Category Archives: Financing

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

Big Companies Drive Clean Energy Development. Can Small Businesses Do The Same?

Contributed by Andy Stone, Forbes

In its Renewable Energy Policy Pathways Report, the REBA Institute identifies three pathways to grow the universe of companies that have the ability to procure clean energy. Each of these pathways already exist, but need to be accelerated to allow businesses to reach truly ambitious clean energy targets, including the 100% clean energy goals being pursued by over 200 companies. REBA notes that commercial and industrial customers consume half of the country’s electricity.

Consumer choice may be the best way to grow clean energy capacity and democratize consumption, but where retail choice isn’t available, or isn’t likely to be enacted anytime soon, the next best option is to expand existing utility green tariff programs. The result would be a doubling of commercial and industrial-backed clean energy development through 2030, with little net impact on energy prices, says REBA. Read more here.

Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance Initiatives

Previously Posted – Facebook was the first OPPD customer to take advantage of Rate 261M.

Supply Chains 

The following REBA resource helps large member companies like Facebook and others to educate their suppliers about procuring renewable energy for their own operations: Supporting your suppliers

In A Post-Pandemic World, Renewable Energy Is The Only Way Forward

By Enrique Dans, Senior Contributor, Forbes

The Economist’s regular cartoonist, KAL, summed it up neatly in his cartoon last week: the battle humanity is waging against the coronavirus is only the preliminary round, and after that, we have a much bigger and stronger opponent waiting for us, called the climate emergency. That some people still may think that something as objectively and scientifically proven is still up for debate could be seen as one of the greatest achievements of the fossil fuel industry. It’s not. It’s the greatest threat to human life. Read more here.

Also written by Enrique Dans: Are We Going To Take Advantage Of This Small Window Of Opportunity For Change?, Forbes

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Solar energy continues its exponential growth, Red, Green and Blue
According to the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) World Energy Outlook 2019, solar photovoltaic (PV) is set to become the largest source of installed electrical capacity in about 2035, if countries pursue policies as planned.

NEBRASKA/MIDWEST NEWS 

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

BLACK HILLS ENERGY

Pueblo, Colorado, set to vote on exiting Black Hills Energy, forming a municipal utility, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive. The city of 111,000 also has a goal of reaching 100% renewable electricity by 2035, and Pueblo officials think forming a municipal utility will create an easier path toward that goal.

About Black Hills Energy
Founded in 1883, Black Hills Energy serves 1.2 million customers in eight states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming. The company’s utilities are subsidiaries of Black Hills Corporation.

GREEN BONDS & ESG-LINKED LOANS

Green bonds are growing bigger and broader, GreenBiz article by Meghna Mehta, Senior Associate, MSCI Research

Like green bonds, ESG-linked loans have been growing over the past few years. Several entities have issued green bonds and taken out ESG-linked loans, mostly in the energy and utility sectors, given the pressure that these industries face to move toward a lower-carbon world. The coronavirus pandemic and its economic impacts may be occupying a great deal of investor attention at the moment, but climate change and sustainability remain high on many investors’ — and companies’ — agendas. Green bonds and their offshoots potentially could offer new opportunities to help make the pandemic recovery greener as well.

COMMUNITY SOLAR

  • Denver Receives $1,000,000 For Community Solar Gardens, Press Release from the City and County of Denver. Denver has been awarded $1,000,000 to support the city’s Renewable Denver Initiative from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA) Renewable Energy Challenge grant program. The city’s initiative will equitably accelerate Denver towards its goal of 100 percent renewable electricity by 2030 by hosting low-cost community solar gardens across municipal properties.
  • So, What Exactly Is Community Solar?, Greentech Media
    In the first of a new series of explanatory articles, GTM will help you understand what community solar is and how it works.
  • Community-Scale/Utility-Scale Solar, Nebraskans for Solar Resource

Tri-State takes significant steps to increase member flexibility, sets contract termination payment methodology

Tri-State News Release

Under the new contract, utility members can self-supply up to 50% of their load requirements, subject to availability in the open season, in addition to the current 5% self-supply provisions and a new community solar provision. In late 2019, the board of directors approved the Contract Committee’s recommendation to expand member opportunities for community solar projects. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
The Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) will terminate its membership in Tri-State on June 30, 2020, Tri-State News Release. The parties have entered into a membership withdrawal agreement in accordance with a July 2019 settlement agreement. As part of the membership withdrawal agreement, DMEA or a third-party will pay $88.5 million to Tri-State, and in addition, forfeit $48 million in patronage capital. “The withdrawal agreement aligns with our settlement and is a negotiated agreement unique to DMEA,” said Duane Highley, chief executive officer of Tri-State.

