Monthly Archives: June 2021

Books for Kids on Father’s Day – Or Any Day of the Year!

There are surveys that show the vast majority of Dads (and other grownups) believe climate change is real. Other surveys have found that most children worry about climate change and the impacts it will have on them when they are older.

Encouraging your kids to talk about their concerns or fears reassures them that you value their feelings. Giving them the gift of a book this Father’s Day (or any day. of the year) on caring for the Earth and taking action on climate change empowers them. A book also can provide a structure for your conversations on climate change. Finally, choosing actions you can work on together builds lasting memories for them and you. Here are twenty-two books for your consideration:

OPPD Board Honors Burke’s 24 Years Of Service To Utility

OPPD News Release, June 17, 2021

After 24 years of service to Omaha Public Power District, Timothy J. Burke attended his last monthly board meeting as president and CEO today. The OPPD Board of Directors approved a resolution to honor his service to the utility, the last six years as its leader. Burke will officially step down July 1, with Vice President and CFO Javier Fernandez taking the reins. The board unanimously approved Fernandez for the position last month. He will be OPPD’s 13th CEO.

The board credited Burke with setting OPPD on the right course for the future through his strategic initiative and directive work. They noted that OPPD is financially sound, thanks to process improvement planning and generation work, and the system is resilient, as evidenced by how the utility has handled flooding, a derecho wind storm, the polar vortex and other weather threats. Under Burke’s leadership, the utility has been recognized nationally as one of the country’s top economic development utilities. His focus on the customer has helped existing customers grow and thrive, while also drawing new companies to the area.

Pathways to Decarbonization Energy Portfolio workshops

OPPD hosted a series of public virtual workshops in April and May, providing a deep dive into the Energy Portfolio lane of its Pathways to Decarbonization Study and giving the public insight into the district’s work to meet its goal of being a net-zero carbon utility by 2050, while maintaining affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services for customers. 

On June 18, OPPD will release a detailed set of assumptions. The information will be posted on OPPDCommunityConnect.com. Feedback from customers via the community engagement platform is welcome until June 26.

OPPD will host another virtual information session on Aug. 4 from 4 to 6 p.m. In that session, utility experts will provide an interim modeling update. Customers may register for this session through OPPDCommunityConnect.com. Two additional workshops will be scheduled later this year to discuss the initial and then final results.

Read the entire news release here.

U.S. Solar Market Eclipses 100 Gigawatts

Solar Energy Industries Association News Release
June 15, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. and HOUSTON, TX — The U.S. solar market surpassed 100 gigawatts (GWdc) of installed electric generating capacity, doubling the size of the industry over the last 3.5 years, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Q2 2021 report, released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie. Solar had a record-setting Q1 2021 and accounted for 58% of all new electric capacity additions in the United States. Renewable energy accounted for nearly 100% of all new electric capacity in Q1. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTORS & DEVELOPERS

Confidence Among Renewable Energy Investors at an All-Time High: Report, Environment+Energy Leader

A new analysis released recently by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) finds that confidence among both renewable energy investors and developers is at an all-time high. The report, “Expectations for Renewable Energy Finance in 2021-2024,” presents the results of a new survey of large financial institutions and renewable energy development companies on their confidence in the sector in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new report also tracks progress on the $1T 2030: American Renewable Investment Goal, an initiative ACORE launched in 2018 to help secure $1 trillion in private sector investment in renewable energy and enabling grid technologies by 2030.

Additional Recommended Reading
ACORE insight: The federal agenda for energy and climate, PV Magazine

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA NEWS

Successful bond sale yields $400 million for university building maintenance projects

The sale – the largest issuance of new bonds in NU history – was the first transaction after the passage of LB384, a plan championed by Sen. John Stinner of Gering to extend through 2062 a state-university partnership on deferred maintenance. The Legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts’ approval of the bill this session allowed the university to capitalize on current historically low interest rates, resulting in a 2.99 percent rate for funds with an average lifespan of 35 years. Chancellors have developed initial lists of priority projects to be addressed with the new $400 million in bond proceeds. Notably, one-quarter of the proceeds – $100 million – will be used for energy efficiency or other “green” projects, reflecting a system-wide commitment to sustainability.

