Category Archives: Green Campuses

Maine public schools have savings opportunity with efficient lighting

By David Thill, Energy News Network

Public schools in Maine this month can get extra financial assistance to install LED lighting. Aside from being a cleaner source of energy, efficiency experts say the new technology can save a lot of money in the long term for schools, where lights are one of the biggest energy drains. They can also create a better learning environment for students and teachers. Efficiency Maine, the state’s efficiency utility, is leading the incentive program. Efficiency utilities are state-regulated organizations dedicated to distributing efficiency funding and other support. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Marco Verch / Flickr / Creative Commons

Previously Posted 

In Massachusetts, students step up to pressure schools on renewable energy, by Sarah Shemkus, Energy News Network. Student campaigns are underway on more than a dozen campuses demanding a transition to 100% renewables.

Also In The News

Nearly 3,000 solar panels will help power Glenbard East, Chicago Daily Herald

 

Glenbard High School District 87 is bringing solar power to one of its campuses as more suburban schools are drawn to the cost savings and environmental benefits of the renewable energy source.

 

 

Beatrice City Officials Hear About Proposed Wind Farm

By Doug Kennedy, Nebraska News Channel

BEATRICE – Even though it won’t have any decision-making authority over it, the Beatrice City Council and Mayor heard about a wind farm proposal Monday night that could have a significant financial impact for the Beatrice area. An attorney representing NextEra Energy Resources, told city officials the company is considering a 50-turbine wind farm in northern Gage County on land mostly owned by one entity and leased for farming.

David Levy, of Omaha said at this point, no formal permit application for the project has been filed with the Gage County Planning Commission. The development would cover roughly a five-by-seven-mile area, made up of about 35 sections of property from south of Nebraska Highway 41, to near Pickrell. NextEra Energy Resources, a subsidiary of Florida Power and Light, is looking at a 124-megawatt wind farm that could power about 40,000 homes, producing an estimated $850,000 to $900,000 in property tax revenue annually, mostly in the Beatrice School District. Continue reading here.

Photo: “Wind Rainbow” – Free Use American Wind Energy Association Image Gallery

Additional Recommended Reading

  • UNK looks into sustainable future with carbon-neutral goal by 2050, by Brandon Cortes, NTV One of the biggest shareholders of the Kearney solar farm is the University of Nebraska-Kearney (UNK). They say they plan on going carbon-neutral by 2050. “As administrators, I think we have a duty and responsibility to evaluate any chance we can to help us move more towards climate neutral,” said Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Jon Watts.
  • Major FPL solar plan gets state approval, The News Service of Florida
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Pointing to issues such as expanding renewable energy, state regulators Tuesday approved a $1.8 billion plan by Florida Power & Light to add 20 solar-power plants by the middle of next year. Under SolarTogether, customers will be able to voluntarily pay more on their electric bills to finance the solar projects and receive credits that are expected to result in them getting a “payback” in about seven years.
  • How an Iowa utility and solar advocates found a compromise on net metering, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News NetworkA proposal, which still needs to pass in the legislature, would preserve net metering and let utilities recoup costs faster.

Can The US Wind Industry Beat The Coming Headwinds?

Forbes article contributed by Joshua Rhodes, Senior Energy Analyst,
Vibrant Clean Energy LLC in Boulder, Colorado

This is the second installment of a multi-part series.
Rhodes’ first article in the series: The Future Of US Solar Is Bright

The US wind industry currently supports over 110,000 jobs and, in 2018, about $11 billion was invested in new wind projects in the US. There are currently over 57,000 wind turbines in the US, totaling over 100,000 MW of total capacity. In 2018, wind provided about 6.5% of all US electricity generation, and year after year wind-heavy grids such as the Southwest Power Pool and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas break records for the amount of wind instantaneously meeting demand on the system. As of 2019, these records stand at almost 67% and 56%, respectfully.

The deployment of wind has been fast and furious and the US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that “wind turbine service technicians” will be in high demand over the next decade and will be the second-fastest growing job in the US — for those not afraid of heights. Read more here.

Northeast Community College
Northeast Community College in Norfolk is the only institution in Nebraska offering an Associate of Applied Science degree in wind energy. Learn more about Northeast’s wind technology degrees and programs and watch a brief video, Northeast Wind Energy Program, here.

Photo Credit: Northeast Community College

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • Why One Solar Power Project In South Dakota Will Rule Them All, CleanTechnica
    The developer, Germany-based Wircon GmbH, is planning on a $100 million payout for 500,000 solar panels and $15 million on an underground connector cable, all up and running by 2021 under the name of Lookout Solar Park. Look out, indeed. The new solar power plant represents a 180-degree turnaround for South Dakota. As recently as 2018, South Dakota ranked dead last for solar power among all 50 states and Puerto Rico.
  • Renewable energy production could exceed coal generation by next year, Buffalo Bulletin
    Led by solar and wind, renewable generation could produce as much as 21.6% of the nation’s electricity by 2021 — beating out coal at 20.8%, according to new projections published last month by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. “That’s not a surprise,” University of Wyoming economist Rob Godby said in response to the data agency’s latest forecasts. “While a lot of people still aren’t aware of it, renewables are really the cheapest and most promising form of new energy generation in most places.”
  • 8minute Solar Energy: ‘Every Project’ Could Have Built-In Storage, Greentech Media
    A year after a leadership shakeup, 8minute has more projects in more states — and a record for solar-and-storage pricing.
  • Omaha-based Tenaska in the news here: IMPA Grows Toward More Sustainable Energy, Inside Indiana Business. IMPA is a nonprofit organization whose members include municipally-owned electric utilities. They provide power to 61 communities in Indiana and Ohio.
  • WoodMac: Lifting US Import Tariffs Would Knock 30 Percent Off Solar System Prices, Greentech Media. Solar system prices dropped 90 percent over the last nine years, but the decline was tempered by American trade tariffs, leaving U.S. prices 45 percent above those in Europe and Australia, according to new research from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables.

REBA NEWS

Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance Announces Top 10 U.S. Large Energy Buyers in 2019, News Release
The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA), has announced the release of its Deal Tracker highlighting 2019’s Top 10 Large Energy Buyers, topped by Facebook with the procurement of 1.546 gigawatts (GW). The REBA Deal Tracker showcases total announcements of 9.33 GW of renewable energy in the U.S. and a shift in the energy landscape driven by the demand for accessible clean energy options. “Well over half of all energy consumption comes from the commercial and industrial (C&I) sector, so it is increasingly important that large energy buyers are identifying opportunities to reduce emissions,” said Miranda Ballentine, CEO, REBA.

TRIBAL CLIMATE ACTION PLANS 

Indigenous tribes are at the forefront of climate change planning in the U.S., Grist
According to a database maintained by the University of Oregon, at least 50 tribes across the U.S. have assessed climate risks and developed plans to tackle them. With more than 570 federally recognized tribes controlling 50 million combined acres, these adaptation plans could prove a crucial element in building resilient communities that can thrive despite weather-related catastrophes and changes to the natural environment.

Tribal Climate Adaptation Guidebook

DIVESTMENT NEWS

Harvard Faculty Vote in Favor of Divestment 179-20, The Harvard Crimson
The vote marks the culmination of a fourmonthlong debate in faculty meetings over the proper role of the University in combating climate change. Ultimately, 179 faculty members supported a motion in favor of divestment, while just 20 voted to oppose it. Faculty supporters who spoke at the meeting argued that Harvard should be at the forefront of an international divestment movement.

Harvard’s Climate Action Plan

Iowa Farmers Union takes aim at climate change

By Perry Beeman, Times-Republican

The Iowa Farmers Union has launched a farm by farm attack on climate change, hoping to persuade its members to plant crops that can help sweep heat-trapping carbon from the air. IFU President Aaron Heley Lehman said the federal government’s failure to set up a system that would allow farmers to sell pollution-fighting credits to large companies and others that emit greenhouse gases have forced the group to turn to its independent farmer-members to see if they can fight the problem at home. “Farmer policy has been to recognize climate change and to look for farmer solutions,” Lehman said. Read more here.

NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

Trend: Companies warm to nature-based solutions, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Director, GreenBiz Group. A study led by Ohio State University found that in 75 percent of the countries assessed, it was cheaper to use plants to mitigate air pollution than using technological inventions such as smokestack scrubbers.

ENERGY STORAGE

HOME ENERGY STORAGE 

Creating Energy Independence With Solar Panels And Storage Battery Systems In The Home, contributed Forbes article by Sheri Koones, real estate expert and author of Downsize: Living Large in a Small House and six other books.

GREEN HYDROGEN

SOLAR SCHOOLS

New WI Program Aims to Boost Solar Power in Schools, WXPR
The Midwest Renewable Energy Association has announced a plan to provide grants of $20,000 each to up to 100 schools to install a solar [system] on their campus. Amanda Schienebeck, the association’s solar-program coordinator, said they hope to join the small but growing wave of states embracing this type of energy for academic structures.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA 

Statement: Vanderbilt University announces first step in transitioning its campus to 100 percent renewable energy, Environment America News Release

Renewable Energy 101: Tools to Move Your Campus to 100% Clean Energy

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

An energy source that lies right under your feet

By Laura King-Homan, OPPD The Wire

More than 100 holes dot a construction site around Mammel Hall. Soon, tubing will wind through the holes to heat and cool a new addition to the building on the University of Nebraska at Omaha campus. The project is an example of how commercial electricity customers utilize geothermal heating and cooling to reach their energy goals. OPPD has offered expertise in this area for decades, including testing potential building sites for suitability. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: OPPD The Wire

About Laura King-Homan

Laura King-Homan is the managing editor of The Wire and a communications specialist at the Omaha Public Power District. She has nearly 20 years of print journalism and design experience, including the Omaha World-Herald.

View all posts by Laura King-Homan


Previously Posted News & Resources

Web Links 

Examples of Nebraska homeowners who have installed geothermal heat pumps – Click on “Solar Examples” on the above menu bar and scroll down to:
Dageforde Net Positive Energy Home
Don Preister’s Home In Bellevue

Incentives for Homeowners & Businesses
Geothermal projects qualify for the Federal Renewable Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is now 26% through December 31, 2020.
Resource: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

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

Morgan Stanley expects a surge of renewables, coal retirements

By Ethan Howland, American Public Power Association

Partly driven by falling renewable energy prices, at least 70,000 megawatts of coal-fired capacity could be shuttered this decade, on top of the 24,000 MW that is already set to retire, according to Morgan Stanley & Co. “We are at the start of a ‘second wave’ of renewables deployment and coal plant retirements, led by utilities that have historically not been leaders in decarbonization,” analysts with the investment firm said in a report released in December. Replacing coal with renewables could save consumers $3 billion to $8 billion a year, according to the report, The Second Wave of Clean Energy. It also represents a renewable energy investment opportunity of $93 billion to $184 billion, the analysts said. Read more here. 

IOWA CITY SCHOOLS’ CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

CORPORATE CLEAN ENERGY PROCUREMENT

Clean Energy Deal Tracker: Don’t say Amazon isn’t doing anything — international PPAs on the rise, GreenBiz. Here are five trends and notable developments based on last quarter’s clean energy procurement deals. 

REGENERATIVE FARMING / REGENERATIVE ENERGY

NEW OPPORTUNITY ZONES TOOL

U.S. Economic Development Administration And Indiana University Launch New USA Opportunity Zones Tool, EDA January 2020 Newsletter

On January 14, EDA and Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business announced the launch of the USA Opportunity Zones tool. This new web-based tool will help local economic and community developers, investors, the more than 390 EDA-designated Economic Development Districts (EDDs), and others across the nation better target private investment to Opportunity ZonesAs economic development practitioners build their five-year Comprehensive Economic Development Strategies (CEDS), incorporating Opportunity Zones is a new and promising tool for further enhancing economic growth.

The Expert Take: Katherine Hamilton on our energy transition

Generation 180 Interview

At Generation180, we’re working to inspire and equip individuals to get involved in the energy transition. It’s complex and it’s big. So to provide a better sense of where we’re headed, we’re providing a deeper dive into what’s happening with this transition—where are we right now, how far we’ve come, and, most importantly, where we need to go.

As part of our online Boot Camp project, we recently spoke with Katherine Hamilton, an energy expert with over 30 years of industry experience. Katherine has worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is currently the chair of 38 North Solutions and former co-chair of a World Economic Forum council on advanced energy technology. Here [is] what’s on Katherine’s mind and what she sees as the role of “everyday energy leaders.” Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GENERATION 180

SUSTAINABILITY JOBS

Jobs You Can Do With a Sustainability Degree, Earth911

GREEN SCHOOLS

Iowa City schools anticipate cutting carbon emissions in half in five years, Iowa City Press-Citizen
Iowa City schools appear on track to reduce carbon emissions by more than 45% by 2030, the goalpost student climate activists have pushed for in Iowa City, according to a consultant’s report.  But the report indicated that reducing carbon emissions to a net-zero by 2050, another goal pushed for by climate activists, will require the district to take action. 

REGENERATIVE FARMING & CLIMATE RESILIENCY

Black farmers embrace and implement solutions for climate resiliency, by Leah Penniman, Co-Director Soul Fire Farm, GreenBiz

Leah Penniman is a farmer, educator, soil steward and food justice activist. She is co-director and program manager of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, and the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.

 

RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM (REAP)

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

Program Status: Open
Program Information
Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

NEW REPORT

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Environment America releases 2020 state legislative agenda priorities, News Release
State affiliates of Environment America, a national nonpartisan advocacy group, delivered meaningful progress on several environmental and public health issues in 2019. But given the obstacles that still exist at the federal level on those issues and more, states will have to continue to lead in 2020. Here is a roundup of the top issues and bills that Environment America’s 29 state affiliates will be working on across the country this coming year:

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

2020 will be a key year (and decade) for electric vehicles, GreenBiz
This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Poor returns on fossil fuel investments helping students convince colleges to divest

By Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star
Reprinted by The Hastings Tribune

At the urging of a petition signed by more than 500 students earlier this year, Doane University became the first college or university in Nebraska to announce it would divest from fossil fuels. By 2030, Doane will abandon investments in oil and gas companies that make up about 1.6% of its total endowment, the Board of Trustees decided in May, and will avoid future investments in that sector.

Students who backed the petition at the private university in Crete chalked the announcement as a victory in the long campaign to combat climate change. But, they said, while the effort to create a more sustainable environment may be the overarching goal, it was a different pitch that won the day. Continue reading here.

Photo: More than 200 students from student organizations on Creighton University’s campus demonstrated April 25 to advocate for climate change and demand the university take actions against climate change. Credit: Brady Manker

Previously Posted

A holiday talk about the climate crisis? Yes, please.

Contributed article for GreenBiz by Phil Berry,
Founder & Chief Executive of Sustainable Supply Chains

For some of us, holiday gatherings are difficult. Connecting with family and friends who don’t always share our values or views can be stressful. Many of us steer clear of talking politics and religion with family members to avoid contentious discussions or outright conflict. Regardless whether we are conscious of it, climate change has been added to that list of taboo subjects.

I want to provide you with scientific evidence why a holiday discussion about climate change has a better chance of success, and less chance of conflict, than you might think. Then I’d like to equip you with some of what I’ve learned in 20 years communicating with skeptics of climate science. There are two scientifically valid reasons why this conversation isn’t a crazy idea. Continue reading here,

MORE ON CLIMATE LEADERSHIP

 GREEN CAMPUSES

Engie, University of Iowa say ‘I do’ to 50-year, $1 billion+ partnership, by Sarah Golden, Senior Energy Analyst GreenBiz & VERGE Energy Chair

Per the agreement, Engie will help the university phase out coal from its on-site power plant in five years. The company has stated its intention to work with the university to transition towards a zero-carbon footprint. How will it achieve zero-carbon operations for the university’s two campuses, which span 1,700 acres and includes an internal hospital? Engie doesn’t know — yet. Although the service provider has yet to create an action plan for the UI campuses, it plans on including onsite renewable generation, energy storage, lighting upgrades, microgrids and a digital dashboard to manage its energy resources. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

EV NEWS

Dominion chooses 50 electric Thomas Built Buses powered by Proterra, PV Magazine
The vehicle to grid enabled EVs are part of a pilot program whose goal is to integrate 13,000 Virginia school buses into the state’s power grid as an energy storage resource to be tapped.

Previously Posted: All The Energy Storage The Grid Needs Will Soon Be Under Our Noses

FEATURED NATIONAL INITIATIVE

Environment America’s Mayors for Solar Energy is a bipartisan community of mayors committed to making solar energy a key element of their communities’ energy plans. Environment America’s resources provide the tools they need to take concrete steps to achieve their communities’ goals:

Resources Include:

EUROPE’S GREEN DEAL

Your guide to Europe’s ‘Green New Deal,’ the continent’s new plan to get to net zero
Contributed article for GreenBiz by Madeleine Cuff, senior reporter for the U.K. sustainable business publication BusinessGreen.

Europe soon could become the first continent in the world to be aiming for net zero emissions by 2050, if EU leaders adopt a ground-breaking plan (PDF) released by the European Commission. The long-awaited European Green Deal promises a radical transformation of the trading bloc’s economy over the next 30 years, which would see the EU fully decarbonize while creating green jobs in new low-carbon industries.

4 misconceptions about large-scale solar

By Patrick Smith, American Public Power Association

When it comes to large-scale solar for utilities and municipalities, the Solar Energy Industries Association reports that there are 37,000 MW in operation, with a whopping 74,000 MW additional in development. With such widespread solar adoption, it’s clear that many believe in the power of solar. However, there’s also a lot to understand behind the scenes, which can sometimes lead to misconceptions. Here, we’ll address and correct some of the more common ones. Continue reading here.

Also Published by the American Public Power Association
Report sees dramatic increase of solar-plus-storage projects, by Peter Maloney

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

GREEN CAMPUSES

Sol Systems, University of Illinois sign PPA for 12.1-MW solar project, Solar Power World
The PPA structure will yield cost savings for the university of approximately $300,000 in the first year and an estimated $5 million over the life of the project. Sol Customer Solutions (SCS), the joint venture between Capital Dynamics and Sol Systems, will design, build, operate, finance and maintain the solar farm for the life of the PPA.

MICROGRID NEWS & RESOURCES

 INTERVIEW

The EV Resistance: Gas Automakers Vs Tesla, by Brooke Crothers, Forbes
General Motors and Toyota were early leaders in electric vehicles. But a lot has changed in 20 years. I recently spoke with Chris Paine, director of the documentary “Who Killed the Electric Car” (2006) and the sequel “Revenge of the Electric Car” (2011), and a longtime follower of the EV and Tesla.

GLOBAL SOLAR PANEL RECYCLING MARKET

Rising Adoption of Solar Power Driving Solar Panel Recycling Market, PV Magazine International
The global solar panel recycling market was valued at $80.7 million in 2017 and is expected to reach $269.8 million by 2023, growing at a CAGR of 22.0% during the forecast period (2018–2023).