Monthly Archives: April 2021

A day in the life of Kansas’ newest career: a wheat and wind farmer

 By Sarah Spicer, The Wichita Eagle

When Chance Jacobson graduated high school, he faced a conundrum likely familiar to many young people who grew up in the rural plains. He’d spent the past 18 years on his family farm about 40 miles east of Salina learning the trade from his father and grandfather.

“I wanted to farm with my dad, and there just wasn’t enough money,” Jacobson said. “Between my dad and grandpa farming together, and for me to come in and be the third person in the operation, there just wasn’t really room for me.” Continue reading here.

Photo: Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm in Dixon County, Nebraska constructed by Enel Green Power.

Wind & Solar Education & Training Opportunities In Nebraska

Central Community College at Hastings

Programs

Northeast Community College in Norfolk

U.S. Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook

Q1 2021: Amazon goes big, Ørsted is a fan of corporate procurement

By Sarah Golden, GreenBiz

Corporate renewable deals got off to a sleepy but respectable start in 2021, with the largest contracts from U.S. companies reaching just shy of 2 gigawatts of capacity. This represents a cooling from the fourth quarter’s blockbuster 7.3 GW but a steady climb from the first quarter of previous years — Q1 2019 saw 757 megawatts (MW) of deals; Q1 2020 included 1.6 GW. 

Ørsted, the Danish multinational energy company best known for offshore wind, made a strong showing as a developer for U.S. corporate procurements this quarter, participating in deals with Pepsi, steelmaker Nucor, Target and Hormel Foods. The contracts include portions of two massive onshore wind projects: the 298 MW Haystack project in Nebraska and the 367 MW Western Trail project in Texas. Target, Hormel and Pepsi have procured portions of the Nebraska project; Pepsi and Nucor are offtakers of the Texas project. Read more here.

Photo: Plum Creek Wind Farm in Wayne County, Nebraska. The Haystack project is under construction nearby.

Previously Posted

FACEBOOK’S RENEWABLES & ENERGY STORAGE

Facebook meets 100% renewable energy goal with over 6 GW of wind, solar, Utility Dive
Facebook said Thursday it had procured enough new renewable projects to meet 100% of energy needs for its global operations through clean resources, as of last year. The company has contracts in place for more than 6.1 GW of wind and solar across 18 states and five countries, within the same electric grids that power its data centers and operations. Of the energy contracted, Facebook said it currently has 2 GW of solar and 1.3 GW of wind online, along with 720 MW of energy storage.
Image Credit: Facebook

RE100 REACHES NEW MILESTONE 

  • RE100 reaches 300-member milestone, RE100 News Release
    As companies’ awareness of the impacts of climate change has grown, and with the opportunity to save money from wind and solar increasingly evident, buying renewables has moved from the fringe of corporate social responsibility practice to become a core element for business in securing their energy needs whilst driving down emissions and building positive relationships with employees, customers, investors and governments.
  • RE100 initiative hits 300 member milestone, Business Green
    The new cohort of members means nearly 320TW/h of corporate electricity around the world is set to switch to renewable sources in the coming years – equivalent to the electricity consumption of Australia and Italy, a spokesperson confirmed to BusinessGreen.

FROM THE AMERICAN PUBLIC POWER ASSOCIATION 

About APPA
The American Public Power Association is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. We represent public power before the federal government to protect the interests of the more than 49 million people that public power utilities serve, and the 93,000 people they employ. We advocate and advise on electricity policy, technology, trends, training, and operations.

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Solar Industry Unveils Environmental Justice Priorities, April 15, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is announcing its environmental justice priorities through a new policy platform that will support the organization’s advocacy efforts. The platform outlines principles for engagement, as well as environmental justice outcomes and policies that the organization will support to expand equitable access to solar energy and its benefits. The document lays out policies that expand access to clean energy and create industry jobs and workforce development training. It includes possible tax, climate, energy access and labor policies that build on SEIA’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice throughout the solar value chain.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 

FREE APP FOR TESLA OWNERS

Tesla owners can now see how much solar or coal is powering their EVs, by Kirsten Korosec, TechCrunch

TezLab, a free app that’s like a Fitbit for a Tesla vehicle, pushed out a new feature this week that shows the energy mix — breaking down the exact types and percentages of fossil fuels and renewable energy — coming from charging locations, including Superchargers and third-party networks throughout the United States.

