The states that produce the most renewable energy

By Commodity.com, LatticePublishing.com, La Crosse Tribune

To determine the states producing the most renewable energy, researchers at Commodity.com used data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration to calculate the percentage of total electricity generated from renewable sources. Renewable energy sources include: wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, and hydroelectric. In the event of a tie, the state with the greater five-year growth in renewable electricity production, between 2015 and 2020, was ranked higher. Here are the states that produce the most renewable energy.

Nebraska’s Rank: 15

  • Percentage of electricity generated from renewables: 28.9%
  • 5-year change in renewable electricity production: +115.7%
  • Total electricity generated from renewables (MWh): 10,648,740
  • Largest renewable energy source: Wind

Read more here.

See utility-scale wind and solar projects under development in our state at these Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy resources:

Additional Recommended Reading: FACT SHEET: President Biden Sets 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target Aimed at Creating Good-Paying Union Jobs and Securing U.S. Leadership on Clean Energy Technologies, The White House Briefing Room

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS

UPCOMING OPPD WORKSHOPS

Pathways to Decarbonization WebEx Workshops 5 & 6
Pre-registration is encouraged to receive email reminders and Outlook calendar invites. The workshops are technical in nature and are designed to build from one another. It is highly recommended to watch previously recorded workshops before attending the upcoming ones. A summary video of past workshops is also available. 

  • Workshop 5: Initial Results
    Wednesday, October 27, 4-6 p.m.
  • Workshop 6: Final Results
    Thursday, December 9, 4-6 p.m.

Click here to learn more and pre-register for both.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FERC nominee Phillips uses 3-legged stool analogy in outlining regulatory approach to senators, Utility Dive

Having [Federal Energy Regulatory Commission nominee Willie Phillips Jr.], a Democrat, at FERC could help the agency avoid deadlocks on pending issues such as transmission reformsnatural gas infrastructure reviews and the role aggregated demand response can play in wholesale markets. “FERC is at its best with a full complement of commissioners,” FERC Chairman Richard Glick said Tuesday on Twitter.

Previously Posted: Biden’s FERC nominee could pave the way for the administration’s massive clean energy agenda, Canary Media 

CLIMATE POSITIVE BUSINESSES

Panera bakes plan to go climate positive, GreenBiz Group


On Wednesday, fast-casual food chain Panera Bread announced that it plans to work towards a climate-positive business model by 2050. This means Panera will remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits each year. Climate positive suggests that it will go a step beyond the popular net-zero carbon emissions movement that has taken the business world by storm over the past two years with commitments from UnileverNestleVerizon and many others.

DOE Awards Nearly $40 Million for Grid Decarbonizing Solar Technologies

Department of Energy News Release
October 19, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today awarded nearly $40 million to 40 projects that are advancing the next generation of solar, storage, and industrial technologies necessary for achieving the Biden-Harris administration’s climate goal of 100% clean electricity by 2035. Specifically, the projects will reduce the cost of solar technologies by increasing the lifespan of photovoltaic (PV) systems from 30 to 50 years, developing technologies that will enable solar to be used in fuel and chemicals production, and advancing novel storage technologies.

“We are laser focused on deploying more solar power and developing more cost-effective technologies to decarbonize our electricity system,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Research to develop stronger and longer-lasting solar panels is critical to addressing the climate crisis. The 40 projects announced today – led by universities and private industry across the country – is an investment in the next generation of innovations that will strengthen the nation’s solar capacity and enhance our grid resilience. Continue reading here.

PV PROJECTS

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Is among the 2021 Photovoltaics Funding Program selectees.

This program will help achieve the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) goal of lowering solar energy costs 50% by 2030. Some of the projects will help extend PV system life. The rest will lay the foundation for continued research that leads to new PV technologies to help achieve a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 and a net-zero-emissions energy sector by 2050.

UNL’s Project Name: A Hot-Swappable, Fault-Tolerant, Modular Power Converter System for Solar Photovoltaic Plants
DOE Award Amount: $300,000
Cost Share: $75,000
Project Summary: This project will work to prove the concept of a fault-tolerant, modular power converter system for PV plants that does not require disconnection from the solar array to replace components. The system will contain innovations that enable 50% system cost reduction, 90% operation and maintenance (O&M) cost reduction, uninterrupted operation with 50 years of service life, improved manufacturability, and higher power density over the state of the art. The team will design, fabricate and test a 50 kilowatt (kW) prototype with over 99.5% inverter peak efficiency, less than $0.03 per watt system cost, and less than $0.5 kW-year O&M cost.

Read about the individual PV projects and the individual CSP projects.

