Tag Archives: coal communities

Solar power projects see the light on former Appalachian coal land

By Carey L. Biron, Thomsen Reuters Foundation News

The U.S. government formally began looking at putting renewable energy installations
on disturbed land – including mines, but also contaminated sites and landfills – in 2008. Since then, the RE-Powering America’s Land program has mapped over 100,000 potential sites covering more than 44 million acres.

DICKENSON COUNTY, Virginia – Looking west from Hazel Mountain, Brad Kreps can see forested hills stretching to the Tennessee border and beyond, but it is the flat, denuded area in front of him he finds exciting.

Surface coal mining ended on this site several years ago. But with a clean-up underway, it is now being prepared for a new chapter in the region’s longstanding role as a major energy producer – this time from a renewable source: the sun.

While using former mining land to generate solar energy has long been discussed, this and five related sites are among the first projects to move forward in the coalfields of the central Appalachian Mountains, as well as nationally. Continue reading here.

Virginia’s Clean Energy Legislation

Previously Posted: Interior Investing Over $260 Million to Help Create Jobs and Revitalize Land in Coal Communities, Department of the Interior News Release

DESERT RENEWABLE ENERGY CONSERVATION PLAN


The Biden Administration seeks to conserve 30% of U.S. land by 2030. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan is one way to that goal.

See: Road to 30, Center for Western Priorities. Scroll down to learn about this plan and more Ways to Get to 30.

DOI News Release: Interior Department Advances Three Solar Projects in California, Marking Significant Progress to Develop a Clean Energy Economy


The three projects will generate roughly 1,000 megawatts (or 1 gigawatt of power) and are the first projects approved under the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP) in the desert regions of seven California counties. 

 

Additional Resources

FEATURED REAP STORY FROM NORTH CAROLINA

Salisbury water buffalo farm installs solar panels with help from Rural Energy for America Program, Salisbury Post 

Caring for the buffalo and making products with their milk is hard work, and it also requires a significant amount of energy. That’s why the couple decided to install solar panels on the roof of their milking parlor and creamery last year. They were excited to find out in the spring they were awarded a $13,000 grant to help finance the project from the United States Department of Agriculture through its Rural Energy for America Program.

Next REAP Application Deadline: March 31, 2022

AMERICAN CLEAN POWER ASSOCIATION NEWS & RESOURCES

Celebrating Clean Power’s Progress and Reflecting on ACP’s First Year
ACP was created to unite the power of America’s clean energy industry. Our trade association brings together wind, solar, transmission and storage companies, along with manufacturers and construction companies, project developers and owners/operators, utilities, financial firms, and corporate purchasers of clean power to advance our shared goals and to transform the U.S. power grid to a low-cost, reliable, and renewable power system. 

Featured ACP Resources

Additional recommended reading on the above topic: Three Myths About Renewable Energy and the Grid, Debunked, by Amory B. Lovins and M.V. Ramana, Yale Environment 360

Renewable energy skeptics argue that because of their variability, wind and solar cannot be the foundation of a dependable electricity grid. But the expansion of renewables and new methods of energy management and storage can lead to a grid that is reliable and clean.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

USDA Invests $5.2 Billion to Build and Improve Critical Rural Infrastructure in 46 States and Puerto Rico

USDA News Release, December 16, 2021

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that USDA is investing $5.2 billion to build and improve critical rural infrastructure in 46 states and Puerto Rico. The investments reflect the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to Building a Better America by investing in rural communities and will help expand access to high-speed internet, clean water and reliable electricity in people’s homes and businesses across rural America. Read more here.

Water & Environmental Programs
USDA investments in Nebraska by types and amounts:

Village of Mason City – Loans: $537,000 / Grants: $482,000
Village of Page – Grants: $82,000
Village of Whitney – Loans: $203,000 / Grants: $432,000

Electric Loans Total: $4,064,469,000
Just one example of USDA’s investments in this infrastructure category: $550 million to the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation, a nonprofit created and owned by a network of rural electric cooperatives, with 1,000 member owners across 49 states. Headquartered in the State of Virginia.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The roundtable focused on new private sector and philanthropic investments that have been spurred by the Administration’s efforts to support economic revitalization in energy communities. The roundtable also discussed the announcement of initial awards from the Department of Commerce’s Economic Development Administration (EDA) $300 million Coal Communities Commitment to support economic revitalization, infrastructure investments, and quality jobs in coal communities with funding from the American Rescue Plan.

“Weatherization retrofits and home energy upgrades – like heat pumps, LED lighting, insulation and sealing up leaks — cuts monthly energy bills for families by up to 30%, and makes our air healthier,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “Thanks to the investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, DOE will be able to help even more communities, cut more air pollution, and generate good-paying local jobs.” For more information about this effort, visit the Weather Assistance Program website.

Previously Posted

Commentary: Transmission investment can create thousands of jobs. The time is now

Contributed by Brian Gemmell, Energy News Network

As the nation strives to bring about an economic recovery following the recession brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, a targeted investment in our electricity transmission system presents an opportunity to advance our nation’s fight against climate change, and concurrently create hundreds of thousands of green jobs.

In an announcement in April, President Joe Biden established an ambitious goal to reduce emissions from the country’s electricity supply by 2035. To achieve that goal, there must be investments to update and optimize the power grid. Continue reading here.

Brian Gemmell is chief clean energy development officer at National Grid. He is a member of the WIRES Board of Directors.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & VIEWING

COOL CONGREGATIONS – A NATIONAL IP&L PROGRAM

Across the country, people of faith are making changes in their homes and places of worship to prevent global warming through Interfaith Power & Light’s Cool Congregations program. The stewardship program helps congregations reduce the carbon footprint of their facilities and engages their members in reducing their carbon footprint at home.  Click here to learn more about the program.

Photo: St. Dunstan’s Episcopal Church in Dover, Massachusetts: Gold Certified Cool Congregation, 50% carbon reduction

NEW FARM JOURNAL FOUNDATION REPORT

Incentives Are Needed to Help Farmers Address Climate Issues, Report Says, Climate Ag
Farmers are among the most-qualified people to help address greenhouse gases (GHGs) and related climate issues, according to a new report commissioned by the Farm Journal Foundation. “The science tells us we have to rapidly scale up regenerative agriculture and climate-smart practices, like cover crops,” said Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow on Thursday, during a webinar announcing the findings. “(But) in order to engage farmers and ranchers in meaningful ways, we need proposals that pair sustainability with profitability.”

TREEHUGGER RESOURCES

What Happens if You Have Solar and the Power Goes Out?,  by Russell McLendonTreehugger’s Sustainability for Series

In This Article

See more Treehugger resources at the end of the article.

U of M researchers pitch ‘green’ ammonia as key to renewable energy future

By Walker Orenstein, MinnPost

As wind and solar power make up an increasingly large share of energy production in the U.S., finding ways to store the intermittent energy they create is critical for when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining. The University of Minnesota is working on a novel way to help solve the storage puzzle for renewable energy: by creating ammonia.  

Michael Reese, director of renewable energy at the U’s West Central Research and Outreach Center, said the U has previously turned wind power into ammonia that can be used for fertilizer and even to fuel agricultural equipment. Read more here.

Presentation by Michael Reese to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission: Green Ammonia for Fertilizer, Fuel, and Energy Storage

NPPD & MONOLITH’S GREEN AMMONIA INITIATIVE

Previously Posted

NPPD RFP

Request for Proposals for Renewable Energy Resources, 4/19/21
Description: NPPD is seeking bids for Renewable Generation Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) with a proposed Commercial Operation Date (COD) during calendar year 2025. NPPD seeks to procure Energy, Capacity, and environmental attributes (including Renewable Energy Credits or RECS) for a term between 10-30 years.

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

“Coal may contain as many as 76 of the 92 naturally occurring elements of the periodic table.” 
United States Geological Survey
__________________________________________

DOE Awards $19 Million for Initiatives to Produce Rare Earth Elements and Critical Minerals, Department of Energy News Release 

“The very same fossil fuel communities that have powered our nation for decades can be at the forefront of the clean energy economy by producing the critical minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines, and so much more,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.” 

Production of rare earth elements and critical minerals, which serve as key components to several clean energy applications such as magnets in wind turbines and batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, is a prime example of how DOE is supporting regional economic growth and job creation in regions traditionally home to the fossil fuel industry.

The initiatives include:
University of Kansas Center for Research Inc. (Lawrence, Kansas) plans to study the feasibility of recovering critical minerals from coal and associated strata in the Cherokee-Forest City Basin encompassing Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Osage Nation.
DOE Funding: $1,500,000

See Also: FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Outlines Key Resources to Invest in Coal and Power Plant Community Economic Revitalization, The White House Briefing Room

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Wind Energy Tops Coal, Natural Gas in Southwest Power Pool

By Michael Bates, North American Windpower

In 2020, Southwest Power Pool (SPP), a regional transmission organization, became the first grid operator to have wind as its number-one fuel source – outpacing the integration of coal and natural gas. “Maintaining reliability with this large amount of wind is extraordinary,” says Barbara Sugg, president and CEO of SPP. Read more here.

Image Credit: Nebraska Public Power District

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

AI & MORE EFFICIENT SOLAR POWER PLANTS 

Making solar power more efficient, Case Western Reserve University News Release, Newswise
CLEVELAND–Case Western Reserve University computer scientists and energy technology experts are teaming up to leverage the diagnostic power of artificial intelligence (AI) to make solar-power plants more efficient. The work, funded by a three-year, $750,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), is part of a broad $130 million solar-technologies initiative announced by the DOE in 2020—including $7.3 million specifically for machine-learning solutions and other AI for solar applications. 

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

Biden administration will replace the entire federal vehicle fleet with EVs, CNET

The current federal vehicle fleet is estimated at
around 645,000 vehicles, and President Biden plans to replace all of them with American-made electric vehicles. The American-made part of this is essential because the announcement was part of Biden’s “Made In America” executive order, which is set to redirect a sizable portion of the government’s spending to American businesses and on American-made products.

Nebraska’s Largest Utilities’ EV Programs & Incentives
Interested in purchasing an electric vehicle or charger? Click a link, below, if you are a customer of one of Nebraska’s largest utilities and want to learn more about their EV programs and incentives, or check your local utility’s website for any available resources.

New Offshore Wind Turbine Can Power a Home for a Day in Just 7 Seconds

By John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

The first large-scale offshore wind farm in the United States may use the largest wind turbine in the world. Here are a few ways to think about what all that might mean. The developers of the Vineyard Wind project off Massachusetts have just announced that they’ll be using GE wind turbines—specifically, the GE Haliade-X. That turbine recently got a capacity upgrade, from a world-leading 12 megawatts (MW) to a world-leading-by-even-more 13 MW. Those developments got me thinking about both the turbine and the project. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

President-Elect Biden Must Prioritize Coal Communities—and Here’s How, by Jeremy Richardson, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

CIVILIAN CLIMATE CORPS

The Energy 202: Young people want to do something about climate change. Biden may have an answer, by Dino Grandoni, with Alexandra Ellerbeck, Washington Post

During the campaign, Biden called for mobilizing “the next generation of conservation and resilience workers through a Civilian Climate Corps.” Now Biden’s allies are beginning to think about what exactly such a program will look like as he prepares to take office next month.

GTM’S POLITICAL CLIMATE PODCAST

‘The Landscape Has Shifted’: Neil Chatterjee on FERC’s Role in the Energy Transition, by Julia Pyper, Greentech Media


In this episode of Political Climate, we speak to FERC Commissioner Neil Chatterjee about several of the agency’s recent rulemakings, past controversies and his outlook for the future of U.S. energy policy in today’s shifting political landscape.

 

GREEN BANKS

Green bank advocates hope Biden win can help reinvigorate idea in Minnesota, by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

The coalition suggested that a bank with $100 million in capital could create as many as 15,000 jobs in Minnesota. Fifteen green banks operate in 12 states and have financed $5 billion in energy investments, returning more than $3.60 for every $1 spent, the report says. Most green banks operate on the coasts, with Michigan Saves being the only one in the Midwest. Ohio and Missouri have begun exploring the concept.

Coalition for Green Capital Report:  A Green Recovery For Minnesota: Job Creation, Environmental Justice, and Clean Energy

GOOGLE

Google calls for more RTOs, designs ‘intelligent platform’ to meet 24/7 clean energy goal, by Emma Penrod, Utility Dive

Achieving Google’s new 24/7 clean energy goal will require both the adoption of new technologies, and new purchasing options, the company’s head of global energy markets and policy said Thursday on a National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) panel. Eighty percent of offsite corporate procurement takes place in regions with access to competitive wholesale markets, according to Bryn Baker, director of policy innovation at the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance.

Previously Posted

SELLING ENERGY EFFICIENCY + SOLAR AS A PACKAGE

POWERHOME SOLAR Named Silver Honoree In Inc.’s Best In Business Awards, PR Newswire
POWERHOME SOLAR is an energy efficiency company that provides high-quality American-made solar panels as part of a complete energy-savings package for residential customers. The company launched in 2014 in Mooresville, N.C., and today has nearly 1,700 employees, including a commercial division. Operating in 10 states, it is ranked No. 255 on the 2020 Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in America — the third time in four years that the company has made the top 300 on this prestigious list. 

ENERGY STAR

ENERGY STAR® is the government-backed symbol for energy efficiency, providing simple, credible, and unbiased information that consumers rely on to make well-informed decisions. Click here to find ways to save at home.

PV RECYCLING – AN ECONOMIC OPPORTUNITY

Solar panel recycling in the US — a looming issue that could harm industry growth and reputation, PV Magazine

According to a 2016 report by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the economic benefits of a U.S. circular economy could be around $135.3 million in 2020, $1.4 billion by 2030, and $10.1 billion by 2050. “Economic multipliers would significantly increase these amounts,” said Vanderhoof.

LETTER TO EV BUYERS

Letter to a Friend Buying an Electric Car, by Joe Wachunas, CleanTechnica
Two friends recently bought electric cars for their families after thinking about it for a long time. Beyond wanting to congratulate them, and click my heels together like Gene Kelly in Singing in the Rain, I felt the need to describe, in detail, just how big a deal this EV purchase is, beyond platitudes like “EVs are so amazing for the world.” So I wrote them a letter.

About Joe Wachunas
Joe Wachunas lives in Portland, Oregon, and works for the nonprofit Forth, which promotes electric transportation. He is also involved with Electrify Now because he believes that electrifying everything, from transportation to homes, is the quickest path to an equitable, clean energy future. And of course, Joe and his family live in an all-electric home and drive an EV.

Coal community leaders release historic platform for national economic transition

Appalachian Voices News Release, June 29, 2020

NATIONWIDE – Today, 80 local, regional, and national organizations and leaders unveiled their National Economic Transition (NET) platform to give federal and national leaders and policymakers the framework for an ambitious national transition program that supports the people and places hit hardest by the changing coal economy.

This NET platform was crafted by local, tribal, and labor leaders living and working in coal communities, along with non-profit sector partners, during a year-long collaboration led by the Just Transition Fund. Amid the sharp decline of the coal sector over the past decade, these community leaders have already developed and implemented local policy solutions that help tackle the climate crisis and spur inclusive, equitable, and sustainable economic growth in places that once relied on coal. Read more here.

Just Transition Fund (JTF)
As the only national philanthropic initiative focused solely on coal community transition, the Just Transition Fund is uniquely positioned to serve as a hub to build, connect, and sustain the transition movement. Based on our experience in the field, we’ve discovered that communities need both investment and technical assistance to advance transition efforts.

Where JTF Works
The Fund focuses on coalfield and power plant communities. Geographic priorities include key states in Appalachia, the West, and the Midwest. The Fund gives preference to states experiencing the largest numbers of plant retirements and to regions that contain both plants and mines.

FINANCIAL STRATEGIES FOR TRANSITIONING FROM COAL TO RENEWABLES

New Renewable Energy Cheaper than Coal Plants, North American Windpower
New renewable energy is already cheaper than continuing to operate coal plants in much of the world, according to a recently released report by the Rocky Mountain InstituteCarbon Tracker Initiative and Sierra Club. The report, How to Retire Early: Making Accelerated Coal Phase-Out Feasible and Just, lays out specific financial strategies that utilities and policy makers can use to engineer a faster phase-out of coal in various regions of the world.

NEW GREEN BIZ REPORT & WEBINAR

How Corporations are Managing Risk, Resiliency and Sustainability Report, GreenBiz
Download the report and register for the GreenBiz webcast on July 14th to hear directly from both the research sponsor, NRG Energy, and several participants: How Businesses Can Overcome Barriers to Achieving Climate Goals.

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

As much as $125 billion needed by 2030 to support EV growth: Brattle report, American Public Power Association. An investment of between $75 billion and $125 billion in the electric power system will be needed by 2030 to serve 20 million electric vehicles, according to a report by The Brattle Group. There will be 10 to 35 million electric vehicles in the United States by 2030, a steep rise from the 1.5 million electric vehicles on U.S. roads in 2020, Brattle economists estimate. Factors driving the proliferation of electric vehicles include decreasing vehicle and battery costs, an expanding variety of electric vehicle models, more widespread charging infrastructure, as well as favorable federal and state policies and incentives, they say.

ACCIONA acquires 3,000 MW in photovoltaic projects being developed in the USA

Acciona News Release

ACCIONA today announced the signature of an agreement with the US company Tenaska to acquire a portfolio of photovoltaic projects in seven states across the country. The portfolio comprises approximately 3,000 megawatts (MW) of rated power in utility-scale photovoltaic plants and 1.000 MW of battery storage. The transaction covers 20 projects located in the States of Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kentucky, Illinois, Kansas, Oklahoma and Missouri, within the scope of the PJM Interconnection and Southwest Power Pool (SPP) markets. Tenaska – through Tenaska Solar Ventures, the company’s solar development services business – will work with ACCIONA to complete development of the projects.

The Omaha, Nebraska-based company has a robust renewables program that includes solar and wind generation in various stages of development, construction and operation. Tenaska Solar Ventures provides development services to approximately 40 projects in 11 states, totaling roughly 6,000 MW of renewable solar capacity. Read more here.

Related Article

ACCIONA buys solar + storage on a national scale, PV Magazine
The Spanish company has purchased 3 GW of solar projects and 1 GW of solar + storage from developer Tenaska, with all of the projects concentrated in non-traditional solar markets.

Previously Posted

The Midwest’s solar future will be unlike anything seen before, PV Magazine
Fitch Solutions Marco Research has boldly predicted the region will be a main driver towards the 100 GW of solar power capacity expected to hit the U.S. over the next 10 years. The procurement will be led by city and utility commitments to renewable energy, the falling costs of solar and the continued expansion of popular community solar programs.

More Regional & State Energy Transition News

Green Bonds

Green bonds lead sustainable funding past $1tn mark, PV Magazine International
In the past 12 years, green bonds have raised nearly $800 billion for investment in clean energy and other sustainability projects and companies are now pegging bond interest payments to their environmental performance.

Grid Decarbonization

Carbon-free – are we at a tipping point?, sponsored content by DistribuTECH, written by Julia Hamm, SEPA President. Published by Utility Dive. Of all the changes and industry trends I’ve witnessed over the past two decades, I believe the most significant is one we are witnessing today: voluntary utility commitments to get to 100% clean or carbon-free energy within the next two-and-a-half to three decades. 

EV News

Featured Nonprofit Energy Transition Initiative

The Just Transition Fund (JTF) is a national philanthropic initiative focused on coal community transition. The Fund supports and connects frontline communities through four key strategies.

Where JTF Works
The Fund focuses on coalfield and power plant communities. Our geographic priorities include key states in Appalachia, the West, and the Midwest. The Fund gives preference to states experiencing the largest numbers of plant retirements and to regions that contain both plants and mines.