Monthly Archives: March 2022

Let solar energy shine in Iowa

Contributed by Libby Jacobs, The Gazette

As a longtime Iowan, former Iowa Utilities Board member, and former state legislator, the success and prosperity of our state make me proud. Iowa has seen incredible growth and development across industries. This achievement proves to the world what we Iowans have known for decades — we are a state that is ready to shine.

Today, Iowa’s energy sector is made up of 12,334 MW of operating wind and solar energy, powering the equivalent of 3.9 million Iowa homes. While a good portion of that capacity belongs to wind, solar is starting to close the gap. Continue reading here.

Omaha Metro Transit launches new electric buses, has plans to expand

By Marlo Lundak, WOW TV

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – It’s been a two-year process, but Metro Transit launched its first electric buses Tuesday morning. The company made the announcement Monday, stating the buses were made possible by a competitive federal grant and thanks to support from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. We are really looking to make sure that we are protecting our region, that we’re still viable, a great place to live, work, and play in the future and into future generations,” Metro Transit’s CEO, Lauren Cencic, tells 6 News Tuesday. The new buses will catch your eye, but not your ear, they’re extremely quiet. Continue reading or watch the video here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Omaha metro area will draft climate action plan, by Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

When the plan is in place, Omaha will join several hundred other cities in the U.S. with strategies for confronting climate change. Lincoln, the Kansas City metropolitan area and the Twin Cities already have plans. Des Moines is developing one. The Nebraska Legislature has rejected calls for a statewide plan. Asked “why now?” Mayor Jean Stothert said in an email to The World-Herald that the time is right to take advantage of local efforts. “Omaha has been implementing sustainability measures for some time now without the need for a formal plan,” she wrote. 

‘I think we have a wake-up call right now’ — FERC’s Phillips touts transmission’s reliability benefit

By Larry Pearl, Senior Editor, Utility Dive


There is “a clear need for substantial transmission build-out to accommodate new generation,” [FERC Commissioner] Phillips said while highlighting the ambitious renewable energy goals around the country.

“In order to get these necessary transmission projects financed, we must address the continuing barriers to regional and interregional transmission investment,” he added. Read more here.


RELATED READING

Grid operators’ ‘seam’ study paves way for renewable expansion, E&E News

The study identified seven transmission projects along the MISO-SPP boundary that would cost $1.65 billion and enable 28 gigawatts of new generation capacity — and perhaps as much as 53 GW — across MISO and SPP combined. The latter estimate, based on modeling by SPP, would roughly double the combined wind and solar capacity that currently exists in the two regions.

NEW AMERICAN CLEAN POWER ASSOCIATION INITIATIVE

Clean Power Industry Commits to Initiative for Energy Transition that Benefits Workers, Communities, and Those Historically Left Behind

WASHINGTON DC, March 23, 2022 – The American Clean Power Association (ACP), on behalf of its over 700 member companies, today announced its Energy Transition for All initiative – an industry-wide framework to ensure that workers, communities, and those historically left behind stand to benefit from the rapid growth of the clean power sector in the United States. The initiative was launched today with the release of a report containing an outline of multi-year industry objectives to realize those goals.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

NEW AT OPPD & LES: TRADE ALLY PROGRAMS

Energy efficiency guru Amory Lovins: ‘It’s the largest, cheapest, safest, cleanest way to address the crisis’

By John Vidal, The Guardian

One of the leading advocates of energy conservation explains why this
could be a turning point for climate economics

Temperatures dropped far below freezing this week in Snowmass, Colorado. But Amory Lovins, who lives high up in the mountains at 7,200ft above sea level, did not even turn on the heating. That’s because he has no heating to turn on. His home, a great adobe and glass mountainside eyrie that he designed in the 1980s, collects solar energy and is so well insulated that he grows and harvests bananas and many other tropical fruits there without burning gas, oil or wood. Nicknamed the “Einstein of energy efficiency”, Lovins, an adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, has been one of the world’s leading advocates and innovators of energy conservation for 50 years. Continue reading here.

Physicist Amory Lovins is Cofounder (1982) and Chairman Emeritus of Rocky Mountain Institute, which he served as Chief Scientist 2007–19 and now supports as a contractor and Trustee; energy advisor to major firms and governments in 70+ countries for 45+ years; author of 31 books and more than 700 papers; and an integrative designer of superefficient buildings, factories, and vehicles. Source: Rocky Mountain Institute

ENERGY EFFICIENCY RESOURCES 

  1. Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE)
    Nebraska Weatherization Assistance Program
    Dollar & Energy Savings Loans
    Nebraska Energy Quarterly 2022 – 1st Quarter Issue
  2. Nebraska Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  3. Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET)
  4. Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)-Nebraska
  5. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)
  6. Energy Saver, Department of Energy 
  7. Heat Pump Systems, Department of Energy 
  8. Advanced Water Heating initiative Fact Sheet, New Buildings Institute
  9. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
  10. Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA)
    Nebraska Initiatives
    Policy

MEEA Webinar: The Value of Energy Efficiency in Buildings for Safety and Wellness
Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at 12 p.m.

