Author Archives: Helen Deffenbacher

Michigan vows to go carbon neutral by 2050, increase oversight of utility resource plans

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D, on Wednesday signed an executive order committing her state to going carbon-neutral by 2050. It follows the governor’s commitment last year to reach the U.S. goals under the Paris Climate Agreement — reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Michigan’s new emissions reduction target is the most ambitious yet to come from a Midwest state, and calls for the state’s energy and environmental regulator to have additional oversight over utility integrated resource plans (IRPs). Its two largest utilities — DTE Energy and Consumers Energy — have goals to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and 2040, respectively. Read more here.

Previously Posted News Release: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Joins U.S. Climate Alliance

More About The Coalition

  • United States Climate Alliance Fact Sheet
    The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 25 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Alliance is led by state governments and is focused on state-to-state cooperation to accelerate the deployment of climate solutions needed to help each achieve their climate goals. The Alliance represents 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy – an economy larger than all countries but the United States and China.
  • Climate Alliance Governors
  • Climate Alliance Principles

Climate Alliance Publication (PDF): Solar Deployment Guidebook: A Resource for State & Local Governments

DTE ENERGY & CONSUMERS ENERGY NEWS RELEASE

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy pledge to help build extensive Midwest electric vehicle charging network, Globe Newswire

According to the Edison Electric Institute, more than 1.4 million EVs are in use today, a number expected to grow to nearly 20 million by 2030. The Institute anticipates that a robust network of EV charging stations will be required to serve the needs of these drivers. Companies joining DTE Energy and Consumers Energy in the charging network’s memorandum of cooperation include Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, Oklahoma Gas and Energy, and Evergy (covering parts of Missouri and Kansas). Additional companies have expressed interest and may soon join the collaborative effort.

MORE NEWS FROM STATES

Can solar power save rural America?, Farm and Dairy
The sun is shining in Pennsylvania and Ohio. At least, solar developers hope so. They’re flocking to the two states, seeking out land leases and pitching projects that would put more renewable energy onto the grid. Solar development is touted as a win all around. It’s not extractive. It’s renewable. It allows farmers and landowners new opportunities to make money from their properties.

Solar panels shine a light on bee habitats, Southernminn.com
September is National Honey Month, and while there’s still concern over struggling bee populations, a Minnesota project has helped establish a new approach to make these pollinators thrive again. Several groups, including Fresh Energy, have played a role in making Minnesota the first state to adopt a regional standard for pollinator-friendly habitats within solar farms.

Solar Dominates Maine’s Largest Renewables Procurement on Record, Greentech Media
Average winning contract rates were 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour, according to reporting from the Portland Press Herald. That price is competitive with incumbent power in the region, Maine PUC Chair Philip Bartlett II told the newspaper. 

Alaska’s pro-oil Republican governor is quietly pushing green energy projectsKTOO
Renewables make an especially compelling case in Alaska, where electricity costs nearly twice the national average. And the Eklutna hydroelectric concept isn’t the only renewable power idea to draw [Governor] Dunleavy’s interest. The governor has also quietly pitched Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, on Alaska’s wind power potential, with Buffett responding in a letter that he hopes he can “join forces” with Dunleavy. Executives from one of Buffett’s companies, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, have held a series of meetings with the governor and senior administration officials.

States That Grew Rich From Fossil-Fuels Need to Figure Out What’s Next, contributed by The Conversation, U.S. News & World Report. These are very challenging times for U.S. fossil fuel-producing states, such as WyomingAlaska and North Dakota. The COVID-19 economic downturn has reduced energy demand, with uncertain prospects for the extent of its recovery. Meanwhilerising concern about climate change and the declining cost of renewable energy are precipitating a sharp decline in demand for coal in particular.

INNOVATIVE TRANSITION STRATEGY: SOLAR-FOR-COAL SWAPS

Electric co-ops lead growing wave of early coal plant retirements with ‘solar-for-coal swaps’, PV Magazine. A new white paper from Energy Innovation, an energy policy firm, suggests that one way to speed up the process may be found in the “solar-for-coal swaps” that a small number of U.S. electric cooperatives have successfully completed. As the name implies, the main idea here is for a utility to swap out power from aging coal plants for solar generation. Private sector financing for the swap allows the coal plants to be bought and then retired ahead of schedule.

UPCOMING WEBINAR

Clean Energy Group
: An Introduction to Virtual Power Plants, September 28, 12 pm to 1 pm 

Recommended Reading: Propelling the transition: The battle for control of virtual power plants is just beginning, Utility Dive. The largest power plants in the the U.S. — massive feats of engineering like the over 5,000 foot-long, 6,800-MW capacity Grand Coulee Dam — are proving to be no match in scale to the combined power of the rooftops and basements of homes and businesses across the country. Distributed energy, including rooftop solar, on-site batteries to store electricity and more, are on track to grow to nearly 400 GW in the U.S. by 2025, according to projections from Wood Mackenzie, significantly greater than the amount of coal or nuclear power capacity in the U.S. today. As virtual power plants develop, there is a growing debate about the degree to which the future of distributed energy management will be controlled by large utilities or third-party aggregators.

Hemingford Solar Array Powered Up

By Kay Bakkehaug, Hemingford Ledger

Monday morning was a beautiful, sunny morning without a cloud in the sky; a perfect day to celebrate the Village of Hemingford’s solar array field with a ribbon cutting hosted by the Hemingford Chamber of Commerce. The solar system was up and running on September 9th.

The completed solar array is located just north of the Box Butte County Fair Grounds, on the west end of the Hemingford Golf Course. The Village Board of Trustees began discussions with GenPro back in early 2017. Village of Hemingford Chairman John Annen took the moment to thank everyone for their hard work on the project. Read more here.

Photo Credit: GenPro Energy Solutions

Previously Posted: Contracts for Hemingford Solar Project Signed, by Kay Bakkehaug, Scottsbluff Star Herald

Amazon Launches ‘Climate Pledge Friendly’ to Make It Easier for Customers to Discover and Shop for Sustainable Products

Amazon News Release, Business Wire

Customers will now see the Climate Pledge Friendly label when searching for more than 25,000 products to signify that the products have one or more of 19 different sustainability certifications that help preserve the natural world, such as reducing the carbon footprint of shipments to customers.

“Climate Pledge Friendly is a simple way for customers to discover more sustainable products that help preserve the natural world,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. “With 18 external certification programs and our own Compact by Design certification, we’re incentivizing selling partners to create sustainable products that help protect the planet for future generations.”

For detailed information on the program qualification criteria and to start shopping for these products visit www.amazon.com/ClimatePledgeFriendly or look for the Climate Pledge Friendly badge on qualifying products. Read more here.

Also of Potential Interest

Amazon’s $2 Billion Climate Pledge Fund Hands Out First Investments, by Karen Robinson-Jacobs, Forbes

2 retired teachers running for OPPD board want to reduce utility’s greenhouse gas emissions

By Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

Mary Spurgeon, a retired Bellevue Public Schools vocal music teacher, and William Forsee, a retired Burke High and Abraham Lincoln High School biology teacher, are competing to represent Subdivision 3, which includes La Vista, Papillion and the Bellevue area.

Spurgeon and Forsee say they are committed to reducing the utility’s greenhouse gas emissions, with Forsee citing concerns about climate change as one of his key motivators for running. Spurgeon says that past OPPD boards failed to be good stewards of the ratepayers’ money but that the current board is moving in the right direction and she wants to encourage that progress. Read more here.

Corporate Clean Power Commitment Unstoppable At Climate Week NYC, In Spite Of COVID-19

Climate Group News 

Corporate clean energy ambition is growing in spite of COVID-19, as yet more global companies from the US, Europe and Asia sign up to green their entire electricity usage.

Intel (information technology, US), ASICS (apparel, Japan), Sanofi (healthcare, France), SKF (bearing and seal manufacturing, Sweden), and VELUX Group (roof window manufacturer, Denmark) are all joining the RE100 initiative, led by international non-profit the Climate Group in partnership with CDP. The announcements come on the second day of Climate Week NYC – the time and place where the world gathers to showcase amazing climate action and discuss how to do more.

RE100 now brings together more than 260 of the world’s most influential companies committed to 100% renewable power, in more than 140 markets worldwide. Collectively, they are creating demand for 281 terawatt hours per year in renewable electricity – enough to power a G20 country (e.g. Australia (247.6 TWh/yr). BloombergNEF estimates suggest RE100 companies, with a combined revenue of US$6.6 trillion, will need to invest over US$98 billion in clean energy to meet their RE100 goals – a vast source of finance for rebuilding a green economy. Read more here. 

