wednesday, would reduce Xcel’s carbon emissions in Colorado 85% from 2005 levels by 2030.

NEVADA & OTHER STATES LEADING ON ENERGY STORAGE

Grid-scale batteries, a key player in the future of renewable energy in Nevada, Sierra Nevada Ally
Nevada is one of seven states to adopt an energy storage mandate.

RIDE SHARE PROGRAMS 

Minnesota car-share program seeks to boost EV access in diverse neighborhoods

NEW BRATTLE GROUP REPORT

Grid-Enhancing Technologies’ Could Save $5B per Year by Boosting US Renewables Capacity, by Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

The U.S. could double its capacity for new wind and solar power, save billions of dollars and cut millions of tons of carbon-dioxide emissions from its generation fleets if federal incentives can be aligned to deploy a suite of technologies to unlock the full capacity of transmission grids.  So says a new report from The Brattle Group, modeling the benefits of a set ofgrid-enhancing technologies” across the wind-power-rich grids of Kansas and Oklahoma.

According to its analysis, spending about $90 million to implement these technologies could yield a payback in less than a year, with annual power cost savings of about $175 million delivering ongoing benefits for years to come. That’s because the technologies in question can drastically increase the renewable energy capacity of the grid operated by Southwest Power Pool.

BIDEN’S SUPPLY CHAIN EXECUTIVE ORDER 

American Clean Power Association Statement on Supply Chain Executive Order

SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUELS

Exclusive: U.S. airline CEOs to meet with White House on cutting carbon footprint, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chief executives of major U.S. airlines are set to meet virtually with two key White House advisers on Friday about efforts to reduce carbon emissions and use renewable fuels, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

ENHANCED GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS

DOE Awards $46 Million for Geothermal Initiative Projects with Potential to Power Millions of U.S. Homes, Department of Energy News Release

“There is enormous untapped potential for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) to provide clean and reliable electricity to power tens of millions of homes across the country,” said Kathleen Hogan, Acting Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “These investments in EGS research support President Biden’s mission to take on the climate crisis by pushing the frontiers of science and engineering and creating jobs in cutting-edge clean energy fields.”

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are different from conventional geothermal resources that occur naturally in the U.S. and are geographically limited due to the need for underground heat and fluids. EGS are manmade geothermal reservoirs and can be engineered in most parts of the country, potentially expanding geothermal energy production and transforming the domestic energy portfolio.
Utah FORGE website.

WELLS FARGO NEWS RELEASE

Wells Fargo Surpasses $10 Billion in Renewable Energy Tax-Equity Investments
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wells Fargo Renewable Energy & Environmental Finance (REEF) today announced it recently surpassed $10 billion in tax-equity investments in the wind, solar, and fuel cell industries. Wells Fargo has invested in more than 500 projects [in 32 states], helping to finance 12% of all wind and solar energy capacity in the U.S. over the past 10 years.

Vilsack Brings To-Do List As He Starts New Stint As Agriculture Secretary

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming


Boosted by a landslide confirmation vote in the Senate, Tom Vilsack will begin his second stint as agriculture secretary on Wednesday facing problems from the pandemic and climate change to rising hunger rates in America. His own list of goals is much longer and each item on it is a blockbuster.

“We’re going to be a USDA that represents and serves all Americans,” said Vilsack soon after the Senate confirmed his nomination, 92-7, on Tuesday.

 Continue reading here.

Opening Statement of Thomas J. Vilsack Before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry – Remarks as Prepared

Also written by Chuck Abbot: Agriculture may be ‘first and best’ place for climate gains, says Vilsack

Additional Recommended Reading

Midlands Voices: Renewables provide a sound energy path for Nebraska

By Chuck Hassebrook, Omaha World-Herald

Gov. Ricketts’ statement blaming wind energy for electric outages was misleading and his proposed solution of reliance on coal profoundly misguided. It would ultimately worsen the problem. We all agree that electric outages are unacceptable. But to prevent them, we need to understand what caused them.