Over the last two years the focus of building owners and operators has, rightfully so, been on health and safety concerns. Join us for a webinar to learn more about how energy efficiency can help with your health and safety goals while saving money and improving occupant comforts.

UNIQUE TINY HOUSE IN NEBRASKA

UNO Magazine: Big Future for Tiny HomesUniversity of Nebraska Omaha News Center

A living space that can be efficiently heated
by an energy output
equivalent to
16 birthday candles.

Focused on the future of tiny houses, Bing Chen, Ph.D., a UNL professor of electrical and computer engineering based out of Omaha’s Peter Kiewit Institute, envisions a future filled with tiny, environmentally friendly houses.

Norfolk’s 8.5-megawatt solar farm nearing completion

By Dillon Adams, Siouxland Proud

The program is made possible through a 30-year partnership between Norfolk’s energy supplier, Nebraska Public Power District, and Sol Customer Solutions. [Mayor Josh] Moenning said there’s much more demand for solar energy these days, specifically from corporations.

“We think this is very forward-looking. A lot of businesses now are looking only for renewable sources, clean sources of energy and we’ll be able to accommodate them to a certain extent with this project and we’re hopeful we can develop more in the future,” said Moenning. Read more here.

The site will be planted with a pollinator crop. These are environmentally friendly and require minimal maintenance. Source: City of Norfolk.Gov

NEW REPORT ON ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES

New Report Details Benefits of Electric School Buses, American Public Power Association

With advances in electric bus technology, a growing understanding of the benefits of electrification, and an influx of federal money through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), electric school buses are becoming an increasingly viable option for school districts, according to a new report from the United States Public Interest Research Group, Environment America, and Frontier Group: Electric School Buses and the Grid

Read the Executive Summary and download the report here.

NDED RECOGNIZES FT. CALHOUN’S LEADERSHIP

Ft. Calhoun Honored for Leading Partnerships Geared Toward Energy, Recreational Growth, Nebraska Department of Economic Development News Release

The city of Ft. Calhoun (Pop. 908), home to a groundbreaking solar partnership with Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), has earned ongoing recognition from the State of Nebraska for recent economic growth. The Department of Economic Development (DED) this week announced the City’s recertification in Nebraska’s Leadership Certified Community (LCC) program. 

Click here for more information about the LCC Program.

PJM NEWS

Coal plant owners seek to shut 3.2 GW in PJM in face of economic, regulatory and market pressures, Utility Dive

PJM is a regional transmission organization (RTO) that coordinates the movement of
wholesale electricity in all or parts of 13 states and the District of Columbia.

Graphic: PJM Interconnection queue as of December 31, 2021.

Coal-fired power plants in PJM are retiring, as they are in other parts of the U.S., in the face of less expensive renewable energy, tougher environmental rules and higher operating costs, according to ESAI Power and the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a nonprofit that supports moving away from fossil fuels.

FEATURED NATIONAL LIBRARY

USDA’s National Agricultural Library (NAL)
The National Agricultural Library is one of five national libraries of the United States and houses one of the world’s largest collections devoted to agriculture and its related sciences.

Recent NAL resources on renewable energy include:

Sierra Club Event Tomorrow Evening: OPPD Panel Presentation

Decarbonization and Green Initiatives
Thursday March 24, 2022 at 7 PM

Join the Sierra Club’s Missouri Valley Group for a virtual presentation about Omaha Public Power District’s Pathways to Decarbonization, the new Greener Together Program and information about new electric charging stations.

OPPD Presenters

  • Colton Kennedy, Manager of Corporate Planning
  • Paul Fortney, Manager of Product Management
  • Britney Gibilisco, Product Specialist
  • Ryan Stigge, Progam Manager of Decarbonization

Cost: free

Event Organizer: Mary Green
   megreen4@cox.net
   (402) 415-1081

Zoom Link
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/3103837333?pwd=ckZ0UHlRbmlqUlZMNjFTSUpJYlA5UT09#success

Password: SCNEchpt

Government Spending Bill Is Signed into Law: What You Need to Know

By Alexandra Adams, Natural Resources Defense Council

[Last] Tuesday, President Biden signed into law a $1.5 trillion bill, referred to as an “omnibus” spending bill, that funds the government through September and also provides billions in assistance for Ukraine. The omnibus funding bill passed the Senate in a 68-to-31 vote last week, a day after it received strong bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. Here’s why this is so important: Read more here.