Nebraska Tri-State Members

FINANCING NEWS

Engie North America launches financing plan for renewable projects, Daily Energy Insider
Engie North America initiated a major tax equity financing plan for its renewable energy portfolio. With this action, the company has secured financing through tax equity commitments of up to $1.6 billion on various renewable projects through Bank of America and HSBC. The projects will be funded as they are commissioned starting in April 2020.

Previously Posted Interview
Engie’s renewables chief on scaling corporate contracts, hydrogen hopes and offshore wind, GreenBiz Many new renewable contracts Engie intends to sign will include clauses for making sure renewables are available 24/7, which means they’ll be hybrid arrangements that include a mix of clean (or cleaner) power sources such as solar, wind and hydro and, increasingly, some sort of storage — Engie has big aspirations in green hydrogen. Heather Clancy interviews Gwénaëlle Avice-Huet, executive vice president in charge of the global renewables and green hydrogen business line for Engie, and president and CEO of the Engie North America operation.

More About Engie Previously Posted

MORNING CONSULT

Let’s Deploy Local Solar for All to Help Restart Our Economy, by Luis Davila
As we face a once-in-a-lifetime crisis due to the effects of the coronavirus, we also have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform our energy system to one that is cleaner, safer and more equitable. This improved system can deliver local, affordable and clean energy options to all energy customers, especially low-income families who will be disproportionately affected by the effects of the coronavirus. Thankfully, prior to this crisis, we had already started to take steps to pursue this improved energy system. It is time to accelerate our transition to a more decentralized, resilient energy system.

Luis Davila is a clean energy policy advocate and former director of campaigns and advocacy at Sunrun, and before that, he was a campaign leader at the U.N. Climate Change secretariat in the lead up to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Morning Consult welcomes op-ed submissions on policy, politics and business strategy in their coverage areas. Updated submission guidelines can be found here.

FEATURED RESOURCE

Low Income Solar.Org
Utilities are in a powerful position to facilitate the transition to clean energy for all and can play a vital role in expanding solar access and choice for low-income households. However, special care must be taken to ensure utility owned projects are designed to meet the needs of low-income households and underserved communities. In considering the roles utilities can and should play in making solar available for low-income households and underserved communities, Principles and Recommendations for Utility Participation in Solar Programs for Low-Income Customers from The Environmental Law & Policy Center, GRID Alternatives, and Vote Solar outlines three interrelated sets of guidelines and considerations for policy makers and regulators to review.

HYDROPOWER

Life After Covid-19, Part II: Secret Renewable Energy Weapon Lurks Beneath Waters of the US, by Tina Casey, CleanTechnica. For all the nice (and not-so-nice) things people say about hydropower, the chances of building a new fleet of hydropower dams in the US are slim to none. However, there is still plenty of untapped renewable energy to be scoured from running water — and the US Department of Energy is determined to pry it loose with $38 million for a newly announced research program. The new announcement lends additional support to the prospects for deploying renewables as an economic recovery strategy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

DOE News Release: Department of Energy Announces $38 Million to Support Hydrokinetic Turbine Technology Development

VIRGINIA LEADERSHIP

MODEL REGIONAL INITIATIVE

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont [and now Virginia] to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

APPA RELIABILITY AWARDS

APPA recognizes member utilities for reliability efforts, American Public Power Association
The American Public Power Association recently honored more than one hundred public power utilities with a “certificate of excellence” for reliable performance in 2019, as shown by comparing their outage records against nationwide data gathered by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The utilities that were recognized by the Association have been keeping track of their reliability data via the Association’s web-based subscription service, called eReliability Tracker, which lets utilities collect, categorize and summarize their outage information. The complete list of awardees is available here.

Nebraska Award Recipients
Fremont Department of Utilities
Grand Island Utilities Department

OPPD THE WIRE

Show off your knowledge about line work, by Laura King-Homan
April 13 is Lineworker Appreciation Day in Nebraska. OPPD is proud of all the line technicians who work hard every day to keep our communities powered. But how much do you know about the work they do? Take the quiz below and find out!

ESG

Amid plunging stock prices, ESG leaders are holding their own, by contributor Sara E. Murphy, GreenBiz

Jeff Meli, global head of research at Barclays, said companies should expect more questions from investors about their resilience and contingency planning, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. Many observers believe that strong ESG performance indicates better management, which translates into stronger long-term returns. The idea is that management teams that do a good job of minimizing their environmental footprint, promoting good employee relations and creating resilient governance structures are more likely to be adept at running all other aspects of a company’s business. “ESG funds tend to be biased towards higher-quality companies with a stronger balance sheet, companies that are run better and operate more efficiently,” Hortense Bioy, director of passive strategies and sustainability research at Morningstar, told the Financial Times.

TESLA’S PILOT VPP IN AUSTRALIA

Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant Is Already a Success, Popular Mechanics
Like the large energy storage facility Tesla operates in South Australia, the goal of the virtual power plant is to both collect energy and store it to be fed back into the grid. The pilot virtual plant is distributed across the rooftops of 1,000 low-income homes in South Australia, and Tesla says its goal is to eventually have 50,000 solar rooftops there. That number might sound small, but South Australia only has about 1.6 million residents.

Solar companies invest in acres in the Midwest

Kenosha News

More and more rural electric cooperatives and individual farmers are turning to solar power as an energy alternative. Brady Boell, director of safety and member services for the Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, says his cooperative has built five sites in Iowa since October 2018. “The idea was to offer members a way to invest in solar energy,” he says. “Many cannot install these arrays on their own property, so this allows them to invest.” Solar energy use has rapidly grown over the past two years, says Tim Dwight, president of the Iowa Solar Trade Association and owner of Integrated Power Corporation, a solar energy installer. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Bill refines solar rules with input from pork producers, Kenosha Times

Photo Credit: Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY GUIDES FOR SOLAR & SMALL WIND PROJECTS

NRECA RESOURCES

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Renewable Energy Resources

Previously Posted News Release

DOE Selects NRECA for Wind Energy Research Initiative
The Department of Energy has selected the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to research small-scale, community-based wind energy solutions that can be deployed by electric cooperatives. NRECA will team with co-ops around the country to evaluate and deploy diverse types of distributed wind projects. Like NRECA’s solar deployment project, a similar DOE-funded program that accelerated utility-scale solar at co-ops across rural America, NRECA expects this project to increase the number of electric cooperatives incorporating wind applications into their resource planning. DOE has identified high technical potential for “hundreds of thousands of turbines” totaling more than 10 gigawatts of electric capacity on rural distribution grids. 

CO-LOCATION RESOURCES

Co-locating apiaries, pollinator-friendly plants, and industrial hemp with solar and wind projects can provide extra income for farmers and improve Nebraska’s honey production and retail sales, among other benefits. Click here and scroll down for a list of resources.

INCENTIVES & DEPRECIATION

Incentives for Homeowners & Businesses
Business and residential solar projects qualify for the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is now 26% through December 31, 2020.

 

 

All Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

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

Business Equipment Depreciation Resources

LAND LEASES

Solar and wind farm leases create extra income for farmers and other landowners and provide valuable tax revenues for local communities.

USDA extends application deadline for the Rural Energy for America Program to April 15, 2020

The Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.

Extension of Application Deadlines. 

Who may apply?

  • Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations.
  • Small businesses in eligible rural areas.

What is an eligible area?

  • Businesses must be in an area OTHER THAN a city or town with a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants and the urbanized area of that city or town. Check eligible business addresses.
  • Agricultural producers may be in rural or non-rural areas.

Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) – Nebraska
Program Fact Sheet

Recommended Reading
USDA invests more than $172M in building rural Nebraska prosperity in 2019, Columbus Telegram More than $1.1 million was invested in 37 energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy development assistance projects through the Rural Energy for America Program.

USDA Seeks Applications for Rural Energy for America Program

The Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements.

Who may apply?

  • Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations.
  • Small businesses in eligible rural areas.

What is an eligible area?

  • Businesses must be in an area OTHER THAN a city or town with a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants and the urbanized area of that city or town. Check eligible business addresses.
  • Agricultural producers may be in rural or non-rural areas.

Application Deadlines

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

Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) – Nebraska
Program Fact Sheet

Recommended Reading
USDA invests more than $172M in building rural Nebraska prosperity in 2019, Columbus Telegram More than $1.1 million was invested in 37 energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy development assistance projects through the Rural Energy for America Program.

City adopts financing tool for environmentally friendly projects

By Tony Herman, Hastings Tribune

Hastings became the latest Nebraska city to adopt Property Assessed Clean Energy program when the Hastings City Council approved the program’s manual, application and contract form during the council’s regular meeting Jan. 13. Participation in PACE promotes energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy as an economic development tool. PACE financing is for commercial real estate and finances energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy systems. PACE loans serve as gap financing, so the developer would not have to spend as much of its capital to undertake an energy efficiency component of a project. Read more here.

Photo of the Nebraska State Capitol by Rick McCharles / Creative Commons. The Nebraska Legislature passed PACE-enabling legislation in 2016.

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

CONSERVATION NEBRASKA’S COMMON GROUND EDUCATION PROGRAM 

Workshop aims to build ‘A Sustainable You’ in 2020, by Tim Johnson, The North Platte Telegraph
The meeting was the kickoff to a yearlong program with monthly themes for Conservation Nebraska’s Common Ground Program. Solar energy will be February’s topic.

Links to More Information

Bluestem Energy Solutions to open new office in Columbus

By David Becker, The Columbus Telegram

Bluestem Energy Solutions, an Omaha-based company that is known for operating low carbon electric generation projects and enables consumers and businesses to have renewable energy, will soon be opening up its first office in Columbus. “The new office was chosen due to Columbus’ proximity to our operating assets, a strong workforce and our relationship with Loup Public Power. Loup Public Power District has a great team focused on growing their community and serving their customers with the highest of standards,” said Adam Herink, vice president of Bluestem Energy Solutions.

“Bluestem is focused on all low carbon energy generation technologies in the market, along with battery storage. The economics are competitive today and every area of the country will experience growth in renewable technologies like solar and wind coupled with battery storage. The advent of battery storage on our industry is driving more decisions faster because it minimizes the variability of renewable energy,” Herink said. Read more here.

Bluestem Energy Solutions

Loup Power District

Loup Power District celebrated 85 years in 2018. It was the first public power district in Nebraska. Loup Power serves 21 Nebraska communities with a total current population of approximately 62,300 people. The total service area covers 2,219 square miles and consists of 794 miles of transmission and distribution lines. In addition, the District sells electric power to one wholesale customer.

Loup Power has distribution system lease and franchise agreements with all the municipalities that provide for the continued operation of their distribution systems until the expiration of the agreements. Under these agreements, the District retains the responsibilities of ownership and/or operation, including the obligation to meet the costs of property additions and maintenance. The Board sets sufficient electric rates to pay the cost of operating, maintaining and repairing the transmission and distribution systems.

YouTube Video: Loup Power Canal Chronicles – January 2019
Bluestem’s Creston Ridge Wind Farm: Phases I and II, Boyd Jones

Industry Vows to Continue Fight for Pro-Solar Policies, Despite Missed Opportunity This Year

SEIA News Release 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Congress and the White House were unable to agree on including an extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in an end of year tax package, meaning the credit will decrease at the end of this year. The measure also failed to include energy storage in the ITC. This represents a missed opportunity to take an achievable step to boost the economy, add jobs and reduce carbon emissions.

Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association on this development: 

“While I’m disappointed by this missed opportunity to boost the U.S. economy and jobs, and tackle climate change, I’m heartened that voter support for clean energy policies is at an all-time high. The solar ITC is a proven way to generate tens of billions of dollars in private investment each year, while substantially reducing carbon emissions. We will look for opportunities next year to again engage our incredibly supportive solar community and work with Congress on clean energy policies that work for all Americans.” Read the entire news release here.

Additional Recommended Reading