Author Archives: Helen Deffenbacher

Valmont uses proprietary trackers in 1-MW solar project supporting its manufacturing facility

By Billy Ludt, Solar Power World

Valmont Industries, a global provider of engineered products and services for infrastructure development and irrigation equipment and services for agriculture, celebrated the interconnection of its 1-MW solar field at its manufacturing facility in Valley, Nebraska. The new solar array is the largest privately-owned, behind-the-meter solar field in Nebraska, spanning 4.3 acres. Convert, a Valmont company, supplied 45 tracker tables making the array. Continue reading here.

Links to additional information:

Photo by Valmont – Project installer: Interconnection Systems Inc based in Central City, Nebraska.

GRAND ISLAND NEWS

Grand Island looks to sell surplus credits from green energy, by Brandon Summers, Grand Island Independent

“We’ve been approached by some companies that are interested in marketing these renewable energy credits to either utilities that are in states that have these mandates for renewable energy credits, or companies out there that are interested in reducing their carbon footprint,” Utilities Director Tim Luchsinger said. In 2015, the city launched its first wind project, and a solar array pilot project in 2018. A 50-megawatt wind project in Custer County will go online in two to three years. “That will increase our renewable energy to about 45% to 50% of our total energy used,” Luchsinger said.

Recommended Resources

Previously posted articles by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network:

  • Nebraska solar farm highlights tension between cities, electricity wholesaler
    The city of Norfolk, Nebraska, soon will celebrate its first solar farm — and the last one allowed under a contract with its electricity wholesaler. The 8.5-megawatt community solar project is being developed in partnership with the Nebraska Public Power District, which supplies power to most of the state outside of Omaha and Lincoln. The hitch for Norfolk is that the public utility’s contracts prevent municipal customers from generating more than 10% of their peak load from alternative sources, a threshold the city expects to reach with this project. “Northeast Nebraska is the renewable energy hotbed of the state,” said Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning. “I’d much rather use clean energy that’s made in our backyard than haul it in on a coal train from Wyoming, which is the status quo in Nebraska.”
  • Nebraska utility could slash emissions at little or no added cost, studies show
    A pair of reports by independent consultants both conclude that the Nebraska Public Power District could eliminate most of its carbon emissions without having to spend significantly more than it would otherwise for power.

TESLA SOLAR ROOFS

Solar energy popularity grows in Iowa, by Maggie O’Brien, The Nonpareil
A Council Bluffs electrical contractor is believed to be the first in Iowa and Nebraska to install Tesla solar roofs at the homes of customers across both states, including one customer who lives near Lake Manawa. PowerTech, which is headquartered in the Bluffs and has an office in Omaha, is awaiting the required permits before beginning construction at all three homes. In addition to the Manawa property, one home is located in rural Nebraska and one in central Iowa.

Weddle & Sons Roofing is also a certified Tesla Solar Roof installer in Nebraska. Office locations include Lincoln and Omaha.

Current job locations / listings on Weddle & Sons’ website Include Lincoln:

You Tube Video: We Installed A Tesla Solar Roof In One Day: Weddle & Sons Roofing

A Proclamation on Earth Day, 2021

By President Joseph R. Biden, The White House

On April 22, 1970, millions of Americans rallied together to protect the right of all of us to live free from environmental hazard and harm.  On that first Earth Day, they gathered all across America — on college campuses, in public parks, and State capitals — galvanized by a vision of a healthier, more prosperous Nation where all people could thrive.  Their untiring spirit sparked a national movement for environmental protection that endures today in the bedrock laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and treasured wild places and wildlife.

Earth Day was primarily conceived and brought to life by a dedicated public servant:  the late Senator Gaylord Nelson of Wisconsin.  Senator Nelson and his wife, Carrie Lee -– who herself passed away just last month –- were both dear friends who changed my life; it was Senator Nelson who helped persuade me to remain in the Senate after losing my first wife and daughter in a car accident in 1972.  Senator Nelson changed the world, too, by building a legacy of environmental protection through Earth Day and all of the progress that has come in its wake –- not because it was popular, but because it was the right thing to do for our children and grandchildren.

Over half a century later, that legacy lives on in the chorus of courageous young people across the world who are rising up to demand action on climate change.

Read the entire proclamation here.

Additional White House Briefing Room Releases & Statements

Students rally for full divestment commitment from NU Board of Regents

By Zach Wendling, The Daily Nebraskan

Aila Ganic and Madison Whitney, Sustain UNL’s president and vice president, respectively, and Divest NU organizers, presented three demands to the university. These include a call on the NU Board of Regents to commit to full divestment of its controlled funds by its August meeting, pass a resolution calling on the NU Foundation to fully divest by the end of the year and create a university-wide working group — that would include students — dedicated to the implementation of divestment and reinvestment in clean energy. The pair also called on NU President Ted Carter and University of Nebraska-Lincoln Chancellor Ronnie Green, who were in attendance at the rally, to step up and hear their call. Read more here.

Photo by Marissa Kraus

Additional Recommended Reading

Students renew call for NU to divest from fossil fuels, by Chris DunkerLincoln Journal Star
On Wednesday, during a blustery rally at the Union Plaza, organizers of Divest NU gathered to celebrate the recent action taken by the Board of Regents to add new criteria to how the university invests endowed funds. Earlier this month, regents approved adding “environmental, social and governance” criteria to its investment decisions for Fund N, roughly $370 million controlled by NU, which will allow the university to consider factors beyond simply making money.

‘Factors other than making money’ to be considered in how NU invests funds,by Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star

As clean energy jobs recover, can they lift left-behind U.S. communities?

By Jack GrahamThomson Reuters Foundation News Release

Whether in building electric cars or making homes more energy efficient, clean energy jobs are rapidly recovering from the COVID-19 downturn and could help support rural and other left-behind U.S. communities, a business analysis has found. While they represent 2% of total private sector employment in the United States, they make up more than 10% in rural Midwestern areas such as Pulaski County in Illinois and Jefferson County in Nebraska, E2 noted. Read more here.

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)
Environmental Entrepreneurs is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.

Annual Report

Clean Jobs America 2021: After Hard Year, Promise of Unparalleled Jobs Growth. FAQs about the report are available here.

Additional Recommended Reading

LOCAL SOLAR FOR ALL NEWS RELEASE

Broad coalition asks Congress to expand local rooftop and community solar power for all
WASHINGTON, D.C. — A coalition of advocates representing civil rights, indigenous, environment, equity, rural, and business organizations is calling on Congress to prioritize the equitable and just deployment of renewable energy through policies that support expanding local rooftop and community solar power for all.

MINNESOTA’S COMMUNITY SOLAR

Community solar surge strains Minnesota’s interconnection queue, by  Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

Minnesota lawmakers passed the state’s community garden solar law in 2013 and Xcel began formally accepting applications a year later. Projects must have a minimum of five customers and subscribers are limited to no more than 40% of power generation.

Today, Xcel’s community solar queue includes 515 projects that, if completed, will add 483 megawatts of capacity to its grid. The challenge is that many substations where the projects can connect to the grid are near capacity but still attracting multiple proposals, the utility said in its recent report to regulators.

Also Written by Frank Jossi: 

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

UC-Berkeley Report Claims Electric Cars Will Save Americans $2.7 Trillion, Create 2 Million Jobs, CleanTechnica

 

new report by the University of California at Berkeley makes several bold claims.

 

 

Additional Recommended Reading

CLEAN ENERGY ANALYSIS

Where progressives and conservatives agree on clean energy, by Sarah Golden, GreenBiz
From an ideological perspective, it’s curious that clean energy became a partisan issue. Looking at it as a technology, there is a ton to like about renewables across the political spectrum. This hasn’t escaped political conservatives outside the beltway.

A number of conservative groups champion clean energy, from the Conservative Energy Network (CEN) and Young Conservatives for Energy Reform (YCER) to the Christian Coalition for AmericaAs the federal government considers a massive infrastructure bill that would spur clean energy growth and decarbonize the economy, it’s worth looking at where the conservative and progressive ideologies align on clean energy, and where they diverge.

NEW GLOBAL FINANCE PLAN

Carney, Kerry launch global finance plan to boost climate action
LONDON (Reuters) – UN climate envoy Mark Carney and U.S. peer John Kerry on Wednesday announced a new plan to boost efforts by the financial system to help move the global economy to net zero greenhouse gas emissions.  [The] new group – Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) – will bring existing net zero initiatives together under one umbrella to help ensure all sub-sector efforts are consistent and ambitious.

Kerry’s support for the project follows a series of meetings with different chief executives from the financial sector over the last few months. So far, more than 160 firms with assets of at least $70 trillion have signed up, of which 43 are banks – as part of the Net-Zero Banking Alliance (NZBA) – including Barclays, Morgan Stanley and HSBC and Citi.

GLOBAL SURVEY OF WIND ENERGY EXPERTS ON COSTS

Predictions for Wind Energy Costs Drop Significantly, Renewable Energy Magazine.

Technology and commercial advancements are expected to continue to drive down the cost of wind energy, according to a survey led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) of the world’s foremost wind power experts.
Experts anticipate cost reductions of 17%-35% by 2035 and 37%-49% by 2050, driven by bigger and more efficient turbines, lower capital and operating costs, and other advancements. The findings are described in an article in the journal Nature Energy.

OPPD proposes recognizing ‘scientific consensus’ of humans’ role in climate change

By Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

The Omaha Public Power District board is proposing to explicitly acknowledge climate change and the role of humans in contributing to it, a position that stands in contrast to the Nebraska Legislature. The board is considering the following proposed strategic directive: “The OPPD Board of Directors recognizes the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, from human activity contribute to climate change impacts.” To comment, go to oppdcommunityconnect.com and click on the “SD 7 Environmental Stewardship” discussion box. Continue reading here.

National News
What to expect ahead of Biden’s global climate change summit, by Emma Newburger, CNBC
President Joe Biden will host a closely watched global leaders climate summit on Thursday and Friday, during which the U.S. is expected to unveil an updated carbon emission reduction target and urge cooperation with other nations to combat the climate crisis. The president has invited 40 world leaders to the virtual summit and is hoping to reach deals with some of the world’s largest greenhouse gas emitters. John Kerry, Biden’s climate envoy, has been meeting with officials in China and elsewhere to garner support for the summit.

President Biden Invites 40 World Leaders to Leaders Summit on Climate, The White House Briefing Room

Nebraskans for Solar Presentation: “Solar Power for Farms, Homes, and Businesses”

A Nebraska Earth Day Passport Event
April 20, 2021 – 7:00 to 8:30 pm

Please join us on Zoom for our special Earth Month event to learn about solar options for your farm, home, or business. Our guest speakers will be Jeff Berggren and Michael Shonka. All Nebraska solar installers are also invited to attend this event and contribute to the Q&A and discussion following their presentations.

Jeff Berggren manages GenPro Energy Solutions projects in Nebraska from the company’s office in Central City. He has worked in the renewable energy field since 2008 when he founded Husker Wind Power. With his construction and agricultural background, Jeff has managed multi-million-dollar energy efficiency projects for counties, school districts, and municipalities across Nebraska. Community projects to date include Lexington, Gothenburg, Aurora, Central City, and Fremont.

Michael Shonka, owner of Solar Heat and Electric based in Omaha, has over 30 years of experience in the solar industry. Recent projects include design and installation of multiple 25-kilowatt and 50-kilowatt systems for grid-tie applications. Specific examples of Michael’s work include: Nebraska’s first community solar project at Central City; Nebraska’s first Solar Lab at Metro Community College; an Army Corps of Engineers 50-kilowatt water pumping system; Nebraska’s first center pivot irrigation system, a 25-kilowatt project. 

Moderator & Q&A Facilitator: Leo Arens, Nebraskans for Solar President. Please send your questions to: Leo Arens sirsolarman77@gmail.com.

Note to Nebraska Earth Day Passport Participants: Leo will provide the code for our event following the Q&A.

Use this link to Join the Zoom meeting: 
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89193196410?pwd=cnhEY0g2SHZJWC91SlQ0K2l1VGNHQT09
Meeting ID: 891 9319 6410
Passcode: 015253

Mine workers union endorses Biden energy policies in exchange for job training

By Julie Tsirkin, NBC News

WASHINGTON — The United Mine Workers of America leadership announced Monday they support President Joe Biden’s green energy policies in exchange for a robust transition strategy, a move the union hopes its membership will support as a way to transition toward new jobs.

In his $2 trillion infrastructure plan, Biden proposed a sweeping investment in green energy such as wind, solar and other renewable energy projects. In an effort to help fossil fuel workers transition to new jobs, the plan also includes billions of dollars to employ dislocated utility workers in the coal, oil and gas industries. Read more here.

Remarks by Vice President Harris on the American Jobs Plan, The White House Briefing Room

OFFSHORE WIND INDUSTRY WORKFORCE

Emerging offshore wind industry provides careers of the future, by Jen Scungio, American Clean Power Association. Putting steel in the water to deliver clean energy from offshore wind to communities will require a workforce with a diverse skillset to plan, construct, and operate offshore wind farms. In fact, ACP research shows reaching 30 GW of U.S. offshore wind by 2030 will create 83,000 new American jobs. Since 74 different occupations are needed to build, operate, and maintain an offshore wind farm, the possible opportunities for those interested in offshore wind careers are endless.

Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Jumpstarts Offshore Wind Energy Projects to Create Jobs, The White House, March 29, 2021

INTERESTING ENGINEERING VIDEO

TRANSMISSION

Glick discloses that FERC is in discussions with state regulators on transmission issues, American Public Power Association

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in discussions with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) to develop a formal approach between the states and FERC “that will allow us to jointly tackle” transmission issues head on, FERC Chairman Richard Glick said on April 15.

Previously Posted

NAVAJO NATION’S RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

Navajo Nation solar project will cement San Juan County’s position as exporter of renewable energy, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Our communities were once heavily dependent on fossil fuel energy, but now we are seeing change happen,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “[The Red Mesa solar farm] is another milestone for the Navajo Nation as we continue to transition to clean, emissions-free renewable energy for our communities and in the open market.” A far more massive proposed project, the $3.6 billion Navajo Energy Storage Station, is slowly advancing through the regulatory process.
Image Credit: Navajo Tribal Utility Authority

CARBON NATION DOCUMENTARY & NEW RESEARCH 

Carbon Nation at 10: The future’s not what it used to be, GreenBiz article contributed by Peter Byck
Much has changed in these past 10 years: Coal was 42 percent of our energy mix in the United States; it’s now 23 percent. Large-scale solar electricity was about 38 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2011, it’s now less than 7 cents. Onshore wind was between 8.2 cents and 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, it is now between 2.6 cents and 5.7 cents.

Peter Byck is a professor of practice at Arizona State University, in both the School of Sustainability and the Cronkite School of Journalism. He is director, producer and writer of “Carbon Nation.” He is helping to lead a $5.3 million research project on Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing; collaborating with 20 scientists and 10 ranchers, focused on soil health and soil carbon storage, microbial/bug/bird biodiversity, water cycling and much more.

FOOD & ENVIRONMENT REPORTING NETWORK

How farmers can be at the forefront of the climate solutionFERN’s Ag Insider
Robert Leonard is the author of “Deep Midwest: Midwestern Explorations.” Matt Russell is a co-owner of Coyote Run Farm and the executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power and Light.

The Food & Environment Reporting Network is the first independent, non-profit news organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism in the critically under-reported areas of food, agriculture, and environmental health. Through partnerships with local and national mainstream media outlets, we seek to tell stories that will inspire, inform, and have lasting impact.

OSU RESEARCH

Oregon State University study finds flowers flourish underneath solar panels, Solar Power World

A new study by Oregon State University researchers found that shade provided by solar panels increased the abundance of flowers under the panels and delayed the timing of their bloom, both findings that could aid the agricultural community.

SOLAR DEPLOYMENT IN ILLINOIS & BEYOND

HOME SOLAR WARRANTIES

How To Decipher Home Solar Warranties, by Sarah Lozanova, Earth911
Buying a solar energy system is a significant purchase . It is also one of the few home upgrades that will pay for itself in savings. However, the savings from a solar system relies on long-term energy production. If a solar panel or inverter fails, it will decrease the output of the array. Solar warranties protect homeowners from costly repairs and help ensure the system is producing clean energy for decades.

Often, homeowners get two or three proposals for a solar system and then have trouble comparing them without extensive research. Examining the product and labor warranties is one way to differentiate between different bids. Broadly speaking, there are two general types of warranties: for the equipment itself and the labor. 

A day in the life of Kansas’ newest career: a wheat and wind farmer

 By Sarah Spicer, The Wichita Eagle

When Chance Jacobson graduated high school, he faced a conundrum likely familiar to many young people who grew up in the rural plains. He’d spent the past 18 years on his family farm about 40 miles east of Salina learning the trade from his father and grandfather.

“I wanted to farm with my dad, and there just wasn’t enough money,” Jacobson said. “Between my dad and grandpa farming together, and for me to come in and be the third person in the operation, there just wasn’t really room for me.” Continue reading here.

Photo: Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm in Dixon County, Nebraska constructed by Enel Green Power.

Wind & Solar Education & Training Opportunities In Nebraska

Central Community College at Hastings

Programs

Northeast Community College in Norfolk

U.S. Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook

Q1 2021: Amazon goes big, Ørsted is a fan of corporate procurement

By Sarah Golden, GreenBiz

Corporate renewable deals got off to a sleepy but respectable start in 2021, with the largest contracts from U.S. companies reaching just shy of 2 gigawatts of capacity. This represents a cooling from the fourth quarter’s blockbuster 7.3 GW but a steady climb from the first quarter of previous years — Q1 2019 saw 757 megawatts (MW) of deals; Q1 2020 included 1.6 GW. 

Ørsted, the Danish multinational energy company best known for offshore wind, made a strong showing as a developer for U.S. corporate procurements this quarter, participating in deals with Pepsi, steelmaker Nucor, Target and Hormel Foods. The contracts include portions of two massive onshore wind projects: the 298 MW Haystack project in Nebraska and the 367 MW Western Trail project in Texas. Target, Hormel and Pepsi have procured portions of the Nebraska project; Pepsi and Nucor are offtakers of the Texas project. Read more here.

Photo: Plum Creek Wind Farm in Wayne County, Nebraska. The Haystack project is under construction nearby.

Previously Posted

FACEBOOK’S RENEWABLES & ENERGY STORAGE

Facebook meets 100% renewable energy goal with over 6 GW of wind, solar, Utility Dive
Facebook said Thursday it had procured enough new renewable projects to meet 100% of energy needs for its global operations through clean resources, as of last year. The company has contracts in place for more than 6.1 GW of wind and solar across 18 states and five countries, within the same electric grids that power its data centers and operations. Of the energy contracted, Facebook said it currently has 2 GW of solar and 1.3 GW of wind online, along with 720 MW of energy storage.
Image Credit: Facebook

RE100 REACHES NEW MILESTONE 

  • RE100 reaches 300-member milestone, RE100 News Release
    As companies’ awareness of the impacts of climate change has grown, and with the opportunity to save money from wind and solar increasingly evident, buying renewables has moved from the fringe of corporate social responsibility practice to become a core element for business in securing their energy needs whilst driving down emissions and building positive relationships with employees, customers, investors and governments.
  • RE100 initiative hits 300 member milestone, Business Green
    The new cohort of members means nearly 320TW/h of corporate electricity around the world is set to switch to renewable sources in the coming years – equivalent to the electricity consumption of Australia and Italy, a spokesperson confirmed to BusinessGreen.

FROM THE AMERICAN PUBLIC POWER ASSOCIATION 

About APPA
The American Public Power Association is the voice of not-for-profit, community-owned utilities that power 2,000 towns and cities nationwide. We represent public power before the federal government to protect the interests of the more than 49 million people that public power utilities serve, and the 93,000 people they employ. We advocate and advise on electricity policy, technology, trends, training, and operations.

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Solar Industry Unveils Environmental Justice Priorities, April 15, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is announcing its environmental justice priorities through a new policy platform that will support the organization’s advocacy efforts. The platform outlines principles for engagement, as well as environmental justice outcomes and policies that the organization will support to expand equitable access to solar energy and its benefits. The document lays out policies that expand access to clean energy and create industry jobs and workforce development training. It includes possible tax, climate, energy access and labor policies that build on SEIA’s ongoing commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion and justice throughout the solar value chain.

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY 

FREE APP FOR TESLA OWNERS

Tesla owners can now see how much solar or coal is powering their EVs, by Kirsten Korosec, TechCrunch

TezLab, a free app that’s like a Fitbit for a Tesla vehicle, pushed out a new feature this week that shows the energy mix — breaking down the exact types and percentages of fossil fuels and renewable energy — coming from charging locations, including Superchargers and third-party networks throughout the United States.

Photo Credit: Tesla

OPPD Board of Directors Seeking Public Input On Utility’s Environmental Stewardship Goals

OPPD News Release

The Omaha Public Power District Board of Directors is seeking public input on a proposed amendment to its strategic directive (SD) on environmental stewardship, recognizing the threats posed by climate change. Environmental Stewardship (SD-7) is among 15 strategic directives the board has provided the utility to give it clear and transparent direction, on behalf of its customer-owners. These policies guide OPPD’s strategic and operational planning efforts to address current and future trends, mitigate risks, pursue strategic opportunities, and prioritize resources. OPPD is aligned, across the district, to be accountable to performance expectations related to the various directives.

A proposed amendment to SD-7 would add the following verbiage: The OPPD Board of Directors recognizes the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, from human activity contribute to climate change impacts. The last time the directive was revised was in November of 2019.

The full context to the proposed change to SD-7, as well as a comment form, are viewable on OPPDCommunityConnect.com. The public may offer comment on the proposed change until May 14, 2021. Read the entire news release here.

OPPD’S “PATHWAYS TO DECARBONIZATION” WORKSHOPS

OPPD’s first Pathways to Decarbonization Energy Portfolio workshop “Decarbonization Pathways Planning 101” was held virtually on Wednesday, April 7. The recording of the meeting, as well as registration for the next three workshops, are now available here: OPPDCommunityConnect.com.

  • Workshop #2: Multi-Sectoral Modeling, April 28, 4–6 p.m.
  • Workshop #3: Developing Key Assumptions and Scenarios, May 12, 4–6 p.m.
  • Workshop #4: Developing Modeling Approach, May 26, 4–6 p.m.

THE WIRE POSTS

Program making a difference one home at a time

Initial solar contract inked for OPPD’s Power with Purpose

Resolve to be more energy efficient: April tips

OPPD offering Energy Star certification