Category Archives: Energy Efficiency / Conservation

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.

A just energy transition in action: Developing 1G of wind power with tribes

Contributed by Shaandiin Cedar, GreenBiz

[Six] tribes make up the Oceti Sakowin Power Authority (OSPA) — the Cheyenne River, Flandreau Santee, Oglala, Rosebud, Standing Rock and Yankton tribes — unified in a mission to develop inter-tribal renewable energy resources and bolster tribal sovereignty, self-determination and energy independence. After years of searching for the right partner, OSPA selected Apex to develop their wind resources.

Read more here.

Shaandiin Cedar is a writer, business consultant and environmental justice advocate focused on the opportunities to build a clean, equitable economy.

Additional Recommended Reading
From Exploitation To Equity: Building Native-Owned Renewable Energy Generation In Indian Country, William & Mary Environmental Law and Policy Review 

WINNEBAGO TRIBE OF NEBRASKA

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

UTILITY DIVE ARTICLES

STATE LEGISLATION

NEW TESLA SOCIAL PLATFORM

Tesla launches social platform to spur owners to take political action on its behalf, CNBC
On Friday, Tesla launched a social platform named Tesla Engage, in part to spur customers to take political action that benefits Elon Musk’s electric vehicle and solar company. [In] a post aimed at Tesla fans in Nebraska, the company is urging residents to push local elected officials to change laws that bar Tesla and others from selling vehicles direct to consumers there, i.e. without operating a franchise dealership in the state. They have even provided a quick way for fans to contact the appropriate committee members or send comments to the Nebraska legislature.

LB633 – Change provisions of the Motor Vehicle Industry Regulation Act

LAURA KING-HOMAN ARTICLE

OPPD offering Energy Star certification

Texas Power Crisis: No Energy Source Alone Is to Blame and There Is No One Answer

By Sean Gallagher, Vice President of State & Regulatory Affairs,
Solar Energy Industries Association

A lot is being said, written and tweeted about the power outages in Texas. Much of it is not constructive and some is fundamentally dishonest. The hot takes and political analysis that are divorced from reality do nothing to help the millions of people who are without power in freezing conditions, nor are they constructive ways of stopping future outages.

While regulators are trying to restore power, and are making initial assessments of what happened, it is clear that solar plus storage can bring needed power to homes and businesses, emergency facilities such as hospitals and fire departments, and whole communities. Here is one example: Continue reading here.

Explore SEIA’s Initiatives & Advocacy Here.

Ending Carbon Pollution: The Energy Efficiency Imperative

By Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Co-Director, Climate & Clean Energy Program,
Natural Resources Defense Council

A recommendation for America to “invest in energy efficiency and productivity” leads a new blueprint for “Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. This is the latest confirmation of a resounding consensus that energy efficiency improvements are at the heart of any plausible plan for halting the carbon pollution fueling the climate crisis.

Recent reports also by the International Energy Agency, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and Evolved Energy all agree: Affordable, equitable, and reliable electricity service in an economy reducing carbon emissions depends vitally on harnessing the full capacity of cost-effective energy efficiency. In fact, ACEEE concluded that “energy efficiency can slash U.S. energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by about 50% by 2050, getting us halfway to our national climate goals . . . ” Continue reading here.

Interactive Online Map: ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Nebraska’s ACEEE Scorecard Rank: 41. As the map shows, several states in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) have ACEEE scorecard rankings in the 40’s, with Wyoming at 51. States also scoring in the 40’s: North Dakota 48, South Dakota 45, Kansas 47, Louisiana 45.

Nebraska’s low ranking highlights our state’s need for a comprehensive energy plan that includes energy efficiency.

Minnesota’s Outstanding Leadership

Minnesota, with a Scorecard of 9 (tying with Oregon), ranks the highest among Southwest Power Pool member states and provides an excellent national model for states, municipalities, utilities and other entities with zero-emission goals.

Driven by strong energy savings goals established under the state’s 2007 Next Generation Energy Act, Minnesota continues to rank among the top energy-efficient states in the nation. The state has also invested in policies and programs to drive efficiency in other sectors, including activities to ensure energy code compliance and through lead by example policies that set energy conservation requirements for state owned resources. Minnesota continues to explore opportunities to advance efficiency in other ways to promote building electrification and encourage adoption of electric vehicles. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is also pursuing a rulemaking to adopt California’s low- and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. – ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

SPP Resources

NPPD, LES, and OPPD ask customers to conserve energy during extremely cold weather

News Releases

NPPD asking customers to voluntarily conserve energy

Columbus, Neb. – Wholesale and retail customers of Nebraska Public Power District are being asked to take steps to conserve energy use due to current and future low temperatures that are affecting the state and midwestern portion of the country.

Customers are asked to reduce any electrical usage effective immediately and through midnight, Feb. 15, and the following 48 hours to mitigate the risk of potential widespread and longer-lasting outages. The effects of widespread and extreme cold weather have led to increasingly tightening conditions in Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) service territory which NPPD is a member.

NPPD is currently operating all available generating resources to meet demand but request voluntary conservation by electric consumers.

Electric consumers can do the following to assist without putting safety at risk:

  • Turn down thermostats to 68 degrees and lower at night.
  • Close shades and blinds to reduce the amount of heat lost through windows.
  • Turn off and un-plug non-essential lights and appliances, computers and printers.
  • Close the fireplace damper when not in use to avoid losing heat through the chimney.
  • Avoid using large appliances (i.e., ovens, washing machines, etc.).
  • Business should minimize the use of electric lighting and electricity-consuming equipment as much as possible.
  • Do not connect a generator to your home’s electrical system. Consult a licensed electrician.
  • Do not use any grilling equipment for heat indoors. Charcoal and gas grills produce large amounts of carbon monoxide and even small amounts has potentially fatal results.

See additional energy saving tips here.

LES asks customers to voluntarily conserve energy

LINCOLN — Lincoln Electric System asks customers to take steps to conserve energy in the next 48 hours due to low temperatures that are causing increased electricity and natural gas usage. The higher usage is putting a significant strain on these systems that could cause service reliability issues.

The Southwest Power Pool (SPP), LES’ regional reliability coordinator, has notified utilities within its regional footprint that energy curtailments may be necessary. Such reductions would be used to balance the supply and demand of electricity in the region.

To help lower the electric system load, LES asks customers to voluntarily and safely implement one or more of the following tips to help reduce their energy use during this time:

  • Lower your thermostat a few degrees or as low as is comfortable.
  • Make sure air registers are not obstructed by furniture, carpeting or drapes.
  • Open shades and drapes on sunny sides of your home or business during daytime hours. Close them at night.
  • Keep windows tightly latched. Seal windows and external doors with weather stripping.
  • Close the fireplace damper when not in use to avoid losing heat through the chimney.
  • Avoid using a wood-burning fireplace for supplemental heating, as it pulls hot air out of a home through the chimney to fuel the fire.
  • Postpone using major electric appliances such as stoves, dishwashers, and clothes dryers until the demand for electricity decreases.
  • Turn down the temperature setting of your water heater.
  • Turn off electric lights and appliances that you do not need or are not using.
  • Look for other opportunities in your home or business to reduce the use of electricity and natural gas during this short period.

For additional information on ways to conserve energy, see these energy-saving tips.

As Temperatures Dip, OPPD Asks Customers To Conserve Energy

Omaha Public Power District asks customers to conserve energy due to the extremely cold weather we are experiencing now and over the next couple of days. The bitter cold temperatures have increased demand for energy across the Plains region, even south into Texas and Oklahoma. Much as it does in summer, high demand can put additional strain on our system. We are seeing similar effects now, only this time with record cold instead of heat.

Customers can help by taking steps to reduce our service territory’s peak energy load and help balance supply and demand in the energy market.

  • Lower your thermostat a few degrees and dress more warmly or use additional blankets to stay comfortable, instead. You can reduce your energy usage by 1-3% for each degree.
  • Close the fireplace damper when not in use to avoid losing heat through the chimney.
  • Use dampers on the ductwork to balance the airflow in your home if one room is colder or warmer than another. Closing registers should be a last resort if dampers are not available.
  • Do not use a wood-burning fireplace for supplemental heating, as it pulls hot air out of a home through the chimney in order to fuel the fire.
  • Seal windows and external doors with weather stripping.
  • Avoid washing and drying clothing or running dishwashers during the coldest parts of the day – typically late night and early morning.
  • Avoid “phantom” power loss:
    • Switch desktop computers and monitors to sleep mode when not in use.
    • Shut computer monitors off when not in use.
    • Do not just turn off electronics like televisions, DVD, Blu-Ray players, or cable boxes when not in use. Unplug them if possible.
    • A central power strip enables you to turn off multiple devices at once.

For more energy conservation information, including guidance on reducing energy for each room in your home, to an energy usage calculator, and other tips, click here. You will also find a video library to walk you through ways to make your home more energy efficient, step by step.

KETV Video

OPPD CEO Tim Burke answers questions about the utility’s planned outages that began about midday today: Power companies begin forced outages as bitter temperatures push electric infrastructure to the limit

Community solar program marks one year

 By Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog

OPPD’s community solar facility in rural Washington County passed its first-year milestone in December. With that first year complete, the project has proved to be something customers want – there continues to be a waiting list. And the utility has learned valuable lessons they can apply to future projects. The solar array is a 5-megawatt (MW) solar energy facility that sits outside Fort Calhoun, tucked among rolling hills and trees. OPPD and NextEra Energy Resources have a 20-year power purchase agreement for the energy generated at the facility, which has more than 17,500 panels. Read more here.

Also Posted On The Wire

Resolve to be more energy efficient: February tips

The Nebraska Energy Quarterly Now Available!

 Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE)

Included in the December 2020 Edition:

NDEE’s year in review
While 2020 has been a challenging year, the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy has continued to provide its services to Nebraska.

Electricity storage and Nebraska’s future
Storing coal is easy—pile it up. Storing gas and petroleum is relatively easy—pour them into tanks. Storing electricity in bulk—now that is a challenge worthy of engineers.

Know what to do around downed power lines
Old Man Winter can create some pretty severe storms, which can interfere with power distribution or even bring down lines.

NMPP weighing interest in possible AMI service for utilities
The Nebraska Municipal Power Pool Board of Directors discussed a possible new Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) service for member utilities during their board meeting held in September.

NDEE updates solar and wind maps
Sources of energy for Nebraska are changing.

Conservation practices: windbreaks
Heating and cooling account for more than half of a household’s energy use.

Get kids interested in saving energy
Getting kids interested in saving energy can seem tough at first.

Don’t let cold wind heat up your energy bill
Fall and winter are great times to prepare your home for cold weather.

Download the newsletter as a PDF here.

Many States Lead on Energy Efficiency; More Needed

By Lara Ettenson, Natural Resources Defense Council

The annual American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) analysis shows several states adopted energy-saving targets and vehicle or appliance rules last year that will lay the groundwork to scale up efficiency programs, such as insulating buildings or replacing energy-guzzling appliances. However, while some states are making progress, the scorecard also shows there is still much work to do to ensure that the investment in—and benefits of—efficiency are distributed equitably. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

HYBRID PROJECT A FIRST WITHIN SOUTHWEST POWER POOL AREA

A greener, rural-Oklahoma energy grid is generating jobs by the hundreds and revenues by the millions, The Oklahoman

Energy flowing across Oklahoma’s transmission grid turned greener this week. On Wednesday, Western Farmers Electric Cooperative and NextEra Energy Resources flipped a switch activating the first phase of power generation from Skeleton Creek. The Skeleton Creek Project’s combination of wind, solar and energy storage was the first project of its type announced by developers within the Southwest Power Pool’s (SPP) 546,000 square mile operational area. 

About Southwest Power Pool
The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) is a regional transmission organization (RTO): a nonprofit corporation mandated by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to ensure reliable supplies of power, adequate transmission infrastructure and competitive wholesale electricity prices on behalf of its members. SPP oversees the bulk electric grid and wholesale power market in the central United States on behalf of a diverse group of utilities and transmission companies in 17 states, [including Nebraska].

Previously Posted

 OHIO’S SOLAR BOOM

Inside Clean Energy: The Solar Boom Arrives in Ohio, by Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News
Right now, Ohio has barely 100 megawatts of utility-scale solar power. By this time next year, it is likely to have more than 400 megawatts. And if every project that has filed papers with state regulators gets built, the total would exceed 5,000 megawatts by the mid-2020s. So what’s going on here?