ON DAY ONE OF CLIMATE WEEK NYC

RE100 Leadership Awards 2020: The Winners
The winners of the Awards, held in partnership with ENGIE North America and category partners Enel Green Power and DWS, are announced at the first ever virtual Climate Week NYC,

Apple, CHANEL, Iron Mountain, Novo Nordisk, Salesforce, Schneider Electric, and TSMC are independently judged to be ‘going above and beyond’ in the transition to 100% renewable power, for achievements ranging from engaging suppliers and policymakers to bringing clean energy to local communities.

ADDITIONAL CLIMATE GROUP INITIATIVES

  • EP100, in partnership with the  Alliance to Save Energy,  brings together  a growing group of energy-smart companies  committed to improving their energy productivity and doing more with less.
  • EV100 is a global initiative bringing together forward looking companies committed to accelerating the transition to electric vehicles (EVs) and making electric transport the new normal by 2030.

RE100 MEMBERS ARE ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

City council approve solar project agreement

By Nick Stevenson, Norfolk Daily News

The Norfolk City Council approved a Community Solar Project Agreement at its meeting Monday night. City Engineer Steve Rames told the council members the agreement amends the current Distribution System Lease Agreement between the Nebraska Public Power District and the City. Read more here.

Photo by Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

UPCOMING EVENT

Solar Land Lease Considerations for Landowners: Webinar Presented by Nebraska & Ohio Extension Specialists

NEBRASKA LEGISLATIVE BILL 824

In 2016 the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 824, which removed some regulatory barriers connected to renewable energy development in our state.

Clean energy should prioritize creating equitable partnerships

Utility Dive article contributed by Lavannya Pulluveetil Barrera,
access and equity program manager at Vote Solar.


Partnerships with frontline communities, communities of color, and low wealth communities are essential to creating a just energy system. It should come as no surprise that those closest to the problem hold the most transformative solutions, yet often the leaders representing those communities are absent from coalition tables pushing clean energy policy, are not heard on main-stage panels at conferences, are not contacted when building projects where people stand to benefit the most from the clean energy transition. Read more here.


PUERTO RICO

White House authorizes $9.6B to rebuild Puerto Rico’s grid, but how can it be spent?, by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

The Trump Administration on Friday announced the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) authorized $9.6 billion to rebuild Puerto Rico’s power infrastructure — three years after the island’s electric grid was destroyed by Hurricane Maria. Questions remain, however, about how the federal disaster recovery funding can be spent, including whether the money can go towards new distributed generation or must be spent repairing existing infrastructure.

FIRST-EVER SOLAR MORTGAGE REIT

How Solar Investors Can Help Pave The Way For A Green Economic Recovery, Forbes
The writer, a Forbes Councils Member is Co-Founder and CEO of RadiantREIT, targeting institutional investors to build the first-ever solar mortgage real estate investment trust.

SOLAR RACKING & TRACKING INNOVATION

US solar racking industry now innovating, consolidating, PV Magazine
With installers and developers trying to squeeze every kilowatt-hour out of every rooftop and every array, racking and trackers are the unsung heroes that secure and tilt panels, while maximizing output and protecting wiring and other gear.

AMERICAN WIND POWER FACTS

Six Facts to Know About American Wind Power During National Clean Energy Week, Climate Week NYC, REVE

U.S. wind power plays an important role in diversifying America’s energy portfolio, and provides affordable, reliable electricity for millions of Americans.  As we kick off both NCEW and Climate Week NYC and their discussion of common-sense solutions to support economic recovery, here are six things you need to know about wind energy:

WALMART

FACEBOOK’S NEW CLIMATE STRATEGY

Facebook aims to fight climate misinformation and reach net zero emissions by 2030, BusinessGreen article republished by GreenBiz

Following years of criticism for its part in the spread of climate misinformation, Facebook has announced plans for a new virtual Climate Science Information Center that will connect its users to up-to-date science-based climate information. The Climate Science Information Center initially will launch in the United States, United Kingdom, Germany and France and bring together factual resources from the world’s leading climate organizations. The firm announced the launch of the dedicated climate space on its site last week as it announced a new plan to reach net zero emissions from its supply chain, including suppliers, employee commuting and business travel, by 2030. 

TESLA BATTERY DAY

Tesla slashes the price of the Powerpack by 27% on Battery Day

‘Game-Changer’ FERC Order Opens Up Wholesale Grid Markets to Distributed Energy Resources

By Jeff St. John, Senior Editor, Greentech Media

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) passed Order 2222, which is intended to allow small distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar and behind-the-meter batteries, to participate in energy, capacity, and ancillary services markets operated by regional transmission organizations (RTOs) and independent system operators (ISOs).

RTOs and ISOs oversee the transmission grids serving electricity to two-thirds of the country. Much of the impact of the order will depend on how market rules are designed to incorporate distributed resources, which are predicted to reach 380 gigawatts of installed capacity across the country’s grid by 2025. RTOs and ISOs will have 270 days to file implementation compliance plans after Order 2222 goes into effect in 60 days. Read more here.

MORE ON ORDER 2222

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SOLSMART

Since 2016, SolSmart has provided in-depth technical assistance to hundreds of local governments nationwide and has awarded over 370 cities, towns, counties, and regional organizations with SolSmart designations for their solar achievements. If you are interested in becoming a SolSmart community, click one of these links: 

Request A Consultation
Apply For Designation 

U.S. AIRPORTS ADOPTING SOLAR

CU Denver Researcher Analyzes the Use of Solar Energy at U.S. Airports, CU Denver News
By studying 488 public airports in the United States, University of Colorado Denver School of Public Affairs researcher Serena Kim, PhD, found that 20% of them have adopted solar photovoltaic (PV), commonly known as solar panels, over the last decade. Solar photovoltaic (PV) is the conversion of light into electricity using semiconducting materials that exhibit the photovoltaic effect. 

NET-ZERO GLOBAL ECONOMY

Net Zero by 2050 Is Achievable, Affordable, and Will Improve Lives, Rocky Mountain Institute
A net-zero global economy is technically and economically possible by the middle of this century. The technologies and business solutions needed to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero are already available or close to being brought to market. That is the encouraging conclusion of the latest report, Making Mission Possible, by the Energy Transitions Commission (ETC).

Nebraska Environmental Trust Awards $130,000 Second-Year Grant Funding to Independent Colleges Foundation to Help Complete Sustainability Learning Lab at Bellevue University

Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation, Business Wire

The Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation (CINCF) announced today that it has received a $130,000 grant from The Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to provide second-year funding in support of a new sustainability learning lab at Bellevue University. Construction on the Sustainability Learning Lab began in the spring of 2019 and is expected to be completed later in the fall of 2020.

The completed project will include a 7,000-square foot outdoor-indoor facility supporting a greenhouse, solar and wind generation stations, a biofuel algae pond and an outdoor classroom. The lab will support science and environmental sustainability education, research, public awareness and green workforce development. When completed, it is expected to engage and educate more than 2,500 students, educators, researchers and campus visitors a year. Read more here.

NORTHEAST COMMUNITY COLLEGE ROUNDTABLE SESSIONS

Northeast Community College will host two roundtable sessions in the coming weeks that will serve as a follow up to business and community members’ participation in workforce needs assessments of the region that have been completed on behalf of the Northeast Nebraska Growing Together Initiative. The first session will be held on Tuesday, September 29, from 4-5 p.m., with the second session on Thursday, October 1. Both sessions will be held virtually via Zoom.

To register for either of the Northeast Community College Workforce Roundtable Solutions sessions, go online to northeast.edu/workforce-solutionsRegister by September 25th.

13th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference Postponed due to COVID-19

News Release, Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference Planning Committee 

The 13th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference scheduled for November 9-10, 2020 has been postponed due to COVID-19 based restrictions and health risks. The Planning Committee feels the face-to-face interaction and networking between participants and Conference exhibitors and sponsors is an important component of the annual Conference. “The safety of our participants and the need for our participants to freely visit with each other were the primary considerations,” said Conference Chair John Hansen.  

The next annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference will be held on November 8-10, 2021 at the Lincoln Cornhusker Marriott.

The Planning Committee is also working to develop virtual outreach opportunities to share information about the issues and progress within the industry. “There are many exciting developments going on in both the wind and solar industries,” Conference Chairman John Hansen said.

The Planning Committee encourages everyone wanting more information on the wide range of issues facing wind and solar energy development to visit the Conference website at www.nebraskawsc.comThe website includes an extensive library of recent presentations from leading state and nationwide industry experts as well as past Conference presentations. Past expert presentations can be found under “Resources” and are organized by year and topic on the website. The Planning Committee urges you to take full advantage of the resources our website has to offer.

Details regarding virtual outreach and the 2021 Conference will be posted on the Conference website as they develop. To sign-up for email updates, please visit the Conference website.

The Planning Committee thanks everyone for their past support and looks forward to seeing you next year.