Photo Credit: Tesla

OPPD Board of Directors Seeking Public Input On Utility’s Environmental Stewardship Goals

OPPD News Release

The Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors is seeking public input on a proposed amendment to its strategic directive (SD) on environmental stewardship, recognizing the threats posed by climate change. Environmental Stewardship (SD-7) is among 15 strategic directives the board has provided the utility to give it clear and transparent direction, on behalf of its customer-owners. These policies guide OPPD’s strategic and operational planning efforts to address current and future trends, mitigate risks, pursue strategic opportunities, and prioritize resources. OPPD is aligned, across the district, to be accountable to performance expectations related to the various directives.

A proposed amendment to SD-7 would add the following verbiage: The OPPD Board of Directors recognizes the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, from human activity contribute to climate change impacts. The last time the directive was revised was in November of 2019.

The full context to the proposed change to SD-7, as well as a comment form, are viewable on OPPDCommunityConnect.com. The public may offer comment on the proposed change until May 14, 2021. Read the entire news release here.

OPPD’S “PATHWAYS TO DECARBONIZATION” WORKSHOPS

OPPD’s first Pathways to Decarbonization Energy Portfolio workshop “Decarbonization Pathways Planning 101” was held virtually on Wednesday, April 7. The recording of the meeting, as well as registration for the next three workshops, are now available here: OPPDCommunityConnect.com.

  • Workshop #2: Multi-Sectoral Modeling, April 28, 4–6 p.m.
  • Workshop #3: Developing Key Assumptions and Scenarios, May 12, 4–6 p.m.
  • Workshop #4: Developing Modeling Approach, May 26, 4–6 p.m.

THE WIRE POSTS

Program making a difference one home at a time

Initial solar contract inked for OPPD’s Power with Purpose

Resolve to be more energy efficient: April tips

OPPD offering Energy Star certification

Six things the Evergy refund could mean for Kansas solar

By Sarah Spicer, The Wichita Eagle

“Perhaps most significantly, the decision to rule the fees illegal and order a refund to the customers will likely discourage other states from pursuing these demand charges.”

More than a year after the Kansas Supreme Court ruled that solar customers were being charged unfairly by Evergy, Kansas’ largest utility, some customers will be refunded the difference between what they paid and what they should have paid. After the [Kansas Corporation Commissioners] ordered the refund, Chair Andrew French added that he thought a value-of-solar study could help regulate solar users and determine how to charge them. Such a study is something solar advocates have pushed for in the past, saying that the benefits of solar go beyond the economics of saving money and backup energy for the grid and environmental benefits. Read more here.

VALUE OF SOLAR RESOURCES

The True Value of Solar: Measuring the Benefits of Rooftop Solar Power
Written by Emma Searson and Rob Sargent, Environment America Research & Policy Center and Gideon Weissman, Frontier Group. Download the report.

Public policy that fails to account for the full range of benefits may deter the addition of solar power to the grid, with ramifications for the environment, public health, and the operation of the electric grid.

 

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.  

Value of Solar, Solar United Neighbors (SUN)
Beyond individual solar owners, solar electricity also benefits society at large, creating local jobs, generating local wealth, improving energy security, and improving public health. Solar also benefits the entire electric grid. The brilliant tangle of wires, poles, substations, and meters that we call “the grid” is made stronger, cheaper, and more efficient thanks to distributed solar energy (like rooftop solar panels). This translates to long term savings for all ratepayers. 

8 Days, 2 Kids, 2700 Miles, 1 Tesla — Lessons Learned From A Cross Country EV Road Trip

By Joe Wachunas, CleanTechnica

In Nebraska, we stayed in a cabin at an RV park and had access
to a 240 volt charger typically used by RVs.”

Our EV surpassed any ICE [Internal Combustion Engine] car in fueling cost and pollution reduction and came close to matching the traditional auto in how easy it was to “fill’er up.” In total, it took 41 hours of driving and 5 hours of charging to go 2,747 miles. Here are 9 “road trip” lessons we learned along the way. Read more here.

Learn more about EVs in an Earth Day Webinar devoted to electric vehicles April 22.. 

Joe Wachunas ives in Portland, Oregon, and works for the nonprofit Forth, which promotes electric transportation. He is also involved with Electrify Now because he believes that electrifying everything, from transportation to homes, is the quickest path to an equitable, clean energy future. And of course, Joe and his family live in an all-electric home and drive an EV.


