Category Archives: Community-Scale / Utility-Scale Solar

New Center For Rural Affairs Series

Written by Cody Smith, Policy Associate, Center for Rural Affairs

Amplifying Clean Energy With Conservation Part Three: Exploring Wind Energy And Stewardship

Renewable energy has rapidly expanded throughout the U.S. as prices of production have fallen and the cost of operating fossil fuel-based generation resources continues to grow. Market forces have facilitated the widespread adoption of wind energy by utilities, rural electric cooperatives, and other commercial generators of electricity as a primary method of providing low-cost, renewable energy to their consumers.

Looking to the future, as the country continues to chart a path forward to address the realities of a changing climate, rural communities have the opportunity to leverage their position as the hosts of wind energy projects to identify more strategies to amplify clean energy resources with investments in conservation.

Download the report here.

 


Amplifying Clean Energy With Conservation Part Two: Leveraging Electric Transmission Lines For Stewardship

 

 

 


Amplifying Clean Energy with Conservation Part One: Pollinator-Friendly Solar

Expanding Local Solar And Storage Could Save Ratepayers Nearly A Half A Trillion Dollars

Local Solar For All Coalition News Release, PR Newswire

Developing 247 GW of local rooftop and community solar and 160 GW of local energy storage is the most cost-effective way for the United States to transition to a clean energy system by 2050, while saving consumers up to $473 billion on electricity. This is enough local solar to power over 25% of all U.S. homes. These are among the core findings of a new report, “Why Local Solar for All Costs Less: A New Roadmap for the Lowest Cost Grid,” issued by Vote Solar, the Coalition for Community Solar Access and Sunrun.

Using a state-of-the art grid planning tool developed by Vibrant Clean Energy, the analysis goes beyond the limitations of traditional grid planning by leveraging big data and advanced analytics to produce a more complete and inclusive picture of the direct costs and benefits of resources on the grid. Read more here.

More information and access to the full report can be found here.

Twelve Kansas Cooperatives Partner to Invest in Solar Energy

By Michael Bates, Solar Industry

Using the sixth cooperative principle of cooperation among cooperatives, 12 cooperatives in Kansas are joining together to make a small investment for the next 25 years – or more – in solar energy. Participating electric cooperatives will be able to procure low-up-front cost solar energy to serve their members through the Kansas Cooperative Sun Power Program and reduce their peak demand. Continue reading here.

Community-Scale / Utility-Scale Solar, Nebraskans for Solar 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

HOME ENERGY STORAGE

Sonnen Launches ‘Much More Accessible’ Battery for Home Backup and Grid Services, Greentech Media

The sonnenCore is priced to compete with rivals like Tesla, LG Chem and Enphase, and to tap emerging grid services opportunities.The Germany-based companyacquired by oil major Shell in 2019, designed its sonnenCore system to deliver daily cycling for grid services as well as backup power. It comes with capacity of 5 kilowatts/10 kilowatt-hours with a price point of $9,500.

FEATURED NATIONAL SOLAR INSTALLATION

High school student gets solar industry partners to donate full PV system to a New Jersey food pantry, Solar Builder

The Flemington Area Food Pantry, serving Hunterdon County, N.J., celebrated and unveiled their brand new solar array installation this week — a project was made possible by a collaborative donation effort among notable solar industry leaders and community volunteers, each supplying their individual components. Among all of the parties who contributed to make the installation a reality, the pantry has one in particular to thank– North Hunterdon High School student, Evan Kuster.

FROM OPPD’S NOVEMBER OUTLETS NEWSLETTER

OPPD evaluating potential sources for solar generation

Mayors unveil $60B plan to support Midwest energy transition

By Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto and other mayors from Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia unveiled last week the “Marshall Plan for Middle America,” a $60 billion blueprint to help the region transition away from fossil fuels toward a greener, more sustainable economy.

The nonpartisan plan from academics and policy researchers calls for federal and private funds to provide $15 billion in block grants to local governments for retrofits and conversions to make buildings more energy efficient; $15 billion in low-interest loans for clean energy production; $15 billion in tax incentives for manufacturers to develop clean energy equipment; and $15 billion in workforce development funds to help further understanding of clean energy. The plan comes as the Ohio Valley region is projected to lose 100,000 jobs in the next few years with the decline of the fossil fuel industry. Read more here.

NRDC EXPERT BLOG POST

St. Louis Centers Equity in Innovative Green Job Training, by Stephen Schaffer, American Cities Climate Strategist

St. Louis began leading the charge on climate action in the Midwest when it created its Sustainability Plan in 2013. Since then, under the leadership of Mayor Lyda Krewson, the city has moved from strength to strength: a benchmarking ordinance in 2017; adoption of the International Energy Conservation Code in 2018; a solar readiness standard for new buildings in 2019; and a building energy performance standard that just passed in May 2020, making St. Louis the first among Midwest cities to do so.

FROM GREEN BIZ

It’s time to bridge the clean energy partisan divide, by Sarah Golden
The Biden administration has the most bullish climate plan America has seen, and the clean energy sector is about to be thrust into the limelight. Instead of infighting, clean energy factions should use this moment to push and pull each other towards rapid decarbonization. Enviros aren’t an impediment; they’re an asset. They provide a guiding light to push all companies and communities to do more, to move faster and to never pretend half measures are complete solutions. They provide cover for politicians to be ambitious. And they remind all of us that anything less than a holistic solution isn’t a solution. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

OPPD NEWS RELEASE

Another Year Of No General Rate Increase For OPPD Customers
Omaha Public Power District remains committed to competitive rates, and that’s reflected in the utility’s preliminary Corporate Operating Plan (COP) for 2021. For the fifth straight year, customers will see no rate increase. The COP was presented to the OPPD Board of Directors at this week’s committee meetings, ahead of their monthly meeting today.

The board also received an update on Power with Purpose (PwP) this week. The project team continues to evaluate proposals to build 400 to 600 megawatts of utility-scale solar. They have narrowed in on seven projects in or near OPPD’s service territory. The team is currently completing technical, commercial, and contract analysis. And they’re providing solar technology outreach and education to leaders of Washington, Cass, Burt, Saunders, and Nemaha Counties, among others.

Report recap: Four highlights from AWEA’s Wind Powers America Third Quarter Market Report

By Greg Alvarez, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog

We’re three quarters of the way through an eventful 2020 (quite the understatement), but the good news is U.S. wind power just posted the best third quarter on record. That means more affordable, reliable, clean power for millions of American families and businesses. This finding and more are contained in AWEA’s Wind Powers America Third Quarter Market Report. Here’s a roundup of four notable highlights to keep an eye on: Continue reading here.

Photo by Mike Zakrzewski, Nebraska farmer in O’Neill: The Grande Prairie Wind Farm

AWEA FACT SHEETS

Wind Energy In Nebraska
Installed Wind Capacity: 2,364 MW
State Ranking for Installed Capacity: 12th

  • Iowa
    Installed Wind Capacity: 10,664 MW
    State Ranking for Installed Capacity: 2nd
  • Kansas
    Installed Wind Capacity: 6,524 MW
    State Ranking for Installed Capacity: 4th
  • Illinois
    Installed Wind Capacity: 5,659 MW
    State Ranking for Installed Capacity: 6th

MICROGRIDS & VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS

Tesla Expanding Into Solar Microgrids And Virtual Power Plants, CleanTechnica
The renewable energy revolution is in full swing. It will involve decentralized power generation as well as enhanced long distance transmission lines. Nothing is off the table. Tesla is creating an enormous virtual power plant in Australia that will incorporate rooftop solar and battery storage at 50,000 homes. Green Mountain Power is conducting a similar program in Vermont. Just as one day soon electric vehicle sales will surpass sales of conventional vehicles, our grandkids will likely grow up in homes that have residential storage batteries in the garage or in the basement next to the electrical panel.

GREEN HYDROGEN

It’s Time For Elon Musk To Admit The Significance Of Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Forbes
Contributed article by Alex Ivanenko, “co-founder and CEO of HyPoint, the company developing zero-carbon emission hydrogen fuel cell systems for aviation and urban air mobility.”

The technology for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells for use in transportation and other industries isn’t a pipe dream — it already exists. Though you might not know it, hydrogen-powered trainstruckscarsairplanes and ships are already out in the wild. CNBC noted that “there are dozens of fuel cell buses in use or planned in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Massachusetts, as well as California” and that “more than 23,000 fuel cell-powered forklifts in operation at warehouses and distribution centers across the U.S. in more than 40 states, including at Amazon and Walmart facilities.” That’s just the beginning.

MORE CLEAN TECHNICA ARTICLES

COMMUNITY SOLAR 

FEATURED DOE INITIATIVE: EQUITY IN ENERGY 

News Release by DOE’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity

On August 20th 2020, the Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) launched its trademark Equity in Energy Initiative at the 43rd Annual National Conference of the American Association of Blacks in Energy’s (AABE). Equity in Energy, under the direction of the Secretary of Energy, Dan Brouillette [leads] the charge in fostering an inclusive energy economy at the DOE and the energy sector. 

Equity In Energy Booklet

UCS RECYCLING SERIES

About the Writer
James Gignac, is lead Midwest energy analyst for the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Prior to joining UCS, Mr. Gignac served as environmental and energy counsel and as assistant attorney general to the Illinois Attorney General. Mr. Gignac earned a JD from Harvard Law School, and a BA in history and political science from Albion College.

Included in the series:

FEATURED NEBRASKA SOLAR INSTALLATION

Lomneth Farm’s 12-kilowatt solar system in North Omaha. Installed by GC ReVOLT, which is owned by Graham Christensen. View more GC ReVOLT projects here.

See Solar Examples for more photos and descriptions of solar-powered farms in Nebraska.

 

SOLAR INCENTIVES

 

Links to Incentives, Depreciation & Net Metering Information

 

Seeking input on decarbonization goal, LES to host public meetings

Lincoln Electric System News Release 

LINCOLN — Over the last decadeLincoln Electric System has made great strides in transitioning its energy production portfolio to more sustainable sources. From 2010 to 2019, the community-owned utility increased renewable energy production from the equivalent of 10% of retail sales in 2010 to 46% in 2019, simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions by 42% and the carbon intensity of its energy produced by 38%.

Along with transitioning to more renewable resources, LES has also promoted sustainability through customer-facing programs like incentivized rates for customer-owned solar, virtual net metering, allowing customers to buy “virtual” panels at the local community solar facility, and by offering multiple energy efficiency and demand reduction incentives and opportunities. Both distributed generation and load reduction are important parts of maintaining sustainability for an electric utility, and LES has been ahead of the curve on implementing many of these actions.

[Seeking input from LES customers on the utility’s decarbonization goal]: Virtual public meetings will be held Wednesday, Nov. 4 at 11:30 a.m. and the following Thursday, Nov. 5, at 6 p.m. These meetings will include a presentation by LES staff, interactive polls and time for public comment. Please refer to “How to participate in a virtual public meeting” and find more information on the upcoming meetings at LES.com/decarb. Read the entire news release here.

Photo: Lincoln Electric System’s Solar Farm

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & RESOURCES

You are invited to DOE’s National Community Solar Partnership Virtual Summit

The U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office invites you to join the National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) Virtual Summit on Thursday, October 29 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. CT. The summit will highlight partners’ innovations and progress to date in ensuring access to affordable community solar for every U.S. household by 2025. The event will feature speakers from leading community solar organizations and highlight case studies of innovative community solar projects from across the country. Register here.

This event is hosted by Nation of Makers, a Power Connector supporting the American-Made Network through the National Renewable Energy Lab.

“Solar Lease Considerations for Landowners” Webinar Recording & Slides Now Available!

Presented By Nebraska & Ohio Extension Specialists

For those who missed the October 9th webinar and those who want to watch again, click here to view the recording and slides.  

Speakers

  • F. John Hay – Department of Biosystems Engineering, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
  • Eric Romich – Extension Field Specialist Energy Development, Ohio State University Extension
  • Peggy Kirk Hill – Director Ag and Resource Law Program, Ohio State University Extension

The webinar gives an overview of solar development and addresses major issues for farmers, landowners, and their families to consider when negotiating a long term, utility-scale solar lease agreement.

Panel discusses benefits of wind development in southwest Iowa

By Ryan Matheny, KMAland

Organized by the group Power Up Iowa — which advocates for local, state and federal policies that bring wind energy investment into Iowa — the forum was held in conjunction with the Page County Board of Supervisors and was moderated by board chair Chuck Morris. Bob Ramaekers is Vice President of Tenaska, a private, independent energy company based in Omaha. He says the industry’s goal is to work with landowners, not infringe on property rights when it comes to wind development. Read more here.

Power Up Iowa is a statewide coalition of renewable energy supporters advocating for local, state and federal policies and initiatives that enhance Iowa’s wind energy investment. By educating, raising awareness, and participating in conversations with our state’s leaders, Power Up Iowa will help make the case for renewable energy investment to revive and drive our local economies. Iowa ranks 2nd in the nation for wind power capacity. Up to 10 thousand jobs in Iowa are directly supported by wind energy.

LOCAL FOODS / LOCAL ENERGY MOVEMENTS

The distance local energy goes to bring power to the people, ScienceDaily
A University of California – Davis study published in the journal Frontiers in Sustainability, comparing energy providers, finds parallels to the local foods movement.

RURAL ELECTRIC INFRASTRUCTURE

Trump Administration Invests nearly $42 Million to Improve Rural Electric Infrastructure in Rural Missouri, Iowa, & Nebraska, USDA News Release. The funding, made possible through the Electric Loan Program, will benefit more than 77,000 rural residents and commercial customers in Missouri, Iowa, and Nebraska.

CLEAN-ENERGY EXPERTS & ADVOCATES SHARE VIEWS OF BIDEN’S FIRST 100 DAYS

Biden’s First 100 Days: What Would They Look Like for Clean Energy?, Greentech Media
We asked clean-energy experts and advocates what’s most likely to get done in the first 100 days of a Biden presidency.

COMMUNITY SOLAR STUDY

Penn State study finds opening community solar market could generate $1.8 billion in economic impact for Pennsylvania, Solar Power World

new study conducted by Penn State found that construction of new community solar facilities would generate an estimated $1.8 billion in economic impact, create over $793 million in labor income, and support over 11,000 jobs in various sectors across Pennsylvania. The study, conducted by the Penn State College of Agricultural Sciences’ Center for Economic and Community Development, analyzed 235 planned community solar projects across 48 counties which can move ahead if community solar legislation passes the General Assembly.

RENEWABLES FORWARD INITIATIVE

It’s Time for the Solar Industry to Act on Diversity and Inclusion, Greentech Media
As a first step, leaders from Capital Dynamics, Cypress Creek Renewables, EDF Renewables, Generate Capital, Mosaic, Nautilus Solar Energy, New Columbia Solar, Nextracker, Volt Energy, Sol Systems, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Foundation have come together to share experiences, evaluate best practices and make changes. Our goal is to identify concrete ways to work together to create the change we all recognize is needed, commit to this change and drive a larger industrywide partnership between CEOs and organizations: thRenewables Forward Initiative.

AWEA NEWS RELEASE

AWEA Statement on Collaboration between Hydropower Industry and Environmental Community
Washington, D.C. – The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today issued the following statement after the U.S. hydropower industry and environmental and conservation organizations agreed to increase collaboration on decarbonizing the nation’s electric grid, while protecting America’s waterways. AWEA this year partnered with America’s hydropower, solar, and energy storage industries as part of a shared vision of renewables reaching a majority of U.S. electricity generation by 2030.

ENERGY STORAGE

Wartsilla’s 9 MW battery storage system reduces a city’s demand peaks, saves transmission costs, PV Magazine USA. An independent power producer, AEP OnSite Partners, will be the first to deploy Wärtsilä’s new storage product. The 9 MW/15.6 MWh battery system will respond to PJM market signals and reduce the city’s peak demand by about 9 MW, while saving $1 million per year in transmission and capacity costs

GREEN HYDROGEN

GE, partners shifting Ohio gas-fired plant to hydrogen beginning 2021, Renewable Energy World
In one of the most striking signs that the hydrogen-powered generation revolution may be upon the industry sooner than later, a group will transition its combined cycle gas turbine power plant to run partially on hydrogen by a late 2021 start-up and go 100 percent H2 by 2030.

ADVANCED NUCLEAR PLANTS

U.S. Department of Energy Announces $160 Million in First Awards Under Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program, DOE News Release

DOE’s Advanced Reactor Demonstration Program will provide $80 million to each award winner, DOE Secretary Dan Brouillette said Tuesday. DOE intends to invest about $3.2 billion over the next seven years into advanced nuclear, subject to future congressional appropriations, he said. The remainder of the $230 million appropriated for the program in the fiscal 2020 budget is meant to support additional nuclear demonstration projects. But Tuesday’s grant winners “stand out for advancing the technology,” as well as for the financial wherewithal to match DOE’s grants and complete their work within seven years, Brouillette said.

BERKSHIRE HATHAWAY’S PACIFICORP / ROCKY MOUNTAIN POWER

Wyo criticizes utility’s plans to replace coal with renewables, Wyo File
PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power’s IRP, released in the fall of 2019, is a rolling analysis for how to provide reliable, lowest-cost electricity for the next 20 years. Preferred alternatives called for retiring several Wyoming coal-fired units early and developing renewable generation and storage. Shortly after release of the plan, the PSC announced it would investigate the IRP — an unusual measure for the commission to take.

SOLAR CELL EFFICIENCY

Forget silicon. This material could be a game-changer for solar power, CNN Business
Solar energy is poised for what could be its biggest transformation in over half a century. A group of materials called perovskites are being used to create the next generation of solar panels, which could eventually be twice as efficient as current models, and flexible enough to wrap around entire buildings. Researchers at Oxford PV, a company spun out of the University of Oxford, made a major breakthrough in 2018. By coating silicon with perovskite they achieved 28% efficiency. The company believes it can eventually reach 40%, or higher. Improved solar cell efficiency will enable installations to pump out more power with fewer panels, reducing costs, and the amount of land, labor and equipment needed to operate them.

EU’S CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

EU to tackle methane gases, boost energy efficiency, Associated Press, Minneapolis Star Tribune
The EU sees itself as a world leader in climate and environmental policy. It wants to slash greenhouse gas emissions to at least 55% of what they were in 1990 over the next decade. That goal is a stepping-stone toward the broader aim of producing zero net polluting emissions across Europe by 2050.

SOLAR MAPPER

Total and Google Cloud Develop Solar Mapper, a Tool for Estimating the Solar Energy Potential of Houses’ Roofs, Business Wire

Total and Google Cloud have pooled their expertise to jointly develop an innovative tool, Solar Mapper, which aims to accelerate the deployment of solar panels for individuals (B2C) by providing an accurate and rapid estimate of the solar energy potential of their homes, first in Europe and then worldwide.

After promising a shift from fossil fuels, Omaha utility plans more gas plants

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The World Resources Institute, which has done extensive analysis of the changing economics of gas-powered electricity, concluded in a 2019 study that combinations of renewables, storage and demand-side management are cheaper than 95% of combined-cycle capacity and 60% of combustion turbine capacity. A recent update of that study, incorporating the latest costs for renewables and storage, suggests that “most proposed gas plants that do get built will face stranded cost risks within 10 years of construction,” according to an institute blog post published on Sept. 30. Mark Dyson, a principal with the institute who has focused on the changing nature of the grid, said in the near future, it will “no longer be cost-effective to run [a gas plant] if renewables continue to fall [in price] the way they have.” Read more here.

Photo by Pat Hawks / Flickr / Creative Commons

Also Written By Karen Uhlenhuth


Retired utility engineer works to help Omaha charities cut peak power fees

Louis Lester is applying his knowledge of utility rates and fees to help nonprofits lower their energy bills.



Omaha utility’s solar plan collides with suburban development aspirations

Sarpy County adopted size limits and a requirement for a “glare study” before solar projects can go forward.

 


Nebraska utility bets on technological advances to meet carbon-cutting goals

New board members helped push the Omaha Public Power District to commit to net-zero emissions by 2050.