Monthly Archives: July 2021

369 Mayors from All 50 States Urge Congress to Pass Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, Stress Implementation Priorities

Washington, D.C. – Today, 369 mayors – including Republicans, Democrats and Independents from all 50 states and the District of Columbia – sent a letter to Congress urging them to take immediate action on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework announced by President Biden and a group of Republican and Democratic Senators on June 24th.

In their letter, the mayors write, “This framework would be the largest long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century – $1.2 trillion over eight years – to help make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.” Continue reading here.

The signers include Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. The full text of the letter with all signatures can be found here.

About the United States Conference of Mayors
The United States Conference of Mayors is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are over 1,400 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

CNBC’S ANNUAL “AMERICA’S TOP STATES FOR BUSINESS” RATINGS

America’s Top States for Business 2021
To rank America’s Top States for Business in 2021, CNBC scored all 50 states on 85 metrics in 10 broad categories of competitiveness.

These are America’s 10 best states for infrastructure

  • The national debate over an infrastructure plan has highlighted the importance of everything from roads and bridges to electricity and broadband.
  • Some states are already setting the pace with innovative policies that could be models for the rest of the country.
  • CNBC’s annual America’s Top States for Business study rates the states on multiple infrastructure components.

 

Nebraska’s Overall Ranking 13 / Infrastructure 33

 


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 

Secretary Granholm Announces New Goal to Cut Costs of Long Duration Energy Storage by 90 Percent

WASHINGTON, D.C.
 — U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm today announced the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s new goal to reduce the cost of grid-scale, long duration energy storage by 90% within the decade. The second target within DOE’s Energy Earthshot Initiative, “Long Duration Storage Shot” sets bold goals to accelerate breakthroughs that store clean electricity to make it available anytime, anywhere and support more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions.

“We’re going to bring hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy onto the grid over the next few years, and we need to be able to use that energy wherever and whenever it’s needed,” said Secretary Granholm.

Previously Posted 

IREC and The Solar Foundation Merge Operations

 Interstate Renewable Energy Council News Release
July 12, 2021

IREC has officially merged with The Solar Foundation, welcoming The Solar Foundation’s staff and programs into a single, expanded nonprofit dedicated to the rapid adoption of clean energy.

IREC and The Solar Foundation announced their intention to merge in November 2020, citing increased impact, longstanding mutual respect, and natural synergy between their programs. With the merger of the organizations’ staff completed, all of The Solar Foundation’s programs are now housed at IREC. The combined organization supports the accelerated growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency and a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. Further details can be found on the expanded IREC website.

Read the entire news release here.

Related Resources

The Solar Foundation News Release
November 12, 2020

Washington, D.C. and Albany, NY – The Solar Foundation and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) today announced they have signed an agreement to merge into a single, expanded nonprofit dedicated to the rapid adoption of clean energy.

The merger will combine the strengths of two renowned national clean energy organizations, effectively doubling the staff and quadrupling the impact. The Solar Foundation is the leading national nonprofit dedicated to accelerating adoption of solar energy and related technologies and, since its relaunch in 2010, has had a remarkable ten-year track record of leading cutting-edge research, education, and capacity building programs. IREC has been trusted for its independent clean energy expertise for nearly 40 years, playing a critical role in building the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy by tackling regulatory, workforce, and economic barriers. Read the full news release here.

The Solar Foundation’s Work

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s Work

Combined Resources – Scroll down for links to all IREC Programs, Training and Career Resources, and more.

Hot Solar Summer: Building Back Better with Clean Energy Infrastructure

Solar Energy Industries Association 

America is facing an unprecedented opportunity to enact bold federal policies to decarbonize our electric grid and generate hundreds of thousands of quality clean energy jobs. To achieve this, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is mobilizing a nationwide campaign urging leaders in Washington to act. Hot Solar Summer will help to keep pressure on lawmakers to meet this moment and accelerate an equitable transition to a clean energy economy. Read more here.

Join the Hot Solar Summer campaign and learn how your company or organizations can get involved at www.seia.org/AmericanJobs.

Previously Posted: 100+ Organizations Urge Congress to Act on a 10-year Investment Tax Credit (ITC) extension

SITING SOLAR ON CONTAMINATED LAND

How ‘unusable’ capped landfill can gain a second life as a solar farm,  by Michelle Lewis, Electrek

Putting solar farms on landfill is a great way to generate clean energy on what were previously considered unusable sites, but there are some special factors to consider. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out that “it is important to think about PV projects on landfills in terms of an integrated system, not as separate landfill and PV systems.”