PRESIDENT BIDEN’S EV INFRASTRUCTURE PLAN

 

 

 

 

MORE EV NEWS

NEBRASKA’S LARGEST UTILITIES’ EV PROGRAMS

If you receive power from another utility, check the website for EV programs and incentives.

LINKS TO MORE EV NEWS & RESOURCES

Climate Bill Would Expand USDA Stewardship Program

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming

The USDA would double the size of the Conservation Reserve, the government’s largest land-idling program, as part of supporting land stewardship on 100 million acres of farmland under companion bills filed in the House and Senate on Monday. Democrats Sen. Cory Booker and Rep. Abigail Spanberger, the sponsors, compared the legislation to New Deal programs to help farmers and combat soil loss during the Dust Bowl.

“The Climate Stewardship Act is a critical investment to seriously engage farmers, ranchers, and rural communities as part of the solution to climate change,” said Booker, who filed a version of the bill in 2019. Spanberger, who chairs the House Agriculture subcommittee on conservation, said she was “committed to finding new ways to both protect the health of our soil and benefit farmers’ bottom lines.” Continue reading here.

The Climate Stewardship Act (PDF)

Sec.108 Rural Energy for America Program

  • Increases funding from $50M to $3 billion per year to provide grants and loan guarantees for tens of thousands of farmers, ranchers and rural businesses to expand renewable energy production and make energy efficiency improvements.
  • Gives funding priority to solar projects that include pollinator habitat.
  • Sets aside 5% of the additional funding for socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers.
  • Sets aside 5% of the funding for new and beginning farmers and ranchers.

USDA Agency Launches New Site for Science-Minded Students, USDA News Release

AgLab, a new science-education website operated by USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, is now “open for business” to students and educators alike. 

Geared toward K-12 students with an interest in food and science, AgLab offers a variety of content to promote a greater understanding of how agricultural research is helping meet the food, fiber, feed and fuel needs of a growing world population while also safeguarding our environment and natural resources.

Businesses urge Biden admin to set ambitious federal climate target

By Cailin Crowe, Smart Cities Dive

A group of multinational corporations — including Apple, Microsoft and Walmart — and small to medium enterprises have signed a letter urging the Biden administration to pursue an ambitious federal climate target, or national determined contribution (NDC), that will reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at least 50% below 2005 levels by 2030.

Led by the “We Mean Business” coalition and nonprofit sustainability advocacy group Ceres, the companies that signed the letter each have business operations in the U.S. and share the goal to halve emissions over the next decade to help the country reach net zero emissions by 2050.
Read more here. 

Website Links
We Mean Business Coalition
Ceres

RELATED NEWS & RESOURCES

The Institute On Taxation And Economic Policy (ITEP) Analyses

The Institute On Taxation And Economic Policy (ITEP) is a non-profit, non-partisan tax policy organization that conducts rigorous analyses of tax and economic proposals and provides data-driven recommendations on how to shape equitable and sustainable tax systems. ITEP’s expertise and data uniquely enhance federal, state, and local policy debates by revealing how taxes affect both public revenues and people of various levels of income and wealth.

PRESIDENT BIDEN’S FY 2022 BUDGET PROPOSAL

FEATURED AMERICANS FOR A CLEAN ENERGY GRID RESOURCE

What Everyone Needs to Know about Transmission: Facts and Sources
To download the full “Facts and Sources” document, click here.

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. ACEG brings together the diverse support for an expanded and modernized grid from business, labor, consumer and environmental groups, and other transmission supporters to support policy which recognizes the benefits of a robust transmission grid.

NPPD’S R-PROJECT RESOURCES

OPPD inks agreement with developer for solar farm in Saunders County; it would be Nebraska’s largest

By Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

Despite some local opposition, Nebraska’s first utility-scale solar farm is a step closer to being built south of Yutan. The Omaha Public Power District announced last week that it has signed a contract with Community Energy Inc. for an 81-megawatt solar farm to be built on 500 acres in Saunders County. Construction would begin in 2022. The project would be the largest solar farm in Nebraska and is the first step toward OPPD’s hoped-for 600 megawatts of solar power. Read more here.

Community Energy Inc

Photo: Kearney’s Solar Farm installed by Interconnection Systems Inc based in Central City .

Also written by Nancy Gaarder:

Michigan solar supporters make new push to eliminate rooftop solar caps

By Tom Perkins, Energy News Network

A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers has introduced legislation to eliminate a 1% cap on distributed energy in the state’s investor-owned utility territories. It’s the third time in recent years that such legislation has been introduced. Though utilities and their political allies have successfully blocked it to date, advocates see an opportunity with a change in state Republican caucus leadership and Michigan’s burgeoning solar industry approaching the cap in some utility territories. The bill also has support from a broad swath of legislators for reasons having to do with job creation, energy freedom and the environment. Read more here.

