Monthly Archives: June 2022

Supreme Court rejects EPA ability to set fleet-wide GHG emissions standards for power plants

By Ethan Howland, Utility Dive

The Environmental Protection Agency cannot set fleet-wide greenhouse gas emissions limits for existing power plants under the Clean Air Act’s Section 111(d), the Supreme Court ruled Thursday, dismissing arguments raised by a group of electric utilities, the Biden administration and others.

“Today’s ruling limits the tools available to the [EPA] to sensibly reduce power plant emissions using cost-effective strategies that reflect the realities of an electric power system that is increasingly dynamic and diverse,” Jeff Dennis, Advanced Energy Economy general counsel and managing director, said in a statement. “In light of this Supreme Court decision, it will fall to Congress, state policymakers, and the markets to drive the transition to a clean energy economy.” Read more here.

Posted July 1: EPA retains tools to cut power sector GHG emissions despite Supreme Court curbing its authority: attorneys, by Ethan Howland, Utility Dive

THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

  • Statement by President Joe Biden on Supreme Court Ruling on West Virginia v. EPA
    My Administration will continue using lawful executive authority, including the EPA’s legally-upheld authorities, to keep our air clean, protect public health, and tackle the climate crisis. We will work with states and cities to pass and uphold laws that protect their citizens. And we will keep pushing for additional Congressional action, so that Americans can fully seize the economic opportunities, cost-saving benefits, and security of a clean energy future. Together, we will tackle environmental injustice, create good-paying jobs, and lower costs for families building the clean energy economy.
  • Previously Posted: FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Roadmap to Build an Economy Resilient to Climate Change Impacts: Agency Actions Will Protect Retirement Plans, Homeowners, Consumers, Businesses and Supply Chains, Workers, and the Federal Government from Financial Risks of Climate Change

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

U.S. Climate Alliance Responds to Harmful U.S. Supreme Court Decision in West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency

The U.S. Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 24 governors working together to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement. Collectively, they represent 59 percent of the U.S. economy, 54 percent of the U.S. population, 42 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

See Also: U.S. Climate Alliance Governors: “We Need a Bold Climate and Clean Energy Package from Congress”

Statements From Climate Mayors Co-Chairs in Response to Supreme Court Ruling on West Virginia v. EPA

About Climate Mayors: Representing over 74 million Americans from 48 states, Climate Mayors is a peer-to-peer network of 474 U.S. city mayors who have committed to fighting climate change. Originally founded in 2014 by 3 mayors, the network’s ranks swelled to almost 400 mayors in response to the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement in June 2017. Climate Mayors is committed to accelerating equitable climate action to help each member city achieve their climate goals, while working together city-to-city, with states, and the Biden administration to increase national climate ambition. For more information, visit:
www.climatemayors.org

Supreme Court Slashes EPA’s Ability to Regulate Greenhouse Gas Emissions, Solar Energy Industries Association 

“The power to reduce greenhouse gas emissions rests with Congress, and it is more urgent than ever that Congress take swift action to codify climate protecting policies that will also advance America’s clean energy deployment at a more rapid pace.” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA President and CEO

ACP CEO Heather Zichal statement on disappointing Supreme Court ruling in West Virginia vs. EPA, American Clean Power Association

By weakening one of the Administration’s chief tools to reduce the damage from greenhouse gases, the Court’s decision highlights the need for swift congressional action on passing the climate provisions in the reconciliation package—which will move the nation forward on the path to cutting emissions in half by 2030 while achieving real energy independence, building good jobs, and lowering energy costs for consumers.”  

MORE FROM THE WHITE HOUSE 

FACT SHEET:  Health Sector Leaders Join Biden Administration’s Pledge to Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions 50% by 2030

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration announced that 61 of the largest U.S. hospital and health sector companies responded to the Administration’s Health Sector Climate Pledge, committing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50% by 2030. The new commitments represent over 650 hospitals and thousands of other providers across the country, and include plans to strengthen resilience to climate change, protect public health, and lower costs.

