Category Archives: Nebraska / Midwest News

South Sioux City to add 1.5MW battery to store solar power

By Mason Dockter, Sioux City Journal

The city of South Sioux City will become a “demonstration site” for the storage of electric power generated by the city’s 1,200-panel solar installation. A large-scale battery with the capacity to store 1.5 megawatts of power will be installed by Florida-based NextEra Energy Inc. this winter, City Administrator Lance Hedquist said. The city’s two-year-old solar park provides roughly 5 percent of the city’s 45 megawatt electricity usage. That electricity costs roughly two-thirds the cost of electricity purchased from elsewhere, Hedquist said. Hedquist has said the city plans to fully phase out of its wholesale power contract with NPPD by 2020. Read more here.

Photo: South Sioux City’s solar array located on a 21-acre solar park south of the city, alongside C Avenue. This is the first Nebraska project for California-based developer Solar City, a Tesla Motors subsidiary.
News Story: Solar is South Sioux City’s latest investment in renewables, Sioux City Journal
Photo Credit: Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal
Installer: Solar City

Nebraska rancher’s solar system could offer power for grid, shade for cattle

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Solar panels are already a common sight on hog and poultry confinement barns in the Midwest. They could be coming soon to cattle feedlots as well. A Nebraska entrepreneur snagged a $200,000 federal grant to devise a solar array that could double as a shade structure in a cattle feedlot. Mitch Minarick, the founder of FarmAfield, believes his concept can address two needs simultaneously . . . Minarick, who grew up on a Nebraska family farm, thinks he can attach the roof and solar panels to existing long concrete feeding troughs. If his initial experiment succeeds, he said he likely will qualify for a second grant that could be as much as $1.1 million. That would support the construction of a prototype. Read more here.

Photo Credit: University of Minnesota-Morris. The University of Minnesota’s West Central Research and Outreach Center is primarily conducting research to see if green power can consistently meet the energy needs of a working dairy farm in northern latitudes.

Additional Recommended Reading

Nebraska to Become the Midwest’s Leader in Building Efficiency

By Tara Lukasik, Building Safety Journal. Republished in the Nebraska
Energy Office’s June 2019 Newsletter, Nebraska Energy Quarterly

The state of Nebraska is ready to update the state’s energy codes for residential and commercial buildings — from the 2009 to the 2018 edition — which will make the state a regional leader on building efficiency. Nebraska lawmakers presented LB 405 to Governor Pete Ricketts on May 2, 2019, which he signed into law (effective Sept. 7, 2019).

Shortly before, Governor Ricketts signed LB 348 into law (also effective Sept. 7, 2019) which updates the International Building Code, International Residential Code and International Existing Building Code from the 2012 to the 2018 edition. Read the entire article here.

Additional articles and resources in the electronic newsletter are posted here.

Click here to subscribe to the Nebraska Energy Quarterly.

Nebraska Environmental Trust Awards $200,000 Grant to Independent Colleges Foundation to Support Development of Sustainability Learning Lab at Bellevue University

Business Wire

The Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation (CINCF) announced today that it has received a $200,000 grant from The Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to help establish a sustainability learning lab at Bellevue University. The grant funding from NET will be matched by Bellevue University and its partners and donors over the next three years.

According to Dr. Dennis Joslin, Executive Director of CINCF, “The Sustainability Learning Lab has tremendous potential to benefit the State of Nebraska by raising awareness and educating future generations of students and citizens about how to conserve, enhance and restore natural environments.” Dr. Joslin added that the grant and lab project aligns well with CINCF’s mission to provide support for students attending Nebraska’s private colleges and universities. Continue reading here.

City looks to roll out electric vehicle incentive program this summer

By Colin Larson, Fremont Tribune

The City of Fremont plans to unveil a new electrical vehicle incentive program which will provide ten individuals with a $4,500 rebate toward the purchase of a new electric vehicle and charger later this summer. The incentive program is part of a pilot program to study the effect electric vehicles have on Fremont’s electric system, according to City Administrator Brian Newton. Read more here.

Photo: A Tesla electric vehicle uses one of the city’s two ChargePoint charging stations in the Fremont Mall. Credit: Colin Larson, Fremont Tribune

Young’s focus: Supporting businesses, building teams

By Paula Lukowski, The Wire, OPPD Blog

An engineer by trade, Wyndle Young enjoys math and science, but he also has an affinity for music, entertainment and sports. That combination has come in handy for Young. He has shaped a successful career on the customer-side of the energy business over the past 27 years by blending his technical and social interests. Now, he is developing a new business strategy for small and mid-size commercial customers as manager of Mid/Small Commercial & Industrial Sales & Services for OPPD. The department develops, implements and manages core business and product and service programs for approximately 40,000 commercial customers. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

  • OPPD solar program sold out, waitlist has begun, by Laura King-Homan, The Wire
    It only took 49 days for OPPD residential customers to purchase all available shares of the utility’s new community solar program.
  • 5,000 Square Miles, by Paula Lukowski, The Wire
  • Legislation would make public power eligible for storage grants, American Public Power Association Blog. The American Public Power Association is voicing support for legislation recently introduced in the House and Senate that would boost research and development of technologies to increase energy storage capabilities and make public power utilities eligible for storage technical assistance and grants. 

River of No Return: How austerity and climate change put northeastern Nebraska underwater

By Ted Genoways, Contributing Editor, The New Republic

Willard Ruzicka saw it all in a dream. The Niobrara River, which runs a few hundred feet from his family’s farmhouse in the unincorporated village of Pishelville, Nebraska, had topped its banks. But instead of water edging toward his house from the north, the dream river—somewhere upstream, in the direction of Spencer Dam—had jumped the channel and cut a new course from the south. Water came rushing down the road, stranding the house as the river closed in from all sides. “I woke up and was just shaking,” Ruzicka remembers now. It was after 2 a.m., midwinter, the braided river through the trees still thickly iced and unmoving. Outside the second-story window of his bedroom, the moon was bright above the snow. “I don’t know why you sense some of these things,” he said, “what it is in your mind that brings these things up.”
 Continue reading here.

Ted Genoways is the author of This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Farm and The Chain: Farm, Factory, and the Fate of Our Food

Additional Recommended Reading

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

  • A small company sees opportunity in revolutionizing Colorado’s energy supply, Energy News Network. Guzman Energy has offered to buy and shut down three coal units in Colorado and replace the 800 megawatts of generation with renewables. “We would finance the early shutdown of these coal plants, giving Tri-State a substantial cash infusion, in the vicinity of a half-billion dollars, and we would replace the portfolio (that would be lost) with in excess of 70% renewables,” said Chris Riley, president of Guzman Energy, in an interview last week at the firm’s office in downtown Denver. Of Tri-State’s 43 member co-ops, 29 are in Colorado and New Mexico, with the others in Wyoming and Nebraska. More significantly, most of the largest members — constituting roughly half of Tri-State’s electrical demand — have told Tri-State they want to see a more rapid decarbonization. Tri-State has lately begun taking steps to accommodate those requests.
  • Tri-State rebuffs offer from Guzman Energy to buy and close 3 coal plants, Utility Dive
    According to Guzman, Tri-State officials indicated they are not currently interested in the proposal, but could revisit the idea after a legislative rulemaking process in Colorado has been finalized. Lawmakers in that state recently passed legislation subjecting Tri-State to oversight by the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.
  • Glenwood to go 100 percent renewable June 1; power contract signing Wednesday at Glenwood Caverns, Post Independent. The vast majority of Glenwood’s renewable energy will come from wind power supplied by the [Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska] at generating stations on the eastern plains. However, the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) will supply 6.8 percent from hydroelectric renewable power, too.

Doane university divests from fossil fuels

KLKN TV News

Doane University students and staff are working together to get the university to divest from the fossil fuel industry by 2030.  They will be switching to sustainable technologies through investing in renewable resources as the source of their power. Doane currently has two investments in the oil and gas industries that are set to expire in the next 10 years. Through the influence of the student movement, the university has agreed to no longer renew these partnerships. Doane University’s agreement is the first in Nebraska. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Doane Commits Divestment of Fossil Fuels, Doane Line
Doane University has committed to no longer investing in fossil fuels, according to a press release on Monday May 21st. “On May 3, 2019, Doane University’s Board of Trustees passed a resolution to stop and end all future investments in fossil fuel companies,” the press release stated.

Powering the Future: where the wind energy industry has been and what lies ahead

By Al Joens, KTIV, Siouxland’s News Channel

Siouxland is naturally-suited for wind farms, and Iowa is one of the biggest players in the industry. 42-hundred-plus turbines; 3rd in the nation in wind power capacity installed, number 1 in percentage of electricity generated by wind. Almost 40 percent of Iowa’s electricity comes from wind turbines.

Nebraska’s numbers are about one-fourth those of Iowa, but the Husker State is on track to double its installed wind capacity. In 2018, no other state added new wind capacity at a faster rate than Nebraska. That’s due in large part to the Rattlesnake Creek Wind Project in Dixon County. Read more here.

Enel Green Power North America’s Photo of the 320-MW Rattlesnake Creek wind farm located in Dixon County, Nebraska.

Also in the News

OPPD launches low-income efficiency pilot program

By Ethan Howland, American Public Power Association

The Omaha Public Power District is launching a pilot program aimed at expanding the public power utility’s energy efficiency program among its low-income customers. “We want to make our customers aware of energy efficiency to reduce their energy burden and cut their costs,” said Britton Gabel, OPPD product specialist. The pilot project is a redesign of OPPD’s Smart Steps low-income energy efficiency program, according to Gabel. Through a revamped program, OPPD hopes to reach segments of the low-income population the utility hasn’t reached before. Continue reading here.

OPPD’s Income-Qualified Energy Efficiency Pilot begins in June.

Previously Posted
OPPD Customers Embracing Programs, Pilots To Help Manage Their Energy Usage, OPPD News Release

Links to additional OPPD programs included in the news release: 

New OPPD Resource: Energy Conservation Video
4 little-known summer energy tips, The Wire