LB384: Provide for and change provisions related to transfers of funds and funding for university and state college facilities, create and change permitted uses of funds, and create a grant program. 

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

Department of Natural Resources awarded grant for initiative to assess rare earth elements, critical minerals, The Missouri Times

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A partnership between the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the University of Kansas will receive $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to study the feasibility of recovering critical minerals from coal and associated strata in the Cherokee-Forest City Basin, which encompasses Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Osage Nation. The Department of Energy’s Carbon Ore, Rare Earth and Critical Minerals Initiative is a $19 million nationwide effort to assess rare earth elements and critical minerals in fossil fuel-producing areas.

Previously Posted: Statement About Coal & News Release On The Referenced DOE Grant

“Coal may contain as many as 76 of the 92 naturally occurring elements of the periodic table.”
SourceUnited States Geological Survey

DOE Awards $19 Million for Initiatives to Produce Rare Earth Elements and Critical MineralsDepartment of Energy News Release 

“The very same fossil fuel communities that have powered our nation for decades can be at the forefront of the clean energy economy by producing the critical minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines, and so much more,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm“By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.” 

Production of rare earth elements and critical minerals, which serve as key components to several clean energy applications such as magnets in wind turbines and batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, is a prime example of how DOE is supporting regional economic growth and job creation in regions traditionally home to the fossil fuel industry.

See Also: FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Outlines Key Resources to Invest in Coal and Power Plant Community Economic RevitalizationThe White House Briefing Room

Midlands Voices: Voluntary programs are the key tools to promote Nebraska conservation

By Anne Hubbard, Jim Armitage, Richard Fruehling and Ron Schaefer,
The Nature Conservancy

We are writing in support of the 30-by-30 plan for conservation of American’s land and water, also referred to as “America the Beautiful.” The Board of Trustees for The Nature Conservancy (TNC) is committed to advancing conservation practices on private lands; Nebraska is, of course, a private lands state, and to fulfill this mission, we rely on the leadership of ranchers and farmers.

Many of our staff members, trustees, families and friends work in agriculture, and as Nebraskans, none of us are far removed from the farm or the ranch. TNC proudly works alongside private landowners, landowner-led conservation associations, agribusinesses, and Tribal, state and federal partners to provide conservation tools to landowners through voluntary programs. It is this type of collaboration that ultimately leads to success. Read more here.

Dr. Anne Hubbard, board chair emeritus, and Dr. Jim Armitage, Dr. Richard Fruehling and Ron Schaefer wrote this essay on behalf of the executive committee of The Nature Conservancy’s Board of Trustees. The Nature Conservancy is a conservation organization and private landowner in Nebraska with more than 5,000 member-households.

Related Reading: Saving 30 By 2030, The Nature Conservancy 

Image Credit: The Nature Conservancy in Nebraska Facebook Photos

The Nature Conservancy In Nebraska

MORE ABOUT AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL

America the Beautiful, U.S. Department of the Interior
As directed by President Biden’s Executive Order 14008, Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad, the Department of the Interior has partnered with the Departments of Agriculture and Commerce, National Ocean and Atmospheric Administration, and the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality to develop initial recommendations on how to advance an inclusive and collaborative conservation vision. 

President Biden has issued a call to action that we work together to conserve, connect, and restore 30 percent of our lands and waters by 2030 for the sake of our economy, our health, and our well-being. 

To meet the moment, the Biden-Harris administration has launched “America the Beautiful,” a decade-long challenge to pursue a locally led and voluntary, nationwide effort to conserve, connect, and restore the lands, waters, and wildlife upon which we all depend. A recent report outlines the key principles that will guide our conservation efforts, including: 

America The Beautiful (PDF)

USDA’S CONSERVATION RESERVE PROGRAM

 

 

 

 

 

USDA Announces New Initiative to Quantify Climate Benefits of Conservation Reserve Program
Proposals for CRP Climate Change Mitigation Assessment Initiative Due July 2, 2021.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Farm Service Agency (FSA) has launched 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. “CRP is a powerful tool for implementing voluntary, measurable conservation outcomes to mitigate the impacts of climate change,” said FSA Administrator Zach Ducheneaux.

