Tag Archives: Lincoln Journal Star

Nebraska’s wind power growth is good news

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial

Nebraska has been blessed with an abundance of water, rich soil and breeze that whips across the plains. The first two are inextricably linked and frequently cited because of their necessity to the state’s largest industry, agriculture. The third, however, has rarely been mentioned in the same breath, despite its mostly untapped potential. Long a sleeping giant in terms of its potential for wind power, Nebraska appears to finally be on the rise. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: AWEA Free Use Wind Energy Image Gallery: “Wind Rainbow”

Local View: Tariffs jeopardize wind farm growth

Written by Dan McGuire, Lincoln Journal Star

Over the past few years, wind farms have started springing up across the state, and these projects are providing a financial lifeline for our farming communities . . . Unfortunately, just like an unexpected drought or spike in gas prices, Nebraska farmers hoping to harvest the wind have been thrown yet another curveball — the Trump administration’s trade war with China is threatening wind’s growth in our state.

Tariffs that tax certain wind turbine parts could unnecessarily raise the cost of wind power, preventing some of the wind farms in our development pipeline from getting built. That means fewer jobs and less income for host communities. The trade dispute is already affecting farmers in our state. Read more here.

Dan McGuire is director of the American Corn Growers Foundation. He lives in Lincoln.

The fixed cost on your OPPD bill will now be $30 a month, up from $10.25 in 2015

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

Outgoing board member Tom Barrett, who represents northeast Omaha, asked OPPD management whether they had done the research to verify their prediction that most customers would pay the same or less under the new rate structure. Management officials said they had not yet done so. Read the entire article here

OPPD December 2015 Marketing Graphic: “Rethinking Rates”

Previously Posted

ALSO IN THE NEWS
OPPD set to replace old-fashioned streetlights with LEDs starting in January, Omaha World-Herald
OPPD management updated the utility’s board Tuesday about a five-year replacement plan for the roughly 100,000 streetlights the district maintains in 13 counties. The new lights are expected to save as much as 25 percent in costs to power them over traditional high-pressure sodium streetlights.

Previously Posted

EDITORIAL
Turbine plan would strike fair balance, Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light: Utility Action Update

OPPD – The comment period for Strategic Directive 7 (SD7), which covers environmental stewardship, has been extended to November 4th! They received hundreds of comments, right up until the previous deadline, many calling for a 100% renewable energy goal. The new language of SD7 includes a goal of 50% renewable retail sales and keeps the carbon intensity metric of a 20% reduction of 2010 levels by 2030. This is a step in the right direction, but we would like to see a 20% reduction in TOTAL carbon emissions and a goal of 100% renewables. You can read SD7, submit your comments and watch video recaps here.

LES – In their 2019 proposed budget, LES intends to allocate $1.5 million of their Sustainable Energy Program (SEP) for low-income energy efficiency programs. Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light Policy & Outreach Director Ken Winston has been engaging LES on this issue. The following are suggestions for increasing the likelihood of success of the new low-income efficiency proposal, the SEP going forward, energy efficiency in general and customer engagement:

  1. Establish a diverse task force of low-income, neighborhood and other community representatives to make sure there is a low-income efficiency program that best serves the needs of the community.
  2. Establish a continuing funding source for the low-income program.
  3. Make energy efficiency a part of the energy portfolio of LES, including establishing goals for energy efficiency.
  4. Improve marketing and outreach to make sure both the SEP and the new low-income efficiency program are reaching the people who need to be reached. Suggestions: presentations at Mayor’s Environmental Task Force and neighborhood roundtables, outreach to groups with contact lists.
  5. Work with the City of Lincoln and other agencies to improve energy efficiency in public buildings.
  6. Work with businesses, community organizations and idea leaders to make Lincoln the most energy-efficient community in the region.
  7. Establish a customer engagement portal on the website for comments and suggestions. It could be called “LES Listens” or something like that.

You can submit comments to LES here.

Related – Local View: LES should preserve funding for sustainability program, Lincoln Journal Star

NPPD – They are in the process of drafting their own Strategic Directives, and these will include environmental stewardship goals. They also had a discussion at their last meeting of supporting carbon fee and dividend if such legislation would be introduced in the Legislature next session. Let your NPPD director know what they should do for environmental goals and a carbon tax here.

Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light: It is better that OPPD and NPPD hear from their respective customer-owners and for them to mention their board representative. In the case of LES, the entire board represents the whole LES service area.

Website: Nebraska Interfaith Power & Light

UNMC to get 1,500 solar panels, enough to equal electricity use of 60 homes

By Julie Anderson, Omaha World-Herald

There is no shortage of rooftops on the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s growing campus. Now the university is working to put some of that space to another use, partnering with the Omaha Public Power District to install nearly 1,500 solar panels on top of three campus buildings.

The installation, which will total 500 kilowatts of solar capacity, is expected to become the largest rooftop solar array in the state. At that size, the array’s energy production will equal the average annual electricity use of 60 homes in OPPD’s service territory, said Jared Friesen of Morrissey Engineering, which designed the project. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Morrissey Engineering

Telesis Inc’s net-zero energy business complex in Lincoln’s Haymarket is the next largest rooftop solar array in Nebraska.

