Category Archives: Green Schools/Campuses

Princeton: Solar deployment to increase fivefold under Inflation Reduction Act

By Ryan Kennedy, PV Magazine

Princeton University released a Rapid Energy Policy Evaluation and Analysis Toolkit (REPEAT) in collaboration with Dartmouth College, Evolved Energy Research, and Carbon Impact Consulting, outlining the potential impact of the bill should it become law.

The impact on the US solar industry would be huge, to say the least. Princeton said solar deployment may accelerate from 2020 rates of 10 GW of capacity added per year to nearly five times as much by 2024, adding 49 GW of utility-scale solar each year. Solar deployment may be well over 100 GW per year by 2030, said Princeton. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Public Power Would Gain Access to Direct Payment of Tax Credits under Energy, Climate Deal, American Public Power Association
Public power utilities, rural electric cooperatives, the Tennessee Valley Authority, state and local governments, and other tax-exempt entities would have access to refundable direct payment tax credits under an energy and climate agreement announced on July 27.

Previously Posted APPA Issue Brief: The Need for Direct Payment of Refundable Tax Credits for Public Power

Inflation Reduction Act Of 2022

Legislative Text

Summaries

 Source: Senate Democrats Website

Nelnet Acquires Solar Construction Firm GRNE Solutions

Nelnet Renewable Energy News Release

LINCOLN, Neb. , July 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Nelnet (NYSE: NNI) announced today a controlling investment in affiliates of GRNE Solutions, LLC (GRNE), known as GRNE Solar, a leading Midwest solar engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) firm. In addition, Nelnet acquired certain solar assets from an affiliate of GRNE, some already generating power and others currently being constructed. The transaction closed July 1, 2022.

GRNE designs and installs residential, commercial and utility-scale solar systems in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Missouri and soon in Colorado. Its solar projects typically generate between 1 megawatt (MW) to 5 MWs of power. GRNE also offers battery backup, electric vehicle charging, energy monitoring, and operations and maintenance services.

Based in Palatine, Ill., and Lincoln, Neb., GRNE was established in 2012 by Jess Baker and Eric Peterman. The co-founders will continue to lead GRNE and retain a minority ownership interest in the company. Today, GRNE has grown to more than 80 employees in seven office locations in their service area.

“We are excited to partner with Jess, Eric and the GRNE team to accelerate their growth plans and our diversification into solar development,” said Scott Gubbels, Nelnet executive director of tax and renewable energy. “The GRNE team has earned a strong reputation in the solar industry for their culture, values and high-quality execution and construction management. Together, we will create a unique solution in the renewable space, including EPC services, financing solutions and subscription management.”

Nelnet is a diversified and innovative company, which includes a brand dedicated to renewable energy offerings and solutions, Nelnet Renewable Energy. Through tax-equity investing, its tax co-investing platform, community solar subscription and campus solar development solutions, Nelnet Renewable Energy provides significant value to its partners and customers within various industries. Since its initial investment in 2018, Nelnet Renewable Energy has expanded its solar investment portfolio, including with co-investors, to more than $240 million in more than 200 solar projects. In addition, Nelnet Renewable Energy acquires and manages thousands of subscribers for our community solar development partners.

“This acquisition presents an outstanding opportunity for the growth of GRNE and for Nelnet’s continued expansion into the renewable energy space. With Nelnet’s proven track record for growing and scaling business as well as GRNE’s industry expertise, we will continue to accomplish amazing things. Solar energy is a key component to accomplishing the energy goals of the future, and we are proud to be part of the solution,” said Jess Baker, co-founder and president of GRNE Solar.

This acquisition combines two complementary businesses that understand the critical need for renewable energy in the future. GRNE brings more than a decade of solar engineering and construction experience and will be able to leverage Nelnet’s years of customer service expertise, financial strength, and asset management experience to fulfill its increasing demand.

“With Nelnet’s investment in GRNE, we have planted another seed toward a cleaner future,” said Gubbels.

About GRNE
Since 2012, GRNE has been designing and installing commercial, residential and utility scale solar systems throughout the Midwest. Its full-service team includes consultants, engineers, project managers, electricians and solar installers. Collectively, the GRNE team has over three decades of renewable energy and green construction experience and has proudly generated over 35 gigawatt hours (GWh) of clean renewable energy. Visit GRNESolar.com

About Nelnet
Nelnet (NYSE: NNI) is a publicly traded diversified financial services and technology company focused on offering educational services, technology solutions, professional services, telecommunications, renewable energy, and asset management. Nelnet has nearly $21 billion in assets, including a $17.6 billion loan portfolio, and services almost $560 billion in loan assets. Since 2018, Nelnet Renewable Energy has funded or committed to the construction of more than $1.5 billion of solar energy projects via tax equity financing. From this foundation, the company has broadened its engagement in the renewable energy sector by adding administrative and management services for tax equity investments, community solar subscriber acquisition and management and solar development. To learn more visit NelnetInc.com. 

