Category Archives: NewsBlog

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

Supply Chain Woes Call Attention to Solar Manufacturing Possibilities

SEIA Blog

Recently, Senator Jon Ossoff (D-GA) introduced the Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act alongside Senators Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). This commonsense legislation will provide tax credits for American manufacturers at every stage of the solar manufacturing supply chain, from polysilicon to solar cells to fully assembled solar modules.

In support of Senator Ossoff’s proposal and the effort to reach 100 GW of annual renewable energy manufacturing capacity, SEIA announced a new target of 50 GW of annual domestic production capacity by 2030, a ten-fold increase from where we are today.This ambitious goal aims to dramatically ramp up American solar manufacturing capacity which would cover all key elements of a solar energy system, including polysilicon, ingots and wafers, cells and modules, racking and trackers and inverters. Read more here.

Related Reading

ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE ACT

INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

Climate change is no longer other worldly, and inaction is no longer an option, USA Today Editorial Our View: Heat dome killed hundreds in the Pacific Northwest as global temperatures rise. Biden infrastructure bill is a good start to protect America.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

BACKLOGGED TRANSMISSION QUEUES 

Gridlock in transmission queues spotlights need for FERC action on planning, Utility Dive
Generation interconnects to transmission through queues managed by the seven regional transmission and independent system operators (RTO/ISOs) and utility transmission owners. And capacity in those queues “is growing year-over-year,” according to an analysis by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) of an estimated 85% of U.S. electricity load at the end of 2020.

Related Reading

Clean electricity standard lands spot in $3.5 trillion Democratic-backed infrastructure deal

By Scott Voorhis, Utility Dive

The Biden administration wants Congress to pass a clean electricity standard but is also prepared to pursue efforts to push utilities to ratchet down their emissions through the federal regulatory process should a national standard fail to make the final bill, according to Gina McCarthy, the White House’s national climate adviser. McCarthy said the administration believes a national clean energy standard would be more effective in prompting action on part of the utility industry to reduce emissions. Read more here.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

SOLAR TOOL FOR INSTALLERS & LOCAL GOVERNMENTS

U.S. Department of Energy Kicks Off ‘Summer of Solar 2021’ With Tool That Fast-Tracks Solar Power For Communities Nationwide, Department of Energy News Release

Washington, D.C.— The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today kicked off the ‘Summer of Solar 2021’ with the nationwide launch of the Solar Automated Permit Processing Plus (SolarAPP+) tool – a free web-based platform that gives local governments the ability to expedite their review and approval of residential solar installation permits. Developed by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), SolarAPP+ will drastically reduce barriers to solar deployment, spur community economic development, and advance the Biden-Harris Administration’s clean energy goals.  

Related Reading

FEATURED REPORTS

The Clean Economy Revolution Will Be Unionized, Center for American Progress
While no state or city government has taken every necessary step to achieve good jobs, climate action and environmental justice, many of them have made important progress—and from this progress, federal lawmakers and lawmakers in other states can derive policy lessons and political momentum. This report offers a recap of some informative state and local actions designed to support good jobs, ensure high-road labor standards, and confront the climate crisis.

Clean Energy Labor Supply Report, American Clean Power Association
Based on two scenarios of renewables deployment — 50% and 70% of electricity generated from renewables by 2030 — the study projects the number of workers that will be needed to meet these goals and highlights those occupations where high demand for workers could result in labor gaps.

Download the executive summary
Download the infographic

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 

IREC and The Solar Foundation Merge Operations

 Interstate Renewable Energy Council News Release
July 12, 2021

IREC has officially merged with The Solar Foundation, welcoming The Solar Foundation’s staff and programs into a single, expanded nonprofit dedicated to the rapid adoption of clean energy.

IREC and The Solar Foundation announced their intention to merge in November 2020, citing increased impact, longstanding mutual respect, and natural synergy between their programs. With the merger of the organizations’ staff completed, all of The Solar Foundation’s programs are now housed at IREC. The combined organization supports the accelerated growth of renewable energy and energy efficiency and a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. Further details can be found on the expanded IREC website.

Read the entire news release here.

Related Resources

The Solar Foundation News Release
November 12, 2020

Washington, D.C. and Albany, NY – The Solar Foundation and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) today announced they have signed an agreement to merge into a single, expanded nonprofit dedicated to the rapid adoption of clean energy.

The merger will combine the strengths of two renowned national clean energy organizations, effectively doubling the staff and quadrupling the impact. The Solar Foundation is the leading national nonprofit dedicated to accelerating adoption of solar energy and related technologies and, since its relaunch in 2010, has had a remarkable ten-year track record of leading cutting-edge research, education, and capacity building programs. IREC has been trusted for its independent clean energy expertise for nearly 40 years, playing a critical role in building the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy by tackling regulatory, workforce, and economic barriers. Read the full news release here.

The Solar Foundation’s Work

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s Work

Combined Resources – Scroll down for links to all IREC Programs, Training and Career Resources, and more.

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. 

FACT SHEET: Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework Creates Economic Opportunities for Rural America

The White House Briefing Room, July 8, 2021

Today, despite the fact that rural and Tribal communities across the country are asset-rich, they make up a disproportionate number of persistent poverty communities. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework invests in rural and Tribal communities, creating jobs in rural America and wealth that stays in rural America. The Framework delivers 100% broadband coverage, rebuilds crumbling infrastructure like roads and bridges, eliminates lead pipes and service lines, builds resilience to climate change and extreme weather events, and puts Americans to work cleaning up pollution that has impacted fossil fuel communities in rural America. 

In addition to being the largest-long term investment in our infrastructure in nearly a century – four times the infrastructure investment in the 2009 Recovery Act – the Bipartisan Infrastructure Framework is a generational investment in rural America. Read more here.

MORE ON INFRASTRUCTURE

  • Business and labor groups come together to back bipartisan infrastructure plan, NBC News

    The organizations, which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and AFL-CIO, said that investing in the nation’s roads, bridges, airports, transit, water, energy and broadband infrastructure “will create middle-class family sustaining jobs.” “Don’t let partisan differences get in the way of action — pass significant, meaningful infrastructure legislation now,” their statement said. 
    Other groups that signed the statement include the Business Roundtable, National Association of Manufacturers, National Retail Federation, American Association of Port Authorities, and American Public Transportation Association.

  • Accelerating The Way Forward And Creating Electric Vehicle Infrastructure, by Paul Vosper, Forbes Technology Council member and President and CEO of JuiceBar

    As the details of the American Jobs Plan are under discussion and negotiations, the auto industry is well underway producing and planning for a successful transition to electric and autonomous vehicles.  New estimates by the firm Wood Mackenzie suggest that the EV charging infrastructure market will grow from $11 billion in 2020 to $89 billion by 2030 — an almost nine-fold increase in 10 years.

In Midst of Record Heat Wave, Oregon Passes Clean Energy Bill with Microgrid Provisions

By Lisa Cohn, Microgrid Knowledge

In the midst of a record-breaking heat wave, wildfires and power outages, the Oregon Legislature Sunday passed a billHB 2021 C, that calls for 100% clean energy by 2040 as well as the inclusion of microgrids as part of community-based renewable energy projects. Oregon Governor Kate Brown is expected to sign the bill. Temperatures hit 108 degrees on Saturday, 112 degrees on Sunday and 116 degrees on Monday in Portland. In addition, on Wednesday Brown called for a state of emergency in response to the wildfire threats across the state. Continue reading here.

Also Published by Microgrid Knowledge 

As Extreme Heat Overwhelms the Northwest, Congressional Briefing Looks to Microgrids
Microgrids give communities and people independence and the ability to take control of their power reliability, according to [Representative Jimmy] Panetta, sponsor of a bill that would provide a 30% tax credit for microgrids.

Community Microgrids: A Guide For City Leaders Seeking Clean, Reliable and Locally Controlled Energy

Community microgrids are central pillars of today’s local energy revolution. Being developed in municipalities large and small, they are a key feature of the new clean and efficient electrical infrastructure that is beginning to transform America’s energy grid into a less centralized and more democratized entity.

Mayors and city leaders are especially tuned into this transformation because of the severe stress that extended power outages create in their communities . . . Click link to read more. 

Previously Posted: A Ready-Made Microgrid at Zero Cost? Yep. A Nebraska Utility Did It