Tag Archives: Kari Lydersen

Illinois Commerce Commission order a victory for solar, advocates say

By Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

Solar advocates cheered an order approved Tuesday by the Illinois Commerce Commission that defines crucial aspects of how the state will meet its ambitious goals for exponentially increasing solar capacity under the Future Energy Jobs Act.

On three different key points, the commission changed a proposed order from an administrative law judge in ways that solar advocates and consumer groups had recommended. If the proposed order had been implemented unchanged, advocates had feared that many rural and lower-income residents would have been excluded from solar incentives, and that the state might rely too heavily on renewable energy credits from out-of-state and existing projects as opposed to new in-state construction. Click here to read more.

Photo: skeeze / Creative Commons

Madison navigates partnership with utility as it pursues 100 percent clean energy goal

By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

On March 21, Madison’s city council signed a resolution committing the city to power 100 percent of its operations with clean energy. The resolution was especially notable since the utility serving Madison gets almost half of its power from coal, and several years ago was among Wisconsin utilities making national headlines for policies seen as hostile to distributed solar energy. But now the utility, Madison Gas & Electric (MGE), city officials and clean energy leaders are negotiating a Memorandum of Understanding that lays out plans for the expansion of solar, the spread of electric vehicles and other clean energy improvements. And the utility has pledged its support for the city’s clean energy goal. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Jordan Richmond / Creative Commons 

Clean Power Plan offers chance to right past injustices, advocates say

 By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Advocates say a little-known provision of the Clean Power Plan could become a powerful tool to advance environmental justice. The Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) is aimed at “removing barriers to investment in energy efficiency and solar measures in low‐income communities,” plus sparking “zero-emitting” renewable energy development, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes it. Continue reading.

Photo: The now-closed Crawford coal plant looms over Chicago neighborhoods in this 2012 photo. Credit: Chris Bentley / Creative Commons

Bringing Solar to Everyone, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit
Op-Ed by Ryan Evans, President of the Utah Solar Energy Association: Solar energy industry deserves encouragement ‘the Utah way’, Salt Lake Tribune
Wisconsin’s St. Croix Electric Cooperative, Dairyland Adding 15 Megawatts of Solar Energy, Electric
Co-op Today
Pacific Power: Oregon 50% RPS will barely raise customer rates through 2028, Utility Dive
Worthington group planning bulk buys to get deal on solar, The Columbus Dispatch
Johnson County moves forward with solar projects, The Gazette
FERC greenlights Apple’s petition to sell electric power, Utility Dive
Michigan Solar Car defends national title in sweeping victory, University of Michigan
Iowa State University Students Create Solar-Powered Car, Drive It Through South Dakota, KDLT News
Grant helps charge EV technology used at OPPD, The Wire – OPPD Blog
Heartland Community College’s wind turbine has met about 41% of the Illinois school’s energy needs, Pantagraph  

Q&A: Major automakers turn to Illinois startup for electric vehicle batteries

Written by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News


The Big Three automakers and the U.S. Department of Energy are banking on Illinois startup company SiNode Systems to help them develop the light, energy-dense batteries needed to accelerate the spread of electric vehicles, increasing the distance electric vehicles can drive between charges and making the technology more affordable. In June, SiNode Systems was awarded a $4 million grant to work on prototypes of better batteries with the DOE and Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler Alliance as part of the U.S. Advanced Battery Consortium (USABC), a subsidiary of the U.S. Council for Automotive Research.
Continue reading.

Photo by rudisillart / Creative Commons

Illinois center helps train clean-energy workers for the future

Harry Ohde
Written by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

This school has been around for a century, as a joint venture between the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 134, the labor union that represents about 15,000 electricians in the Chicago area, and the National Electric Contractors Association (NECA), comprising those who employ them. For generations, journeymen and apprentice electricians have learned and honed their trade here . . . Up until about three years ago, the clean energy component at the school was limited to a modest solar PV array clinging to the south side of one of the training buildings, Ohde noted. But now students at the Renewable Energy Training Field can practice on a wide range of clean energy tasks, from installing solar arrays and EV charging stations to grounding solar arrays and solar-powered street lights against lightning strikes to climbing and wiring wind turbines. Read more here.

Photo by Kari Lydersen. Harry Ohde, electrician master trainer at the NECA-IBEW technical training institute.

Report: Efficiency could provide big benefits to low-income renters

Photo: Christa Lowman / Creative Commons

Photo: Christa Lowman / Creative Commons

Written by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Low-income households spend up to three times as much of their income on energy costs as higher-income households do, and would benefit significantly from efficiency upgrades, according to a new report. The report, released Wednesday by the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy and the coalition Energy Efficiency for All, examined data from 48 U.S. cities. Read more here.

OPPD’s “Smart Steps to Saving Energy”
is a multi-phase program for income-qualified customers. Program and workshop information:
Website: www.oppd.com/smartsteps
Email: smartsteps@oppd.com
Telephone: Judi Martin, 402-636-3654
SEE ALSO: OPPD Develops Program to Help Low Usage / Low Income Customers
Lincoln Electric System’s Sustainable Energy Program
(Balance as of April 15, 2016: $2,427,055)
By taking advantage of the Sustainable Energy Program, you can save money, help reduce the need for energy during expensive peak periods and help delay the necessity to build high-cost power plants. LES incentive funds are available to residential and business customers for pre-approved energy-efficient equipment.

Q&A: A Vermont utility CEO brings her story to Wisconsin

Written by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Mary Powell is the CEO of Green Mountain Power

Mary Powell is the CEO of Green Mountain Power

Vermont and Wisconsin are kindred spirits in many ways, with lush rolling hills dotted with dairy farms and a history of populist politics.

In recent years, though, the states have charted very different paths, particularly on energy.

While Wisconsin utilities have pushed back against distributed generation and legislative leaders balk at raising the state’s clean-energy goals, Vermont is pushing toward a goal of having 90 percent of its electricity come from renewable sources.

Read more here.


EPA: Clean energy adds jobs, by John Seewer, Associated Press, Columbus Dispatch
“People need to understand clean energy is here,” [EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy] said on Thursday while touring a solar plant near Toledo, where about 6,000 people in the region work in the industry. “It’s growing jobs; it’s creating innovation.”

Helicopter to be in use with power line, Norfolk Daily News 
NELIGH — This week, contractors working on Nebraska Public Power District’s Hoskins to Neligh 345,000-volt transmission line project will use a helicopter to begin stringing shield wire . . . The new transmission line will enhance operation of NPPD’s electric transmission system and provide additional opportunities for development of renewable energy projects. Specifically, the project will help serve customers’ electricity demands in North Central Nebraska.

Local utilities balk at 20-year contracts with NPPD, by Nicholas Bergin, Lincoln Journal Star
A dozen Nebraska towns and one regional power provider have spurned Nebraska Public Power District’s demands for 20-year wholesale electric contracts. Many have opted to shop around for their electricity, with some choosing to buy it from as far away as Ohio. For most of NPPD’s wholesale customers, this is the first contract negotiation in which it has been feasible to look to a broader market of electric providers for power, thanks to the Southwest Power Pool.

Why federal tax credit expiration would hit Midwest solar the hardest

By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News 

Kari Lyderson

Kari Lyderson

Solar advocates nationwide are holding their breath as Congress debates extending the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar, a crucial tool for financing residential and commercial installations.

Legislators who support solar are pushing to include the ITC in a broader tax extenders bill making its way through Congress.

Continue reading.

Chicago summit: Midwest ‘chomping at the bit’ for energy revolution

Photo by Archigeek / Creative Commons

Photo by Archigeek / Creative Commons

Written by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

The atmosphere at a gathering of energy experts in Chicago this week was ebullient, with speakers describing a groundswell of innovation that promises to revolutionize the way energy is delivered on the grid.

A running theme the Energy Thought Summit was human resources – the people who will facilitate this transition, from energy consumers who’ve gone from passive users to active participants; to researchers who develop new technologies; to the front-line employees who manufacture, install and maintain the technology and infrastructure that keeps it all going.

Continue reading.

Streamlined permits speed up solar development in Chicago

by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Two years ago, Dorian Breuer waited six months to get permits to install solar panels on his home on the south side of Chicago.

At that same time, Breuer was in the heat of the battle to close Chicago’s two coal-fired power plants, as a leader of the Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization.

Today the coal plants are closed and Breuer, along with Jack Ailey, another leader in the campaign, run one of the four companies chosen to implement the city’s Solar Chicago program offering discounted solar installations through a bulk buy.

To continue reading, click here:

Notes related to this article:

Kari Lydersen states that, “The Solar Chicago program lets people with single-family homes and duplexes in the Chicago metropolitan area purchase solar installations at a price of $3.49 per watt of capacity, about 25 percent below market rates, according to program officials.”

Nebraskans for Solar knows of at least two local solar contractors whose installation price of $3.49 per watt of capacity is already their standard rate.

Also, our nonprofit continues to work with many other local and national organizations on efforts to reduce the “soft costs” of solar in our state. We collaborated with the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative and local sustainability leaders to help organize and present a Solar Outreach Partnership Workshop, “Solar Powering Your Community” in June 2013. Two of our board members, Michael Shonka and Ken Deffenbacher, were asked to be on a panel presentation about local solar development: http://solaroutreach.org/events/solar-powering-your-community-omaha-nebraska/#.U-4vcShy9SU

Individual members of our organization also continue to work with many others to advocate for and to work on legislation and policy changes at the city and state levels that will remove barriers to solar energy development in Nebraska. These range from requests for changes in city code that will facilitate solar installations and reduce costs–to advocating for a Nebraska Solar Garden Bill that will allow the use of empty, weed-infested city lots for community solar development, providing access to solar energy to 100% of our citizens.