When it comes to making solar work on landfill, Gretchen Dolson, renewable energy lead for HDR, an architectural, engineering and consulting firm based in Omaha, Nebraska [via Waste 360], says: Always begin with the end in mind and know it’s never too early to plan and think of alternate uses, regardless of the type of waste facility. Solar is often viable. But it depends on how the landfill was designed to function and how it was closed. (Pixabay Photo)

Links to Resources

  • RE-Powering America’s Land
    RE-Powering America’s Land is an EPA initiative that encourages renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community’s vision for the site.
  • EPA’s Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others to assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse contaminated properties. To learn about EPA’s broader efforts to put previously contaminated properties back into productive use, read about the Land Revitalization Program.
  • Brownfields and Land Revitalization in Region 7
    EPA Region 7 manages  Brownfields and Land Revitalization Programs in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. On this page you will find information specific to Region 7’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization activities. Visit the national Brownfields Program and Land Revitalization Program websites for more information about these programs’ competitive grants.
  • Brownfields: FAQs, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy 

Yellen: US regulators to assess risk posed by climate change

By Martin Krutsinger, AP Economic Writer, NTV

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says she will lead an effort by top U.S. regulators to assess the potential risk that climate change poses to America’s financial system, part of a wide-ranging initiative launched by the Biden administration.

Yellen says the regulatory review, which will be done by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, will examine whether banks and other lending institutions are properly assessing the risks to financial stability. She chairs the committee, which includes Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other financial regulators. Read more here.

MIDWEST ENERGY NEWS SERIES

Faulty equipment, poor training are main factors in Illinois coal mining death
When people die in Illinois coal mines, faulty equipment and lack of safety protocols are most often cited by federal investigators, and experts say economic challenges will create pressure to cut corners.

A small price to pay: Illinois mines routinely appeal safety penalties
Federal mine safety inspections are the main safeguard to prevent accidents and deaths in an inherently dangerous industry, but critics say the fines for safety violations are low, and companies regularly get them reduced. 

For generations of Illinois coal mining families, risk is part of everyday life
In parts of downstate Illinois, coal mining is deeply ingrained in families and communities. But it has taken a deep toll on some.

About the Author
Kari Lydersen has written for Midwest Energy News since January 2011. She is an author and journalist who worked for the Washington Post’s Midwest bureau from 1997 through 2009. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, Chicago News Cooperative, Chicago Reader and other publications. Kari covers Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana as well as environmental justice topics.

NEBRASKA NEWS

Nebraska Public Power Utilities Make Progress In Restoring Power In Wake Of Storms, by Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association

Public power utilities in Nebraska continued to make progress over the weekend in restoring power to customers in the wake of outages caused by severe storms that hit the state. A storm that hit on the night of Friday, July 9, damaged transmission structures as well as local distribution structures in several communities and crews from across the state were called to help restore power as quickly and safely as possible, Nebraska Public Power District (NPDD) reported. 

Second Catholic climate conference looks to build more momentum among US church

By Brian Roewe, Earth Beat:
Stories of climate crisis, faith and action

The Public Is Invited 

Have Catholics in the United States made any progress in responding to environmental challenges? Have new pathways of cooperation opened up between the church and the White House under President Joe Biden? And how much enthusiasm is there across the country to join the Vatican’s ambitious push toward total sustainability this decade?

All these questions will be topics of discussion at the “Laudato Si’ and the U.S. Catholic Church” conference being held virtually July 13-15.

The conference is the second of three biennial gatherings organized and co-hosted by Catholic Climate Covenant and Creighton University. The series aims to raise ambition and action within the U.S. Catholic Church in responding to Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.” Read more here.

Links to More Information

Also Written by Brian Roewe: Review of US bishops’ investment guidelines is underway

NPPD seeing high interest in renewable projects for Monolith

Special to the Norfolk Daily News

Olive Creek 1 (OC1) in Hallam, Nebraska, is Monolith Materials’ first commercial-scale emissions-free production facility. It operates on 100% renewable power.

Projects could be located physically within the Southwest Power Pool footprint with preference to those projects within Nebraska. Hallam is south of Lincoln. Announced in January to facilitate Monolith Materials’ proposed $1 billion expansion of its Olive Creek facility near Hallam, NPPD and Monolith signed a letter of intent outlining the companies’ intentions to procure enough renewable energy resources to generate 2 million megawatt-hours annually.

