Category Archives: Financing

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

Publicly owned utilities ‘not a panacea’ but can produce customer benefits

By Tom Perkins, Energy News Network

As California officials consider a public takeover of PG&E, the concept has already shown results in other places.

OPPD’s [Eric] Williams said he agrees that the public model is “not a panacea,” and said OPPD is contending with legacy costs and long-term investments. But the public model is better suited to respond to the public’s growing demand for clean energy, he added, in part because there aren’t layers between the policymakers and customers, as there are with investor-owned utilities, state governments, and utility commissions.

“At OPPD, board members are directed by customer-owners to meet the needs as we’re setting policy,” he said. “Quite frankly, if the customer-owners don’t feel the board is doing what’s best, then there’s a direct mechanism for them to respond — the next election.” Read the entire article here.

Also Published by Energy News Network

Nebraska Also In The News Here

Hormel Wraps up Solar Project at California Meat Production Facility, Twin Cities Business Magazine
In April, Hormel announced a purchase power agreement with Kinect Energy Group for an upcoming wind farm in Nebraska. Once that project is completed, Hormel’s nationwide operations will be powered by 50 percent renewable energy, according to the company.

Previously Posted

Photo Credit: Oran Viriyincy / Flickr / Creative Commons

USDA funds business improvements for energy efficiency

By KHGI, Nebraska TV

Businesses from Ogallala to Columbus are taking steps to run more energy-efficient facilities, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture is giving them a boost. The USDA announced investments of $237 million nationwide to help farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses, with several Nebraska businesses selected to receive funding. The following businesses in Nebraska were selected to receive funding to boost their energy efficiency: Read more here.

REAP Overview & Application Information

USDA Helps Rural Businesses Make Energy Efficiency Improvements, Adopt Renewable Energy Systems

WASHINGTON, Dec. 10, 2019 – Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Donald “DJ” LaVoy today announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $237 million to help farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses lower energy costs (PDF, 229 KB). The Department is providing 640 awards to applicants in all 50 states, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the Western Pacific. USDA is providing the funding through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Continue reading here.

Nebraska utility bets on technological advances to meet carbon-cutting goals

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The new clean-energy majority running Omaha, Nebraska’s electric utility knows it wants to steer the company toward a mostly carbon-free future. What’s less clear is how the company will get there. The board of directors of the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) voted unanimously last month to achieve “net-zero carbon” emissions by 2050. The company, like many others that have set similar goals, is placing its bets on technological advances yet to come. Some customers pressed for an earlier deadline, such as 2040 instead of 2050. Senior management discouraged that, at least in part because the utility has a contract through 2049 to sell 345 megawatts of power from its coal-fired Nebraska City plant to several other utilities.
Read more here.

Also written by Karen Uhlenhuth: Kansas, Missouri among latest states to debate refinancing for aging coal plants

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

FEATURED REPORT

Rural Electrification 2.0: The Transition To A Clean Energy Economy
This report was produced by an action team made up of members of the RE-AMP Network. The RE-AMP Network consists of more than 130 nonprofits and foundations working across eight Midwestern states on climate change and energy policy with the goal to equitably eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the Midwest by 2050.

With the closure of old, expensive coal plants and the expansion of rural electric cooperatives’ wind and solar capacity, significant economic development would be accomplished across rural America. Already, new wind and solar installations are bringing new sources of property tax revenue into rural counties and school districts. Along with increased property taxes are lease payments to farmers and landowners where the wind and solar installations are sited. Especially in a time with mounting economic pressures in the current farm economy, new revenue streams for farmers are vital.

WRI INITIATIVE

Collaborative resource planning by utilities and customers benefits both, by Heidi Bishop Ratz, Manager, U.S. Utilities Markets, World Resources Institute. Published by GreenBiz.

A prominent example of this is the recent thought leadership demonstrated by six major utilities and their large corporate customers as part of the World Resources Institute’s Special Clean Power Council, a two-year initiative focused on simplifying access to low-cost, clean energy options that maximize benefits to the grid. The initiative recently released a new paper, “Pathways to Integrating Customer Clean Energy Demand in Utility Planning” (PDF) describing the benefits of and strategies for joint planning.