Monthly Archives: May 2021

May White House Statements & Releases

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. Amends Nebraska
Disaster Declaration, May 27, 2021

Today, President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. made additional disaster assistance available to the State of Nebraska by authorizing an increase in the level of Federal funding for Public Assistance projects undertaken in the State of Nebraska as a result of a severe winter storm, straight-line winds, and flooding during the period of March 9 to July 14, 2019. Continue reading here.

Photo by Herschel Talley / Nebraska National Guard: Flooded Camp Ashland is seen in this aerial photo taken in Ashland, Nebraska, on March 17, 2019.

NRDC, 50+ Orgs Send Clear Message: It’s Time For FERC Reform

Sustainable FERC Project, May 26, 2021

NRDC, the  Sustainable FERC Project, and more than 50 other organizations sent a clear message today to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission: FERC must reform how it reviews applications for new gas pipeline infrastructure. There’s a huge need for change. FERC has greenlighted more than 1,000 pipeline and LNG projects since 1999 while rejecting only a handful. Now groups like the International Energy Agency are saying nations need to halt new approvals for fossil fuel infrastructure.

FERC has made some important progress on gas pipeline reviews this year. It is developing an Office of Public Participation and, in March, it started to assess the significance of a gas pipeline project’s climate impacts. Read more here. 

The Sustainable FERC Project is a coalition of state, regional and national environmental and other public interest organizations working to expand the deployment of clean energy resources into America’s electricity transmission grid. We advocate at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – which regulates the transmission grid – through legal and policy advocacy, and we also work with FERC-regulated regional grid organizations and utilities.

What is FERC?, YouTube Video
FERC Website

FOSSIL FUEL GIANTS IN THE NEWS

NEXT-GENERATION GEOTHERMAL

Could next-gen geothermal provide the clean firm power we’ve been looking for?, by Sarah Golden, Senior Energy Analyst & VERGE Energy Chair, GreenBiz Group

While Google’s project is relatively small — just 5 MW, which would serve its data center in Nevada — the speed of deployment is notable. It is expected to be up and running next year. In part, this speed is made possible by advancements in drilling developed by the shale industry. Not only could this knowledge spur forward geothermal development, it also could provide new employment opportunities for those in the natural gas sector, which has been hemorrhaging jobsIf Google figures out how to harness geothermal for round-the-clock clean energy, then the company will be doing more than powering its data centers.

Previously Posted: Why oil giants like Chevron and BP are investing in geothermal energy, by Katie Brigham, CNBC

KANSAS SOLAR SCHOOLS

Buhler schools look to Maize High School for examples of solar energy success, by Alice Mannette, Hutchinson News

Buhler saw a spike in energy costs after the state’s February cold snap, but now, the school district is thinking big. Kansas schools are looking to incorporate solar energy to reduce energy expenses. Buhler leadership called in a teacher who started the largest solar energy system for a school in Kansas and began to accumulate information. “We want to save money, be more efficient and use it as an educational tool,” said Laura Meyer Dick, president of Buhler’s Board of Education, and the person who came up with the idea. “We want to use it to benefit the district.”

EQUITABLE EV SHARING PROGRAMS 

The Electric Car Revolution Shouldn’t Leave Anyone Behind, by Susan Cosier, NRDC
The equitable electric car-sharing program in St. Louis—a collaboration between the city, the utility Ameren, and several organizations, including Forth, a nonprofit advocating smart and shared transportation—is one of several around the country helping to make electric vehicles, and the cleaner air they bring, more accessible.  The city of Denver is subsidizing EV-sharing memberships for essential workers and underserved community members through a program called Colorado CarShare. In Boston, a program called Good2Go in Roxbury, the center of the city’s Black community, offers a tiered pricing system based on a resident’s income. And in Los Angeles, income-based memberships of BlueLA go as low as $39 a year.

AUSTRALIA

Court Rules Australian Government Has Duty to Protect Children, Environment From Climate Impacts, by Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

“This is the first time a court of law, anywhere in the world, has recognized that a government minister has a duty of care to protect young people from the catastrophic harms of climate change.” 

Careers in Green Building & Other STEM Rising Resources

The U.S. Department of Energy’s newsletter, STEM Rising, includes DOE and partnering agencies and organizations’ Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) news and resources. Visit the STEM Rising website to learn more about this initiative and subscribe to the newsletter.

The following resources on careers in green building are among those in the latest issue:

Also Included in the STEM Rising Newsletter:

Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm Pushes For Diversity In STEM

“The data makes it clear that we need diversity in science, technology, engineering and math,” Secretary Granholm said at a roundtable discussion on racial disparities in STEM fields held at Howard University May 3. “We really want to see a diverse pipeline of our future workforce and our problem-solvers and scientists.” The Secretary’s remarks came with an announcement of a $17.3 million investment in research and internship opportunities, with a focus on increasing diversity in STEM. Read more about it here, and watch the roundtable discussion here.

Free Virtual Event for High School Girls Interested in Technology

GirlCon is an event for high school girls organized entirely by students for the fourth year running. At this virtual event June 27-30, panelists from the National Nuclear Security Association, DOE’s National Energy Technology Laboratory, and DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory will share their role in government, and how they’re working to apply artificial intelligence to energy, climate, and nuclear weapons, as well as sustainable energy and national security. Tune in and register for this free event at GirlCon.org. Registration closes June 25 at 11:59 p.m.

MORE DOE RESOURCES

DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE) Initiatives and Projects

All EERE Offices

From The White House Briefing Room: FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Accelerates Efforts to Create Jobs Making American Buildings More Affordable, Cleaner, and Resilient

Regenerative AG: Moving Beyond Practices

Great Plains Regeneration’s Farmer Friday Webinar
May 28th at 12pm

Featuring: Darrin Unruh of Pretty Prairie, Kansas & Tom Cannon of Blackwell, Oklahoma. The presenters will dig deep into regenerative farming practices for long-term soil health solutions like cover crop best practices and advanced use, integration of livestock into cropping systems, heirloom grain production, and new market development. Moderated by Jess Gnad, Executive Director Great Plains Regeneration.

Join here.

News Release: Burt County Solar-Plus-Storage Project Fully Operational

Burt County Public Power District and Bluestem Energy Solutions introduce one of the first solar projects in the Midwest that features a Tesla Megapack, a utility-scale battery energy storage system.

Tekamah, NE— 5/28/2021 — Burt County Public Power District in partnership with Bluestem Energy Solutions has completed a project that features a 1.4 MWAC solar array and a 6 MWh Tesla Megapack battery storage system across two sites. The solar-plus-storage project is one of the first installations in the Midwest to feature Tesla Megapack. The project is also the first solar and utility-scale battery storage system to be built in tandem in Nebraska.

Developed by Bluestem Energy Solutions and constructed by Boyd Jones Construction Company, the project is now operational in BCPPD’S service territory.

The solar-plus-storage project consists of a battery storage system and two solar array sites located in Burt and Dodge Counties, which will provide a tax boost to both counties. The battery storage systems will enable the interconnected, renewable energy facilities to become a dispatchable resource during peak hours.

The Tesla Megapack is a utility-scale lithium-ion battery storage product installed by Boyd Jones Construction and manufactured at the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. Megapacks store energy generated by intermittent renewable power sources, such as solar and wind.

BCPPD will experience financial value from the project through various load management activities. In addition to the savings to BCPPD, the project will also provide financial benefits to Burt and Dodge Counties through the Nebraska nameplate capacity tax.

“Burt County PPD is excited to continue our partnership with Bluestem during the operation of this solar project,” said Jon Dockhorn, General Manager of BCPPD. “The projected savings and educational opportunities will benefit our customers for years.”

The solar-plus storage project is partially funded through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The Trust is funded by proceeds from the Nebraska Lottery and has awarded more than $349 million to conservation projects in Nebraska since 1994.

The solar fields will be sown with native grasses and flowers, which will provide a pollinator-friendly habitat. Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment has published research showing that pollinator-friendly solar can boost nearby crop yields, reduce soil erosion, and increase the recharging of groundwater.

