Tag Archives: Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy

USDA Seeking Applications for Rural Energy For America Grants & Loans

Next Deadline: October 31, 2022 

What does this program do?
The program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses for renewable energy systems or to make energy efficiency improvements. Agricultural producers may also apply for new energy efficient equipment and new system loans for agricultural production and processing.

Who may apply for this program?

  • Agricultural producers with at least 50 percent of their gross income coming from agricultural operations.
  • Small businesses in eligible rural areas.

Learn more here: Rural Energy for America Program Renewable Energy Systems & Energy Efficiency Improvement Guaranteed Loans & Grants in Nebraska

Above Photo: In 2015 Rick and Heidi Hammond installed a 25-kilowatt photovoltaic system on their farm west of Benedict in York County, Nebraska. The project estimate at the time was $84,864; however, a USDA grant and federal tax credits reduced the cost to only $19,100, The payback was just over 6 years, which was achieved in 2021. Solar panels typically last 30 or more years.
Installers: MarLin Wind & Solar and North Star Solar Bears

Another Local Example: The Brummond Farm

Click the link, below, to access a Successful Farming story published in 2021 about the Brummond Farm near Craig, Nebraska. The installer, Graham Christensen of GC ReVOLT, offers renewable energy grants writing among the company’s services. The Solar Power Bonanza: Farmers Can Readily Tap Into The Explosive Growth In Solar Generation

Most Recent Nebraska REAP Grant Awardees

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

In Nebraska, six recipients were awarded grants under the Rural Energy for America Program. Recipients here are: in Albion, MSJM Properties Partnership, Marilee Niewohner, and Niewohner Grandchildren’s Limited Partnership; in Boyd, Valley Foods Cooperative; in Holdrege, Spady Buick Pontiac GMC Inc.; and in Monroe, Alan G Preister. Combined, they were awarded $68,500 for projects that will save or generate 491,444 kWh per year, enough energy to power 45 homes annually. 

“I encourage Nebraskans to connect with us to find out how USDA can partner with them for their energy conservation needs. For more information, contact Jeff Carpenter, energy coordinator, at (402) 437-5554 or at NE.RBCS@usda.gov,” said Bolz. 

Information on the federal investment tax credit (currently 26%), energy audits, depreciation, NDEE loans and more can be found here: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency – Nebraska.

Quick Links

Cass County solar farm plans unveiled

By Ethan Hewett, KMAland.com

(Murray) — Plans have been revealed for one of the largest solar farms in the state in southeast Nebraska. That’s according to Cass County Zoning Administrator Michael Jensen, who says Boulevard Associates has revealed plans for a proposed 320-megawatt and 3,200-acre solar farm just north of Murray. Jensen says the Cass County farm would be one of the largest in the state in both land coverage and production. Read more here.

NFS Note: NextEra Energy Resources is the parent company for Boulevard Associates, LLC.

FEATURED ORGANIZATION & WEBSITE 

The AgriSolar Clearinghouse is an information-sharing, relationship-building, public communications hub for all things agrisolar. The AgriSolar community will:

  • Connect farmers, developers, researchers, and the public
  • Provide practical technical assistance
  • Develop best practices and innovative solutions to barriers
  • Evaluate innovative financing options
  • Promote sustainable agrisolar opportunities

Resources Include: Information Library / Media Hub / Events Calendar

MORE RESOURCES OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

    • Bellwood: 174.5 MW
    • Burt County: 250 MW
    • Clay County: Up-to 305 MW
    • Lincoln: 250 MW
    • McCool Junction: 310 MW
    • Murray: 320 MW
    • Pierce County: 443 MW
    • Saunders County: 81 MW

FEATURED PROJECT – PLATTEVIEW SOLAR IN SAUNDERS COUNTY NEAR YUTAN

About the Project, Community Energy

In April 2021, Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and Community Energy (CE) announced a Power Purchase Agreement for Platteview Solar, an 81 megawatt (MW) utility-scale solar photovoltaic installation with a proposed location just south of Hwy 92 near Yutan in eastern Saunders County.

The project site consists of approximately 500 total leased acres, spanning several clusters of land with a flat, gently rolling topography. This announcement supports OPPD’s Power with Purpose initiative. The official project announcement is on OPPD’s The Wire. OPPD is the lone customer for Platteview Solar’s energy, providing long-term stability and support.

Platteview FAQs – Community Energy 

Among the questions, the following is one that often comes up in discussions about utility-scale solar projects: 

Doesn’t solar take good agricultural ground out of production?

Community Energy: Not in a meaningful way. Saunders County is 486,400 acres of ground.  The Platteview Solar project impacts approximately 500 acres. 

Farm ground used for solar projects does not necessarily mean the end of agricultural use on the land. It will be different than traditional crops, but a robust pollinator program can benefit not only the project properties, but cropland, orchards, residential gardens, trees and other landscaping within 30 miles of the project site.

Additionally, the traditional agricultural nature of the property is not permanently lost. The benefits of restorative vegetation on nitrogen and CO2 depleted land improves agricultural land for the future. Solar projects are a long term, but temporary, use of agricultural land that allows landowners to diversify their assets, creating financial stability and allowing agricultural land to remain in families for future generations.

LAND LEASE RESOURCE  

 

Considerations for Leasing Land for Solar Development,
by F. John Hay, Extension Educator for Bioenergy,
University of Nebraska Lincoln


Links to More Extension Resources

FUN HOBBY FOR ALL AGES

Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program

This Extension program is open to Nebraska homeowners, schools, businesses, parks, homeowner associations, farmers, acreage owners and community gardens.

The Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification application form with complete requirements and lists of pollinator-friendly plants is available here.

Readout of the March National Climate Task Force Meeting

The White House Briefing Room, March 15, 2022

Yesterday, National Climate Advisor Gina McCarthy convened the tenth meeting of the National Climate Task Force with Cabinet members and senior leadership from across the Biden-Harris Administration. The Task Force focused on how agencies can continue supporting the President’s commitment to addressing Putin’s Price Hike from his unprovoked war against Ukraine, minimizing pain at the pump here at home, continue rapidly deploying clean energy, and keep reducing emissions that cause climate change. Continue reading here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NEBRASKA’S RENEWABLE ENERGY 

Source: Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy

Clean Power Nebraska Fact Sheet, American Clean Power Association

Large-scale solar can help protect the special places we call home

Contributed by Chelsea Chandler, Director of Climate
Solutions for Clean Wisconsin, Wisconsin Examiner

The urgency of the climate crisis means that we need all hands on deck implementing all kinds of climate solutions. There’s no silver bullet; we need silver buckshot. That means we need a shift to electric vehicles and better public transit and pedestrian and bike infrastructure. We need energy efficiency and carbon-free electricity. And we need both smaller-scale, rooftop solar and large, utility-scale solar. Every kilowatt of clean energy adds up to make a difference, but given the urgency of climate change, a 465-megawatt project like the proposed Koshkonong Solar Energy Center would be a big step in matching the scale of the crisis with the scale of solutions.
Read more here.

IN NEBRASKA

Utility-Scale Projects Under Development, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy:
Solar Energy Generation in Nebraska 

  • Bellwood: 174.5 MW
  • Burt County: 250 MW
  • Clay County: Up-to 350 MW
  • Lincoln: 230 MW
  • Pierce County: 443 MW
  • Saunders County: 81 MW

FEATURED NEBRASKA PROJECT UNDER DEVELOPMENT

OPPD’s 81 MW solar farm, named “Platteview Solar”
In May the Saunders County Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 to approve the Conditional Use Permit for the 81 MW Platteview Solar Project. See: Saunders County approves solar farm construction near YutanAssociated Press

The above photo illustrates tree-screening surrounding a pollinator-friendly solar farm.

More About Platteview Solar, by Community Energy

In April 2021, Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and Community Energy (CE) announced a Power Purchase Agreement for Platteview Solar, an 81 megawatt (MW) utility-scale solar photovoltaic installation with a proposed location just south of Hwy 92 near Yutan in eastern Saunders County.

