Category Archives: Energy Efficiency / Conservation

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?

Sunpro Solar to Expand Rooftop Solar in the Midwest Region

Sunpro Solar News Release, Send2Press Newswire

Sunpro Solar, a leading residential solar energy company in the U.S., announced today that they are expanding to bring affordable solar to homeowners in the states of Nebraska and Illinois. The company’s expansion to new markets in the Midwest will help satisfy the demand for lower electricity bills and to create more renewable energy jobs. Sunpro Solar will offer residents of Nebraska and Illinois affordable solar energy systems, battery backup and energy efficiency upgrades. “There is a strong interest and growing demand for clean energy in the Midwest,” says Sunpro Solar Founder and CEO, Marc Jones. Read the entire news release.

About Sunpro Solar
Sunpro Solar is a top solar company in the U.S. that provides affordable solar energy and battery storage solutions to homeowners nationwide. Sunpro Solar was named 5th largest residential solar installer in the U.S. by Solar Power World Magazine in July 2020. An Inc. 500 company, Sunpro Solar continues to expand as the demand for home solar in the United States rapidly increases. Sunpro Solar has headquarters in Louisiana and currently operates in 17 states.

Additional Recommended Reading
Sunpro Solar Named to Inc. Magazine’s Vet100 List, Sunpro Solar News Release, Send2Press Newswire
Sunpro Solar has been named to the annual Vet100 list, which acknowledges the nation’s fastest growing veteran-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. The ranking is composed of honorees who have also landed on the iconic Inc. Magazine 500/5000 lists of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S and created in partnership with Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF).

For more information on the Inc. Vet100 list, visit: https://ivmf.syracuse.edu/Vet100/

New Offshore Wind Turbine Can Power a Home for a Day in Just 7 Seconds

By John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

The first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States may use the largest wind turbine in the world. Here are a few ways to think about what all that might mean. The developers of the Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts have just announced that they’ll be using GE wind turbines—specifically, the GE Haliade-X. That turbine recently got a capacity upgrade, from a world-leading 12 megawatts (MW) to a world-leading-by-even-more 13 MW. Those developments got me thinking about both the turbine and the project. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

President-Elect Biden Must Prioritize Coal Communities—and Here’s How, by Jeremy Richardson, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

CIVILIAN CLIMATE CORPS

The Energy 202: Young people want to do something about climate change. Biden may have an answer, by Dino Grandoni, with Alexandra Ellerbeck, Washington Post

During the campaign, Biden called for mobilizing “the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through a Civilian Climate Corps.” Now Biden’s allies are beginning to think about what exactly such a program will look like as he prepares to take office next month.

GTM’S POLITICAL CLIMATE PODCAST

‘The Landscape Has Shifted’: Neil Chatterjee on FERC’s Role in the Energy Transition, by Julia Pyper, Greentech Media


In this episode of Political Climate, we speak to FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee about several of the agency’s recent rulemakings, past controversies and his outlook for the future of U.S. energy policy in today’s shifting political landscape.

 

GREEN BANKS

Green bank advocates hope Biden win can help reinvigorate idea in Minnesota, by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

The coalition suggested that a bank with $100 million in capital could create as many as 15,000 jobs in Minnesota. Fifteen green banks operate in 12 states and have financed $5 billion in energy investments, returning more than $3.60 for every $1 spent, the report says. Most green banks operate on the coasts, with Michigan Saves being the only one in the Midwest. Ohio and Missouri have begun exploring the concept.

Coalition for Green Capital Report:  A Green Recovery For Minnesota: Job Creation, Environmental Justice, and Clean Energy

GOOGLE

Google calls for more RTOs, designs ‘intelligent platform’ to meet 24/7 clean energy goal, by Emma Penrod, Utility Dive

Achieving Google’s new 24/7 clean energy goal will require both the adoption of new technologies, and new purchasing options, the company’s head of global energy markets and policy said Thursday on a National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) panel. Eighty percent of offsite corporate procurement takes place in regions with access to competitive wholesale markets, according to Bryn Baker, director of policy innovation at the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.

Previously Posted

SELLING ENERGY EFFICIENCY + SOLAR AS A PACKAGE

POWERHOME SOLAR Named Silver Honoree In Inc.’s Best In Business Awards, PR Newswire
POWERHOME SOLAR is an energy efficiency company that provides high-quality American-made solar panels as part of a complete energy-savings package for residential customers. The company launched in 2014 in Mooresville, N.C., and today has nearly 1,700 employees, including a commercial division. Operating in 10 states, it is ranked No. 255 on the 2020 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America — the third time in four years that the company has made the top 300 on this prestigious list. 

ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers rely on to make well-informed decisions. Click here to find ways to save at home.

PV RECYCLING – AN ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

Solar panel recycling in the US — a looming issue that could harm industry growth and reputation, PV Magazine

According to a 2016 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the economic benefits of a U.S. circular economy could be around $135.3 million in 2020, $1.4 billion by 2030, and $10.1 billion by 2050. “Economic multipliers would significantly increase these amounts,” said Vanderhoof.

LETTER TO EV BUYERS

Letter to a Friend Buying an Electric Car, by Joe Wachunas, CleanTechnica
Two friends recently bought electric cars for their families after thinking about it for a long time. Beyond wanting to congratulate them, and click my heels together like Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain, I felt the need to describe, in detail, just how big a deal this EV purchase is, beyond platitudes like “EVs are so amazing for the world.” So I wrote them a letter.

About Joe Wachunas
Joe Wachunas lives in Portland, Oregon, and works for the nonprofit Forth, which promotes electric transportation. He is also involved with Electrify Now because he believes that electrifying everything, from transportation to homes, is the quickest path to an equitable, clean energy future. And of course, Joe and his family live in an all-electric home and drive an EV.

Cash pours into Nebraska Public Power District board of directors campaigns

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News. Network

Candidates in this month’s board of directors election for Nebraska’s largest utility drew record-breaking campaign contributions, making it the most expensive contest in history even before the final receipts are counted. The seven candidates for four board seats on the November general election ballot had collectively taken in more than $175,000 through Oct. 19. That’s more than twice the total raised in 2018 and quadruple the 2016 haul. Money poured in from environmental groups, large industrial customers, and others hoping to steer the agenda for the Nebraska Public Power District board, which has emerged as a frontline for clean energy policy in the state. Continue reading here.

More articles written by Karen Uhlenhuth:

OPPD NEWS

LED streetlight replacements top 50,000 fixtures

New studies find grid modernization accelerates cost-effective renewable energy growth

By John Hensley, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog

Renewable energy has begun to dominate new electric generation capacity additions over the past several years for a variety of reasons – plummeting technology costs, increasing efficiency, and corresponding demand from the public and private sector, among others. However, to fully realize a 21st century clean energy economy we need to update our electric system to meet today’s needs, modernize the grid, and expand access to renewables through transmission infrastructure. Now, two new studies show how transmission investments can accelerate clean energy growth while saving money for American families and businesses. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Nebraska Public Power District

NPPD’S R-Project Newsroom
Nebraska Public Power District’s Board of Directors voted to award a construction contract to Forbes Brothers Timberline Construction, Inc., of Rapid City, S.D. for the R-Project transmission line.

SEIA Blog: Solar + EVs: Two Peas in a Pod

IOWA’S RENEWABLE ENERGY & TRANSMISSION

Experts: Iowa’s renewable energy growth depends on better transmission, Iowa Capital Dispatch
Iowa could become an even bigger leader in renewable energy, especially if renewable hydrogen is developed and transmission lines are improved, a panel of university, government and corporate leaders said Wednesday

MICHIGAN STUDY QUANTIFIES RETURN ON CLEAN ENERGY INVESTMENT

Commentary: Clean energy is good economic policy for Michigan, by Laura Sherman / Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council, Energy News Network

Last month Gov. Gretchen Whitmer set a goal for Michigan to be carbon-neutral by 2050, a bold move that will bring more jobs and industry to the state. We can measure the economic growth and jobs that these energy innovations have already brought to Michigan and can continue to bring—not in 10, 20 or 30 years, but right now. A new report from the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC) does just that. It quantifies how increasing investment into advanced energy through a future federal stimulus package could energize the state’s economy, and finds that these investments would generate a return on the order of eight times the level of public spending for Michigan. 

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA’S “RENEWABLES ON THE RISE 2020” REPORT

The 2020 edition of a report by Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group
Clean energy technology has boomed in the last decade, enabling Americans to envision a future powered by 100 percent renewable energy. “Renewables on the Rise 2020” tells the story of the dramatic growth of clean energy. The data story below explains how strong state renewable energy commitments have helped to spark the clean energy revolution. The interactive charts enable you to explore how clean energy technology is growing in your state. And the six fact sheets provide a detailed look at the key technologies driving America toward clean, renewable energy — from electric vehicles to offshore wind power — and the hope they provide for the future. 

Environment America’s 100% Campaigns

CLEAN ENERGY JOBS ANALYSIS

Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2)), the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), and the Clean Energy Leadership Institute (CELI) commissioned BW Research to analyze clean energy job wages and benefits.

The Clean Jobs, Better Jobs report is the first comprehensive analysis of wages and benefits across the clean energy sector. According to the report, workers in renewable energy, energy efficiency, grid modernization and storage, clean fuels and clean vehicles earned a median hourly wage of $23.89 in 2019 compared with the national median wage of $19.14. In addition, jobs in many clean energy sectors are more likely to be unionized and come with health care and retirement benefits than the rest of the private sector, the analysis shows.


REIMAGINE APPALACHIA

Clean energy, infrastructure plan could bring 489,000 jobs to Ohio, Pa., Farm and Dairy
ReImagine Appalachia’s plan, released in July, lays out how to build and modernize infrastructure, repair the land and create jobs through public investment in Appalachia’s Ohio River Valley. Reimagine Appalachia is a coalition of more than 75 grassroots organizations from Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Kentucky. It calls for, among other things, encouraging regenerative agriculture practices, reviving the Civilian Conservation Corps, increasing clean energy use, expanding broadband, building a sustainable transportation system and creating “good union jobs.”

GREEN HYDROGEN CHARGING STATIONS

World’s First Green Hydrogen Universal Charging Station for Electric and Hydrogen Vehicles, H2-Greenforce, Extends Preferred Series A Funding Raising up to $12 Million to Debut Green Island™, H2 Greenforce LLC News Release, PR Newswire

About H2-Greenforce: Founded in 2019 in New Jersey, H2’s mission is to decarbonize our planet through production of green electricity. H2-Greenforce combines its own proprietary green hydrogen technology and know-how, with advanced industrial components to build self-sustainable electric infrastructure. H2-Greenforce is a trademark of H2-Greenforce LLC in the United States and other countries.

CLIMATE ACTION 100+ NEWS

Investors call on major US polluters to clean up lobbying activities, by Cecilia Keating, GreenBiz
It is just the latest intervention from Climate Action 100+, which is backed by more than 500 global investors representing $47 trillion of assets worldwide and aims to ramp up climate ambition from companies it has identified as collectively responsible for up to 80 percent of global industrial greenhouse gas emissions. Companies targeted by the campaign span a number of polluting sectors, including oil and gas, consumer goods, power and transportation, and have been identified as “systematically important” to the net zero transition by the campaign.

FEATURED LOCAL RESOURCES TO HELP YOU SAVE ENERGY & MONEY