Category Archives: Nebraska / Midwest News

Papillion’s Facebook data center, now officially online, part of company’s global infrastructure

By Reece Ristau, Omaha World-Herald

On Thursday, two years after construction began, a portion of the data center officially came online, connecting Papillion with Facebook’s network of similar centers that allow 2.38 billion monthly active users to share photos with friends, post life updates and stay connected from thousands of miles apart.

Facebook also is investing in Nebraska’s alternative energy sources. Committed to using 100% renewable energy to power its data centers, the company is buying wind power from the Omaha Public Power District, which in turn is purchasing it from the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project in Dixon County, about two hours north of Omaha. Read more here.

Enel Green Power’s Photo of the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Farm in Dixon County, Nebraska

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & VIEWING

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS & OPINION

APPA’s National Energy Innovator Award presented to NPPD, NPPD News Release
Columbus, Neb. – Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) was recognized with the Energy Innovator Award from the American Public Power Association at the Association’s national conference held in Austin, Texas. NPPD was one of nine public power utilities recognized for service to APPA and the public power industry during the conference.

Innovation now NPPD’s calling card, Kearney Hub Editorial
NPPD has been on an innovative trajectory for at least the past 10 years, diversifying the ways in which it generates electricity, opening doors for innovation in communities such as Norfolk and Kearney, and re-purposing resources for experimental projects, such as the Sheldon Station plant that’s being retooled to burn hydrogen in a process that produces no greenhouse gases. In recent years, NPPD has been investing more in wind energy, and it’s helping local communities to explore how to broaden the use of new clean energy — including Norfolk with a battery storage experiment and Kearney with its 53-acre solar farm. 

LES CEO receives national public power award, LES News Release
AUSTIN, TX — Kevin G. Wailes, chief executive officer of Lincoln Electric System, received the Alan Richardson Statesmanship Award at the American Public Power Association’s national conference in Austin, Texas, on June 11, 2019. This award honors public power leaders who work to achieve consensus on national issues important to public power utilities.

Live Stream of Papillion Facebook Data Center’s Grand Opening

Facebook Announcement 

It’s an exciting morning in Papillion! Facebook invites you to join them via live stream for their Grand Opening ceremony this morning at 10:30 a.m. on the Papillion Data Center Facebook page.

Recommended News Story & Video

Powering your Posts: NE Nebraska wind farm powering new Facebook data center, Siouxland News 

Previously Posted

Compute North data center at Kearney tech park approved; council members tout development’s benefits

By Mike Konz, Kearney Hub

The addition of the Compute North data center at Kearney’s Tech oNE technology park will boost the tract’s attractiveness for other high-tech companies, Councilman Randy Buschkoetter said Tuesday. “This is one of the things we’ve really been working for,” Buschkoetter said after the Kearney City Council voted to approve the city’s agreement for the Minnesota-based Compute North to build its data center at Tech oNE. Read more here.

New $7.65 million data center planned for Kearney tech park

News Release Posted by KHGI, Fox Nebraska

KEARNEY, Neb. — A $7.65 million dollar data center will be coming to Kearney, the city and Economic Development Council of Buffalo County announced Tuesday. The city said Compute North, based out of Eden Prairie, Minnesota, has entered into an agreement to begin construction on five acres at the Tech oNE Crossing technology park and create 10 new full-time technology and security jobs . . . The Kearney City Council will consider the development agreement for approval at its regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday June 11, at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council’s chambers. Read more here.

Compute North’s colocation services include renewable energy: “Cost-competitive infrastructure powered by a broad mix including low-cost renewable energy.”

Compute North’s FAQs Include:

What is cryptocurrency and how does mining work?
Cryptocurrency is a computer-generated monetary system. It’s created by specialized, powerful computers called “miners,” which compete mathematically to secure “transactions.” The transactions are bundled into a “block,” which the cryptocurrency miner digitally verifies to assure the validity of all transactions. The miner computes a “cryptographic hash,” a computerized method to ensure the block’s validity and prevent invalid block construction. Blocks are accumulated and accounted for in the blockchain, functioning as digital ledgers. Miners are rewarded for their transactions with a set amount of cryptocurrency.

How does Compute North economize on energy consumption?
Crypto mining computers require significant energy. Compute North has established facilities where energy costs are low. We also partner with renewable energy companies to conserve energy and lower costs. Our data centers are in geographic locations where the innovative use of ambient cooling technologies further reduce costs for our mining operations.

Photo by SoCore Energy: Kearney’s solar farm located in the city’s technology park, Tech oNE Crossing. The array generates 5.8 megawatts of electricity, or about 5% of Kearney’s peak demand.
Developer: SoCore Energy
Installer: Interconnection Systems based in Central City, Nebraska
NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar Program

OPPD sells out of shares for Community Solar program

By Sydnie Holzfaster, Fox42

In less than two months OPPD sold out of their shares to provide renewable energy to their customers through the Community Solar programSunday the environmental group Green Bellevue welcomed Cliff Mesner of Mesner Development Company and Tricia McKnight from OPPD to talk about community solar programs across Nebraska. McKnight said OPPD sold over 8,400 shares for renewable energy. The program will pull solar energy from OPPD future solar farm in Fort Calhoun, Nebraska later this year . . . Don Preister, Bellevue city councilman for the fifth ward, said the concept of a solar share program isn’t new. He has been working to bring a solar share program to Bellevue for the last eight years. Read more here.

To be placed on OPPD’s community solar waiting list, call customer care at 402-536-4131.

Bellevue’s Proposed Landfill Solar Project – Previously Posted 

Given the dramatic decrease in solar energy’s costs over the past several years since Bellevue’s landfill solar project was first proposed, it would be good to see an up-to-date analysis of the project’s levelized costs through a twenty-year power purchase agreement.

About Power Purchase Agreements

  • Solar Power Purchase Agreements, Solar Energy Industries Association 
    A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost. 
  • Power purchase agreements, by Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog
    Currently, OPPD utilizes PPAs for the output of five wind farms: Grande Prairie, Prairie Breeze, Flatware, Petersburg, as well as Sholes, which is under construction. Also, OPPD has signed power sales agreements with NPPD for the partial output of five other wind farms. Those farms are Ainsworth, Broken Bow 1, Broken Bow 2, Crofton Bluffs and Elkhorn Ridge. The normal term of OPPD’s PPAs is 20 years. The new community solar project near Fort Calhoun is under a PPA, with NextEra Energy Resources.

About N-Solar

 

 

 

Sol Systems News Release
With a long history of serving Nebraska communities, Mesner Development assembled a team of solar energy experts, including GenPro Energy Solutions for site development and construction and Sol Systems for project development and power purchase agreements. To date, the companies comprising N-Solar have developed, constructed, or financed a combined 17.6 megawatts of solar electric generating capacity across Nebraska.

Top Photo by N-Solar: Central City’s 499-kW Municipal Solar System

NPPD’s SunWise Community Solar

Request Community Solar: If you are an NPPD customer and would like to request community solar for your community, click here to submit the SunWise Community Solar Interest Form.

How regenerative land and livestock management practices can sequester carbon

Contributed article by Shauna Sadowski, GreenBiz

Shauna Sadowski is head of sustainability for the Natural & Organic Operating Unit at General Mills.

General Mills is elevating the importance of farmers and regenerative agricultural practices with several initiatives underway, including:

  • Providing more than $4 million to organizations who are advancing soil health.
  • Supporting education and one-on-one farmer coaching through a $650,000 grant that will conduct soil health workshops and three-year regenerative management programs with farmers.
  • Collaborating with farmers in our supply chains to support regenerative practices: Annie’s partners with a community of farmers in Montana for its products, highlighting farmers’ regenerative practices on the box to connect eaters to farmers. EPIC is collaborating with the Savory Institute to build the market for regenerative meat through the Ecological Outcomes Verification program. Cascadian Farm supports the development of Kernza, a perennial wheat strain whose roots show great promise in sequestering more carbon.

Developing a holistic, inclusive and outcomes-based approach to regenerative agriculture means inviting all types of farmers to the conversation and prioritizing impact measurements at the farm-level. We recognize that farmers are critical to advancing this work, and we want to do what we can to support them and advance their regenerative practices. Read the entire article here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Soil matters more than you think, by Shauna Sadowski

Image Credit: Annie’s

Previously Posted

Nebraska Regenerative Agriculture Resources

 

 

 

 

RegeNErate Nebraska Website
RegeNErate Nebraska Facebook
Guide to Regenerative Agriculture in Nebraska (PDF)

Nebraska Legislation
LB 243, to create a Healthy Soils Task Force, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on April 11, 2019 by a vote of 43 to 0 and signed by Governor Ricketts on April 18th.

District 197 Becomes One of the First School Districts in State to Commit to 100% Clean, Renewable Electricity by 2020

Sierra Club News Release

Minnesota’s West St. Paul-Mendota Heights-Eagan Area School District steps out as a climate leader with broad support from students, staff, and the community.

On Monday, the District 197 School Board passed a resolution establishing the goal of transitioning the school district to 100% clean electricity by 2020. District 197 has made great strides toward 100% clean electricity and this resolution formalizes the district’s commitment.

This effort was led by district leaders, students from the LIVEGREEN club, and supported by Sierra Club’s Climate Parents program. Students presented a petition to the board with more than 1,000 signatures they collected from district students, parents, and staff.  Read more here.

Photo Credit: Black Rock Solar

About Climate Parents

Climate Parents is a diverse national movement of parents, grandparents and families mobilizing for clean energy and climate solutions. We work to influence public policy makers and energy providers to take bold steps to protect kids and communities from the health and climate impacts of burning fossil fuels—and to move toward 100% clean energy. Motivated by love for our kids, we’re striving to harness the moral and political force of millions of families for the healthy, equitable and just world all children deserve.

Madison-backed rural solar energy projects to begin operations

By Dean Mosiman, Wisconsin State Journal

All told, the five projects will add 40,000 solar panels to the region and produce enough electricity to power 2,500 average households, the Engineering Division said. Also, the projects have been designed to establish more than 50 acres of pollinator-friendly habitat, which will be planted beneath the solar arrays. The city’s investment supports its renewable energy goals, included in the “100% Renewable Madison Report.”  Read more here.

Photo Credit: Dan Barron, Organic Valley, an RE100 company.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Solar proving fruitful on farmland: A Solar Power World special feature

Feeding a growing population and meeting renewable energy demands has brought farmers and solar developers into partnerships centered on land designated for agricultural uses. The wide-open acres of American farmland accounts for just under 40% of the landmass in the United States, making them sought after for PV systems for many reasons. Photo Credit: Hyperion Systems

MORE ON STARBUCKS & LEVEL10 ENERGY 

  • What makes Starbucks’ latest clean energy transaction unique, GreenBiz
    “LevelTen continues to provide valuable niche services to C&I customers by leveraging their innovative software platform,” said the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) in an emailed statement. LevelTen is one of REBA’s founding members. “Today’s announcement with Starbucks further demonstrates its ability to create new business models and could enable smaller companies to enter the clean energy market by simplifying the contracting process.”
  • We’ve Got 20 Million Reasons to Push Harder, by Bryce Smith, LevelTen Energy Blog
    Bryce Smith is the founder and CEO of LevelTen Energy. Prior to LevelTen, Smith co-founded OneEnergy Renewables, a national developer of utility-scale solar projects.

TRANSMISSION NEWS

Grain Belt Express one step closer to construction after regulators approve sale, St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Missouri utility regulators on Wednesday unanimously approved Chicago-based Invenergy’s acquisition of the Grain Belt Express transmission line.

Hearing held Tuesday at Fairbury City Council on possible solar panel field

By Tommy Rezac, KWBE

Rich Andrysik, an engineer with the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN for short) presented information to the council on solar energy, and what it would cost for Fairbury if it were implemented. “I’m not here to sell you on the solar proposal,” he said. “I’m here to answer questions.” Andryski says he’s given the same presentation to Alliance, Sergeant Bluff IA, Pender, Stuart and West Point. “By putting these towns together, we have a big enough project that we expect to get the price down,” Andrysik said. Read more here.

Photo: Rich Andrysik of the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska speaks to the Fairbury City Council Tuesday on the possibility of bringing a solar field to Fairbury.

About MEAN
The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) is the not-for-profit wholesale electricity supply organization of NMPP Energy. Created in 1981, MEAN provides cost-based power supply, transmission and related services to 69 participating communities in four states: Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming.

Michigan opens 3.3M farmland acres to bee-friendly solar projects

By Catherine Morehouse, Associate Editor, Utility Dive

Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced an executive decision that frees up 3.3 million acres of farmland protected under the state’s Farmland and Open Space Program to solar development. Previously, the land was allowed to host wind turbines and oil and gas exploration, but solar was historically restricted because it was considered to have a larger footprint, Tom Zimnicki, agriculture policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council, told Utility Dive. But innovations in solar siting are making those installations more compatible with agricultural land, and under Whitmer’s decision, solar projects on protected farmland will be required to meet Michigan’s pollinator-friendly guidelines. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading 

About Catherine Morehouse

Before joining Industry Dive, Catherine was at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where she worked as News Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of The Creightonian. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Creighton.

More articles by Catherine


About Rob Davis

Rob Davis directs the Center for Pollinators in Energy and also leads the Media & Innovation Lab at Fresh Energy in Minnesota. Top photo by Davis.

Posts by Rob Davis

 

Kearney’s Solar Farm is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers.