Tag Archives: Cole Epley

OPPD community solar project could allow for 100 percent renewables, in theory

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

By the end of 2020, OPPD expects more than 50 percent of its retail electricity sales to come from renewable sources, most of that from wind turbines . . . The math is pretty simple. “When you pair the district’s supply-side suite of energy generators with someone who wants to go up to 50 percent participation in a community solar program, they would at that point achieve 100 percent renewable energy designation on an annual basis,” Brad Underwood, OPPD’s director of corporate planning and analysis, told the utility’s board of directors on Tuesday . . . Of course, the variability of wind- and solar-powered generators means that the 100 percent designation would be theoretical. Read the entire article here.

Photo: Kearney, Nebraska Community Solar
“OPPD management doesn’t expect to award a contract for actual construction of the district’s first community solar project until perhaps April or May.” – Cole Epley


In his article, Cole Epley references Fremont’s Community Solar. Last December the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) completed a case study: Inside the City of Fremont, Nebraska’s Community Solar Program, which can be downloaded here. 

Based on multiple interviews with citizens of Fremont, Nebraska, this case study describes how program design and a latent demand for solar power led to selling out the 1.5 MW solar farm in seven weeks. This case study also includes insight into the commercial and industrial demand in small town Nebraska.

Save the Date! On April 5, 2018 from 1 to 2 pm, SEPA will present a webinar called, “Avoiding the Growing Pains of Community Solar.” The speakers will include Brian Newton, City of Fremont Administrator and Fremont Department of Utilities Manager.

Apple banks on tax break to build 2nd campus, hire 20,000

By Michael Liedtyke, AP Technology Writer, Omaha World-Herald

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is planning to build a new corporate campus and hire 20,000 U.S. workers in an expansion driven in part by a tax cut that will enable the iPhone maker to bring an estimated $245 billion back to its home country . . . Excluding banks and other financial services companies, Moody’s Investors Service estimates corporate America has an estimated $1.6 trillion in overseas cash. Most of that is in the technology industry, with Apple at the top of the heap. Read more here.







This Hearst ranch has raised cattle since 1865, now it also powers Apple’s headquarters
The historic Hearst cattle ranch has become a hybrid solar farm for Apple’s Cupertino campus; The ranch claims to be the nation’s largest single-source provider of grass-fed beef; The project is still expanding, with the second phase of the 2.5 million solar panels being installed this year.



Renewable energy made up 30 percent of OPPD’s retail sales in 2017

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

Renewable energy primarily derived from wind whistling across the Nebraska plains accounted for 30 percent of the Omaha Public Power District’s retail energy sales in 2017. That marks a significant milestone for the traditionally coal-heavy utility, especially considering that renewables accounted for just 13 percent of OPPD’s retail sales in 2016 . . . The utility has a goal of hiking that portion to 50 percent by 2020. Click here to read the complete news story.

Photo: The Grande Prairie wind farm, the largest wind project in Nebraska history.
Credit: Megan Farmer/The World-Herald


OPPD’s clean energy goals worthy

Grande Prairie Wind Project

Nuclear waste, with nowhere else to go, languishes at NPPD’s Cooper plant

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

Even after 10 years left cooling in a pool outside of a reactor core, a single spent nuclear fuel assembly still emits 20 times the lethal dose of radiation, according to the NRC, the federal agency tasked with oversight of such facilities.

There are more than 1,800 such assemblies in so-called “dry storage” at Cooper; the Calhoun plant north of Omaha has about 300, with nearly 950 more due to be moved out of the pool there in about three years, if things go according to plan. Read the entire news story here.

Photo: Workers move spent fuel from NPPD’s Cooper nuclear plant’s cooling pool into dry cask storage in November 2017. Credit: Ryan Soderlin / The World-Herald

Construction starts on Nebraska wind farm that will sell electricity to Facebook for Omaha-area data center

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

Construction began Tuesday on the Dixon County, Nebraska, wind farm from which Facebook will buy electricity to power its massive Omaha-area data center. Survey work and site preparation will begin immediately, officials from Boston-area Enel Green Power North America said, and turbine deliveries are expected in June. “We’ll start road work before winter sets in, and major construction work will begin after the winter,” said Mark McGrail, associate vice president for energy management for Enel Green Power North America.

Continue reading here.

Image: Rendition of Papillion Facebook Data Center by Facebook.

Wind farm in Kimball, Nebraska, is being decommissioned, but a new one will rise on the same site in 2018

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — For the first time in about seven years as a wind developer, Sandhills Energy President Eric Johnson finally has an answer to the question he most commonly gets asked: What happens to wind farms when they’ve reached the end of their useful lives? At least in Kimball, Nebraska, where Johnson’s company is working with a Lincoln-based general contractor to decommission the state’s first utility-scale wind farm, the answer is to build a bigger, better wind energy project. Read more here.

Photo: Kimball Wind Farm. Credit: Nebraska Municipal Power Pool

Sandhills Energy Website

UNK will purchase more than half of the electricity from Nebraska’s largest solar farm in Kearney

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

Operators of the state’s largest solar farm have yet to publicly market shares of the community solar project being built at Kearney’s technology park. But six months before Chicago-based SoCore Energy completes the project in Kearney, organizers have already landed a high-profile taker that will purchase more than half of the electricity generated by the $11 million project. The University of Nebraska at Kearney expects to get about 12 gigawatts of electricity a year from the 5.8-megawatt solar farm through its purchase of about 3,600 “shares” in the project. Continue reading.

Photo: Jon Watts, left, UNK’s vice chancellor for business and finance, with Kearney Mayor Stan Clouse. The solar farm is being built in Kearney. Credit: UNK Communications


NextEra’s wind energy capacity in Nebraska will more than triple with new projects

By Cole Epley, The Omaha World-Herald

The largest owner of wind energy projects in the U.S. has two projects in the pipeline in Nebraska that will more than triple the capacity of its installed wind here in the next 2½ years. Read the entire story here.

Photo Credit: NextEra Energy

SEE ALSO: NextEra lines up GE in Nebraska, ReNews

YouTube Video 
NextEra Energy: Doing Well by Doing Good

Even in Nebraska, which hasn’t shied away from coal, other energy sources are gaining use

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald

President Donald Trump’s removal of the United States from the Paris Agreement climate plan won’t provide a lifeline to the ailing coal industry — even in a state like Nebraska that burns a lot of it. Utilities, railroads and other users and haulers of the black stuff say that when it comes to the move away from coal, the train has already left the station.

Continue reading.

Photo: A Union Pacific train carries coal through North Platte, Nebraska. The coal industry has seen growing competition from natural gas, wind and solar power.
Credit: Rebecca S. Gratz / The World-Herald

New developments help Nebraska take advantage of its capacity for wind power, which accounted for more than 10 percent of its energy in 2016

By Cole Epley, Omaha World-Herald  

Nebraska’s wind capacity is fourth-best in the country when it comes to the potential for producing electricity, but the state lags behind 16 others when it comes to actually tapping that resource. That could soon change, though, as more high-profile wind developments come blowing through — one, the 400-megawatt Grande Prairie project in Holt County, already is helping Nebraska catch up to its potential, industry watchers say. Continue reading.

Photo Credit: Megan Farmer / The World-Herald. Turbines at Grande Prairie, Nebraska’s largest wind energy development, helped push wind’s share of electricity generated in Nebraska to more than 10 percent.