Category Archives: Financing

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?

ACCIONA acquires 3,000 MW in photovoltaic projects being developed in the USA

Acciona News Release

ACCIONA today announced the signature of an agreement with the US company Tenaska to acquire a portfolio of photovoltaic projects in seven states across the country. The portfolio comprises approximately 3,000 megawatts (MW) of rated power in utility-scale photovoltaic plants and 1.000 MW of battery storage. The transaction covers 20 projects located in the States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, within the scope of the PJM Interconnection and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) markets. Tenaska – through Tenaska Solar Ventures, the company’s solar development services business – will work with ACCIONA to complete development of the projects.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company has a robust renewables program that includes solar and wind generation in various stages of development, construction and operation. Tenaska Solar Ventures provides development services to approximately 40 projects in 11 states, totaling roughly 6,000 MW of renewable solar capacity. Read more here.

Related Article

ACCIONA buys solar + storage on a national scale, PV Magazine
The Spanish company has purchased 3 GW of solar projects and 1 GW of solar + storage from developer Tenaska, with all of the projects concentrated in non-traditional solar markets.

Previously Posted

The Midwest’s solar future will be unlike anything seen before, PV Magazine
Fitch Solutions Marco Research has boldly predicted the region will be a main driver towards the 100 GW of solar power capacity expected to hit the U.S. over the next 10 years. The procurement will be led by city and utility commitments to renewable energy, the falling costs of solar and the continued expansion of popular community solar programs.

More Regional & State Energy Transition News

Green Bonds

Green bonds lead sustainable funding past $1tn mark, PV Magazine International
In the past 12 years, green bonds have raised nearly $800 billion for investment in clean energy and other sustainability projects and companies are now pegging bond interest payments to their environmental performance.

Grid Decarbonization

Carbon-free – are we at a tipping point?, sponsored content by DistribuTECH, written by Julia Hamm, SEPA President. Published by Utility Dive. Of all the changes and industry trends I’ve witnessed over the past two decades, I believe the most significant is one we are witnessing today: voluntary utility commitments to get to 100% clean or carbon-free energy within the next two-and-a-half to three decades. 

EV News

Featured Nonprofit Energy Transition Initiative

The Just Transition Fund (JTF) is a national philanthropic initiative focused on coal community transition. The Fund supports and connects frontline communities through four key strategies.

Where JTF Works
The Fund focuses on coalfield and power plant communities. Our geographic priorities include key states in Appalachia, the West, and the Midwest. The Fund gives preference to states experiencing the largest numbers of plant retirements and to regions that contain both plants and mines.

How Apple is helping its suppliers move to 100% renewable power

By Adele Peters, Fast Company

Every Apple store, data center, and office now runs on renewable energy, a milestone that the company reached last year. But the tech giant is also working on the much larger goal of helping all of its suppliers make the same transition.

“If you look at our corporate carbon footprint, over 70% is in the supply chain,” says Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of environmental, social, and policy initiatives, who previously served as head of the Obama-era EPA. “And, of course, those aren’t facilities that we own or operate. But we wanted them to have this access to the same high-quality clean energy that we did.” Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Apple

RE100: Apple is an RE100 member. In April 2018 the company achieved 100% renewable electricity powering its global facilities across 43 countries. Apple is also helping its manufacturing partners lower their carbon footprint, working with them to install more than 4 gigawatts of new clean energy worldwide by 2020. Other RE100 members are collaborating with their suppliers to help them transition to renewable energy. Read about their actions by clicking the link, above.

MORE NEWS & RESOURCES


NEW CARBON SEQUESTRATION INITIATIVE 

The Family Forest Carbon Program (FFCP), a partnership between the American Forest Foundation (AFF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC), is a new approach to globally significant climate mitigation that taps into the carbon storage potential of the 290-million acres of family-owned U.S. forestland. The program creates a new market for private landowners, giving them another option to offset forest management costs and generate income from their land. Learn more here.

RENEWABLE HYDROGEN

South Australia unveils plans for 100% renewable hydrogen economy, Renew Economy
Recent studies have shown that the cost of wind and solar has fallen so dramatically, and the cost of electrolysers is also expected to fall at the same rate, that renewable hydrogen will be able to compete on costs with “brown” or “grey” hydrogen, used from coal or other fossil fuel sources.

