Wind turbines have become a familiar part of the landscape in the rural Midwest, and with them have come jobs, income for farmers and tax revenue for communities. They’re one sign of how the clean energy transition is helping to transform areas that sometimes struggle to attract jobs and investment.
A new reportfrom the Natural Resources Defense Council shows the extent to which clean energy is contributing jobs to the rural economies of 12 Midwestern states. It also reflects what the rural Midwest stands to lose from Trump administration actions that harm clean energy, such as its recent call to eliminate subsidiesfor renewable energy, its tariffson solar energy equipment, and its plan to weaken the Obama-era Clean Power Plan. The authors say the numbers underscore the need in the Midwest for government policies that are supportive of clean energy instead. Read more here.
Dan Gearino covers the U.S. Midwest, part of Inside Climate News’ National Environment Reporting Network. His coverage deals with the business side of the clean-energy transition, and he writes Inside Climate News’ Clean Economy WeeklyNewsletter.
The Grand Island Independent, Opinion written by Lu Nelson,
Policy Associate at the Center for Rural Affairs
In many public forums across Nebraska, local residents have expressed concerns related to proposed wind energy projects in their communities. A consistent worry is the effect wind farms would have on neighboring property values.
In response to these concerns, the Center for Rural Affairs prepared a fact sheet that reviews findings of studies conducted by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory — as well as the Universities of Rhode Island and Connecticut — which analyze factors influencing property values prior to the announcement of a project, after the announcement, before construction and post-construction. Read morehere.
Madison County officials — including members of the county board and the joint planning commission — have been prudent in taking their time before moving ahead with possible changes to the county’s regulations governing wind energy . . . Our desire is that Madison County be a place where reasonable restrictions are adopted that provide a level of reassurance and protection for those who aren’t big fans — pardon the pun — of the turbines in the countryside. Yet we want Madison County to be a place where its natural wind energy potential can be developed in order to provide additional property tax revenue, and jobs during the construction period and once operating. Read more here
Map: World Atlas
UPDATE: AUGUST 18 Madison County gets input on wind regulations, by Jerry Guenther, Norfolk Daily News On Thursday evening, the Madison County Joint Planning Commission continued discussions on the regulations, with hopes of hosting a public hearing on them next month. If there are no major changes based on the input from the hearing, the regulations could be forwarded to the board of commissioners for consideration in October.
Lincoln Electric System to study EV charging habits, by Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association Blog. Nebraska public power utility Lincoln Electric System has begun a campaign to recruit electric vehicle drivers in a study that the utility plans to use to better understand the impact electric vehicle charging will have on its system’s demand. “The study is going to be able to help us ascertain when and where and for how long drivers are charging their cars, as well as give us information about state of charge of the batteries and trip durations,” Marc Shkolnick, LES’ manager of energy services, said.
LINCOLN — More than 18,400 Nebraska residents now work in clean energy industries in 92 out of 93 counties in the state, according to a new analysis of energy jobs data from Clean Energy Trust and the national, nonpartisan business group E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs). Nebraska’s clean energy workforce now employs more than 5 times as many people than all the computer programmers and web developers in the state, according to Department of Labor Employment Statistics. Read more here.
Photo Credit: iStock
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Inside Business: Kutak Rock, Omaha World-Herald During Mr. Bracht’s tenure as Director of the Nebraska Energy Office, the state’s solar developments expanded by 20-fold from just over one megawatt to more than 25 megawatts. In addition, Nebraska now exceeds 1.4 gigawatt of operating wind farms, and at the completion of projects under development will have more than 2.4 gigawatts.
LED streetlight program moving forward, The Wire, OPPD Blog Beginning in September, OPPD representatives will meet with municipalities, counties and other streetlight customers about the transition from high-pressure sodium fixtures to LED fixtures. The utility is finalizing which LED fixture design it will go with, looking at several options to determine which will be the best for customers both in terms of cost and function.
Rural electric cooperatives look at cutting the cord, Colorado Springs Gazette At least four cooperatives — United Power, the Delta-Montrose Electric Association, the La Plata Electric Association and San Miguel — have hit the 5 percent cap, and four more are near the limit, according to a survey by Clean Cooperative. Tri-State Members’ Service Territories include Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. In Nebraska: CR Chimney Rock Public Power District, Bayard MW The Midwest Electric Cooperative Corporation, Grant NW Northwest Rural Public Power District, HaySprings PH Panhandle Rural Electric Membership Association, Alliance RS Roosevelt Public Power District, Scottsbluff WB Wheat Belt Public Power District, Sidney
REGIONAL—The Center for Rural Affairs is strongly supportive of renewable energy. Those words come from Lucas Nelsen, policy program associate for the Lyons, NE-based nonprofit organization, which earlier this year released, “Powering Iowa: Rural Perspectives on Iowa’s Renewable Energy Transformation,” a research report examining renewable energy development in the Hawkeye State. Nelsen explained why the center is in favor of renewable energy. Continue here.
The Nebraska and Iowa-based nonprofit, the Center for Rural Affairs, recently published a number of publications focusing on renewable energy in Iowa. Its most recent research publication, entitled “Powering Iowa: Rural Perspectives on Iowa’s Renewable Energy Transformation,” highlighted current opinions on various renewable energy issues, such as wind turbines and transmission line development. In addition to the center’s study on opinions of renewable energy, the center authored a white paper on wind energy ordinances in the state and a second publication examining incentives for tax revenue from transmission lines. Read the entire article here.
Of the energy sold to members from Tri-State, about 30 percent was generated from renewable sources last year. That’s a considerable increase from the 17 percent reported in 2007. “That is the largest percentage of renewables in generation and transmission companies across the country and one of the highest of any utility in the U.S.” said Farnsworth. Included in Highline’s renewable projects is the Trailblazer Waste Heat Generation Site. Emphasizing its value to Highline, Farnsworth said it has brought $2.3 million to Highline’s bottom line since 2009. Highline is currently looking at options for a utility scale solar project that could provide savings to members over the next 20 to 25 years.
Nebraska Cooperatives Currently Using Solar & Wind
NRECA’s Interactive Map: Cooperative Solar Across the Country, shows that 443 cooperatives in 43 states utilize solar as a source of power. Eight Nebraska co-ops currently use solar, following: Georgia (42), Minnesota (37), North Carolina (26), Tennessee (24), Colorado (23), Indiana (23), Iowa (22), Oklahoma (21), South Carolina (21), Wisconsin (19), Arkansas (18), New Mexico (16), Mississippi (14), Illinois (13) Texas (11), Virginia (11), Alabama (10), Florida (9), and Wyoming (9). Click here and scroll down to individual states’ information.
NRECA’s Interactive Map: Cooperative Wind Across the Country, shows that.564 cooperatives in 37 states use wind as a source of power. Thirty Nebraska co-ops utilize wind energy, following Minnesota (44), Missouri (41), Indiana (38), and Iowa (31). Click here and scroll down to individual states’ information, including a list of all 30 Nebraska cooperatives using wind.
Introduction Wind turbines are multiplying across the U.S., and most are installed in rural areas overlooking crops, cattle, timber, and lakes. Rural communities have experienced several benefits from the development of wind energy, but the growth of the industry has also presented a challenge in the form of local regulations that may be insufficient or out-of-date.
Wind ordinances on the city, county, and state levels may be hard to understand, whether you are an expert or just becoming familiar with the industry. The Center for Rural Affairs has gathered some helpful items to note when reviewing ordinances. Download the guide here.
The Center for Rural Affairs last week released “Powering Iowa: Rural Perspectives on Iowa’s Renewable Energy Transformation,”a report examining renewable energy development in the state. Authors of the report, Stephanie Enloe and Katie Rock, used survey results from Iowa county officials and landowners to explore how Iowans are responding to renewable energy technologies, such as wind, solar and electric transmission lines. Read more here.
The report is available for download by clickinghere and scrolling down.
Subtitle: Seventy percent of U.S. turbines are in low-income rural areas
By Jennifer Oldham, Bloomberg Businessweek
Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago. As commodity prices threaten to reach decade lows and farmers struggle to meet debt payments, wind has become the newest cash crop, saving family farms across a wide swath of the heartland. Click to continue reading.
“There is a large and united coalition growing in Nebraska. It started with the pipeline and it is moving into clean energy,” said Graham Christensen, Director of the Nebraska Farmers Union, and member of a new coalition called Clean Energy Nebraska. “There are a lot of people working hand in hand. There is no going backward,” he said. The Farmer’s Union, the Nebraska Wildlife Federation, The Nebraska Sierra Club and The Center for Rural Affairs are members. Each organization appeals to a different audience. Continue reading.
Clean Energy Nebraska’s Website: www.cleanenergynebraska.org
Photo: Graham Christensen, District Director of the Nebraska Farmers Union, Owner of GC Resolve LLC