Monthly Archives: August 2022

Vilsack: America’s voluntary approach to agriculture is better than Europe’s mandates

By Jared Strong, Iowa Capital Dispatch

BOONE, Iowa — The more than $1 billion the federal government is devoting to voluntary efforts to reduce agriculture’s adverse effects on the environment is a better long-term strategy than mandating new rules for farmers, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.

While state and federal officials in the United States have tended to avoid implementing rules that might force farmers to radically change their long-held practices, the European Union has specific requirements about crop rotations, permanent pastures and the use of buffer strips and other conservation practices that improve soil quality. Continue reading here.

Also written by Jared Strong: USDA plans ‘historic’ funding to help struggling farmers and develop new ag leaders, Iowa Capital Dispatch

FROM THE NEBRASKA EXAMINER 

MORE ON HIGH-SPEED-INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE 

Treasury Announces Five Additional Capital Projects Fund Awards to Increase Access to Affordable, High-Speed Internet

Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Arkansas are approved to receive approximately $408 million under the American Rescue Plan and will connect more than 90,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet

INFLATION REDUCTION ACT BENEFITS EVERYONE

Republicans voted ‘no’ on the climate bill. Their states will get billions of dollars from it anyway, by Ella Nilsen, CNN

More than $370 billion of the law will go to tax credits for
 clean electricity, vehicles and energy efficient appliances. And that money will trickle down to Democrat- and Republican-controlled states alike, said Bob Keefe, executive director of nonpartisan clean energy group E2. “It’s going to be harder for red states to say clean energy jobs are bogus and that it’s something for California when it’s something that’s happening in their backyards,” Keefe told CNN.

The law goes far beyond financing for solar and wind energy. There’s also money for hydrogen fuel and funds to incentivize power plants to capture their planet-warming emissions before they hit the air. It also contains billions of dollars to fund a new program that will crack down on the fossil fuel industry’s methane emissions — a powerful greenhouse gas that scientists say must be controlled.

FROM FARM PROGRESS

Project looks to measure carbon absorption, emissions daily: Study examines how grazing livestock influences carbon, water and biodiversity.

Climate change has brought much scrutiny on the beef industry. But is it justified? Scientists have been studying grazing management and its impact on ecological function, and “there is evidence to suggest, if it’s well managed, cattle can be very edifying to land and improve its function versus deteriorating or extracting,” says Jason Rowntree, the C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture in the Michigan State University Department of Animal Science. “But the science is pretty isolated in terms of geography.”

NREL Study Identifies the Opportunities and Challenges of Achieving the U.S. Transformational Goal of 100% Clean Electricity by 2035

Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

What would it take to decarbonize the electric grid by 2035? A new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) examines the types of clean energy technologies and the scale and pace of deployment needed to achieve 100% clean electricity, or a net-zero power grid, in the United States by 2035. This would be a major stepping stone to economy-wide decarbonization by 2050.

The study, done in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and with funding support from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is an initial exploration of the transition to a 100% clean electricity power system by 2035—and helps to advance understanding of both the opportunities and challenges of achieving the ambitious goal. Read more here.

MORE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASES

The 2016 model year (MY) marked the first time the Environmental Protection Agency certified an electric vehicle (EV) with 300 miles or more of driving range. Over the next five years, the number of EV models achieving a certified range of 300 miles or more slowly increased. In MY 2022, however, the number nearly tripled from the previous year. Manufacturers are still introducing MY 2022 vehicles, so additional EV models could be added to the list. Use this tool to search for new EV models by range.

DOE BLOG POST


How to Start Your Career in Clean Energy

This Energy.gov blog post was written by Isabelle Hamilton, an intern in the Office of Public Affairs. To learn more about internship opportunities available at the Department of Energy, please visit our Students and Recent Graduates career page

Two-turbine wind project completed in Franklin County

By Press Release, News Channel Nebraska

UPLAND, Neb. — Bluestem Energy Solutions, in partnership with Southern Public Power District, has completed a two-turbine wind project in central Nebraska. Constructed by Boyd Jones Construction, the wind project is located at the intersection of State Highways 4 and 10, west of Upland in northern Franklin County.

The two 2.82-megawatt GE wind turbines are interconnected to Southern Public Power District’s 69kV sub-transmission line. According to Bluestem officials, the wind facility will produce enough electricity to power approximately 2,000 homes annually, and 100% of the power will be used locally by the customers of Southern Public Power District. Read more here.

RELATED READING & RESOURCES

Nebraskans for Solar Note
Including Southern Public Power District, Nebraska has 166 publicly owned utilities governed by community-elected boards. These include public power districts, municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives. Visit the website of the Nebraska Power Association for a list of all of them.

In a big win for public power, cities, and states, the Inflation Reduction Act modifies the federal clean energy tax credit program to directly pay public and nonprofit entities, including those owned and managed by states and municipal governments. This will allow these entities to take advantage of tax treatment previously only available to investor-owned utilities and enables cities that own their own public utilities­­­—such as Cleveland, Columbia, and Tallahassee—to transfer tax credits for cash.

A key aspect of DOE’s funding announcement on Friday is the flexibility of the funds, which can be utilized for a wide range of clean energy programs, officials said. “These funds are quite flexible. They really do give states and territories the freedom to develop the kinds of energy programs and projects that are going to be right for every community in every state.”
– Jeremiah Baumann, DOE’s chief of staff for the undersecretary of infrastructure

MORE GOOD NEWS

Additional Recommended PV Magazine Article: To PTC or ITC, that is the financial question
CohnReznick Capital has released an analysis comparing the returns on investment of the newly available Production Tax Credit to the standard 30% Investment Tax Credit.

FROM SMART CITIES DIVE

Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 24 States Set to Begin Plugging Over 10,000 Orphaned Wells

U.S. Department of the Interior News Release, August 25, 2022

Nebraska has 225 wells identified for plugging and remediation in this initial phase.

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced it has awarded an initial $560 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to 24 states to begin work to plug, cap and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells. Millions of Americans across the country live within a mile of an orphaned oil and gas well. Eligible states have indicated that there are over 10,000 high-priority well sites across the country ready for immediate remediation efforts, with many more lined up for future action.

Orphaned oil and gas wells are polluting backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country. Methane leaking from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The historic investments to clean up these hazardous sites will create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce harmful methane leaks. Continue reading here.

See Also: Biden Administration Announces $1.15 Billion for States to Create Jobs Cleaning Up Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells

SHUTOFFS & THE RISING COST OF NATURAL GAS

A ‘Tsunami of Shutoffs’: 20 Million US Homes Are Behind on Energy Bills, Bloomberg Equality
US electricity prices surging and more people than ever are struggling to pay the power company. More than 20 million American households have fallen behind on their utility bills, about 1 of every 6 homes, and the amount they owe has doubled since before the pandemic. The basic problem is that electricity is more expensive, up 15% from a year ago, and there’s no sign of relief. That’s because power prices are linked to the cost of natural gas, which has more than doubled in the past year and is expected to remain high at least into next year. 

Energy Assistance Programs: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency-Nebraska

DOE WEBINARS FOR CLEAN ENERGY JOB SEEKERS

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new graduate, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) wants you to join their team of Clean Energy Champions!

Upcoming Webinars 

Careers in Sustainable Transportation
September 8, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Careers in Renewable Power
September 15, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Careers in Energy Efficiency
September 22, 12 – 2 p.m.

Careers in EERE Business Operations
September. 29, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Source: Are You a Clean Energy Champion?, Department of Energy 

RECENT NEBRASKA WIND & SOLAR CONFERENCE WEBINAR

The Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference recently held a virtual webinar titled, “What Do Regional Transmission Organizations Do?” with Casey Cathey, Director of System Planning at Southwest Power Pool. The recordings of the webinar can be found here

URBAN FORESTRY FUNDING IN INFLATION REDUCTION ACT

Towns May Grow Millions More Trees with $1.5B for Urban Forestry, The PEW Charitable Trusts
States and cities across the country are beginning to embrace trees as critical infrastructure in urban areas. Neighborhoods with tree cover are significantly cooler than exposed areas known as “heat islands,” which can affect human health and utility bills. Urban forests absorb stormwater runoff, filter pollution from the air and sequester carbon.

Inflation Reduction Act could curb climate damages by up to $1.9 trillion, White House says

By Emma Newburger, CNBC

The analysis by the Office of Management and Budget, which administers the federal budget, is the first published estimate of avoided climate-related social costs resulting from legislation. The social cost of carbon is an estimate of the economic costs that would occur from a future level of carbon pollution.

The bill’s climate provisions are projected to reduce the country’s carbon emissions by roughly 40% by 2030. Early in his presidency, President Joe Biden pledged to reduce U.S. emissions from 2005 levels at least in half by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. Read more here.

Office of Management and Budget Analysis: The Social Benefits Of The Inflation Reduction Act’s Greenhouse Gas Emission Reductions (4-page PDF)

NEW RESEARCH ON PUBLIC PERCEPTIONS ABOUT CLIMATE CONCERN

Americans don’t think other Americans care about climate change as much as they do, CNBC
That’s the rough takeaway from research published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.

  • Between 80 and 90 percent of Americans underestimate the concern their fellow Americans have for climate change and their support for “transformative” mitigation policies, according to research published Tuesday.
  • Between 66 and 80 percent of Americans support such policies, but they think that only between 37 and 43 percent of their peers hold that sentiment.
  • This kind of psychological disconnect is especially problematic in addressing climate change because it requires collective action.

AMERICAN FARM BUREAU FEDERATION

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act for Agriculture?

The final bill includes nearly $40 billion for agriculture, forestry and rural development. This includes nearly $20 billion in funding for the Agricultural Conservation Easement Program (ACEP), Conservation Stewardship Program (CSP), Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) and Regional Conservation Partnership Program (RCPP), plus technical assistance.

In addition, it includes $14 billion for rural development to support the development of renewable energy and spending on biofuels infrastructure. The bill also provides $4 billion to mitigate the impacts of drought in the Western Reclamation states, with priority given to the Colorado River Basin and other basins experiencing comparable levels of long-term drought. 

USDA NEWS RELEASE

USDA Invests $121 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural America, August 24, 2022
U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Secretary Dr. Jewel Bronaugh today announced USDA is investing $121 million in critical infrastructure to combat climate change across rural America. The investments include $111 million for 289 projects to help people living in socially vulnerable communities.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY BLOG

How to Start Your Career in Clean Energy

This Energy.gov blog post was written by Isabelle Hamilton, an intern in the Office of Public Affairs. To learn more about internship opportunities available at the Department of Energy, visit the Department of Energy’s Students and Recent Graduates career page.


ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Christmas In August: Electric Utilities Hit Renewable Pay Dirt With IRA Passage

By Llewellyn King, Forbes

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Image: Electric cooperatives 
cover more than half the nation’s land area. 

The great prizes are the extension to not-for-profit utilities of the investment tax credits and production tax credits normally associated with tax-paying entities. These will be recovered by the not-for-profit utilities through “direct pay,” which means just that: a check.

As not-for-profit utilities don’t have an income tax liability, they have had in the past to collaborate with for-profit companies to reap any of the tax credit benefits. Now they will get a direct payment from the Treasury Department. Continue reading here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

FACT SHEET: Inflation Reduction Act Advances Environmental Justice

The White House Briefing Room

The Inflation Reduction Act builds on the historic investments in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and advances his Justice40 Initiative, which will deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. In total, hundreds of federal programs, including those established by the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Law, representing historic investments are being reimagined and transformed to meet the Justice40 goal and maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities. Read more here.

ALSO FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

ACP CEO Heather Zichal Statement on President Biden Signing the Inflation Reduction Act into Law

American Clean Power Association 

“With the stroke of the pen, a clean energy future is now the law of the land. This does for climate change and clean energy what the creation of Social Security did for America’s senior citizens. This law will put millions more Americans to work, ensure clean, renewable and reliable domestic energy is powering every American home, and save American consumers money.”  Continue reading here.

MORE NEWS RELEASES

“This new law will help the United States deploy enough clean energy to substantially decarbonize the electric grid and tackle climate change. It features long-term investments in clean energy and new incentives for energy storage, which give solar and storage businesses a stable policy environment and the certainty they need to deploy clean energy and meet the President’s ambitious climate goals. The bill also includes Senator Ossoff’s Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, which will support domestic solar production through new tax credits, lay the groundwork for thousands of new manufacturing jobs by the end of the decade, and usher in a new era for solar manufacturing in the United States.” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA President and CEO 

“With this legislation, America can finally move beyond years of on-again, off-again renewable tax credits to a long-term clean energy tax platform that will provide renewable companies with the stability they need to do business. This legislation will spur vital new investment that will help deploy thousands of megawatts of new renewable power, create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, lower the cost of electricity for American families, and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to working with the Biden administration as they implement this law and build on it with additional measures to deliver the clean energy future Americans want and scientists say we desperately need.” – Gregory Wetstone, ACORE President and CEO

The Inflation Reduction Act includes long-term extensions of critical tax incentives supporting the deployment of all three wind applications – land-based, offshore and distributed – and new programs to support the siting and construction of high-voltage transmission lines, which will be important for both land-based and offshore wind. Also included are new production-based tax credits for domestic manufacturing and supply of wind components and equipment, which will provide strong incentives to onshore key supply chains of wind turbines and related components. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

House Takes Important Step Forward on Clean Energy Progress by Passing Inflation Reduction Act

Solar Energy Industries Association News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the House of Representatives approved the Inflation Reduction Act, which includes historic, long-term provisions to decarbonize the electric grid with significant clean energy deployment and domestic manufacturing.

Following is a statement by Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), on the House passage:

“The most transformational clean energy package in history is now one step closer to becoming law. Today’s House passage shows that America is prepared to lead the world in the fight against climate change by investing in our communities and workers.

“The Inflation Reduction Act will drive historic investments in clean energy deployment and manufacturing which will help create millions of new, well-paying careers. In the face of a global energy crisis and rising inflation, the measures in this bill will strengthen America’s energy security by boosting production here at home, all while lowering prices for families through investment in historic levels of low-cost, reliable clean energy.

“This is a momentous day for every American. Despite the party-line vote, the policies contained in this legislation are incredibly popular and will be an economic boon for communities across the country. In anticipation of President Biden’s signature, the 255,000 Americans working in the solar and storage industry are ready to get to work.”

American Clean Power Association News Release

ACP CEO Heather Zichal Statement on House Passage of
Historic Inflation Reduction Act

WASHINGTON DC, August 12, 2022 – Heather Zichal, CEO of the American Clean Power Association, issued the following statement after the House of Representatives passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 (IRA). The IRA provides unprecedented multi-year policy certainty for clean energy and will now be sent to President Joe Biden to be enacted into law: 

“History was made in Washington today. After decades of failed attempts, passage of this bill marks the largest investment in domestic clean energy ever. Period. It also marks the point in time when the US decided to: get serious about climate change; invest in innovation and manufacturing; create hundreds of thousands of new jobs; and ensure that America takes the back seat to no one in the race to deploy clean energy. The IRA puts our industry on a path to produce enough clean power to fuel every home in America – 142 million – by 2030, up from 58 million today. There will be three times more clean energy on the electric grid. The average American will pocket over $1,000 per year in energy savings. It will more than double the clean energy workforce, creating 550,000 jobs and employing nearly 1 million Americans by 2030. Along with these benefits, we will reduce our greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent below 2005 levels.

This is truly an historic moment. We are grateful for the leadership from Congress and the White House as well as the advocates whose tireless efforts and persistence helped us get to this crucial moment for our economy, our country, and the planet.” 

Conservation Nebraska Event This Saturday: What Net Zero Means for Nebraska – Featuring LED, OPPD, and NPPD Board Members

August 13, 2022 at 1 PM, UNL Hardin Hall or Via Zoom
Hardin Hall, 3310 Holdrege Street, Lincoln, NE
Auditorium 107 

Join Conservation Nebraska, UNL Environmental Studies Program, and guest speakers from Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), Lincoln Electric System (LES), and Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) for an event on their net zero carbon goals and what their future plans are to reach these goals. Each speaker will discuss the progress that has been made, opportunities ahead, and the challenges of meeting their individual net zero goals.

Register in advance to join this event via Zoom.

CONSERVATION NEBRASKA NOW HIRING

Conservation Nebraska is accepting applications for their 2022-2023 AmeriCorps service year. The term of service will begin September 1, 2022 through August 31, 2023. This position can be used to satisfy an internship requirement. Interested parties should complete the form available at the link, below, or send questions to Conservation Nebraska’s Program Director, Amanda Gangwish, at agangwish@neconserve.org

Click here for additional details about this opportunity.