Category Archives: Nebraska / Midwest News

Historic Step: All Fifty States Plus D.C. and Puerto Rico Greenlit to Move EV Charging Networks Forward, Covering 75,000 Miles of Highway

 U.S. Department of Transportation News Release
September 27, 2022

WASHINGTON – The Biden-Harris Administration today announced it has approved Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plans for all 50 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico ahead of schedule under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, established and funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With this approval, all states now have access to all FY22 and FY23 NEVI formula funding, totaling more than $1.5 billion to help build EV chargers covering approximately 75,000 miles of highway across the country. The NEVI formula funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which makes $5 billion available over five years, will help build a convenient, reliable, and affordable EV charging network across the country. President Biden’s commitment to making electric vehicles and EV charging accessible to all Americans is critical to fighting the climate crisis and is generating an electric vehicle manufacturing boom across the country. Read more here.

Find the latest news, events, and webinars from the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation at DriveElectric.gov.

Nebraska Department of Transportation Website Resources

Remarks by Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall at the First Meeting of the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council

The White House Briefing Room

In an effort to build in more resilience, we also need to consider ways to address the tension between “build back fast” and Build Back Better. For example, when we restore essential services to a community in the wake of a disaster, we want to actually leave that community stronger than it was before. We’re working on that in real time in Puerto Rico. Fundamentally, we need to build more resilient infrastructure to withstand future threats and simultaneously expand the economic opportunities that come with more modern infrastructure – like broadband. Read more here.

GLOBAL CLEAN ENERGY ACTION FORUM

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm opened the three-day Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by challenging the international energy community to redouble its support for the global clean energy transition. Representatives from 34 countries, anchored by the Ministers and Heads of Delegations from the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation, along with participants from industry, civil society, the financial sector, organized labor, and academia, were among those gathered for the three-day conference’s first forum.

Over the course of the conference, DOE announced a series of exciting new initiatives and funding opportunities that will accelerate our progress towards the Biden Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Chair’s Summary: Global Clean Energy Action Forum 2022

DOE’s Energy Earthshot Initiatives

DOE Launches New Energy Earthshot To Cut Industrial Heating Emissions By 85 Percent

The latest DOE Energy Earthshots Initiative™ seeks to develop cost-competitive solutions for industrial heat with at least 85% lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.

There are five other Earthshots: 

The Hydrogen Shot is designed to accelerate innovations and spur demand of clean hydrogen by reducing the cost by 80%. This cost reduction could unlock new markets for hydrogen, including steel manufacturing, clean ammonia, energy storage, and heavy-duty trucks.

The Long Duration Storage Shot aims to achieve a low-cost storage method for electricity generated by clean power by reducing the cost of grid-scale energy storage by 90% for systems that deliver 10+ hours of duration.

The Carbon Negative Shot is a call for innovation in technologies and approaches that will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it at massive scales for less than $100 per metric ton.

The Enhanced Geothermal Shot is a department-wide effort to dramatically reduce the cost of enhanced geothermal systems by 90%, to $45 per megawatt hour by 2035.

The goal of the Floating Offshore Wind Shot is to drive down costs to $45 per megawatt hour by 2035 to spur U.S. leadership in floating offshore wind technology, accelerate decarbonization, and deliver benefits for coastal communities.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED EPA REGION 7 RESOURCES 

Draft EPA Region 7 Climate Adaptation Implementation Plan For Fiscal Years 2022-2026

EPA Region 7 is made up of four states and nine tribal nations. Its states, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa, span three geographical regions defined by The Fourth National Climate Assessment.

The Climate Assessment’s Midwest region includes Missouri and Iowa, the Northern Great Plains region includes Nebraska, and the Southern Great Plains region includes Kansas. The Climate Assessment identifies water, agriculture, indigenous peoples, and human health as main areas impacted by climate change across the three regions.

EPA’s Climate Change Website 
EPA Research

Amid a massive American clean energy shift, grid operators play catch-up

Creative Commons article by Robert Zullo
Republished by The Nebraska Examiner

For the better part of the past century, the American electric power system evolved around large, mostly fossil fuel power plants delivering electricity to residences, businesses and industry through a network of transmission and distribution wires that collectively came to be called the electric grid.

But as the threat of climate change driven by carbon pollution becomes more dire and as technological advances make wind, solar and battery storage ever cheaper options for powering homes and business, states, corporations and voters are increasingly pushing to aggressively decarbonize the grid. Continue reading here.

Robert Zullo is a national energy reporter based in southern Illinois, focusing on renewable power and the electric grid. Robert joined States Newsroom in 2018 as the founding editor of the Virginia Mercury. Before that, he spent 13 years as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. He has a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey.

