Category Archives: Energy Conservation

PV Magazine Video: The pressing need for sustainability in solar

By Jonathan Gifford, Founding Editor of PV Magazine Australia

If solar really is [to] scale to the terawatt level required to achieve a zero-emission global economy, it is incumbent on the industry to provide for product end-of-life reuse and to meet looming material challenges. That was a key message from the presentation by Pierre Verlinden which kicked off pv magazine’s first Sustainability Roundtable event.

Veteran PV researcher Verlinden, who has worked for industry pioneers SunPower and Trina Solar, joined the virtual roundtable from Australia and set out the raw material challenge PV is facing. Read more and watch the video here.

Referenced in the article: Electronic Product Environmental Assessment Tool (EPEAT). The EPEAT tag for solar will be rolled out this year.

EPEAT was developed using a grant from EPA and is managed by the Green Electronics Council (GEC). GEC maintains EPEAT’s website and product registry and has also developed some environmental benefits calculators to document the results from purchasing EPEAT-registered products.

EPEAT registered products must meet environmental performance criteria that address: materials selection, design for product longevity, reuse and recycling, energy conservation, end-of-life management and corporate performance.

The Green Electronics Council has planned updates to the functionality of the EPEAT Registry through the remainder of 2020. If you are interested in being part of the global EPEAT Registry beta testing group, please email your name, organization, and contact information to support@greenelectronicscouncil.org. Planned functionality upgrades include increased search capability, ability to save product searches, and identification of how EPEAT registered products help meet organizational sustainability goals.

Former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin on learning from community development

By Sarah Golden, Senior Energy Analyst &
VERGE Energy Chair, GreenBiz Group

Sarah Golden interviews Shirley Franklin, Executive Board Chair for Purpose Built Communities. Seventy Five North Revitalization Corporation in Omaha is a member of the Purpose Built Communities network.

Purpose Built Communities, an Atlanta-based nonprofit, works with struggling neighborhoods that have suffered from decades of disinvestment. Its model focuses on housing, education and wellness simultaneously with the help of a “community quarterback” — an organization that works to align strategies and services so the benefits of local initiatives compound. The results are astounding. The success caught the eye of investor Warren Buffet, who became a co-founder of Purpose Built Communities to take the model to more neighborhoods. Read more here.


Nebraskans for Solar and Seventy Five North Revitalization Corporation partnered last year on the installation of a demonstration 4-kilowatt solar system on a home in the Highlander neighborhood, a mixed-income Purpose Built Community in North Omaha. (See Solar Examples).


NEBRASKA ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AWARD

Gov. Ricketts Announces Nebraska’s Second Consecutive Silver Shovel Award for Economic Development, Office of Governor News Release

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

DER MARKET TRENDS

5 Major Trends Driving the $80B US Distributed Energy Resources Market Through 2025, Greentech Media. A new Wood Mackenzie forecast describes the emerging U.S. markets for distributed solar, batteries, flexible loads and electric vehicles as grid assets.

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Congressional Leaders Call for Solar Specific Solutions in Economic Recovery Plans
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the House Ways and Means Committee introduced the Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act as a part of the $1.5 trillion House infrastructure package released earlier this week. Notably, the bill includes direct pay and outlines a 5-year extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) at 30% through 2025, followed by a two-year stepdown period. The stepdown would begin in 2026 at 26%, move to 22% in 2027 and then drop to 10% for commercial and utility-scale solar projects and 0% for residential solar in 2028.

PV MODULES

PV module prices are falling faster than all predictions, PV Magazine
New research from Wood Mackenzie shows that overall system costs for installations using mono PERC modules are set to fall by as much as 20% by 2025.

TRANSITION IN COAL COUNTRY: PART TWO

Coal country faces a healthcare crisis, Energy News Network
“Transition in Coal Country” is a collaboration of the Energy News Network and WyoFile, made possible by a grant from the Just Transition Fund. The series, reported by Mason Adams and Dustin Bleizeffer, examines how the declining coal industry presents immediate and long-term changes for coal communities in Wyoming and Appalachia, how those communities are coping with change, and what they might learn from each other in charting a path to a sustainable future beyond coal. 

Part one: What’s next for coal country? / Part three: Coming June 30

CORPORATE NEWS

EV NEWS

NEWS FROM UNL’S SCHOOL OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Another Green Watts for Good Project Completed & An Invitation to All Nebraska Nonprofits

Project Description

As part of our Green Watts for Good initiative, Nebraskans for Solar and Heartland Hope Mission partnered on the installation of a photovoltaic (PV) system on the roof of their building at 2021 U Street in Omaha. The nonprofit’s mission is “to be more than a pantry by providing clients with resources to be food secure and self-sufficient in a hope-filled environment.”

The solar project was funded through direct contributions to our Green Watts for Good program and donations made to our Giving Tuesday campaign last December, sponsored by SHARE Omaha.

Ric Hansen from Interconnection Systems Inc, based in Central City, designed and installed the 5-kilowatt PV system, with plenty of roof space available for Heartland Hope Mission to add to it in the future. Additional ISI projects include the Kearney Solar Farm and Duchesne Academy’s rooftop solar array. See “Solar Examples” on our website for brief descriptions and photos of the projects. Visit ISI’s website to see more of their installations and new projects.

Project Lead Coordinators

The lead coordinators for the Heartland Hope Mission solar project were: Chelsea Salifou, Dodji Salifou, and Scott Kinkaid with Heartland Hope Mission, and Louis Lester, Ken Deffenbacher, and Helen Deffenbacher representing Nebraskans for Solar.

“We are excited to partner with Nebraskans For Solar and to be part of their model program. Not only will the solar system help us save money by using a renewable energy source, but their assistance is also helping us make modifications to lower our overall energy costs! These will enable us to put more of our resources towards providing food and other essential needs to working poor families in our community.”  – Chelsea Salifou, CEO, Heartland Hope Mission

Case Studies / Model Program  

Louis Lester, Nebraskans for Solar’s Energy Conservation Projects Coordinator, is working with Heartland Hope Mission and No More Empty Pots to develop case studies. He is analyzing their electricity bills and demand charges and auditing their energy usage.

From this data he is customizing a plan to reduce their electricity bills and demand charges through conservation measures, including management of the power loads of their large appliances, HVAC and other major energy-consuming units. He will use the case studies for a model program to present to all interested Nebraska nonprofits in an upcoming virtual workshop and discussion.

Invitation to Nebraska Nonprofits  

All nonprofits in Nebraska are invited to participate in this new energy conservation initiative. When Louis completes the two case studies, he will provide a virtual presentation and discussion on how all nonprofits can save energy and money in similar ways.

If your nonprofit would like to participate, please click the link below to download and complete his one-page survey. Keep a copy for the workshop and discussion and email the survey to nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com.

Nonprofit Energy / Solar Survey

 As the case studies and program model progress, we will send you an invitation to Louis’ presentation and additional, related announcements. With his many years of experience working on renewable energy, efficiency and energy storage at OPPD prior to his retirement last December, our board values and appreciates his work.

We hope you will join Nebraskans for Solar in developing this new initiative!

Defending 100% Clean Power: An Energy Efficiency Approach

CleanTechnica article contributed by David Lapp Jost

We currently waste a massive amount of energy that we do not need to produce, and we under-use energy efficient technologies. In one sense, we waste about 60% of our energy because internal combustion engines and fossil fuel plants are so inefficient. But we waste even more in ways that we inaccurately think of as essential consumption. From homes, to factories, to universities, to businesses, many or maybe most institutions in the U.S. could implement energy efficiency measures that would pay off in 5–10 years, outperforming the stock market.

Beyond addressing waste and inefficiency, perhaps we could re-evaluate our needs. Americans produce three times as much CO2 per capita as French people. Do Americans live better than British or French people who consume and pollute about one-third as much? No, not if the metrics of lifespan, vacation time (4–6 weeks a year in Western Europe, typically), access to free and high-quality education and healthcare, safety, and a clean environment are important. The American lifestyle is not comfortable compared to other rich countries; maybe we could live like British people, be more comfortable, and then only need to worry about producing 1/3 as much energy renewably? Read more here

New study: Highlights from the Wind Powers American Business report

By Celeste Wanner, American Wind Energy Association

Many of the businesses across the country that power our everyday lives are increasingly choosing wind energy to power their operations. Once a niche market, corporate customers now routinely represent 40 percent or more of announced wind power contracts in a given year and are some of the most sought-after customers by wind project developers. A new AWEA report released todayWind Powers American Business, focuses on this growing segment and highlights the top corporate buyers of wind energy in the U.S. The bottom line: Companies powering up with wind is no longer just a trend, it’s the new normal. Let’s dig into some of the top trends: Continue reading.

Image: Plum Creek Wind Farm

WIND ENERGY INVESTMENT IN NEBRASKA

Report says Nebraska in the top five states for wind energy investment, by Caitlyn Lorr, Siouxland Proud. Nebraska is among the top five states in the country for attracting direct business purchases of its wind energy resources, according to a report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

DOE’S BETTER BUILDINGS INITIATIVE

DOE Announces $11 Billion in Energy Cost-Savings from Better Buildings Initiative Partners, Department of Energy News Release 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced nearly $11 billion in energy-cost savings by more than 950 public and private sector organizations in DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative. To date, partners have saved nearly 1.8 quadrillion British thermal units of energy, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 27 million homes in America over one year. Learn more about DOE’s Better Buildings Initiative HERE.

ZERO ENERGY COMMUNITIES

Here’s how to design communities that give back as much energy as they take
GreenBiz contributor Charles F. Kutscher is a fellow and senior research associate of the Renewable and Sustainable Energy Institute, a joint institute between the University of Colorado-Boulder and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

My colleagues and I study the best ways to rapidly reduce carbon emissions from the building sector. In recent years, construction designs have advanced dramatically. Net zero energy buildings, which produce the energy they need on site from renewable sources, increasingly are the default choice. But to speed the transition to zero carbon emissions, I believe the United States must think bigger and focus on designing or redeveloping entire communities that are zero energy.

MORE ON THE 2035 REPORT

  • A Clean Electricity Future is Affordable and Attainable—It’s Time to Act, Rocky Mountain Institute. GridLab and UC-Berkeley show that a 90 percent carbon-free US electricity grid is both reliable and lower cost. The Berkeley/GridLab report represents a distinctive new chapter in the evolving discourse playing out around the country regarding the future of the US electricity system. The study will likely be an important benchmark against which individual utilities’ investments are evaluated for compatibility with least-cost and feasible decarbonization outcomes. Investors, utilities, regulators, and policymakers should take advantage of the wealth of insight and information contained within this body of work, and plan accordingly for their own role in accelerating the decarbonization of the US power grid. Website: www.2035report.com 
  • 90% clean power by 2035 is ‘challenging but feasible’, PV Magazine
    “90% by 2035 is the sweet spot” for a pathway that uses existing technology, allows “judicious use” of existing generation assets, and “achieves near-complete decarbonization in a realistic timeframe,” said study co-author Nikit Abhyankar of UC Berkeley. The resulting lower wholesale cost of electricity by 2035 “was a surprise for us.”
  • Falling renewable, storage costs make 90% carbon-free US grid feasible by 2035, UC Berkeley finds, Utility Dive

NEW GTM POLITICAL CLIMATE EPISODE

Racial Justice Protests Put a Spotlight on Pollution and Clean Energy Solutions, by Julia Pyper, Senior Editor, Greentech Media

On this episode of Political Climate, National Wildlife Federation’s Mustafa Santiago Ali connects the dots between the clean air, affordable energy and the racial justice movement. Ali has been on the front lines of the fight for environmental justice since he was a teenager and throughout his 24 years at the EPA. Now, as vice president of environmental justice, climate and community revitalization for the National Wildlife Federation, Ali says he’s hopeful this historic moment will accelerate equitable energy solutions.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

The time for electric trucks and buses is now, by Katie Fehrenbacher, GreenBiz
Despite the pandemic, sales of electric trucks and buses are expected to surge in the United States and Canada over the next couple of years. And perhaps, surprising to many, they’ll soar even within this year (the year that can best be described as WTF). That’s according to new data released recently by the clean-transportation-focused nonprofit CALSTART. The organization expects there to be 169 zero-emission commercial vehicles available for purchase, or soon to be available, in North America by the end of 2020; that’s a 78 percent increase from the number of zero-emission commercial vehicles available at the end of 2019. What’s more, between 2019 and 2023, the number of zero-emission commercial vehicle models is expected to double, to 195. 

SECOND-LIFE EV BATTERY STORAGE

Used EV Batteries Could Power Tomorrow’s Solar Farms, IEEE Spectrum
An MIT study finds promise in repurposing swapped-out EV battery packs for solar grid storage.

It’s Time to Incentivize Residential Heat Pumps

By Claire McKenna, Amar Shah, Mark Silberg
Rocky Mountain Institute

Heat pump technology is a particularly efficient way to heat a home, delivering two to four times more heating energy than the electricity it consumes. As of 2020, replacing a gas furnace with a heat pump will reduce carbon emissions in 46 of 48 states (99 percent of US households); all but Wyoming and Utah, which remain heavily reliant on coal-fired electricity.

Our analysis found two key reasons why a heat pump purchased today will have lower carbon emissions than a gas furnace over the 15-year appliance lifetime: (1) modern heat pumps are significantly more efficient than gas furnaces, even in cold climates; (2) the electricity sector has reached a tipping point in reducing carbon emissions. Read more here.

LOCAL INCENTIVES

Below are links to our three major utilities’ heat pump incentives. If you aren’t a customer, search your local utility company’s website for any available rebates.

Nebraska Public Power District

Omaha Public Power District 

Lincoln Electric System 

FEDERAL INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT

Geothermal heat pumps are eligible for the federal investment tax credit (ITC), which is 26% to the end of 2020: Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit (ITC)

Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

OPPD has streamlined its customer-owned generation program

By Jodi Baker, The Wire

“We know more and more customers are looking into owning their own generation, and we want to guide them in the process,” said Kirk Estee, Customer Alternative Energy Solutions Manager for OPPD. “We are their energy partner, and we’re here to help.”  With those goals in mind, OPPD recently revamped and streamlined its process of applying for Customer-Owned Generation (COG). And the utility created a new website, with educational resources, such as a quick-start guide, information on net metering for billing, and available tax credits. Customers will also find a calculator to determine their pay-off period for an investment in solar panels. Read more here.

Photo Credit: University of Nebraska Medical Center / LiveGreen

Also Posted on The Wire 

Video: Simple steps to save energy this summer

Energy Efficiency Still Abundant and Cheaper Than Gas

By Sheryl Carter, Director, Power Sector,
Climate & Clean Energy Program, NRDC

A new study shows that programs to increase the energy efficiency of our homes and businesses remain even cheaper than natural gas, demonstrating once again that this abundant energy “resourceis the most cost-effective path to a cleaner future.

Energy efficiency programs work by offering incentives to customers who invest in money-saving fixtures, like attic insulation and energy-smart appliances. Time and time again, these programs have proven to be the cheapest way to cut our energy waste and forestall climate change. In addition to saving money and easing the effects of climate change, energy efficiency programs also generate high-quality jobs. Read more here.

MIDWEST NEWS

  • Missouri utilities moving ahead with on-bill energy efficiency financing, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network. The on-bill repayment concept is known as Pay As You Save, or PAYS, and Ameren and Missouri’s two other investor-owned utilities are in various phases of developing or considering programs at the urging of state regulators. 
  • Michigan program — the largest of its kind — offers smart thermostat rebates, by Audrey Henderson, Energy News Network. Advocates say a Michigan utility’s plan to help thousands of customers buy smart thermostats is a significant step forward in developing a more efficient and responsive grid. Consumers Energy will provide $125 rebates for up to 100,000 smart thermostats to Michigan residents in a partnership with Google and Uplight. Customers who participate will be enrolled in a program that helps curtail demand during peak times in the summer.

NATIONAL ENERGY TRANSITION NEWS

ENERGY STORAGE

What’s It Like to Work in Business Development at an Energy Storage Company?
GTM talks to Laura Meilander, vice president of business development at Convergent Energy + Power, about expanding the energy storage market.

OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO SOLAR BUSINESSES

GREEN HYDROGEN

Orsted Backs First Major Green Hydrogen Project Focused on Transport Sector, Greentech Media. The Copenhagen project would use offshore wind to produce green hydrogen and other decarbonized fuels for land, air and sea transport.

Alliant coal plant could cost Wisconsin customers $257M by 2030, report says

By Catherine Morehouse, Utilty Dive

Two Wisconsin coal plants cost Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin customers $16 million in 2019 alone, according to a report released Tuesday from the Sierra Club. Alliant on Friday announced it plans to retire one of those facilities — the 380 MW last remaining unit of its Edgewater plant — by 2022. However, the 1,023 MW Columbia coal plant has no set retirement date, and if it continues to operate the utility’s share of the plant could cost customers $257 million through 2030, according to Sierra Club. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Related: Alliant Energy looks to add 675 MW of PV and quadruple Wisconsin’s solar capacity, PV Magazine

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

The (energy) efficient road to small business recovery, Utility Dive
The following is a contributed article by Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Co-Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and John Di Stasio, President of the Large Public Power Council.

MORE ON SECRET GROUP’S FERC PETITION

24 Congressional Democrats urge FERC to reject net metering overhaul, Utility Dive
A group of Democratic senators and representatives on Tuesday wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, urging the regulatory body to shut down a net metering proposal that experts say would effectively overturn the policy nationally. In the letter, Congress Members questioned FERC’s authority to make such a rule and also asked the commission to ask the petitioner, New England Ratepayers Association (NERA), to disclose its members. 

Upcoming Advanced Energy Economy Webinar


Net Energy Metering and State Authority: What’s at Stake for Advanced Energy in FERC Petition, June 3 at 2 p.m.


This webinar will explain how FERC ruling the wrong way could impact existing and emerging state and municipal and cooperative utility approaches to supporting distributed energy resources in retail markets. 

Panelists

  • Ted Thomas, Chairman, Arkansas Public Service Commission
  • Hannah Muller, Director of Public Policy, Clearway Energy
  • John McCaffrey, Senior Regulatory Counsel, American Public Power Association
  • Jeff Dennis, Managing Director and General Counsel, Advanced Energy Economy

PEAK COALITION REPORT

Dirty Energy, Big Money, by the PEAK Coalition
Subtitle: 
How Private Companies Make Billions from Polluting Fossil Fuel Peaker Power Plants in New York City’s Environmental Justice Communities – and How to Create a Cleaner, More Just Alternative

The high costs of these peaker plants—both in public health impacts and on New Yorkers’ electric utility bills—are largely hidden to the public. It is not well known, but the owners of these plants receive exorbitant payments from utilities and other energy service providers just for the plants to exist. 

UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS STUDY

The Coal Bailout Everybody Is Talking About, by Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst with the Climate & Energy program at UCS

 As we found in our new UCS report, Used but How Useful, How Electric Utilities Exploit Loopholes, Forcing Customers to Bail Out Uneconomic Coal-Fired Power Plants, utilities across 15 states right in the heart of the U.S. exploited power market loopholes, costing customers $350 million in 2018.

Previously Posted

Facing coal plant closure, Minnesota provider seeks cleaner path

By Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

Facing the closure of a coal-burning plant that had been its main source of power for decades, a southern Minnesota utility recently unveiled an aggressive plan to develop renewable energy over the next decade. A mixture of necessity and market forces led Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) to set a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 90% through generating more than three-quarters of its power from carbon-free sources by 2030. The agency’s largest source of electricity, the Sherco 3 coal plant, will close the same year. Read more here.

Subscribe to Energy News Network daily email digests here.

Photo: The Stoneray wind farm in southwest Minnesota is part of Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency’s renewable energy portfolio.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

NATIONAL NEWS

BUILDING A GLOBAL NET-ZERO ECONOMY

In a time of global uncertainty, now is the time to invest in a 1.5C futurecontributed by Lise Kingo, CEO & Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact, GreenBiz

There never has been a time like today for coming together to jumpstart a worldwide transformation towards a more inclusive and sustainable net-zero economy. This is the background for the largest United Nations-backed CEO-led advocacy effort, launched just a few days ago, urging world leaders to build net-zero climate targets into COVID-19 recovery plans and stimulus packages. Behind the statement are more than 160 CEOs of the world’s leading businesses, representing more than $2.4 trillion in market capitalization, led by the U.N. Global Compact and its partners in the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE PAPER & WEBINAR

Global Stimulus Principles: The Economy We Build Should Not Be the Same Economy We Decarbonize, by Ben Holland, Jake Glassman, Christian Roselund, Carla Frisch, Michael Banker

This paper outlines four core principles of stimulus and recovery efforts that should guide any global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides guidance for effectively integrating these principles into our efforts to rebuild, while setting us on a path toward a cleaner, healthier, more just, and more sustainable future. Learn more and download the paper here.

Upcoming Webinar: Green Stimulus and Recovery: A Path to Global Resilience, May 28th
at 12 pm CDT.
Hear from Rocky Mountain Institute CEO Jules Kortenhorst, alongside RMI Principals Carla Frisch and Uday Varadarajan, who will share four core principles of strategic stimulus and recovery for global responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn that can simultaneously benefit the economy, the environment, and our communities. These principles derive from the first report in a series on stimulus and recovery investment that RMI will be releasing over the coming weeks. Learn more about these new principles and how they can be used to optimize decision-making in stimulus and recovery investments to move us forward on a path to global resilience.

WOOD MACKENZIE

The Right Coronavirus Recovery Could Make 2019 The Year of Peak Carbon, Greentech Media. There’s no better way to honor the lives lost than by making 2020 a turning point in the energy transition, writes Martyn Link, chief strategy officer at Wood.