Category Archives: Solar Energy Education

OPPD reaches customer-owned generation milestone

By Julie Wasson, OPPD Customer Service, The Wire

On June 28, 2021, OPPD received its 500th customer-owned generation (COG) interconnection application. This was the 165th application received so far this year, which is on track to be a 500% increase in interconnection applications over last year.

OPPD kicked off a multi-team project in 2019 to improve the COG application process using new, state-of-the-art online application software. The application software went live in April 2020 and, so far, more than 20 different solar installers have used the online application on behalf of mutual customers. Without the new online application process, the volume the utility has seen this year would not have been possible. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Battery project makes room for more rooftop solar in Decorah, Alliant Energy News Release
A free DOE webinar on the project will be offered on July 30 at 12:00 p.m. CDT. Anyone interested in learning more can join by 
registering here

Hay helps rural Nebraskans explore clean energy options

By Russell Shaffer | Rural Prosperity Nebraska, Nebraska Today

Making the switch to clean energy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. John Hay, a Nebraska Extension educator who conducts workshops on solar energy, helps individuals make the decision that best suits their home, farm, ranch or business.

“Success isn’t always choosing to install solar,” he said. “Success is doing a good analysis of the resources to make the best decision.” Since 2007, Hay has conducted workshops through Nebraska Extension to educate farmers, homeowners and rural business owners on the process of installing clean energy technology. Continue reading here.

Links to Extension Resources
Utility Scale Wind 
Small Wind 
Wind Measuring Towers
Solar Electric Systems 
Solar Economic Analysis 
Utility Scale Solar
Solar Water Pumping
Solar Electric on the Farm

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

  • DOE Announces $22 Million for Energy Research Projects in Underserved Regions WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $22 million in funding for nine projects covering a range of energy research topics from grid integration, solar energy, wind energy, and advanced manufacturing. These projects are located in communities traditionally underserved by federal research and development (R&D) funding so that all parts of the country are central to efforts to solve the climate crisis and meet President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Projects Include University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE ($2,940,000): Developing and applying new experimental and computational tools to understand dynamics of chemical reactions in organic materials.
  • Lincoln to receive $2.7 million grant, StarTran plans to buy new electric buses, KOLN
    The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding Lincoln with an almost $2.7 million federal transit grant, and all of that money is heading to the city’s bussing system. With this grant, Lincoln’s StarTran will get 3 brand new electric buses and two new charging stations. These new electric buses will replace three 2006 diesal buses. The company says this grant will ultimately help the environment and the thousands of people who use Lincoln’s bus system every day.
  • OPPD moving to diversify prairie program, The Wire
    Changes are underway for OPPD’s “Prairie in Progress” pollinator program. The plan largely involves replanting some areas that did not take off as well as OPPD officials had hopedThe program, which began in 2018, is a joint effort between Environmental Affairs and Building Services & Operations personnel, the Save Our Monarchs Foundation, and grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
  • Aurora hosts ribbon cutting for new electric vehicle charging station, NPPD News Release
    Nebraska Public Power District will partner with the city of Aurora for a ribbon cutting event on Friday, June 25 at 3 p.m. The ribbon cutting kicks off the availability of Aurora’s first ChargePoint DC fast charger charging station, located downtown on the corner of 12th and N Street.
  • Unicameral Update – Session Review: Natural Resources, Senator Bruce Bostelman
    Included in the review:: LB507, introduced by Brainard Sen. Bruce Bostelman, prohibits the use of treated seed in the production of ethanol if its use results in the generation of a byproduct that is deemed unsafe for livestock consumption or land application. Under LB650,, introduced by Sen. Michael Flood of Norfolk and passed on a vote of 48-1, the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will regulate facilities that inject carbon dioxide through wells into underground geologic formations for permanent or short-term storage.
  • Nebraska Embarks on Major Carbon Capture Initiatives, Environment + Energy Leader
    Chief Industries, Inc. and Catahoula Resources have entered into an agreement to jointly develop carbon capture and permanent sequestration (CCS) within 
    Nebraska.
  • Most U.S. wind capacity built since 2011 is located in the center of the country, EIA
    Wind capacity in the United States has increased significantly over the past decade, from 40.1 gigawatts (GW) in January 2011 to 118.3 GW at the end of 2020. This wind capacity growth was mostly concentrated in the middle of the country.

Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition Announces Support for the Most Comprehensive and Equitable Climate and Energy Plan in the Nation

Illinois will be carbon-free by 2045 without the huge bailouts Exelon demanded.

SPRINGFIELD – After more than three years of community organizing and leadership, today the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) announced its support for the nation’s most comprehensive and equitable climate and energy plan proposed by Governor Pritzker.

“After years of hard work and community collaboration, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition is proud to support Governor Pritzker’s energy proposal, the only plan which takes a monumental leap forward on climate change and equity. ICJC welcomed the opportunity to work with the Governor, legislators, and community stakeholders to help bring this plan to fruition. Read the entire news release here.

Governor J. B. Pritzker is a member of the following coalition:

The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 24 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Alliance represents 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy – an economy larger than all countries but the United States and China. Alliance states have shown in recent years that bold climate action can help drive economic growth across multiple industries. Together, Alliance states have built a foundation of ambitious climate action that provides a durable roadmap for national policy makers and the Biden Administration.

BROOKINGS INSTITUTION PODCAST

TechTank Podcast Episode 21: Is Biden’s American Jobs Plan the beginning of a Tech New Deal?

On this episode of the TechTank podcast, host Nicol Turner Lee talks with experts about economic trends associated with the critical infrastructure investments included in the planWhy America Needs a Tech New Deal, and what opportunities and challenges exist for job growth in the tech sector.

Guests include Algernon Austin, senior researcher at the Thurgood Marshall Institute, Allison Scott, chief executive officer of the Kapor Center Foundation, and Rikin Thakker, chief technology officer of the Wireless Infrastructure Association.

Recommended Reading

THE SOO GREEN LINK

Updates to nation’s power grid affects Northeast Iowa’s energy industry, KWWL

MONONA, Iowa (KWWL/CNN) — Efforts are currently underway to upgrade the nation’s power grid, and it has some ties to Northeast Iowa’s energy industry. The project is called, ‘The Soo Green Link.” It’s a $2.5 billion dollar project and plans to build ‘Underground transmission lines along railroads and highways.’ The Biden administration has proposed for Congress to invest $100 billion dollars on power infrastructure for renewable energy, an effort that could be made more cost effective due to tax credits in Biden’s plan.

BRIEF VIDEOS RECAP HIGHLIGHTS OF CLEANPOWER 2021

Accelerating the Clean Energy Transition at CLEANPOWER 2021, by Bridget Williams, American Clean Power Association

The CLEANPOWER 2021 Virtual Summit set the perfect stage to shine a spotlight on the industry. We heard from industry leaders and disruptors, stakeholders and innovators, lawmakers and allies to who shared insights and issued a call to action to drive forward the country’s transition to a majority clean power future. No matter your role in the industry, there was something for everyone at CLEANPOWER. Attendees joined us from across the nation, and even the globe, to hear from political leaders, subject matter experts and industry VIPs as we sit poised for an energy revolution. The conference theme, “Accelerating the Energy Transition,” united the week around the major idea that renewable energy is a term of the past. Renewable energy is just energy, and it’s ready to power the future. 

WORLD CHANGING IDEA

At these low-income apartment buildings, solar power helps pay for free Wi-Fi, Fast Company

In the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, nearly 40% of low-income households don’t have internet access. It’s a challenge across many parts of New York City that became especially apparent during the pandemic, when many children were loaned laptops for distance learning but couldn’t log on to use them. But some affordable apartment buildings in the area will soon begin offering free Wi-Fi—funded through solar power on the roof.

“We wanted to do a big solar install, and at the same time, others were talking about Wi-Fi,” says John Crotty, principal at the Workforce Housing Group, the affordable housing development organization that is launching the new program in Crown Heights and in the nearby neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and East New York. “I thought, Why don’t we put the savings into Wi-FI?”

EVENT IDEA OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO NEBRASKA SOLAR BUSINESSES

Green Jobs in Action; Live Solar Installation Event to be held in Arlington Virginia by Solar Energy World June 14-17, Solar Energy World Release, PRNewswire

Nebraskans for Solar Proposal: If any Nebraska solar businesses would like to host a similar event — live, virtual, or both — we would be happy to help publicize it. Email us at: nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com

Sugar Powers Solar Technology Research

Creighton University News

When Max Markuson DiPrince embarked on an accelerated master’s degree in physics and sustainable energy sciences, Creighton University’s most prominent solar technology researcher found his man.

Andrew Baruth, PhD, an associate professor in the College of Arts and Sciences, had been kicking around an idea that cooking sugar down into carbon nanodots about one billionth of a meter in size might improve the efficiency of solar panels.

Such is the imaginative world of research, but Baruth needed someone to pursue the idea. When he handed the ball to Markuson DiPrince, a junior from Denver, Colorado, who is a Dean’s Fellow in the Creighton College of Arts and Sciences, Markuson DiPrince carried it all the way to a presentation at the annual conference of the American Physical Society, held virtually in March.

As he perused the participants who would soon hear his PowerPoint presentation, Markuson DiPrince saw representatives of numerous graduate institutions and national laboratories, including Los Alamos National Laboratory in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado, as well as representatives of Princeton and Harvard universities.

“It was pretty terrifying, I won’t lie,” Markuson DiPrince said. “But it definitely built up my ability to present in an academic environment, which is very important as I build the skills necessary to present and defend a master’s thesis.”

The innovation Markuson DiPrince laid out that day concerned the ability of glucose-based carbon nanodots to transform the ultraviolet light spectrum into green light, which is the ideal form of light for solar cells.

“This is a relatively new direction for our research team, and Max ran the project in its entirety,” Baruth said. “It is quite an achievement for an undergraduate. It is certainly graduate-level work, which is why I’m glad he’s sticking around for his master’s degree.”

Markuson DiPrince is no stranger to solar cell research. He was named a 2019-2020 recipient of a NASA Nebraska Space Grant for similar work investigating the use of glucose-derived carbon to boost the ability of solar cells to generate electrical energy from sunlight.

Max Markuson DiPrince is a member of Nebraskans for Solar’s Board of Directors. 

Upcoming Event Hosted by Conservation Nebraska

Virtual Solar Farm Tour: Creighton University
May 20, 2021 at 6 pm

Register Here.

 

Join Conservation Nebraska for a virtual tour of Creighton University’s solar farm!

Andrew Baruth with Creighton University’s Physics Department will take us on a virtual tour and show us just how bright our future can be. Join us in learning about how the solar farm works, the benefits it provides, and how Creighton uses the solar farm to help generate electricity for their campus.

Learning about renewable energy: New curriculum brings solar to the classroom

By Theresa Bourke, Brainerd Dispatch

About 60 school districts in Minnesota use solar energy, and they now have access to a complementary curriculum to go along with their arrays. The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, along with other community partners, recently developed a kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum aimed at teaching students about solar energy as a clean, renewable option for the future.

Based in Backus, the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance is a nonprofit aimed at bringing solar and other renewable energy sources to Minnesota communities. The organization’s new curriculum is a natural extension of its Solar Schools project, a partnership with the Region Five Development Commission to install solar panels with 1.5 megawatts of solar capacity at schools in Pine River-Backus and Pequot Lakes, along with both the Brainerd and Staples campuses of Central Lakes College. Continue reading here. 

For more information about the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance’s solar energy curriculum, visit rreal.org/knowledge-is-power.

ZOO IN KANSAS TEACHING BY EXAMPLE

100% green energy and 6 other changes Sedgwick County Zoo has for its 50th birthday, The Wichita Eagle

The Sedgwick County Zoo will ring in its 50th birthday on May 27 with an unveiling of its new entry building and zoo store, both of which will run on 100% renewable energy. The zoo also plans to announce six additional environmental initiatives to reduce the zoo’s carbon footprint. “I think the role of the modern zoo and aquarium is more important today than it’s ever been,” said Dr. Jeff Ettling, the zoo’s executive director. “We all need to take action now because we’re seeing the dramatic impact that climate change is having here at home. We really need to walk the talk. It’s one thing to talk about conservation, it’s another to actually put it into action.”

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

APPLE NEWS RELEASE

Apple commits $430 billion in US investments over five years
Apple today announced an acceleration of its US investments, with plans to make new contributions of more than $430 billion and add 20,000 new jobs across the country over the next five years. To date, nearly 60 of Apple’s US sites are LEED certified. Apple is carbon neutral for all of its operations in the US and around the world, and last year committed to be 100 percent carbon neutral for its entire supply chain and products by 2030. Apple’s $430 billion US investments include working with more than 9,000 suppliers and companies large and small in all 50 states, supporting American job creation across dozens of sectors, including silicon engineering, 5G, and manufacturing.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Statement: Biden moves toward allowing states to return to setting stricter vehicle emission standards
Vehicle tailpipes are a major source of health-harming air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. After seven years of decline, air pollution started rising in 2016. By 2018, 108 million Americans lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of degraded air quality. U.S. PIRG and Environment America had called on Biden to strengthen federal fuel economy and vehicle emission standards, and restore state authority, in theFirst Things to Fixreport, which outlined 20 environmental protections the president should enact when beginning his time in office.

Environment America Initiatives include: Mayors for Solar Energy
Environment America’s Mayors for Solar Energy project is helping city leaders take concrete steps toward this brighter, healthier future by building a broad, bipartisan community of mayors and giving them the tools they need to tap into the power of the sun.

Environment America Priorities

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

Alton couple power home with solar energy

By Lydia Hansen, The N’West Iowa Review

“Ric has helped install more than 200,000 panels in five years, and none
have needed to be replaced because of hail damage.”

ALTON—It’s not always easy being green, but Ric Hansen is making a second career out of it. Ric, who is 64 and lives with his wife, Janet, on a small farm north of Alton, has been installing solar panels for businesses and residential customers since 2016. One of his first customers was himself.

He got his introduction to solar five years ago when longtime friend Wayne Williams hired him to do engineering, installation and quality control for his solar company in Central City, NE. The business, called Interconnection Systems Inc., does large solar installations in nine states. Ric started his own business, Solar and Automation Controls Solutions, shortly afterward. Read more here.

RIC HANSEN’S OMAHA PROJECTS INCLUDE:

The Duchesne Academy

Ric installed this 10-kilowatt solar array at the Duchesne Academy in 2019 for Interconnection Systems Inc. Established in 1881, Duchesne is located at 3601 Burt Street.

The energy generated by the solar system powers multiple classrooms, including the school’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math lab. where students can integrate data from the solar system into coursework.

The solar array is part of the school’s overall sustainability initiative. Duchesne Academy has the inspiring goal to be a net positive energy school by 2030. The school’s other sustainability program goals include zero waste by 2030, having a sustainable food system, and sustainability curriculum integration.

Heartland Hope Mission – A Green Watts for Good Project

As the winning bidder of our joint Request for Proposals (RFP), Ric Hansen worked with Nebraskans for Solar and Heartland Hope Mission on this 5-kilowatt Interconnection System Inc project, installed on the nonprofit’s building at 2021 U Street last year. 

Heartland Hope Mission leaders had planned to meet with their board and request a matching 5-kilowatt PV system, but the pandemic put that objective on hold. This initial 5-kilowatt solar project was funded through direct contributions to Nebraskans for Solar’s Green Watts for Good program and donations to our December, 2019 Giving Tuesday campaign sponsored by SHARE Omaha. 

Top Photo Credit: Lydia Hansen

DOE Secretary to Discuss Solar’s Role in a Clean Energy Future

Join DOE Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) Kelly Speakes-Backman, and SETO Director Dr. Becca Jones-Albertus for a webinar, 100% Clean: How DOE’s Solar Investments Will Help Achieve Ambitious Decarbonization Goals,” on Thursday, March 25, at 1:30 pm Central Time. The presenters will take you on a virtual technology tour and discuss solar’s role in creating a reliable, resilient, and carbon-free electricity grid and then answer some questions at the end. Register for the webinar here.

Department of Energy’s Photovoltaics Research

Through the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO), the Department of Energy has funded hundreds of photovoltaics (PV) research and development projects to bring low-cost solar energy to rooftops across the country, support the U.S. electric grid, and combat climate change.

Now you can learn more about the areas of research SETO focuses on, whether it’s cell, module, or system design; energy yield; industry standards; or lengthening the lifespan of PV systemsVisit SETO’s PV research area webpage to find all PV-related resources and subscribe to the newsletter.

Please join us tonight for a ZOOM meeting with Kirk Estee from OPPD.

Overview of OPPD Customer-Owned Generation Program

Nebraskans for Solar Event
March 18, 2021 – 7 to 8 pm

Kirk Estee is the Customer Alternative Energy Solutions Manager at OPPD. His discussion will include the following topics: the overall process; website resources; residential and business solar calculators; online solar interconnection platform.

Moderator: Leo Arens, Nebraskans for Solar President

Use this link to join the Zoom Meeting.
Meeting ID: 821 7986 9176
Passcode: 631014

Central Community College-Hastings program trains for high-demand careers

Letter to the Editor by Taylor Schneider
The Grand Island Independent

In 2019, Central Community College-Hastings officially started its Energy Technology (ETEC) program. The program is unique by offering certificates in wind and solar energy technology and classes in battery storage technology. Over the next five years, clean energy is expected to grow by 56% while general industry will only grow by approximately 5%. Continue reading here.

Taylor Schneider is an Energy Technology Instructor at CCC-Hastings.
Previously Posted: CCC introduces unique renewable energy program, Hastings Tribune

WIND & SOLAR EDUCATION & TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES

Central Community College at Hastings

Programs

Northeast Community College in Norfolk

JOB OPPORTUNITIES

How much do Biden’s clean-energy jobs pay, and which U.S. states have the most?, MarketWatch

At the start of 2020, clean energy employment could still count about 3.3 million workers nationwide. By comparison, Energy Department data shows that a fewer 1.12 million people had jobs in the traditional fuels sector in 2018, its latest year for complete data, and that number was expected to have risen 3% in 2019, although the site didn’t have final numbers.

“Pipe fitters, welders, steel workers are needed on solar farms, so are sheet-metal workers and construction workers. Many of those positions are entry-level and go up from there as skills help workers differentiate. In fact, there’s often a shortage of skilled clean energy workers,” said Bob Keefe, executive director of E2. “Education is going to be key. We need community colleges to ramp up; we need guidance counselors nudging kids in this direction.”

MORE ABOUT E2 – ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURS

BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS

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

UPCOMING EVENT 

First Congregational United Church of Christ in Hastings is hosting an online Lenten Justice Speaker Series on Climate. The public is invited.

On March 14, starting at 12:30 pm: Taylor Schneider, an instructor at Central Community College-Hastings, will discuss the college’s wind and solar energy programs. The guest preacher for morning worship will be Dan Deffenbaugh, associate dean of instruction-academic education at CCC-Hastings and author of the 2007 book, Learning the Language of the Fields: Tilling and Keeping as Christian Vocation.