Author Archives: Helen Deffenbacher

OPPD Board Clears The Way For State’s Largest Solar Presence, With Natural Gas Backup

OPPD News Release

Today, the Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors voted to add between 400 and 600 megawatts of utility-scale solar capacity to OPPD’s energy portfolio. It will be the largest solar presence in the state of Nebraska and one of the largest in the region. The project, proposed by senior management at last month’s board meeting, also includes natural gas backup for the solar generation, to support accreditation and resiliency requirements, as well as the modernization of some of OPPD’s other natural gas assets. As the grid continues to evolve, OPPD may also look at adding voltage-support devices, which help maintain a consistent quality of electricity. The new natural gas assets are anticipated to run only when needed in order to serve OPPD’s peaking and grid support needs. Continue reading here.

The Wire News Story

OPPD takes next step towards adding state’s largest utility-scale solar presence, by Jason Kuiper

More Nebraska News

Bluestem offers tour of Fairmont wind farm, Aurora News Register 

Creighton University president rejects student recommendation to divest from fossil fuels

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Creighton University will not divest from fossil fuels, as the Jesuit school’s administration declined to act on a non-binding referendum supported by 86% of the student body. While declining to divest, [President Daniel] Hendrickson announced he has asked the investment subcommittee of the university’s board of trustees to evaluate and consider investments in companies developing alternative energy sources and technologies aimed at reducing carbon emissions. He added Creighton will continue to use its shareholder position to push for carbon-reduction resolutions, and will seek out partnerships with groups like the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the national Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility.
Read more here.

Links

Photo by Creighton University student Emily Burke: Hundreds of Creighton University students demonstrate outside St. John’s Church on the Omaha, Nebraska campus in April pressing the Jesuit school to take increased action on climate change, including divesting its endowment from fossil fuels.

Additional Resources 

As You Sow
Our mission is to promote environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Our vision is a safe, just, and sustainable world in which protecting the environment and human rights is central to corporate decision making. Corporations are responsible for most of the pressing social and environmental problems we face today — we believe corporations must be a willing part of the solutions. We make that happen.
Online Tools include “Fossil Free Funds”

Resources on Climate Change

Billion Dollar Green Challenge
The Billion Dollar Green Challenge (The Challenge) encourages colleges, universities, and other nonprofit institutions to invest a combined total of one billion dollars in self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency improvements. Participating institutions will achieve reductions in operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating regenerating funds for future projects. In 2011, The Sustainable Endowments Institute launched The Challenge in collaboration with 16 partner organizations to help nonprofit institutions achieve sizable energy savings through the use of green revolving funds. Green Revolving Funds: A Guide to Implementation & Management

CDP
Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions. We believe that improving corporate awareness through measurement and disclosure is essential to the effective management of carbon and climate change risk. We request information on climate risks and low carbon opportunities from the world’s largest companies on behalf of over 525 institutional investor signatories with a combined US$96 trillion in assets. 

Ceres
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and inequitable workplaces. Our mission: Ceres is transforming the economy to build a sustainable future for people and the planet.
Initiatives include: Commit to Climate, We Are Still In, Climate Action 100+ and Clean Trillion
Global Initiative: 
Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk and Sustainability

Coalition for Green Capital 
The Coalition for Green Capital’s mission is to drive greater clean energy investment into existing and new markets, in the United States and in developing countries with the goal of creating a 100% clean energy platform. To realize this opportunity, CGC incubates local clean energy finance organizations – often called Green Banks – and structures public, private and mission-driven capital for investment through those organizations. A large network of local clean energy finance organizations can access hard-to-reach projects, expand clean energy equity, and provide a scalable model for a thriving network for clean energy investment.

Proxy Preview
The annual Proxy Preview report is the #1 resource for shareholders looking to align their values with their investments. Proxy Preview is a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investment Institute, and Proxy Impact. Proxy Preview provides the most comprehensive data on hundreds of shareholder resolutions – including environmental, corporate political spending, human rights, diversity, sustainable governance issues, and much more. Shareholder resolutions are a key form of engagement for U.S. investors interested in changing the environmental and social impacts of companies. Register for a free account to view the 2019 Proxy Preview report and watch a webinar at the website link above.
Shareholder Resources
Proxy Voting 101

Responsible Endowments Coalition
The Responsible Endowments Coalition works to build and unify the college and university-based responsible investment movement, both by educating and empowering a diverse network of individuals to act on their campuses, and by fostering a national network for collective action. We empower people to defend human rights and the environment while making both corporations and universities accountable to global stakeholders. Our goal is to foster social and environmental change by making responsible investment common practice amongst colleges and universities, and to support the next generation of activists for the endowment movement. Resources are available for: Students / Alumni / Committees, Administrators and Trustees. 

Second Nature
Since 1993, Second Nature has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators at hundreds of colleges and universities to help make the principles of sustainability fundamental to every aspect of higher education. In late 2006, twelve visionary college and university presidents initiated the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). They were motivated by their conviction that higher education had the capacity and responsibility to lead on climate and sustainability action for the sake of their students and society.
See: The Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments
Additional Initiatives Include:
Carbon Offset Resources for Colleges and Universities
University Climate Change Coalition (UC3)
Resource Library

Sustainable Endowments Institute
The Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) conducts research, education, and outreach to advance resilient institutional responses to climate change. Initiatives Include:

  • The Billion Dollar Green Challenge (See above).
  • GRITS, an online platform designed to streamline the tracking and calculation of project-level energy, financial, and carbon savings data for all sustainability projects and efficiency improvements.
  • The Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign: Since June of 2011, SEI has acted as a campus and endowment consultant for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, working with student groups and partner organizations to advocate for colleges and universities to divest their endowment funds from fossil fuel companies. For more information on the campaign, visit: Power Shift Network and GoFossilFree.org.

As Climate Change Threatens Midwest’s Cultural Identity, Cities Test Ways to Adapt

By Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News
Part of the Midwest newsroom collaborative project Unfamiliar Ground. 

Think of a Minnesota with almost no ice fishing. A Missouri that is as hot and dry as Texas. River and lake communities where catastrophic flooding happens almost every year, rather than every few generations. This, scientists warn, is the future of the Midwest if emissions continue at a high rate, and it threatens the very core of the region’s identity. With extreme heat waves and flooding increasingly making that future feel more real, city leaders have started looking for ways to adapt.

In “Unfamiliar Ground,” a joint project organized by InsideClimate News, reporters across the Midwest are exploring what communities are doing to respond to climate change, with stories from IllinoisIndianaMichigan and Missouri, and this one from Minnesota. Read more here. 

Learn more about the National Environment Reporting Network and read the network’s spring project: Middle America’s Low-Hanging Carbon: The Search for Greenhouse Gas Cuts from the Grid, Agriculture and Transportation

Additional Recommended Reading & Viewing 

  • The Intergenerational Ethics of Climate Change, by Steve Cohen, Earth Institute, Columbia University. The power of fossil fuel interests stems from their investment in current and past energy infrastructure. The power of the climate strikers is based on their ethical and literal claim to the future. Many of us who will not live to see that climate future share our children’s worries about it just the same. Even if the ethical issues are not as crisp and clear as some climate activists like to think they are, they still have power and currency. And we owe the young climate activists our attention and support.
  • Creighton students vote in favor of divesting university funds from fossil fuel industry, Omaha World-Herald
  • YouTube Video: Creighton University’s Divestment / Reinvestment Referendum
    We as students of Creighton University are calling upon our administration and board of directors to uphold our Jesuit values by divesting (and reinvesting) the over $60 million we have invested in direct extraction fossil fuel companies. The moral argument for this action is clear. Anyone who accepts climate science can see the importance of creating incentives for the market to transition to renewable energy by socially conscious investing. At Creighton, we are shielded from the most catastrophic effects of climate change on the poor and vulnerable of our world, and we have a moral obligation to be their partner in this global fight.
  • Doane university divests from fossil fuels, KLKN TV
    Doane University students and staff are working together to get the university to divest from the fossil fuel industry by 2030.
  • Opinion: Renewable electricity is the solution to the climate crisis, by Zach Renshaw, Chair of Doane University’s Climate Reality Campus Corps, The Doane Line. This post includes Climate Reality resources.
  • Go Fossil Free.Org: See a searchable database of universities and other groups that have divested.
  • Youth are calling for immediate climate action, and majority of Americans agree, The Guardian/GreenBiz. This story is part of Covering Climate Now, a global collaboration of more than 323 news outlets to strengthen coverage of the climate story. Two-thirds of Americans believe climate change is either a crisis or a serious problem, with a majority wanting immediate action to address global heating and its damaging consequences, major new polling has found. “Americans are finally beginning waking up to the existential threat that the climate emergency poses to our society,” said Margaret Klein Salamon, a clinical psychologist and founder of the Climate Mobilization Project. “This is huge progress for our movement — and it’s young people that have been primarily responsible for that.”
  • Once a critic, Chamber of Commerce now backs Paris Climate Agreement, Axios

Upcoming Event

Nebraska Sierra Club Presentation: 24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action – The Great Plains, November 21, 2019 at 7 pm, First United Methodist Church 

On November 21, Climate Reality is presenting 24 Hours of Reality: Truth in Action, a global conversation on the truth of the climate crisis and how we solve it. For one full 24-hour period, Climate Reality Leader volunteers trained by former Vice President Al Gore are holding public presentations and conversations on our changing climate.

Nebraska Sierra Club’s Presenter: Dr. David Corbin, Chair of the Nebraska Chapter Sierra Club

For each person who attends the event and fills out a form at the presentation, Nebraska Sierra Club will plant one tree on their behalf.

More Info? Contact David Corbin: dcorbin@cox.net / (402) 690-9134

All The Energy Storage The Grid Needs Will Soon Be Under Our Noses

By Jeff McMahon, Forbes

Vehicle-to-grid technology is not a new idea—China jumped on it early—but it looks like an increasingly promising idea as electric-vehicle adoption takes off. The International Energy Agency’s most conservative estimate puts 130 million electric vehicles on the road by 2030, and [World Resources Institute researcher Camron Gorguinpour] said those vehicles will contain almost ten times the amount of energy storage needed by the grid. Read more here.

Photo: Enel’s JuiceBox Pro 40 residential EV charging station.

Additional Recommended Reading 

Previously Posted

With 10% penetration, EVs could shift all residential peak load to night, analysis of SoCal Ed finds, Utility Dive. Electric vehicles have the potential to act as virtual power plants that can help utilities soak up midday renewable energy and discharge in the evenings to reduce peak load, according to a study from Jackson Associates. The analysis, based on 5,000 Southern California Edison (SCE) customers’ hourly loads, commuting behavior and “potential electric vehicle (EV) ownership,” concluded that at a 10% EV penetration, the batteries could shift the utility’s entire residential peak load to nighttime hours.

Sustainability-linked loans soar as green bond issues slow

By Sara E. Murphy, Contributor, GreenBiz Group

According to BloombergNEF (BNEF) data, total sustainable debt issuance surpassed $1 trillion in 2019, in what BNEF characterized as “a landmark moment for the market.” Some mechanisms for verification and setting standards already have emerged, including the Green Loan Principles promulgated in March 2018. Building on those principles, the Sustainability Linked Loan Principles (PDF) (SLLPs) were launched this March. The framework features four core components: Learn more here.

Sara E. Murphy is a consultant and freelance writer on sustainable investment and corporate responsibility, with a focus on climate change and extractive industries. Her articles have appeared in the Motley Fool and Responsible Investor.

BIFACIAL SOLAR MODULE EXEMPTION NEWS

Court Temporarily Halts Trump Administration’s U-Turn on Bifacial Solar Modules, Greentech Media The bifacial solar module exemption lives to fight another day in a provisional win for developers like Invenergy.

THE SOLINATOR GARDEN

Colorado’s Solinator Garden completed by Solaris Energy and Namasté Solar, Solar Builder
Solaris Energy and Namasté Solar – two Colorado-based solar firms that work nationwide – have completed The Solinator Garden, a 1-megawatt solar array at Kyle Ave in Fort Collins. The system involved over 100 Colorado-based people, including staff at Namasté Solar, Solaris Energy, and the Fort Collins Utilities as part of their Solar Power Purchase Program (SP3). The Solinator Garden is named to highlight the project’s use of land underneath and around the solar panels to provide a healthy habitat for local pollinator species. 

TRI-STATE

Tri-State Generation and Transmission sells electricity to 43 distribution cooperatives in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

  • Changing energy landscape shakes up rural co-ops, Albuquerque Journal
    This is the first part of a three-day series exploring how rural electric cooperatives served by wholesale power supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission are struggling to meet new renewable energy and carbon-reduction mandates and transition to a cleaner, lower-cost grid. The co-ops want freedom to build or purchase a lot more renewable energy independent of Tri-State, which limits self-generation by its member utilities to 5% of their total electric load, meaning 95% of their power must come exclusively from Tri-State under long-term agreements that stretch to 2050.
  • Kit Carson Electric expects to be at 100% daytime solar by 2021, Mountain Town News
    In 2016, the coop began negotiating with wholesale provider Tri-State Generation and Transmission for an exit fee. It also hooked up with Guzman Energy, then a new full-requirements power supplier. With Guzman paying the $37 million exit fee, Kit Carson and Guzman in 2017 accelerated investments in solar energy.
  • For Colorado energy provider, the future of coal looks increasingly grim, Energy News Network

NEW EV REPORT

Incentives for EVS, charging infrastructure are key Q3 trend, American Public Power Association Among the top electric vehicle policy trends in the third quarter of 2019 was financial incentives for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, with the majority of incentives under consideration being rebate programs, a new report from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center said.

Executive Summary: 50 States Of Electric Vehicles, NC Clean Energy Technology Center

EC TOOL FOR CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS

Building Transparency.Org: Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3)
EC3 is a free, industry-supported, construction-specific material search and planning tool that helps construction professionals quantify EC, find high-impact reductions, and guide procurement to reduce embodied carbon. Embodied Carbon (EC) makes up most of the 2030 climate impact of a typical new office building. EC is the CO2 emitted in producing materials for a building, e.g. concrete, steel, glass, and timber. Substantial emissions come from both the energy and the chemistry involved, and are about 8% of global emissions.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

A SERIES FOR CHILDREN

Curious Kids: how do solar panels work, The Conversation AU
The Sun produces a lot of energy called solar energy. Australia gets 20,000 times more energy from the Sun each day than we do from oil, gas and coal. This solar energy will continue for as long as the Sun lives, which is another 5 billion years.

Additional Recommended Reading: Curious Kids: how does electricity work?

Military experience provides natural transition to clean energy careers, veterans say

By David Thill and Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

Kevin Johnson served as a captain in the U.S. Army and spent a year stationed in Baiji, Iraq, home to a major oil refinery. The war made clear to him the world’s dependence on fossil fuels. Johnson was stationed “at the heart of the oil infrastructure in Iraq,” he said, “watching the infrastructure being attacked on a daily basis and having my soldiers ask me, ‘When are we going home?’” That was the genesis of Johnson’s career in clean energy. “I knew that when I got out that I wanted to be on the other side of that fight,” he told the Energy News Network.
Continue reading here.

Photo by Ken Oltmann / U.S. Department of Energy

Among other resources, the authors reference the 2019 Clean Jobs Midwest survey, which provides information on 12 states, including veteran representation.

Our State’s Executive Summary: Nebraska: Home to 19,004 Clean Energy Jobs

In Nebraska, 9.6 percent of the state’s clean energy workers are veterans. By comparison, veterans make up 6 percent of the national labor force. The large ratio of veterans transitioning to clean energy jobs is partially the result of the U.S. Department of Defense’s long-standing commitment to investing in renewable energy, energy efficiency and training programs that prepare veterans for private-sector employment in industries like solar. Small businesses drive the state’s clean energy sector – 70.9 percent of Nebraska’s clean energy businesses employ fewer than 20 individuals.

SUMMARY: With 19,000 jobs and counting, the clean energy industry is a significant employer in Nebraska. Even as jobs in the state overall are decreasing, jobs in Nebraska’s clean energy industry are growing at a relatively healthy 3.5 percent clip. Clean energy employers in Nebraska are bullish when it comes to ongoing hiring: they predict a 7.7 percent increase in clean energy jobs in 2019, higher than the regional average.

Additional Recommended Reading 

  • Take Action to Bring Solar Jobs to More Veterans, Solar Energy Industries Association
    This Veterans Day, the solar industry is doubling down on its commitment to hire and uplift veterans and former service members. More than 19,000 veterans are working in the solar industry throughout the United States, or 7.8% of all U.S. solar workers. We’re proud that the solar industry is hiring veterans at a higher percentage than the overall economy, but we still can do so much more to welcome and train former service members.
  • New Solar Veterans Initiatives to Advance Training and Career Pathways, SEIA News Release
    The Solar Foundation is launching two new solar workforce development programs to connect transitioning military service members and veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces with career training, professional development, and employment opportunities in the solar industry. In partnership with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s “Hiring Our Heroes” program, the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP), and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), The Solar Foundation is leading efforts to expand and strengthen a nationwide pipeline of talented job candidates with military experience into a range of advanced roles at solar companies across the United States. These projects — the Solar Ready Vets Fellowship Program and the Solar Opportunities and Readiness (SOAR) Initiative — are funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) as part of the expanding Solar Ready Vets Network.
  • Saluting America’s wind power veterans: Wind brings stability, Guest Bloggers, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog. Steven Valentine is a Wind Tech 2 at Clearway Energy’s Elbow Creek Wind project in Big Springs, Texas. He is a U.S. Army veteran. 
  • Saluting America’s wind power veterans: Teaching the next generation, Into the Wind

Midlands Voices: OPPD moving too fast with power plan

By John Crabtree, Omaha World-Herald. The writer, of Fremont, Nebraska,
is the campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

After stating a desire to engage the public in its on-going decarbonization planning, OPPD has presented a plan of its own without engaging stakeholders in a meaningful way. “Power with Purpose” was first introduced at the Oct. 17 board meeting. A timeline was established for consideration of the proposal at the Nov. 14 meeting and specifying that OPPD would receive public input on the proposal through Nov. 8. Having touted the intention to get feedback about the plans, OPPD is now pushing through a plan to spend what would amount to half billion dollars of ratepayer funds while only offering a few weeks for the public to process. Read more here. Requires digital subscription.

Related

More power needed: OPPD plans to build Nebraska’s largest solar farm, plus natural gas plants, Omaha World-Herald. Construction on the new solar farm and natural gas plants is expected to begin in 2020. The solar farm could be completed in 2022 or 2023. The natural gas plants could be built by 2023 or 2024.

Previously Posted Reports & News Stories

Energy Efficiency

Nebraska’s growth potential for developing our communities’ energy-efficient economies is enormous, which would reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and keep more of our energy dollars in our state. Nebraska ranks 43rd on the 2019 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy State Scorecard. The Scorecard demonstrates that energy efficiency is “a key resource nationwide, with utilities spending approximately $8 billion in 2018 for efficiency programs and saving 27.1 million MWh of electricity:” Resource Link: 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard – 13th Edition

Nebraska’s Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Other State Rankings

  • Colorado: 14th
  • Iowa: 23rd
  • Kansas: 46th
  • Massachusetts: 1st
  • Minnesota: 8th
  • Missouri: 30th

Carbon Footprints / Environmental Impacts Of Solar & Wind Energy Versus “Cleanest” Natural Gas Power Plants

  • An introduction to the state of wind power in the U.S., by Philip Warburg, environmental lawyer and former president of the Conservation Law Foundation. Published by Yale Climate Connections. As a non-carbon-emitting technology, wind power has a big environmental advantage over its leading fossil fuel competitors. Onshore and offshore wind has a life cycle carbon footprint of 20 grams or less of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour. The “cleanest” natural gas power plants – those that use combined cycle technology – produce more than 400 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour. Supercritical coal plants – the least polluting in the industry – generate close to 800 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour.
  • Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Solar Photovoltaics, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Photovoltaic (PV) solar has a life cycle carbon footprint of 40 grams or less of COequivalent per kilowatt-hour.

Demand from first-time, repeat buyers powers new era of large-scale renewables growth

By Monica JaburgDeputy Director, Communications and Media,
Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance. Published by GreenBiz.

Large-scale energy buyers are driving the energy landscape shift by collectively voicing their demand for accessible clean energy options to decrease their carbon impacts. In 2018 alone, the group accounted for 6.3 gigawatts in announced renewable energy deals — an amount equal to over 60 percent of all new renewables generation added in the United States last year.

However, the U.S. commercial and industrial sector is still the most energy-intensive, accounting for about 50 percent of all power consumption and 34 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. So what’s next for this community when it comes to advance its clean energy and GHG emissions reduction mandates? Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

TRI-STATE NEWS

IN NEBRASKA

  • Excelsior to buy 109 MW of Nebraska wind capacity from Invenergy, Renewables Now
    Prairie Breeze II and Prairie Breeze III initiated operations in late 2015 and early 2016, respectively. They have 25-year power purchase agreements (PPA) in place with Lincoln Electric System and City of Grand Island. The transaction is seen to be completed next month. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the tax equity investor in the projects, the announcement says.
  • Wind costs’ decline aids rural Nebraska, Letter to the Editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Cody Smith, Ames, Iowa Policy associate, Center for Rural Affairs

OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO NEBRASKA SOLAR BUSINESSES

Solar Jobs Census: The Solar Foundation is again collecting data for their annual National Solar Jobs Census. This confidential survey will take fifteen minutes of your time and will provide essential feedback to ensure that your company’s contributions to our economy are well
understood by policymakers and the general public. Deadline: November 15, 2019.
Complete the survey here.

LEGISLATION

  • SEIA garners industry support and lobbies for ITC extension, Solar Power World
    Solar contractors are on a time crunch to fit as many installations into 2019 as they can, because in 2020 the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) starts to lose its effectiveness. The ITC is a federal tax subsidy that, in its current capacity, gives solar system owners a 30% return on a solar project’s total tax liability in any market segment. In 2020 the ITC is slated to drop to 26%, 22% in 2021 and in 2022 it will decrease to a 10% subsidy for commercial and utility markets, and zero for residential, indefinitely. That is, unless, the renewables subsidy receives another extension. SEIA’s Campaign: Defend the Solar ITC
  • Legislation aims to accelerate geothermal energy development, American Public Power Association

EV NEWS

GM sells shuttered Ohio plant to EV truck start-up, Reuters

INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS – EXXON TRIAL

Exxon’s Climate Fraud Trial Nears Its End: What Does the State Have to Prove to Win?
With only days left before the two sides deliver their closing arguments, here’s a look at what the attorney general needs to prove and how Exxon is fighting the claims.

See Also

Previously Posted

Yale University Survey: Yale Poll Finds Majority of Americans Think ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Other Fossil Fuel Companies Should Pay for Climate Change Damage, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog. new survey by Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communications and supported by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) finds that most Americans (57 percent) think fossil fuel companies should pay for the damages caused by global warming.

Interactive Map – Click link and scroll down: This tool maps variations in Americans’ opinions about existing or potential lawsuits against fossil fuel companies.

Nebraska Data

  • A search by state shows that 50% of Nebraskans surveyed hold fossil fuel companies responsible for the local damage of global warming.
  • Several searches by county show the following results:

Cherry County: 58%
Colfax County: 56%
Dawes County: 57%
Douglas County: 56%
Lancaster County: 55%
Thurston County: 61%

Department of Energy Announces $128 Million in New Projects to Advance Solar Technologies

Department of Energy News Release

[Yesterday], the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced selections for $128 million in new projects to advance solar technologies. Through the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office, DOE will fund 75 innovative research projects that will lower solar electricity costs, while working to boost solar manufacturing, reduce red tape, and make solar systems more resilient to cyberattacks. Continue reading here.

See the full list of SETO projects here.

View lists of projects by topic areas:

Learn more about DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy here.

As the coal industry shrinks, miners deserve a just transition – here’s what it should include

By Ann Eisenberg, Assistant Professor of Law,
University of South Carolina, The Conversation

Murray Energy, one of the biggest private U.S. coal companies, has become the fifth coal company to file for bankruptcy in 2019. Union leaders and many elected officials worry that in addition to the 7,000 miners on Murray’s payroll, this step could threaten the solvency of the United Mine Workers of America pension fund, which supports over 100,000 retired miners and fully vested workers.

Whether people support or oppose the Trump administration’s efforts to prop up the coal industry, one point of agreement is that shifting from coal to cleaner fuels threatens struggling coal-dependent communities. Murray Energy’s bankruptcy is the latest reminder that it is past time to discuss a just transition for coal miners. Continue reading here.

Professor Eisenberg references the following initiative in her article:

POWER (Partnerships for Opportunity and Workforce and Economic Revitalization), a congressionally funded initiative that targets federal resources to help communities and regions that have been affected by job losses in coal mining, coal power plant operations, and coal-related supply chain industries due to the changing economics of America’s energy production.
Recent News Release: Appalachian Regional Commission Announces $44.4 Million to Diversify Region’s Coal-Impacted Economies
Summary of the Awards

REGIONAL GRASSROOTS INITIATIVES

All across the Appalachian region, renewable energy businesses, social entrepreneurs and nonprofits are leading the transition from coal to renewable energy. Some have been in existence for a number of years, while others are relatively new. All of them, however, share the same mission of creating a post-coal future for their own and neighboring communities. Those grassroots initiatives include:

SOLAR HOLLER
What We Believe: Solar Holler isn’t your typical company. We’re a social enterprise that is focused on bringing clean and local energy within reach of those who need it most–Appalachia’s community organizations, non-profits, municipalities, and our low-income neighbors. Why is our focus there?  Because every dollar a church, or a library, or a municipality doesn’t spend on utility bills means another dollar is going toward improving our towns and communities. Because West Virginia’s miners and their families powered America’s growth and cities during the 20th Century. If we have anything to do with it, we’ll power America throughout the 21st Century, too–with clean, renewable energy. And, most importantly, because these hills and hollers are home. Websitewww.solarholler.com 

KENTUCKIANS FOR THE COMMONWEALTH
We are Kentuckians. We believe that today we have our best chance in decades to build New Power in Kentucky. New Power means thousands of new jobs, healthy communities and opportunities for our children. But we have to address the problems caused by Old Power – old political power, old economic power and old energy power. Website: www.kftc.org 

I LOVE MOUNTAINS.ORG
Local, state, and regional organizations across Appalachia are working together to end mountaintop removal and create a prosperous future for the region. Through iLoveMountains.org, members of the Alliance for Appalachia have come together to use cutting edge technology to inform and involve Americans in their efforts to save mountains and communities.

Partners

1. Appalachian Voices
2. Black Warrior Riverkeeper 
3. Center for Coalfield Justice
4. Coal River Mountain Watch
5. Heartwood
6. Keeper of the Mountains Foundation
7. Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
8. Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
9. Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment
10. Sierra Club Environmental Justice
11. Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards
12. SouthWings
13. STAY Project
14. West Virginia Highlands Conservancy

Website: www.ilovemountains.org

NATIONAL INITIATIVE – THE JUST TRANSITION FUND

The Just Transition Fund (JTF) is a national philanthropic initiative focused on coal community transition. The Fund supports and connects frontline communities through four key strategies.

Where JTF Works
The Fund focuses on coalfield and power plant communities. Our geographic priorities include key states in Appalachia, the West, and the Midwest. The Fund gives preference to states experiencing the largest numbers of plant retirements and to regions that contain both plants and mines.