“The approximately 2 million megawatt-hours of generation would create a sufficient number of renewable energy certificates to meet 100% of Monolith’s average annual energy usage and meet their environmental and sustainability goals,” said NPPD President and CEO Tom Kent. Read more here.

NPPD’s REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

Request for Proposals for Renewable Energy Resources, 4/19/21
Description: NPPD is seeking bids for Renewable Generation Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with a proposed Commercial Operation Date (COD) during calendar year 2025. NPPD seeks to procure Energy, Capacity, and environmental attributes (including Renewable Energy Credits or RECS) for a term between 10-30 years.

MONOLITH MATERIALS NEWS RELEASES

ALSO PREVIOUSLY POSTED

MONOLITH MATERIALS’ GROUNDWATER USE 

  • Groundwater needs raise concerns about $100 million-plus manufacturing plant near Lincolnby Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald, July 29, 2020

    Groundwater is a big deal in Nebraska; it’s used to water more than 8 million acres of cropland across the state, used for drinking water by municipalities and used for various industrial purposes. “It’s a big concern,” Gary Vocasek, the chairman of the Hallam Village Board, told the Voice News a week ago. The village of 213 draws 11 million gallons of groundwater a year. Mark Becker, a spokesman for NPPD, said the big water request by Monolith also caught them off guard and will require some study to see how it might impact the water needs of the Sheldon Station, which pumps about 500 million gallons of water a year.

  • Lower Platte South NRD Approves Monolith Wells, with Conditions, LPSNRD News Release, July 1, 2021

    In its well permit applications, Monolith estimates the three wells will pump a combined 420 million gallons of water annually to be used primarily for cooling purposes in its carbon black manufacturing process and in the production of anhydrous fertilizer. The approvals, including certain conditions, came during a June 29 special meeting of the Board and follows a nearly one-year process of testing and study to determine what impact the wells would have on the groundwater aquifer and groundwater users in the area around the wells. Prior to the Board’s special meeting, LPSNRD also conducted an informational public open house in Hallam on June 15 and a public input session on June 17. Written comments from the public were also accepted.

FACT SHEET: Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework Creates Economic Opportunities for Rural America

The White House Briefing Room, July 8, 2021

Today, despite the fact that rural and Tribal communities across the country are asset-rich, they make up a disproportionate number of persistent poverty communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework invests in rural and Tribal communities, creating jobs in rural America and wealth that stays in rural America. The Framework delivers 100% broadband coverage, rebuilds crumbling infrastructure like roads and bridges, eliminates lead pipes and service lines, builds resilience to climate change and extreme weather events, and puts Americans to work cleaning up pollution that has impacted fossil fuel communities in rural America. 

In addition to being the largest-long term investment in our infrastructure in nearly a century – four times the infrastructure investment in the 2009 Recovery Act – the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework is a generational investment in rural America. Read more here.

MORE ON INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Business and labor groups come together to back bipartisan infrastructure plan, NBC News

    The organizations, which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO, said that investing in the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, transit, water, energy and broadband infrastructure “will create middle-class family sustaining jobs.” “Don’t let partisan differences get in the way of action — pass significant, meaningful infrastructure legislation now,” their statement said. 
    Other groups that signed the statement include the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, American Association of Port Authorities, and American Public Transportation Association.

  • Accelerating The Way Forward And Creating Electric Vehicle Infrastructure, by Paul Vosper, Forbes Technology Council member and President and CEO of JuiceBar

    As the details of the American Jobs Plan are under discussion and negotiations, the auto industry is well underway producing and planning for a successful transition to electric and autonomous vehicles.  New estimates by the firm Wood Mackenzie suggest that the EV charging infrastructure market will grow from $11 billion in 2020 to $89 billion by 2030 — an almost nine-fold increase in 10 years.

OPPD Selects Wärtsilä To Provide Reciprocating Internal Combustion Technology For Standing Bear Lake Station

OPPD News Release

Omaha Public Power District has taken another important step in its Power with Purpose project to add 400 to 600 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar generation and up to 600 MW of backup, modern natural gas to the utility’s generation portfolio.

The utility has selected nine Wärtsilä 18V50DF internal combustion engines (RICE) to power OPPD’s new Standing Bear Lake Station in Douglas County, one of two gas plants that will serve as backup to the coming solar generation. Like OPPD’s Turtle Creek Station going up in Sarpy County, Standing Bear Lake Station will be used as a peaking station, which means that the plant will run only as needed, per market conditions (estimated at less than 15% of the time). Continue reading here.

Wärtsilä Corporation News Release: Wärtsilä to provide 156 MW of thermal balancing power for Omaha Public Power District, enabling fast increase in renewables in Nebraska
Wärtsilä engines can later be converted to carbon neutral fuels to further enhance decarbonization. Wärtsilä has researched hydrogen as a fuel for 20 years and can currently use 15%-25% hydrogen blended with natural gas. Going forward Wärtsilä is developing the combustion process in its gas engines to enable their use with up to 100% hydrogen.

Additional Wärtsilä Resources of Potential Interest

NON-WIRES SOLUTIONS

Growth spurs additions to OPPD’s system, by Jason Kuiper
While OPPD does bring on a few new circuits each year, OPPD planners are beginning to look at alternatives to adding new circuits. Non-traditional fixes such as batteries and solar power might be closer than people realize, [Mike Herzog, manager of Distribution Planning] said. “We are taking a closer look at what we call ‘non-wire’ solutions,” he said. “And those technologies could be fixes for adding more circuits. There are areas in our city that it would be very difficult and disruptive to put in a new circuit, like some of the main arteries in the city. So we are always looking ahead.”

Featured Resource: Non-Wires Alternatives: Case Studies From Leading U.S. Projects, Smart Electric Power Alliance

ALSO PUBLISHED BY THE WIRE

AMERICAN PUBLIC POWER ASSOCIATION SERIES

Celebrating public power in America series – Part 2: Celebrating the Modern Public Power Utility
The American Public Power Association is pleased to present the second in-depth, three-part Public Power Current newsletter series to celebrate public power’s past, present, and future. Yesterday we described how local leaders began what would become the nation’s oldest continuously operated public power utility, in Butler, Missouri. Today, the Butler Electric Department is a modern utility: it owns Missouri’s first utility-scale solar farm, has emergency-only generators, a fully remodeled and upgraded power plant, and is studying the addition of wind power to help meet the needs of a growing town. Today we share how three public power utilities have adapted to changing times and local needs.

In Midst of Record Heat Wave, Oregon Passes Clean Energy Bill with Microgrid Provisions

By Lisa Cohn, Microgrid Knowledge

In the midst of a record-breaking heat wave, wildfires and power outages, the Oregon Legislature Sunday passed a billHB 2021 C, that calls for 100% clean energy by 2040 as well as the inclusion of microgrids as part of community-based renewable energy projects. Oregon Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign the bill. Temperatures hit 108 degrees on Saturday, 112 degrees on Sunday and 116 degrees on Monday in Portland. In addition, on Wednesday Brown called for a state of emergency in response to the wildfire threats across the state. Continue reading here.

Also Published by Microgrid Knowledge 

As Extreme Heat Overwhelms the Northwest, Congressional Briefing Looks to Microgrids
Microgrids give communities and people independence and the ability to take control of their power reliability, according to [Representative Jimmy] Panetta, sponsor of a bill that would provide a 30% tax credit for microgrids.

Community Microgrids: A Guide For City Leaders Seeking Clean, Reliable and Locally Controlled Energy

Community microgrids are central pillars of today’s local energy revolution. Being developed in municipalities large and small, they are a key feature of the new clean and efficient electrical infrastructure that is beginning to transform America’s energy grid into a less centralized and more democratized entity.

Mayors and city leaders are especially tuned into this transformation because of the severe stress that extended power outages create in their communities . . . Click link to read more. 

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

Fortenberry scores additional federal funding for USDA center at UNL

By Don Walton, Lincoln Journal Star

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday gave its approval to an additional $20 million appropriation for construction of a new U.S. Department of Agriculture research center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. The new recommended funding follows on the heels of an earlier allocation of $11.2 million for planning and design of the multi-year project. If full funding for a new federal ag research center ultimately is acquired, that would signal the end of a long quest for a USDA presence at Nebraska Innovation Campus that began more than a decade ago.  Continue reading here

MORE UNL NEWS & UPCOMING WEBINARS

IANR launches Center for Agricultural Profitabilityby Ryan Evans | Center for Agricultural Profitability, Nebraska Today

The new Center for Agricultural Profitability in the University of Nebraska–Lincoln’s Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources began operating June 28 with the unveiling of a new website and slate of informational events. For more on the Center for Agricultural Profitability, including registration for its free webinar series and access to its decision tools, articles and other resources, click here.

Center for Agricultural Profitability Webinars
July 8: 
Conservation Program Opportunities for Producers and Landowners
July 15: Business & Financial IQ – The Difference Maker