Category Archives: Energy Efficiency / Conservation

ICYMI: Week of Climate Action from the Biden-⁠Harris Administration

The White House Briefing Room

President Biden’s economic plan is building a clean energy future in America that is creating good-paying jobs, lowering energy costs, and tackling the climate crisis. On Tuesday, President Biden welcomed thousands of guests to the White House to celebrate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act—the most aggressive action the United States has taken to combat climate change, while advancing environmental justice and saving families money. On Wednesday, he toured the Detroit Auto Show to celebrate the American electric vehicle manufacturing boom spurred by his economic plan. Throughout the week, the Biden-Harris Administration charged forward with major executive actions across sectors to tackle the climate crisis: Continue reading here to learn more about these initiatives and enjoy related news stories.

Referenced Resource: CleanEnergy.gov
Department of Energy Photo

‘We farm the sun’: For some Wisconsin dairy farmers, solar energy is a new source of income

By Jana Rose Schleis, Wisconsin Public Radio

Cows graze near a field of solar panels Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Two Rivers, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Farmers have what solar energy companies need: land. Across the state, partnerships between dairy farms and energy companies are increasing, changing the landscape and providing farmers extra revenue in a sometimes unpredictable market. That unpredictability can take the form of a years long dip in milk prices, or unfortunate weather. Wisconsin had record-setting rainfall in 2018 and 2019, increasing the challenges farmers faced. Read more here.

Nebraskans for Solar Note: In addition to earning extra income by leasing land for renewable energy development, farmers and ranchers in every state also can save significant amounts of money on their own energy bills by taking advantage of available incentives for solar, small wind, battery storage, energy efficiency upgrades and other clean energy projects.

These incentives include the following:

Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 24 States Set to Begin Plugging Over 10,000 Orphaned Wells

U.S. Department of the Interior News Release, August 25, 2022

Nebraska has 225 wells identified for plugging and remediation in this initial phase.

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced it has awarded an initial $560 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to 24 states to begin work to plug, cap and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells. Millions of Americans across the country live within a mile of an orphaned oil and gas well. Eligible states have indicated that there are over 10,000 high-priority well sites across the country ready for immediate remediation efforts, with many more lined up for future action.

Orphaned oil and gas wells are polluting backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country. Methane leaking from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The historic investments to clean up these hazardous sites will create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce harmful methane leaks. Continue reading here.

See Also: Biden Administration Announces $1.15 Billion for States to Create Jobs Cleaning Up Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells

SHUTOFFS & THE RISING COST OF NATURAL GAS

A ‘Tsunami of Shutoffs’: 20 Million US Homes Are Behind on Energy Bills, Bloomberg Equality
US electricity prices surging and more people than ever are struggling to pay the power company. More than 20 million American households have fallen behind on their utility bills, about 1 of every 6 homes, and the amount they owe has doubled since before the pandemic. The basic problem is that electricity is more expensive, up 15% from a year ago, and there’s no sign of relief. That’s because power prices are linked to the cost of natural gas, which has more than doubled in the past year and is expected to remain high at least into next year. 

Energy Assistance Programs: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency-Nebraska

DOE WEBINARS FOR CLEAN ENERGY JOB SEEKERS

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new graduate, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) wants you to join their team of Clean Energy Champions!

Upcoming Webinars 

Careers in Sustainable Transportation
September 8, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Careers in Renewable Power
September 15, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Careers in Energy Efficiency
September 22, 12 – 2 p.m.

Careers in EERE Business Operations
September. 29, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Source: Are You a Clean Energy Champion?, Department of Energy 

RECENT NEBRASKA WIND & SOLAR CONFERENCE WEBINAR

The Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference recently held a virtual webinar titled, “What Do Regional Transmission Organizations Do?” with Casey Cathey, Director of System Planning at Southwest Power Pool. The recordings of the webinar can be found here

URBAN FORESTRY FUNDING IN INFLATION REDUCTION ACT

Towns May Grow Millions More Trees with $1.5B for Urban Forestry, The PEW Charitable Trusts
States and cities across the country are beginning to embrace trees as critical infrastructure in urban areas. Neighborhoods with tree cover are significantly cooler than exposed areas known as “heat islands,” which can affect human health and utility bills. Urban forests absorb stormwater runoff, filter pollution from the air and sequester carbon.

Christmas In August: Electric Utilities Hit Renewable Pay Dirt With IRA Passage

By Llewellyn King, Forbes

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Image: Electric cooperatives 
cover more than half the nation’s land area. 

