Category Archives: Financing

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.

How heat pumps can cut carbon pollution from buildings

Contributed by Sarah Kennedy, ChavoBart Digital Media.
Posted on Yale Climate Connections

“These new cold climate air source heat pumps are functional down to -10, -15 degrees,” [Chris Carrick with the Central New York Regional Planning and Development Board] says. And they run on electricity, so they generate heat without burning oil, natural gas or other fuels on site. According to a report by the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute, switching to heat pumps could dramatically reduce the carbon pollution caused by home heating. They have the most impact in places with renewable electricity. Read more here.

More Yale Climate Connections Posts / Audio 

Nebraska Information Sources on the Above Topics 

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Sustainability-linked loans soar as green bond issues slow

By Sara E. Murphy, Contributor, GreenBiz Group

According to BloombergNEF (BNEF) data, total sustainable debt issuance surpassed $1 trillion in 2019, in what BNEF characterized as “a landmark moment for the market.” Some mechanisms for verification and setting standards already have emerged, including the Green Loan Principles promulgated in March 2018. Building on those principles, the Sustainability Linked Loan Principles (PDF) (SLLPs) were launched this March. The framework features four core components: Learn more here.

Sara E. Murphy is a consultant and freelance writer on sustainable investment and corporate responsibility, with a focus on climate change and extractive industries. Her articles have appeared in the Motley Fool and Responsible Investor.

BIFACIAL SOLAR MODULE EXEMPTION NEWS

Court Temporarily Halts Trump Administration’s U-Turn on Bifacial Solar Modules, Greentech Media The bifacial solar module exemption lives to fight another day in a provisional win for developers like Invenergy.

THE SOLINATOR GARDEN

Colorado’s Solinator Garden completed by Solaris Energy and Namasté Solar, Solar Builder
Solaris Energy and Namasté Solar – two Colorado-based solar firms that work nationwide – have completed The Solinator Garden, a 1-megawatt solar array at Kyle Ave in Fort Collins. The system involved over 100 Colorado-based people, including staff at Namasté Solar, Solaris Energy, and the Fort Collins Utilities as part of their Solar Power Purchase Program (SP3). The Solinator Garden is named to highlight the project’s use of land underneath and around the solar panels to provide a healthy habitat for local pollinator species. 

TRI-STATE

Tri-State Generation and Transmission sells electricity to 43 distribution cooperatives in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska.

  • Changing energy landscape shakes up rural co-ops, Albuquerque Journal
    This is the first part of a three-day series exploring how rural electric cooperatives served by wholesale power supplier Tri-State Generation and Transmission are struggling to meet new renewable energy and carbon-reduction mandates and transition to a cleaner, lower-cost grid. The co-ops want freedom to build or purchase a lot more renewable energy independent of Tri-State, which limits self-generation by its member utilities to 5% of their total electric load, meaning 95% of their power must come exclusively from Tri-State under long-term agreements that stretch to 2050.
  • Kit Carson Electric expects to be at 100% daytime solar by 2021, Mountain Town News
    In 2016, the coop began negotiating with wholesale provider Tri-State Generation and Transmission for an exit fee. It also hooked up with Guzman Energy, then a new full-requirements power supplier. With Guzman paying the $37 million exit fee, Kit Carson and Guzman in 2017 accelerated investments in solar energy.
  • For Colorado energy provider, the future of coal looks increasingly grim, Energy News Network

NEW EV REPORT

Incentives for EVS, charging infrastructure are key Q3 trend, American Public Power Association Among the top electric vehicle policy trends in the third quarter of 2019 was financial incentives for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure, with the majority of incentives under consideration being rebate programs, a new report from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center said.

Executive Summary: 50 States Of Electric Vehicles, NC Clean Energy Technology Center

EC TOOL FOR CONSTRUCTION PROFESSIONALS

Building Transparency.Org: Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator (EC3)
EC3 is a free, industry-supported, construction-specific material search and planning tool that helps construction professionals quantify EC, find high-impact reductions, and guide procurement to reduce embodied carbon. Embodied Carbon (EC) makes up most of the 2030 climate impact of a typical new office building. EC is the CO2 emitted in producing materials for a building, e.g. concrete, steel, glass, and timber. Substantial emissions come from both the energy and the chemistry involved, and are about 8% of global emissions.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

A SERIES FOR CHILDREN

Curious Kids: how do solar panels work, The Conversation AU
The Sun produces a lot of energy called solar energy. Australia gets 20,000 times more energy from the Sun each day than we do from oil, gas and coal. This solar energy will continue for as long as the Sun lives, which is another 5 billion years.

Additional Recommended Reading: Curious Kids: how does electricity work?