Category Archives: Nebraska / Midwest News

New Environment America Report – Blocking Rooftop Solar: The Companies, Lobbyists And Front Groups Undermining Local Clean Energy

Released by the Environment Florida Research & Policy Center

Recent corruption scandals in Ohio and Illinois, in which utilities and other special interests allegedly used their clout to twist public policy in their favor, highlight how far anti-solar efforts have gone. Policymakers must resist pressure from utilities and the fossil fuel industry and implement pro-solar policies that will continue America’s momentum toward clean energy

In 2021, a national network of utility interest groups and fossil fuel-linked think tanks continues to offer funding, advice and support to utilities across the country seeking to undermine rooftop solar power. These include . . .  Continue reading here.

Download Report (PDF)

Nebraska’s Overall Solar Development & Potential

Previously Posted Net Metering Legislative Bills

Net metering changes considered – Legislative Update, Senator John Cavanaugh
The Natural Resources Committee heard testimony Feb. 10, 2021 on two bills that would modify Nebraska’s net metering laws.

Additional Recommended Reading

Energy News Network Articles & Related Reading 

Nebraska utility could slash emissions at little or no added cost, studies show , Energy News Network, March 29, 2021. The Nebraska utility’s board of directors will use the reports to develop a sustainability goal, and then to devise an integrated resource plan starting later this year.

Nebraska does not have an up-to-date state energy plan or a state climate action plan:: State energy plans show how process can match final product in impact, Energy News Network, February 10, 2021

LB483 – Provide for a climate change study and action plan

Related Reading

    • Nebraska needs overall plan for energy policies, Lincoln Journal Star, November 4, 2015. Nebraska’s Energy Office director says the state needs a comprehensive approach to its energy policies as it faces what could be a “seismic” change in federal regulations governing emissions. David Bracht, Gov. Pete Ricketts’ chief adviser on energy issues, talked about state energy policies Wednesday at the eighth annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Omaha. . . . [The] Nebraska Legislature has instructed the state Energy Office to create a comprehensive energy plan and budgeted more than $630,000 to see it done.
    • LB469: Provide procedures and reporting requirements relating to a state plan on carbon dioxide emissions, require a strategic state energy plan, and provide requirements for meteorological evaluation towers.
    • 2011 Nebraska Energy Plan, National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)

Nebraska solar farm highlights tension between cities, electricity wholesaler, Energy News Network, August 19, 2020

South Sioux City’s City Council decided four years ago not to renew its contract with NPPD. It has gradually reduced its purchases from the utility down to 10% of its load this year, and will stop buying power from the wholesaler altogether on Jan. 1, 2022. “We’ve been very happy with the decision the [city] council made to get more into renewables,” said Lance Hedquist, the city administrator of the community of about 13,000 also located in northeast Nebraska. The city has added solar and wind energy to its portfolio, and now obtains about half of its power from renewables, he said.

Related Reading

  • NPPD’s Wholesale Power Contracts
    Wholesale energy sales are made to 60 entities under wholesale power contracts that terminate on Jan. 1, 2036 and to 10 other entities with wholesale power contracts that terminate on Dec. 31, 2021. The 10 wholesale customers that did not sign the 2016 contract provided the notice required under their existing 2002 contracts, and began in 2017 to reduce their purchases to 0% over a five-year period.  Source: Fitch Rates Nebraska Public Power District’s General Revs ‘A+’; Outlook Stable

Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska News 

MEAN Issues RFP For Participant Community Solar PV Installation Project, July 15, 2021
The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) is issuing a Request for Proposals on behalf of 11 MEAN participant communities interested in obtaining energy from solar PV installations to be built in their respective communities. The project is an effort by MEAN to bring economically priced solar energy to interested MEAN participant communities. Participating communities hope to obtain lower solar costs through economies of scale through this joint effort. RFP proposals are due Aug. 31, 2021 with a bid award date set for Oct. 27, 2021.

Click here to download the RFP.
Additional MEAN News

Previously Posted

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. MEAN Members/Participants

About NMPP Energy
NMPP Energy is a member-driven coalition of four organizations based in Lincoln, Neb., serving nearly 200 member communities in six Midwest and Rocky Mountain states. NMPP Energy’s organizations fulfill separate needs to their respective member communities. Collectively, they subscribe to the core philosophies of local control and working together to provide reliable, cost-based energy and energy-related services. NMPP Energy Members 

Recommended Resources On Leasing Land For Solar 

Considerations for Leasing Land for Solar Development, by F. John Hay – Extension Educator for Bioenergy

Utility scale solar development is here — in the eight months since the solar leasing article was published in August 2020, Nebraskans have seen continued land lease activity, county zoning rule adoption, an extension of the federal tax credit, and projects approved by county commissioners/supervisors. Additionally, one project (Saunders County [OPPD electrical purchase]) has reached the important step of electricity sales, which is the most common tipping point between a proposed project and a project that will get built. Many smaller solar projects have been built in the years prior to 2021, with the largest at about 8 MW, or about 50 acres. The utility scale projects being proposed and approved are many times larger, with 500 or more acres.

OPPD reaches customer-owned generation milestone

By Julie Wasson, OPPD Customer Service, The Wire

On June 28, 2021, OPPD received its 500th customer-owned generation (COG) interconnection application. This was the 165th application received so far this year, which is on track to be a 500% increase in interconnection applications over last year.

OPPD kicked off a multi-team project in 2019 to improve the COG application process using new, state-of-the-art online application software. The application software went live in April 2020 and, so far, more than 20 different solar installers have used the online application on behalf of mutual customers. Without the new online application process, the volume the utility has seen this year would not have been possible. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Battery project makes room for more rooftop solar in Decorah, Alliant Energy News Release
A free DOE webinar on the project will be offered on July 30 at 12:00 p.m. CDT. Anyone interested in learning more can join by 
registering here

WEC Energy Group to acquire 90% ownership of Sapphire Sky Wind Energy Center

WEC Energy Group News Release, PRNewswire

MILWAUKEE, July 27, 2021 – WEC Energy Group (NYSE: WEC) today announced that the company has agreed to acquire a 90% ownership interest in the Sapphire Sky Wind Energy Center. Located in McLean County, Illinois, the project is being developed by Invenergy — a leading global developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions. The Sapphire Sky site will consist of 64 wind turbines with a combined capacity of 250 megawatts. Commercial operation is expected by the end of 2022. Continue reading here.

Photo: Upstream Wind Energy Center in Antelope County, Nebraska

IN NEBRASKA

WEC Infrastructure Includes:

Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy Resources

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NextEra adds 1,840 MW renewables and storage to more than 15 GW backlog in Q2, Utility Dive

NextEra Energy “remains well-positioned to meet our 2021 and longer-term growth expectations,” NextEra President and CEO Jim Robo said in a statement. Meanwhile, NextEra Energy is also looking at significant opportunities in the years ahead in the transmission sector as well, [Rebecca Kujawa, executive vice president of finance and chief financial officer] said.

Photo: NextEra Energy’s Sholes Wind Farm in Wayne County, Nebraska

Previously Posted

Wind energy company studying Jefferson County for possible wind farm, News Channel Nebraska, April 27, 2021

FAIRBURY, NE — A major renewable energy company is studying to see if Jefferson County would be a good spot for a new wind farm. The Jefferson County Commissioners voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve a special use permit for Big Blue Nebraska Wind LLC to build a meteorological tower. The tower will be built about two miles northwest of Harbine. Big Blue Nebraska Wind LLC is owned by NextEra Energy. 

NextEra’s Nebraska Projects Also Include: 

Little Blue Wind

  • Up to 100 GE wind turbines capable of generating up to 250 megawatts (MW).
  • The project is currently under construction and is scheduled to begin operations by the end of 2021.

Gage Wind

  • Up to 50 GE wind turbines capable of generating up to 124 megawatts (MW).
  • Subject to local and state approvals, the project is scheduled to begin operations by the end of 2022.

American Clean Power’s State Fact Sheet: Clean Power Nebraska, May 2021

Clean Energy Careers

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

A Proclamation on Made In America Week, 2021President Joseph R. Biden, The White House Briefing Room

My Administration is making “Buy American” a policy, not just a promise. We are closing loopholes and strengthening standards to ensure that the future is made in all of America — by all of America’s workers — in every region, of every background, in services, manufacturing, and agriculture.

U.S. solar panel manufacturers, Solar Power World

Ricketts’ order on 30-by-30 conservation effort is short on actual roadblocks

By Martha Stoddard, Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — In his battle against the federal government, Gov. Pete Ricketts has directed state agencies to take “any necessary step” to resist a federal initiative to conserve 30% of American land and waters by 2030. He signed the executive order last month, in the leafy shade of the garden at the Governor’s Mansion, flanked by allies from rural county governments and agricultural organizations.

Ricketts said his order is aimed at stopping implementation of what he calls “the 30×30 land grab.” But a closer look at the order shows it to be long on education and information-gathering and short on steps that would block the expansion of conservation efforts. Read more here.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

Working with Individual Landowners on Conservation

The USDA provides voluntary, incentive-based conservation to landowners through local field offices in nearly every county of the nation. USDA helped landowners develop conservation plans and enrolled a record number of acres of private working lands in conservation programs, working with more than 500,000 farmers and ranchers to implement conservation practices that clean the air we breathe, conserve and clean the water we drink, prevent soil erosion and create and protect wildlife habitat. USDA support – leveraged with historic outside investments – helped support producer incomes and reward them for their good work.

Learn more about USDA’s conservation programs.

CENTER FOR AGRICULTURAL PROFITABILITY AT UNL

The interdisciplinary Center for Agricultural Profitability, which was approved March 11, 2021, facilitates faculty research, conducts outreach related to agricultural profitability and trains undergraduate and graduate students — all to support informed decision-making in agriculture through applied research and education.

Center for Agricultural Profitability Webinars – Archived & Upcoming

Analyzing the Proposed 30×30 Conservation Plan, July 22, 2021
With: Dave Aiken, Professor and Agricultural Law & Water Specialist, Department of Agricultural Economics, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

On Jan. 27, President Biden signed his climate action executive order, pledging, among other things, to conserve at least 30% of U.S. land and water by 2030. On May 6, an interagency report to the president provided some detail for implementing the 30×30 plan. The report pledges to honor private property rights and to honor existing voluntary stewardship efforts of private landowners as well as building on existing land and water conservation programs. Aiken describes the proposed 30×30 program and discusses how the U.S. may be closer to reaching 30% land protection than most realize.

Conservation Program Opportunities for Producers and Landowners, July 8, 2021
With Brad Lubben, Extension Associate Professor and Policy Specialist, University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of Agricultural Economics; Doug Klein, Conservation and Price Support Programs Chief, USDA FSA Nebraska State Office; and Brad Soncksen, Assistant State Conservationist, USDA NRCS State Office.

Rural electric co-ops get shocking estimates of the cost to break up with Tri-State Generation

By Mark Jaffe, The Colorado Sun

Some of Tri-State’s 43 member co-ops have voiced a desire to develop more homegrown and cleaner electric generation – they are required to buy 95% of their electricity from the association, which still has substantial coal-fired generation.

“This does not move the ball,” United Power CEO Mark Gabriel said. “I think they are off by three zeros,” he said of his co-op’s exit fee. The association’s filing was in response to a ruling in June by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that Tri-State’s exit policies were “unjust and unreasonable or unduly discriminatory.”  Read more here.

Note: Nebraska Tri-State members seeking exit fees are the Wheat Belt Public Power District and the Northwest Rural Public Power District.

ACP NEWS RELEASE

The American Clean Power Association and the U.S. Energy Storage Association announce intent to merge

WASHINGTON DC, July 22, 2021 – The boards of directors of the American Clean Power Association (ACP) and the U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA) have voted to pursue a merger of the two trade associations to combine their staff, programs, and members. The merger will bring together the diverse membership and talented team members of ESA with the resources and reach of ACP. Additionally, it will enhance the American Clean Power Association’s efforts to advocate for the economic and environmental advantages of the clean power economy and further position the renewable energy and storage industries for success as they move into a decade of transformative growth.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Would Upper Midwest carbon capture pipelines offer a lifeline to coal plants?

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

An environmental group is warning that a proposed pipeline network that would carry carbon emissions to underground storage in Illinois and North Dakota could also extend the life of fossil fuel power plants in the Upper Midwest.

The recently announced projects would immediately benefit ethanol producers, but the Sierra Club says they might also offer a regulatory or economic lifeline to coal-fired power plants in the region under future federal emissions policies. Continue reading here.

LINKS TO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management

DOE’s Carbon Capture Program at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The program is managed by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management.

NETL Resources Include:

National Carbon Capture Center

Department of Energy News Releases

Global CCS Institute

IN NEBRASKA

Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants in Nebraska

What does this program do?

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. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing.

Who may apply for this program?

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

Application Deadlines

Applications for Grants of $20,000 or Less and Loan/Grant of $20,000 or Less Combo Applications due by November 1, 2021, or March 31, 2022.

Applications for Unrestricted Grants or Loan/Unrestricted Grant Combo Applications due by March 31, 2022.

See additional details here.

Who can answer questions?
Contact Nebraska’s Rural Development Energy Coordinator:
Jeff Carpenter, USDA Rural Development
100 Centennial Mall North, Suite 308
Lincoln, Nebraska 68508
Telephone: (402) 437-5554
jeff.carpenter@usda.gov
http://www.rd.usda.gov/ne

369 Mayors from All 50 States Urge Congress to Pass Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework, Stress Implementation Priorities

Washington, D.C. – Today, 369 mayors – including Republicans, Democrats and Independents from all 50 states and the District of Columbia – sent a letter to Congress urging them to take immediate action on the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework announced by President Biden and a group of Republican and Democratic Senators on June 24th.

In their letter, the mayors write, “This framework would be the largest long-term investment in our nation’s infrastructure and competitiveness in nearly a century – $1.2 trillion over eight years – to help make our economy more sustainable, resilient, and just.” Continue reading here.

The signers include Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. The full text of the letter with all signatures can be found here.

About the United States Conference of Mayors
The United States Conference of Mayors is the official non-partisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are over 1,400 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

CNBC’S ANNUAL “AMERICA’S TOP STATES FOR BUSINESS” RATINGS

America’s Top States for Business 2021
To rank America’s Top States for Business in 2021, CNBC scored all 50 states on 85 metrics in 10 broad categories of competitiveness.

These are America’s 10 best states for infrastructure

  • The national debate over an infrastructure plan has highlighted the importance of everything from roads and bridges to electricity and broadband.
  • Some states are already setting the pace with innovative policies that could be models for the rest of the country.
  • CNBC’s annual America’s Top States for Business study rates the states on multiple infrastructure components.

 

Nebraska’s Overall Ranking 13 / Infrastructure 33

 


DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY 

Secretary Granholm Announces New Goal to Cut Costs of Long Duration Energy Storage by 90 Percent

WASHINGTON, D.C.
 — U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm today announced the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)’s new goal to reduce the cost of grid-scale, long duration energy storage by 90% within the decade. The second target within DOE’s Energy Earthshot Initiative, “Long Duration Storage Shot” sets bold goals to accelerate breakthroughs that store clean electricity to make it available anytime, anywhere and support more abundant, affordable, and reliable clean energy solutions.

“We’re going to bring hundreds of gigawatts of clean energy onto the grid over the next few years, and we need to be able to use that energy wherever and whenever it’s needed,” said Secretary Granholm.

Previously Posted 

Hot Solar Summer: Building Back Better with Clean Energy Infrastructure

Solar Energy Industries Association 

America is facing an unprecedented opportunity to enact bold federal policies to decarbonize our electric grid and generate hundreds of thousands of quality clean energy jobs. To achieve this, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is mobilizing a nationwide campaign urging leaders in Washington to act. Hot Solar Summer will help to keep pressure on lawmakers to meet this moment and accelerate an equitable transition to a clean energy economy. Read more here.

Join the Hot Solar Summer campaign and learn how your company or organizations can get involved at www.seia.org/AmericanJobs.

Previously Posted: 100+ Organizations Urge Congress to Act on a 10-year Investment Tax Credit (ITC) extension

SITING SOLAR ON CONTAMINATED LAND

How ‘unusable’ capped landfill can gain a second life as a solar farm,  by Michelle Lewis, Electrek

Putting solar farms on landfill is a great way to generate clean energy on what were previously considered unusable sites, but there are some special factors to consider. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) points out that “it is important to think about PV projects on landfills in terms of an integrated system, not as separate landfill and PV systems.”

When it comes to making solar work on landfill, Gretchen Dolson, renewable energy lead for HDR, an architectural, engineering and consulting firm based in Omaha, Nebraska [via Waste 360], says: Always begin with the end in mind and know it’s never too early to plan and think of alternate uses, regardless of the type of waste facility. Solar is often viable. But it depends on how the landfill was designed to function and how it was closed. (Pixabay Photo)

Links to Resources

  • RE-Powering America’s Land
    RE-Powering America’s Land is an EPA initiative that encourages renewable energy development on current and formerly contaminated lands, landfills, and mine sites when such development is aligned with the community’s vision for the site.
  • EPA’s Brownfields Program provides grants and technical assistance to communities, states, tribes and others to assess, safely clean up and sustainably reuse contaminated properties. To learn about EPA’s broader efforts to put previously contaminated properties back into productive use, read about the Land Revitalization Program.
  • Brownfields and Land Revitalization in Region 7
    EPA Region 7 manages  Brownfields and Land Revitalization Programs in Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Missouri. On this page you will find information specific to Region 7’s Brownfields and Land Revitalization activities. Visit the national Brownfields Program and Land Revitalization Program websites for more information about these programs’ competitive grants.
  • Brownfields: FAQs, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy 

Yellen: US regulators to assess risk posed by climate change

By Martin Krutsinger, AP Economic Writer, NTV

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen says she will lead an effort by top U.S. regulators to assess the potential risk that climate change poses to America’s financial system, part of a wide-ranging initiative launched by the Biden administration.

Yellen says the regulatory review, which will be done by the Financial Stability Oversight Council, will examine whether banks and other lending institutions are properly assessing the risks to financial stability. She chairs the committee, which includes Treasury, the Federal Reserve, the Securities and Exchange Commission and other financial regulators. Read more here.

MIDWEST ENERGY NEWS SERIES

Faulty equipment, poor training are main factors in Illinois coal mining death
When people die in Illinois coal mines, faulty equipment and lack of safety protocols are most often cited by federal investigators, and experts say economic challenges will create pressure to cut corners.

A small price to pay: Illinois mines routinely appeal safety penalties
Federal mine safety inspections are the main safeguard to prevent accidents and deaths in an inherently dangerous industry, but critics say the fines for safety violations are low, and companies regularly get them reduced. 

For generations of Illinois coal mining families, risk is part of everyday life
In parts of downstate Illinois, coal mining is deeply ingrained in families and communities. But it has taken a deep toll on some.

About the Author
Kari Lydersen has written for Midwest Energy News since January 2011. She is an author and journalist who worked for the Washington Post’s Midwest bureau from 1997 through 2009. Her work has also appeared in the New York Times, Chicago News Cooperative, Chicago Reader and other publications. Kari covers Illinois, Wisconsin and Indiana as well as environmental justice topics.

NEBRASKA NEWS

Nebraska Public Power Utilities Make Progress In Restoring Power In Wake Of Storms, by Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association

Public power utilities in Nebraska continued to make progress over the weekend in restoring power to customers in the wake of outages caused by severe storms that hit the state. A storm that hit on the night of Friday, July 9, damaged transmission structures as well as local distribution structures in several communities and crews from across the state were called to help restore power as quickly and safely as possible, Nebraska Public Power District (NPDD) reported.