Referenced in the article: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law signed by President Biden mid-November, 2021.

Department of Energy Program Offices
The following are just several of DOE’s Program Offices. Find links to information about all DOE program offices and funding opportunities at the above link. The descriptions, below, are the Department of Energy’s. 

OFFICE OF ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND RENEWABLE ENERGY
The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) accelerates development and facilitates deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies and market-based solutions that strengthen U.S. energy security, environmental quality, and economic vitality.
Funding Opportunities

LOAN PROGRAMS OFFICE
The Department of Energy’s Loan Programs enable DOE to work with private companies and lenders to mitigate the financing risks associated with clean energy projects, and thereby encourage their development on a broader and much-needed scale.

The Loan Programs consist of three separate programs managed by two offices, the Loan Guarantee Program Office (LGP) and the Advanced Technology Vehicles Manufacturing Loan Program Office. LPO originates, guarantees, and monitors loans to support clean energy projects through these programs.

OFFICE OF SCIENCE
The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science is the lead federal agency supporting fundamental scientific research for energy and the Nation’s largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences. The Office of Science portfolio has two principal thrusts: direct support of scientific research and direct support of the development, construction, and operation of unique, open-access scientific user facilities. Scroll down to view Funding News.

OFFICE OF INDIAN ENERGY POLICY AND PROGRAMS
The Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs is authorized to fund and implement a variety of programmatic activities that assist American Indian Tribes and Alaska Native villages with energy development, capacity building, energy cost reduction, and electrification of Indian lands and homes.
Funding Opportunities

OFFICE OF ELECTRICITY
The Office of Electricity (OE) provides national leadership to ensure that the Nation’s energy delivery system is secure, resilient and reliable. OE works to develop new technologies to improve the infrastructure that brings electricity into our homes, offices, and factories, and the federal and state electricity policies and programs that shape electricity system planning and market operations.
Priority: Building a Better Grid Initiative

COMPREHENSIVE GRID LEGISLATION: THE CHARGE ACT

Senator Markey Introduces Sweeping Legislation To Create 21st Century Electric Grid,
News Release, Office of Senator Edward J. Markey

 The CHARGE Act would establish critical electricity infrastructure needed
to improve reliability, lower costs for ratepayers, spur clean energy innovation

Washington (March 17, 2022) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass), member of the Environment and Public Works Committee and co-chair of the Senate Climate Task Force, today introduced the Connecting Hard-to-reach Areas with Renewably Generated Energy (CHARGE) Act, comprehensive legislation that would lay the groundwork for America’s clean energy revolution. The legislation positions the United States to proactively plan and build a reliable and resilient energy grid across broad regions of the country, to bridge the gap between the supply of renewable energy and the cities and towns that need energy access. 

The CHARGE Act is endorsed by Public Citizen, Earthjustice, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), New Consensus, Grid Strategies, and Digital Climate Action. A copy of the legislation can be found HERE and a one-page summary HERE

DOE NEWS RELEASE

DOE Releases Action Plan For Photovoltaic Systems End-Of-Life Management, March 18, 2022

The five-year-strategy aims to halve the cost of recycling and reduce the
environmental impact of solar energy modules at end-of-life 

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today released an action plan to enable the safe and responsible handling of photovoltaic (PV) end-of-life (EOL) materials. The activities outlined in the plan will reduce the environmental impact of solar energy while supporting the Biden Administration’s goal to decarbonize the electricity grid by 2035.  

As solar deployment rapidly increases, more PV components will reach the end of their useful life and enter the waste stream. Although 95% of a PV module is recyclable, the current economics of EOL handling are unfavorable to recycling. The cost to recycle PV modules is significantly higher than the landfill fee. Establishing safe, responsible, and economic EOL practices will support greater deployment of solar energy.

Learn more about DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office here.
Funding Opportunities

USDA NEWS RELEASE

Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grants
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is soliciting applications for grants that will advance equity in rural America by creating new opportunities in distressed communities. The Rural Innovation Stronger Economy (RISE) Grant Program offers funding to create and augment high-wage jobs, accelerate the formation of new businesses, support industry clusters, and maximize the use of local productive assets in eligible low-income rural areas. RISE grant funds can be used to:

  • Build or support a business incubator facility
  • Provide worker training to support new job creation
  • Train the existing workforce to build skills for higher-paying jobs
  • Develop a base of skilled workers and improve their opportunities to obtain high-wage jobs in new or existing local industries.

