The zoning changes adopted last year include some of the most-stringent tree screening requirements. – David Levy, attorney representing Ranger Power
A change in Lancaster County’s zoning laws will now allow a New York-based company planning the state’s largest solar farm east of Lincoln to apply for a special permit to expand its footprint farther east. The Lancaster County Board voted 3-1 last week to allow solar panels on outlots — areas in acreage developments that can’t be developed and, until Tuesday’s vote, had to be used only for agricultural purposes. Now they can also be used for solar panels. Continue reading here.
Image: Example of tree screening at a pollinator-friendly solar site in Virginia.
By Russell Shaffer | Rural Prosperity Nebraska, Nebraska Today
Making the switch to clean energy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. John Hay, a Nebraska Extension educator who conducts workshops on solar energy, helps individuals make the decision that best suits their home, farm, ranch or business.
“Success isn’t always choosing to install solar,” he said. “Success is doing a good analysis of the resources to make the best decision.” Since 2007, Hay has conducted workshops through Nebraska Extension to educate farmers, homeowners and rural business owners on the process of installing clean energy technology. Continue reading here.
DOE Announces $22 Million for Energy Research Projects in Underserved Regions WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $22 million in funding for nine projects covering a range of energy research topics from grid integration, solar energy, wind energy, and advanced manufacturing. These projects are located in communities traditionally underserved by federal research and development (R&D) funding so that all parts of the country are central to efforts to solve the climate crisis and meet President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Projects Include University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE ($2,940,000): Developing and applying new experimental and computational tools to understand dynamics of chemical reactions in organic materials.
Lincoln to receive $2.7 million grant, StarTran plans to buy new electric buses, KOLN The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding Lincoln with an almost $2.7 million federal transit grant, and all of that money is heading to the city’s bussing system. With this grant, Lincoln’s StarTran will get 3 brand new electric buses and two new charging stations. These new electric buses will replace three 2006 diesal buses. The company says this grant will ultimately help the environment and the thousands of people who use Lincoln’s bus system every day.
OPPD moving to diversify prairie program,The Wire Changes are underway for OPPD’s “Prairie in Progress” pollinator program. The plan largely involves replanting some areas that did not take off as well as OPPD officials had hoped. The program, which began in 2018, is a joint effort between Environmental Affairs and Building Services & Operations personnel, the Save Our Monarchs Foundation, and grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
Aurora hosts ribbon cutting for new electric vehicle charging station, NPPD News Release Nebraska Public Power District will partner with the city of Aurora for a ribbon cutting event on Friday, June 25 at 3 p.m. The ribbon cutting kicks off the availability of Aurora’s first ChargePoint DC fast charger charging station, located downtown on the corner of 12th and N Street.
Unicameral Update – Session Review: Natural Resources, Senator Bruce Bostelman Included in the review:: LB507, introduced by BrainardSen. Bruce Bostelman, prohibits the use of treated seed in the production of ethanol if its use results in the generation of a byproduct that is deemed unsafe for livestock consumption or land application. UnderLB650,, introduced by Sen. Michael Flood of Norfolk and passed on a vote of 48-1, the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will regulate facilities that inject carbon dioxide through wells into underground geologic formations for permanent or short-term storage.
Lenexa, Kansas – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) selected the city of Lincoln, Nebraska, to receive $800,000 in EPA Brownfields funding through the Multipurpose, Assessment, and Cleanup (MAC) Grant Program. During the press event at the former Nature’s Variety Cold Storage Facility, Acting EPA Region 7 Administrator Edward H. Chu presented a novelty big check to Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird.
“Thank you to the EPA for this boost in resources that will help our city overcome remaining environmental challenges and grow the vibrancy of our West and South Haymarket neighborhoods,” said Lincoln Mayor Leirion Gaylor Baird. “Brownfield grants like this one align with our local Climate Action Plan goals and do more than clean up polluted ground. They also create opportunities to build more housing, provide additional park land, address local food security, and improve our community’s health and well-being.” Read the entire release here.