“This project is an important step, not only for Bluestem and Burt County Public Power, but for Nebraska in general,” said Will Crane, Director of Project Management at Bluestem. “As more renewables come online, battery energy storage systems will play a key role in the continued deployment of renewable energy while providing increased reliability and cost savings.” 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

Burt County Public Power District is a distribution utility in Nebraska with headquarters in Tekamah, NE, serving all of Burt County and portions of Cuming, Dodge, Thurston and Washington Counties.

Bluestem Energy Solutions is the project developer, as well as owner and operator. Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, Bluestem has been developing and operating renewable energy projects in states throughout the country since 2012.

For more information, press only:
Will Crane    
wcrane@bstem.biz
402.515.5153
Bluestem Energy Solutions LLC
950 South 10th Street, Suite 001

Burt County Public Power
402.374.2631
613 N. 13th Street, Tekamah, NE 68061

Websites:
https://burtcoppd.com
www.bluestemenergysolutions.com

Coal-rich Indiana is going solar. It’s not easy

By Jeffrey Tomich, E&E News

“Solar is like a private CRP [Conservation Reserve Program]. Instead of the government
paying farmers, we pay the farmers.” – Nick Cohen, CEO of Global Energy

The coal mines dotting Indiana’s southwest corner are quickly giving way to a new source of energy that will help power Hoosier State factories and farms in the decades to come — the sun. Solar projects totaling 22,000 megawatts of capacity —- 50% greater than the sum of Indiana’s coal fleet — are seeking to plug into the two wholesale power grids that cover parts of the state, PJM Interconnection and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator.

The boom is part of a broader trend playing out across the Midwest and the United States as solar costs continue to fall. But coal-reliant Indiana has emerged as an unlikely solar hot spot, with more new capacity seeking interconnection than California last year, according to a recent analysis by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In fact, only Texas and Arizona saw more gigawatts of solar capacity added to interconnection queues. Read more here.

Additional information on land use and utility-scale solar is available here: 

SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION

 

 

 


Siting, Permitting & Land Use for Utility-Scale Solar
There is tremendous solar power generation potential in the United States. In five minutes, enough sunlight shines on the continental U.S. to satisfy our electricity demand for an entire month. Research from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory shows that the entire U.S. could be powered by utility-scale solar occupying just 0.6% of the nation’s land mass.

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT – U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR

Solar Energy: The Bureau of Land Management (BLM)
The BLM manages millions of acres of public lands with excellent solar energy potential. Climate concerns, state renewable energy portfolio standards, investment tax credits, technological advances, and decreasing costs of equipment are drivers of interest to site utility-scale solar energy development on public lands. As a result, we expect that private companies will continue to have an interest in developing this resource on public lands. In fact, we have been approving solar projects since 2010.

ThSolar Energy Environmental Mapper is an online mapping tool that allows users to overlay solar energy potential on BLM-administered lands with other natural, social, and cultural resource data. BLM staff and stakeholders can use the tool to identify areas with high solar energy potential and low resource conflict that may be appropriate for solar energy development.

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY 

 

 


Six Pathways to a Clean and Green Renewable Energy Buildout

Renewable energy infrastructure requires a lot of landespecially onshore wind and large-scale solar installations, which we will need to meet our ambitious climate goals. Siting renewable energy in areas that support wildlife habitat not only harms nature but also increases the potential for project conflicts that could slow the buildout—a prospect we cannot afford. Building renewables on natural lands can also undermine climate progress by converting forests and other areas that store carbon and serve as natural climate solutions.

Fortunately, there is plenty of previously developed land that can be used to meet our clean energy needsat least 17 times the amount of land needed to meet the Paris Agreement goals. But accelerating the buildout on these lands requires taking pro-active measures now.

Clean & Green: Pathways for Promoting Renewable Energy, a new report from The Nature Conservancy (TNC), is a call to action that highlights six ways for governments, corporations and lenders to promote a clean and green renewable energy buildout.

Previously Posted

SEIA Amps Up Storage Advocacy

SEIA News Release, May 26, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is announcing a new venture to prioritize energy storage across policy advocacy, membership, research and events. The venture, called the Storage Advocacy Network, will be a formal branch of SEIA and serve as a national and state advocacy voice for energy storage.

A May 2021 report from Lawrence Berkeley National Lab showed that of all the energy generation projects in interconnection queues nationwide, solar is accounting for the majority of projects paired with energy storage. 6% of wind and natural gas projects in the queue have storage attached, while 34% of pending solar projects are paired with batteries. Read. more here.

ENERGY STORAGE NEWS 

Connecticut looks to join seven other US states in setting energy storage target
Connecticut’s Senate has passed a bill targeting the deployment of 1,000MW of energy storage by the end of 2030, which when signed into law by the state’s governor will make it the eighth state jurisdiction in the US so far to introduce either a target or mandate for energy storage.

Free software to assess value of energy storage and DERs from Sandia National Laboratories and EPRI. New software that helps businesses and utilities in the US to assess the value of energy storage has been launched by Sandia National Laboratories, while the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) has launched its own platform for calculating the value of distributed energy resources (DERs). Both solutions are open-source and are being offered free of charge by the organizations.

UTILITY DIVE

Biden budget, infrastructure plan would create standalone storage tax credit
President Joe Biden’s $1.52 trillion budget request for Fiscal Year 2022 includes a policy making standalone energy storage projects eligible for the federal investment tax credit (ITC), a move that advocates say will unleash new capital for renewable energy. The budget request also included new spending on storage as part of the administration’s goal to decarbonize the energy sector by 2035. 

U.S. disasters show gaps in $1.7 trillion infrastructure plan

By David R. Baker & Keith Laing, Bloomberg
Reprinted by Kennebec Journal

Three times this year, major pieces of U.S. infrastructure have failed: first the Texas power grid, then the East Coast’s main gasoline pipeline, then a freeway bridge over the Mississippi River. The crises disrupted businesses and lives, cost billions and left more than 150 Texans dead.

The recent failures illustrate just how many ways the patchwork systems can break. Experts say they also illustrate a long-running flaw in the way the U.S. thinks about and pays for infrastructure: The country focuses more on building new things rather than maintaining what it has. Read more here.

Pixabay Photo

TENASKA

GRID: FERC complaint highlights ‘structural problem’ for renewables, by Miranda Willson, E&E News

The case highlights flaws in outdated interconnection systems across the U.S. that have hampered the growth of renewable energy, according to analysts. Companies seeking to build large energy projects typically must obtain approval from a regional transmission organization or grid operator to connect to the bulk power grid, a process that can take years and carry a steep price tag. 

DARTMOUTH STUDY

Dartmouth Study Finds Renewable Energy Upgrades Make Grid More Resilient, New Hampshire NPR

A Dartmouth study has modeled for the first time that renewable energy upgrades will make the nation’s power grid more resilient. Researchers modeled a grid with an influx of three innovations: distributed generation like rooftop solar, a kind of localized power system shortcut known as a meshed grid, and energy storage. The study is the first to find that these emissions-cutting technologies will also make the power system more able to keep operating through disruptions.

GREENBELT ALLIANCE

Opinion: How infrastructure plan can accelerate resilience, contributed by Amanda Brown-Stevens, The Mercury News

Passing President Biden’s infrastructure bill would be the most significant step we’ve taken as a nation to start to address climate change head on. Greenbelt Alliance believes this infrastructure bill is a great start. Yet, so far there is no path to guide how we can equitably shift away from rebuilding in the most climate-vulnerable areas and instead build for a more resilient future. That’s why we’re recommending this infrastructure bill and related actions adopt these three principles as a simple yet transformational way forward:

Amanda Brown-Stevens heads up the San Francisco-based Greenbelt Alliance, the 60-year-old non-profit dedicated to preserving open spaces and helping the Bay Area prioritize climate action.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

GridWise Alliance Establishes Advisory Council To Aid Drive For Investments In Power System, GridWise Alliance News Release

WASHINGTON, April 27, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — GridWise Alliance Board Chair Gil C. Quiniones today announced the formation of a 29-member Grid Infrastructure Advisory Council (GIAC) to support the Alliance’s call for at least $50 billion in federal spending to modernize the nation’s electric power transmission and distribution systems.