Career Portals

St. Paul school is latest to conclude geothermal is ‘the way to go’

By Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

A St. Paul, Minnesota, high school expects to reduce its natural gas use by more than half with the installation of a ground-source geothermal heat pump system. When completed this summer, the $18.8 million project at Johnson High School will join just a handful of similar systems at Minnesota K-12 schools.

COVID-19 and climate change are both adding pressure on schools to update aging heating, cooling and ventilation systems, and the availability of federal pandemic relief funds has helped more projects move forward in recent years. Continue reading here.

Photo: Facilities project manager Henry Jerome at Johnson High School, where a an $18.8 million geothermal project expects to cut natural gas consumption by more than half. Credit: Frank Jossi

IN NEBRASKA

An energy source that lies right under your feet, OPPD The Wire

Nebraska is in a “sweet spot” for using geothermal technology, said Tim Rauscher, a senior field engineer at OPPD. The state’s location lets geothermal be its most effective and efficient thanks to the underground temperature.

Schools are frequent customers of geothermal, Rauscher said. In the early years of the program, they were the primary users. Long-term building occupants like schools are great candidates for geothermal, he said, because they easily recoup the cost over the life of the building.

One example is the work OPPD has done with Omaha Public Schools since 1998. The utility has done more than 20 projects to bring geothermal systems to their facilities. Other school districts in the Omaha metro area have also taken advantage of geothermal systems. OPPD has completed geothermal projects with Bellevue and Papillion-LaVista Public Schools.

In 2006, two Millard elementary schools were the first schools in Nebraska to receive the Energy Star designation. The designation is national recognition for superior energy-efficiency performance. Those schools utilize geothermal systems.

Photo by the University of Nebraska Omaha: Mammel Hall 

 

 

 

Sustainability at LPS: Energy
For thirty years, Lincoln Public Schools has been taking great strides in moving towards energy conservation and efficiency. With the support of bond issue projects, energy efficient upgrades being implemented throughout the district include LED lighting, high efficiency windows, occupancy sensors, building envelope upgrades, and high efficiency geothermal heat pump systems for heating and cooling our buildings.

This site provides links to resources on geothermal and other forms of renewable energy as well as energy conservation.

More Resources

States Are Tackling Climate, Using Federal Cash as Congress Lags

By Zach Bright, Bloomberg Law

Some Republican-led states such as Nebraska and South Carolina, despite resistance to sweeping plans framed as climate action, are nonetheless lowering greenhouse gas emissions as they move to clean energy because of its long-term economic benefits over fossil fuels.

Read more here.


LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY STUDY

Solar-plus-storage vs. wind-plus-storage, by Emiliano Bellini, PV Magazine
Scientists from the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have compared the costs of several of solar-plus-storage configurations with those of other wind-plus-battery plants across seven US wholesale electricity markets. They described their findings in Keep it short: Exploring the impacts of configuration choices on the recent economics of solar-plus-battery and wind-plus-battery hybrid energy plants,” which was recently published in the Journal of Energy Storage.

MODEL ‘SOLAR-AS-A-SERVICE’ PROGRAM

IPS plans largest solar energy project in state history by a school systemFox 59
Indianapolis Public Schools has announced plans to move forward with the largest solar energy project by an educational institution in the state of Indiana. According to IPS, the solar energy project would significantly reduce cost, cut carbon emissions and boost sustainability efforts for 20 schools. Sun FundED has worked in bringing solar energy to other educational institutions including Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University. They’ve also signed up, or are soon to sign up, schools in Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, Minnesota and Virginia, according to the company.

See Also: IPS Partners with Indiana Firm to Plan Largest K-12 Solar Project Ever in Indiana, Indianapolis Public Schools

Featured Resources

CARBON DIOXIDE PIPELINES

PV in the Circular Economy: Modeling tool helps predict flow of solar materials

By Anne Fischer, Senior Editor, PV Magazine

Exponential growth of PV installations continues in the US and so will the growth in PV panel waste streams. According to the Solar Futures Study conducted by the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL), solar could account for as much as 40% of the nation’s electricity supply by 2035 and 45% by 2050.

To reach these levels, solar deployment will need to grow by an average of 30 GW each year between now and 2025 and then double that between 2025 and 2030—four times its current deployment rate—to total 1,000 GW of solar deployed by 2035. That’s a lot of solar panels that would start being retired from service even before 2050. Needless to say, a lot of people–including 7-year old Neil— are concerned about what will happen to solar modules at the end of their life. That concern is real and growing, and is the subject of much study around the world. Continue reading here.

