Category Archives: Energy Conservation

Solar-storage project would be ‘game-changer’ for Kansas City region

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The world’s largest renewable energy developer is acquiring property in Kansas for a mega-project that would combine hundreds of megawatts of solar and storage capacity. A spokesperson for NextEra Energy confirmed the company is seeking land near Kansas City for a project that could include up to 500 MW each of solar and storage capacity, making it among the largest such projects in the country . . . NextEra is also pursuing a 423-megawatt solar project in Nebraska. It has acquired land rights and now is waiting to find a buyer and to hear what the Southwest Power Pool would charge for a connection to the grid. That figure is critical in developing renewable projects. Read more here.

Previously Posted  
NextEra, Nebraska farmers aim to build largest solar farm in the Midwest

Photo by Stuart Seeger / Flickr / Creative Commons

GAGE COUNTY WIND ENERGY RULE

County board approves wind turbine setback, by Monica Brich, Beatrice Daily Sun
The amendment increases setback requirements from nonparticipating residences from 3/8 to one mile. Nonparticipating residents are those who do not have contracts in place with a wind company. The Gage County Planning and Zoning committee previously approved the resolution in a 6-1 vote in August, after a six hour meeting.

U.S. RENEWABLE ENERGY MANUFACTURING

100 Gigawatts of Domestic Manufacturing Capacity by 2030, Solar Energy Industries Association
Today, SEIA is setting a target of 100 GW of domestic renewable energy manufacturing capacity by 2030, with a particular focus on solar, wind, and energy storage technologies. Right now, we are about a quarter of the way there. This goal is consistent with our aspirations of having solar energy account for 20% of all electricity generation by 2030. And it fits with a collective goal by the renewable energy industries—wind, solar and hydropower with storage, to hit 50% of all electricity by the end of the decade. The 100 GW target is designed to increase the United States’ ability to supply not only domestic renewable energy projects but also export markets. 

Download SEIA White Paper: The Solar+ Decade & American Renewable Energy Manufacturing

ENERGY EFFICIENCY 

Efficiency is smart for public power, American Public Power Association
To explore how central efficiency is for public power, we spoke with a few of the utilities that received the American Public Power Association’s Smart Energy Provider designation in 2019, the first year it was awarded, about what energy efficiency means to them. Utilities with this designation show a dedication to best practices and programs in energy efficiency, among other areas.

DECARBONIZING INDUSTRY

There Is No Business as Usual: Decarbonizing Industry Must Start Now, Rocky Mountain Institute
We know that a higher-than-1.5°C pathway will result in severe natural disasters, including flooding, rising sea levels, hurricanes, drought, and lethal temperature exposures. The increasing regularity of these extreme climate events will create drastic stresses on food and water supply, with ripple effects including hunger, market disruption, increased migration, and social unrest. In addition to threatening our environment and physical well-being, these events threaten our economy. In the United States alone the estimated total cost of weather and climate-based disasters between 1980 and 2019 is estimated at $1.75 trillion.

Trump Administration Invests $776,960 in Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy for Rural Nebraska–Investment to Help 39 Agricultural Producers or Businesses

USDA Rural Development News Release


“The investments announced today will help many rural businesses and agricultural producers to save on energy costs which will allow them to reinvest into their farm or business, helping the rural economy,” said Nebraska State Director Karl Elmshaeuser for USDA Rural Development. “Under the leadership of President Trump and Agriculture Secretary Perdue, USDA has been working tirelessly to be a strong partner to rural Nebraska in building stronger and healthier communities, because we know when rural America thrives, all of America thrives.” Listed by county are Nebraska’s recipients: Continue reading here.

For more information contact Nebraska Energy Coordinator Jeff Carpenter at
402-437-5554 or jeff.carpenter@usda.gov.

USDA Rural Development State Office
Suite 308 Federal Building
100 Centennial Mall North
Lincoln, Nebraska  68508

Rural Energy for America Program: Next applications deadline is November 2, 2020

  • Applications for Grants of $20,000 or Less and Loan/Grant of $20,000 or Less Combo Applications due by November 2, 2020, or March 31, 2021.
  • Applications for Unrestricted Grants or Loan/Unrestricted Grant Combo Applications due by March 31, 2021.
  • Guaranteed Loans are accepted on a continuous application cycle.

Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

Nebraskans for Solar Resources

Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE): Nebraska Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

Department of Energy Resource: Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar

Rural Energy for America Program Applications Now Open


The USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) seeks applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvement projects.

Deadlines

  • Applications for Grants of $20,000 or Less and Loan/Grant of $20,000 or Less Combo Applications due by November 2, 2020, or March 31, 2021.
  • Applications for Unrestricted Grants or Loan/Unrestricted Grant Combo Applications due by March 31, 2021.
  • Guaranteed Loans are accepted on a continuous application cycle.

Additional Information
Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

Nebraska Contact Person
Jeff Carpenter, Business Program Specialist, State Energy Coordinator, 402-437-5554

ENERGY RESOURCES FOR NEW FARMERS & RANCHERS

The USDA sponsors the development of a new series of extension materials designed specifically with new farmers in mind. Called “Energy Answers for the Beginning Farmer & Rancher,” it utilizes farm energy experts from university extension programs across the country to answer hot-topic energy questions. The main product of the project is a series of short, engaging videos and resources that give useful tips and information on farm energy. Contributing extension programs include Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, Penn State, Rutgers, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin.

Links to additional resources for solar-powering farm operations & farmhouses: 

The federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) is 26% to the end of 2020, dropping to 22% in 2021 and 10% for commercial and utility-scale projects and 0 for residential projects in 2022.
Source: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) 

Obtaining a REAP grant, which provides 25% of the cost of a renewable energy system or energy efficiency improvement project, plus the federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) of 26% would reduce the price a little more than half. Equipment depreciation is an additional benefit available for businesses to cut the cost even more.

Nebraskans for Solar Resources

Department of Energy Resource: Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar

Retired utility engineer works to help Omaha charities cut peak power fees

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

A retired utility engineer is using his expertise to help Nebraska charities shave their peak electricity use — and their monthly energy bills. Louis Lester, who formerly managed distribution planning for the Omaha Public Power District, has been volunteering since January with a Nebraskans for Solar program aimed at helping nonprofits lower their energy bills. Green Watts for Good had been focused on opportunities around solar panels, but Lester has expanded that scope to include energy management strategies to prevent energy-hogging appliances from all running at once. Continue reading here.

Photo by Pat Hawks / Flickr / Creative Commons

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

A vacant lot in Gary, Indiana, will soon be home to a climate-friendly community

Written by Audrey Henderson, Energy News Network

An area in downtown Gary, Indiana, that still bears scars from a 1997 arson fire will soon boast an affordable housing complex with an eye toward energy efficiency and neighborhood revitalization. The $11 million Broadway Lofts project, scheduled to break ground September 1 for completion in 2021, is part of Indiana’s Moving Forward incentive that targets net-zero, transit-oriented affordable housing. Chicago-based Farr Associates designed the project. Broadway Lofts aims to achieve Passive House certification and net-zero energy demand through super insulation, high-performance windows, elimination of thermal bridging, air-tight construction, heat recovery within the mechanical systems and on-site renewables, according to the project website. Continue reading here.

Photo: The Broadway Lofts project will occupy this vacant lot, as seen on Google Streetview, in Gary, Indiana.

About Audrey Henderson

Audrey Henderson is an independent writer and researcher based in the greater Chicago area with advanced degrees in sociology and law from Northwestern University. She specializes in sustainability in the built environment, culture and arts related to policy and related topics. Her work has been featured in Wallpaper magazine, the Chicago Reader, Chicago Architect magazine, Next City, Transitions Abroad, Belt Magazine and other consumer and trade publications.

ACEEE’S “FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND” STUDY

Mandated energy efficiency scores would influence home buying: ACEEE, Smart Cities Dive
The inclusion of home energy efficiency scores in online real estate listings would influence buyers to purchase more efficient homes, according to research from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). 

VIRTUAL HOME ENERGY ASSESSMENTS

SRP offers free virtual energy efficiency assessments for low-income customers, American Public Power Association

Arizona public power utility Salt River Project is offering its low-income customers free virtual home energy assessments. Up to 2,000 qualified customers can receive the Home Energy Assessment. n addition to SRP, the Tennessee Valley Authority,  Energy New England, and Massachusetts Municipal Wholesale Electric Company have launched virtual home assessments.

MASSACHUSETTS’ CLEAN PEAK ENERGY STANDARD

First-in-nation Clean Peak Energy Standard launched in Massachusetts, American Public Power Association

Massachusetts this week launched the first incentive program in the nation designed to promote the use of clean energy during times of peak electricity demand. The so-called Clean Peak Energy Standard (CPS), which goes into effect on Aug. 7, builds on Massachusetts’ existing clean energy policies, such as the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), and requires all electricity suppliers to purchase a certain amount of Clean Peak Energy Certificates (CPECs) each year based on a specified percentage of the amount of electricity that they supply. Eligible CPS resources include renewable energy sources that meet the state’s RPS criteria, as well as demand response resources.

ENERGY STORAGE

Battery Storage Is Delivering Value For Solar Developers And Energy Consumers. But What About Cost?, Forbes. The twin goals are to increase renewable power usage and to provide electricity during peak demand. But the main obstacle is the high price of storage. The options?

GREEN CAMPUSES

Mid-State Technical College students install a large solar array at Stevens Point Campus, WAOW
Mid-State’s Renewable Energy Technician students recently got hands-on experience delivering solar energy to the College’s Stevens Point Campus. The students installed 135 solar panels on the roof of the downtown Stevens Point campus, an array that will produce almost 50,000 watts of power on a sunny day and supply approximately 15 percent of the campus’s energy usage.

SOO GREEN CLEAN POWER LINE

Plan to lay long-haul clean power line along railroads through US Midwest gets on track, Recharge
Giant 2.1GW Soo Green HVDC Link would run from Iowa to Illinois to transport wind power to eastern states.

LES’ Sustainable Living Festival Videos Now Available

The following videos from LES’ Virtual Sustainable Living Festival last month are available for replay:

LES EV Charging Study Results
Scott Benson, LES | Eric Wood, National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Coffee with Kevin & Joy
Kevin Wailes, CEO of LES | Joy Ditto, President and CEO of the American Public Power Association

Power (or lack thereof) in a zombie apocalypse
Scott Benson, LES | Marc Shkolnick, LES

Home energy-efficiency with EdITH
Jay Stoa, LES | Jennifer Bangert, LES

What to consider when buying a plug-in vehicle
Rob Schurhoff, Electric Power Research Institute | Marc Shkolnick, LES | Jennifer Bangert, LES (moderator)

Website: Lincoln Electric System

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