FARMERS POWERING COMMUNITIES: American Farmland Trust, Edelen Renewables and Arcadia Announce Partnership to Combat Climate Change by Advancing Smart Solar

American Farmland Trust News Release

WASHINGTON – SEPT 27, 2022 –  American Farmland TrustEdelen Renewables and Arcadia today announced a partnership, Farmers Powering Communities, to combat climate change through solar energy development while protecting America’s farmland and ranchland for growing food, fuel and fiber. The partnership provides more farmers with the opportunity for a new revenue stream and brings renewable energy to communities where it has not yet been available.   

Farmers Powering Communities will advance community solar projects of 25 to 50 acres to provide green energy to those who do not have access to rooftop solar – connecting them with local solar farms and bringing resiliency to more Americans. Increasing numbers of U.S. residents have installed rooftop solar on their property, but two-thirds of Americans cannot do so, either because they live in multi-family dwellings or because they rent their homes or because they cannot afford it. Community solar projects bridge the gap, connecting people to shared solar facilities. The partnership will identify the best land for new solar farms, establish installations and link them to local energy providers who will provide the power to residents at costs lower than the market average. Together, the partners will work to create 500 megawatts of community solar capacity in five years.  

AFT’s Smart SolarSM principles will guide the location of development to ensure that it prioritizes solar siting within the built environment (rooftops, carports, irrigation ditches), on disturbed and contaminated lands (brownfields, landfills, reclaimed mining lands), and lastly, on marginal agricultural land instead of prime farmland. Where solar development occurs on good farmland, the installation should be agrivoltaic—or dual-use — allowing farming or ranching to continue in concert with solar energy production. As we build new solar, it’s critical not to harm agricultural systems which themselves help combat climate change by sequestering carbon. 

“Farmers are on the frontlines of climate change, experiencing extreme weather events that impact their crops, livestock and livelihoods,” said John Piotti, AFT president and CEO. “We also know that farms can be part of the solution to the climate crisis. Farmland can draw carbon from the air to rebuild soil when farmed using climate-smart practices like cover crops and reduced tillage.  We need to dramatically ramp up solar energy production while retaining our farms and ranches. That’s what this partnership is all about. Doing solar the right way and putting it in the right place is what we call Smart Solar.”   

“For too long, agricultural land preservationists and green energy advocates have been at cross purposes,” said Adam Edelen, founder and CEO of Kentucky-based Edelen Renewables. “Bringing together those working to feed the planet with those working to power America offers an inspiring and workable path forward. This historic partnership will keep family farmers on their land, open a new front in battling climate change and benefit the checkbooks of lower-income ratepayers. This is a partnership in which everybody wins and is proof positive that Americans can bridge divides to make our communities, country and the world more sustainable, prosperous and resilient.” 

“Arcadia was founded on the simple idea that everyone deserves access to clean energy, and our technology platform already manages over one gigawatt of cheaper, cleaner community solar for communities across the U.S.,” said Kiran Bhatraju, founder and CEO of Arcadia. “The nation’s farmland communities have long been on the front lines of climate change, and this partnership will give them a powerful new weapon in that fight, all while providing steady new revenues.” 

“The partnership between Edelen Renewables, American Farmland Trust and Arcadia is representative of solar energy’s new frontier, said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO for the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Community solar projects are key to making clean and reliable solar power more accessible to families that have been left out of the renewable revolution. Together, these organizations will work to ensure that all parties involved, including landowners, rural communities, and developers, benefit from these sustainable energy developments.” 

Development will begin in 2023 across a number of states that have active community solar programs, including ME, MA, RI, NY, NJ, DE, MD, DC, VA, IL, MN, CO, NM, and OR. The partnership will also accelerate community solar access across the country through state and federal policy advocacy. 

American Farmland Trust Releases Smart Solar℠ Guiding Principles to Save the Land that Sustains Us

Historic Step: All Fifty States Plus D.C. and Puerto Rico Greenlit to Move EV Charging Networks Forward, Covering 75,000 Miles of Highway

 U.S. Department of Transportation News Release
September 27, 2022

WASHINGTON – The Biden-Harris Administration today announced it has approved Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Deployment Plans for all 50 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico ahead of schedule under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, established and funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With this approval, all states now have access to all FY22 and FY23 NEVI formula funding, totaling more than $1.5 billion to help build EV chargers covering approximately 75,000 miles of highway across the country. The NEVI formula funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which makes $5 billion available over five years, will help build a convenient, reliable, and affordable EV charging network across the country. President Biden’s commitment to making electric vehicles and EV charging accessible to all Americans is critical to fighting the climate crisis and is generating an electric vehicle manufacturing boom across the country. Read more here.