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Catalyzes more than $700 Million in Private Sector Commitments to Make EV Charging More Affordable and Accessible

The White House Briefing Room

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is highlighting how President Biden’s leadership on electric vehicles is catalyzing more than $700 million in investments from the private sector that will increase our domestic capacity to manufacture more than 250,000 new electric vehicle (EV) chargers each year, add at least 2,000 good-paying jobs, and make EV charging more affordable, accessible, and equitable. The historic private investments will follow the $7.5 billion from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to build a national network of EV chargers, enabling convenient and uniform charging at home, work, and across the country. Continue reading here.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

IN NEBRASKA

National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Formula Program, Nebraska Department of Transportation

Over the next five years, Nebraska will have access to $30.2 million (~$6 million/year) in formula funds for EV charging infrastructure while also still being able to compete for a portion of an additional $2.5 billion in discretionary grant funding. This funding supports the Administration’s goal of expanding EV charging stations along designated Alternative Fuel Corridors (AFCs) and other corridors that could be identified in the state.With guidance from U.S. Department of Transportation (US DOT), NDOT will collaborate with key stakeholders such as public power districts, communities along routes, planning partners, and businesses on EV charging development. The initial statewide plan will be submitted to our federal partners before August 1, 2022. Click here to learn more and take a survey.

FUNDING AVAILABLE FOR CLEAN SCHOOL BUSES

EPA Regional Administrator Meg McCollister Urges School Districts, Tribes and School Bus Operators in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska to Apply for $500M In Available Funding for Clean School Buses, Environmental Protection Agency News Release, May 20, 2022

“This historic investment under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will forever transform school bus fleets across the United States,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These funding opportunities to replace older, heavily-polluting buses will result in healthier air for many of the 25 million American children who rely on school buses, many of whom live in overburdened and underserved communities. Today we take a major step toward a future where clean, zero-emissions school buses are the American standard.”

“This new funding can make a big impact for children across Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska and the nine tribal nations here,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meghan A. McCollister. “I urge all eligible school districts, tribes, and school bus operators to make the time this summer to apply for Clean School Bus rebates. Applications will be accepted until August 19, 2022. Over the next five years, this program will deliver $5 billion to school districts to improve our bus fleets and improve health and safety for our kids and communities.” Questions about applying may be directed to CleanSchoolBus@epa.gov.

Nebraskans for Solar Note: This is the first competition that EPA is running through the Clean School Bus program. The Agency will also launch a grant competition later this year. Further Clean School Bus competitions funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be run every year over the next five years. To learn more about the rebate programs, applicant eligibility, selection process, and informational webinar dates, visit www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus. 

Links to more information:

What the G7 Summit could mean for the climate

World Economic Forum

High up on the agenda of the leaders of seven of the most industrialized nations will be the low-carbon transition of their economies and ensuring the 1.5 °C Paris Agreement global warming target. Through net zero emissions commitments since COP26, these countries have been hammering out policy changes thick and fast to phase out fossil fuels and decarbonize their economies. At the 2021 G7 gather in the United Kingdom, leaders emphasized the need to adapt their economies and mobilize finance to ward off climate change. Here, they also set up the G7 2030 Nature Compact – a pledge to have 30% of global land and 30% of global oceans within conservation areas by 2030. Read more here.

About the Writers

  • Nathan Cooper: Lead, Partnerships and Engagement Strategy, Climate Action Platform, World Economic Forum
  • Lukas Bester: Freelance Researcher and Writer – World Economic Forum, Sustainable Development Consultant in Emerging Markets

Image Credit: German Council on Foreign Relations

From the White House Briefing Room

FACT SHEET: President Biden and G7 Leaders Formally Launch the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment

The Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment will deliver game-changing projects to close the infrastructure gap in developing countries, strengthen the global economy and supply chains, and advance U.S. national security. President Biden will announce new flagship projects and lay out the Administration’s comprehensive effort to execute the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment.

Department of Energy News Release

#PeoplePowered with Secretary Granholm: Black Women Changemakers in Clean Energy

In the latest episode of People Powered, Secretary Granholm was joined by entrepreneurs and innovators who are part of a long legacy of Black women making incredible impact on our nation and on the future of clean energy.

Get Engaged 

Are you an entrepreneur? Innovator? Student? Check out our programs and resources to jump in and work with the U.S. Department of Energy: 

  • Work with us: Join the clean energy revolution by applying for a slot in the Clean Energy Corps. The Clean Energy Corps is a diverse group of talented individuals committed to public service and with a mission of supercharging the clean energy revolution. This is YOUR opportunity to join us in making that future a reality. Share your resume at www.energy.gov/cleanenergycorps.  

Stay Tuned! 

Don’t miss our other episodes of People Powered, including a conversation between Secretary Granholm and climate mayors from Phoenix, Houston, and New Orleans, and one-on-one chats with people in the clean energy movement like a solar installer, an EV truck driver, and a city sustainability manager. Plus, more episodes of People Powered are on deck, showcasing informal, genuine conversations between folks at the Department of Energy and energy communities, innovators, activists, workers, and leaders.  

Additional Recommended Reading 

DOE Partners With Carnegie Mellon University to Launch The 2022 Global Clean Energy Action Forum, U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of International Affairs

A conversation with a woman who promotes renewable energy in rural communities

By Erika Street Hopman and Bridgett Ennis, Yale Climate Connections

The wide-open spaces found in rural America provide some of the best locations for solar and wind farms. But community opposition can stop new projects before they break ground. Mariah Lynne, owner and president of Good Steward Consulting, helps renewable energy companies gain acceptance for new projects in rural communities. In this work, Lynne draws on her experience living in rural Minnesota next door to a utility-scale wind farm. Yale Climate Connections talked to Lynne about what motivates farmers and other rural landowners to embrace renewable energy projects and the misconceptions outsiders might have about small-town communities. Continue Reading Here.

Referenced in the Article: Minnesota’s Stearns County Provides a Unique National Example of a ‘Solar-Ready’ Community, Great Plains Institute
The Great Plains Institute (GPI) worked with Stearns County to engage stakeholders and create transparent and predictable development regulations for solar farm development, including ensuring capture of pollinator habitat and storm water benefits. GPI recently completed a case study (available here) of Stearns County to share their process of engagement, and planning and regulatory review, to get the community ‘solar ready’.

SOLAR READY COMMUNITIES

SolSmart is a national organization that provides free assistance to communities that want to become solar ready. The organization is led by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA). SolSmart’s mission unites organizations to assist local governments across the U.S. to cut red tape and reduce the barriers to solar within their communities. SolSmart is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.

Local SolSmart Communities

SITING SOLAR ON LANDFILLS & OTHER BROWNFIELDS

Featured Report: The Future of Landfills is Bright: How State and Local Governments Can Leverage Landfill Solar to Bring Clean Energy and Jobs to Communities across America, Rocky Mountain Institute

There are more than 10,000 closed and inactive landfills around the country. These sites offer an incredible opportunity for solar development. By installing solar on closed landfills, states and municipalities advance local solar energy while repurposing relatively large, vacant sites within communities that have limited reuse potential.

Links to More 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 

CO-LOCATION RESOURCES

The AgriSolar Clearinghouse is an information-sharing, relationship-building, public communications hub for all things agrisolar. The AgriSolar community will:
Connect farmers, developers, researchers, and the public
Provide practical technical assistance
Develop best practices and innovative solutions to barriers
Evaluate innovative financing options
Promote sustainable agrisolar opportunitie

Resources Include: Information Library Media Hub / Events Calendar

More Links

DISTRIBUTED & COMMUNITY WIND

The Future of Distributed Wind in the United States: Considerations for Unlocking Terawatt-Level Potential,
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
NREL’s Distributed Wind Energy Futures Study Finds the Most Promising Locations, Sectors for Distributed Wind To Play a Meaningful Role in the U.S. Energy Future. The Midwest and Heartland regions overall have the highest potential for distributed wind. (A link to NREL’s webinar about the study is provided).

ALSO IN THE NEWS

MORE ABOUT NORFOLK’S COMMUNITY SOLAR PROJECT

Norfolk solar project largest in state, relies on community input, Nancy Gaarder / Omaha World-Herald, Norfolk Daily News

Randy Gates, finance director for Norfolk, said the city will save about $170,000 a year on its electric bills. The city’s residents and businesses will see a total savings of $132,000 a year, he said. NPPD’s next community solar project will be in York.

Construction complete on largest solar farm in Nebraska

By Anne Fischer, PV Magazine USA

The City of Norfolk, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), and members of the community are celebrating the completion of construction of what is currently the largest solar farm in the state. The 8.5 MW solar installation is paired with NPPD’s first large-scale battery storage system, capable of storing up to 2 MWh. It’s also a pollinator habitat, and it was led by an all-woman development team. In a state that in 2021 ranked 47th in the country for installed solar and was deriving only 0.22% of its electricity from solar (according to the Solar Energy Industries Association), this system gives the state a serious boost. Read more here.

NFS Note: NPPD’s contracts allow municipal customers to generate no more than 10% of their peak load from renewable energy sources. See: Nebraska solar farm highlights tension between cities, electricity wholesaler

See more community- and utility-scale projects under development here: Solar Energy Generation in Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy 

FEATURED RESOURCES

MORE ABOUT PROPOSED CO2 PIPELINES

Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska requests impact study on proposed carbon dioxide pipelines, WOWT
The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska is asking for an environmental impact study regarding two pipelines. The Winnebago Tribal Council has unanimously approved a new resolution that requests an environmental impact study for two proposed pipelines: The Summit Carbon Pipeline and the Navigator Heartland Greenway Carbon Pipeline.

Ghost Pipelines: How Landowners Suffer, Long After a Project Gets Canceled, Natural Resources Defense Council 

In the Midwest, Bold Alliance, a network created during the KXL fight, continues a similar mission of connecting landowners, including through the Nebraska Easement Action Team, a nonprofit education and legal defense fund. And as Bold Alliance ramps up efforts to resist the construction of carbon pipelines in the region, the eminent domain lawyers from the KXL days have agreed to represent landowners once again.

Top 8 Reasons to Oppose Risky Carbon Pipelines, by Mark Hefflinger, Bold Nebraska

Grid and supply issues to delay closing of OPPD’s North Omaha coal plant

By Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

In a setback for air quality, OPPD would continue to burn coal at its North Omaha power plant for possibly another three years, until 2026, under a proposal before the board. The proposed delay in ceasing coal use is related to various problems besetting the nation’s electrical system — backlogs involving the grid, supply chain issues and controversies over siting renewable energy facilities. The Omaha Public Power District board is taking public comment on the proposed delay and expects to vote on it in August. Continue reading here.

OPPD RESOURCES


Nebraskans for Solar Note:
Nancy Gaarder states in the above article that OPPD’s Administration provides three reasons for their proposed long delay in closing the North Omaha coal-plant facility: “backlogs involving the grid, supply chain issues and controversies over siting renewable energy facilities.”

As OPPD administrators undoubtedly already know, numerous agencies, organizations and individuals are working on all three issues locally and nationally. These efforts appear to be accelerating, with news and reports issued frequently. Given OPPD’s inspiring 100% renewable energy goal, which has received considerable national attention, it would be sad to see one of our own utilities lag behind others in the energy transition rapidly taking place all across the country.

On our NewsBlog and Facebook Page, we have posted numerous news stories and releases, reports, and other resources related to the issues OPPD administrators highlight in their new proposal. Please take some time to read these and OPPD’s information. If you have an interest in doing so, consider sharing one or more links to additional information on these issues.

EPA RESOURCES

Ribbon cutting scheduled for Norfolk Community Solar

Nebraska Public Power District News Release

Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) and the City of Norfolk will be celebrating the completion of the state’s largest solar facility with a ribbon cutting, June 22. The public is welcome to attend the ribbon cutting for the Norfolk Community Solar facility, which is scheduled to begin at 10:00 a.m. The ribbon cutting will take place at the solar facility on South 49th Street on the west side of Norfolk, and will include representatives from NPPD, the City of Norfolk, N Solar, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE), and the Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET). Continue reading here.

More Nebraska News

FERC Proposes Interconnection Reforms to Address Queue Backlogs

Federal Energy Regulatory Commission News Release, June 16, 2022

FERC today issued a proposed rule focused on expediting the current process for connecting new electric generation facilities to the grid. The notice of proposed rulemaking (NOPR) aims to address significant current backlogs in the interconnection queues by improving interconnection procedures, providing greater certainty and preventing undue discrimination against new generation. 

At the end of 2021, there were more than 1,400 gigawatts of generation and storage waiting in interconnection queues throughout the country. This is more than triple the total volume just five years ago. Projects now face an average timeline of more than three years to get connected to the grid. As the resource mix rapidly changes, the Commission’s policies must keep pace. Today’s NOPR proposes reforms to ensure that interconnection customers can access the grid in a reliable, efficient, transparent and timely manner. Continue reading here.

ACP & SEIA News Releases

SEIA News Release: Interconnection Whitepaper Details Near Term Reforms Needed to Extricate Hundreds of Gigawatts of Solar Power

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released a whitepaper detailing the extensive interconnection reforms needed to rapidly decarbonize the electricity grid. Across the country state and federal leaders are doubling down on their clean energy goals, but distribution utilities and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) are struggling to keep up with overflowing interconnection queues.

The new whitepaper, Lessons from the Front Line: Principles and Recommendations for Large-scale and Distributed Energy Interconnection Reforms, discusses the various opportunities utilities and regulators have to standardize, automate, and clarify interconnection procedures and policies. On June 16 FERC is expected to publish a proposed rule that will cover many of the same topics raised in this whitepaper. Read the entire news release.

 Additional Recommended Reading 

DOE Partners With Carnegie Mellon University to Launch The 2022 Global Clean Energy Action Forum

U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of International Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced its partnership with Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) to launch and host the 2022 Global Clean Energy Action Forum (Global Energy Forum) in Pittsburgh, PA, September 21–23. This landmark convening brings together energy leaders from around the world to turn clean energy ambition into action and accelerate the transition toward a more secure energy future. 

“By convening the Global Clean Energy Action Forum, the United States is continuing its leadership on the world stage to foster greater international cooperation to achieve our shared climate ambitions, drive innovation, and accelerate the deployment of clean energy solutions, while creating millions of good paying jobs,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. Continue reading here.

MORE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASES

SOLAR+STORAGE

Solar-plus-storage potential everywhere in the US’: Recurrent Energy interview, by Andy Colthorpe, Energy Storage News

Around 60% of new solar PV projects planned for deployment in US utility service areas over the next two years are hybrid resources paired with storage. That’s equivalent to about 6GW and growing all the time. Although a clear majority of this new capacity will be clustered in the leading regional markets for solar, like California or Arizona, it’s increasingly becoming a national phenomenon. For context, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables said in recent research that a total 3GW of utility-scale energy storage came online during 2021 in the US, so it’s clear batteries paired with solar will be a significant complement to standalone battery storage in terms of new additions.

Also written by Andy Colthorpe: Biden’s executive action to support solar likely to run in tandem with support for energy storage

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS HERE

Over 16 GW of planned wind capacity in SPP supported by robust financial outlook, S&P Global 
Developers are taking notice of the impressive performance of wind projects in the Cornhusker state as the pipeline for wind has swelled to 4,947 MW, ranking fourth in the country in planned onshore wind capacity. Over 40% of this capacity, however, is tied up in a single wind project still in early planning: the 2,000 MW Wildcat Ridge Wind Farm-Geronimo, which will be owned and operated by National Grid PLC subsidiary National Grid Renewables LLC.

IOWA’S PROPOSED ‘WIND PRIME’ PROJECT

Google, Facebook Stoke Wind-Farm Debate, Data Center Knowledge
(Bloomberg) — Google, Facebook and Microsoft Corp. — three of the world’s biggest corporate buyers of clean power — are sounding the alarm that a nearly $4 billion, Warren Buffett-backed renewable-energy project proposed in Iowa isn’t necessarily in the best interest of customers, including them. The fight is an important one to watch because it demonstrates the increasing influence technology giants have on the energy transition. Tech companies have pushed utilities in other parts of the US to offer more clean energy options as they seek to clean up the sources of power for their energy-intensive operations. And since they buy so much power, the utilities often listen to them.

Previously Posted Berkshire Hathaway Energy News Release: MidAmerican Energy Company Announces Wind PRIME Project

FEATURED ORGANIZATION

The National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) is an alliance of grassroots organizations that advocates for federal policy reform to advance the sustainability of agriculture, food systems, natural resources, and rural communities. NSAC’s vision of agriculture is one where a safe, nutritious, ample, and affordable food supply is produced by a legion of family farmers who make a decent living pursuing their trade, while protecting the environment, and contributing to the strength and stability of their communities.

NSAC member groups advance common positions to support small and mid-size family farms, protect natural resources, promote healthy rural communities, and ensure access to healthy, nutritious foods by everyone. By bringing grassroots perspectives to the table normally dominated by big business, NSAC levels the playing field and gives voice to sustainable and organic farmers.  

Nebraska Groups

Recent NSAC Blog Post: Climate And Agriculture Legislation Roundup
NSAC Publications