Category Archives: NewsBlog

Colorado Academy Helps Spur Sweeping State Clean Energy Bills

By Bobby Magill, Bloomberg Environment

The academy is part of Colorado State University’s Center for the New Energy Economy, led by former Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter (D), who founded the center after he left office in 2011. The academy has played a key role in “activating this clean energy movement across state legislatures,” and helping state lawmakers share ideas and experience with each other, said Tim Profeta, director of the Nicholas Institute for Environmental Policy Solutions at Duke University. Since opening in 2017, the academy has been attended by 40 Democratic and 16 Republican lawmakers from 28 states, plus a nonpartisan senator from Nebraska’s unicameral Legislature and 37 legislative staff, according to the listed attendees on the academy’s website. Read more here.

Earth911 Conscious-Shopping Guide: Best Solar Panels

By Sarah Lozanova

Technological advances have transformed the solar energy industry in recent years. Solar panels are significantly more efficient, producing more power in the same amount of space. Meanwhile, prices continue to fall, reducing the cost of solar electricity.

But with the introduction of new technologies comes uncertainty. Which solar panels are the most reliable and durable? What technology creates the least amount of pollution in the manufacturing process? Let’s explore some of these critical issues in the pursuit of the best solar panels on the market. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted: PV Recycling Initiatives – Click here and scroll down.

Could Beer Brewed With Wind Power Help Save the Planet?

By Stanley Reed, New York Times

These corporate arrangements now account for 22 percent of the large renewable deals signed last year in the United States, according to Wood Mackenzie, a market research firm. Economics is spurring the growth, said Colin Smith, a senior company analyst. Wind and solar are able to compete with fossil fuels, and it is easier to build modular renewable plants tailored to a company’s needs . . . Technology companies are still among the largest and most sophisticated corporate energy players. According to Wood Mackenzie data, Facebook, Google and Amazon are the top three in the United States in cumulative corporate power purchase agreements.
Read more here.

Coal’s slide to continue in U.S. as renewables fill the gap

By the Associated Press, Omaha World-Herald

U.S. demand for coal to generate electricity will continue its slide in coming months despite efforts by the Trump administration to prop up the struggling industry, federal officials said Thursday. Renewable energy sources are expected to fill much of the gap left by coal’s decline, according to the Energy Information Administration. Continue reading here.

Wikimedia Commons Photo: Gerald Gentleman Station. The Gerald Gentleman Station is Nebraska’s largest electricity generating plant, located just south of Sutherland. The plant, owned and operated by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) consists of two coal-fired generating units (launched into service in 1979 and 1982), which together have the capability to generate 1,365 megawatts of power. Source: Wikipedia

Previously Posted
On-and-Off Wind and Solar Power Pushing Coal Plants to the Brink, Bloomberg
The Gentleman coal plant was once the linchpin of Nebraska’s electricity grid, its twin smokestacks visible for miles across the prairie. Now, the state’s biggest power source is routinely pushed aside to make room for more wind and solar energy.

United States Surpasses 2 Million Solar Installations

SEIA News Release

The U.S. is now home to more than 2 million solar PV installations, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) announced today. The mark comes just three years after the industry completed its 1 millionth installation, a feat that took 40 years to accomplish.

“The rapid growth in the solar industry has completely reshaped the energy conversation in this country,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA president and CEO. “This $17 billion industry is on track to double again in five years, and we believe that the 2020s will be the decade that solar becomes the dominant new form of energy generation.” Read the entire news release here.

National trend toward 100% renewable energy accelerates

Environment America News Release

In January, Environment America revealed its “100% Renewable” campaign, which aspires to get nine new states to set ambitious renewable energy targets within five years. At the time, only Hawaii and California had met that goal. But with Washington enacting a bill today and New Mexico doing the same in March, the total number has doubled. In addition, a bipartisan group of 88 state legislators in Pennsylvania also announced that they are re-introducing a bill to require that commonwealth to get 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050. Read more here.

MORE 100% CLEAN ENERGY NEWS

Additional Recommended Reading
Corporate Renewable Energy Commitments Catalyzing Change, Triple Pundit

Green New Deal for farming: Address climate crisis and revitalize food system

By Rudy Arredondo and Lisa Archer, Opinion Contributors, The Hill

Recent catastrophic flooding across Nebraska and Iowa is just the latest reminder that farmers, farmworkers and rural communities are on the frontlines of the deepening climate crisis. Worsening storms, floods and droughts threaten farmer livelihoods and our nation’s food security — and compound the existing economic crisis faced by our family farmers and rural communities.

The New Deal helped farmers survive the Great Depression and feed our nation while restoring farmlands and soil. The Green New Deal can do even better: restoring our climate and food system resiliency by regenerating soil and biodiversity while ensuring fair prices, economic viability and family-sustaining livable wages for the people who bring food to our tables. Continue reading here.

Rudy Arredondo is the executive director, of the National Latino Farmers & Ranchers Trade Association.

Lisa Archer is the director of the Food and Agriculture Program at Friends of the Earth.

Friends of the Earth, National Latino Farmers and Ranchers Association and a coalition of more than 300 organizations sent a letter to Congress in April advocating for a Green New Deal that reflects the central role of food and agriculture in our climate crisis.

Colorado to go carbon-free

By Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine

The great state of Colorado is joining in on the renewable energy party, or at least will be soon, when Governor Jared Polis (D) signs into law SB19-236, The Colorado Public Utilities Commission sunset bill. SB19-236, which has successfully passed in the Senate as its accompanying bill did in the House, directs all utilities in the state to a goal of 80% carbon reduction by 2030, followed by 100% carbon-free electricity generation by 2050 . . . SB19-236 includes provisions allowing electric utilities to use low-cost bonds to help refinance retiring fossil fuel generating facilities, a call for distribution system planning and plans to create new workforce and community transition opportunities. Read more here.

Photo: Colorado Energy Office – Matt McClain: United Power’s Brighton Solar Farm in Colorado

Related
Climate bills make it across finish line as Colorado’s legislative session ends, Vail Daily
Senate Bill 236 directs the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, which oversees investor-owned utilities such as Xcel Energy, to consider the cost of carbon pollution when considering future power projects. It also requires the PUC to start evaluating and approving the energy plans of Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which supplies most of the state’s rural electric co-ops (although not Holy Cross Energy, which mostly gets its power from Xcel). That utility is on track to deliver 100-percent carbon-free power by 2050.

HAPPENING IN OTHER STATES 

Additional Resource
SEIA Guide to Land Leases for Solar
Guide for Local Landowners
Solar Land Lease: Considerations in Nebraska
Authors:
David Aiken – Extension Water and Agricultural Law Specialist
John Hay – Extension Educator for Bioenergy
Randy Pryor – Extension Educator
YouTube Video
Solar Farm Leases – John Hay

Previously Posted
NextEra looking into potential solar farm in northeast Nebraska, Lincoln Journal Star
NextEra, Nebraska farmers aim to build largest solar farm in the Midwest, Energy News Network

What happens when schools go solar?

Stanford Earth Matters Magazine, Stanford University

Sunshine splashing onto school rooftops and campuses across the country is an under-tapped resource that could help shrink electricity bills, new research suggests. The study, published in the April issue of the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Research Letters, shows taking advantage of all viable space for solar panels could allow schools to meet up to 75 percent of their electricity needs and reduce the education sector’s carbon footprint by as much as 28 percent. According to the study, it’s not economically viable for educational institutions to purchase rooftop solar systems outright in any state. Rather, the projects can make financial sense for schools if they contract a company to install, own and operate the system and sell electricity to the school at a set rate. Read more here.

Photo: Colorado Chatfield High School teacher Joel Bertelsen explains the fundamentals of a photovoltaic array to his Intro to Engineering Students. Credit: Dennis Schroeder / NREL

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Solar Energy Industries Association Fact Sheet: What is a solar power purchase agreement?

A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost.

The developer sells the power generated to the host customer at a fixed rate that is typically lower than the local utility’s retail rate. This lower electricity price serves to offset the customer’s purchase of electricity from the grid while the developer receives the income from these sales of electricity as well as any tax credits and other incentives generated from the system.

PPAs typically range from 10 to 25 years and the developer remains responsible for the operation and maintenance of the system for the duration of the agreement. At the end of the PPA contract term, a customer may be able to extend the PPA, have the developer remove the system or choose to buy the solar energy system from the developer.

National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Resource
Solar Schools Assessment and Implementation Project: Financing Options for Solar Installations on K–12 Schools

America’s Top Colleges for Renewable Energy

A report by Environment America Research & Policy Center
Environment America News Release

America’s colleges and universities are leading the transition to a 100 percent renewable energy system. Small liberal arts colleges, large public universities and community colleges  alike, from every corner of the U.S., are taking the lead in reducing energy consumption,  deploying renewable energy technologies, and switching to electric vehicles.

The nation’s leading campuses for clean energy — from the University of Minnesota, Morris to  Southwestern University in Texas — are setting a strong example for other colleges and the  nation as a whole to follow. More than 40 colleges and universities now obtain 100 percent or more of their electricity from renewable energy sources.  And, of the 180 schools that  have reported their renewable energy data to The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Rating System (STARS), 91 percent are using some amount of renewable energy.

Campuses are also leading in cleaning up our transportation system. Each of the top 10 schools for electric vehicles (EVs) in this ranking have switched over 60 percent of their campus-owned vehicles to EVs. Of the 261 campuses reporting their campus fleet details to STARS, 88 percent have at least one EV. Continue reading here.

Download the full report.
Learn about Environment America’s 100% Renewable campaign.