Tag Archives: Department of Energy

Hundreds of environmental, consumer groups request investigation of electric utility industry

Contributed by Solar United Neighbors, Solar Power World

More than 230 consumer, environmental and public interest groups urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the electric utility industry for widespread abuses. These include bribery, fake dark-money campaigns and denying customers access to renewable energy.

Some of the abuses described in the petition include:

  • An Ohio utility, FirstEnergy, paid $60 million in bribes to the Ohio House speaker’s political machine. In return, the utility secured a $1 billion ratepayer-funded bailout for several of its unprofitable nuclear and coal plants.
  • Florida Power and Light spent millions of dollars on political consultants who engineered a scheme to siphon votes to third-party “ghost candidates” from candidates committed to holding utilities accountable, according to reporting by the Orlando Sentinel. The ghost candidate won in all three races. One utility opponent lost by just 32 votes.
  • A recent national survey found that nearly three-quarters of solar developers experience delays in interconnecting projects to the electric grid. Eighty-five percent of respondents specifically named utility noncompliance with interconnection procedures as a problem. These delays can increase the cost of distributed solar projects and cause customers to back out of long-delayed projects. Minnesota regulators fined Xcel Energy $1 million for failing to keep pace with a backlog of projects. Two years later the backlog remains a barrier to solar growth.

Read more here.

Photo: Federal Trade Commission building. Credit: Wikipedia

MORE U.S. NEWS

Summary: The U.S. economy has been deeply impacted by supply chain constraints. These constraints are due to shortages of labor and multiple classes of materials, causing disruptions on a global level. For public power utilities, the ability to provide reliable and affordable power to homes, businesses, and critical facilities is foundational to both their business model and the recovery and expansion of the U.S. economy. Prioritization of critical electric infrastructure and the electric industry’s critical functions during this period of material shortages and delays is necessary to prevent further economic slowdown and ensure electric reliability.

GLOBAL NEWS

Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rises, ocean heat levels and acidification, all set new records during 2021, while some glaciers reached the point of no return, according to the latest flagship report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), published on Wednesday. The State of the Climate 2021 indicates that extreme weather – the day-to-day face of climate change – wreaked a heavy toll of human lives, triggered shocks for food and water security, and led to hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses last year.

INNOVATIVE COOPERATIVE VENTURE

Democratizing clean energy: cooperative allows regular folks to profit from solar development, Wisconsin State Journal

A new venture is offering Wisconsin residents and businesses an opportunity to profit from solar energy development. A joint venture of Renew Wisconsin and a group of solar developers and installers, SolarShare Wisconsin co-op allows regular people — regardless of wealth — to invest in small-scale solar farms by pooling their money . . . Unlike large-scale solar farms, which require hundreds or thousands of acres and can generate local opposition, projects of that size can typically be built on less than 40 acres and connected directly to the local distribution grid rather than long-distance transmission lines.

Nebraskans for Solar Note: Nebraska has many very small towns and villages with fewer than 1000 residents where small-scale solar projects could provide a significant percentage of their electricity needs.

On Earth Day, USDA Invests Nearly $800 Million in Critical Infrastructure to Combat Climate Change Across Rural America

U.S. Department of Agriculture News Release

WASHINGTON, April 22, 2022 – Today, in honor of Earth Day 2022, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing nearly $800 million in climate-smart infrastructure (PDF) in 40 states, Puerto Rico and the Northern Mariana Islands. These investments will strengthen the health and livelihoods of people across rural America. They include funding for 165 projects to expand access to safe water and/or clean energy for people living in disadvantaged communities.

Today’s announcement is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Building a Better America Rural Infrastructure Tour, during which Biden Administration officials are traveling to dozens of rural communities to talk about the impact of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law investments, as well as President Biden’s broader commitment to ensure federal resources reach all communities in rural America. This announcement also furthers the President’s Justice40 Initiative, which commits to delivering at least 40 percent of the benefits from federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Releases Statement on President Biden’s Executive Order to Strengthen America’s Forests, Boost Wildfire Resilience, and Combat Global Deforestation

Statement by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm on Earth Day, Department of Energy News Release 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm today issued the following statement in honor of Earth Day: 

“In the more than 50 years since the first Earth Day, climate change has escalated into a crisis no one can ignore. That’s why this Earth Day, and every day, the Department of Energy is accelerating our nation’s progress toward a clean energy future by investing in workers, communities, businesses, and the planet.   

Thanks to President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, America is investing $62 billion through the Department of Energy to lay the foundation for a clean energy economy. With the rest of the President’s agenda to Build a Better America, we’ll finally get on a path to 100% clean power by 2035 and net zero emissions by 2050—while increasing American clean energy independence and creating millions of good-paying jobs.” 

Watch an Earth Day message from Secretary Granholm and other Cabinet members here.

Biden invokes Defense Production Act to bolster domestic battery manufacturing for EVs, energy storage

By Ethan Howland, Senior Editor, Utility Dive

 

“We need to embrace all the tools and technologies that can help free us from our dependence on fossil fuels and move us toward more homegrown clean energy technologies made by American companies and American workers,” Biden said during a press briefing Thursday. “We need to end our long-term reliance on China and other countries for inputs that will power the future.” Read more here.

 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS 

DOE Releases New Study Confirming Strong Performance of Energy Efficiency Loans

 

“Energy efficiency is the lowest cost clean energy resource we have,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “The findings in this study are a compelling invitation to financial institutions to invest with homeowners, states, and local governments to maximize clean energy deployment under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and beyond.

 

NEW GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION CARBON STANDARDS 

GSA to impose first national carbon standard for concrete, E&E News, Climatewire
The procurement arm of the federal government is imposing new limitations on high carbon-emitting building materials for all its major projects, a move that will affect billions of dollars of federal infrastructure investments. The new General Services Administration standards — to be released this morning — will require that federal contractors use climate-friendly concrete and asphalt in all the agency’s major projects. GSA oversees $75 billion in annual contracts, and the agency’s real estate portfolio comprises more than 370 million square feet.

VALMONT INDUSTRIES NEWS RELEASE

Valmont SM Secures Minimum USD $209.0 Million Multi-Year Order with Siemens Gamesa for Production of Rotor Houses for the European Offshore Wind Industry

OMAHA, Neb.–(BUSINESS WIRE)– Valmont® Industries, Inc. (NYSE: VMI), a leading global provider of engineered products and services for infrastructure development and irrigation equipment and services for agriculture, today announced that Valmont® SM has entered into a supply agreement with Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) to provide components for the next generation of rotor houses for the offshore wind market. The order is the largest single order in Valmont SM’s history.

The U.S. Government Has Ambitious Energy Goals. Community Solar Will Be Key To Achieving Them

By Allison Steele, Coalition For Community Solar Access

Summit Ridge Energy recently unveiled the nation’s largest rooftop community solar array, a 9.2-MW solar project in Maryland that will provide monthly energy savings to about 1,300 residential and small commercial customers across the state. 

“This is a marquee project for Summit Ridge, our capital partners at Hannon Armstrong and the entire community solar industry,” said Steve Reader, CEO of Summit. “Leveraging 23 acres of largely unused roof space to generate energy savings for thousands of Marylanders is precisely the direction our nation’s energy generation strategy needs to head.”  Read more here.

NFS Note: Nebraska has many small towns and villages with fewer than 1,000 residents, rural places that would require a relatively small number of megawatts of community wind and/or solar plus storage to provide 100% of their energy needs.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

U.S. GOVERNMENT’S FISCAL YEAR 2023 BUDGET

Statement by President Joe Biden on the FY 2023 Budget, The White House Briefing Room

Budgets are statements of values, and the budget I am releasing today sends a clear message that we value fiscal responsibility, safety and security at home and around the world, and the investments needed to continue our equitable growth and build a better America.  

My Administration is on track to reduce the federal deficit by more than $1.3 trillion this year, cutting in half the deficit from the last year of the previous Administration and delivering the largest one-year reduction in the deficit in U.S. history. That’s the direct result of my Administration’s strategy to get the pandemic under control and grow the economy from the bottom up and the middle out. 

NFS Note: The U.S. federal government’s fiscal year is from October 1 to September 30.

Related 

Also From The White House Briefing Room

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY NEWS RELEASES

Midwest Communities
Duluth, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
Highland Park, Michigan
Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
Jackson County, Illinois
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Pembroke Township and Hopkins Park, Illinois

Electric Vehicles Don’t Have To Be Elitist – They Can Erode Social Inequities

Contributed by Marshall Shepherd, Forbes

I am unapologetically a supporter of electric vehicles (EVs) and have thoroughly enjoyed mine. It has eradicated my gasoline bill, and my home power bill has not significantly changed thanks to my power company’s EV rate. I ride in the toll lanes in Georgia without fees and will claim my tax rebate this season. To be clear, I understand the environmental issues associated with batteries and have been pleasantly surprised with the amount of charging stations in the Southeast.

The bipartisan infrastructure law that was recently passed will move the needle even further on charging access. All of this is a good thing for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Oddly, when I (or someone else) shares their enthusiasm for EVs, there is a strange and almost vitriolic reaction from some corners. A common narrative is that “everyone cannot afford them” or “stop being an elitist.” Continue reading here.

About the Writer
Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, a leading international expert in weather and climate, was the 2013 President of American Meteorological Society (AMS) and is Director of the University of Georgia’s (UGA) Atmospheric Sciences Program. Dr. Shepherd is the Georgia Athletic Association Distinguished Professor and hosts The Weather Channel’s Weather Geeks Podcast, which can be found at all podcast outlets.

MORE EV NEWS & RESOURCES

Volkswagen officially unveils its ID.Buzz EV, the hippie bus reborn, by Andrew Tarantola, Senior Editor, Engadget

The Microbus is back, baby! Nearly 75 years since the first Volkswagen Type 2 rolled off its assembly line and into the annals of Americana as an icon of 1960s counterculture, VW is re-releasing the emblematic vehicle — this time as a full EV.

Learn more about electric vehicles at the links below. If your local utility is not on this list but provides information on its website about EVs, please let us know by sending an email to: nebraskansforsolar@gmail.com.

Additional Links – Local & National

Related Reading

American Battery Factory plans battery cell gigafactories to support U.S. storage market, Utility Dive. DOE said in December that there are 13 new EV battery cell gigafactories coming to the U.S. by 2026.

There’s new momentum in Congress for a climate bill, but a lot of questions on what it could include

By Ella Nilsen and Lauren Fox, CNN

Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has cracked open the door for negotiations on a slimmed-down version of President Joe Biden’s climate and economic bill following months of little progress on the issue. Manchin outlined his counteroffer this week, confirming that climate and clean energy provisions will be some of the few original pieces of Biden’s original Build Back Better bill he wants to pass through a Democrat-only bill. Manchin is also calling for Democrats to raise taxes on corporations and America’s wealthy and use that revenue to reduce the budget deficit and spend on new climate programs. Read more here.

Watch the following brief video at the same above link: CNN asks West Virginia residents about climate change. 

Previously Posted

NEW FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

ENERGY SAVER.GOV NEWS & RESOURCES

  • Energy Saver 101 Infographic: Home Energy Audits
    A home energy assessment is the first step to saving energy and money. Sometimes called an energy audit, a home energy assessment helps you learn how you use energy, determine where it’s being wasted, and prioritize efficiency upgrades. Making energy efficiency upgrades identified in a home energy assessment can save 5-30 percent on your monthly energy bill while also ensuring the health and safety of your house.
  • New Plug-in Electric Vehicle Sales in the United States Nearly Doubled from 2020 to 2021
    Sales of new light-duty plug-in electric vehicles, including all-electric vehicles (EVs) and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), nearly doubled from 308,000 in 2020 to 608,000 in 2021.

Related Links

ConnectDER Partners with Nebraska Public Power and Omaha Public Power District to Provide Simple Solar Integration

ConnectDER News Release, PR Newswire

ConnectDER, the innovative company that enables utilities and homeowners to expand access to distributed energy resources (DERs), is launching availability of its Solar Collar for new residential solar installations in Nebraska. ConnectDER’s simple, affordable meter collar can now be used in solar installations throughout Nebraska Public Power and Omaha Public Power District areas. The ConnectDER Solar Collar is a UL-Listed meter collar that enables rapid interconnection of grid-ready residential PV systems. The device creates a safe, standardized, low-cost alternative to traditional wiring methods for home installations. Continue reading here.

SOLAR APP+ ALSO EXPEDITING SOLAR PROJECTS & SAVING MONEY

LINKS TO RESOURCES FOR POTENTIAL RENEWABLE ENERGY CUSTOMERS

OPPD, NPPD, LES: Customer-Owned Generation

American Solar Energy Society (ASES)

Department of Energy

Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

  • Residential Renewable Energy Tax Credit
    Eligible Technologies Include: Solar Water Heat, Solar Photovoltaics, Biomass, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Wind (Small)
  • Business Energy Investment Tax Credit (ITC)
    Eligible Technologies Include: Solar Water Heat, Solar Space Heat, Geothermal Electric, Solar Thermal Electric, Solar Thermal Process Heat, Solar Photovoltaics, Geothermal Heat Pumps, Combined Heat & Power, Wind (Small), Geothermal Direct-Use, Microturbines

EnergySage

Nebraska Wind & Solar Conference Renewable Energy Series

Consumers Webinar for Residential / Small Business Solar
Speakers
David Rich: Sustainable Energy Manager, NPPD
John Hay: Extension Educator – Energy, UNL
Ron Rose: Renewable Energy Consultant, NPPD
Kirk Estee: Customer Alternative Energy Solutions Manager, OPPD
Marc Shkolnick: Manager, Energy Services, LES

Additional Resources

New Biden Administration website and guidebook focus on implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

The White House 

Delivering Results from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
President Biden forged consensus and compromise between Democrats, Republicans, and Independents to demonstrate our democracy can deliver big wins for the American people. After decades of talk on rebuilding America’s crumbling infrastructure, President Biden delivered the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – a historic investment in America that will change people’s lives for the better and get America moving again.

A Guidebook to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law
Our Administration is committed to maximizing transparency so communities across America know what to apply for, who to contact, and how to get ready to rebuild. That’s why we’ve created a guidebook for state, local, tribal, and territorial leaders. This guidebook is a roadmap to the funding available under the law, as well as an explanatory document that shows, in as much detail as currently available, program-by-program information. Learn more here.

ENERGY ASSISTANCE PART OF THE BIPARTISAN INFRASTRUCTURE LAW

White House Announces Additional Actions to Help Families Afford Energy Bills, Building on Historic InvestmentsWhite House Briefing Room, February 1, 2022

The White House is joining states, localities, advocacy groups, and utilities in encouraging American families to apply for programs that can help hard-pressed families address home energy costs. These resources include the record funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provided by the Biden-Harris Administration this year and funds to reduce home energy costs in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. In addition to outreach efforts across the Administration, the White House also announced information encouraging states to use all available American Rescue Plan resources for energy assistance and funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to reduce home energy costs. 

NEBRASKA AMONG STATES IN BIDEN’S METHANE REDUCTION PLAN

White House methane plan funds orphan well cleanup, rewards reduced farm emissions, Ohio Capital Journal

The White House plan listed how it would distribute $1.15 billion to 26 states eligible to receive funds to cap so-called orphan wells, which are no longer used for oil and gas extraction but can leak methane because former operators neglected to cover them. Each state is eligible for a $25 million initial grant, plus a combined $500 million in additional grants in the program’s first year. The Interior Department will provide more detailed instructions “in the coming weeks,” the department said in a news release.

Biden Administration Announces $1.15 Billion for States to Create Jobs Cleaning Up Orphaned Oil and Gas Wells, Department of the Interior News Release

UNL IN THE NEWS

WVU researchers to improve the flow of renewable energy to power plants with $7.5 million in grants, West Virginia University Today

The project team is extensive and is comprised of an entire supply chain—the research is being conducted within the Statler College, tested at Oak Ridge Laboratory, manufactured by General Electric Research and University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and is slated to be commercialized by General Electric if successful.

U.S. CLEAN ENERGY CORPS

US Clean Energy Corps To Pursue Climate Resilience, CleanTechnica

A new program launched by the Biden administration will hire 1,000 people in the US to help expand the country’s clean energy infrastructure, a step the White House says is “critical to achieving the president’s goal of 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035.” The Clean Energy Corps will draw from engineering, physical science, legislative affairs, and contract management sectors in its multi-disciplinary work. The creation of the Clean Energy Corps represents the largest expansion of the DOE’s workforce in nearly half a century. 

PEAKING PLANTS

Activists urge Massachusetts to take another look at need for peaking plants, Energy News Network

Campaigns in Boston and western Massachusetts are taking aim at existing and proposed peakers. Critics say the facilities are bad for the climate and public health, and that cleaner and more economical alternatives now exist

INTERCONNECTION CLOGS / BUILDING A BETTER GRID INITIATIVE / MICROGRIDS

Overwhelmed by Solar Projects, the Nation’s Largest Grid Operator Seeks a Two-Year Pause on Approvals, Inside Climate News

The nation’s largest electric grid operator, PJM Interconnection, is so clogged with requests from energy developers seeking connections to its regional transmission network in the eastern United States that it is proposing a two-year pause on reviewing more than 1,200 energy projects, most of them solar power.

Solutions Underway

‘NOVEL’ CROSS-SEAM TRANSMISSION STUDY

SPP, MISO identify 7 cross-seam transmission projects that could unlock 81 GW of new generation, Utility Dive

The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) and the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) have identified seven possible transmission projects across their joint border that could allow 81 GW of potential generating capacity to interconnect with the grid. The transmission projects, costing about $1.8 billion, would relieve transmission constraints that are preventing wind, solar and other potential projects along the grid operators’ seam from being able to come online, according to a draft study released last week by the grid operators.

FEATURED ORGANIZATION 

The AgriSolar Clearinghouse is a nationwide hub developed by the National Center for Appropriate Technology to connect businesses, landowners, and researchers with trusted resources to support the growth of co-located solar and sustainable agriculture, also known as agrivoltaic development. 

NEW NATIONAL NETWORK

Daimler, NextEra, and BlackRock to deploy nationwide US electric trucking network, PV Magazine

An initial investment of about $650 million divided evenly among the group will launch the deployment of EV and hydrogen medium- and heavy-duty trucks and charging stations across the US.

Biden Revives ‘Clean Energy’ Program With $1B Loan Guarantee

By Matthew Daly, Associated Press
U.S. News & World Report

The Energy Department said it would guarantee up to $1 billion in loans to help a Nebraska company scale up production of “clean” hydrogen to convert natural gas into commercial products used in manufacturing and agriculture.

The revived loan program is part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to slash planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, amid legislative gridlock that has stalled a $2 trillion package of social and environmental initiatives. It’s among the tools he can use without new legislation. Read more here.

Research paper Daly references in the article, published by Energy Science & Engineering:
How green is blue hydrogen?,
by Robert W. Howarth and Mark Z. Jacobson


Loan Programs Office (LPO)
LPO has more than $40 billion in loans and loan guarantees available to help deploy large-scale energy infrastructure projects in the United States. Over the past decade, LPO has closed more than $30 billion of deals across a variety of energy sectors.


Previously Posted

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S HYDROGEN SHOT

The Department of Energy’s first Energy Earthshot, launched June 7, 2021—Hydrogen Shot—seeks to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade.

The Hydrogen Shot establishes a framework and foundation for clean hydrogen deployment in the American Jobs Plan, which includes support for demonstration projects. Industries are beginning to implement clean hydrogen to reduce emissions, yet many hurdles remain to deploying it at scale.

Achieving the Hydrogen Shot’s 80% cost reduction goal can unlock new markets for hydrogen, including steel manufacturing, clean ammonia, energy storage, and heavy-duty trucks. This would create more clean energy jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and position America to compete in the clean energy market on a global scale. These efforts would ensure that environmental protection and benefits for local communities are a priority.

GREEN HYDROGEN NEWS

Here’s why one solar industry veteran is betting big on clean hydrogen, CNBC


Raffi Garabedian
 spent a dozen years developing solar panel technology at First Solar, a photovoltaics company that currently has a market value around $8 billion. The technologist then went on to co-found clean hydrogen start-up Electric Hydrogen, which he’s currently building out as its CEO.

Titan Solar Power is now the national installer for Go Solar Group

By Staff at Solar Builder Magazine

Go Solar Group inked a deal with Titan Solar Power to be its national installation team. Founded in Utah, Go Solar Group has expanded from its sole Salt Lake City office to include brick-and-mortar commercial and residential solar installation crews to Reno, Nevada; San Antonio, Texas; and Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Go Solar Group’s installation partnership with Titan Solar Power expands its solar installation access to Arizona, Colorado, Florida, California, Missouri, Illinois, New Jersey, Virginia, Georgia, and North and South Carolina. In 2022, Titan Solar Power plans to expand its installation reach to include Oklahoma, Nebraska, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Alabama, which will also further expand Go Solar Group’s installation outreach. Read more here. 

WORLD’S FIRST NAILABLE SOLAR SHINGLE

GAF Energy Launches Game-Changing Solar Roof to Power Mass Adoption of Clean Energy

This new system incorporates the world’s first nailable solar shingle, the Timberline Solar Energy Shingle™ (ES), which will be assembled domestically at GAF Energy’s manufacturing and R&D facility in San Jose, California—creating American jobs and delivering a revolutionary product with the potential to drive a seismic shift in residential clean energy adoption.

NFS Note: We emailed the company to ask if the GAF Energy solar roof is available in Nebraska. GAF’s reply: “We are not currently serving your area, but we are expanding across the US quickly. We hope to offer clean, renewable energy where you live soon. Our team is hard at work expanding our services and we hope to serve Nebraska customers in the future. So, please stay in touch! Check out our blog for the latest on what’s happening at GAF Energy and in solar.”

GOODYEAR NEWS RELEASES

Goodyear Develops 70% Sustainable Materials Tire With Industry-Leading Innovations


Goodyear’s new tire features three different carbon blacks that are produced from methane, carbon dioxide, and plant-based oil. Initial life cycle assessments demonstrate either reduced carbon emissions compared with current methods of carbon black production or the use of bio-based or waste feedstock sources.

Previously Posted: Goodyear Collaborates With Monolith On Carbon Black; Initial Testing Demonstrates Reduced Emissions

MORE ON MONOLITH MATERIALS


Turquoise hydrogen leader awarded $1bn US government loan to expand commercial facilities tenfold, Recharge News
Neither Monolith nor the Department of Energy (DOE) has explained the exact conditions that must be met for the 20-year loan to be finalized, but the announcement suggests that both are confident it will go ahead.


Fitch Rates Nebraska Public Power District’s General Revs ‘A+’; Outlook Stable
Scroll down to “New Large Customer” for a statement on Monolith Materials.