Apply by April 19, 2022. 

Additional USDA Resources

Featured USDA Energy Programs

From The White House TodayA Proclamation on National Agriculture Day, 2022
On National Agriculture Day, we recognize the invaluable contributions of American farmers, farmworkers, ranchers, fishers, foresters, and other agricultural workers, who have practiced their craft for generations and touch the lives of Americans every day. Their tireless efforts growing crops, raising livestock, and distributing food, fuel, and fiber sustain America and the entire world.  They put meals on our plates, clothes on our backs, and roofs over our heads.  Along the way, America’s agricultural workers serve as stewards of the land; ensure the safety and health of animals, plants, and people; and strengthen our rural communities with economic opportunities.

Ørsted completes onshore wind farm Haystack Wind in Nebraska

Ørsted News Release

Located in Wayne County, Nebraska, Haystack Wind utilizes existing interconnection infrastructure in Southwest Power Pool (SPP) North from Ørsted’s 230 MW onshore wind farm Plum Creek Wind, located nearby. Between the two projects, Ørsted has now invested over half a billion dollars in the state of Nebraska. 

Haystack Wind becomes Ørsted’s second operating project in Nebraska and its third operating project in the SPP market. The wind farm has a capacity of 298 MW and is contracted by power purchase agreements with Hormel Foods, Target, and PepsiCo. 

“I’m proud that the team has been able to issue commercial operation to all three Haystack offtakers on time despite industry-wide supply chain delays,” says Neil O’Donovan, CEO of Ørsted Onshore. “The SPP market is important to our Onshore business, and now we have a total capacity of 631 MW in operation across Willow Creek, Plum Creek, and Haystack. That’s enough to power almost 200,000 homes.” 

Ørsted’s onshore renewable platform has an ambition of reaching 17.5 GW globally in 2030 and currently has 3.4 GW installed capacity and 1.3 GW under construction in the US, Ireland, and the UK. 

About Ørsted 

The Ørsted vision is a world that runs entirely on green energy. Ørsted develops, constructs, and operates offshore and onshore wind farms, solar farms, energy storage facilities, renewable hydrogen and green fuels facilities, and bioenergy plants. Moreover, Ørsted provides energy products to its customers. Ørsted is the only energy company in the world with a science-based net-zero emissions target as validated by the Science Based Targets initiative (SBTi). 

Ørsted ranks as the world’s most sustainable energy company in Corporate Knights’ 2022 index of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world and is recognized on the CDP Climate Change A List as a global leader on climate action. Headquartered in Denmark, Ørsted employs 6,836 people.

Students ask Nebraska lawmakers to acknowledge climate crisis

By Erin Bamer, Omaha World-Herald

Lincoln student Alex Hamric pleaded with Nebraska lawmakers to, at a minimum, recognize the impacts of climate change, but the 14-year-old was doubtful that his words would hold any weight. 

Hamric was one of five individuals who, during a hearing Wednesday, advocated for the Natural Resources Committee to advance a resolution (LR102) for the Legislature to acknowledge that the world is in a “climate and ecological crisis” that was caused by humans and that lawmakers have a “moral obligation” to take steps to mitigate the crisis. Continue reading here.

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

Referenced in the Article

Nebraskans for Solar Note
Kudos to the Prairie Hill Learning Center students who drafted LR102; to their teacher, Jordan Hope, who fostered her students’ desire to go beyond a class project to write the draft resolution; to Senator Anna Wishart of Lincoln who introduced it in 2021; to everyone who advocated for it through written testimony and / or in-person at the recent Natural Resources Committee hearing, including Lincoln students Alex Hamric and his twin, Willa Hamric; and, finally, to Senator John Cavanaugh for your thoughtful acknowledgement of the students’ work expressed through your informed questions.

U.S. State Climate Action Plans, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
34 states have released a climate action plan or are in the process of revising or developing one. This includes 28 states that have released plans, four states that are updating their plans, and two states that are developing a plan. 

Concerns over CO₂

By Dean Olson, Illinois Times

Landowners, environmentalists and farmers voice concerns about
the proposed $3 billion Heartland Greenway pipeline.

The steel pipeline, ranging in diameter from six to 24 inches and five feet underground, would receive CO₂ emitted by ethanol and fertilizer plants in South Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa and Illinois. The CO₂ would be dehydrated, liquified and put under pressure before entering the pipeline.

It would be the first major project of its type in Illinois and would pass through 13 counties in the state – Sangamon, Hancock, Adams, McDonough, Henry, Knox, Fulton, Schuyler, Brown, Pike, Scott, Morgan and Christian. Read more here.