Category Archives: Nebraska / Midwest News

UNK event to help advance, prioritize Blueprint Nebraska ideas at Feb. 14 workshop

News Release by Todd Gottula, UNK Communications

KEARNEY – An upcoming forum in Kearney will bring together experts, leaders and influencers to identify action steps to support economic development in south-central Nebraska. Hosted by the University of Nebraska at Kearney, the Feb. 14 workshop at the Younes Conference Center will help advance and prioritize information and analysis in the 2019 Blueprint Nebraska report. There is no charge to attend the event – called Building on the Blueprint: Economic Development in Central Nebraska – but registration is requested by Feb. 10. To register, visit www.unk.edu/blueprint.

Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Survey of Plains, Western bankers says rural economy growing, Kearney Hub

Tri-State plans 50% renewable energy by 2024 as member co-ops press for exit

By Dan Mika, Loveland Reporter-Herald

In a statement, La Plata said it supports Tri-State’s push toward renewable energy, but said the power provider’s rules are preventing it from creating its own series of renewable energy sources to meet its local carbon reduction targets. “While Tri-State’s future goal will help meet our carbon reduction goal, we do not yet know what the costs of its plan will be to our members and what LPEA’s role will be for producing local, renewable energy into the future,” said La Plata Energy Association CEO Jessica Matlock. Member co-ops are required to buy 95% of their power from Tri-State. [Tri-State Association’s 43 member co-ops are located in Colorado, Nebraska, Wyoming and New Mexico]. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Rob Davis / Fresh Energy

Additional Recommended Reading 

National Trade Association

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landmass. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.

NRECA’s Renewable Energy Data

Solar Energy 

Wind Energy

564 cooperatives in 36 states utilize wind as a source of power.
Nebraska ranks 5th among these states, with 29 cooperatives utilizing wind energy, behind Minnesota (44), Missouri (41), Indiana (38), and Iowa (32).

Hydro Power

724 cooperatives in 43 states utilize hydro power.
Nebraska is 6th among these states, with 30 cooperatives utilizing hydro power, behind
Minnesota (44), Texas (43), Georgia (42), Missouri (41), and Iowa (35).

Heat Recovery

141 cooperatives in 10 states utilize heat recovery. Nebraska is 9th, with 6 cooperatives utilizing heat recovery.

Thermal capture technologies, including geothermal technologies, use heat to generate power. Geothermal power capturing the earth’s heat is cost-effective, reliable and available 24/7. Similar technology can also be used to recover heat that otherwise would have gone to waste from industrial processes, such as exhaust from natural gas pipeline compressors.

Links to More Information

City adopts financing tool for environmentally friendly projects

By Tony Herman, Hastings Tribune

Hastings became the latest Nebraska city to adopt Property Assessed Clean Energy program when the Hastings City Council approved the program’s manual, application and contract form during the council’s regular meeting Jan. 13. Participation in PACE promotes energy efficiency and the use of renewable energy as an economic development tool. PACE financing is for commercial real estate and finances energy efficiency, water conservation and renewable energy systems. PACE loans serve as gap financing, so the developer would not have to spend as much of its capital to undertake an energy efficiency component of a project. Read more here.

Photo of the Nebraska State Capitol by Rick McCharles / Creative Commons. The Nebraska Legislature passed PACE-enabling legislation in 2016.

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

CONSERVATION NEBRASKA’S COMMON GROUND EDUCATION PROGRAM 

Workshop aims to build ‘A Sustainable You’ in 2020, by Tim Johnson, The North Platte Telegraph
The meeting was the kickoff to a yearlong program with monthly themes for Conservation Nebraska’s Common Ground Program. Solar energy will be February’s topic.

Links to More Information

Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light Message & Call To Action

On December 20th, more than 20 people came to the Lincoln Electric System’s board meeting in support of Brittni McGuire’s request for testimony supporting 100% renewable energy for her 21st birthday. Brittni’s request for a present for the planet demonstrates the kind of leadership and vision that is needed in order to address the climate crisis.

In order to support the efforts of people like Brittni who are demonstrating leadership on climate issues, we want to keep the momentum going; to get LES to set 100% clean energy or net zero carbon goals. We want even more people to speak up in support of clean energy in the coming months to encourage LES to establish attainable goals to make reductions in greenhouse gas emissions necessary to address the climate crisis.

The next LES board meeting is this Friday, January 17th at 9:30 a.m. at 1040 O Street. Public comment is at the beginning of the meeting.

LES Board Agenda

Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light Website

EIA projects US solar power market to install 24 GW in 2020, blowing away prior records

By John Weaver, PV Magazine

The US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting that 13.4 GWac of utility scale solar power, and 5.1 GWac of small solar power will be installed in the U.S. in 2020 — a 95% increase over 2019. The massive growth projected isn’t limited to just utility-scale. The EIA projections see small-scale solar growing from 3.6 GWac deployed in 2019 by 38% to just over 5 GWac installed. This growth is mostly driven by the residential market, but also by the commercial market, which is expected to grow again after contracting in 2019. Read more here.

Wind + solar expected to add 61 GW over next two years: EIA, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

How Much Power is 1 Gigawatt?, U.S. Department of Energy

SUSTAINABLE INVESTING

BlackRock Sends Huge Warning Shot at Companies Ignoring Climate Risk, Greentech Media
In a move that will resound across the world of energy investing, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, this week warned of a “fundamental reshaping of finance” as the impacts of climate change become better understood. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said in an open letter that his company will end support for thermal coal, screen fossil fuel investments more closely, and redesign its own investment approach to put sustainability at its core. 

BlackRock joins Climate Action 100+ to ensure largest corporate emitters act on climate crisis, Climate Action 100+ News Release. With the addition of the world’s largest asset manager, with more than $6.8 trillion USD in assets under management, Climate Action 100+ continues to grow in size and influence. BlackRock joins more than 370 global investors already participating in the initiative. The addition of funds it manages, brings total assets under management represented by investors participating in Climate Action 100+ to more than $41 trillion.

TRIBAL SOLAR

Tribal Leaders Hope Large South Dakota Solar Project Becomes Model for Others, Native News Online
On the western edge of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, tribal officials hope a major solar energy project will help tap into the vast potential of renewable energy projects on tribal land across the U.S. The planned Lookout Solar Park project — which could exceed $200 million and add up to 140 megawatts to the state’s paltry solar energy portfolio — would be the largest of its kind in the state.

Previously Posted: Nebraska tribe becomes a solar power leader on the Plainsby Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

TRI-STATE

Westminster-based utility Tri-State says it will be 50% renewable by 2024, Denver Post
Calling it transformative, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association released a plan Wednesday to boost its renewable energy sources to 50% by 2024 and cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 90% by 2030 from Colorado facilities it owns or operates. The announcement of the utility’s “Responsible Energy Plan” follows news last week that it will close its coal plants and a coal mine in New Mexico and Colorado earlier than anticipated.

Tri-State Association members are located in four states: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nebraska.

SOLAR FAQ

How Well Do Solar Panels Work In The Snow?, WCCO / CBS Minnesota
According to Dan Thiede with the UMN Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, panels can produce a little power with a light coating of snow because some light is able to come through. But, when the snow is thick and heavy, the panels cannot produce. Once the snow is removed, they will produce again

WILDLIFE & WIND ENERGY

Migratory birds and wind energy: Looking at reality, by Michael Speerschneider, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog. Last week, several House lawmakers introduced a bill that would reform the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The ensuing debate sure to arise provides an excellent opportunity to lay some facts on the table about wind energy’s wholistic impact on birds.

EV INDUSTRY NEWS

2020 Outlook: Coal faces headwinds from aging plants, adverse market signals and high remediation costs

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

New legislative and gubernatorial leadership elected in the 2018 midterm elections brought heightened pressure to the coal industry in 2019 — a pressure that’s expected to continue from state legislators, regulators and evolving power markets in 2020, according to stakeholders.

Over 10 GW of coal-fired power was retired in 2019, driven largely by “a sustained downward pressure on the market” expected to continue throughout 2020, a ScottMadden analyst told Utility Dive in an email. Natural gas surpassed coal as the number one producer of electric power in 2016, and in April and May of 2019 renewable energy supplied more power than coal for the first time. Read more here.


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.


ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SECURITIZATION
Kansas considering securitization for aging coal plants, but caution urged, Utility Dive
Securitization of uneconomic electric utility assets has become a growing strategy to allow for the retirement of coal plants before the end of their useful lives without saddling ratepayers with the cost of these stranded assets. Several other states, such as Colorado, Montana and New Mexico, have passed legislation that makes this option available to utilities. Kansas lawmakers are now considering the securitization option as well.

Previously Posted

NAACP’S JUST ENERGY PROGRAM

For Indiana NAACP, energy justice has long been a civil rights issue, Energy News Network
The NAACP has recently encouraged state and local chapters to avoid being influenced by utilities or fossil fuel interests that donate money to the historic civil rights organization but push policies and take actions that hurt African American and other environmental justice communities. In Indiana, a conservative state where fossil fuel interests and utilities are considered to have much influence, it’s a dynamic the NAACP state chapter is well versed in navigating.

Just Energy Toolkit

The Just Energy Policies and Practices Action Toolkit is 8 modules of practical, user-friendly guidance on how you can phase out toxic energy like coal, nuclear, and oil facilities and bring in clean energy like wind and solar.  Designed to be downloaded as an entire toolkit or as individual modules, you can start planning energy justice plans to best fit the needs in your community. 
Learn more about the toolkit and other Just Energy resources here.

MORE ENERGY TRANSFORMATION NEWS & ANALYSIS

ACORE’s four policies to clean the grid, PV Magazine
The report, titled Policy Options That Most Effectively Put Renewable Energy to Work, notes that  just over 1 TW of utility-scale, electric generation capacity is renewable (22%), while two-thirds of our generation capacity is fossil-based. To replace this capacity by 2050, we’ll need deploy about 30 GW a year of renewable energy.

Previously Posted: 2020 Renewable Energy Industry Outlook, Deloitte
The prospects for short-term solar and wind energy growth appear favorable, with about 96.6 percent of net new generation capacity additions (~74 GW) expected to come from these two resources in 2020. With several states increasing their renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in 2019, the industry will likely see mandatory RPS-driven procurement growth through the mid-2020s, while voluntary demand will continue to hit new levels. As of late 2019, at least 10 utilities have announced 100 percent decarbonization goals, and we’ll be watching for that list to grow in 2020.

ENERGY STORAGE

What Would It Take for the US to Become an Energy Storage Manufacturing Powerhouse?, Greentech Media. After “missed opportunity” in solar, Trump administration wants a domestic supply chain for energy storage. Is that realistic?

MORE NATIONAL NEWS

 JLC Infrastructure acquires and rebrands Greenskies Renewable Energy, Solar Power World
Greenskies Renewable Energy, a developer of commercial and industrial solar power facilities, has successfully completed a transaction that brings JLC Infrastructure in to accelerate the platform’s expansion in the high-growth C&I and municipal sectors. The Greenskies team has delivered over 350 MW of rooftop, carport and ground-mount solar projects, ranging in size from 100 kW to over 80 MW, in 19 states across the United States. Customers include large retailers, technology companies, municipalities, schools, universities and electric utilities.

NATIONAL LAW REVIEW SERIES

2020 Renewable Energy Outlook: Strategies to Elicit Community Support, by Alex Garel-Frantzen,
Amy Antoniolli, Brent Cooper

Even though communities are likely to reap many benefits from proposed renewable energy projects, local opposition can delay – or altogether thwart – the progress of renewable energy projects. Most renewable energy projects require some level of zoning or permit approvals to proceed, and garnering support is proving to be especially difficult. This final post of our three-part series on the 2020 renewable energy outlook (read the first post here and the second post here) examines how local opposition can form and what utilities can do to gain a community’s backing and trust. 

Five 2020 Energy Predictions: Solar Surge, Coal Crash, Gas Exorcism, Clean Energy Incentives, Public Mobilization

Forbes Contributor Silvio Marcacci
Energy Innovation’s Communications Director

2019 may have been the year clean energy irreversibly turned a corner toward dominance in the United States. After all, who could have foreseen last January that America would realize existing coal can’t compete against new renewables, see new solar-plus-storage beat new natural gas generation on price, have 13 states and territories committed to 100% clean electricity, or envision a path to nationwide net zero emissions?

So what will 2020 hold? Increasingly ambitious state policy combined with fast-falling technology prices could mean record renewable energy installations. Expanding efforts to decarbonize U.S. power supplies and buildings could shutter fossil fuel infrastructure faster than ever. Five leading energy and climate policy experts shared their predictions for the year and decade ahead with Energy Innovation Communications Director Silvio Marcacci. Continue reading here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

RENEWABLE ENERGY & WILDLIFE 

EV NEWS

8 electric truck and van companies to watch in 2020, by contributor Shane Downing, GreenBiz
In recent months, we’ve shone attention on companies racing to bring electric aviation to the skies in the coming decades. Now, it’s time to spotlight startups and automotive giants working to electrify dirty delivery and distribution trucks in the coming years.

NEW GREEN BIZ REPORT

The State of Green Business, 2020, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Director, GreenBiz Group
Today, we publish our 13th annual State of Green Business report, examining the key trends and metrics about corporate sustainability: how, and how well, companies are making progress in assessing and minimizing their impacts and embracing a range of strategies that move them forward in significant ways. It’s our annual report card on progress by the world’s largest companies: the 500 largest publicly traded companies in the United States and the 1,200 largest in the world. It’s a free download. The report was produced in partnership with Trucost, part of financial information and analytics giant S&P Global.

Nebraskans for Solar & Nebraska Solar Schools Volunteers Meeting

January 14, 2020 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
UNO’s Community Engagement Center, Meeting Room 127
6400 University Drive S (64th & Dodge)

We are hosting a roundtable discussion / work party for everyone interested in volunteering to help with and provide your input on our events, programs and projects. We will discuss volunteer opportunities and assemble materials for Earth Day celebrations, Nature Nights and other large events, presentations and hands-on workshops.

At this work party we will put together 1,000 Mini Solar Cooker Kits made from pizza boxes and other materials, which kids of all ages can decorate at Earth Day events and take home to make S’Mores with their families and friends.

This event also provides an opportunity for teachers and after-school program directors to learn more about our Nebraska Solar Schools’ NEED Solar Energy Kits project and, for those who are interested, to fill out an order form for a free kit.

Click here for more information. Please join us if you can. Reserved parking is available in the lot in front of the Community Engagement Center. Just let the lot attendant at the kiosk know you are there for a Nebraskans for Solar event.

Pair of wind energy projects moving forward in Banner County

By Mark McCarthy, Scottsbluff Star-Herald

HARRISBURG — Two companies are showing renewed interest in wind farms in Banner County, and hope to have systems up and running in the next couple of years. Orion Energy and Invenergy LLC are both working on securing leases, conducting environmental assessments and conducting public surveys in the hopes of getting projects up and running. Representatives for both companies projected that there would likely be systems up and running over the next two years. Ben Turner, manager of renewable development for Invenergy LLC, said they are looking at a project of up to or over 500 megawatts, likely utilizing between 150 and 200 turbines. The company has just over 100,000 acres leased. Continue reading here.

Map Credit: World Atlas

IOWA NEWS

In Iowa, clean energy advocates hope solar will complement wind farms, written by Karen Uhlenhith, Energy News Network

Iowa has long been one of the nation’s leading producers of electricity from wind. Now, the state appears ready to take a great leap forward with utility-scale solar. Invenergy, a major developer of large renewable generation projects nationwide, began construction in December on three solar arrays with a total capacity of 750 megawatts. It may at some point add three batteries with a capacity of 190 MW. The Iowa Utilities Board about a month ago issued generation certificates for the projects, which are in three adjacent counties on the Iowa-Minnesota border. 

LES funds $1.75 mil in incentives for efficiency upgrades

By Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association

Lincoln Electric System (LES) in Nebraska is continuing its Sustainable Energy Program with $1.75 million in incentive funds for customers that want to switch to more energy efficient equipment. LES says that since it began its Sustainable Energy Program (SEP) in 2009, customers have accessed $22.5 million in incentives and spent $126.6 million on energy-efficient equipment and/or services. The incentive level for the SEP program in 2019 was $1.5 million. “It is the eleventh year of the program,” and the utility’s board is “solidly behind it,” and there is no sign of that waning, Marc Shkolnick, LES’ manager of energy services, said. “They see it as a fitting role for a public power provider.” Continue reading here.

Nebraska Also In The News Here