Video: How you can earn money with OPPD’s Cool Smart program

By Laura King-Homan, The Wire, OPPD Blog


Cool Smart
, an OPPD Power Forward program, is a demand-side management program that helps OPPD work toward its goal of shedding 300 megawatts (MW) of peak demand by 2023. To date, approximately 43,000 customers are enrolled in the program, and they’re getting paid to do so – $50 during the first year. Their participation is reducing OPPD’s peak energy usage by 62 MW. Learn more here.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Is Your Company Ready for a Zero-Carbon Future?

By Nigel Topping, Contributor, Harvard Business Review

More than 900 global companies representing over $17.6 trillion in market cap are already ensuring that their business strategies are built for growth and emissions reductions through the We Mean Business Take Action campaign. (We Mean Business is a nonprofit coalition of which I am CEO.) This includes over 560 companies that have committed to set ambitious science-based emission reduction targets, and over 175 that have committed to switching to 100% renewable electricity. Beyond that, companies are beginning to use their influence to speed an economy-wide transition by supporting climate policies targeting net-zero emissions by 2050. Others are demanding climate action throughout their supply chains. Read more about the We Mean Business campaign and other initiatives here.

Nigel Topping serves as CEO of We Mean Business coalition, which harnesses business leadership to drive the innovations and policies that accelerate action on climate change. Previously, Nigel was executive director of CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) and he has 18 years of experience in the manufacturing sector.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

FEATURED RESOURCES

GLOBAL NEWS

Resource for Farmland Owners: Understanding Important Solar Lease Terms

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program, Ohio Country Journal

We wanted to highlight some of the important provisions of a solar lease that you as a farmland owner should look for in your solar lease, and understand what they mean. A good solar lease will be very thorough, and include a lot of legalese. It would be a wise decision to consult with an attorney to ensure that your understanding of your solar lease reflects what the documents say. For now, here are a few provisions to be on the lookout for in your solar lease. Read more here.

 Photo Credit: American Public Power Association

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Solar Energy: National Agricultural Library, USDA
Wind Energy: National Agricultural Library, USDA

IN NEBRASKA

NextEra looking into potential solar farm in northeast Nebraska, Lincoln Journal Star
NextEra has signed a lease for 2,500 acres in Pierce County with brothers Ryan and Aaron Zimmerman, who have a 345-kilovolt Nebraska Public Power District power line running through their land. The brothers told the Energy News Network website that they previously had an agreement with a smaller solar company a couple of years ago.

LEARN HOW TO INSTALL YOUR OWN SOLAR SYSTEM & SAVE MONEY 

Solar Design and Installation Hands-On Workshop: Nebraska Extension & Dixon Power Systems
July 17th – 19th

Registration due by July 8th.
Cost: $300

Report: Kansas Utilities Run Coal Plants Year-Round Even Though It Costs Ratepayers Millions

By Brian Grimmett, KMUW, Wichita’s NPR Station

The way Westar Energy runs its coal plants in Kansas unnecessarily costs consumers millions of dollars a year through an obscure, if common, practice known as self-committing generation. The company essentially runs its coal plants year-round, even during the winter months when it’s not cost-effective. An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which advocates for reduced reliance on coal, says that’s been costing Westar customers $20 million a year in added fuel costs.

But market operators including the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) — Westar buys and sells wholesale electricity through the organization — worry that the practice hurts the market. Regulators in Missouri, where Westar’s parent company Evergy is headquartered, have opened up an investigation to see if it’s unfairly costing consumers. Continue reading here.

Photo: Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who has been studying self-committing or self-scheduling generation in power markets for years. Daniel recently completed an analysis screening of every coal-fired power plant that operates in the Southwest Power Pool (Nebraska’s Regional Transmission Organization) and other RTOs. He describes the analysis in an interview included in the following article on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ blog:

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets
Markets are supposed to ensure that all power plants are operated from lowest cost to most expensive. Self-committing allows expensive coal plants to cut in line, pushing out less expensive power generators such as wind, depriving those units from operating and generating revenue.
– Joseph Daniel

Additional Recommended Reading

R-Project News & Website Link

US Green Bank Act of 2019 Introduced in House; Companion to Recent Senate Bill

Coalition for Green Capital News Release


US Representatives Jim Himes (D-CT) and 13 colleagues have introduced the US Green Bank Act of 2019, companion to a recent Senate bill of the same name introduced in May. The introduction builds momentum for the Green Bank proposal and demonstrates a broad base of support. Like the Senate bill, the new bill establishes a US Green Bank. Green Banks are institutions that seek to achieve the greatest possible greenhouse gas reduction impact while reducing consumer energy costs. They achieve this by investing public dollars in ways that mobilize additional private capital. Continue reading here. 

