Utility Dive Awards 2019 – Executive of the Year: Mary Powell, Green Mountain Power

By Julia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive

Green Mountain Power (GMP) prides itself on encouraging programs to accelerate clean energy adoption outside of traditional utility rate mechanisms. This outlook is based on an internal cultural change, the seeds of which were planted when Mary Powell transitioned to the CEO position 12 years ago. GMP “set a really big, hairy, audacious goal,” to transform the energy portfolio of Vermonters to a reliable, low-carbon, low-cost one, she said.

The Vermont-based investor-owned utility has since revolutionized its approach to expanding distributed energy resource access, ensuring that residential battery systems are being aggregated into grid resources while also saving customers money. “That first vision just naturally then grew into building out a community home and business-based energy system,” she told Utility Dive. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Photo Credit: Green Mountain Power

Education Dive Awards 2019 – Partnership of the Year: Grid Alternatives

By Linda Jacobsen, Education Dive

Kanyon Martinez, a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, was about to graduate from Bishop Union High School in Bishop, California, last year when he heard about an internship possibility with Grid Alternatives — a nonprofit organization that brings solar installations to low-income communities, including tribes.

Martinez was glad for the chance to gain some work experience, but now that opportunity has grown into much more. First, he participated in Solar Futures, Grid Alternatives’ five-hour educational program, which teaches K-12 and community college students about the solar industry and gives them some basic skills related to installation. Continue reading here.

The K-12 Education Dive Awards for 2019

Photo Credit: Grid Alternatives

Soil: The Secret Weapon in the Fight Against Climate Change

By Natural Resources Defense Council, EcoWatch

Agriculture is on the front lines of climate change. Whether it’s the a seven-year drought drying up fields in California, the devastating Midwest flooding in 2019, or hurricane after hurricane hitting the Eastern Shore, agriculture and rural communities are already feeling the effects of a changing climate. Scientists expect climate change to make these extreme weather events both more frequent and more intense in coming years.

Agriculture is also an important — in fact a necessary — partner in fighting climate change. The science is clear: We cannot stay beneath the most dangerous climate thresholds without sequestering a significant amount of carbon in our soils. Here are just a few of the ways the Natural Resources Defense Council works to encourage climate-friendly farming: Read more here. 

Pexels Photo

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

U.S. farm leaders tout role at COP25 meeting, The Fence Post

U.S. farm leaders under the banner of the North America Climate Smart Agricultural Alliance (NACSAA) are making a series of presentations this week at the Madrid meeting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), formally known as the Conference of the Parties or COP25, a gathering to establish rules to implement the Paris climate agreement.

A common message the contingent is delivering in Madrid is a call for support of the guiding principles that were developed to ensure that farmers remain at the center of all discussions and decision-making related to agricultural solutions. They also assert that findings must be science-based. 

More About NACSAA
The North America Climate Smart Agriculture Alliance (NACSAA) is a farmer-led platform for inspiring, educating, and equipping agricultural partners to innovate effective local adaptations that sustain productivity, enhance climate resilience, and contribute to the local and global goals for sustainable development. NACSAA reflects and embraces all scales of agriculture in Canada, Mexico and the United States, ranging from small landholders to midsize and large-scale producers.

NACSAA encourages climate smart agriculture (CSA) strategies to enhance the adaptive capacity of North American agriculture to changing climate conditions and works to achieve this goal through three complementary strategies: 1) sustainably increasing agricultural productivity and livelihoods (i.e. sustainable intensification); 2) enhancing adaptive capacity and improving resilience; and 3) delivering ecosystem services, sequestering carbon, and reducing and/or avoiding greenhouse gas emissions. 

RE100 experiences biggest year ever

By Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine

RE100, the coalition of the world’s largest companies committed to becoming 100% renewably powered experienced a banner year in 2019, growing by over a third, with 40% of that growth coming from Asia and the South Pacific. Now, with over 200 members, the cumulative electricity demand of RE100 participants, if taken as one country, would be 21st in the world, at 228 TWh/year. Read more here.