Image: A map of grid operators’ territories. Source: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

When it comes to the climate, if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem

By David E. Corbin, Ph.D., Midlands Voices, Omaha World-Herald

Well, it’s official: OPPD will be burning coal at the North Omaha plant for three years longer than they promised. They got themselves into a real fix. Those who live in North Omaha will bear the brunt of the polluted air for three more years.

Omaha is already ranked in the top 10 cities in the U.S. for asthma rates and North Omaha has the highest rates within Omaha. So, what should be done? The resolution that the OPPD Board passed in August acknowledged the need to not only engage the North Omaha community, but to also diminish the impact on North Omaha of burning coal for three more years. Continue reading here.

David Corbin is the energy committee chair of the Nebraska Sierra Club and an advisory board member of the American Public Health Association’s Center for Climate, Health & Equity. He also is a former Nebraskans for Solar board member who currently serves as volunteer editor/writer of our organization’s Facebook site.

Additional Recommended Reading: Recently David posted an excerpt on Nebraskans for Solar’s Facebook from an article published by The Reader announcing the good news that  “the Douglas County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to approve a joint grant application with Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) to install a solar power generation project at the closed State Street landfill.

Recommended resource for other Nebraska communities interested in a similar project:
Rocky Mountain Institute: The Future of Landfills is Bright: How State and Local Governments Can Leverage Landfill Solar to Bring Clean Energy and Jobs to Communities across America,

PUBLISHED BY OPPD THE WIRE

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST 

Links related to several of David Corbin’s references in his op-ed: 

Nebraskans for Solar Note
Nebraska has 166 publicly owned utilities governed by community-elected boards. These include public power districts, municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives. Visit the website of the Nebraska Power Association for a list of all of them.

STATES’ CLIMATE ADAPTATION PLANS

EPA Regional Climate Adaptation Contacts & State Websites

Great Plains
Nebraska and other Great Plains states: No State Level Climate Adaptation Website Currently Identified

Midwest

Illinois Illinois Climate Adaptation Toolkit
Indiana Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit
Iowa Climate Change
Michigan Michigan Department of Health & Human Services – Resilience Efforts at the National and Local Levels
Minnesota Adapting to a Changing Climate
Missouri No State Level Climate Adaptation Website Currently Identified
Ohio No State Level Climate Adaptation Website Currently Identified
Wisconsin What are Wisconsin’s possible Adaptation Strategies?

Vilsack: America’s voluntary approach to agriculture is better than Europe’s mandates

By Jared Strong, Iowa Capital Dispatch

BOONE, Iowa — The more than $1 billion the federal government is devoting to voluntary efforts to reduce agriculture’s adverse effects on the environment is a better long-term strategy than mandating new rules for farmers, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.

While state and federal officials in the United States have tended to avoid implementing rules that might force farmers to radically change their long-held practices, the European Union has specific requirements about crop rotations, permanent pastures and the use of buffer strips and other conservation practices that improve soil quality. Continue reading here.

Also written by Jared Strong: USDA plans ‘historic’ funding to help struggling farmers and develop new ag leaders, Iowa Capital Dispatch

FROM THE NEBRASKA EXAMINER 

MORE ON HIGH-SPEED-INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE 

Treasury Announces Five Additional Capital Projects Fund Awards to Increase Access to Affordable, High-Speed Internet

Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Arkansas are approved to receive approximately $408 million under the American Rescue Plan and will connect more than 90,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet

INFLATION REDUCTION ACT BENEFITS EVERYONE

Republicans voted ‘no’ on the climate bill. Their states will get billions of dollars from it anyway, by Ella Nilsen, CNN

More than $370 billion of the law will go to tax credits for
 clean electricity, vehicles and energy efficient appliances. And that money will trickle down to Democrat- and Republican-controlled states alike, said Bob Keefe, executive director of nonpartisan clean energy group E2. “It’s going to be harder for red states to say clean energy jobs are bogus and that it’s something for California when it’s something that’s happening in their backyards,” Keefe told CNN.

The law goes far beyond financing for solar and wind energy. There’s also money for hydrogen fuel and funds to incentivize power plants to capture their planet-warming emissions before they hit the air. It also contains billions of dollars to fund a new program that will crack down on the fossil fuel industry’s methane emissions — a powerful greenhouse gas that scientists say must be controlled.

FROM FARM PROGRESS

Project looks to measure carbon absorption, emissions daily: Study examines how grazing livestock influences carbon, water and biodiversity.

Climate change has brought much scrutiny on the beef industry. But is it justified? Scientists have been studying grazing management and its impact on ecological function, and “there is evidence to suggest, if it’s well managed, cattle can be very edifying to land and improve its function versus deteriorating or extracting,” says Jason Rowntree, the C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture in the Michigan State University Department of Animal Science. “But the science is pretty isolated in terms of geography.”

Two-turbine wind project completed in Franklin County

By Press Release, News Channel Nebraska

UPLAND, Neb. — Bluestem Energy Solutions, in partnership with Southern Public Power District, has completed a two-turbine wind project in central Nebraska. Constructed by Boyd Jones Construction, the wind project is located at the intersection of State Highways 4 and 10, west of Upland in northern Franklin County.

The two 2.82-megawatt GE wind turbines are interconnected to Southern Public Power District’s 69kV sub-transmission line. According to Bluestem officials, the wind facility will produce enough electricity to power approximately 2,000 homes annually, and 100% of the power will be used locally by the customers of Southern Public Power District. Read more here.

RELATED READING & RESOURCES

Nebraskans for Solar Note
Including Southern Public Power District, Nebraska has 166 publicly owned utilities governed by community-elected boards. These include public power districts, municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives. Visit the website of the Nebraska Power Association for a list of all of them.

In a big win for public power, cities, and states, the Inflation Reduction Act modifies the federal clean energy tax credit program to directly pay public and nonprofit entities, including those owned and managed by states and municipal governments. This will allow these entities to take advantage of tax treatment previously only available to investor-owned utilities and enables cities that own their own public utilities­­­—such as Cleveland, Columbia, and Tallahassee—to transfer tax credits for cash.

A key aspect of DOE’s funding announcement on Friday is the flexibility of the funds, which can be utilized for a wide range of clean energy programs, officials said. “These funds are quite flexible. They really do give states and territories the freedom to develop the kinds of energy programs and projects that are going to be right for every community in every state.”
– Jeremiah Baumann, DOE’s chief of staff for the undersecretary of infrastructure

MORE GOOD NEWS

Additional Recommended PV Magazine Article: To PTC or ITC, that is the financial question
CohnReznick Capital has released an analysis comparing the returns on investment of the newly available Production Tax Credit to the standard 30% Investment Tax Credit.

FROM SMART CITIES DIVE

Through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, 24 States Set to Begin Plugging Over 10,000 Orphaned Wells

U.S. Department of the Interior News Release, August 25, 2022

Nebraska has 225 wells identified for plugging and remediation in this initial phase.

WASHINGTON — The Department of the Interior today announced it has awarded an initial $560 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to 24 states to begin work to plug, cap and reclaim orphaned oil and gas wells. Millions of Americans across the country live within a mile of an orphaned oil and gas well. Eligible states have indicated that there are over 10,000 high-priority well sites across the country ready for immediate remediation efforts, with many more lined up for future action.

Orphaned oil and gas wells are polluting backyards, recreation areas, and community spaces across the country. Methane leaking from many of these unplugged wells is a serious safety hazard and is a significant cause of climate change, being more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere. The historic investments to clean up these hazardous sites will create good-paying union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce harmful methane leaks. Continue reading here.

See Also: Biden Administration Announces $1.15 Billion for States to Create Jobs Cleaning Up Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells

SHUTOFFS & THE RISING COST OF NATURAL GAS

A ‘Tsunami of Shutoffs’: 20 Million US Homes Are Behind on Energy Bills, Bloomberg Equality
US electricity prices surging and more people than ever are struggling to pay the power company. More than 20 million American households have fallen behind on their utility bills, about 1 of every 6 homes, and the amount they owe has doubled since before the pandemic. The basic problem is that electricity is more expensive, up 15% from a year ago, and there’s no sign of relief. That’s because power prices are linked to the cost of natural gas, which has more than doubled in the past year and is expected to remain high at least into next year. 

Energy Assistance Programs: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency-Nebraska

DOE WEBINARS FOR CLEAN ENERGY JOB SEEKERS

Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a new graduate, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) wants you to join their team of Clean Energy Champions!

Upcoming Webinars 

Careers in Sustainable Transportation
September 8, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Careers in Renewable Power
September 15, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Careers in Energy Efficiency
September 22, 12 – 2 p.m.

Careers in EERE Business Operations
September. 29, 11 a.m. -1 p.m.

Source: Are You a Clean Energy Champion?, Department of Energy 

RECENT NEBRASKA WIND & SOLAR CONFERENCE WEBINAR

The Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference recently held a virtual webinar titled, “What Do Regional Transmission Organizations Do?” with Casey Cathey, Director of System Planning at Southwest Power Pool. The recordings of the webinar can be found here

URBAN FORESTRY FUNDING IN INFLATION REDUCTION ACT

Towns May Grow Millions More Trees with $1.5B for Urban Forestry, The PEW Charitable Trusts
States and cities across the country are beginning to embrace trees as critical infrastructure in urban areas. Neighborhoods with tree cover are significantly cooler than exposed areas known as “heat islands,” which can affect human health and utility bills. Urban forests absorb stormwater runoff, filter pollution from the air and sequester carbon.

FACT SHEET: Inflation Reduction Act Advances Environmental Justice

The White House Briefing Room

The Inflation Reduction Act builds on the historic investments in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and advances his Justice40 Initiative, which will deliver 40 percent of the overall benefits of climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. In total, hundreds of federal programs, including those established by the Inflation Reduction Act and Bipartisan Law, representing historic investments are being reimagined and transformed to meet the Justice40 goal and maximize benefits to disadvantaged communities. Read more here.

ALSO FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

Conservation Nebraska Event This Saturday: What Net Zero Means for Nebraska – Featuring LED, OPPD, and NPPD Board Members

August 13, 2022 at 1 PM, UNL Hardin Hall or Via Zoom
Hardin Hall, 3310 Holdrege Street, Lincoln, NE
Auditorium 107 

Join Conservation Nebraska, UNL Environmental Studies Program, and guest speakers from Omaha Public Power District (OPPD), Lincoln Electric System (LES), and Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) for an event on their net zero carbon goals and what their future plans are to reach these goals. Each speaker will discuss the progress that has been made, opportunities ahead, and the challenges of meeting their individual net zero goals.

Register in advance to join this event via Zoom.

CONSERVATION NEBRASKA NOW HIRING

Conservation Nebraska is accepting applications for their 2022-2023 AmeriCorps service year. The term of service will begin September 1, 2022 through August 31, 2023. This position can be used to satisfy an internship requirement. Interested parties should complete the form available at the link, below, or send questions to Conservation Nebraska’s Program Director, Amanda Gangwish, at agangwish@neconserve.org

Click here for additional details about this opportunity.  

How the climate deal could help farmers aid the environment

By Michael Phillis, Associated Press, PBS News Hour

The funding would expand programs favored by both environmental groups and the agricultural sector, said Ben Thomas, who focuses on agriculture at the Environmental Defense Fund. “They are voluntary, they are incentive-based, they get results in terms of implementing conservation practices on working lands,” said Thomas. “It’s great to see.”

Thomas said historically, the agricultural sector has not aggressively tackled its contribution to climate change, but that hesitation has shifted in recent years and more money will accelerate progress. There’s a lot of potential, he said. Read more here.

USDA NEWS RELEASE

Statement from Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Inflation Reduction Act

WASHINGTON, July 28, 2022 – “President Biden and Congress have taken an important, historic step towards easing the burden of inflation on the American public and meeting the moment on climate. If passed, the Inflation Reduction Act will have a meaningful impact on the rural and agriculture communities we serve at The Department of Agriculture.

“Agriculture has long been at the forefront of our fight against climate change. From climate-smart agriculture, to supporting healthy forests and conservation, to tax credits, to biofuels, infrastructure and beyond, this agreement provides USDA with significant additional resources to continue to lead the charge.

USDA CLIMATE ACTION PLAN 

USDA Action Plan For Climate Adaptation And Resilience, August 2021


This Action Plan for Climate Adaptation and Resilience outlines how USDA will provide relevant information, tools, and resources to its stakeholders and target programs and activities to increase resilience to climate impacts. USDA will prioritize equity, promote environmental justice through a focus on healthy communities, and target adaptation actions with co-benefits for climate mitigation, conservation, and sustainability.
– USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack


ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Climate spending in new reconciliation deal a ‘turning point’ for the U.S., supporters say, by Jacob Fischler, Nebraska Examiner
Environmental advocates largely praised the climate provisions in Senate Democrats’ massive taxes, health care and energy bill released Wednesday night, saying even with provisions to help the fossil fuel industry, the measure represents a historic step toward addressing the climate crisis. The 725-page bill — made public mere hours after U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin III and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer announced a surprise deal — includes $369 billion over 10 years in tax credits and spending for renewable energy.

Reconciliation bill includes ag conservation programs, The Fence Post
Senate Agriculture Chairwoman Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., announced that there will be a nearly $40 billion investment in agriculture, forestry, and rural communities to fight inflation and lower costs for the American people through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.

Senate Deal Boosts Climate-Smart Ag, Progressive Farmer
The Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) would see nearly $1.8 billion in funding. Rural renewable energy loans would also be expanded as well. Rural electric cooperatives would see $9.7 billion to help build out renewable energy development as well. “This bill creates direct incentives for co-ops to bolster investments in carbon capture, grid modernization, renewables, battery storage and other energy technologies,” said Jim Matheson, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Tax incentives would expand wind, solar and other renewable energy through 10 years of tax credits.

Links to Resources

FEATURED NEBRASKA FARM USING RENEWABLE ENERGY

Pork Producer Uses Solar Power Technology To Improve Environment And Operation, Brownfield Ag News

A Northeast Nebraska pork producer is using renewable energy to promote sustainable agriculture and offset energy consumption on his farm. He says he received a 26 percent tax credit on the project and it has a 7 to 8 year payoff period.