For more information on the US Green Bank Act of 2019, see Representative Himes’ StatementSenator Murphy’s Statement on the Senate bill, and CGC’s Bill Summary. For more information on existing US Green Banks, see the American Green Bank Consortium’s Annual Industry Report.

About  CGC
The Coalition for Green Capital (CGC) is a non-profit organization focused on accelerating the growth of clean energy through the creation of Green Banks. CGC offers a unique and proven capacity as the leading creator, advocate, and expert on Green Banks since 2009 and works directly to support the formation of Green Banks with governmental and civil society partners. CGC also provides on-going consulting and guidance to operating Green Banks.

Statement: Renewables Leader Says EPA Reprieve on Coal Does Not Stop the Rapid Growth of Clean Energy

Tri Global Energy News Release, PRNewswire

DALLAS, June 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — In a just-released announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air-quality restrictions were lessened on coal-fired power plants in an attempt to boost the coal industry’s decline in growth. “No amount of policy is going to reverse what is happening to coal now,” says John B. Billingsley, Chairman and CEO of Tri Global Energy (TGE), one of the nation’s top five wind developers, and Sunfinity, a residential and commercial solar provider and installer. “But what needs to be clear is that coal and renewable energy are not competing,” Billingsley said. “Turning to renewables for power generation is not only environmentally smart for our planet, it is economically smart as never before.” Continue reading here.

IN NEBRASKA

Tri Global Energy is planning to develop a 100–megawatt wind farm, which will be named the Sugar Loaf wind farm in Garden County. Source: Wind Energy Generation in Nebraska,
Nebraska Energy Office

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • Trump to toss lifeline to coal plants. Will it work?, E&E News
    Just 99 of the American Public Power Association’s roughly 2,000 member utilities have an ownership stake in a coal plant.
  • Misguided EPA Affordable Clean Energy rule is on the wrong side of history, opinion contributed by Howard Learner, The Hill. The Midwest is making great strides in shifting to renewable energy generation from solar energy and energy storage, along with wind power. The renewable energy supply chain businesses are rapidly growing. America’s Heartland is well positioned to lead us forward in delivering climate change solutions powered by renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. This energy sector transition is good for Midwest jobs, good for clean air and water, and good for economic growth. The new ACE Rule is misguided policy, moves our nation backward in solving climate change problems, and misses opportunities for economic growth and innovation in the global shift to renewable energy.

Howard Learner is the executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center of the Midwest. ELPC is the leading Midwest public interest environmental legal advocacy organization, and among the nation’s leaders, working to improve environmental quality, protect public health, and protect natural resources in ways that grow the regional economy. 

Commentary: Rural Power Co-Ops ‘Stranded In Coal’

By Erik Hatlestad and Liz Veazey, Daily Yonder

Rural electric cooperatives’ loyalty to coal is holding rural America back. That’s according to a new report authored by CURE (Clean Up the River Environment), We Own It, and the Center for Rural Affairs.

During the 1970s, most rural electric cooperatives made significant investments to build coal-burning power plants. At the time, the coal investment strategy made in the interest of providing low-cost electricity to their member-owners. Co-ops took on massive amounts of debt, mostly from the federal government. One year a loan to Basin Electric (a consortium of cooperatives that serves much of the Northern Great Plains) for a coal plant took up almost the entire annual budget for loans from the USDA’s Rural Utility Service. Continue reading here.

Report’s Authors
Erik Hatlestad is director of the Energy Democracy Program at CURE (Clean Up the River Environment), Liz Veazey is network director of We Own It, and Katie Rock is a policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs.

Upcoming Webinar
Erik Hatlestad and Liz Veazey will host a webinar about their report on Monday, June 24, at noon Central. Register here.

Additional Recommended Reading

  • NM co-op started something big in electricity markets, Albuquerque Journal, guest column by Greg Brophy, Colorado Director, The Western Way
    According to Standard & Poor’s, Tri-State’s debt load has risen sharply over the past decade from $1.7 billion to more than $3 billion. SEC filings show the largest of those loans is a $2.8 billion “master indenture,” which imposes conditions on how much Tri-State charges for wholesale electricity. In short, Tri-State must keep rates high enough to cover payments on billions of dollars of debt. This is critically important. Tri-State was created in the 1950s by rural cooperatives to provide cheaper sources of wholesale electricity, not more expensive sources. But even Tri-State concedes that “cheaper prices are now available elsewhere.”
  • Co-op elections show strengthening interest in electrical transition, by Allen Best, Mountain Town News
  • Previously Posted: ‘Stranded costs’ mount as coal vanishes from the grid

SUNDA RESOURCES FOR RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s innovative SUNDA Project helps rural electric cooperatives nationwide to accelerate utility solar. SUNDA stands for “Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration.”

OPPD Laying The Groundwork For A Bright Energy Future

OPPD News Release

As the utility industry evolves, Omaha Public Power District continues to lead the way the future is powered. At their monthly board meeting today, the OPPD Board of Directors received a strategic planning update from President & CEO Timothy J. Burke. Burke outlined five new strategic initiatives that are the building blocks for the district’s 10-year strategic plan based on OPPD’s guiding principles. Initiatives will include a long-term study to address the long-term balance of load generation, along with decarbonization options for the district’s generation mix. Vice President Mary Fisher spoke to the topic, noting that the energy generation landscape is changing rapidly. Fisher said the drivers are primarily improving renewable technology, and environmental considerations around carbon emissions and climate change, “something our customers clearly care about.” Read the entire news release here.

Previously Posted – Neighboring States’ Decarbonization Models
A Vision for Midwest Zero-Carbon Power Starts to Take Shape, Natural Resources Defense Council
Renewable energy, especially in the wind-rich Midwest, is now the cheapest form of new power, coupled with the fact that natural gas prices remain at record lows. With these favorable market dynamics, Iowa has realized the greatest growth in the Midwest’s renewable energy portfolio in 2018 by generating 5x the amount of wind and solar the state produced ten years ago. However, as observed in NRDC’s previous analysis, to achieve our climate goals and deliver the full suite of clean energy benefits (while avoiding a rush to natural gas-fired power), market forces will not be enough.  Keeping up the current momentum will require strong state, utility, and local commitment to the clean energy transition. And the good news is that Midwest states and utilities are increasingly showing remarkable leadership on that front.

New Survey Reveals 70% of Americans Support Nationwide Solar Panel Mandate on New Homes

Vivint Solar News Release, PRNewswire

LEHI, Utah, PRNewswire — As we approach the longest day of the year, a new survey reveals American adults are eager to harness the sun’s energy, with 70 percent saying they would support a nationwide mandate requiring solar panels to be installed on all newly built homes. The survey, conducted by CITE Research on behalf of Vivint Solar, a leading full-service residential solar provider, also revealed significant others and environmental experts are the most influential when deciding to install residential solar for the good of the environment, while politicians are the least influential by far. Read the entire news release and watch a brief video here.

Additional Resource

Solar Homes: The Next Step for Clean Energy, Environment America and Frontier Group Report 

America has a bold opportunity to speed the transition to a clean energy future by requiring solar power on new homes. Rooftop solar panels save homeowners money – even more so when they are installed during construction. Including this common-sense technology on all new homes would help the nation to build an electric grid that’s cleaner, more beneficial for consumers, and more resilient.

Pollinator-friendly solar energy becomes the norm in Minnesota

By Elizabeth Dunbar, MPR News

The environmental benefits of Connexus Energy’s solar-plus-storage project are obvious enough, but this time of year, you’ll notice something more: prairie grasses and flowers planted under and around the sea of solar panels. Pollinator-friendly plantings at large solar energy sites have become common in Minnesota in recent years. Not only do they provide habitat for the bee and butterfly populations people have been concerned about, but they also promote soil health and probably even boost the solar panels’ electricity output on warm days. The National Renewable Energy Lab is using the Ramsey Renewable Station and a couple dozen other sites around the country to test that. Continue reading here.

 

Rob Davis, Director, Center for Pollinators in Energy
Posts by Rob Davis

 


Previously Posted

Kearney’s Solar Farm is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. 

 

Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program

This program is open to Nebraska homeowners, schools, businesses, parks, homeowner associations, farmers, acreage owners and community gardens.

The Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification application form with complete requirements and lists of pollinator-friendly plants is available here.