Author Archives: Helen Deffenbacher

Finding New Opportunity For Old Coal-Fired Power Plant Sites

By Jeff Brady, NET Nebraska

Nearly 300 coal-fired power plants have been “retired” since 2010 according to the Sierra Club, a trend that continues despite President Trump’s support for coal. That’s left many communities worried those now idled places will simply be mothballed. “We don’t want to see sites like this rust away, be eyesores on the community and offer no real tax revenue going forward, no employment opportunities,” says Denise Brinley, Executive Director at the Pennsylvania Governor’s Office of Energy. Her state has been hit with 14 coal plants shut down in the past 9 years, and so the Department of Community and Economic Development has created a plan for redeveloping some of them. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted

Doane university divests from fossil fuels

KLKN TV News

Doane University students and staff are working together to get the university to divest from the fossil fuel industry by 2030.  They will be switching to sustainable technologies through investing in renewable resources as the source of their power. Doane currently has two investments in the oil and gas industries that are set to expire in the next 10 years. Through the influence of the student movement, the university has agreed to no longer renew these partnerships. Doane University’s agreement is the first in Nebraska. Read more here.

US Wind Industry’s Response to Solar’s Rise: Embrace It

By Karl-Erik Stromsta, Greentech Media

Onshore wind is the largest and cheapest source of renewable power in the U.S. today, but solar is catching up quickly. No one is more aware of that urgent reality than the wind industry itself. Renewables markets long dominated by wind, including Texas, are set for a wave of solar projects over the next few years. Many of the country’s largest wind developers are amassing in-house solar teams. Amid these changes, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) trade group announced Tuesday that its flagship annual Windpower conference and exhibition will expand to include solar and storage, starting next year in Denver. Continue reading here.

Photo of a Texas Wind Farm from AWEA’s Free Use Image Gallery.

Powering the Future: where the wind energy industry has been and what lies ahead

By Al Joens, KTIV, Siouxland’s News Channel

Siouxland is naturally-suited for wind farms, and Iowa is one of the biggest players in the industry. 42-hundred-plus turbines; 3rd in the nation in wind power capacity installed, number 1 in percentage of electricity generated by wind. Almost 40 percent of Iowa’s electricity comes from wind turbines.

Nebraska’s numbers are about one-fourth those of Iowa, but the Husker State is on track to double its installed wind capacity. In 2018, no other state added new wind capacity at a faster rate than Nebraska. That’s due in large part to the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project in Dixon County. Read more here.

Enel Green Power North America’s Photo of the 320-MW Rattlesnake Creek wind farm located in Dixon County, Nebraska.

Also in the News

Drinking Buddies: How to pair a beer with your next solar farm (and why)

By Chris Crowell, Solar Builder

So, a solar developer and a beekeeper walk into a craft brewery … have you heard this one before? No? Then you need to chat with Rob Davis. He’s the director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy, a non-profit that promotes better vegetation on solar farms and pulls together partnerships to include bee apiaries as well.

“Whenever a solar farm is built on arable land, we want to make sure that we make productive use of that land,” Davis says, whose team has developed solar farm vegetation programs for more than 3,500 acres of projects in 10 states. “We want solar farms treated like rich soil that we’re borrowing from our grandkids, who will be inheriting it after that solar asset hits its end of life in 30 or 40 years.” Continue reading here.

Photo: A pollinator-friendly solar farm designed and managed by Engie.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

ENERGY STORAGE

OPINION

  • Trump should back renewable energy, it’s fiscally responsible, by Jon Anderson and Heather Reams, Opinion Contributors, The Hill
    Jon Anderson is a founder of The Western Way, a non-profit organizations focused on free-market solutions to U.S. environmental challenges. Heather Reams is the executive director of Citizens for Responsible Energy Solutions, a non-profit dedicated to advancing Republican solutions to address our nation’s energy, economic and environmental security while increasing America’s competitive edge.
  • Renewable energy ownership: A game plan for utilities, Utility Dive. Contributed Opinion by Brian R. Murphy, Energy Tax Partner, Ernst & Young LLP.

SOLAR & WIND ENERGY JOBS

OPPD launches low-income efficiency pilot program

By Ethan Howland, American Public Power Association

The Omaha Public Power District is launching a pilot program aimed at expanding the public power utility’s energy efficiency program among its low-income customers. “We want to make our customers aware of energy efficiency to reduce their energy burden and cut their costs,” said Britton Gabel, OPPD product specialist. The pilot project is a redesign of OPPD’s Smart Steps low-income energy efficiency program, according to Gabel. Through a revamped program, OPPD hopes to reach segments of the low-income population the utility hasn’t reached before. Continue reading here.

OPPD’s Income-Qualified Energy Efficiency Pilot begins in June.

Previously Posted
OPPD Customers Embracing Programs, Pilots To Help Manage Their Energy Usage, OPPD News Release

Links to additional OPPD programs included in the news release: 

New OPPD Resource: Energy Conservation Video
4 little-known summer energy tips, The Wire

Nebraska needs more clean energy, NPPD board member Melissa Freelend says

By Mike Konz, The Grand Island Independent

Melissa Freelend wants Nebraskans to have more clean, renewable energy, and she’s working toward that goal as a member of the board of directors at Nebraska Public Power District. Elected in 2016, Freelend, 32, is the NPPD Board’s youngest member. She’s a Grand Island native and is employed in media and broadcasting. Her District 3 encompasses Buffalo and Hall counties. Continue reading here.

Futuristic lawn care: UNK using technology to tackle yardwork

UNK Communications, The Kearney Hub

“Snips” and “Chopper,” a pair of appropriately nicknamed robotic mowers, were introduced to campus last week as part of a pilot project launched by UNK Facilities Management and Planning. The goal, according to assistant director Michael Cremers, is to increase efficiency and flexibility within the department while trimming the university’s annual landscaping expenses. Down the line, Cremers added, the charging stations [for the robotic mowers] could be set up to run entirely on solar power. UNK currently receives 25 percent of its electricity from a solar park in northeast Kearney. Read more here.

Kearney’s Solar Farm, which consists of approximately 23,000 panels, is located on 53 acres in the city’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing, The panels are mounted on a tracker-designed racking system. To date, the array is Nebraska’s largest solar project, generating 5.8 megawatts of electricity, or about 5% of Kearney’s peak demand. Image Credit: SoCore Energy
Solar Farm Developer: SoCore Energy
Installer: Interconnection Systems based in Central City, Nebraska
NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar Program

Senators launch bipartisan initiative on long term solutions to expiring energy tax credits

By Iulia Gheorghiu, Editor, Utility Dive


Tax credits have proven effective in jump-starting energy industries and driving adoption of new technology and infrastructure. However, as credits wind down, the renewable energy industry has been gripped by uncertainty in recent years, with federal legislators approving short-term extensions. Both the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee announced a bipartisan initiative on Thursday to craft long-term solutions for the expiring tax breaks, with task forces focused on energy tax credits and disaster tax relief among others. Read more here.

Image Credit: Sen. Chuck Grassley, via YouTube

Nebraska Solar Schools Update

 

Nebraska Solar Schools, a Nebraskans for Solar program, has launched a new pilot project made possible by a Nebraska Environmental Trust grant: 100 NEED Solar Energy Kits for 100 Nebraska Schools. So far, schools in the following communities have requested the free NEED (National Energy Education Development) Solar Energy Kits: Ainsworth, Ashland-Greenwood, Bellevue, Gothenburg, Lincoln, Omaha, and Sargent. These kits have been sent via UPS. Nebraska school administrators, teachers, and after-school program directors are invited to apply for a kit.

To learn more and download the one-page form, Request A Solar Kit, please visit: www.nebraskasolarschools.org.

Recommended Reading
Nebraska Solar Schools Awarded $31,250, Rapid City Journal
What happens when schools go solar? Stanford Earth Matters Magazine