“A strong and secure electric grid is essential to creating jobs and driving economic growth, meeting clean energy goals and fighting climate change,” said Mr. Quiniones, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the New York Power Authority, the largest state-owned electric utility in the United States. 

FACT SHEET: The American Jobs Plan, The White House Briefing Room

FACT SHEET: President Signs Executive Order Charting New Course to Improve the Nation’s Cybersecurity and Protect Federal Government Networks

RENEWABLE ENERGY: The power struggle over tomorrow’s solar workers

By David Ferris, E&E News

If the Biden administration ends up creating solar jobs for hundreds of thousands of Americans, who will train the workers? What might at first seem an inconsequential question has become a Washington power struggle with consequences for President Biden’s energy agenda and job creation across rural America.

On one side are most of the companies that build rooftop solar and big solar farms. They are poised to create hundreds of thousands of jobs but have for the most part shunned union labor. On the other side are labor unions, which have Biden’s promise that tomorrow’s clean energy jobs belong to them. Continue reading here.

FACT SHEET: President Biden Sets 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target Aimed at Creating Good-Paying Union Jobs and Securing U.S. Leadership on Clean Energy Technologies, The White House Briefing Room

USDA NEWS RELEASE

USDA Announces New Initiative to Quantify Climate Benefits of Conservation Reserve Program

WASHINGTON, May 25, 2021 — The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) today announced an initiative to quantify the climate benefits of Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts. This multi-year effort will enable USDA to better target CRP toward climate outcomes and improve existing models and conservation planning tools while supporting USDA’s goal of putting American agriculture and forestry at the center of climate-smart solutions to address climate change.

USDA Conservation Reserve Program

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Opens Pacific Coast to New Jobs and Clean Energy Production with Offshore Wind Development

Today, the White House convened National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy, California Governor Gavin Newsom, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, and Under Secretary for Defense for Policy Dr. Colin Kahl to announce an effort to advance areas for offshore wind off the northern and central coasts of California – opening up the Pacific Coast to its first commercial scale offshore clean energy projects. This significant milestone is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal to create thousands of good-paying, union jobs through the deployment of 30 gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind by 2030. These initial areas for offshore wind development in the Pacific Ocean could bring up to 4.6 GW of clean energy to the grid, enough to power 1.6 million American homes.

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Invests $1 Billion To Protect Communities, Families, and Businesses Before Disaster Strikes

Commentary: Transmission investment can create thousands of jobs. The time is now

Contributed by Brian Gemmell, Energy News Network

As the nation strives to bring about an economic recovery following the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, a targeted investment in our electricity transmission system presents an opportunity to advance our nation’s fight against climate change, and concurrently create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

In an announcement in April, President Joe Biden established an ambitious goal to reduce emissions from the country’s electricity supply by 2035. To achieve that goal, there must be investments to update and optimize the power grid. Continue reading here.

Brian Gemmell is chief clean energy development officer at National Grid. He is a member of the WIRES Board of Directors.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & VIEWING

COOL CONGREGATIONS – A NATIONAL IP&L PROGRAM

Across the country, people of faith are making changes in their homes and places of worship to prevent global warming through Interfaith Power & Light’s Cool Congregations program. The stewardship program helps congregations reduce the carbon footprint of their facilities and engages their members in reducing their carbon footprint at home.  Click here to learn more about the program.

Photo: St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Dover, Massachusetts: Gold Certified Cool Congregation, 50% carbon reduction

NEW FARM JOURNAL FOUNDATION REPORT

Incentives Are Needed to Help Farmers Address Climate Issues, Report Says, Climate Ag
Farmers are among the most-qualified people to help address greenhouse gases (GHGs) and related climate issues, according to a new report commissioned by the Farm Journal Foundation. “The science tells us we have to rapidly scale up regenerative agriculture and climate-smart practices, like cover crops,” said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow on Thursday, during a webinar announcing the findings. “(But) in order to engage farmers and ranchers in meaningful ways, we need proposals that pair sustainability with profitability.”

TREEHUGGER RESOURCES

What Happens if You Have Solar and the Power Goes Out?,  by Russell McLendonTreehugger’s Sustainability for Series

In This Article

See more Treehugger resources at the end of the article.