Category Archives: NewsBlog

This is exactly the time to be talking about climate change

Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

This is exactly the right time to be talking about climate change. In fact, we need to be talking unapologetically about climate, the clean economy, renewable energy, resilient food systems, sustainable mobility, the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals with more vigor than ever. We’ll spend the next several years rebooting and rebuilding our economic wherewithal. So, isn’t this the time to talk about how that will unfold, about how to create a robust, resilient and regenerative economy for the next generation or two? And shouldn’t we be aligning our investments — and our tax dollars — in those directions? Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Corporate America, it’s your time to shine, contributed by Suzanne Shelton, President & CEO Shelton Group, GreenBiz. We have the opportunity right now — flush with evidence about the cracks in our social system and the very real ways in which we’re affecting our environment — to reimagine the Way We Do Things. The business leaders and companies who use this moment to be creative (as opposed to simply trying to get back to “business as usual”) are the ones who will not only weather this storm; they’ll also be the preferred brands of the future. Here are five things company leaders can do right now to create a sustainable future:

EPA 

  • EPA gives power plants, regulated entities pollution compliance flexibility, citing COVID-19 concerns, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive. Environmentalists worry the relaxed enforcement could allow facilities to be less diligent about compliance with air and water pollution standards. “This is an open license to pollute. Plain and simple,” Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “We can all appreciate the need for additional caution and flexibility in a time of crisis, but this brazen directive is an abdication of the EPA’s responsibility to protect our health.”
  • Suspending EPA enforcement during COVID-19 outbreak adds to pollution-related health risks, Environment America News Release. “As our nation struggles to contain the coronavirus, health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, and the public cares even more deeply about the air we breathe and the water we drink. If EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will not rescind this policy immediately, we urge Congress to exercise its oversight authority to ensure the safety of our air and water.” – John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America

RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS

ENERGY STORAGE

NEW JERSEY’S CARBON-FREE LEADERSHIP

New Jersey looks to exit PJM, worried the MOPR will impede its 100% carbon-free goals, by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) wants to consider alternatives to participation in PJM Interconnection’s capacity market, and on March 27 launched an investigation into how the state can achieve its clean energy objectives that include reaching 100% carbon-free energy by 2050. The investigation is a response to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) December 2019 decision to expand the Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) in the regional capacity market, effectively raising the floor prices for state-subsidized resources. Clean energy advocates believe the rule could prevent new renewable resources from competing in the wholesale market.

GREEN HYDROGEN

Policy, policy, policy: BloombergNEF’s path to hydrogen uptake, PV Magazine
A hot energy topic with little coordinated analysis, green hydrogen has finally attracted the number crunchers of BloombergNEF.

NEW GTM BLOG

GTM’s Live Coronavirus Blog: The Impact on Clean Energy
A somber tone takes hold across the American solar industry, and New York’s grid operator sequesters workers at control centers. Follow the latest developments here.

INDUSTRY RESOURCES

  • The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has a Coronavirus Information & Resources page that provides updates on its impact on the American solar workforce and its effects to the global supply chain.
  •  The American Wind Energy Association has a COVID-19 advocacy and related resources page.
  • The Energy Storage Association (ESA) has created a Resource Center with updates on the organization’s actions to continue fulfilling  its mission to accelerate the widespread use of competitive and reliable energy storage systems in North America.

Arizona commission signals support for 100% clean energy by 2050

By William Driscoll, PV Magazine

Arizona could join 16 other states and territories that have targets of 100% clean or renewable electricity by 2050 or sooner. Thirty-two groups in Arizona have called for 50% renewables by 2030Read more here.

GRID INFRASTRUCTURE NEWS

Smooth sailing so far for planned Iowa-Illinois underground power line, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

A high-voltage underground transmission line proposed to cross Iowa and Illinois is moving ahead without the landowner opposition that has dogged overhead transmission lines in the region. The SOO Green HVDC Link, which would span 349 miles from Mason City, Iowa, to a connection with the PJM grid at Yorkville, Illinois, has encountered no major objections at the four public meetings that have been held in Iowa and Illinois, according to project spokeswoman Sarah Lukan.

TRI-STATE 

Colorado expedites Tri-State member exit charge case, as power supplier gets ‘split decision’ on FERC jurisdiction, Utility Dive

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 20 accepted tariffs filed by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, meaning the agency will now have authority over wholesale rates for the cooperative’s member distribution utilities in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. In a separate order, FERC determined it does not have exclusive jurisdiction over member exit charges, allowing complaints by La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) and United Power pending before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (COPUC) to move forward. 

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PURCHASING

Corporate renewable energy in the age of COVID-19, by Sarah Golden, Senior Energy Analyst & VERGE Energy Chair, GreenBiz Group 

“Large energy buyers signed onto 9.33 gigawatts of renewable energy deals in 2019 and they want those projects to come to fruition,” REBA’s CEO, Miranda Ballentine, wrote in an email. “We do expect for company interests and commitments to clean energy to remain strong given they are tied to broader corporate energy goals and emissions reductions targets.”

NET METERING

Which states offer net metering?, by Kelly Pickerel, Editor In Chief, Solar Power World

Congratulations. If you live/work in one of these 34 states, D.C., or four territories, you are able to take advantage of net metering credits in some form. View the database on DSIRE for more details about your specific region.

Net Metering – Nebraska
System Capacity Limit: 25 kW

Net Metering – Iowa
System Capacity Limit: 1 MW

ADDITIONAL PV MAGAZINE POSTS

ZEV PROGRAM 

Statement: Victory! Washington adopts Zero Emission Vehicle program, Environment America
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee today signed the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program into law. The move takes aim at reducing ozone pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and makes Washington the 12th state to adopt the ZEV program. With this new law, Washington joins the entire West Coast as part of this critical program to get more electric cars on the road. Under ZEV, the Evergreen State will deploy hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles over the next decade. 

PROJECT DRAWDOWN UPDATE

Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion, Yale Climate Connections. A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs.

FEATURED WEBINAR LIBRARY

Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) on-demand webinars: Many of them are free.

FEATURED BOOK

Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal, Chelsea Green Publishing

Grassroots Rising offers a blueprint for building a grassroots Regeneration Movement based on consumer activism, farmer innovation, political change, and regenerative finance—embodied most recently by the proposed Green New Deal in the US.

Using regenerative agriculture practices that restore our agricultural and grazing lands, we can sequester massive amounts of carbon in the soil. Coupled with an aggressive transition toward renewables, Cummins argues that we have the power to not only mitigate and slow down climate change, but actually reverse global warming.

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.

Nearly $2T stimulus package omits direct renewable sector aid after Trump, McConnell opposition

Written by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Relief for the renewable energy sector was not included in the $2 trillion support package the Senate unanimously passed on Wednesday. But industry stakeholders say several of the broader economic provisions could provide employment and other relief to the sector, and there is still opportunity for inclusion in inevitable future federal legislation that will be needed to address the industry-wide impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As Congress continues to address the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, we appreciate that they are prioritizing relief for families and small businesses. There are several elements in this legislation that can help solar businesses and solar workers, including long-term unemployment insurance, business loans and provisions that support employee retention and other employee protections,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) said in a statement. Read more here.

Previously Posted

In a March 23rd article, Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor of the GreenBiz Group, spells out the massive benefits of America’s transition to a green economy, with clean and renewable energy, regenerative farming, climate action, carbon reduction and other opportunities at its core:  

After the age of contagion, what’s the ‘new normal’?
We at GreenBiz have reported on a spate of studies and plans that similarly align sustainability with large-scale economic development: the circular economy (a $2 trillion opportunity), carbon tech (a trillion-dollar opportunity), sustainable food and land systems ($4.5 trillion) low-carbon cities ($24 trillion), climate action ($26 trillion) and more. As I noted last fall, trillion is the new billion. And then there’s the Green New Deal, a concept that seems to have been rekindled in the age of contagion. 

NextEra’s secret recipe for energy storage: Planning

Sponsored Content by Siemens, Utility Dive

NextEra Energy, North America’s leading wind and solar generator, is adopting an aggressive approach on the falling cost of energy storage by evaluating the addition of batteries to its existing solar facilities. A small but growing number of utilities across the United States are taking a similar approach to NextEra and adding storage at existing solar plants. In doing so, they can claim the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), tap additional revenue streams, and maximize the existing grid infrastructure. Read more here.

Pixabay Photo

Upcoming webinar hosted by Utility Dive, NextEra Energy, and Siemens Digital Grid:
Energy Storage – Moving the Needle, April 9, 2020 at 12 pm.

WOOD MACKENZIE RESEARCH

Analyst expects recovery for PV and storage supply chains, PV Magazine
Business intelligence firm Wood Mackenzie says the COVID-19 outbreak will jeopardize solar project completion in the short term, affect supply chains to various degrees and potentially erode demand for PV. However, “Asian-dominant supply chains for solar and energy storage are in the process of rebounding after contractions in February,” the analyst stated, adding: “Near-term development activity and local logistics in leading European and North American markets are expected to outweigh lingering supply issues.”

NAVIGANT GLOBAL MARKET REPORT 

A Boom Is Coming for All-Electric Homes Despite Lagging Consumer Awareness, Greentech Media
“Electrification technologies are rapidly becoming more cost-effective and more reliable than fossil fuel systems in a variety of planning scenarios and climatic conditions,” Daniel Talero and Neil Strother, research analysts at Navigant Research, wrote in a new report on the global market for “fully electrified home” technologies.

NEW DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY ANNOUNCEMENT

New Solar Energy Innovation Network Teams Announced, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy News Release

[On March 23rd] the U.S. Department of Energy selected eight teams to participate in the second round of the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN), a program that supports multi-stakeholder teams pursuing new applications of solar energy and other distributed energy resources in unique locations and contexts. The solutions developed by the teams are demonstrated and validated in real-world contexts, making them ready for replication and scale. 

The second round of teams will research innovations to help increase solar energy adoption and resilience in rural communities and at the commercial scale. Their research projects will include resilience solutions that pair solar energy with energy storage, which allows the use of solar energy when the sun is not shining, and microgrids, which can function independently to deliver power in the event of a larger grid outage.

Previously Posted DOE News Release: Department of Energy Announces $125.5 Million in New Funding for Solar Technologies

EXAMPLES OF ON-THE-JOB SOLAR TRAINING

How to get a job building utility-scale solar, PV Magazine
As more utility-scale solar installations are announced in more states, solar contractors are hiring people who are new to the industry, and offering on-the-job training and long-term employment.

FLOATING WIND PROJECTS

Total Becomes Latest Oil Major to Enter Floating Wind Market, Greentech Media
Building on its solar momentum, Total this week invested in a U.K. floating wind project and acquired a French wind developer.

NYSERDA’S RECENT REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

New York allocates 1 GW of solar as renewables auction delivers $18.59/MWh average price, PV Magazine. The results of NYSERDA’s most recent renewable energy request for proposals are in. 21 large-scale renewable projects totaling 1,278 MW in new capacity have been awarded, with 17 of those projects and 1,090 MW being solar.

ENERGY CONSERVATION TIPS FROM OPPD

Staying home doesn’t have to mean higher bills, The Wire

After the age of contagion, what’s the ‘new normal’?

By Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

The pandemic, along with all of the bleak economic news, led me to revisit the 2016 book I co-authored with Mark Mykleby and Patrick Doherty: The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security and Sustainability in the 21st Century. It called for tapping into three massive pools of demand — for walkable communities, regenerative agriculture and resource productivity. Together, we said, they would create trillions of dollars of new economic activity while making our communities and our nation stronger and more resilient from any of a variety of shocks and disruptions.

Since then, we at GreenBiz have reported on a spate of studies and plans that similarly align sustainability with large-scale economic development: the circular economy (a $2 trillion opportunity), carbon tech (a trillion-dollar opportunity), sustainable food and land systems ($4.5 trillion), low-carbon cities ($24 trillion), climate action ($26 trillion) and more. As I noted last fall, trillion is the new billion. And then there’s the Green New Deal, a concept that seems to have been rekindled in the age of contagion. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SOLAR POWER WORLD PODCAST

Contractors Corner: Paradise Energy Solutions
Four brothers started Paradise Energy Solutions 10 years ago to help farmers reduce energy costs in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The company has since grown into six additional states and expanded into the residential and commercial markets. Paradise Energy views its mission as building trusting relationships within its communities. In this episode of the Contractors Corner podcast, Solar Power World editor-in-chief Kelly Pickerel talks with Dale Good, president and CEO of Paradise Energy Solutions, about the company’s beginnings in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and its transition into larger markets.

Lawmakers urged to increase LIHEAP funding in response to COVID-19

By Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association

As federal lawmakers craft legislation in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are being urged to allocate billions of dollars in additional funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), given that the pandemic is expected to result in widespread financial distress and a spike in unemployment.

“As you craft additional supplemental appropriations legislation, we urge you to consider $1.4 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP),” wrote members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation in a March 18 letter to several key members of the House and Senate. Read more here.

Nebraska LIHEAP Program

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

PV MAGAZINE ARTICLES

  • First order for 500 W solar modules announced
    Chinese manufacturer Risen Energy will supply Malaysia’s Tokai Engineering with 20 MW of its new panels, unveiled in December. Risen claims its products can help reduce balance-of-system project costs by 9.6% and levelized cost of energy by 6%.
  • Capturing the full value of energy storage
    The International Renewable Energy Agency has devised a valuation framework to lay the foundations for successful storage deployment. As the technology matures and moves toward a projected fall in price, revenue stacking will be crucial to assess viability and properly value its benefits.
  • A second life for disused modules and EV batteries
    A study led by Bern University of Applied Sciences is moving into the demonstration phase, with projects in Germany, Switzerland, and Belgium. With partners from all over Europe, the Swiss researchers are developing models for how solar modules and batteries from electric cars can still be used in a sustainable way after their lifecycle has ended.
  • European agrivoltaics
    According to SolarPower Europe, local agriculture and solar energy could become the engines of a sustainable European economy. The trade body has created a task force, led by French independent power producer Amarenco, that aims to place agrivoltaics at the top of the European agricultural policy agenda, while also establishing global standards for the segment.
  • Forget toilet paper, Australians are panic-buying PV
    Byron Bay-based solar retailer Smart Energy says it is seeing an unprecedented surge in sales and enquiries for solar and home energy storage as consumers look to shore themselves up in uncertain times. 

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

Solar Energy International expanding online solar training during pandemic

Kelsey Misbrener, Solar Power World

Solar Energy International (SEI) is expanding its contribution to the global solar community through more online educational opportunities to meet the professional development needs of the industry and keep the community connected. As of today, SEI has over 75,000 people enrolled in the SEI Online Campus and is prepared to grow its global impact exponentially in the coming months. As part of the SEI Global Solar Connection Initiative and through its nonprofit efforts, SEI is offering multiple opportunities to get connected and keep your solar energy education going:

Read more here.

Learn more about SEI’s Global Solar Connection Initiative here.

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Protecting American jobs and clean energy investment during the COVID-19 pandemic

By Tom Kiernan, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association

The COVID-19 pandemic is causing unprecedented challenges to the U.S. healthcare system, disruptions to daily life across the country, and deep uncertainty across the economy. Global supply chain disturbances and massive public health interventions are extending these obstacles to the U.S. wind energy industry as well. We’re working hard to understand the many hurdles our members are facing and the impacts to their businesses this represents. Protecting American jobs and economic investment and ensuring the safety of the wind workforce remain our primary objectives.

To that end, we have co-written and signed a joint letter to Congress with the Solar Energy Industries Association outlining the complications the U.S. renewable energy market faces amidst the pandemic, and proposed actions Congress can take to keep U.S. workers busy building the clean energy grid of the future. Click on the image below to read the full letter.

Additional Recommended Reading

Top Photo Credit: AWEA Free Use Wind Energy Image Gallery