Monthly Archives: November 2021

At the forefront: The biggest state clean energy legislative trends of 2021

Contributed by Autumn Proudlove, Utility Dive

States have been at the forefront of clean energy policy for many years and 2021 was no exception, with states enacting numerous bills promoting clean energy technologies, grid modernization, and transportation electrification. The NC Clean Energy Technology Center, which manages the national Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, has long tracked clean energy legislation across the country, and identified the following noteworthy trends in 2021 legislative activity: Continue reading here.

Autumn Proudlove is senior policy program director at the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center.

Coal-fired power plants to close after new wastewater rule

By Michael Rubinkam, Associated Press News

Owners of shuttering plants are responsible for
e
nvironmental cleanup, according to the EPA.

The new wastewater rule requires power plants to clean coal ash and toxic heavy metals such as mercury, arsenic and selenium from plant wastewater before it is dumped into streams and rivers. The rule is expected to affect 75 coal-fired power plants nationwide, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Those plants had an October deadline to tell their state regulators how they planned to comply, with options that included upgrading their pollution-control equipment or retiring their coal-fired generating units by 2028. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

POTENTIAL PLAYBOOK FOR WANNABE-CARBON-FREE STATES

Illinois’ new clean energy law could be a regulatory playbook for other states, Utility Dive

On Sept. 15, Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker, D, signed into law a historic bill to decarbonize the state’s energy sector, transition it to clean and renewable forms of generation, and do so with a focus on equitable job creation. Under the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA), Illinois became the first Midwest state to commit to net-zero carbon emissions, setting a deadline of 2050.

STEM EVENT IN NORFOLK

Science Day at Woodland Park, Norfolk Daily News
Speakers from the University of Nebraska Extension, Northeast Community College and Edgerton Explorit Center spent the day exploring how wind energy affects our lives as part of a Science Day event at Woodland Park Elementary School in Norfolk.
 

Work continues on Norfolk solar project

GenPro Energy Solutions News Release
News Channel Nebraska

Commercial operation is anticipated to be achieved in the spring of 2022.

NORFOLK, Neb. — Construction work is continuing on Norfolk’s first solar farm, an 8.5 megawatt solar unit, located on land at the city’s well field on Highway West 275. Last year, it was announced Norfolk will be part of Nebraska Public Power District’s (NPPD) SunWise Community Solar program.

“We’re excited to offer this power option to citizens,” said Mayor Josh Moenning. “Solar costs have declined significantly in the last 10 years, making this energy accessible at a very competitive rate. This project, paired with a battery storage system that will help us efficiently manage distribution, will be the largest of its kind in the state.” Read more here. 

NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar Program
GenPro’s Current Employment Opportunities

SoCore Energy Photo: Kearney’s 5.7-megawatt solar farm on 53 acres of the city’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing. 

Previously Posted 

Also of Potential Interest

Previously posted Energy News Network article discusses NPPD’s decarbonization limits for Nebraska communities that source wholesale power from the utility and South Sioux City’s independent path to 100% renewable energy:

  • 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.”
  • NPPD’s Wholesale Power Contracts
    Wholesale energy sales are made to 60 entities under wholesale power contracts that terminate on Jan. 1, 2036 and to 10 other entities with wholesale power contracts that terminate on Dec. 31, 2021. The 10 wholesale customers that did not sign the 2016 contract provided the notice required under their existing 2002 contracts, and began in 2017 to reduce their purchases to 0% over a five-year period.  Source: Fitch Rates Nebraska Public Power District’s General Revs ‘A+’; Outlook Stable

Additional Resources

Statement by President Joe Biden on Passage of the Build Back Better Act in the U.S. House of Representatives

The White House Briefing Room

Today, the United States House of Representatives passed the Build Back Better Act to take another giant step forward in carrying out my economic plan to create jobs, reduce costs, make our country more competitive, and give working people and the middle class a fighting chance.

The Build Back Better Act is fiscally responsible. It reduces the deficit over the long-term. It’s fully paid for by making sure that the wealthiest Americans and biggest corporations begin to pay their fair share in federal taxes. It keeps my commitment that no one earning less than $400,000 a year will pay a penny more in federal taxes. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Free lunches, golf simulator among perks at LinkedIn’s new Omaha building

By Cindy Gonzalez, Omaha World-Herald

OMAHA — Omaha’s fast-growing LinkedIn team moved into a new home Monday — greeted by frills that include walking trails, outdoor terraces, a golf simulator and a food court that serves free lunch.

The 200,000-square-foot complex near 132nd and Pacific streets was tailored specially for the Microsoft-owned business and social networking site, and it becomes LinkedIn’s fourth-largest work base in North America. Continue reading here. Requires digital subscription.

Image Credit: Morrissey Engineering

MORE ON SOLAR CANOPIES

Gage County finalizes tougher set of wind energy development regulations

By Doug Kennedy, News Channel Nebraska

BEATRICE – The Gage County Board Wednesday approved final amended regulations on wind energy companies that some officials say prevents any further wind development in the county.

Before the final vote, supervisors approved an additional amendment requiring an escrow account ahead of wind energy permit approval, to handle decommissioning and restoration, should a wind farm be no longer used. Continue reading here.

NPPD Photo: Steele Flats Wind Farm. Part of the wind farm is located in southwest Gage County.

The 75-megawatt Steele Flats Wind Energy Center near the Kansas border in Jefferson and Gage Counties was NextEra’s first Nebraska project. NPPD entered into a 20-year power purchase agreement with NextEra in early 2013, and the facility began commercial operation on November 1, 2013. Source: Nebraska Public Power District

See Also: Gage Wind Project: 124 Megawatts of Clean Energy in Gage County, Nebraska, NextEra Energy 

ADDITIONAL NEBRASKA / MIDWEST NEWS

 MORE KUDOS FOR AMERICA’S INFRASTRUCTURE DEAL

Review what’s in the bill or test your knowledge here: What’s in the infrastructure plan?, PBS 

NREL Report Shows Continued Declines in PV and PV-Plus-Storage Costs

By Ariana Fine, Solar Industry

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released its annual cost breakdown of installed solar photovoltaic (PV) and battery storage systems. U.S. Solar Photovoltaic System and Energy Storage Cost Benchmark: Q1 2021 details installed costs for PV systems as of the first quarter of 2021.

Costs continue to fall for residential, commercial rooftop, and utility-scale PV systems – by 3%, 11% and 12%, respectively, compared to last year. In a change from previous years’ reports, balance of systems costs have increased or remained flat across sectors this year. However, this increase in balance of systems cost was offset by a 19% reduction in module cost, causing overall costs to continue their decade-long decline. Continue reading here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

ACP CEO Heather Zichal statement on President Biden signing The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act into law, American Clean Power Association 

“The American Clean Power Association applauds President Biden and bipartisan Congressional leaders for making a historic and long overdue investment in America’s infrastructure. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is a major victory for Americans that will make unprecedented investments to modernize and enhance the nation’s electrical grid and provide consumers with more opportunities to receive reliable, zero-carbon electricity across the country. An overwhelming majority of voters — 93% — believe that clean energy is important to the country’s energy future, and the bipartisan support for this legislation is a powerful example of what we can get done for American clean power when our leaders come together.”

SALT CREEK SOLAR

Nebraska’s largest solar farm planned east of Lincoln is looking to clear final zoning hurdles, Updated November 10, 2021, Lincoln Journal Star. Ranger Power’s application is the first “industrial-scale” solar project proposed in the county.

Salt Creek Solar (PDF), Ranger Power Resource

A public hearing on the proposal is scheduled for tomorrow, November 17, before the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Commission.

NET ZERO ENERGY HOMES

Energy-Efficient Isn’t Enough, So Homes Go ‘Net Zero’, New York Times

Demand for residences that produce as much energy as they consume is being spurred by climate concerns, consumer appetite and more affordable solar technology.

Photo by GRNE Solar: The Sun Haven, a net-zero energy home in Lincoln, Nebraska.
See “Solar Examples” for more information.

CONSERVATION NEBRASKA NOW HIRING

Conservation Nebraska is now hiring half-time AmeriCorps members to serve as Conservation Directors with their Common Ground Program.

The term of service is December 1st, 2021 through August 31st, 2022.

The AmeriCorps position can be utilized to satisfy an internship requirement for college.
Any interested party should send a resume to Amanda Gangwish, Conservation Nebraska’s Program Director, at agangwish@neconserve.org

See Additional Position Details Here.

Bill Signed: H.R. 3684

The White House Briefing Room

On Monday, November 15, 2021, the President signed into law:

H.R. 3684, the “Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” which reauthorizes surface transportation programs for five years, through Fiscal Year 2026, and provides for a one-time transfer of funds from the General Fund into the Highway Trust Fund; authorizes programs for water, energy, and broadband infrastructure; and provides emergency supplemental appropriations. 

Statement Link.

Additional Recommended Reading

FACT SHEET: President Biden’s Executive Order Establishing Priorities and Task Force for Implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

President Biden Announces Former New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu as Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator

Electric car drivers are growing in the Midwest, now chargers need to keep up

By Elizabeth Rembert, Reporter for Harvest Public Media 
KCUR / NPR in Kansas City

Keeping an electric vehicle charged can be a challenge. Even for the editor-in-chief of a website focused on electric vehicles. 

Just consider the range anxiety of Bill Moore. He was scheduled to talk about the cars at the Nebraska Wind & Solar conference. The 12-volt auxiliary battery on his Nissan Leaf had gone dead. He’d thought, well, he could manage the drive in his backup, an all-electric Fiat 500e. Continue reading here.

You can learn more about EVs here: 

Additional Resources

National EV Charging Infrastructure 

FACT SHEET: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Boosts Clean Energy Jobs, Strengthens Resilience, and Advances Environmental Justice, The White House
The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will invest $7.5 billion to build out the first-ever national network of EV chargers in the United States.