Links to More Information

In April, the USDA announced updates to CRP including higher payment rates, new incentives for environmental practices and a more targeted focus on the program’s role in climate change mitigation Download USDA’s “What’s New” fact sheet to learn more about program updates.

New USDA Publication: USDA Launches Resource Guide to Help America’s Rural Workforce Build Back Better

Congressional Bills

Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition Announces Support for the Most Comprehensive and Equitable Climate and Energy Plan in the Nation

Illinois will be carbon-free by 2045 without the huge bailouts Exelon demanded.

SPRINGFIELD – After more than three years of community organizing and leadership, today the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) announced its support for the nation’s most comprehensive and equitable climate and energy plan proposed by Governor Pritzker.

“After years of hard work and community collaboration, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is proud to support Governor Pritzker’s energy proposal, the only plan which takes a monumental leap forward on climate change and equity. ICJC welcomed the opportunity to work with the Governor, legislators, and community stakeholders to help bring this plan to fruition. Read the entire news release here.

Governor J. B. Pritzker is a member of the following coalition:

The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 24 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Alliance represents 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy – an economy larger than all countries but the United States and China. Alliance states have shown in recent years that bold climate action can help drive economic growth across multiple industries. Together, Alliance states have built a foundation of ambitious climate action that provides a durable roadmap for national policy makers and the Biden Administration.

BROOKINGS INSTITUTION PODCAST

TechTank Podcast Episode 21: Is Biden’s American Jobs Plan the beginning of a Tech New Deal?

On this episode of the TechTank podcast, host Nicol Turner Lee talks with experts about economic trends associated with the critical infrastructure investments included in the planWhy America Needs a Tech New Deal, and what opportunities and challenges exist for job growth in the tech sector.

Guests include Algernon Austin, senior researcher at the Thurgood Marshall Institute, Allison Scott, chief executive officer of the Kapor Center Foundation, and Rikin Thakker, chief technology officer of the Wireless Infrastructure Association.

Recommended Reading

THE SOO GREEN LINK

Updates to nation’s power grid affects Northeast Iowa’s energy industry, KWWL

MONONA, Iowa (KWWL/CNN) — Efforts are currently underway to upgrade the nation’s power grid, and it has some ties to Northeast Iowa’s energy industry. The project is called, ‘The Soo Green Link.” It’s a $2.5 billion dollar project and plans to build ‘Underground transmission lines along railroads and highways.’ The Biden administration has proposed for Congress to invest $100 billion dollars on power infrastructure for renewable energy, an effort that could be made more cost effective due to tax credits in Biden’s plan.

BRIEF VIDEOS RECAP HIGHLIGHTS OF CLEANPOWER 2021

Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition at CLEANPOWER 2021, by Bridget Williams, American Clean Power Association

The CLEANPOWER 2021 Virtual Summit set the perfect stage to shine a spotlight on the industry. We heard from industry leaders and disruptors, stakeholders and innovators, lawmakers and allies to who shared insights and issued a call to action to drive forward the country’s transition to a majority clean power future. No matter your role in the industry, there was something for everyone at CLEANPOWER. Attendees joined us from across the nation, and even the globe, to hear from political leaders, subject matter experts and industry VIPs as we sit poised for an energy revolution. The conference theme, “Accelerating the Energy Transition,” united the week around the major idea that renewable energy is a term of the past. Renewable energy is just energy, and it’s ready to power the future. 

WORLD CHANGING IDEA

At these low-income apartment buildings, solar power helps pay for free Wi-Fi, Fast Company

In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, nearly 40% of low-income households don’t have internet access. It’s a challenge across many parts of New York City that became especially apparent during the pandemic, when many children were loaned laptops for distance learning but couldn’t log on to use them. But some affordable apartment buildings in the area will soon begin offering free Wi-Fi—funded through solar power on the roof.

“We wanted to do a big solar install, and at the same time, others were talking about Wi-Fi,” says John Crotty, principal at the Workforce Housing Group, the affordable housing development organization that is launching the new program in Crown Heights and in the nearby neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York. “I thought, Why don’t we put the savings into Wi-FI?”

EVENT IDEA OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO NEBRASKA SOLAR BUSINESSES

Green Jobs in Action; Live Solar Installation Event to be held in Arlington Virginia by Solar Energy World June 14-17, Solar Energy World Release, PRNewswire

Nebraskans for Solar Proposal: If any Nebraska solar businesses would like to host a similar event — live, virtual, or both — we would be happy to help publicize it. Email us at: nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com

Nebraska’s Solar, Wind, and Energy Storage Development: SEIA/ACP Data & Additional Resources

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) ranks Nebraska forty-seventh in the country in the number of megawatts of installed solar. The state generates enough solar energy to power about 9,000 homes. Nebraska’s solar industry is made up of 26 solar companies, employing 1,246 workers in manufacturing, installing/developing and “other” types of businesses.
Data Current Through: Q4 2020

SEIA’s Nebraska Solar Fact Sheet 

Additional Resources

  • Solar Energy Generation in Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
    Projects Under Development: Utility Scale
    Bellwood: 174.5 MW
    Burt County: 250 MW
    Clay County: (Up-to) 305 MW
    Lincoln: 230 MW
    Pierce County: 443 MW
    Saunders County: 81 MW. “This is the first step towards OPPD’s plan to provide 600 megawatts of solar power.”
    Community-Scale Projects are also listed under this same subheading.
  • Community-Scale / Utility-Scale Solar, Nebraskans for Solar

The American Clean Power Association (ACP) ranks Nebraska twenty-second in the nation for the number of megawatts (2,550) of wind, solar, and energy storage capacity and eleventh in the percentage (23.76%) share of all electricity produced in our state that comes from those power plants. The state generates enough clean energy to power 703,000 homes.

Additional ACP Statistics

  • Capital invested in wind, solar, and energy storage projects in Nebraska: $4 billion
  • Clean power investments in local Nebraska communities, providing property, state, and local taxes in 2021: $26.7 million
  • Clean power projects provide extra income to farmers, ranchers, and other private landowners. In 2021, these drought-proof land lease payments totaled $4.6 million.

ACP’s Nebraska Clean Energy Fact Sheet, May 2021

Additional Resources

Incentives

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency/Nebraska

Largest agrivoltaic research project in U.S. advances renewable energy while empowering local farmers

Case study contributed to Solar Power World by HansenRE.

The global installed capacity of agrivoltaics, or the co-development of the same area of land for both solar power and agriculture, has grown rapidly from about 5 MW in 2012 to approximately 2,900 MW in 2020. One of the largest driving factors for this growth is the need to continue to build solar projects to mitigate climate change in the face of dwindling available non-agricultural land. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), by 2030, utility-scale solar could cover almost 2 million acres of land in the United States. A recent Oregon State University study also estimates that converting just 1% of American farmland to agrivoltaics would not only meet the nation’s renewable energy targets, but also save water and create a sustainable, long-term food system. Additionally, agrivoltaics have been shown to increase crop production, solar panel efficiency as well as farmer income. Continue reading here.

Photo by Byron Kominek, owner of Jack’s Solar Garden in Boulder, Colorado: A beehive operated by Best Bees and sponsored by Google located at Jack’s Solar Garden. Best Bees installs and maintains honeybee hives on commercial and residential properties across the U.S. and seeks to improve bee health and expand bee populations.

Prioritizing diversity, equity, inclusion to better serve customers

By Jodi Baker, The Wire

As conversations about racial and social justice continue across our country, Omaha Public Power District leaders are taking internal steps to address and improve diversity, equity and inclusion. “We are really proud of our culture,” said President & CEO Timothy J. Burke. “We believe in empowering employees so they can bring their whole selves to work every day in service of our customers.”

It’s just the right thing to do, he said, not only from a moral perspective, but from a business perspective. “When you have diversity you make better decisions,” he said. “You have a more rounded perspective. You develop ideas more fully, and better, and therefore your solutions are better.” Continue reading here.

Here’s what we know about the bipartisan infrastructure deal

By Ryan Nobles, CNN

A bipartisan group of 10 senators announced Thursday they have reached a deal on a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package, the most significant development yet in negotiations over a key priority of the Biden administration, but it still faces serious obstacles from skeptics in both parties. 

“Our group — comprised of 10 Senators, 5 from each party — has worked in good faith and reached a bipartisan agreement on a realistic, compromise framework to modernize our nation’s infrastructure and energy technologies. This investment would be fully paid for and not include tax increases,” the senators said in a joint statement. Read more here.

Featured Individual Quotation On Infrastructure
“We have been talking about this for over a decade, and our decaying infrastructure cannot wait much longer. We need to reach across the aisle, find consensus and solve a big challenge facing our country — now.”  U.S. Congressman Don Bacon, Representing Nebraska’s 2nd District

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Developer Abandons Keystone XL Pipeline Project, Ending Decade-Long Battle

By Jeff Brady and Neela Banerjee, NPR

Keystone XL would have passed through Nebraska, and for years, a coalition of Indigenous tribes, ranchers and local environmentalists demonstrated, lobbied and sued to halt the pipeline’s construction. Its proposed route in Nebraska cut through the Ogallala Aquifer, the groundwater source for millions of Plains States residents. The pipeline’s opponents in Nebraska feared that any leak from Keystone XL would damage the critical aquifer, and they welcomed the end of the project.

“On behalf of our Ponca Nation we welcome this long overdue news and thank all who worked so tirelessly to educate and fight to prevent this from coming to fruition. It’s a great day for Mother Earth,” Larry Wright Jr., chairman of the Ponca Tribe of Nebraska, said in a statement. Read more or listen to the “All Things Considered” broadcast here.

Image Credit: Prairie Nebraska.Org

A timeline of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline project, by The Canadian Press, Toronto Star

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

Canadian Officials React To Biden Revoking Keystone XL Permit, All Things Considered, NPR
Canadian officials say they’re disappointed that President Biden revoked the Keystone XL Pipeline permit — but they’re also looking forward to working with the new administration on climate change.

Nebraska’s better off without Keystone XL, Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board
Increased investment in renewable energy — wind energy, solar power, electric vehicles, etc. — proves that America’s future will involve fewer fossil fuels going forward, a fact underscored by the growing number of financial institutions and other entities that now refuse to invest in the oil and gas industry. The grassroots coalition of environmentalists, farmers, ranchers and property-rights advocates who fought the pipeline tooth and nail can celebrate, knowing their efforts weren’t in vain. 

Canada predicts largest oil province Alberta to lead growth in renewables, Reuters
Canada’s biggest oil-producing province Alberta is expected to see the fastest growth in renewable energy capacity between 2018 and 2023, the Canada Energy Regulator forecast in a report, as new wind and solar projects help replace coal-fired electricity. By 2023, 26% of Alberta’s electricity capacity will come from renewable sources, up from 16% in 2017. 

Climate Change Risks & Global Markets – Natural Resources Defense Council

What Is the Keystone XL Pipeline?: How a single pipeline project became the epicenter of an enormous environmental, public health, and civil rights battle.

When TC Energy said the pipeline would create nearly 119,000 jobs, a State Department report instead concluded the project would require fewer than 2,000 two-year construction jobs and that the number of jobs would hover around 35 after construction.

The market case, even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent oil prices plummeting, has also deteriorated. Low oil prices and increasing public concern over the climate have led Shell, Exxon, Statoil, and Total to either sell their tar sands assets or write them down. Because of this growing market recognition, major new tar sands projects haven’t moved forward with construction for years, despite investments from the government of Alberta, Canada. For example, in 2020, Teck Resources withdrew its ten-year application to build the largest tar sands mine in history—citing growing concern surrounding climate change in global markets.