For More Information
Click here to learn more about EPA’s Brownfields Grants.
The Omaha Public Power District board is proposing to explicitly acknowledge climate change and the role of humans in contributing to it, a position that stands in contrast to the Nebraska Legislature. The board is considering the following proposed strategic directive: “The OPPD Board of Directors recognizes the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring and that greenhouse gas emissions, including carbon dioxide, from human activity contribute to climate change impacts.” To comment, go tooppdcommunityconnect.comand click on the “SD 7 Environmental Stewardship” discussion box. Continue reading here.
Written by Dr. Shelley Francis and Johana Vicente, Energy News Network
If you are Black, Latinx, or a member of an Indigenous community, you are far more likely than a white person toknow someone firsthandwho has died of COVID-19. This mirrors what is happening incities, suburbs, rural areas and tribal lands across the U.S. — our communities are being ravaged by the virus. As of mid-January, more than 375,000 Americans have died of COVID-19, with people of color between 2.2 to 2.5 times more likely to have died from the virus than whites of the same age. There are a number of longstanding racial inequities rooted in our current economic and social systems that contribute to this disparity . . . Continue reading here.
Dr. Shelley Francisis co-founder of EVHybridNoire, the nation’s largest network of Black people and people of color who are enthusiastic about shifting away from fossil fuels. Francis co-wrote this op-ed with Chispa National Director Johana Vicente.
In Nebraska: The City of Lincoln’s Exemplary Climate Action Leadership
About We Are Still In We Are Still In is a joint declaration of support for climate action, signed by more than 3,900 CEOs, mayors, governors, tribal leaders, college presidents, faith leaders, health care executives, and others. The organizations they represent comprise the largest and most diverse coalition of actors ever established in pursuit of climate action in the United States.
At Presidio Graduate School, we see affordability of EVs as being both an equity and a diversity factor. Some of our professors reserve an empty seat in their classroom representing those who are not able to join the discussion. Although most new product and service adoptions are at first expensive before becoming more affordable, it’s time to buck the old way of targeting markets that inherently exclude those not usually in the room.
Data is king, and when it comes to information on the frequency of repairs on automobiles, Consumer Reports has more data than anyone. For its latest report, it did a deep dive into the data from its 2019 and 2020 reliability surveys of electric and gasoline powered vehicles. After crunching all the numbers, Consumer Reports says “drivers of electric vehicles are saving an average of 50% on maintenance and repair over the life of a vehicle compared to owners of gas-powered vehicles.”
In 2019, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) released a study finding that utilities and ratepayers can derive substantial value from large-scale deployment of EVs equipped to transmit power to the grid.
FEDERAL LEADERSHIP THAT WILL ALSO BENEFIT OUR COMMUNITIES
The production and use of renewable natural gas made from organic waste is growing rapidly in the United States. In the last five years, the number of production facilities has grown approximately threefold, with about115 facilitiesnow making the fuel — which is interchangeable with fossil natural gas — out of landfill waste, animal manure, wastewater, food waste and other organic feedstocks.
Due to the potential benefits of renewable natural gas as an alternative to fossil fuels, a handful of states including California, Washington and Oregon have integrated it into climate goals. Bothstateandnationalassessments find that sufficient amounts of the waste-derived fuel could be produced to displace as much as 4-7% of current fossil gas consumption, while delivering other co-benefits related to waste management.
However, policymakers across the country still face questions on the extent to which renewable natural gas can help states meet ambitious climate change targets. A newresearch paperby WRI examines the potential of renewable natural gas as a climate strategy.
Lancaster County commissioners want to ease the restrictions they adopted just last year governing wind turbines in a move they see as recalibrating rules that have proven prohibitive. “It has become apparent the (county’s rules) failed to strike an appropriate balance that would allow a viable path toward wind energy development,” the five commissioners wrote in a joint letter to the Lincoln-Lancaster County Planning Department. Continue reading here.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Top six wind trends of 2020 (so far), by Nora Zacharski, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog This has been a year like no other, complete with a tremendous amount of uncertainty for our country and the entire world. Despite the many challenges, the wind industry continued to provide reliable, clean, and affordable energy for the American people. And there’s no sign that it will be slowing down any time soon. Here is a look at 2020’s top industry trends (at least through November).
BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS
Wind and Solar Jobs: U.S. Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook
In the midst of a Coronavirus-dominated Thanksgiving season, the climate-concerned find themselves scurrying for ways the incoming Biden/Harris administration can best move forward on climate action, whatever the political obstacles. Real action on climate change will require difficult, long-term efforts to organize and maintain a broad and diverse coalition of interests – and do so in the face of concerted and well-funded opposition. Several individuals and organizations have been thinking through various approaches, and the results of their efforts are now available in new books and reports highlighted below. Continue reading here.
A Sustainable Harvest, American Farm Bureau
Just last week we announced a historic alliance with organizations representing farmers, ranchers, forest owners, the food sector, state governments and environmental advocates, called the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance. The founding members are diverse, but we are united around the goal of developing and promoting voluntary, market- and incentive-based climate solutions. At the American Farm Bureau, we are proud of agriculture’s sustainability story, and we believe that we can continue to build on that success together. This new alliance was formed in February and has been working diligently to develop 40 recommendations built around three key principles:
Virtual Conversation Hosted By The Union of Concerned Scientists
Connecting Faith, Climate, and Justice, December 8, 2020, 6 pm CT Join the Union of Concerned Scientists and faith leaders for a virtual discussion about how traditions can inform advocacy and action in response to climate change and racial justice.
By Lincoln Electric System | November 22, 2020, KRVN
LINCOLN – The Lincoln Electric System Board Friday passed a resolution setting a goal for the utility to achieve net-zero carbon by 2040. With the passage of the goal, LES joins dozens of other utilities and cities that have passed similar measures, including the Omaha Public Power District.
“As LES Board Members, our fiduciary responsibility is to ratepayers. Across the country, clean energy like wind and solar is becoming cheaper while coal is becoming more costly,” said Lucas Sabalka, an LES Board Member. Continue reading here.
Additional Recommended Reading
Net zero by 2040, LES Board approves decarbonization goal,LES News Release After participating in a year-long educational series on establishing a new carbon reduction goal and soliciting public opinion at the beginning of the month, the LES Administrative Board adopted a 100% net decarbonization goal by 2040 during its Nov. 20 meeting. LES acknowledges that the emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil fuel-fired power generating plants contribute to increased concentration levels of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which in turn contributes to climate change. The Board adopted this goal in response to the risks associated with climate change.
LINCOLN — Over the last decade, Lincoln Electric System has made great stridesin transitioning its energy production portfolio to more sustainable sources. From 2010 to 2019, the community-owned utility increased renewable energy production from the equivalent of 10% of retail sales in 2010 to 46% in 2019, simultaneously reducing CO2 emissions by 42% and the carbon intensity of its energy produced by 38%.
Along with transitioning to more renewable resources, LES has also promoted sustainability through customer-facing programs like incentivized rates for customer-owned solar, virtual net metering, allowing customers tobuy “virtual” panelsat the local community solar facility, and by offering multiple energy efficiency and demand reduction incentives and opportunities. Both distributed generation and load reduction are important parts of maintaining sustainability for an electric utility, and LES has been ahead of the curve on implementing many of these actions.
OPPD’S Decarbonization Study:Pathways to Decarbonization, OPPD Community Connect What is decarbonization? Simply, it’s the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, commonly referred to as our carbon footprint. Although carbon dioxide (CO2) occurs naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere, human activities over the last century have significantly increased levels of greenhouse gases. These include burning fossil fuels for energy and transportation, and removing trees (deforestation) to enable other land uses, such as clearing rainforests for agricultural purposes.
Check out utilities’ carbon reduction commitments on this interactive map: SEPA’S Utility Carbon Reduction Tracker: Omaha Public Power District’s Emission Reduction Goal: Net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.