Find the latest news, events, and webinars from the Joint Office of Energy and Transportation at DriveElectric.gov.

Nebraska Department of Transportation Website Resources

Remarks by Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall at the First Meeting of the President’s National Infrastructure Advisory Council

The White House Briefing Room

In an effort to build in more resilience, we also need to consider ways to address the tension between “build back fast” and Build Back Better. For example, when we restore essential services to a community in the wake of a disaster, we want to actually leave that community stronger than it was before. We’re working on that in real time in Puerto Rico. Fundamentally, we need to build more resilient infrastructure to withstand future threats and simultaneously expand the economic opportunities that come with more modern infrastructure – like broadband. Read more here.

GLOBAL CLEAN ENERGY ACTION FORUM

Last week, U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm opened the three-day Global Clean Energy Action Forum (GCEAF) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by challenging the international energy community to redouble its support for the global clean energy transition. Representatives from 34 countries, anchored by the Ministers and Heads of Delegations from the Clean Energy Ministerial and Mission Innovation, along with participants from industry, civil society, the financial sector, organized labor, and academia, were among those gathered for the three-day conference’s first forum.

Over the course of the conference, DOE announced a series of exciting new initiatives and funding opportunities that will accelerate our progress towards the Biden Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Chair’s Summary: Global Clean Energy Action Forum 2022

DOE’s Energy Earthshot Initiatives

DOE Launches New Energy Earthshot To Cut Industrial Heating Emissions By 85 Percent

The latest DOE Energy Earthshots Initiative™ seeks to develop cost-competitive solutions for industrial heat with at least 85% lower greenhouse gas emissions by 2035.

There are five other Earthshots: 

The Hydrogen Shot is designed to accelerate innovations and spur demand of clean hydrogen by reducing the cost by 80%. This cost reduction could unlock new markets for hydrogen, including steel manufacturing, clean ammonia, energy storage, and heavy-duty trucks.

The Long Duration Storage Shot aims to achieve a low-cost storage method for electricity generated by clean power by reducing the cost of grid-scale energy storage by 90% for systems that deliver 10+ hours of duration.

The Carbon Negative Shot is a call for innovation in technologies and approaches that will remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it at massive scales for less than $100 per metric ton.

The Enhanced Geothermal Shot is a department-wide effort to dramatically reduce the cost of enhanced geothermal systems by 90%, to $45 per megawatt hour by 2035.

The goal of the Floating Offshore Wind Shot is to drive down costs to $45 per megawatt hour by 2035 to spur U.S. leadership in floating offshore wind technology, accelerate decarbonization, and deliver benefits for coastal communities.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED EPA REGION 7 RESOURCES 

Draft EPA Region 7 Climate Adaptation Implementation Plan For Fiscal Years 2022-2026

EPA Region 7 is made up of four states and nine tribal nations. Its states, Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, and Iowa, span three geographical regions defined by The Fourth National Climate Assessment.

The Climate Assessment’s Midwest region includes Missouri and Iowa, the Northern Great Plains region includes Nebraska, and the Southern Great Plains region includes Kansas. The Climate Assessment identifies water, agriculture, indigenous peoples, and human health as main areas impacted by climate change across the three regions.

EPA’s Climate Change Website 
EPA Research

Amid a massive American clean energy shift, grid operators play catch-up

Creative Commons article by Robert Zullo
Republished by The Nebraska Examiner

For the better part of the past century, the American electric power system evolved around large, mostly fossil fuel power plants delivering electricity to residences, businesses and industry through a network of transmission and distribution wires that collectively came to be called the electric grid.

But as the threat of climate change driven by carbon pollution becomes more dire and as technological advances make wind, solar and battery storage ever cheaper options for powering homes and business, states, corporations and voters are increasingly pushing to aggressively decarbonize the grid. Continue reading here.

Robert Zullo is a national energy reporter based in southern Illinois, focusing on renewable power and the electric grid. Robert joined States Newsroom in 2018 as the founding editor of the Virginia Mercury. Before that, he spent 13 years as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Virginia, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Louisiana. He has a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Va. He grew up in Miami, Fla., and central New Jersey.

