Category Archives: Energy Efficiency / Conservation

FACT SHEET: President Biden Takes Bold Executive Action to Spur Domestic Clean Energy Manufacturing

White House Briefing Room

Historic Actions Include Authorizing Defense Production Act to Lower Energy Costs,
Strengthen Power Grid, and Create Good-Paying Jobs

Today’s clean energy technologies are a critical part of the arsenal we must harness to lower energy costs for families, reduce risks to our power grid, and tackle the urgent crisis of a changing climate. From day one, President Biden has mobilized investment in these critical technologies. Thanks to his clean energy and climate agenda, last year marked the largest deployment of solar, wind, and batteries in United States history, and our nation is now a magnet for investment in clean energy manufacturing.

Since President Biden took office, the private sector has committed over $100 billion in new private capital to make electric vehicles and batteries in the United States. We have made historic investments in clean hydrogen, nuclear, and other cutting-edge technologies. And companies are investing billions more to grow a new domestic offshore wind industry. Continue reading here.

Related: ACP Applauds President Biden’s Bold Action to Reinvigorate the Domestic Solar Industry, American Clean Power Association

AMERICAN PUBLIC POWER ASSOCIATION ANALYSIS

APPA Analysis Examines Regulated, Deregulated State Power Price Trends
Increases in retail electric prices from 1997 to 2021 were about half a cent more in states with deregulated electric markets than in regulated states, though regulated states had a slightly higher percentage increase in prices, according to an American Public Power Association (APPA) analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration. APPA’s analysis also found that rates increased significantly in all states from 2020 to 2021, largely attributable to a rise in natural gas prices. 

The full report is available here.

Collaborating on zero energy homes could help meet utility climate goals and grow affordable housing

Contributed Utility Dive article by Rebecca Foster,
Vermont Energy Investment Corporation CEO

Additional factories will need to be built in more regions for ZEM [Zero Energy Modular] to expand its impact. In response to this gap, VEIC created the ZEM Factory Initiative to propose a new business model to create ZEM factories to manufacture energy-efficient, affordable units, and sell them directly to affordable housing developers in areas of high housing demand. VEIC continues to refine the model with a project called A New State-of-the-Art Zero-Energy Modular Factory and Multifamily Housing Construction System with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy.

After five years promoting ZEM homes, we have glimpsed their potential significance. The world needs decarbonized homes and buildings, and onsite generation of electricity — boosted by residential batteries — could offset growing demand faced by utility companies. Factory installation and process simulation models could enable better integration of resilience, energy efficiency, and low-carbon design strategies as documented in our work funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Moreover, we need these resilient homes to prepare for the next stage of climate change, as extreme weather events cause more disruptions. Read more here.

Google Search: Zero Energy Modular Homes in Nebraska

Photo: Clayton’s first net-zero electricity home as displayed to the public at the 2022 Berkshire Hathaway shareholders meeting in Omaha.

Already Own or Live in a Manufactured Home?
If you’re interested in making your current manufactured home more efficient, visit the Department of Energy’s Energy Saver website (see link below) for helpful tips and resources, or contact your utility service provider to learn about programs and incentives that may be available to you.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY RESOURCES 

  1. Department of Energy
    Energy Saver
    Energy Efficiency 
  2. Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE)
    Nebraska Weatherization Assistance Program
    Dollar & Energy Saving Loans
  3. Nebraska Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  4. Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET)
  5. Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)-Nebraska
  6. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)
  7. Heat Pump Systems, Department of Energy 
  8. Advanced Water Heating initiative Fact Sheet, New Buildings Institute
  9. American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
  10. Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance

For anyone interested in a heat pump: What are upfront and lifetime costs of heat pumps?, PV Magazine. The “all electric” movement is shining new light on heat pumps. A recent survey looks at their costs in terms of replacements for heating and air conditioning systems.

STATES’ INFRASTRUCTURE & ECONOMIES

Invest federal funds in energy efficiency, dozens of groups, companies urge state officials,
by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

There is more than $1 trillion in estimated maintenance and repair for public buildings, including hospitals, airports, universities, and schools, that has been deferred over time, according to the letter. The groups called for federal funds to be “leveraged alongside private investments, tax credit programs, loans, leases, and/or existing demand-side management programs to maximize impact.”

“From manufacturing floors to downtown office towers to our own living rooms, buildings of all sorts are critical infrastructure that power states’ economies,” said Ceres’ Gold Roberts. “Programs that modernize buildings and equipment … are good for business and good for the economy.”

Nebraskans for Solar Note: The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s State Scorecard ranks Nebraska 41: https://database.aceee.org/state/nebraska

Top Ten

Department of Energy Update

Sent by Email, May 18, 2022

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) issued a series of announcements involving its Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) offices. In case you missed them, read on for a short summary of an exciting day for clean energy.

Subscribe to Energy.gov Updates here

From The White House Briefing Room: White House Releases Technical Assistance Guide to Help Communities Unlock Resources From Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Today, the White House released a Bipartisan Infrastructure Law technical assistance guide to help state, local, Tribal and territorial governments navigate, access, and deploy infrastructure resources that will build a better America. The Biden Administration has identified over $700 million in dedicated funding across more than 65 technical assistance programs. In addition to highlighting federal government technical assistance, the White House Infrastructure Implementation Team has engaged with a range of external stakeholders including, philanthropic, labor and nonprofit organizations, to highlight available nongovernmental resources and create a pipeline to assist communities in quickly and equitably accessing and deploying federal infrastructure funding.

Over 90% of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s historic funding will be deployed by non-federal partners. In the past, too many communities have lacked the resources to apply for and deploy transformative infrastructure opportunities. This guide, building on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Guidebook and Rural Playbook, highlights programs that help communities navigate programs and resources that can help them deliver infrastructure projects.  While some of these programs offer hands-on and intensive planning and delivery support for communities, others are more self-directed resources and tools such as webinars and websites, or funding that can support project planning.

DOE Funding Opportunity For Agrivoltaics Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced the Foundational Agrivoltaic Research for Megawatt Scale (FARMS) funding opportunity, which will award $8 million in funding for projects that examine how agrivoltaics can scale up to provide new economic opportunities to farmers, rural communities, and the solar industry. Agrivoltaics is defined as agricultural production, such as crop production, livestock grazing, and pollinator habitat that exist underneath solar panels and/or in between rows of solar panels.

Projects will conduct a range of activities, including integrated agriculture-energy impact studies examining how agrivoltaic designs impact both agriculture production and energy production. Some projects will study how agrivoltaics can fit into existing agricultural communities and economies or enable new ones, while others will develop resources that will lower the barriers of entry to agrivoltaics, making it easier for agricultural producers and solar developers to benefit from these opportunities.

SETO’s goal is to reduce barriers to the deployment of utility- and community-scale solar energy necessary to meet the Biden administration’s goals for equitably decarbonizing the electricity sector by 2035. Scaling up the co-location of solar energy and agriculture has the potential to and provide additional benefits to farmers, rural communities, and the solar industry.

DOE expects to make between 4 and 6 awards under FARMS, each ranging from $1-2 million. SETO is interested in projects that partner with farmers who are pursuing climate-smart and sustainable agriculture and are considering agrivoltaics to enhance the economic efficiency and sustainability of small- and medium-size farms. Additionally, SETO is interested in projects that offer economic benefits to underserved communities in agricultural regions.

To facilitate the formation of teams, SETO is providing a Teaming Partner List where interested parties who would like to apply to the FOA, but not as the prime applicant, may express interest to potential partners.

Prior to submitting a full application for this opportunity, a mandatory letter of intent is due on June 1, 2022 at 5 p.m. ET.

SETO will host an informational webinar on May 12, 2022 at 3 p.m. ET to discuss the funding program and the areas of focus. Register for the webinar.

Learn more about this funding opportunity and other open funding opportunities within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

UNL CENTER FOR AGRICULTURAL PROFITIBILITY WEBINAR

Managing Through Drought with USDA Conservation and Assistance Programs
May 12 at Noon CT

Drought conditions persist across much of the country and both livestock and crop producers face losses and continuing challenges for their operations. This webinar will cover USDA emergency assistance programs to help producers cope with losses as well as on-going conservation programs to help producers prepare for and manage through drought.

MORE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

SEI SOLAR TRAINING PROGRAMS

Rundown of Solar Energy International’s upcoming 2022 solar training programs, Solar Builder Magazine

For 30 years, Solar Energy International (SEI) has been dedicated to training the global solar energy workforce. SEI delivers hands-on experience, safety, and technical skills solar training to scale the global workforce at a pace to that significantly impacts climate change — whether that’s equipping utilities with the skills to operate large-scale solar farms, or helping people access clean, reliable energy for the first time. SEI offers online training as well as in-person workshops at its facilities in Paonia, Colorado.

SEI’s Solar Professional Certificate Program (SPCP) is the industry’s most comprehensive training program. With custom program tracks, SPCP prepares professionals with foundational solar skills and technical theory in the solar industry segment of their choice. All SPCP tracks are a combination of hands-on, safety, and technical skills training.

FOR RENEWABLE ENERGY JOB SEEKERS

  • Solar Workforce Development, Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO)
  • Google Search
    Solar Energy Jobs
    Wind Energy Jobs
    An additional search strategy is to check for jobs listings on the websites of solar and wind energy companies that have installed renewable energy projects in Nebraska.

FAST COMPANY’S 2022 WORLD-CHANGING IDEAS AWARDS

Every year, Fast Company’s World-Changing Ideas Awards honor the innovative ways businesses and organizations are tackling the biggest challenges of our time. Amid the seemingly endless stream of disastrous news, these awards provide more than 1,000 reasons to feel some hope. One thousand fifty-three, to be exact. That’s the total number of honorees that our judges chose to recognize from the nearly 3,000 applications we received.

Omaha tiny-house village aims to be final step out of homelessness

By Cindy Gonzalez, The Nebraska Examiner

Nebraska’s first modern-day tiny house village — soon to start sprouting in north downtown Omaha — is expected to do more than add affordable-rent dwellings to the trendy urban core. The 50 stand-alone homes, each about 250 square feet, serve a humanitarian purpose: They’re to be occupied by former homeless people who have thrived in other shelter programs and who are ready to take the next step toward independence. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Arch Icon Development Company, whose business philosophy includes “Sustainable Design and Energy Efficiency best practices.”

Related Reading / Viewing

A Heat Pump Water Heater Is The Energy Saving Equivalent Of 7 Solar Panels & Costs ⅙ The Price

By Joe Wachunas, CleanTechnica

Water heating accounts for 25% of a home’s energy use, and thus offers an opportunity for big reductions in both pollution and cost. I’ve installed 3 heat pump water heaters (in my house, an accessory dwelling unit, and in a rental property), sung their praises for the last few years, and recently started a new job working on a national, non-profit led program called the Advanced Water Heating Initiative which seeks to make every new water heater use heat pump technology by 2030. Read more here.

Advanced Water Heating Initiative Resources

Links to Information About Available Rebates 

Other Nebraska utilities offer their customers rebates for installing heat pump water heaters. Check your local utility company’s website or contact them to inquire about incentives and any additional information.

The Biden-Harris Administration Announces $500 Million Program for Better School Infrastructure

U.S. Department of Energy News Release, April 4, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, as part the new Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information (RFI) for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050. 

The deadline to submit your response to this RFI is May 18, 2022, at 4 p.m. CT. Download the Request For Information (RFI)  to see the full list of questions and instructions on how to submit your response.

Read more here.

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Energy

Biden invokes Defense Production Act to bolster domestic battery manufacturing for EVs, energy storage

By Ethan Howland, Senior Editor, Utility Dive

 

“We need to embrace all the tools and technologies that can help free us from our dependence on fossil fuels and move us toward more homegrown clean energy technologies made by American companies and American workers,” Biden said during a press briefing Thursday. “We need to end our long-term reliance on China and other countries for inputs that will power the future.” Read more here.

 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS 

DOE Releases New Study Confirming Strong Performance of Energy Efficiency Loans

 

“Energy efficiency is the lowest cost clean energy resource we have,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “The findings in this study are a compelling invitation to financial institutions to invest with homeowners, states, and local governments to maximize clean energy deployment under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and beyond.

 

NEW GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION CARBON STANDARDS 

GSA to impose first national carbon standard for concrete, E&E News, Climatewire
The procurement arm of the federal government is imposing new limitations on high carbon-emitting building materials for all its major projects, a move that will affect billions of dollars of federal infrastructure investments. The new General Services Administration standards — to be released this morning — will require that federal contractors use climate-friendly concrete and asphalt in all the agency’s major projects. GSA oversees $75 billion in annual contracts, and the agency’s real estate portfolio comprises more than 370 million square feet.

VALMONT INDUSTRIES NEWS RELEASE

Valmont SM Secures Minimum USD $209.0 Million Multi-Year Order with Siemens Gamesa for Production of Rotor Houses for the European Offshore Wind Industry

OMAHA, Neb.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Valmont® Industries, Inc. (NYSE: VMI), a leading global provider of engineered products and services for infrastructure development and irrigation equipment and services for agriculture, today announced that Valmont® SM has entered into a supply agreement with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) to provide components for the next generation of rotor houses for the offshore wind market. The order is the largest single order in Valmont SM’s history.

The U.S. Government Has Ambitious Energy Goals. Community Solar Will Be Key To Achieving Them

By Allison Steele, Coalition For Community Solar Access

Summit Ridge Energy recently unveiled the nation’s largest rooftop community solar array, a 9.2-MW solar project in Maryland that will provide monthly energy savings to about 1,300 residential and small commercial customers across the state. 

“This is a marquee project for Summit Ridge, our capital partners at Hannon Armstrong and the entire community solar industry,” said Steve Reader, CEO of Summit. “Leveraging 23 acres of largely unused roof space to generate energy savings for thousands of Marylanders is precisely the direction our nation’s energy generation strategy needs to head.”  Read more here.

NFS Note: Nebraska has many small towns and villages with fewer than 1,000 residents, rural places that would require a relatively small number of megawatts of community wind and/or solar plus storage to provide 100% of their energy needs.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

U.S. GOVERNMENT’S FISCAL YEAR 2023 BUDGET

Statement by President Joe Biden on the FY 2023 Budget, The White House Briefing Room

Budgets are statements of values, and the budget I am releasing today sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and around the world, and the investments needed to continue our equitable growth and build a better America.  

My Administration is on track to reduce the federal deficit by more than $1.3 trillion this year, cutting in half the deficit from the last year of the previous Administration and delivering the largest one-year reduction in the deficit in U.S. history. That’s the direct result of my Administration’s strategy to get the pandemic under control and grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. 

NFS Note: The U.S. federal government’s fiscal year is from October 1 to September 30.

Related 

Also From The White House Briefing Room

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASES

Midwest Communities
Duluth, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
Highland Park, Michigan
Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
Jackson County, Illinois
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Pembroke Township and Hopkins Park, Illinois

Energy efficiency guru Amory Lovins: ‘It’s the largest, cheapest, safest, cleanest way to address the crisis’

By John Vidal, The Guardian

One of the leading advocates of energy conservation explains why this
could be a turning point for climate economics

Temperatures dropped far below freezing this week in Snowmass, Colorado. But Amory Lovins, who lives high up in the mountains at 7,200ft above sea level, did not even turn on the heating. That’s because he has no heating to turn on. His home, a great adobe and glass mountainside eyrie that he designed in the 1980s, collects solar energy and is so well insulated that he grows and harvests bananas and many other tropical fruits there without burning gas, oil or wood. Nicknamed the “Einstein of energy efficiency”, Lovins, an adjunct professor of civil and environmental engineering at Stanford University, has been one of the world’s leading advocates and innovators of energy conservation for 50 years. Continue reading here.

Physicist Amory Lovins is Cofounder (1982) and Chairman Emeritus of Rocky Mountain Institute, which he served as Chief Scientist 2007–19 and now supports as a contractor and Trustee; energy advisor to major firms and governments in 70+ countries for 45+ years; author of 31 books and more than 700 papers; and an integrative designer of superefficient buildings, factories, and vehicles. Source: Rocky Mountain Institute

ENERGY EFFICIENCY RESOURCES 

  1. Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE)
    Nebraska Weatherization Assistance Program
    Dollar & Energy Savings Loans
    Nebraska Energy Quarterly 2022 – 1st Quarter Issue
  2. Nebraska Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  3. Residential Energy Services Network (RESNET)
  4. Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)-Nebraska
  5. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy (EERE)
  6. Energy Saver, Department of Energy 
  7. Heat Pump Systems, Department of Energy 
  8. Advanced Water Heating initiative Fact Sheet, New Buildings Institute
  9. American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE)
  10. Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA)
    Nebraska Initiatives
    Policy

MEEA Webinar: The Value of Energy Efficiency in Buildings for Safety and Wellness
Tuesday, March 29, 2022 at 12 p.m.

Over the last two years the focus of building owners and operators has, rightfully so, been on health and safety concerns. Join us for a webinar to learn more about how energy efficiency can help with your health and safety goals while saving money and improving occupant comforts.

UNIQUE TINY HOUSE IN NEBRASKA

UNO Magazine: Big Future for Tiny HomesUniversity of Nebraska Omaha News Center

A living space that can be efficiently heated
by an energy output
equivalent to
16 birthday candles.

Focused on the future of tiny houses, Bing Chen, Ph.D., a UNL professor of electrical and computer engineering based out of Omaha’s Peter Kiewit Institute, envisions a future filled with tiny, environmentally friendly houses.