Category Archives: Solar Energy Education

Lincoln neighborhood solar farm turns entrepreneurs into pioneers

By Mason Mauro

LINCOLN, Neb. (WOWT) — Capitol Beach Lake neighborhood in Lincoln is living off solar
energy. The co-founders of Beach Solar LLC began the community effort in 2015. Two entrepreneurs began the solar project from the ground up, but the community effort is what’s seeing it through.

“This is something that is better for our future and for our kids’ kids. Let’s do it,” said Jeff Burhman, co-founder of Beach Solar. Burhman and his business partner, Terry Wittler, stopped at UNO along their solar power tour, Wednesday night. The discussion is their 12th seminar, but they never set out for this. Continue reading or watch the news story here.

Click here to view a Google Earth image of the solar project.

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

First of all, thank you to our guest speakers for their excellent presentation on Nebraska’s first-ever community solar project developed by a neighborhood association: Terry Wittler and Jeff Buhrman, Lincoln Capitol Beach homeowners, led the association’s efforts to pioneer this
innovative model for our state.

Michael Shonka, owner of Solar Heat and Electric and Nebraskans for Solar board member,
collaborated with Terry and Jeff on the project and joined them for part of the program this evening. The challenges they encountered and the lessons learned resulted in a time-saving plan for anyone interested in proposing the same idea to other power districts.

The discussion that followed their presentation generated many insightful questions and
comments from audience members. Thank you to everyone who attended.

Michael Shonka’s contact information is listed in Nebraskans for Solar’s Directory for anyone with additional questions for one or all three of the collaborators.

Photo by David Corbin

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

First of all, thank you to our speakers: Anna Noucas, Project Development Manager at
Sol Systems, based in Washington DC, and Jeff Berggren, Nebraska Program Manager for
GenPro Energy Solutions, headquartered in Piedmont, South Dakota.

They provided excellent presentations on a large number of solar projects completed
throughout our state and others in the development or planning stage. As their slides
demonstrated, solar energy projects have increased exponentially throughout Nebraska
over the past several years. Each of these projects contributes tax revenues to our local
communities, benefiting our state’s overall economy, while growing jobs.

The discussion that followed their presentations generated numerous insightful questions from audience members. Thank you to all our attendees, who were mainly from Omaha and Bellevue but also included people from Lincoln, Central City, Elkhorn, Bennington and Council Bluffs.

We also wish to thank two special guests, who contributed their professional expertise to the discussion:

  • David Bracht, former Director of the Nebraska Energy Office, who in August 2018
    rejoined the law firm Kutack Rock and whose practices include renewable energy and agribusiness.
  • Cliff Mesner, from Mesner Solar Development in Central City, who has completed utility-scale projects in Nebraska, starting with Nebraska’s first-ever community solar project in Central City.

NFS invites all four of them back for a future panel presentation and update on our state’s growing renewable energy development.

FEBRUARY EVENT

Please mark your calendars and plan to join us again in February when our speakers will
discuss a Lincoln neighborhood association’s community solar project, a first for Nebraska!

Lincoln’s Capitol Beach Community Solar Project – A Showcase Model for Nebraska
UNO’s Community Engagement Center, Rooms 230/231. February 13, 2019 – 7 to 8:30 p.m.

Presenters
Terry Wittler & Jeff Buhrman, Capitol Beach LLC
Michael Shonka, Solar Heat & Electric
Click here to view a Google Earth image of the solar project.
A Q&A will follow their presentation. All our events are open to the public. If you
belong to a neighborhood association, please share the event with other members.

FEBRUARY BOOK DRAWING

We will hold another book drawing at our February event. for ten copies of the Solar Electricity Handbook – 2019 Edition, by Michael Boxwell

The Solar Electricity Handbook is a simple, practical guide to using electric solar panels and designing and installing photovoltaic PV systems. Now in its thirteenth edition, the 2019 Edition assumes no previous knowledge of solar electric systems. The book explains how photovoltaic panels work and how they can be used. It provides a step by step guide to successfully design and install a photovoltaic solar system from scratch.