Image: A map of grid operators’ territories. Source: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

ICYMI: Week of Climate Action from the Biden-⁠Harris Administration

The White House Briefing Room

President Biden’s economic plan is building a clean energy future in America that is creating good-paying jobs, lowering energy costs, and tackling the climate crisis. On Tuesday, President Biden welcomed thousands of guests to the White House to celebrate passage of the Inflation Reduction Act—the most aggressive action the United States has taken to combat climate change, while advancing environmental justice and saving families money. On Wednesday, he toured the Detroit Auto Show to celebrate the American electric vehicle manufacturing boom spurred by his economic plan. Throughout the week, the Biden-Harris Administration charged forward with major executive actions across sectors to tackle the climate crisis: Continue reading here to learn more about these initiatives and enjoy related news stories.

Referenced Resource: CleanEnergy.gov
Department of Energy Photo

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Approval of First 35 State Plans to Build Out EV Charging Infrastructure Across 53,000 Miles of Highways

WASHINGTON – The Biden-Harris Administration today announced more than two-thirds of Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Deployment Plans from States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been approved ahead of schedule under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, established and funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With this early approval, these states can now unlock more than $900 million in NEVI formula funding from FY22 and FY23 to help build EV chargers across approximately 53,000 miles of highway across the country. The NEVI formula funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which makes $5 billion available over five years, will help build a convenient, reliable, and affordable EV charging network across the country. Faster adoption of electric vehicles is a critical part of the nation’s climate goals as transportation currently accounts for more than a quarter of all emissions. Approved Plans are available on the FHWA web site and funding tables for the full five years of the NEVI Formula program can be viewed here.

“Today, with funding in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are taking an important step to build a nationwide electric vehicle charging network where finding a charge is as easy as locating a gas station,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With the first set of approvals we are announcing today, 35 states across the country – with Democratic and Republican governors – will be moving forward to use these funds to install EV chargers at regular, reliable intervals along their highways.” Read more here.

Additional Resource: Explore the approved state plans for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure deployment.

Additional Recommended Reading

‘We farm the sun’: For some Wisconsin dairy farmers, solar energy is a new source of income

By Jana Rose Schleis, Wisconsin Public Radio

Cows graze near a field of solar panels Thursday, Aug. 18, 2022, in Two Rivers, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

Farmers have what solar energy companies need: land. Across the state, partnerships between dairy farms and energy companies are increasing, changing the landscape and providing farmers extra revenue in a sometimes unpredictable market. That unpredictability can take the form of a years long dip in milk prices, or unfortunate weather. Wisconsin had record-setting rainfall in 2018 and 2019, increasing the challenges farmers faced. Read more here.

Nebraskans for Solar Note: In addition to earning extra income by leasing land for renewable energy development, farmers and ranchers in every state also can save significant amounts of money on their own energy bills by taking advantage of available incentives for solar, small wind, battery storage, energy efficiency upgrades and other clean energy projects.

These incentives include the following:

When it comes to the climate, if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem

By David E. Corbin, Ph.D., Midlands Voices, Omaha World-Herald

Well, it’s official: OPPD will be burning coal at the North Omaha plant for three years longer than they promised. They got themselves into a real fix. Those who live in North Omaha will bear the brunt of the polluted air for three more years.

Omaha is already ranked in the top 10 cities in the U.S. for asthma rates and North Omaha has the highest rates within Omaha. So, what should be done? The resolution that the OPPD Board passed in August acknowledged the need to not only engage the North Omaha community, but to also diminish the impact on North Omaha of burning coal for three more years. Continue reading here.

David Corbin is the energy committee chair of the Nebraska Sierra Club and an advisory board member of the American Public Health Association’s Center for Climate, Health & Equity. He also is a former Nebraskans for Solar board member who currently serves as volunteer editor/writer of our organization’s Facebook site.

Additional Recommended Reading: Recently David posted an excerpt on Nebraskans for Solar’s Facebook from an article published by The Reader announcing the good news that  “the Douglas County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to approve a joint grant application with Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) to install a solar power generation project at the closed State Street landfill.

Recommended resource for other Nebraska communities interested in a similar project:
Rocky Mountain Institute: The Future of Landfills is Bright: How State and Local Governments Can Leverage Landfill Solar to Bring Clean Energy and Jobs to Communities across America,

PUBLISHED BY OPPD THE WIRE

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST 

Links related to several of David Corbin’s references in his op-ed: 

Nebraskans for Solar Note
Nebraska has 166 publicly owned utilities governed by community-elected boards. These include public power districts, municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives. Visit the website of the Nebraska Power Association for a list of all of them.

STATES’ CLIMATE ADAPTATION PLANS

EPA Regional Climate Adaptation Contacts & State Websites

Great Plains
Nebraska and other Great Plains states: No State Level Climate Adaptation Website Currently Identified

Midwest

Illinois Illinois Climate Adaptation Toolkit
Indiana Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit
Iowa Climate Change
Michigan Michigan Department of Health & Human Services – Resilience Efforts at the National and Local Levels
Minnesota Adapting to a Changing Climate
Missouri No State Level Climate Adaptation Website Currently Identified
Ohio No State Level Climate Adaptation Website Currently Identified
Wisconsin What are Wisconsin’s possible Adaptation Strategies?

Vilsack: America’s voluntary approach to agriculture is better than Europe’s mandates

By Jared Strong, Iowa Capital Dispatch

BOONE, Iowa — The more than $1 billion the federal government is devoting to voluntary efforts to reduce agriculture’s adverse effects on the environment is a better long-term strategy than mandating new rules for farmers, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.

While state and federal officials in the United States have tended to avoid implementing rules that might force farmers to radically change their long-held practices, the European Union has specific requirements about crop rotations, permanent pastures and the use of buffer strips and other conservation practices that improve soil quality. Continue reading here.

Also written by Jared Strong: USDA plans ‘historic’ funding to help struggling farmers and develop new ag leaders, Iowa Capital Dispatch

FROM THE NEBRASKA EXAMINER 

MORE ON HIGH-SPEED-INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE 

Treasury Announces Five Additional Capital Projects Fund Awards to Increase Access to Affordable, High-Speed Internet

Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Arkansas are approved to receive approximately $408 million under the American Rescue Plan and will connect more than 90,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet

INFLATION REDUCTION ACT BENEFITS EVERYONE

Republicans voted ‘no’ on the climate bill. Their states will get billions of dollars from it anyway, by Ella Nilsen, CNN

More than $370 billion of the law will go to tax credits for
 clean electricity, vehicles and energy efficient appliances. And that money will trickle down to Democrat- and Republican-controlled states alike, said Bob Keefe, executive director of nonpartisan clean energy group E2. “It’s going to be harder for red states to say clean energy jobs are bogus and that it’s something for California when it’s something that’s happening in their backyards,” Keefe told CNN.

The law goes far beyond financing for solar and wind energy. There’s also money for hydrogen fuel and funds to incentivize power plants to capture their planet-warming emissions before they hit the air. It also contains billions of dollars to fund a new program that will crack down on the fossil fuel industry’s methane emissions — a powerful greenhouse gas that scientists say must be controlled.

FROM FARM PROGRESS

Project looks to measure carbon absorption, emissions daily: Study examines how grazing livestock influences carbon, water and biodiversity.

Climate change has brought much scrutiny on the beef industry. But is it justified? Scientists have been studying grazing management and its impact on ecological function, and “there is evidence to suggest, if it’s well managed, cattle can be very edifying to land and improve its function versus deteriorating or extracting,” says Jason Rowntree, the C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture in the Michigan State University Department of Animal Science. “But the science is pretty isolated in terms of geography.”

NREL Study Identifies the Opportunities and Challenges of Achieving the U.S. Transformational Goal of 100% Clean Electricity by 2035

Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

What would it take to decarbonize the electric grid by 2035? A new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) examines the types of clean energy technologies and the scale and pace of deployment needed to achieve 100% clean electricity, or a net-zero power grid, in the United States by 2035. This would be a major stepping stone to economy-wide decarbonization by 2050.

The study, done in partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy and with funding support from the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, is an initial exploration of the transition to a 100% clean electricity power system by 2035—and helps to advance understanding of both the opportunities and challenges of achieving the ambitious goal. Read more here.

MORE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASES

The 2016 model year (MY) marked the first time the Environmental Protection Agency certified an electric vehicle (EV) with 300 miles or more of driving range. Over the next five years, the number of EV models achieving a certified range of 300 miles or more slowly increased. In MY 2022, however, the number nearly tripled from the previous year. Manufacturers are still introducing MY 2022 vehicles, so additional EV models could be added to the list. Use this tool to search for new EV models by range.

DOE BLOG POST


How to Start Your Career in Clean Energy

This Energy.gov blog post was written by Isabelle Hamilton, an intern in the Office of Public Affairs. To learn more about internship opportunities available at the Department of Energy, please visit our Students and Recent Graduates career page