Continue reading here. Requires a digital subscription.

Chuck Hassebrook, of Lincoln, works in solar power development and is a former regent of the University of Nebraska.

 

NEW FERC PROCEEDING

FERC to examine threat of climate change, extreme weather to reliability, American Public Power Association

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Feb. 22 said that it will open a new proceeding to examine the threat that climate change and extreme weather events pose to electric reliability.

THE GREEN ACT

New Green Act Could Extend and Create New Credits for Renewable Energy, Energy Storage, Carbon Capture, and Electric Vehicles, National Law Review

On 5 February, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures announced the reintroduction of theGrowing Renewable Energy Efficiency Now (GREEN)Act. The bill was previously introduced in June 2020. If passed, the legislation would provide for a host of incentives across the renewable energy, energy storage, carbon capture, and electric vehicle industries. Some notable provisions include:

BROOKINGS INSTITUTION REPORT

How renewable energy jobs can uplift fossil fuel communities and remake climate politics, Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, by Adie TomerJoseph W. Kane, and Caroline George

The U.S. transition to a low-carbon economy is already underway, and some of the most striking progress is within the energy-generation sector. As the cost of solar, wind, and other renewable sources continues to fall, market forces will continue to encourage renewable energy generation and lead to the closure of fossil fuel extraction and generation activities. 

MICHIGAN TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY STUDY

Study shows homeowners with PV are subsidizing their neighbors, Renewable Energy World

For years some utility companies have worried that solar panels drive up electric costs for people without panels. Joshua Pearce, Richard Witte Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Technological University, has shown the opposite is true — grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) owners are actually subsidizing their non-PV neighbors.

SOLAR TARIFFS

America’s Clean Energy Leaders Urge President Biden to Repeal Trump Solar Tariff Proclamation, SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Seventeen leading renewable energy CEOs are calling on President Biden to rescind the Trump Administration’s October 2020 solar proclamation, which improperly increased tariffs on solar panels and rescinds the exclusion for bifacial solar panels. Led by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and supported by the American Clean Power Associationthe letter calls attention to the proclamation’s impact to existing solar contracts and discusses how harmful the Section 201 tariffs are to the U.S. economy and the industry’s ability to address climate change. Importantly, the CEOs are asking the President to return the tariffs to status quo and restore business certainty.

SEPA MICROGRIDS REPORT

Smart Electric Power Alliance: Voices of Experience / Microgrids for Resiliency

Despite increasing customer demand, microgrids are sometimes challenging to justify economically, especially with regards to resiliency. SEPA partnered with NREL and DOE to bring you a guide to help you navigate the opportunities and challenges of microgrids.


Key takeaways from the report include:

  • What is a Microgrid? How you define it matters.​​​​​
  • Accounting for the value of resiliency.​​​​
  • The role of utilities in microgrid development.
  • Insights from utilities on siting a microgrid.
  • The challenges and opportunities around the economics of microgrids.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

Student leads effort to get solar panels at Athens Drive Magnet High School, WRAL
RALEIGH, N.C. — What started as a student project has now turned into one school’s journey to reduce the use of fossil fuels through solar energy. Athens Drive Magnet High School is the first school in Wake County to have a solar array system, consisting of 12 solar panels, through NC GreenPower Solar+ Schools, a non-profit grant. Rocco Nociti, a former student, transformed his homework into a real-life application of renewable energy. Determined to get his high school using renewable energy, he applied for the grant.

GREENBIZ INTERVIEW

Bill McDonough at 70: A look back … and ahead, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

Architect, designer and author William McDonough is well-known to many in sustainability — as a pioneer in green building; as the erstwhile “green dean” of architecture; as co-author of the seminal 2002 book “Cradle to Cradle”; as a designer of breakthrough buildings and materials; as a deep thinker about how design relates to a healthy and abundant future; and as an enthusiastic framer of the concepts and language that have become part of the sustainability lexicon.

On the occasion of his 70th birthday this month, I caught up with McDonough to discuss his journey and some seminal moments in his life and career, and how they influenced his work. And to take a peek into where he may be headed next.

Cradle to Cradle Institute

Public hearing on Legislative Bill 424 scheduled for this Friday

LB424 – Provide and change zoning requirements for wind energy generation projects

The Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on LB 424 this Friday, February 26th at 1:30 pm in Room 1507 of the State Capitol. Introduced by Senator Tom Brewer of Gordon, the measure would limit wind farms to counties that have passed zoning regulations to govern them. 

Introducer’s Statement of Intent (PDF)
The intent of LB 424 is to increase the voice local citizens have in the process counties use to authorize the construction of industrial wind energy projects in their county. Requiring counties to have zoning that addresses the three big concerns citizens have about wind energy creates a number of opportunities for citizen concerns to be heard in a public hearing. The aim of this is to help reduce the growing citizen anger over being forced to be neighbors to these massive facilities. 

Find a link to submit comments onlline on LB 424 here.

Nebraska Legislature’s Resources for Testifiers

The Nebraska Legislature’s Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings
If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record. 

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Members

Sen. Tom Brewer, Chairperson tbrewer@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Carol Blood  cblood@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Steve Halloran shalloran@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Matt Hansen mhansen@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Megan Hunt mhunt@leg.ne.gov
Sen. John Lowe jlowe@leg.ne.gov
Sen. John McCollister jmccollister@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Rita Sanders rsanders@leg.ne.gov

‘The Grid’ Author On How Texas Crisis Highlights A Fragile U.S. Infrastructure

NPR’s Michel Martin Interviews Professor Gretchen Bakke.


The storm in Texas highlights just how fragile U.S. infrastructure can be, and so you might wonder if this problem extends beyond Texas. It does. In their most recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. energy infrastructure a D-plus, stating, quote, “without greater attention to aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will likely experience longer and more frequent power interruptions,” unquote.

We wanted to learn more about this, so we called Gretchen Bakke. She is the author of “The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans And Our Energy Future,” which examines the history of electrical power and its current challenges. When we spoke earlier today, she explained the problems in Texas are partly due to its independence from the U.S. power grid.

Read the text of this “All Things Considered” interview or listen to it here.

 


The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future

 

 

Additional Recommended Reading 

About Americans for a Clean Energy Grid
Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) is the only non-profit broad-based public interest advocacy coalition focused on the need to expand, integrate, and modernize the North American high-voltage grid. Sponsors and supporters of the Americans for a Clean Energy Grid coalition are broadly supportive of ACEG’s mission and vision. 

Included in The Biden Plan: Rebuild Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy
The order catalyzes the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

GEOTHERMAL NEWS

Dandelion Raises $30M to Scale Up Home Geothermal Energy, Greentech Media
There’s a lot of energy underneath homes — if reasonably priced technology can be scaled up to tap its potential. A U.S. Department of Energy study indicates that geothermal heat pumps, which capture the steady temperatures of underground air to heat homes in winter and cool them in summer, could cost-effectively replace fossil-fuel- and electric-powered heating and air conditioning in up to 28 million homes.

Geothermal Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy

ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURS REGENERATIVE AG REPORT

Healthy Soils and the Climate Connection: A Path to Economic Recovery on America’s Farms
 provides a roadmap for how climate-smart agriculture policies could provide profit boosts for farmers and climate wins for advocates.

Most initiatives to fight climate change today focus on reducing fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation, transportation, and buildings. But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change we must also significantly reduce the atmospheric carbon that has already been emitted. While efforts are underway to develop new and high tech mechanisms to accomplish this, there is an immediately available and economically viable pathway for atmospheric carbon removal—one that provides a compelling new value proposition for farmers to revitalize their soils and get paid for doing it.


E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.