Photo Credit: David Marvin / Creative Commons. The Michigan Statehouse in Lansing.

Additional Recommended Reading
Commentary: To build energy resilience in Michigan, we must challenge DTE, Energy News Network

NPPD’S CURRENT RENEWABLE ENERGY LIMIT & TWO RECENT STUDIES

Kearney’s Solar Farm

Previously posted articles by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network:

  • Nebraska solar farm highlights tension between cities, electricity wholesaler
    The city of Norfolk, Nebraska, soon will celebrate its first solar farm — and the last one allowed under a contract with its electricity wholesaler. The 8.5-megawatt community solar project is being developed in partnership with the Nebraska Public Power District, which supplies power to most of the state outside of Omaha and Lincoln. The hitch for Norfolk is that the public utility’s contracts prevent municipal customers from generating more than 10% of their peak load from alternative sources, a threshold the city expects to reach with this project. “Northeast Nebraska is the renewable energy hotbed of the state,” said Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning. “I’d much rather use clean energy that’s made in our backyard than haul it in on a coal train from Wyoming, which is the status quo in Nebraska.”
  • Nebraska utility could slash emissions at little or no added cost, studies show
    A pair of reports by independent consultants both conclude that the Nebraska Public Power District could eliminate most of its carbon emissions without having to spend significantly more than it would otherwise for power.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA REPORT

Electrifying America’s buildings by 2050 could be like taking 65 million cars off the road
Entitled Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, the study documents the benefits of electrifying the majority of buildings in America for consumers and the environment. In addition, the report ranks states by their capacity to decrease greenhouse gas emissions through building electrification.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE (RMI) REPORT

Build Back Better Homes: How to Unlock America’s Single-Family Green Mortgage Market

Residential energy efficiency reduces emissions and delivers a wealth of other societal benefits, but homeowners often lack access to low-cost financing to improve the performance of their homes. The mortgage industry is well positioned to fill this gapA new RMI report proposes practical solutions to reduce friction in originating and securitizing single-family green mortgage products. This untapped opportunity can create a new market with a total potential value of $2.2 trillion over 10 years.

RMI EVENTS

  • Decarbonizing America’s Buildings: Preparing for a Carbon-Neutral Future
    April 13: In this webinar, RMI’s Michael Gartman joins Brad Liljequist and Heath Mackay from the construction engineering firm McKinstry for a discussion on decarbonizing the buildings sector. The speakers will outline proven strategies for transitioning buildings to zero carbon in terms of both operational emissions and embodied emissions in the building’s materials.
  • Advanced Building Construction Summit
    April 28: The inaugural ABC Summit convenes experts from the public and private sectors to share insights and experiences around high-performing, decarbonized, affordable construction.

CANARY MEDIA

The Rocky Mountain Institute has launched Canary Media, independent energy journalism powered by former Greentech Media staff and David Roberts. 

Canary Media will cover the global effort to combat climate change from business, technology, and policy perspectives. Editors include Eric Wesoff, Jeff St. John, and David Roberts.

EV INFRASTRUCTURE

UNITED PARCEL SERVICE (UPS)

UPS Orders 10 Electric Vertical Takeoff & Landing Aircraft, CleanTechnica
10 BETA aircraft will be delivered in 2024, if all goes according to plan, and UPS has an option to buy up to 150 at the agreed-upon terms. Last year, UPS ordered 10,000 electric vehicles from EV startup Arrival as well.

Statement by Secretary Vilsack on the President’s FY22 Discretionary Funding Request

USDA News Release

WASHINGTON, April 9, 2021 — The Biden-Harris Administration today submitted to Congress the President’s priorities for fiscal year 2022 discretionary spending. The funding request invests in the core foundations of our country’s strength and advances key U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) priorities, including economic development and growth in rural America, maintaining support for American agriculture, rebuilding scientific expertise in our agencies, aiding in an all-of-government approach to mitigate and adapt to climate change, and supporting a strong safety net to address hunger and nutrition insecurity. Continue reading here.

Download the FY22 budget summary here.

Related Reading: How a new infrastructure package could impact Rural America, Agweek article by Sara Wyant, President and founder of Agri-Pulse Communications Inc.