The project site consists of approximately 500 total leased acres, spanning several clusters of land with a flat, gently rolling topography. This announcement supports OPPD’s Power with Purpose initiative. The official project announcement is on OPPD’s The Wire. OPPD is the lone customer for Platteview Solar’s energy, providing long-term stability and support.

Platteview Solar FAQS, Community Energy

Among the questions, the following is one that often comes up in discussions about utility-scale solar projects: Doesn’t solar take good agricultural ground out of production?

Community Energy: Not in a meaningful way. Saunders County is 486,400 acres of ground.  The Platteview Solar project impacts approximately 500 acres. 

Farm ground used for solar projects does not necessarily mean the end of agricultural use on the land. It will be different than traditional crops, but a robust pollinator program can benefit not only the project properties, but cropland, orchards, residential gardens, trees and other landscaping within 30 miles of the project site.

Additionally, the traditional agricultural nature of the property is not permanently lost. The benefits of restorative vegetation on nitrogen and CO2 depleted land improves agricultural land for the future. Solar projects are a long term, but temporary, use of agricultural land that allows landowners to diversify their assets, creating financial stability and allowing agricultural land to remain in families for future generations.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED NREL RESEARCH

Beneath Solar Panels, the Seeds of Opportunity SproutNational Renewable Energy Laboratory 

“It doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. For all our agriculturally productive land, let’s help PV developers and farmers plan out these solar projects so that farmers can get under the arrays and continue to work the land for the next 20 or 30 years.” —Gerry Palano, energy program coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Agriculture

ADDITIONAL SOLAR ENERGY DEVELOPMENT IN NEBRASKA

Community Solar Projects Map as of July 2021, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy Resource

CCC students get hands-on experience climbing wind turbines

By KSNB, News Channel Nebraska

HASTINGS, Neb. — Central Community College students got some hands-on experience climbing up a 400-foot wind turbine Tuesday. Students involved in the energy technology program are taught about wind, solar and battery storage energy at the Hastings campus. For the wind portion of their learning, they are required to make the climb. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted
CCC introduces unique renewable energy program
, Hastings Tribune, August 28, 2019

Links to More Information About Nebraska Wind & Solar Technology Programs

Bureau of Labor Statistics

U.S. Bureau of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook

Additional Recommended Reading/Resources

About The IREC

For nearly 40 years, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council has made clean energy possible for millions of Americans through cutting-edge solutions that advance renewable energy, electric grid modernization, and energy efficiency. 

Today, our work continues in response to the urgent need to transition to clean energy—to mitigate climate change, improve the resiliency of our communities, and ensure all people benefit from a just transition to a clean energy future.

In 2021, IREC merged with The Solar Foundation, a national nonprofit that has led the advancement of solar energy and solar-compatible technologies since 1977. Together, we are excited to deepen our impact across all clean energy technologies.

Initial solar contract inked for OPPD’s Power with Purpose

The Wire, OPPD Blog

The future is growing brighter as OPPD takes its first steps to acquire up to 600 megawatts of utility-scale solar generation. OPPD recently signed a contract with Community Energy, Inc. for an 81-megawatt solar array spread across approximately 500 leased acres south of Yutan, Neb., in eastern Saunders County. When complete, this facility will be capable of powering around 14,000 average homes. The facility’s name: Platteview Solar.

[Power with Purpose-Solar, available here], features background information, Frequently Asked Questions and a forum where anyone can ask a specific question not addressed in the FAQ. OPPD is striving to be a net-zero carbon utility by 2050, and the commitment to renewable energy heralded by this announcement is one important step on that pathway to decarbonization. Read more here.

ROOFTOP SOLAR

Inside Clean Energy: The Coast-to-Coast Battle Over Rooftop Solar, by Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News

Last year, all but four states—Alaska, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota—took some kind of action on rooftop solar policy, according to the most recent “50 States of Solar” report from the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. (Autumn Proudlove, senior policy program director at the center, was one of the people I spoke with about what’s happening in states right now). There are big differences in the states’ approaches, but what they share is an awareness that regulations need to change to be ready for a market in which rooftop solar is much more common.

Yet, regulators only control part of the financial equation. The costs of solar panels continue to decrease. And customers are increasingly buying solar along with battery storage, which means people are storing excess electricity for their own use rather than sending it back to the grid, reducing the importance of net metering policy.

Previously Posted

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LINCOLN NEWS

A student-led competition held as part of the E.N. Thompson Forum on World Issues is helping expand sustainability planning at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Offered as part of the forum’s 2020-21 focus on environmental issues, the E.N. Thompson Forum Sustainability Idea Award challenged Recognized Student Organizations to plan, develop or execute a “green” project that aligns with the university’s new sustainability and resilience master plan. The contest featured four themes: transportation, energy, waste management, and sustainability and COVID-19. “It was incredible to see a broad spectrum of student groups — more than 12 — participating and outlining a variety of interesting topics,” said Prabhakar Shrestha, sustainability coordinator for the university and a judge for the competition.

University of Nebraska-Lincoln: “Big Red Sat-1” is an education mission with a primary goal of engaging and developing future aerospace engineers by contributing to the development of critical technologies to improve solar power generation. The technology demonstration secondary focus is to take proven perovskite panel technology at technical readiness level (TRL)-5 to TRL-6 by testing the panels in space using flight heritage information and systems to maximize potential success. Testing should provide answers on handling and the life of perovskites, as well as comparative day/night performance with silicon in a space environment.

OTHER MIDWEST STATES IN THE NEWS

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) has announced the 10 teams selected to advance to the final stage of the $3 million American-Made Solar Prize Round 4. The finalists were selected from 20 teams that presented their solar innovations to a panel of expert judges at a demonstration day hosted by Carnegie Mellon University’s Wilton E. Scott Institute for Energy Innovation.

Two Midwest teams are among the finalists:

Cool Tech Solar (North Oaks, MN): A nano-textured heatsink material for the back of a solar panel to increase the surface area, helping dissipate heat and lowering the panel’s peak operating temperature.

Rocking Solar (Monroe, OH): A solar panel tracker system that tracks the sun using a rocking motion, reducing the weight of a photovoltaic system and the number of roof penetrations required for installation.

Read the SETO newsletters for updates on the next demo day, and learn more about thAmerican-Made Solar Prize.

VOLKSWAGEN DIESEL EMISSION MITIGATION PROGRAM

Midlands Voices: Clean-energy plan can help Nebraska

Written by Janece Mollhoff, Omaha World-Herald

In January of 2018 I, along with a group of Nebraska organizations, announced the Husker Energy Plan. “Husker Power Plan” aims to cut greenhouse emissions while keeping electric costs low, creating jobs. The aim was to: 1) reduce air pollution from power plants that sickens and kills Nebraskans, 2) ensure a sustainable, affordable system for generating our electricity for future generations, 3) reduce Nebraska’s use of out-of-state coal, keeping money and jobs in Nebraska and 4) reduce pollution produced by Nebraska’s utility sector that has been linked to climate change. These goals were seen as aspirational with a five-year timeline, and were backed by polling that showed a majority of Nebraskans favor cleaner energy. As we approach the third anniversary of this work, here is how Nebraska is doing: Continue reading here. Requires digital subscription.

Download the Husker Energy Plan here. 

OWH Editor: Janece Molhoff, of Ashland, is a member of the board of directors of the Omaha Public Power District, though this essay expresses only her personal opinion.

Additional Resources Of Potential Interest 

Solar Energy Generation in Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy 
In addition to OPPD’s planned 400 to 600 megawatts of solar, the following 1,152 megawatts of utility-scale projects are “committed” or “under development” in Nebraska, altogether totaling approximately 1.5 to 1.7 gigawatts.

Committed Projects

  • Bellwood: A 174.5–megawatt solar facility is planned.

Projects Under Development

  • Clay County: APEX Clean Energy is seeking permission to construct a 305–megawatt solar project in Clay County.
  • Lincoln: The 230–megawatt Salt Creek Solar project would be located on the east side of Lancaster County. This project could create enough energy to power 30,000 homes.
  • Pierce County: A 443–megawatt solar array, named the Goldenrod Solar Energy Center, has been proposed to be operational by 2023. It is estimated that the solar project will power about 80,000 households.

Related Reading

Energy News Network

7 Things to Know About Renewable Natural Gas

By Tom Cyrs and John Feldmann, World Resources Institute

The production and use of renewable natural gas made from organic waste is growing rapidly in the United States. In the last five years, the number of production facilities has grown approximately threefold, with about 115 facilities now making the fuel — which is interchangeable with fossil natural gas — out of landfill waste, animal manure, wastewater, food waste and other organic feedstocks.

Due to the potential benefits of renewable natural gas as an alternative to fossil fuels, a handful of states including California, Washington and Oregon have integrated it into climate goals. Both state and national assessments find that sufficient amounts of the waste-derived fuel could be produced to displace as much as 4-7% of current fossil gas consumption, while delivering other co-benefits related to waste management.

However, policymakers across the country still face questions on the extent to which renewable natural gas can help states meet ambitious climate change targets. A new research paper by WRI examines the potential of renewable natural gas as a climate strategy.

Learn more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Could a Michigan green bank offer a blueprint for Biden’s green recovery?

By Tom Perkins, Energy News Network

As President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team prepares its green economic recovery plan, a Michigan clean energy finance program could provide a bipartisan model for how to spur energy savings and job growth. Biden has already proposed a national green bank as part of his $2 trillion plan to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of the century. The initiative would provide capital to help finance projects such as rooftop solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, weatherization and building efficiency upgrades. Similar programs exist in about a dozen states, and among the oldest and most effective is Michigan Saves. As President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team prepares its green economic recovery plan, a Michigan clean energy finance program could provide a bipartisan model for how to spur energy savings and job growth. Continue reading here.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

MACRO GRIDS

Report: U.S. trails other countries in building macro grids for moving, sharing electricity, Iowa State University News Service

AMES, Iowa – Countries around the world are well ahead of the United States in planning and building “macro grids” capable of moving electricity from one grid or distant geographic region to another, according to a new report authored by an Iowa State University engineer and a former doctoral student.

RECYCLING OLD WIND TURBINE BLADES

Cement production to use old wind turbine blades after GE inks new deal, CNBC
GE Renewable Energy and Veolia North America (VNA) have signed a “multi-year agreement” to recycle blades removed from onshore wind turbines in the United States. In an announcement Tuesday, GE Renewable Energy said the blades would be shredded at a VNA site in Missouri before being “used as a replacement for coal, sand and clay at cement manufacturing facilities across the U.S.”

REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Nestlé digs deeper into regenerative ag, puts $3.6B behind net-zero plan, GreenBiz
Almost one-third of the money that Nestlé intends to invest will be dedicated to cultivating regenerative agricultural practices that improve soil health and reduce dependence on synthetic fertilizer across 500,000-plus farms from which Nestlé sources ingredients. Nestlé intends to pay those farmers, as well as 150,000 other ingredient suppliers, a premium for adopting these techniques in a verifiable way.

Alternative energy continues to grow in Nebraska

Special to the Norfolk Daily News

A panel hosted by the New Power Nebraska coalition discussed the status of the state’s electricity grid infrastructure, including projects like the R-Line, opportunities for grid improvement and how modernization will affect industry growth in coming years. The virtual event featured local and industry leaders discussing the growth of wind and solar in Nebraska and some of the projects and initiatives that will help improve electrical grid transmission.

“Nebraska is at the center of an emerging national energy renaissance,” said David L. Bracht, former Nebraska director of energy and counsel at Kutak Rock. “We as a state continue to see how wind and solar can support our local economies. Having additional natural resources that we can use, develop and export for value strengthens Nebraska’s economy and benefits the entire state.” Read more here.

Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy Resources

Photo Credit: Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD)