Category Archives: Energy Efficiency / Conservation

Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants in Nebraska

What does this program do?

The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing.

Who may apply for this program?

  • Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations.
  • Small businesses in eligible rural areas.

Application Deadlines

Applications for Grants of $20,000 or Less and Loan/Grant of $20,000 or Less Combo Applications due by November 1, 2021, or March 31, 2022.

Applications for Unrestricted Grants or Loan/Unrestricted Grant Combo Applications due by March 31, 2022.

See additional details here.

Who can answer questions?
Contact Nebraska’s Rural Development Energy Coordinator:
Jeff Carpenter, USDA Rural Development
100 Centennial Mall North, Suite 308
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
Telephone: (402) 437-5554
jeff.carpenter@usda.gov
http://www.rd.usda.gov/ne

OPPD Selects Wärtsilä To Provide Reciprocating Internal Combustion Technology For Standing Bear Lake Station

OPPD News Release

Omaha Public Power District has taken another important step in its Power with Purpose project to add 400 to 600 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar generation and up to 600 MW of backup, modern natural gas to the utility’s generation portfolio.

The utility has selected nine Wärtsilä 18V50DF internal combustion engines (RICE) to power OPPD’s new Standing Bear Lake Station in Douglas County, one of two gas plants that will serve as backup to the coming solar generation. Like OPPD’s Turtle Creek Station going up in Sarpy County, Standing Bear Lake Station will be used as a peaking station, which means that the plant will run only as needed, per market conditions (estimated at less than 15% of the time). Continue reading here.

Wärtsilä Corporation News Release: Wärtsilä to provide 156 MW of thermal balancing power for Omaha Public Power District, enabling fast increase in renewables in Nebraska
Wärtsilä engines can later be converted to carbon neutral fuels to further enhance decarbonization. Wärtsilä has researched hydrogen as a fuel for 20 years and can currently use 15%-25% hydrogen blended with natural gas. Going forward Wärtsilä is developing the combustion process in its gas engines to enable their use with up to 100% hydrogen.

Additional Wärtsilä Resources of Potential Interest

NON-WIRES SOLUTIONS

Growth spurs additions to OPPD’s system, by Jason Kuiper
While OPPD does bring on a few new circuits each year, OPPD planners are beginning to look at alternatives to adding new circuits. Non-traditional fixes such as batteries and solar power might be closer than people realize, [Mike Herzog, manager of Distribution Planning] said. “We are taking a closer look at what we call ‘non-wire’ solutions,” he said. “And those technologies could be fixes for adding more circuits. There are areas in our city that it would be very difficult and disruptive to put in a new circuit, like some of the main arteries in the city. So we are always looking ahead.”

Featured Resource: Non-Wires Alternatives: Case Studies From Leading U.S. Projects, Smart Electric Power Alliance

ALSO PUBLISHED BY THE WIRE

AMERICAN PUBLIC POWER ASSOCIATION SERIES

Celebrating public power in America series – Part 2: Celebrating the Modern Public Power Utility
The American Public Power Association is pleased to present the second in-depth, three-part Public Power Current newsletter series to celebrate public power’s past, present, and future. Yesterday we described how local leaders began what would become the nation’s oldest continuously operated public power utility, in Butler, Missouri. Today, the Butler Electric Department is a modern utility: it owns Missouri’s first utility-scale solar farm, has emergency-only generators, a fully remodeled and upgraded power plant, and is studying the addition of wind power to help meet the needs of a growing town. Today we share how three public power utilities have adapted to changing times and local needs.

Western U.S. grid plan could remake renewables

By Edward Klump, E&E News

Bruce Rew, senior vice president of operations at SPP, said the expanded RTO footprint could utilize several grid connections that run from the Western Interconnection to the Eastern Interconnection. The connections are in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska. Additional connections could be considered later. SPP’s bid to tie the nation’s main Eastern and Western grid networks together would be a first among existing RTOs. “I think it’s a very significant change in terms of how the electric grid is [operated] and what the potential benefits that closer operation between the Western Interconnection and Eastern Interconnection can provide,” Rew said. Read more here.

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

GREEN HYDROGEN

Promoting energy innovation and U.S. jobs through a Green Hydrogen Production Tax Credit, Next Era Energy

To meet the U.S. national climate goal of cutting emissions 50% by 2030 compared to 2005 levels, as well as the Biden administration’s 2050 net-zero emissions goal, the U.S. will need to scale a range of new clean energy technologies. While proven technologies such as renewable generation and energy efficiency can drive a significant share of the greenhouse gas emission reductions necessary to achieve the U.S. climate target, new technologies are needed to address the remaining hard-to-decarbonize sectors that are important drivers of economic growth in the U.S., such as industry and heavy-duty transportation. Promoting U.S. innovation and competitiveness will require incentives to scale these emerging technologies. One such emerging technology is green hydrogen, which is well-placed to help the U.S. address a range of hard-to-decarbonize sectors.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

TIPS FOR SAVING ENERGY & MONEY PROVIDED BY OUR LARGEST UTILITIES

The Infrastructure Bill & Pension Funds – A $3 Trillion Action Item

Contributed by Norman Anderson, Forbes

As the Senate’s bipartisan infrastructure initiative moves forward, the talk is of spending rather than of long-term, strategic, 30-40 year investment. It’s a question of focus. The political discussion is also leaving an important tool on the sidelines — at least half of the spend under discussion lies in the traditional domain of private investment — renewable energy, high voltage electricity transmission, broadband, 5G and even social infrastructure are solid private investment opportunities. Pension funds link these two issues. By my conservative calculation, we could easily add $1 trillion – or more – of disciplined capital to long-term infrastructure investment by bringing institutional investors into high priority projects. Read more here.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SEIA NEWS RELEASES

NEBRASKA NEWS

  • Nelnet Renewable Energy and Six Co-Investors Complete $11.9 Million Solar Tax Equity Investment in the Northeast, Nelnet Renewable Energy News Release, PR Newswire
    According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), “The solar investment tax credit is one of the most important federal policy mechanisms to support the growth of solar energy in the United States. Since the tax credit was enacted in 2006, the U.S. solar industry has grown by more than 10,000% – creating hundreds of thousands of jobs and investing billions of dollars in the U.S. economy in the process.” 
  • Aurora hosts ribbon cutting for new electric vehicle charging station, NPPD News Release
    Aurora, Neb. – 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.

ENERGY SAVING TIPS FROM OUR LARGEST UTILITIES

FACT SHEET: Biden-Harris Administration Announces New Actions to Build Black Wealth and Narrow the Racial Wealth Gap

The White House Briefing Room

One hundred years ago, the thriving Black community of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, known as “Black Wall Street,” was ruthlessly attacked by a violent white supremacist mob. An estimated 300 Black Americans were killed and another 10,000 were left destitute and homeless.

The destruction wrought on the Greenwood neighborhood and its families was followed by laws and policies that made recovery nearly impossible. The streets were redlined, locking Black Tulsans out of homeownership and access to credit. Federal highways built through the heart of Greenwood cut off families and businesses from economic opportunity. And chronic disinvestment by the federal government in Black entrepreneurs and small businesses denied Black Wall Street a fair shot at rebuilding. These are the stories of Greenwood, but they have echoes in countless Black communities across the country. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Oklahoma Historical Society

MORE NEWS & RESOURCES

ENERGY CONSERVATION TIPS

New coalition of industry and academia to commercialize solution for full recyclability of wind turbine blades

News release from Vestas Wind Systems A/S, Olin Corporation,
Danish Technological Institute, and Aarhus University

A coalition of industry and academic leaders have developed a new technology to enable circularity for thermoset composites, the material used to make wind turbine blades. The new technology delivers the final technological step on the journey towards a fully recyclable wind turbine value chain. To enable the adoption of this new technology, and to advance a circular economy across the wind industry, a new initiative entitled CETEC (Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites) has been established. Within three years, CETEC is aiming to present a fully scoped solution ready for industrial adoption, based on commercialization of the novel circularity technology. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Vestas

NATIONAL SEIA NETWORK

Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association joins national SEIA network, Solar Power World
SEIA announced that it is adding the Iowa Solar Energy Trade Association (ISETA) as an official state affiliate. ISETA becomes the 20th SEIA affiliate, joining its neighbors Minnesota, Wisconsin and Missouri in the growing network of state solar advocacy groups. These formal partnerships help to connect regional organizations to additional resources and the national effort to promote solar in markets around the country.

FEATURED RESEARCH

AMERICA’S LARGEST COMMUNITY SOLAR PROGRAM

FPL builds massive solar center in Southwest Florida to support largest community solar program, Florida Insider

Florida Power and Light Company(FPL), the state’s largest electric power supply and utility company, is investing in solar energy in a big way with a new mega-solar center in Southwest Florida.  The company, which services over 5.6 million customer accounts and supports more than 11 million residents in the state, has set a goal to have 30 million solar panels installed by 2030. The new DeSoto County center has the company well on its way to its mark, with 300,000 panels already in place. Photo Credit: FPL

LARGEST BROWNFIELD COMMUNITY SOLAR PROJECT IN U.S.

Houston will turn old landfill into community solar site, contributed by Angely Mercado, GreenBiz

Houston, home to nearly 4,600 energy-related firms, is making a big investment in solar. City officials are planning to turn a landfill in the Sunnyside neighborhood into a solar farm, a move positioned as an economic development initiative with equity at its core. Once completed it will be the largest brownfield solar installation in the U.S., according to city officials. 

Photo: A rendering of the community solar project planned for the Sunnyside landfill in Houston. 

OFF-GRID HOMES

Off-the-grid homes are coming to your neighborhood, as climate change creates suburban survivalists,by Diana Olick, CNBC

“More severe storms each year are going to further and further indicate the needs for resilient development,” said Ben Keys, associate professor of real estate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. Keys studies the effects of climate change on real estate and the growing need for housing that can function off the grid. This goes well beyond solar panels. 

Secretary Granholm Unveils National Actions To Increase Energy Efficiency For Homes And Buildings And Save Costs For Consumers

Department of Energy News Release 
Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

As part of a White House roundtable on building efficiency, Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm today announced sweeping actions to power more American homes and buildings with cleaner, smarter, and more affordable energy services that sharply reduce the buildings sector’s contributions to the climate crisis. 

“America’s path to a net-zero carbon economy runs straight through our buildings, which means we need to help households and commercial buildings across the nation reduce their emissions and convert to cheaper, cleaner energy,” said Secretary Granholm. Continue reading here.

Referenced in the News Release: The 2021 Better Buildings Progress Report released today outlines the progress and collaboration of Better Buildings partners, which represent more than 30 of the country’s Fortune 100 companies, 12 of the top 25 U.S. employers, 12% of the U.S. manufacturing energy footprint, and 13% of total commercial building space, as well as 17 federal agencies, eight national laboratories, and more than 80 states and local governments. Visit DOE’s Building Technologies Office and the Better Buildings Initiative for more information.

NEW CESA REPORT

Solar for Manufactured Homes: An Assessment of the Opportunities and Challenges in 14 States, Clean Energy States Alliance

Manufactured homes, formerly referred to as mobile homes, comprise over six percent of America’s housing stock and represent an even larger share of housing for low- and moderate-income (LMI) households. This market should receive targeted attention if solar is to be developed equitably and if all segments of society are to realize economic benefits from solar.

This two-volume report describes the nature of the manufactured housing stock and shows how those homes are distributed across the country. It explains the general obstacles to LMI solar, as well as additional challenges related specifically to manufactured housing. It identifies the types of solar technologies that can work with manufactured housing and includes nine case studies that highlight ways in which solar can be deployed to benefit manufactured housing residents.

INFRASTRUCTURE

Quest for ‘common ground’ continues as clock ticks, E&E News
The effort to strike a bipartisan deal on infrastructure will continue this week, as Republicans are readying a counteroffer, two congressional committees will hash out how to pay for it all and lawmakers are jockeying to get their wish lists inserted into a final package. Following last week’s White House summit between President Biden and top GOP senators, Republicans say they could have an infrastructure counteroffer soon. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), who is leading talks for Republicans, described the meeting as “very positive.” 

Additional Recommended Reading

The Institute On Taxation And Economic Policy (ITEP) Analyses

The Institute On Taxation And Economic Policy (ITEP) is a non-profit, non-partisan tax policy organization that conducts rigorous analyses of tax and economic proposals and provides data-driven recommendations on how to shape equitable and sustainable tax systems. ITEP’s expertise and data uniquely enhance federal, state, and local policy debates by revealing how taxes affect both public revenues and people of various levels of income and wealth.

Michigan solar supporters make new push to eliminate rooftop solar caps

By Tom Perkins, Energy News Network

A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers has introduced legislation to eliminate a 1% cap on distributed energy in the state’s investor-owned utility territories. It’s the third time in recent years that such legislation has been introduced. Though utilities and their political allies have successfully blocked it to date, advocates see an opportunity with a change in state Republican caucus leadership and Michigan’s burgeoning solar industry approaching the cap in some utility territories. The bill also has support from a broad swath of legislators for reasons having to do with job creation, energy freedom and the environment. Read more here.

Photo Credit: David Marvin / Creative Commons. The Michigan Statehouse in Lansing.

Additional Recommended Reading
Commentary: To build energy resilience in Michigan, we must challenge DTE, Energy News Network

NPPD’S CURRENT RENEWABLE ENERGY LIMIT & TWO RECENT STUDIES

Kearney’s Solar Farm

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.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA REPORT

Electrifying America’s buildings by 2050 could be like taking 65 million cars off the road
Entitled Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, the study documents the benefits of electrifying the majority of buildings in America for consumers and the environment. In addition, the report ranks states by their capacity to decrease greenhouse gas emissions through building electrification.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE (RMI) REPORT

Build Back Better Homes: How to Unlock America’s Single-Family Green Mortgage Market

Residential energy efficiency reduces emissions and delivers a wealth of other societal benefits, but homeowners often lack access to low-cost financing to improve the performance of their homes. The mortgage industry is well positioned to fill this gapA new RMI report proposes practical solutions to reduce friction in originating and securitizing single-family green mortgage products. This untapped opportunity can create a new market with a total potential value of $2.2 trillion over 10 years.

RMI EVENTS

  • Decarbonizing America’s Buildings: Preparing for a Carbon-Neutral Future
    April 13: In this webinar, RMI’s Michael Gartman joins Brad Liljequist and Heath Mackay from the construction engineering firm McKinstry for a discussion on decarbonizing the buildings sector. The speakers will outline proven strategies for transitioning buildings to zero carbon in terms of both operational emissions and embodied emissions in the building’s materials.
  • Advanced Building Construction Summit
    April 28: The inaugural ABC Summit convenes experts from the public and private sectors to share insights and experiences around high-performing, decarbonized, affordable construction.

CANARY MEDIA

The Rocky Mountain Institute has launched Canary Media, independent energy journalism powered by former Greentech Media staff and David Roberts. 

Canary Media will cover the global effort to combat climate change from business, technology, and policy perspectives. Editors include Eric Wesoff, Jeff St. John, and David Roberts.

EV INFRASTRUCTURE

UNITED PARCEL SERVICE (UPS)

UPS Orders 10 Electric Vertical Takeoff & Landing Aircraft, CleanTechnica
10 BETA aircraft will be delivered in 2024, if all goes according to plan, and UPS has an option to buy up to 150 at the agreed-upon terms. Last year, UPS ordered 10,000 electric vehicles from EV startup Arrival as well.

FACT SHEET: The American Jobs Plan

The White House Briefing Room

The President’s American Jobs Plan is a historic public investment – consisting principally of one-time capital investments in our nation’s productivity and long-term growth. It will invest about 1 percent of GDP per year over eight years to upgrade our nation’s infrastructure, revitalize manufacturing, invest in basic research and science, shore up supply chains, and solidify our care infrastructure. These are investments that leading economists agree will give Americans good jobs now and will pay off for future generations by leaving the country more competitive and our communities stronger. In total, the plan will invest about $2 trillion this decade. If passed alongside President Biden’s Made in America corporate tax plan, it will be fully paid for within the next 15 years and reduce deficits in the years after. Read more here. 

Additional Recommended Reading & Viewing

Here’s how Biden’s infrastructure package will likely tackle climate change

By Emma Newburger, CNBC


The president is expected to introduce up to $3 trillion in spending on efforts to boost the economy, including rebuilding aging infrastructure like highways, bridges and rail lines, and investing in technologies to reduce planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.


Some of the policies on the table include:

  • Installing thousands of new electric vehicle charging stations
  • Funds to build energy-efficient homes
  • Constructing new electric power lines

Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Build America Bonds may be key to financing Biden’s infrastructure, by Thomas Frank, CNBC 
The bonds allow states and counties, which manage the majority of U.S. infrastructure, to float debt with interest costs subsidized by the federal government. Build America Bonds entered U.S. markets more than a decade ago as the Obama administration sought ways to finance capital projects across the country and jumpstart the economy in the aftermath of the Great Recession.

President Biden Invites 40 World Leaders to Leaders Summit on Climate, The White House Briefing Room, March 26, 2021. Today, President Biden invited 40 world leaders to the Leaders Summit on Climate he will host on April 22 and 23.  The virtual Leaders Summit will be live streamed for public viewing.