Learn more about DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office and its research priorities in PV and CSP

Nebraska Farmers Union President will be in Syracuse

News Submitted to Journal-Democrat by the Otoe County Democrats

John Hansen, Nebraska Farmers Union President, will be in Syracuse on Nov. 3 at the Syracuse Public Library. Hansen will speak about agricultural and energy issues. The Nebraska Farmers Union has been promoting wind and solar energy in Nebraska for the past few years.

The Otoe County Democrats invited Hansen to Syracuse, however the general public is invited to attend. The doors open at 6 p.m. and pulled pork sandwiches, chips, and drink will be provided for attendees. Hansen will begin speaking at 6:30 p.m. and will field questions after his talk.

Hansen operated a diversified farm in Madison County Nebraska before becoming Farmers Union President in 1989. Since then he has advocated for farmers at the state and national level. He has also been a promoter of soil conservation and alternative energy sources. 

ADDITIONAL UPCOMING EVENT 

John Hansen is the Planning Committee Chair of the Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference and Exhibition

November 8-9, 2021, Marriott Cornhusker Hotel
333 S. 13th Street, Lincoln, Nebraska

Registration is $175 through October 31. As of November 1, it will be $225 through the conference dates.

This year’s programming features:

  • A session on the growing role of utility battery storage
  • A policy and legislative update from Nebraska State Senators
  • Sessions on the aftermath of Winter Storm Uri
  • A panel on Hydrogen Generation
  • And much, MUCH more!

See the complete schedule here.

Register Here.

West Virginia’s reliance on coal is getting more expensive, and Joe Manchin’s constituents are footing the bill

By Ella Nilsen, CNN

[A report] from West Virginia University’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development [shows] that investing in renewables would cost the state $855 million less through 2040 than continuing to invest in coal.

During the winter months in West Virginia, Felisha Chase pays more for her electricity than she does for her home. “It does feel wrong when your electric bill is more than your mortgage,” Chase told CNN. “Around here the old adage is ‘coal keeps the lights on.’ Anyone struggling to keep their electric on knows it’s more than the lights

Her electricity bill spikes every January, when Chase estimates her electricity usage increases five- or six-fold. In September, she was still paying down a remaining balance of $600 from the winter before — twice the cost of her monthly mortgage payment. Her cumulative bill has gone as high as $1,400. Continue reading here.

Image Credit: Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Time-of-Use program offers NPPD customers incentive to save

Nebraska Public Power District News Release

Columbus, Neb. – A Time-of-Use (TOU) program has been on the minds of Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) for several years and is now a reality for NPPD retail customers. NPPD retail customers are those who receive an electric bill and pay NPPD directly.

The TOU program, known as RateWise Time-Of-Use, offers another option for customers who consume most of their energy during NPPD’s off-peak and super off-peak periods or who have the flexibility to shift some of their energy usage to different time periods. Depending on when a customer consumes energy, they can now choose from the following options. Continue reading here

To learn more about NPPD’s new RateWise options, visit nppd.com/ratewise.

ENERGY SAGE RESOURCES

ADDITIONAL NPPD NEWS

Tom Kent to receive RMEL’s Distinguished Leadership Award

Columbus, Neb. – Thomas J. Kent, President & Chief Executive Officer, Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD), will receive RMEL’s 2021 Distinguished Leadership Award during RMEL’s 118th Annual Fall Executive Leadership and Management Convention on Tuesday, October 19.

RMEL is a not-for-profit energy trade association that has served the electric utility industry with a variety of education and networking services since 1903. RMEL’s mission is: Preparing the electric energy industry for the future through education and networking. Once known as the Rocky Mountain Electrical League, the association officially became RMEL in the 1990s to better reflect a membership base that spans the entire country.

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Roadmap to Build an Economy Resilient to Climate Change Impacts

The White House, October 15, 2021

Agency Actions Will Protect Retirement Plans, Homeowners, Consumers, Businesses and Supply Chains, Workers, and the Federal Government from Financial Risks of Climate Change

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration released a comprehensive, government-wide strategy to measure, disclose, manage and mitigate the systemic risks climate change poses to American families, businesses, and the economy – building on actions already taken by the Biden-Harris Administration including just this week: a redesigned National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate.gov site to better connect Americans to climate explainers, data dashboards, and classroom-ready teaching resources; the Department of Labor’s new proposed rule to safeguard life savings and pensions from climate risk; as well as the Federal Acquisition Council’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to consider greenhouse gas emissions when making procurement decisions. This year alone, extreme weather has upended the U.S. economy and affected one in three Americans. Continue reading here.

NATIONAL COMMUNITY SOLAR PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM 

DOE Targets Five Million Households Powered by Community Solar By 2025, by Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently set a new target for its National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) program. The program’s new goal is to have community solar systems that can power the equivalent of five million households by 2025 and create $1 billion in energy bill savings on the way to reaching the White House’s goals of achieving 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 and ensuring that all Americans can benefit from renewable energy. The new target represents more than a 700 percent increase in community solar installations, DOE said.

To achieve its new targets, the DOE is offering free, on-demand technical assistance to NCSP partnership members. NCSP has distributed $1 million for technical assistance and said it aims to provide $2 million in the next year.

About the National Community Solar Partnership, Department of Energy

CONNECTED COMMUNITIES OF GRID-INTERACTIVE EFFICIENT BUILDINGS

DOE Invests $61 Million for Smart Buildings that Accelerate Renewable Energy Adoption and Grid Resilience, Department of Energy News Release

Ten “Connected Communities” Will Equip More than 7,000 Buildings with Smart Controls, Sensors, and Analytics to Reduce Energy Use, Costs, and Emissions

 A recent DOE study estimated that by 2030, GEBs could save up to $18 billion per year in power system costs and cut 80 million tons of carbon emissions each year. That is more than the annual emissions of 50 medium-sized coal plants or 17 million cars. DOE’s first two connected communities in Alabama and Georgia have already demonstrated this potential by using approximately 42-44% less energy than today’s average all-electric home.

PacifiCorp, owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, is among DOE selectees:
PacifiCorp (UT) will establish a program to manage solar photovoltaic, batteries, electric vehicle charging in a diverse community of all-electric buildings and a mass transit transportation center, equipped with the latest market-leading efficient technologies to optimize their collective energy use and provide grid services at scale. (Award amount: $6.42M)

MISSOURI’S PAY AS YOU SAVE PROGRAM

In Missouri, your utility might pay for your next big energy efficiency project, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Missouri’s largest gas and electric utilities are all forging ahead with new programs that will finance customers’ energy efficiency upgrades and in many cases even decrease their monthly bills. Evergy is the state’s latest utility to launch a Pay As You Save (PAYS) program, in which the full upfront cost of energy efficiency projects — along with their savings — are rolled into the customer’s monthly bill.

GOOGLE’S CARBON-FREE PLAN

Google’s CEO: ‘We’re Losing Time’ in the Climate Fight, Bloomberg Green

Sundar Pichai discusses the opportunities and hurdles in Google’s plan to go carbon-free, and how sustainability is on the agenda of every CEO he meets.

FERC weighs grid plan that could revolutionize clean energy

By Miranda Willson, E&E Reporter, Energy Wire

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is weighing an overhaul of a major rule that critics say impedes the transition to a low-carbon grid while raising electricity bills. The agency has received comments from dozens of state regulators, electric utilities, clean energy groups and private companies on whether it should remove a policy allowing states to block demand response resources from wholesale power markets. Since the rule was established in 2009, an estimated 18 states have taken advantage of the “opt-out” provision.

Supporters of opening wholesale markets nationwide to demand response say it would go a long way in boosting all types of zero-carbon resources. In general, demand response constitutes a range of energy conservation programs — including “smart” thermostats and water heaters — that reduce or shift electric load to balance the power system. That in turn can allow grid operators to rely less on carbon-spewing power plants. Read more hereScroll down to read NPPD’s comments.

See Also:

VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS

Rocky Mountain Power’s distributed battery grid management system puts Utah ‘years ahead’ of California, by Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) seeks to turn distributed solar into solar-plus-storage grid assets in Utah, announcing on Thursday a partnership between battery manufacturer sonnen and Utah contractor ES Solar to retrofit thousands of solar homes. Distributed resource planning proceedings around the country are looking to solar-plus-storage as a “really good option to replacing other types of necessary grid upgrades,” from upgrading transformers to transmission line sizes, according to Rick Gilliam, Vote Solar’s senior regional director of DER regulatory policy. 

Rocky Mountain Power is a part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s PacifiCorp.

Previously Posted: DOE teams with Xcel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy on cybersecurity program to protect clean energy, Utility Dive

CARBON DIOXIDE PIPELINES

Proposed carbon dioxide pipeline draws opposition from Iowa farmers and environmentalists alike, by Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio

At a virtual public meeting Tuesday, speakers railed against the proposal by Summit Carbon Solutions to build a sprawling 2,000 mile long pipeline, more than 700 miles of which would pass through 30 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club is gathering signatures for a petition opposing the Summit project and another pipeline proposed by Navigator CO2 Ventures. The activist group is blasting the approach of CCS as a “false solution” to climate change. The organization, like other progressive-leaning climate advocates, sees CCS [carbon capture and sequestration] as extending a lifeline to carbon-based industries, at a time when the world needs to be ending its dependence on fossil fuels in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

Previously Posted: Nebraska is likely headed for another pipeline controversy — this time over carbon dioxide, by Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald

HEATING BILLS

Expect scorching heating bills this winter, by Carolyn Conte,  News Channel Nebraska
“Utility investments used to be the same for 10 or 20 years, but that’s not the case anymore,” [former Nebraska Director of Energy David Bracht], said, noting the creation of natural renewables energy [using energy from animal waste], solar energy; wind energy; and even battery storage. “And that’s why I’m excited about energy in Nebraska because I think we actually have opportunities in all of those areas.”

NEBRASKA LIHEAP

The LIHEAP Program provides heating assistance, cooling assistance, year round crisis assistance, emergency furnace repair and replacement, fan program and weatherization services for eligible Nebraska citizens/households. LIHEAP in Nebraska is solely funded through a federal grant (no general fund authority for aid).

Large-scale solar can help protect the special places we call home

Contributed by Chelsea Chandler, Director of Climate
Solutions for Clean Wisconsin, Wisconsin Examiner

The urgency of the climate crisis means that we need all hands on deck implementing all kinds of climate solutions. There’s no silver bullet; we need silver buckshot. That means we need a shift to electric vehicles and better public transit and pedestrian and bike infrastructure. We need energy efficiency and carbon-free electricity. And we need both smaller-scale, rooftop solar and large, utility-scale solar. Every kilowatt of clean energy adds up to make a difference, but given the urgency of climate change, a 465-megawatt project like the proposed Koshkonong Solar Energy Center would be a big step in matching the scale of the crisis with the scale of solutions.
Read more here.

IN NEBRASKA

Utility-Scale Projects Under Development, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy:
Solar Energy Generation in Nebraska 

  • Bellwood: 174.5 MW
  • Burt County: 250 MW
  • Clay County: Up-to 350 MW
  • Lincoln: 230 MW
  • Pierce County: 443 MW
  • Saunders County: 81 MW

FEATURED NEBRASKA PROJECT UNDER DEVELOPMENT

OPPD’s 81 MW solar farm, named “Platteview Solar”
In May the Saunders County Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 to approve the Conditional Use Permit for the 81 MW Platteview Solar Project. See: Saunders County approves solar farm construction near YutanAssociated Press

The above photo illustrates tree-screening surrounding a pollinator-friendly solar farm.

More About Platteview Solar, by Community Energy

In April 2021, Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and Community Energy (CE) announced a Power Purchase Agreement for Platteview Solar, an 81 megawatt (MW) utility-scale solar photovoltaic installation with a proposed location just south of Hwy 92 near Yutan in eastern Saunders County.

The project site consists of approximately 500 total leased acres, spanning several clusters of land with a flat, gently rolling topography. This announcement supports OPPD’s Power with Purpose initiative. The official project announcement is on OPPD’s The Wire. OPPD is the lone customer for Platteview Solar’s energy, providing long-term stability and support.

Platteview Solar FAQS, Community Energy

Among the questions, the following is one that often comes up in discussions about utility-scale solar projects: Doesn’t solar take good agricultural ground out of production?

Community Energy: Not in a meaningful way. Saunders County is 486,400 acres of ground.  The Platteview Solar project impacts approximately 500 acres. 

Farm ground used for solar projects does not necessarily mean the end of agricultural use on the land. It will be different than traditional crops, but a robust pollinator program can benefit not only the project properties, but cropland, orchards, residential gardens, trees and other landscaping within 30 miles of the project site.

Additionally, the traditional agricultural nature of the property is not permanently lost. The benefits of restorative vegetation on nitrogen and CO2 depleted land improves agricultural land for the future. Solar projects are a long term, but temporary, use of agricultural land that allows landowners to diversify their assets, creating financial stability and allowing agricultural land to remain in families for future generations.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED NREL RESEARCH

Beneath Solar Panels, the Seeds of Opportunity SproutNational Renewable Energy Laboratory 

“It doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. For all our agriculturally productive land, let’s help PV developers and farmers plan out these solar projects so that farmers can get under the arrays and continue to work the land for the next 20 or 30 years.” —Gerry Palano, energy program coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Agriculture

ADDITIONAL SOLAR ENERGY DEVELOPMENT IN NEBRASKA

Community Solar Projects Map as of July 2021, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy Resource

Obscure state board seeks more authority over Nebraska public power districts

By Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — A proposal by an obscure state board to obtain more authority over public power districts has created a firestorm of concern and confusion among those utilities and some environmental groups.

The Nebraska Power Review Board, at its meeting Friday morning, will discuss whether the five-member board, appointed by the governor, should have the final say over contracts reached between power districts and energy suppliers, such as wind farms, and be able to weigh in on whether existing power plants should be decommissioned.
Continue reading here.

Nebraska Power Review Board Meeting 
Friday, October 15, 2021 beginning at 9:00 a.m.
First Floor Hearing Room
Nebraska State Office Building
301 Centennial Mall South, Lincoln, Nebraska

Agenda Item 7:
Discussion regarding whether the Power Review Board should have authority to review and approve decisions by public power utilities to enter into power purchase agreements and to decommission commercial generation facilities: PRB PPA & Decommissioning Authority (DRAFT Language for 10-15-21 Meeting).docx

Although the meeting will be held in-person, any member of the public also has the option to join virtually via Webex. The full agenda and Instructions on how to join the meeting and provide comments are posted here: Nebraska Power Review Board Meeting.

The minutes of the board meeting will be posted here.

Panhandle wildfires cause long-term effects

By Grace Pagone, North Platte Bulletin

Farmers and ranchers struggle to recover financially from recent panhandle wildfires that damaged their crops and infrastructure, along with forcing a relocation of cows and calves. Two wildfires burned more than 8,200 acres of pasture and cropland near Scottsbluff and Gering in the Panhandle. Continue reading here.

FEATURED OPINION

Small businesses and family farms would benefit from boost to USDA rural energy grant programGuest Commentary for The Baltimore Sun by Lloyd Ritter, managing partner of Green Capital LLC

As legislators calculate the right balance on how much to spend on infrastructure and clean energy, they should take stock of both the environmental and the economic gains that everyday Americans earn through the transformation to an efficient, clean energy economy. And make no mistake: That the transition is underway, built up from many small projects and successes. Congress can maintain momentum by funding smart policy choices, such as USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program.

Rural Energy for America Program

RENEWABLE ENERGY ON AMERICA’S FARMS & RANCHES

  • According to the latest USDA Census of Agriculture (2017), a total of 133,176 farms and ranches had renewable energy systems, more than double the 57,299 in 2012. Those include solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower and methane digesters.
  • 2017 Census by State
  • USDA’s 2022 Census of Agriculture Content Test is underway, USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). NASS has been preparing for the 2022 Census of Agriculture since 2018 when they began evaluating the content and design of the previous Census questionnaire and soliciting public input into the 2022 Census.

DOE’S LOAN PROGRAMS OFFICE

There’s $44 Billion in Clean Energy Funds Up For Grabs, by Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg Green

The Energy Department has a little-known investment operation, the Loan Programs Office, with a focus on backing innovative clean technologies in early commercial development. It has more than $40 billion to lend, and during an episode of the podcast he co-hosted, the Energy Gang, [Jigar] Shah was skeptical whether the LPO could accelerate low-carbon technologies quickly. The office was “fundamentally broken,” Shah said. About four months later, the Energy Department hired Shah to run LPO.

ENERGY STORAGE NEWS

Over 60 Percent of Battery Storage Coming Online Will Be Co-located, EIA Says, American Public Power Association

Of the 14.5 gigawatts (GW) of battery storage planned to begin to come online between 2021 and 2024, 9.4 GW, or 63 percent, will be co-located with solar power, the EIA said. Another 1.3 GW of battery storage will be co-located at sites with wind turbines or fossil fuel-fired generators, such as natural gas-fired plants. The remaining 4 GW of planned battery storage will be located at standalone sites.

WHAT IS A GIGAWATT?

Gigawatt: The solar energy term you need to know about, by AJ Dellinger, CNET
According to a recent study published by the United States Department of Energy, it hopes to produce 45% of all electricity via solar power. That will require generating 1,600 gigawatts of power. This raises an important question: What is a gigawatt, exactly?

Additional Recommended Reading: DOE Releases Solar Futures Study Providing the Blueprint for a Zero-Carbon Grid

REMEDIATING FOSSIL FUEL SITES

A century later, utilities still face billions in potential liabilities from obsolete manufactured gas plants, by Kavya Balaraman, Senior Reporter, Utility Dive

Thousands of manufactured gas plants dotted the American landscape in the 19th and early 20th century. Today, PG&E, ConEd and other utilities are still dealing with the contamination they left behind.