RE100.Org

NEW SURVEY

Almost every American supports the extension of clean energy tax incentives, Smart Energy International. The study was conducted by Global Strategy Group and has found that:

  • Americans overwhelmingly support extending tax incentives for clean energy and would change their vote based on the issue. 89% of voters support the extension.
  • 95% of Democrats, 86% of Independents and 83% of Republicans support the government’s extension of clean energy tax incentives.

ENERGY STORAGE NEWS & REPORT

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS HERE

Clean B.C. is quietly using coal and gas power from out of province. Here’s why, The Narwhal
Behind the sheen of its CleanBC program, the province holds back hydro power to instead import cheap electricity from 12 states including Wyoming, Utah, Nebraska and Montana which generate 55 to 90 per cent of their power from coal.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS

Whiplash: Bifacial Solar Modules to Retain US Tariff Exemption, Greentech Media
In a win for project developers, a court blocked the Trump administration from withdrawing a tariff exemption for imported bifacial solar modules.

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

GTM POLITICAL CLIMATE PODCAST

Big Oil on Trial: Where the Climate Lawsuits Currently Stand, Greentech Media
In this episode of Political Climate, we speak to UCLA law professor Ann Carlson and journalist Emily Atkin about litigation that could cost fossil fuel companies billions.

FEATURED CLIMATE INITIATIVE

The U.S. Climate Alliance represents 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy – an economy larger than all countries but the United States and China. The climate and clean energy policies in Alliance states have attracted billions of dollars of new investment and helped create more than 1.7 million clean energy jobs, over half the U.S. total. The Alliance is demonstrating that climate leadership and economic growth go hand-in-hand.

NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

SOLAR SCHOOLS & POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS

A 2.9-Megawatt Solar Project For 10 Schools & 24% Of Richmond Public Schools’ Electricity Needs, CleanTechnica

Standard Solar, Inc. is now supporting Richmond Public Schools with a 2.9-megawatt solar project that should be completed this year. “Energy management with education and local engagement is a powerful combination and with less funding being allocated to schools year over year, public school administrators must find innovative means to deliver programs,” explained John Finnerty, director of business development for Standard Solar. “With our smart project financing, solar expertise and local engagement, we can provide the funding to make implementing a solar energy program without capital expenditure possible, all while equipping schools for a brighter future.”

Nebraska utility bets on technological advances to meet carbon-cutting goals

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The new clean-energy majority running Omaha, Nebraska’s electric utility knows it wants to steer the company toward a mostly carbon-free future. What’s less clear is how the company will get there. The board of directors of the Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) voted unanimously last month to achieve “net-zero carbon” emissions by 2050. The company, like many others that have set similar goals, is placing its bets on technological advances yet to come. Some customers pressed for an earlier deadline, such as 2040 instead of 2050. Senior management discouraged that, at least in part because the utility has a contract through 2049 to sell 345 megawatts of power from its coal-fired Nebraska City plant to several other utilities.
Read more here.

Also written by Karen Uhlenhuth: Kansas, Missouri among latest states to debate refinancing for aging coal plants

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

FEATURED REPORT

Rural Electrification 2.0: The Transition To A Clean Energy Economy
This report was produced by an action team made up of members of the RE-AMP Network. The RE-AMP Network consists of more than 130 nonprofits and foundations working across eight Midwestern states on climate change and energy policy with the goal to equitably eliminate greenhouse gas emissions in the Midwest by 2050.

With the closure of old, expensive coal plants and the expansion of rural electric cooperatives’ wind and solar capacity, significant economic development would be accomplished across rural America. Already, new wind and solar installations are bringing new sources of property tax revenue into rural counties and school districts. Along with increased property taxes are lease payments to farmers and landowners where the wind and solar installations are sited. Especially in a time with mounting economic pressures in the current farm economy, new revenue streams for farmers are vital.

WRI INITIATIVE

Collaborative resource planning by utilities and customers benefits both, by Heidi Bishop Ratz, Manager, U.S. Utilities Markets, World Resources Institute. Published by GreenBiz.

A prominent example of this is the recent thought leadership demonstrated by six major utilities and their large corporate customers as part of the World Resources Institute’s Special Clean Power Council, a two-year initiative focused on simplifying access to low-cost, clean energy options that maximize benefits to the grid. The initiative recently released a new paper, “Pathways to Integrating Customer Clean Energy Demand in Utility Planning” (PDF) describing the benefits of and strategies for joint planning.

Road to 100: How a demolished Kansas town became a model of DOE renewables resilience

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

This is the third of a four part series based on Utility Dive visits to cities that produce more renewable power than they consume. The first installment looks at Rock Port, Missouri, and the second looks at Georgetown, Texas.

GREENSBURG, KANSAS — On May 4, 2007, an almost two-mile wide tornado flattened the town, killing 12 people, decimating 95% of the town’s buildings and leaving the rest severely damaged.​ The mass force of the wipeout and the tragic destruction it left garnered national attention from the news media, Hollywood and the federal government, including the U.S. Department of Energy.

“The Department of Energy’s interest was twofold, I would say,”  former National Renewable Energy Laboratory Senior Project Leader, Lynn Billman, who led the DOE’s recovery efforts in Greensburg, told Utility Dive. “They saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate a fully high efficiency, fully renewable town from the ground up. And since Greensburg had been basically wiped by 90%-plus, they thought this would be an interesting experiment. They were also interested to see what would happen in a conservative part of the country. Read more here.

Thank you for your Giving Tuesday donations!

Many thanks to everyone who contributed to our Giving Tuesday fundraising campaign and donated much-needed items for our community service project in partnership with Heartland Hope Mission. Also, thank you to SHARE Omaha for organizing and hosting the 24-hour metro-wide event.

Contributions will be used to install a minimum 4-kilowatt solar system on Heartland Hope Mission’s building at 2021 U Street. Over the 25-or-more-years’ lifespan of the solar panels, the system will save the nonprofit approximately $18,000 on their electricity bills.

The project will be completed on or before Earth Day, April 22, 2020, which will be the national organization’s 50th anniversary. Ken and Helen Deffenbacher are the Lead Coordinators for the Heartland Hope Mission project.

New Green Watts for Good Project To Be Announced Soon!

Leo Arens is the Lead Coordinator for our seventh Green Watts for Good project. Over the past few weeks he has been developing this new charitable solar project in partnership with Fremont community leaders. Details will be announced very soon, including ways everyone can join in on this innovative program.

Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives, Inc. Announces Wind Construction Project Award in Nebraska

Infrastructure and Energy Alternatives Press Release, Globe Newswire

The award is for construction of the Thunderhead Wind Project in Antelope and Wheeler counties in Nebraska. The project will consist of 108 GE turbines with 300 megawatts of capacity. The power will be delivered into the Nebraska electrical grid. Work on the project began in November with completion scheduled for September 2020. The scope of IEA’s work includes construction of project access roads and turbine foundations, as well as erection of the turbines. Read more here.

Previously Posted: AT&T set to buy power output from new northeast Nebraska wind farm, News Channel Nebraska

Photo Credit: Invenergy

MORE CORPORATE NEWS

RE100 UPDATE: 216 RE100 companies have made a commitment to go ‘100% renewable’. Read about the actions they are taking and why.

RE100 ANNUAL REPORT

 

 

Going 100% renewable: how committed companies are demanding a faster market response

 


ENERGY STORAGE NEWS

NEW PV MAGAZINE US SENIOR EDITOR: PV Magazine announces veteran industry journalist, Eric Wesoff, as US senior editor

TIME-OF-USE RATES: Survey: Customer education needed for time-of-use rates to be successful, Energy News Network

SOLAR SCHOOLS: Editorial: PPAs offer a financial bright side for our schools, Richmond.com

CIRCULAR ECONOMY: The circular economy can be a holistic approach to addressing climate change, GreenBiz

NATIONAL CLIMATE BANK ACT: National Climate Bank initiative could be a boon for solar, PV Magazine. A companion bill to the National Climate Bank Act is expected to be introduced in the House, which could provide a huge boon to the solar and the solar plus storage markets.

CLIMATE RISKS

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

Study: Solar Tariffs Cause Devastating Harm to U.S. Market, Economy and Jobs
Tariffs on imported solar cells and modules have led to the loss of more than 62,000 U.S. jobs and $19 billion in new private sector investment, according to a market impact analysis released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Multinationals pushing governments to enable renewable energy deployment

By Robin Whitlock, Renewable Energy Magazine

RE100, the global corporate initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, has now counted 200+ multinational companies targeting 100 percent renewable electricity, by 2028 on average; with one in three already above 75 percent renewable. One in two are preparing to use their influence with stakeholders, such as policy makers and utilities, to push for faster transition to renewables. RE100 membership has grown by over a third in the last year, with the energy-critical Asia Pacific region accounting for over 40 percent of new joiners. Three more companies joining today include the Ralph Lauren Corporation. Read more here.

For additional information: RE100

FEATURED SOLAR SCHOOLS REPORT

Powering A Brighter Future: A Report on Solar Schools in Virginia, Generation 180
Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are the primary method Virginia schools use to finance solar installations. Nationwide, PPAs account for nearly 90% of K-12 solar school installations since 2014.4 Through a PPA, a third party purchases, owns, and maintains the solar panels, and the school or district agrees to buy the electricity produced by the system for the length of the agreement, often 25 or more years. PPAs are popular with schools because they make it possible to install solar with little-to-no upfront investment or ongoing maintenance costs. In addition, the school or district typically pays a lower electricity rate than it previously paid the utility, resulting in immediate energy cost savings.

MODEL CHARITABLE SOLAR PROJECTS

Solar field, pre-K both examples of public-private fund-raising efforts, The Toledo Blade
Charitable projects with both public and private roots took center stage in Toledo on several occasions during 2019, with the most recent being the official start of a solar-energy project on the former Jeep factory site whose revenues will benefit nearby neighborhoods.

BLACK HILLS ENERGY

Colorado utility sees “opportunistic window” to save money with solar and wind plus storage, PV Magazine. Black Hills Energy is seeking 200 MW of solar power or wind plus energy storage capacity as part of an RFP, driven – not by any requirements – but by 2019 summertime bids solar and solar plus storage bids of 2.4¢/kWh and 3.6¢/kWh and the pending step down of the 30% investment tax credit.

Black Hills Energy serves 1.2 million customers in eight states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

MORE ENERGY TRANSITION NEWS

This Energy Transition Is Different. Here’s Why, by contributor Andy Stone, Forbes
Renewable energy employment already far surpasses employment in fossil fuels, and the gap will continue to grow.  Economics clearly favor an energy transition. All of this serves to show that conditions are in fact ripe for us to reach the goals outlined under the Paris Accord.  Despite arguments to the contrary, at our time of existential crisis when rapid change is required, we have the tools at hand to get the job of energy transition done.

Andy Stone is producer and host of the Energy Policy Now Podcast from the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, and consultant on policy and communications issues with energy sector advisory firms.

FEATURED SOLAR WORKFORCE RESOURCES

  • The Solar Training Network is a workforce development program led by The Solar Foundation and funded by the Department of Energy. Through original research, solar-focused career fairs, regional employer-instructor summits and an online interactive directory, the Solar Training Network improves understanding of the solar jobs landscape and lays the groundwork for a better qualified and more diverse solar workforce.
  • The Solar Energy Industries Association: Careers in Solar Energy

USDA announces awards to put conservation innovation to work

Ag Daily Reporters

The USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service is awarding more than $24 million in grants designed to help partners implement and evaluate innovative approaches that have demonstrated conservation benefits on farmland. The funding is provided through On-Farm Conservation Innovation Trials (On-Farm Trials), a new component of the Conservation Innovation Grants first authorized in the 2018 Farm Bill. Read more here.

2019 On-Farm Trials Award Recipients

Previously Posted