Category Archives: Community Partners

New Website Launched – Husker Power Plan.Org

Written by Matt Gregory, Clean Energy Advocate,
Nebraska Wildlife Federation

Last month, an informal coalition known as Clean Energy Nebraska, which includes Nebraska Wildlife Federation, officially released a state clean energy plan – the Husker Power Plan. The plan is so named as it calls for using in-state resources including higher levels of wind, solar, and energy efficiency than are currently planned.

Duane Hovorka, former Executive Director of Nebraska Wildlife Federation, was the main writer of the plan. Other contributors included Janece Molhoff of the League of Women Voters, former Lincoln Electric System board chair Marilyn McNabb and Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen.

“Overall, this is a plan for moving Nebraska further down the path to a clean energy future. It’s affordable, doable and continuing the progress that our public power utilities are currently making, ” Hovorka said.

The Husker Power Plan has been analyzed by energy consultants Anna Sommer, Tyler Comings and Elizabeth Stanton who found that the plan will reduce carbon pollution by 58% over five years compared to business as usual. The Husker Power Plan has been endorsed by eleven organizations so far, including Nebraskans for Solar, collectively representing over 10,000 individuals.

The Husker Power Plan, the consultants’ report, and information about endorsing it can be found at huskerpowerplan.org.

Matt Gregory: matt@nebraskawildlife.org

Nebraskans for Solar Board Endorses Husker Power Plan

On Wednesday, January 17, 2018, Clean Energy Nebraska announced the release of the Husker Power Plan, a state clean energy plan for Nebraska. “Former Nebraska Wildlife Federation Executive Director Duane Hovorka wrote the plan together with clean energy supporters, stakeholders, concerned citizens and advice from energy consultants.”

Last week Nebraskans for Solar’s Board of Directors voted to endorse the plan, joining other groups, which include: Nebraska Wildlife Federation, Nebraska Farmers Union, Nebraskans for Peace, Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Nebraska 350.Org, League of Women Voters of Nebraska and Nebraska Sierra Club.

Among other clean energy initiatives, the Husker Power Plan calls for adding over the next 5 years: 1,500 to 1,850 megawatts of new wind energy to the 1,520 megawatts currently in place or under construction and 129 to 150 megawatts of utility-scale and community solar. The document’s concluding statement:

“As we have outlined in this Husker Power Plan, with the right mix of energy efficiency, peak demand management, wind, solar, energy storage and other clean energy options, Nebraska can transition away from dirty fossil fuels like coal, providing enormous health benefits to our residents. We can lock in a clean energy future with electricity that is affordable, prices that are predictable, and energy produced largely within our borders. We can save Nebraska businesses and residents hundreds of millions of dollars every year in energy costs, and the environmental and health benefits would be even larger than the economic benefits. With our Husker Power Plan, we can give ourselves a clean energy future, and leave our children and their children a more efficient and effective economy and a better world.”

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

DOWNLOAD THE PLAN & CONSULTANTS REPORT 
Husker Power Plan for Electric Utilities (PDF)
Consultants Report – The Husker Power Plan: A New Energy Plan for Nebraska (PDF)

RELATED READING

Nebraska Conservation Education Fund Events

Thank you to Chelsea Johnson, Deputy Director of the  Nebraska League of Conservation Voters, for sharing the following Nebraska Conservation Education Fund (NCEF) events announcements. Please see our calendar for four additional NCEF Common Ground workshops that start today: “Is Solar Right for You?” With Nebraska Extension Educator John Hay.

Municipal Solar Solutions
Tuesday, January 23 at 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Kilgore Memorial Library, 520 N Nebraska Ave, York, Nebraska 68467
Solar is the fastest growing renewable energy source and it can be cost effective. Jeff Berggren is the Nebraska Program Manager for GenPro Energy Solutions. He’’ll give a presentation on the benefits of solar energy, with a focus on how it can be useful on a larger scale for communities. Jeff will provide examples of communities throughout Nebraska that have built community solar arrays and how they have benefited from them. This event is free and open to the public. If you have any questions, please email Zoe Vallas at zoevallas@nlcvef.org.

South Sioux City DIY Soil and Energy Projects
Wednesday, January 24 at 9 AM – 10:30 AM
Dakota Perk, 3900 Dakota Ave, South Sioux City, NE 68776
Come join NCEF Directors as they host an open floor presentation on soil and energy
Do-It-Yourself projects that will help beautify your home and save money on your energy bill that even the kids will enjoy! This event is free and open to the public. For more information contact jamisonwillis@nlcvef.org or nicnealy@nlcvef.org.

Columbus DIY Recycling and Energy Projects
Saturday, January 27 at 10 AM – 12 PM
Sip Espresso Bar, 1354 27th Ave, Lower Level, Columbus, Nebraska 68601
Come join our NCEF Directors as they host an open floor presentation on several Do-It-Yourself projects that will help promote recycling and energy conservation efforts in your community! For more information contact jamisonwillis@nlcvef.org or nicnealy@nlcvef.org. This event is free and open to the public.

Soup Can Wind Chimes
Tuesday, January 30 at 3:45 PM – 4:45 PM MST
Gering Public Library, 1055 P St, Gering, Nebraska 69341
Eating soup on a cold winter’s day is perfect! Especially when you can reuse your soup can and turn it into a wind chime! Come learn how to make wind chimes out of soup cans with us! For more information contact Emily Hauck at emilyhauck@nlcvef.org. This event is free and open to the public.

Nebraska clean energy plan focuses on wind, solar, efficiency

By Don Walton, Lincoln Journal Star

A clean energy coalition urged Nebraska on Wednesday to focus more on development of wind and solar power sources along with energy efficiency to help build a more environmentally friendly and healthier future. The coalition’s Husker Power Plan would “ramp up Nebraska’s investment in energy-efficiency measures like weatherizing homes and businesses, replacing outdated lighting systems and motors and reducing wasteful use of energy,” said Duane Hovorka, former executive director of the Nebraska Wildlife Federation. Continue reading here.

RELATED READING
‘Husker Power Plan’ aims to cut greenhouse emissions while keeping electric costs low, creating jobs, by Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald
The Husker Power Plan calls for doubling the state’s use of wind power over the next five years and adding 129 megawatts of community solar energy projects. The plan, done by the consultant Sommer Energy, also recommends aggressive work to reduce electric consumption by 2 percent a year.

DOWNLOAD
Husker Power Plan for Electric Utilities (PDF)
Consultants Report: – The Husker Power Plan: A New Energy Plan for Nebraska (PDF)

Thank you to everyone who attended our January event at UNO’s Community Engagement Center!

Many thanks to everyone who turned out for last evening’s event, Nebraskans for Solar’s Third Solar Group Buy Roundtable: to our co-sponsoring groups, Green Bellevue and Sierra Club; and to our presenters, discussion leaders, and audience participants who, together, created an excellent educational opportunity.

Wyndle Young, OPPD Projects Director, Customer Initiatives, discussed the following topics:

  1. Update of OPPD’s Distributed Generation Manual. Final revision to be announced.
  2. The ConnectDER: OPPD reviewed the innovative device, and on July 1, 2017, accepted it for use for certain Distributive Energy Resources including solar installations. See OPPD document link, below.
  3. Renovation of the Distributed Generation portion of OPPD’s website. Final revision to be announced.
  4. OPPD’S Community Solar Development. See information, below.

David Holtzclaw, owner of Transduction Technologies, summarized the step-by-step process for a business or homeowner to install a solar PV system. A Q&A followed during which he was joined by Jeff Bergrenn from GenPro Energy Solutions and Michael Shonka, owner of Solar Heat and Electric, as well as Solar Ambassadors, people who have installed a PV system and are willing to serve as resource persons to others in the group.

Attendees were provided a list of FAQ’s prepared by solar installers, which will be available at future events. Everyone was asked for their recommendations for future speakers and topics.

RESOURCES DISCUSSED AT THE MEETING 

Solar, Energy Conservation & Incentives

Community Solar
“In response to customer interest in solar-powered generation, OPPD is evaluating the potential for a community solar energy project. OPPD will continue to assess solar programs, while balancing our mission to provide affordable, reliable and environmentally sensitive energy services to our customers.” – OPPD’s Integrated Resource Plan
OPPD’s Community Solar Update, by Jeff Karloff, Division Manager, Production Engineering, Fuels and Renewables. December 14, 2017 Board of Directors Meeting.
Presentation Slides

Proposal Details

  • Locations considered
    I-80 rest area near Gretna
    City of Fort Calhoun
    Bellevue landfill
  • Ten developers over 100 proposals
  • Electrical interconnection costs will be added to RFP prices

Nebraska Farmers Union’s Five Special Orders of Business for 2018 Include Net Metering & Renewable Fuels Standard

Nebraska Farmers Union members approved five top priorities for 2018 at their recent state convention. These Special Orders of Business are:

#1: Special Order of Business on the Farm Bill and Prolonged Farm Crisis
#2: Special Order of Business on Property Tax Relief
#3: Special Order of Business Supporting the Use of a Private Public Partnership
#4: Special Order of Business on Net Metering
The members of the Nebraska Farmers Union support an increase of the maximum guaranteed access level for net-metering from 25 kilowatts to 100 kilowatts.  Secondly, the members support  changing and updating current state law to allow single owners the option of aggregating their multiple meters for the purpose of net metering.
#5: Special Order of Business on Renewable Fuels Standard (RFS)

Click here for complete details about all five NeFU top priorities for 2018.

Common Ground Workshops: “Is Solar Right for You?”

 Presented by F. John Hay
Extension Educator – Renewable Energy

Solar is the fastest growing renewable energy source and it can be cost effective.  Learn the many benefits solar can provide as well as some of the limiting factors by attending one of the following workshops. The information covered will help you decide if solar is right for you.

The presenter is F. John Hay, Nebraska Extension renewable energy educator. Hay will show you the types of systems available and the best ways to make use of different systems. You will learn how to compute your potential energy savings and what the rate of return will be. Come in from the dark and check out the potential solar has for you at one of the following 2 ½ hour workshops.

There will be a $5 registration fee to cover the cost of a handout and light refreshments.

  • Monday, January 22 at 2:00 pm in Holdrege
    Phelps County Extension Office, 1308 Second Street, Holdrege
  • Monday, January 22 at 6:30 pm in Hastings
    Adams County Fairgrounds, 947 S Baltimore Avenue, Hastings
  • Tuesday, January 30 at 2:00 pm in Grand Island
    Home Federal Bank, 3311 W Stolley Park Road, Grand Island
    Please park in the south lot.
  • Tuesday, January  30 at 6:30 pm in Kearney
    Kearney Public Library, 2020 1st Avenue, Kearney

Each workshop is open to the public and sponsored by Common Ground, a Nebraska Conservation Education Fund AmeriCorps program.

For more information contact Diane Beachly dianebeachly@nlcvef.org or Zoe Vallas zoevallas@nlcvef.org.

Thank you to everyone who attended last night’s public forum on Community Solar!

Nebraskans for Solar wishes to thank each one of the Solar Champions, named below, who travelled to Omaha from several communities all across the state and who provided an outstanding panel presentation and discussion last evening at UNO’s Community Engagement Center on Community Solar. The Q&A that followed generated many insightful questions from audience members.

Kudos are also extended to Leo Arens for his work organizing the forum and to Leo and Michael Shonka for moderating it.

Thank you, also, to Green Bellevue and Omaha Sierra Club for co-sponsoring the event.

Our speakers were:

  • Cliff Mesner, Mesner Development, Central City
  • Brian Newton, Utility General Manager, Fremont
  • Jeff Buhrman, Capitol Beach Neighborhood Solar LLC, Lincoln
  • Jeff Berggren, GenPro Energy Solutions, Lexington
  • Michael Shonka, Solar Heat & Electric, Omaha
  • David Rich, Nebraska Public Power District, Columbus. (SunWise Projects: Kearney, Venango, and Scotsbluff).

Links to news stories about just some of the projects discussed by last night’s speakers and audience members, plus additional related articles.

At least fourteen Nebraska towns and cities have built community solar or utility-scale solar projects or are discussing building one.

Lincoln Environmental Action Plan Headed to Council

Mayor Chris Beutler has released the final Lincoln Environmental Action Plan (LEAP) to guide City action in the areas of energy, land use, transportation, waste and water. The LEAP was introduced at the City Council meeting Monday, December 11 and includes changes suggested by the community since the draft plan was released in July.

The Council will have a public hearing and vote on the LEAP Monday, December 18. The final plan is available here.

Suggested changes in the final plan include:

  • a new strategy to streamline the permitting and review for solar energy facilities;
  • a more comprehensive strategy that includes areas surrounding the urban core, such as Wilderness Park, saline wetlands and prairie corridors;
  • increased metrics to demonstrate improvements associated with the Green Light Lincoln project;
  • Increased support for electric vehicles, transit and biking; and
  • More aggressive goals to reduce solid waste going into the City landfill.

Mayor Beutler said the LEAP also guides several other initiatives moving forward in the next few weeks and months. Those include the following:

  • The implementation of energy savings performance contracts, a tool to improve the energy efficiency of City streets lights and public buildings and save taxpayer dollars.
  • The development of a prairie corridor to preserve our landmark landscapes and promote eco-tourism.
  • The testing of new autonomous vehicle technology to improve travel times, increase safety and reduce fuel costs.

“Investing in a Cleaner, Greener Lincoln creates what industry and economists call a ‘Triple Bottom Line’ – it returns economic, social and environmental value,” Beutler said. “This innovative thinking, planning and building are big reasons Lincoln continues to shine on the national stage.”

Sources 

Ways you may support the Lincoln Environmental Action Plan (LEAP)

  • If you are a resident of Lincoln, contact your City Council member before December 18th here.
  • Attend the City Council meeting, where you will have the opportunity to testify in support of the plan, on Monday, December 18th at 5:30 pm at the County-City Building, 555 S. 10th Street, Room 113

Local Solar Champions Presenting Nebraskans for Solar’s December Forum on Community Solar

Co-Sponsored by Green Bellevue & Sierra Club

December 14, 2017 – 7 to 8:30 pm

UNO Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center

Combined Rooms 201 & 205

6401 Dodge Street


Nebraskans for Solar Board Member Leo Arens will moderate a presentation and discussion on “Community Solar” by a panel of local Solar Champions:

  • Clifford Mesner, Mesner Development, Central City
  • Brian Newton, Utility General Manager, Fremont
  • Jeff Buhrman and Terry Wittler, Capitol Beach Neighborhood Solar LLC,  Lincoln
  • Jeff Berggren, GenPro Energy Solutions, Lexington
  • Michael Shonka, Solar Heat & Electric, Omaha
  • Nebraska Public Power District Spokesperson, Columbus

All our events are open to the public. Please join us and contribute to the discussion! Refreshments provided.

Photo: A pollinator-friendly solar farm in Minnesota by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy