Category Archives: Nebraska / Midwest News

Facebook awards grants to Sarpy organizations

By Brody Hilgenkamp, Papillion Times /Omaha World-Herald

Facebook and the Papillion Data Center announced its Community Action Grant recipients to 13 organizations in Sarpy County. The grants were awarded to organizations that use technology for community benefit, connect people online or off or improve STEM education. Read more here.

Facebook’s Leadership on 100% Renewable Energy

RE100: Facebook is among 230 influential companies that have made a commitment to 100% renewable energy. Additionally, a growing number of RE100 members are working with their global supply chains to help them transition to renewable energy.

REBA: Facebook is also a member of the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). REBA’s goal is to catalyze 60 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy by 2025, and expand the number of organizations buying clean power from dozens today to tens of thousands. REBA’s Vision & Initiatives.

Previously Posted

Solar companies invest in acres in the Midwest

Kenosha News

More and more rural electric cooperatives and individual farmers are turning to solar power as an energy alternative. Brady Boell, director of safety and member services for the Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, says his cooperative has built five sites in Iowa since October 2018. “The idea was to offer members a way to invest in solar energy,” he says. “Many cannot install these arrays on their own property, so this allows them to invest.” Solar energy use has rapidly grown over the past two years, says Tim Dwight, president of the Iowa Solar Trade Association and owner of Integrated Power Corporation, a solar energy installer. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Bill refines solar rules with input from pork producers, Kenosha Times

Photo Credit: Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY GUIDES FOR SOLAR & SMALL WIND PROJECTS

NRECA RESOURCES

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Renewable Energy Resources

Previously Posted News Release

DOE Selects NRECA for Wind Energy Research Initiative
The Department of Energy has selected the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to research small-scale, community-based wind energy solutions that can be deployed by electric cooperatives. NRECA will team with co-ops around the country to evaluate and deploy diverse types of distributed wind projects. Like NRECA’s solar deployment project, a similar DOE-funded program that accelerated utility-scale solar at co-ops across rural America, NRECA expects this project to increase the number of electric cooperatives incorporating wind applications into their resource planning. DOE has identified high technical potential for “hundreds of thousands of turbines” totaling more than 10 gigawatts of electric capacity on rural distribution grids. 

CO-LOCATION RESOURCES

Co-locating apiaries, pollinator-friendly plants, and industrial hemp with solar and wind projects can provide extra income for farmers and improve Nebraska’s honey production and retail sales, among other benefits. Click here and scroll down for a list of resources.

INCENTIVES & DEPRECIATION

Incentives for Homeowners & Businesses
Business and residential solar projects qualify for the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is now 26% through December 31, 2020.

 

 

All Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

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

Business Equipment Depreciation Resources

LAND LEASES

Solar and wind farm leases create extra income for farmers and other landowners and provide valuable tax revenues for local communities.

USDA extends application deadline for the Rural Energy for America Program to April 15, 2020

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

Extension of Application Deadlines. 

Who may apply?

  • Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations.
  • Small businesses in eligible rural areas.

What is an eligible area?

  • Businesses must be in an area OTHER THAN a city or town with a population of greater than 50,000 inhabitants and the urbanized area of that city or town. Check eligible business addresses.
  • Agricultural producers may be in rural or non-rural areas.

Rural Energy For America Program (REAP) – Nebraska
Program Fact Sheet

Recommended Reading
USDA invests more than $172M in building rural Nebraska prosperity in 2019, Columbus Telegram More than $1.1 million was invested in 37 energy efficiency, renewable energy, and energy development assistance projects through the Rural Energy for America Program.

New Nebraska Solar Schools Education Project Funded by a 2020 Facebook Community Action Grant

Solar Energy Kits for K-12 Sarpy County Schools

Nebraskans for Solar will launch a new Nebraska Solar Schools education project this summer, made possible by a 2020 Facebook Community Action Grant. This grant will support the Nebraska Solar Schools program by providing schools in Sarpy County with National Energy Education Development (NEED) Solar Energy Kits for enhanced STEM programming.

The kits will be available to the schools at no cost to teachers and principals requesting them. The launch of this new solar energy education project will be announced on Nebraskans for Solar’s website and Facebook page and in our newsletters.

All K-12 Sarpy County schools are encouraged to participate in this new solar energy education project, and upon its initiation date, to submit a request form for a NEED Solar Energy Kit.

About Facebook 2020 Community Action Grants
Papillion Data Center Facebook Announcement: We are excited to share the most recent recipients of Facebook’s Community Action Grants, a program created to address needs in Sarpy County by putting the power of technology to use for community benefit, connecting people online or off, and improving STEM education. Read about all the grants recipients here.

About Nebraska Solar Schools
Nebraska Solar Schools is a program of the nonprofit Nebraskans for Solar. The purpose of our Solar Energy Education & Development Program is to provide resources for K-12 teachers to facilitate integration of renewable energy education into their classrooms or after-school programs. Resources are also provided for those who want to install a photovoltaic (PV) system at their schools
.

Download a PDF about this new solar energy education project here.

Questions? Please contact Nebraska Solar Schools Facilitator Helen Deffenbacher: HelenDeffenbacher@NebraskaSolarSchools.Org

The LDS Church should create solar and wind farms

Opinion contributed by Johnny Townsend, The Salt Lake Tribune

Because the LDS Church is tight-lipped about its assets, it’s difficult to know exactly how many farms and ranches it owns and operates. Different sources list 290,000 acres in one part of Florida, another 380,000 acres in another part. One source lists 200,000 acres along the Utah/Wyoming border, a tract of 288,000 acres in Nebraska, and various other farms in Canada, Argentina, Brazil, and Zimbabwe.

The LDS Church claims its multi-billion-dollar portfolios are preparation for hard times. Investing to create more outdoor jobs would help address both immediate and long-term needs in the face of the pandemic. And, as even more hard times will increasingly be related to climate change, why not add investments in solar and wind power to church portfolios? Why not add carbon capture technologies? These and other “green” enterprises are where future income lies, not fossil fuels. Read more here. 

Johnny Townsend, Seattle, is the author of, among other works, “Breaking the Promise of the Promised Land,” “Human Compassion for Beginners” and “Am I My Planet’s Keeper?”

Photo Credit: Pixabay

The following articles, “how-to” guides and other resources provide information on ways landowners, farmers, solar and wind businesses and local communities can benefit from renewable energy development, which helps to mitigate hard times related to climate change.

FARM BANKRUPTCIES

LAND LEASES

Solar and wind farm leases create extra income for farmers and other landowners and provide valuable tax revenues for local communities.

CO-LOCATION RESOURCES

Co-locating apiaries, pollinator-friendly plants, and industrial hemp with solar and wind projects can provide extra income for farmers and improve Nebraska’s honey production and retail sales, among other benefits.

Area USDA 2019 honey production reports, Aberdeen Times
LINCOLN, Neb. — Honey production in 2019 from Nebraska producers with five or more colonies totaled 2.03 million pounds, down 14 percent from 2018, according to the USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service. There were 39,000 honey producing colonies in Nebraska during 2019, down 3 percent from 2018. Average yield was 52 pounds per colony, down 7 pounds from 2018. Producer stocks were 223,000 pounds on December 15, 2019 down from 850,000 pounds a year earlier. Prices for the 2019 crop averaged $1.46 per pound, down from $2.01 per pound in 2018. Prices were based on retail sales by producers and sales to private processors and cooperatives. Total value of honey produced in 2019 was $2.96 million, down 38 percent from 2018.

Previously-Posted Resources for Creating Pollinator-Friendly Solar Sites

Resources for potentially co-locating solar and wind projects with Nebraska industrial hemp crops for extra farm income:

  • Hemp Production in Nebraska, CropWatch, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
    Hemp (Cannabis sativa) has been a major crop globally for centuries, used for the production of fiber, medicine, and other products. In the 2018 farm bill, industrial hemp was removed from the controlled substance list and hemp farmers were made eligible for federal crop insurance and researchers were enabled to apply for federal grants. In that year US hemp production increased to 78,176 acres, an increase of more than 200% from 2017 when hemp was grown for research. Nebraska legalized hemp production for fiber, grain, or cannabidiol (CBD) in 2019, with the condition that plant parts of industrial hemp have a THC concentration of less than 0.3%. Production and use of marijuana and THC for medical and recreational purposes remain illegal in Nebraska.
  • Hemp Program, Nebraska Department of Agriculture
  • Study: Hemp Could Help Declining Honeybee Population, Forbes
    study from Colorado State University reports that industrial hemp could help declining bee populations—a source of great ecological concern—because it’s a great source of pollen.
  • What are the benefits of co-locating solar and crop production? See: Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar, Department of Energy
  • Eco Friendly Has a New Name: Hemp!, J-Tech Solar
  • Hemp, Kutak Rock

Photo: Ismail Dweikat, University of Nebraska-Lincoln professor of agronomy and horticulture, has been researching hemp production in small plots for the last two crop seasons.

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY GUIDES FOR SOLAR & SMALL WIND PROJECTS

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.

 

 

Growth in Solar Capacity Projected to Fuel Rural Economies

By Eric Galatas, Public News Service – Nebraska

LYONS, Neb. — The growth of the solar industry has brought a wave of new projects to Nebraska, including a community solar farm in Scottsbluff that’s expected to save the city more than $2 million in energy costs over 25 years. With more projects on the horizon, Lu Nelsen, policy program associate for the advocacy group Center for Rural Affairs, says solar is poised to boost rural economies. Nelsen says advances in technology and manufacturing have made solar more affordable for homes, communities and for big utility companies.

Read more or listen to the recording here.

Pixabay Photo

Previously Posted

Wind farms can bring economic benefits, officials sayby Elizabeth A. Elliott, Blair Enterprise Publishing

MORE MIDWEST NEWS

OPPD NEWS

Lighting the way – ahead of schedule, by Jason Kuiper, The Wire
After accelerating the replacement of streetlights with new LED fixtures last year, OPPD is running ahead of schedule on the project. The utility announced the project in 2018 to update the 98,744 streetlights in the OPPD service territory over a five-year period. So far, 32,000 lights have been replaced. Lights in smaller towns are done and SIDS will be among the next wave of replacements.

Report Ranks States for Corporate Clean Energy Procurement

Retail Industry Leaders Association News Release

The Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) has released the 2020 update to the Corporate Clean Energy Procurement Index. This groundbreaking study, first undertaken in 2017, shows how some states have improved their rankings by enacting common sense policies regarding domestic clean energy production and therefore are more likely to attract new business development, creating thousands of jobs in their communities. The updated analysis released today by RILA ranks all 50 U.S. states based on the ease with which America’s most recognizable brands can procure state-level renewable energy for their operations.

The Corporate Clean Energy Procurement Index: 2020 State Leadership & Rankings notes that more than 22 GW of corporate renewable energy deals have been announced in the U.S. since 2008, with over 13.5 GW of purchases announced in 2018 and 2019 alone, according to the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). Retail and tech companies such as Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Target and Wal-Mart are among nearly half of the Fortune 500 companies seeking to locate operations in states with access to clean energy production due to cost effectiveness, fossil fuel price volatility and pollution concerns. The index is intended to inform business leaders and guide state policymakers hoping to attract new job-creating businesses and foster economic growth. Read more here.

Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA) members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for millions of American jobs, and more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities, and distribution centers domestically and abroad.

Included in the report:

  • Nebraska ranks 25th on RILA’s Corporate Clean Energy Procurement Index.
  • Illinois took the overall top position for 2020.
  • Other state rankings include:
    Ohio: 12
    Iowa: 14
    South Dakota: 26
    Minnesota: 27
    Indiana: 30
    Michigan: 31
    Missouri: 34
    North Dakota: 38
    Kansas: 40
    Wisconsin: 41
  • In the Third-Party Purchasing Category: South Dakota and Nebraska jumped from #39 in 2017 to #1 and #8 respectively.

Tom Kent named new NPPD President, CEO

Nebraska Public Power District News Release

Columbus, Neb. – Current Nebraska Public Power District Executive Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Thomas Kent was officially named as President and Chief Executive Officer of the utility, following approval by the Board of Directors Thursday. A native of Tilden, Neb., Kent has been with the utility for 30 years, including the last nine years in his current position. He replaces Pat Pope who announced in February he was stepping down from his position at the end of April and will focus on e-connectivity and future generation strategies for NPPD as a special assistant to the CEO.

“It’s an honor to be selected by the Board to serve as the next CEO of NPPD. I have been very fortunate over my career to work in many parts of the District, and I have experienced first-hand the talent and dedication of my teammates across the state to providing low-cost, highly reliable energy and outstanding service to our customers,” Kent remarked after the Board’s decision. Continue reading here.

Lincoln Journal Star Letter: Commit to clean energy

Written by Alison Krohn

The City of Lincoln and Lincoln Electric System have taken steps towards a sustainable future through multiple efforts. The Lincoln Environmental Action Plan (2017-2018) calls for a 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025 while increasing the use of renewable energy 50%.

LES offers several incentives for renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements. The utility obtains approximately 40% of its distributed power from renewable sources. But are these goals and incentives enough? Continue reading here.

Photo: Telesis Inc’s solar array on top of the former Meadow Gold Dairy House at Seventh and M Streets in Lincoln’s historic Haymarket.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FEATURED RESOURCE: LOW-INCOME SOLAR POLICY GUIDE

Best Practices for Utility Ownership
In considering the roles utilities can and should play in making solar available for low-income households and underserved communities, Principles and Recommendations for Utility Participation in Solar Programs for Low-Income Customers from the Environmental Law & Policy Center, GRID Alternatives, and Vote Solar outlines three interrelated sets of guidelines and considerations for policy makers and regulators to review.

NEBRASKA GRID INFRASTRUCTURE NEWS

USDA Invests $8.2 Million For KBR Rural Public Power District, USDA News Release
The power district serves 4,847 customers over 2,604 miles of line in five counties in north central Nebraska.

APPA ANNUAL REPORT

Wind, solar, natural gas dominate capacity in development, American Public Power Association
Wind, solar, and natural gas are the three dominant sources in the development pipeline for electricity generation in the US, according to a report from the American Public Power Association. America’s Electricity Generating Capacity, 2020 Update is the Association’s 14th annual look at the country’s current and future capacity. Wind, natural gas, and solar projects account for 94% of all capacity under construction, which is consistent with additions over the past five years, of which 97% came from these three resources.

ENERGY STORAGE

US Storage Industry Achieved Biggest-Ever Quarter and Year in 2019, Greentech Media
“Storage is being deployed all across the country now, at megawatt-scale, in more than half of U.S. states,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the Energy Storage Association. Eight states now contain utility-scale storage facilities adding up to more than 50 megawatts. Another 11 states operate more than 10 megawatts each. Only 15 states have yet to adopt any advanced storage in front of the meter, according to WoodMac’s data. Overall, U.S. storage installations are expected to nearly triple in 2020 and more than double in 2021. Residential numbers, in particular, will triple this year compared to last year.

NEW 500-WATT SOLAR PANELS

How the new generation of 500 watt panels will shape the solar industry, PV Magazine
There are two solar module manufacturers, Risen Energy and Trina Solar, that have unveiled first-of-their kind 500W, 50-cell, PV modules. “For applications where you have a lot of area, particularly commercial and especially utility-scale, it’s really significant,” CEO of Cinnamon Energy Systems Barry Cinnamon told pv magazine. “You could just use fewer modules, it reduces handling costs and overall balance-of-system costs go down.” If there are less modules needed to reach the capacity specifications of a project, that means overall project costs will go down as these modules become economically viable. A significant area that will see cost reduction will come from the racking and trackers.

NREL’S FREE DATABASE

WattBuy to automate and expand NREL’s utility rate database, PV Magazine
With this new, free database, WattBuy can help residential homeowners more accurately calculate the return on investment (ROI) on a solar and/or solar-plus-storage system and make a more informed decision, Hood said. For solar financiers and energy efficiency companies, the new data will be useful for targeting new markets and for tracking projects’ ROI, he added.

EV NEWS

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Project developers can secure cash from new IRENA funding pot, PV Magazine
The Climate Investment Platform launched by three multilateral bodies in September is now open for business and renewables companies in developing nations could qualify for help with clean energy facilities, renewables-related grid improvements and energy efficiency schemes.