Previously Posted

  • The slow, inexorable rise of green hydrogen, PV Magazine
    The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) believes the production of hydrogen from renewables has the potential to deliver 19 exajoules of energy in 2050. Some 16 TW of solar and wind power generation capacity – 120 exajoules – may be needed to generate green hydrogen or related products from electrolysis by that point. Today the world hosts around 7 TW of total power generation capacity, around 1 TW of which comes from solar and wind, according to IRENA’s Hydrogen: A renewable energy perspective report. An International Energy Agency report on The Future of Hydrogen stated fossil-fueled production of the fuel is responsible for “annual CO2 emissions equivalent to those of Indonesia and the United Kingdom combined”.
  • Electrolysis breakthrough could solve the hydrogen conundrum, by Alexandr Simonov, Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. Published by Phys.Org.
    Australia, with its abundant sun and wind, has the potential to become a renewable energy superpower. By using electrolysis, hydrogen gas could be created from excess electricity generated by large renewable electricity projects. This hydrogen could be used as a fuel within Australia and exported to countries hungry for fossil fuels alternatives.

USDA Seeks Applications for Rural Energy for America Program

Rural Business-Cooperative Service Administrator Bette Brand invites applications for loan guarantees and grants for renewable energy systems; to make energy efficiency improvements, conduct energy audits and provide development assistance.

The funding is being provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP), which was created under the 2008 Farm Bill and reauthorized under the 2018 Farm Bill. This notice seeks applications for Fiscal Year 2020 funding. The deadlines to apply for grants are Oct. 31, 2019, and March 31, 2020. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year-round.
Read more here.

How to Compare Solar Energy Bids & Select a Solar Installer

By Sarah Lozanova, Earth 911

More home and business owners are installing solar panels than ever before. And we now have a greater variety of panels and solar equipment to choose from than ever before. Depending on where you live, you probably have at least two or three solar installers that service your area. This means you have a lot of options when installing a solar energy system — which can be overwhelming. Let’s explore some of the items to consider that will help you select a solar energy installer that can meet your needs. Continue reading here.

Adobe Stock Photo

LINKS TO INCENTIVES & MORE 

Federal Investment Tax Credit: 30% to December 31, 2019.  

SEIA Infographic 

LES Solar Incentive

Additionally, LES customers may qualify for a one-time capacity payment of up to $1,000 per kilowatt of peak demand reduced. The total amount customers can receive is determined by the system size and primary direction the system is facing, for example:

  • Southern facing fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $375.
  • Western facing or single or dual axis tracking fixed-photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475.

    Source: 
    Customer-owned Renewable Generation

Business Equipment Depreciation Resources

States March toward 100% Clean Energy–Who’s Next?

By Jeff Deyette, Director of State Policy & Analysis, Clean Energy,
Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

Eight states plus Washington DC and Puerto Rico (not pictured here) have committed to 100% Renewable or Clean Energy Standards. Another 13 states are actively considering similar measures.

One year ago this week, the California legislature passed landmark legislation committing the state’s power providers to supplying 60% of their electricity from renewable energy by 2030 and setting a target of 100% clean, or carbon-free, power by mid century. It was a bold action that significantly raised the bar for other states considering policy action. And over the last 12 months, another six states (bringing the total to eight states) plus the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have answered the call with various obligations toward 100% clean energy over the next few decades. What’s driving this surge in state-level clean energy leadership? And which states will be the next to step up? Read more here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

ENERGY NEWS NETWORK ARTICLES

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Solar Industry Calls on FERC to Enforce PURPA, Increase Competition
The proposal provides utilities with a new framework for offering competitive solicitations based on their integrated resource plans, while also complying with PURPA’s requirement to purchase energy and capacity from small renewable and cogeneration facilities. SEIA’s competitive bidding solution is designed to prevent utility self-dealing while opening the market for new capacity to independent developers.

PACE FINANCING

  • Green builders lean on a juggernaut loan program, The Philadelphia Tribune
    Developers grappling with the cost of new laws enacted to combat climate change are taking advantage of a little-known finance tool to help pay for green-building requirements. In Omaha, Nebraska, for instance, the Capitol District, a $205 million mixed-use entertainment development, has become the latest milestone in a long-running effort to revitalize the downtown area. The project’s developer, Shamrock Development, tapped a PACE program to pay for LED lighting, heat pumps, low-flow water fixtures, and other building materials and equipment to enhance energy and water efficiency.
  • In Chicago, a new financing tool for clean energy and efficiency upgrades, Energy News Network
    Advocates see strong potential in Chicago and surrounding areas for property assessed clean energy financing to boost investments.

RECYCLING EV BATTERIES

MORE ON UTAH’S SONNEN & RMP VIRTUAL POWER PLANT

Rocky Mountain Power prepares to operate largest US residential battery demand response project, Utility Dive. “In my opinion, this is the most transformative project we’ve worked on in the United States,” Sonnen CEO Blake Richetta told Utility Dive. That’s coming from a company that has installed more than 40,000 batteries globally and already developed multiple Virtual Power Plants that combine residential energy systems into grid resources. But Richetta, who took the helm at Sonnen earlier this year, said the Utah project stands out for multiple reasons.

Rocky Mountain Power is a division of PacifiCorp, a fully-owned subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Previously Posted

Rural Development Saves Nebraskans Energy Dollars

U.S. Department of Agriculture News Release

LINCOLN, NEB. – Nebraska Rural Development State Director Karl Elmshaeuser announces that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has awarded $203,493 in Nebraska to reduce energy costs for agricultural producers and rural small businesses.  “The energy projects funded will help to lower energy costs which will improve the recipients’ bottom lines and create jobs,” Elmshaeuser said. “Dollars saved will be available to be reinvested into Nebraska’s economy making it even stronger.” Nebraska recipients include: Continue reading here.

Previously Posted

More Ag News

  • Tons happening with agriculture right now, Melissa Bartels, Nebraska Extension-UNL
    What’s going on in Ag? The USDA reported this month that 19.4 million acres in the nation were not able to be planted; this is the most acres reported since the USDA Farm Service Agency began releasing the report in 2007. Twelve Midwestern states account for more than 73 percent of those prevent plant acres; flooding and heavy rainfall prevented the planting of mostly corn, soybeans and wheat. Approximately a half of a million acres within Nebraska were prevent plant. In our region, Butler County had over 7,000 acres reported to the USDA as prevent plant and Polk County had a little over 1,000 acres.
  • USDA reports 19 million prevented planting acres in nation, Nebraska TV

Previously Posted Ag News

  • The climate solutions beneath our feet, by Melissa Ho, Senior Vice President, Freshwater and Food, World Wildlife Fund. Published by GreenBiz. By using a combination of climate-smart practices — rotational cattle grazing on native grasslands, planting cover crops to keep soil in place and enrich it with nutrients, innovative feed options that provide nutrition and increase the efficiency of an animal’s gut biome — a producer theoretically could achieve net negative emissions.
  • Big Food turning to regenerative agriculture to meet sustainability goals, Food Dive

Featured Documentary
CBS News Documentary: A Climate Reckoning in the Heartland. Shared by Graham Christensen, Regenerate Nebraska.

Upcoming Event
September 8, 2019, 1:30 to 3pm: Climate Change in Nebraska with Dr. Martha Shulski, Director of Nebraska State Climate Office-UNL. Hosted by Green Bellevue at Bellevue University, Hitchcock Humanities Center, Room 202. Additional details here. Dr. Shulski was among those interviewed for the above CBS documentary.

Renewable energy funds available for farmers

By Cody Smith, Policy Associate at The Center for Rural Affairs, Record Herald

In July, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced more than $400 million available for farmers and rural business owners under the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). REAP, a farm bill program, provides financing for energy efficiency upgrades like insulation, lighting, and HVAC systems. Renewable energy systems like solar panels, anaerobic digesters, and wind turbines are also eligible. For both farmers and rural business owners, these systems can help cut energy costs—keeping money in rural economies across the nation. Read more here.

Established in 1973, the Center for Rural Affairs is a private, non-profit organization working to strengthen small businesses, family farms and ranches, and rural communities through action-oriented programs addressing social, economic, and environmental issues.

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