The great prizes are the extension to not-for-profit utilities of the investment tax credits and production tax credits normally associated with tax-paying entities. These will be recovered by the not-for-profit utilities through “direct pay,” which means just that: a check.

As not-for-profit utilities don’t have an income tax liability, they have had in the past to collaborate with for-profit companies to reap any of the tax credit benefits. Now they will get a direct payment from the Treasury Department. Continue reading here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

FACT SHEET: Inflation Reduction Act Advances Environmental Justice

The White House Briefing Room

The Inflation Reduction Act builds on the historic investments in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and advances his Justice40 Initiative, which will deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. In total, hundreds of federal programs, including those established by the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Law, representing historic investments are being reimagined and transformed to meet the Justice40 goal and maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities. Read more here.

ALSO FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

ACP CEO Heather Zichal Statement on President Biden Signing the Inflation Reduction Act into Law

American Clean Power Association 

“With the stroke of the pen, a clean energy future is now the law of the land. This does for climate change and clean energy what the creation of Social Security did for America’s senior citizens. This law will put millions more Americans to work, ensure clean, renewable and reliable domestic energy is powering every American home, and save American consumers money.”  Continue reading here.

MORE NEWS RELEASES

“This new law will help the United States deploy enough clean energy to substantially decarbonize the electric grid and tackle climate change. It features long-term investments in clean energy and new incentives for energy storage, which give solar and storage businesses a stable policy environment and the certainty they need to deploy clean energy and meet the President’s ambitious climate goals. The bill also includes Senator Ossoff’s Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, which will support domestic solar production through new tax credits, lay the groundwork for thousands of new manufacturing jobs by the end of the decade, and usher in a new era for solar manufacturing in the United States.” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA President and CEO 

“With this legislation, America can finally move beyond years of on-again, off-again renewable tax credits to a long-term clean energy tax platform that will provide renewable companies with the stability they need to do business. This legislation will spur vital new investment that will help deploy thousands of megawatts of new renewable power, create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, lower the cost of electricity for American families, and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to working with the Biden administration as they implement this law and build on it with additional measures to deliver the clean energy future Americans want and scientists say we desperately need.” – Gregory Wetstone, ACORE President and CEO

The Inflation Reduction Act includes long-term extensions of critical tax incentives supporting the deployment of all three wind applications – land-based, offshore and distributed – and new programs to support the siting and construction of high-voltage transmission lines, which will be important for both land-based and offshore wind. Also included are new production-based tax credits for domestic manufacturing and supply of wind components and equipment, which will provide strong incentives to onshore key supply chains of wind turbines and related components. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Princeton: Solar deployment to increase fivefold under Inflation Reduction Act

By Ryan Kennedy, PV Magazine

Princeton University released a Rapid Energy Policy Evaluation and Analysis Toolkit (REPEAT) in collaboration with Dartmouth College, Evolved Energy Research, and Carbon Impact Consulting, outlining the potential impact of the bill should it become law.

The impact on the US solar industry would be huge, to say the least. Princeton said solar deployment may accelerate from 2020 rates of 10 GW of capacity added per year to nearly five times as much by 2024, adding 49 GW of utility-scale solar each year. Solar deployment may be well over 100 GW per year by 2030, said Princeton. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Public Power Would Gain Access to Direct Payment of Tax Credits under Energy, Climate Deal, American Public Power Association
Public power utilities, rural electric cooperatives, the Tennessee Valley Authority, state and local governments, and other tax-exempt entities would have access to refundable direct payment tax credits under an energy and climate agreement announced on July 27.

Previously Posted APPA Issue Brief: The Need for Direct Payment of Refundable Tax Credits for Public Power

Inflation Reduction Act Of 2022

Legislative Text

Summaries

 Source: Senate Democrats Website

In a Twist, Old Coal Plants Help Deliver Renewable Power. Here’s How

By Elena Shao, New York Times

Building and operating renewable energy projects has long been cheaper than fossil fuel plants. The barrier “is not economics anymore,” said Joseph Rand, a scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, which conducts research on behalf of the U.S. Department of Energy. “The hardest part is securing the interconnection and transmission access.” This makes old coal plants an attractive option as sites for renewable energy projects. Not only are the old plants already wired into the transmission system, they also have substations, which help convert electricity to a supply that’s suitable for use in homes and businesses. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Bill Dickinson/Flickr

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASE

Biden-Harris Administration Announces $56 Million to Advance U.S. Solar Manufacturing and Lower Energy Costs

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The Biden-Harris Administration, through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), today announced a slate of new initiatives and $56 million in funding, including $10 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, to spur innovation in solar manufacturing and recycling. Together, the funding will help make clean energy more affordable and reliable, create good-paying jobs, and enhance U.S. economic growth and competitiveness. Developing more solar power, the cheapest form of new electricity supply, is key to achieving President Biden’s goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035. “This administration wants to seize U.S. leadership in solar energy, from manufacturing to recycling, and that means making the right investments to ensure these technologies are made right here at home,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NEW CENTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS WHITE PAPER

Exploring Siting Guidance: Agriculture Siting Matrices Inform Renewable Energy Siting,
by Lindsay Mouw, Policy Associate, Center for Rural Affairs


Statewide renewable energy siting matrices can help reduce barriers to renewable energy development by providing guidance to local decision makers while improving transparency, trust, and fairness in the siting process. A siting matrix also creates clear standards for future development that project developers can reference before proposing a project.

Exelon, PG&E, PSEG and others call on Congress to pass ‘ambitious’ clean energy spending package

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

  • Major utilities, solar companies, storage developers and others have called on U.S. lawmakers to pass a reconciliation package that includes tax credits for wind, solar, and batteries, expanded efficiency incentives and support for clean transportation. 
  • Exelon Corp., Pacific Gas & Electric Corp., Public Service Enterprise Group and other companies are working to decarbonize but “corporate action alone is insufficient to meet the scope and scale of the climate crisis,” they said in a July 11 letter to Congressional leadership. Separately, more than 400 solar and storage companies organized by the Solar Energy Industries Association, known as SEIA, also advocated for a reconciliation package. Continue reading here.

SEIA News Releases

Also published by Utility Dive: High energy prices, Ukraine war and rising demand response potential spur energy efficiency efforts, by Herman K. Trabish

BUILDING A BETTER ELECTRIC GRID

What an $8B Western grid project means for U.S. clean energy, E&E News, EnergyWire

A planned 2,000-mile network of electric lines known as the Energy Gateway is more than a project to transport massive amounts of wind and solar energy among Western states that face potential supply shortfalls. It’s also a key piece of the Department of Energy’s clean electricity strategy. The cluster of high-voltage lines, located mostly in Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming and Utah, is among two dozen “shovel-ready,” long-distance transmission projects that DOE is counting on to accelerate an enormous expansion of wind and solar power this decade.

MORE NEWS FROM VARIOUS STATES

A New Project in Rural Oregon Is Letting Farmers Test Drive Electric Tractors in the Name of Science, Inside Climate News

With tractors being used in vineyards, berry fields and hobby farms, the EV industry hopes to prove out the promise of electrifying the $38 billion US agricultural vehicle industry.

IOWA WIND ENERGY PROJECT

Fremont County supervisors okay wind energy project, KMAland News

(Sidney) — Plans for a major wind turbine project in KMAland received the Fremont County Board of Supervisors’ approval Wednesday morning. By unanimous vote, the supervisors accepted Invenergy’s application for the proposed Shenandoah Hills wind energy conversion system planned for portions of Page and Fremont counties. Board members took action following a marathon public hearing, in which residents spoke out on the project’s pros and cons

See Also: Shenandoah Hills Wind Energy Center, Invenergy

MORE GOOD NEWS ON SOLAR TARIFFS

US lifts tariffs on solar products from Canada, Mexico, PV Magazine


Canada, the United States, and Mexico signed an agreement to lift Trump-era tariffs, after an independent panel said that the duties violated the provisions of existing trade agreements.

Valley® Irrigation Announces Completion of Company’s First North American Ag Solar Installation in Partnership with Farmers National Company

Valley Irrigation News Release

Omaha, NE: Valley® Irrigation, a leader in advancing agricultural productivity, allowing growers to produce more with less through engineered irrigation equipment and connected crop management applications, has partnered with Farmers National Company, the nation’s leading land and mineral management firm, to complete the company’s first ag solar installation within North America. The installation, which is located in south-central Nebraska on a farm managed by Farmers National Company, will provide sustainable power to the landowner by efficiently converting the sun’s rays to clean energy.

Solar energy offers numerous benefits for agricultural irrigation, including energy savings, efficiency, reduced environmental impact and potential tax savings through incentive programs. The Ag Solar group within Valley has a large international footprint with more than 700 solar installations worldwide. Valley has now leveraged the expertise of the company’s 75 years of experience in providing growers with center pivot irrigation systems and pumping solutions to deliver clean and efficient solar energy to agriculture. Read more here.