Project: J-Tech Solar collaborated with SWT Energy on this nearly 300-kilowatt photovoltaic system on top of the former Meadow Gold Dairy House at Seventh and M Streets in Lincoln’s historic Haymarket. The business complex is now owned by Telesis, Inc. With 940 solar panels, the array is one of the largest privately-owned solar projects in Nebraska.

J-Tech’s thirteen-member installation crew worked closely with restoration contractors to integrate the system into existing and historical structures. Federal tax incentives, rebates from Lincoln Electric System and the steady rise in the cost of electricity were driving factors in the owner’s decision to complete such a large project. Also, the price of solar systems has decreased more than 70% since 2009.
News Story: Telesis going for net-zero energy use in Dairy House complex, by Nicholas Bergin, Lincoln Journal Star

Editorial: UNL displays impressive success with sustainability

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Among the 11 Big Ten universities whose carbon dioxide emissions are publicly known, UNL ranks first by a wide margin with 182,600 metric tons in 2016. That’s nearly a third better than the University of Maryland at College Park, which recorded 239,800 metric tons over the same interval.

Plus, even as UNL has reported years of record enrollment, added research staff and constructed several new facilities, its energy usage has been nearly halved in the last two decades. The university provides living proof that investing in energy-saving techniques can pay for itself through decreased utility costs. As a result, UNL hasn’t operated its coal-fired power and heating plant to power campus for several years . . . Read the entire editorial here.

Related Reading
UNL inching toward setting greenhouse gas reduction goals, by Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star
No longer does UNL use a coal-fired power and heating plant built at 14th and W streets in 1930 (now the site of the City Campus utility plant), giving the university an advantage over the University of Iowa, University of Illinois and others within the Big Ten still generating electricity on their campuses and expanding their carbon footprint. UNL instead purchases 100 percent of its electricity to power lights and computers, charge cellphones and run other equipment through Lincoln Electric System, which in turn buys power from the Southwest Power Pool and Western Area Power Administration.

Photo Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

LES installs solar-charging bench and stations for public use

By Lauren Wagner, Lincoln Journal Star

The Lincoln Electric System introduced its first solar-powered charging bench in Holmes Park on Tuesday afternoon. The utility purchased the bench, along with four solar-powered mobile charging stations, using the savings realized by customers switching to paperless billing, said LES spokeswoman Kelley Porter. Click here to read more.

More About LES’ Paperless Billing
YouTube Video: Enroll in LES Paperless Billing

ALSO HAPPENING IN LINCOLN
City plans to pay $12M to convert to LED street lights using loan to itself, by Nancy Hicks, Lincoln Journal Star

Photo by Lauren Wagner, reprinted with permission.

OPPD to convert streetlights to LED fixtures

By Laura King-Homan, The Wire, OPPD Blog

Streetlights across the OPPD service territory will get a facelift over the next five years. And their new look will mean brighter, longer-lasting fixtures, better efficiency, and monetary savings for the communities they serve . . . OPPD owns the majority of streetlights in its service territory. The utility has 298 streetlight customers ranging from small towns to the Nebraska Department of Transportation . . . A total of 98,744 streetlights cover the roads and highways of the service territory. By converting the streetlights to LED fixtures, the municipalities that contract with OPPD would see a 25-percent reduction in their overall streetlight costs. This is why:

Click link, below, to learn more.

The future of LED streetlights looks bright

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Replacing all Lincoln street lights with LEDs could be first task if City Council OKs energy efficiency financing tool, Lincoln Journal Star

Omaha World-Herald Editorial: Public utilities should make records public

Nebraska public records law tilts, with good reason, toward openness on governmental fiscal matters. Taxpayers deserve to know how their money is being spent. Under state law, public records should be “liberally construed when the fiscal records of a public body are involved.” This important accountability requirement applies to a range of public bodies, including Nebraska’s public utilities . . .  [An amendment to Legislative Bill 822 introduced by Senator Dan Hughes on Wednesday] would give public utilities a free pass to ignore Nebraska’s open records law on grounds that the requested material is “proprietary or commercial information which if released would give advantage to business competitors.” Read the entire editorial here.

MORE NEBRASKA NEWS
Climate change activist files for Nebraska Public Service Commission, written by Don Walton,
Lincoln Journal Star. John Atkeison of Lincoln, an activist in efforts to address climate change, filed Wednesday as a Democratic candidate for the 1st District seat on the Nebraska Public Service Commission.

Nebraska Supreme Court orders NPPD to open its books, disclose costs

By Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald

LINCOLN — The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled Friday that the Nebraska Public Power District must open its books and disclose specific cost information, including the expense of generating electricity from its individual power plants . . . A private company that seeks to compete with NPPD, Lincoln-based energy firm Aksamit Resource Management, had filed a lawsuit seeking the information from the public power firm. Aksamit argued that the information was public and that it would help the firm and Nebraska ratepayers better understand why NPPD’s costs were rising. Without the detailed information, the firm argued, the public could not determine why NPPD’s costs had risen. Read more here.

Public Domain Photo of a Hybrid Project

RECOMMENDED BACKGROUND READING