Referenced PV Magazine Article: Neil – a second grader from Minnesota – is concerned about solar panel recycling

Above Photo: Local Reuse Project
The Meristem Aronia Berry Farm And Nursery In Papillion provides an excellent example of reusing solar panels that still have life left in them. The solar panels heat a 700-gallon water tank that powers a propagating bench for the farm’s aronia berry plants. The owner, Tom Lundahl, received a grant to purchase the used solar panels, and Michael Shonka, owner of Solar Heat and Electric, installed them. Photo by Tom Lundahl
News Story: Papillion farmer installing solar panels says renewable energy is future of farming, KETV

Solar Schools
Additional examples include schools throughout the country that are reusing still-working solar panels and other PV system components for onsite STEM learning opportunities. The National Energy Education Development (NEED) Project has written a companion curriculum guide:
Schools Going Solar: Data driven lessons and activities to support and incorporate installed photovoltaic systems into the classroom learning environment.

State Policies & Laws
Nebraska does not yet have end-of-life policies for reusing and recycling solar panels and other PV system components. States that have enacted laws, regulations, and policies include: California, Hawaii, New Jersey, North Carolina and Washington. Source: State Solar Panel End-of-Life Policies, EPA

Related PV Magazine Articles

Department of Energy 

End-of-Life Management for Solar Photovoltaics, DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office

Most PV systems are young—approximately 70% of solar energy systems have been deployed in the past five years. The estimated operational lifespan of a PV module is about 30-35 years, although some may produce power much longer. So, while there are not many systems entering the waste stream right now, more systems will come to the end of their useful life in the next few decades.

Read about SETO’s PV End-of-Life Action Plan,
March 2022.

The Biden-Harris Administration Announces $500 Million Program for Better School Infrastructure

U.S. Department of Energy News Release, April 4, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, as part the new Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information (RFI) for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050. 

The deadline to submit your response to this RFI is May 18, 2022, at 4 p.m. CT. Download the Request For Information (RFI)  to see the full list of questions and instructions on how to submit your response.

Read more here.

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Energy

Students ask Nebraska lawmakers to acknowledge climate crisis

By Erin Bamer, Omaha World-Herald

Lincoln student Alex Hamric pleaded with Nebraska lawmakers to, at a minimum, recognize the impacts of climate change, but the 14-year-old was doubtful that his words would hold any weight. 

Hamric was one of five individuals who, during a hearing Wednesday, advocated for the Natural Resources Committee to advance a resolution (LR102) for the Legislature to acknowledge that the world is in a “climate and ecological crisis” that was caused by humans and that lawmakers have a “moral obligation” to take steps to mitigate the crisis. Continue reading here.

Photo by Herschel Talley / Nebraska National Guard: Flooded Camp Ashland as seen in this aerial photo taken in Ashland, Nebraska on March 17, 2019.

Referenced in the Article

Nebraskans for Solar Note
Kudos to the Prairie Hill Learning Center students who drafted LR102; to their teacher, Jordan Hope, who fostered her students’ desire to go beyond a class project to write the draft resolution; to Senator Anna Wishart of Lincoln who introduced it in 2021; to everyone who advocated for it through written testimony and / or in-person at the recent Natural Resources Committee hearing, including Lincoln students Alex Hamric and his twin, Willa Hamric; and, finally, to Senator John Cavanaugh for your thoughtful acknowledgement of the students’ work expressed through your informed questions.

U.S. State Climate Action Plans, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions
34 states have released a climate action plan or are in the process of revising or developing one. This includes 28 states that have released plans, four states that are updating their plans, and two states that are developing a plan. 

Ogallala, Nebraska Public Power announce ‘community solar farm’ project

By Todd Von Kampen,  Scottsbluff Star-Herald

The city of Ogallala and Nebraska Public Power District are poised to make the Keith County seat NPPD’s seventh retail town with a “community solar farm.” The Ogallala City Council Dec. 14 approved buying 13.53 acres south of Country View Campgrounds where solar panels will be installed, Interim City Manager Jane Skinner said last week.

The project should allow the city to cut its NPPD power bills and allow Ogallala residents to do likewise by subscribing for shares, said Pat Hanrahan, the district’s general manager for retail services. Ogallala is one of 79 Nebraska cities and villages where NPPD both sells and delivers electricity. North Platte buys its power from NPPD but distributes it to residents and businesses through city-owned Municipal Light & Water. Read more here.

Links to Additional Information

Photo: Kearney Solar Farm

GRAND ISLAND SENIOR HIGH

Grand Island Public offers ‘pathway’ to a greener world, by Jessica Votipka, Grand Island Independent

“I have a team of students who are designing and building solar phone charge stations for the new Stolley Park Community Gardens. We are hoping to finalize them and install them in March, but the solar panels themselves have been made already.” – Alex Kemnitz, alternative energy and robotics teacher. Next semester Alternative Energy Pathway students are going to do an energy audit on Newell Elementary School, to identify find out how to remedy any energy efficiency weakness, he said. 

Click the following link to learn more about the Academies of Grand Island Senior High.

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

Key minerals discovered in Nebraska, but challenges loom, by Josh Funk, The Associated Press, York Dispatch

The Biden administration made rare earth elements a focus of its supply chain review earlier this year and is investigating the national security implications of relying so heavily on imports. A task force is planned to identify U.S. sites for production. The new $1 trillion infrastructure plan that provides incentives for electrical vehicles and wind power is expected to boost demand for critical minerals.

Previously Posted

Department of Natural Resources awarded grant for initiative to assess rare earth elements, critical minerals, The Missouri Times

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A partnership between the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the University of Kansas will receive $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to study the feasibility of recovering critical minerals from coal and associated strata in the Cherokee-Forest City Basin, which encompasses Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Osage Nation. The Department of Energy’s Carbon Ore, Rare Earth and Critical Minerals Initiative is a $19 million nationwide effort to assess rare earth elements and critical minerals in fossil fuel-producing areas.

DOE Awards $19 Million for Initiatives to Produce Rare Earth Elements and Critical Minerals, Department of Energy News Release 

“The very same fossil fuel communities that have powered our nation for decades can be at the forefront of the clean energy economy by producing the critical minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines, and so much more,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.” 

Production of rare earth elements and critical minerals, which serve as key components to several clean energy applications such as magnets in wind turbines and batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, is a prime example of how DOE is supporting regional economic growth and job creation in regions traditionally home to the fossil fuel industry.

See Also:

Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal

The White House Briefing Room, November 6, 2021

Today, Congress passed the Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal (Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act), a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness. For far too long, Washington policymakers have celebrated “infrastructure week” without ever agreeing to build infrastructure. The President promised to work across the aisle to deliver results and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. After the President put forward his plan to do exactly that and then negotiated a deal with Members of Congress from both parties, this historic legislation is moving to his desk for signature.

This Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal will rebuild America’s roads, bridges and rails, expand access to clean drinking water, ensure every American has access to high-speed internet, tackle the climate crisis, advance environmental justice, and invest in communities that have too often been left behind. The legislation will help ease inflationary pressures and strengthen supply chains by making long overdue improvements for our nation’s ports, airports, rail, and roads. It will drive the creation of good-paying union jobs and grow the economy sustainably and equitably so that everyone gets ahead for decades to come. Combined with the President’s Build Back Framework, it will add on average 1.5 million jobs per year for the next 10 years. Continue reading here.

RELATED READING

Fact Sheet: The Bipartisan Infrastructure Deal Boosts Clean Energy Jobs, Strengthens Resilience, and Advances Environmental Justice, The White House

GREEN SCHOOLS / CAMPUSES

How schools are combatting climate change, from green schoolyards to solar power, by Meredith Deliso, ABC News

Overall, the education sector has an untapped opportunity to help mitigate climate change, from renewable energy practices to teachings, according to the Aspen Institute’s K12 Climate Action initiative, which points to school districts like Arlington’s as a success story in demonstrating climate solutions.

“We envision a future where America’s over 100,000 schools are models for climate action, climate solutions, and sustainability, and the 50 million children and youth in these schools are prepared to succeed in the clean economy and lead a more sustainable, resilient, and equitable society,” the organization wrote in a recent policy report.

In Omaha: Photo of Duchesne Academy’s 10-kilowatt solar array, installed by Interconnection Systems Inc (ISI), which is based in Central City, Nebraska. The energy generated by the system powers multiple classrooms, including the school’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math lab. where students can integrate data from the solar system into coursework.

The solar array is part of the school’s overall sustainability initiative. Duchesne Academy has the inspiring goal to be a net-positive-energy school by 2030. The school’s other sustainability program goals include zero waste by 2030, having a sustainable food system, and sustainability curriculum integration.

Iowa State and Alliant Energy collaborate on solar farm, Iowa State University 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

CCC Listed in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges

Central Community College News

Central Community College is one of the nation’s most environmentally responsible colleges, according to The Princeton Review. The education services company features CCC in The Princeton Review Guide to Green Colleges: 2022 Edition. Accessible for free here, the guide profiles 420 colleges.

The Princeton Review chose the schools based on a survey of administrators at 835 colleges in 2020-21 about their institutions’ commitments to the environment and sustainability. The company’s editors analyzed more than 25 survey data points to select the schools. Continue reading here.

Environmental Sustainability: Message from Central Community College President Matt Gotschall, PhD. Click the links provided on this same Web page to learn more about CCC campuses’ inspiring and wide-ranging commitments to the environment and sustainability.