Solar training and certification is a journey, not a destination

By Solar Energy International, Solar Power World Contributor

“How long will it take me to get NABCEP-certified?” If we had a dollar for every time we heard that question from potential students here at Solar Energy International (SEI), we would never have to have another giving-campaign for our non-profit school’s operations. As solar
educators, we love talking with training program candidates about their career goals and
helping them choose a program track that fits their expectations. However, we often first have to address the common misconceptions for what it takes to get into the solar industry and be
successful in a rewarding career. Continue reading here.

Solar Energy International will be contributing training columns to Solar Power World throughout the next year.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION

FREE SEI ONLINE COURSE
RE100 Introduction to Renewable Energy is a free course that covers the basics of renewable energy, and is a great introduction for those new to the field, those who are looking to make a career change, or those who just want to learn more about energy from the sun, wind, and water, energy efficiency, and the basics of electricity. Upon completion of the course – with good quiz grades – you will receive a printable SEI Record of Completion. RE100 is made up of ten lessons, each containing a lecture-capture video presentation by an SEI instructor, readings, a quiz, and discussion forums. Your work will be saved as you go and you can return to it later for up to six weeks after you register.

Solar on schools advances with open source contracting

By William Driscoll, PV Magazine

With every new solar-on-schools contract more people learn how it’s done, share what they know, and make it easier for neighboring school districts to follow the same path. U.S. schools could host up to 30 gigawatts of solar. Read the entire article here.

Image Credit: Arlington Public Schools: Rooftop solar on an Arlington, Virginia school.

ALSO IN THE NEWS
A 13-year-old won $25,000 for a solar-panel invention that can locate the sun at any time, Business Insider

Georgia Hutchinson, from Woodside, California, took the top prize at the Broadcom Masters nationwide STEM competition for middle-school students. She is working on patenting her invention.
Photo Credit: Society for Science and the Public

SOLAR SCHOOLS RESOURCES

Generation 180

  • Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, written by The Solar Foundation, Generation 180 and Solar Energy Industries Association
  • Let’s Go Solar:
    School Toolkit
    Champion Toolkit
  • National Resources
  • State Resources Include Nebraska Solar Schools

Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference Presentations Now Available

Recordings from the 11th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference are now available on the conference website. Click Here to View Presentations.

Mark Your Calendars
12th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference
October 29-30, 2019
Marriott Cornhusker Hotel | Lincoln, Nebraska

Thank you to all of the Sponsors, Exhibitors, Presenters & Attendees of the 11th Annual Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference for your dedication to and passion for advancing Nebraska’s wind and solar industry. – Conference Organizing Committee

Thank you to everyone who participated in the first annual Bellevue / Omaha Solar Tour!

In addition to Bellevue and Omaha, solar enthusiasts came from Bennington, Elkhorn, Grand Island, Hastings, Lincoln, York, Council Bluffs and Iowa City to attend the first-ever nationally-sponsored solar tour in our region. The event was part of the 2018 National Solar Tour organized by the American Solar Energy Society and Solar United Neighbors.

Thank you to local tour hosts Don Preister, shown in the above photo with his backyard solar array, and Eric Williams, the Wetherby family, City Sprouts, Exist Green and OPPD. The tour was sponsored by Nebraska Sierra Club, Green Bellevue and Nebraskans for Solar.

Photo Credit: KETV

NEWS STORIES

Mr Zero: Preister’s zero-carbon life draws national attention

Bellevue Leader / World-Herald News Service

[Don Preister’s] zero-carbon-footprint achievement has caught the attention of the American Solar Energy Society, which has included Preister’s home on a national list of homes that on Oct. 6 will hold an Open Solar House. Organized locally by Green Bellevue, which Preister chairs, Nebraskans for Solar, and the Sierra Club, Preister will welcome people to his home at 4522 Borman St., from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Continue reading here.

Photo by Eugene Curtin: Bellevue City Councilman Don Preister stands with his backyard solar array. Preister has achieved a zero-carbon-footprint lifestyle and will be part of a national Open House program October 6 where people who have successfully generated their own power explain how it’s done.

Related News Story

Solar panel usage trends in metro
By Shawnte Passmore, KMTV 

Don Preister is what you call energy independent. “Being energy independent means I’m generating at least as much or at times more electricity than what I’m using,” said the Bellevue city councilman. Preister relies on the sun and his 28-panel solar collector to power his home, placed behind his garden. Power bill? Gone. View the video or read the entire transcript here.

Please join Green Bellevue, Nebraska Sierra Club and Nebraskans for Solar on Saturday!

 

Omaha/Bellevue Solar Tour October 6th from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Click here for details.

The Solar Warrior of Pine Ridge

By Laurie Brickman, Contributor, U.S. News & World Report

PINE RIDGE INDIAN RESERVATION, S.D. — Henry Red Cloud built Lakota Solar Enterprises and the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center on his family’s land, a plot of some 30 acres near a remote stretch of highway here. On an isolated expanse of the Northern Plains, it’s one of the harshest environments in the U.S., where temperatures in the winter can drop below zero, the frigidity punctuated by fierce storms able to drop power lines in furies of ice and wind.

But Red Cloud doesn’t see the extreme conditions as a handicap. For the last two decades, he has thrown himself into establishing a renewable energy program that can serve as an anchor for heating, electricity and job growth on Pine Ridge, home to the Oglala Lakota Sioux tribe. Read more here.

Photo: Henry Red Cloud has led 1,500 trainings for representatives of dozens of tribes in the Northern Plains region.

Thank you to everyone who attended The Winnebago Tribe’s Solar Development Tour!

Many thanks to everyone who joined us for the tour, including representatives from Ho-Chunk, Inc. and other solar enthusiasts from Ho-Chunk Village, Lyons, Sioux City, South Sioux City, Blair, Tekamah, Lincoln, Omaha, and Boston, among other places.

Special thanks to our tour host, Robert Byrnes, owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems and The Winnebago Tribe’s Sustainability Director. For many years Robert has been on the front lines of policy development within Nebraska. He lives on a small off-grid farm in Lyons, where he raises beef, poultry and pork. Robert is an organic chemist by education and an industrial chemist by trade. His work in that field resulted in the first and largest commercial biodiesel plant in eastern Nebraska. His current focus is on opportunities in solar and wind energy development in our state.

Top Photo Credit: David Corbin, Nebraskans for Solar Board Member. (Some attendees not in the photo were still visiting with one another and others had left to start the tour).
Photo of Robert at his farm: NET

Stats from a handout that Sam Burrish, Ho-Chunk Inc’s
Communications Manager, provided at the tour

Winnebago Renewable Energy Projects

Our significant progress in 2017 works toward larger goals of Tribal self-sufficiency and good stewardship of the environment. In 2017 Ho-Chunk, Inc. and the Winnebago Tribe made an investment of over $700,000 in renewable energy with the support of U.S. Department of Energy grants. The tribe received one of only 13 national awards from DOE.

The total project funding breakdown:

  • $374,653 in Grants from the Office of Indian Energy at the Department of Energy
  • $374,654 in matching grants from Tribal sources, including Ho-Chunk, Inc.

Ho-Chunk, Inc. has worked with Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems for these multiple projects in 2017.

Highlights Include:

  • 1,000 solar panels installed at 14 sites across the Winnebago Community. These include: Pony Express, Veterans Park, Ho-Chunk, Inc. Headquarters, and the Senior Center.
  • These projects will offset 25% to 75% of total energy usage at these sites.

Future Plans:

  • Continue clean energy projects in Ho-Chunk Village
  • Develop clean energy strategies in the development of Ho-Chunk Village 2.0
  • Explore outside partnership efforts (investors, tax credit leveraging, etc.)

If you missed the event and would like to enjoy a self-guided tour of the beautiful Winnebago Reservation and see, firsthand, why their community’s renewable energy development is a model for 100+ other tribes nationwide, here are the directions, below. (The drive is also picturesque):

From Omaha, 77N or 75N through Winnebago and turn left into parking lot for Pony Express/Titan Motors on the north side of town. Solar Farm is on north side of commercial spaces.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & VIEWING