Tag Archives: Nebraska Environmental Trust

Omaha Metro Transit launches new electric buses, has plans to expand

By Marlo Lundak, WOW TV

OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) – It’s been a two-year process, but Metro Transit launched its first electric buses Tuesday morning. The company made the announcement Monday, stating the buses were made possible by a competitive federal grant and thanks to support from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. We are really looking to make sure that we are protecting our region, that we’re still viable, a great place to live, work, and play in the future and into future generations,” Metro Transit’s CEO, Lauren Cencic, tells 6 News Tuesday. The new buses will catch your eye, but not your ear, they’re extremely quiet. Continue reading or watch the video here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Omaha metro area will draft climate action plan, by Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

When the plan is in place, Omaha will join several hundred other cities in the U.S. with strategies for confronting climate change. Lincoln, the Kansas City metropolitan area and the Twin Cities already have plans. Des Moines is developing one. The Nebraska Legislature has rejected calls for a statewide plan. Asked “why now?” Mayor Jean Stothert said in an email to The World-Herald that the time is right to take advantage of local efforts. “Omaha has been implementing sustainability measures for some time now without the need for a formal plan,” she wrote. 

Hay helps rural Nebraskans explore clean energy options

By Russell Shaffer | Rural Prosperity Nebraska, Nebraska Today

Making the switch to clean energy is not a one-size-fits-all endeavor. John Hay, a Nebraska Extension educator who conducts workshops on solar energy, helps individuals make the decision that best suits their home, farm, ranch or business.

“Success isn’t always choosing to install solar,” he said. “Success is doing a good analysis of the resources to make the best decision.” Since 2007, Hay has conducted workshops through Nebraska Extension to educate farmers, homeowners and rural business owners on the process of installing clean energy technology. Continue reading here.

Links to Extension Resources
Utility Scale Wind 
Small Wind 
Wind Measuring Towers
Solar Electric Systems 
Solar Economic Analysis 
Utility Scale Solar
Solar Water Pumping
Solar Electric on the Farm


  • DOE Announces $22 Million for Energy Research Projects in Underserved Regions WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $22 million in funding for nine projects covering a range of energy research topics from grid integration, solar energy, wind energy, and advanced manufacturing. These projects are located in communities traditionally underserved by federal research and development (R&D) funding so that all parts of the country are central to efforts to solve the climate crisis and meet President Biden’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. Projects Include University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE ($2,940,000): Developing and applying new experimental and computational tools to understand dynamics of chemical reactions in organic materials.
  • Lincoln to receive $2.7 million grant, StarTran plans to buy new electric buses, KOLN
    The U.S. Department of Transportation is awarding Lincoln with an almost $2.7 million federal transit grant, and all of that money is heading to the city’s bussing system. With this grant, Lincoln’s StarTran will get 3 brand new electric buses and two new charging stations. These new electric buses will replace three 2006 diesal buses. The company says this grant will ultimately help the environment and the thousands of people who use Lincoln’s bus system every day.
  • OPPD moving to diversify prairie program, The Wire
    Changes are underway for OPPD’s “Prairie in Progress” pollinator program. The plan largely involves replanting some areas that did not take off as well as OPPD officials had hopedThe program, which began in 2018, is a joint effort between Environmental Affairs and Building Services & Operations personnel, the Save Our Monarchs Foundation, and grants from the Nebraska Environmental Trust.
  • Aurora hosts ribbon cutting for new electric vehicle charging station, NPPD News Release
    Nebraska Public Power District will partner with the city of Aurora for a ribbon cutting event on Friday, June 25 at 3 p.m. The ribbon cutting kicks off the availability of Aurora’s first ChargePoint DC fast charger charging station, located downtown on the corner of 12th and N Street.
  • Unicameral Update – Session Review: Natural Resources, Senator Bruce Bostelman
    Included in the review:: LB507, introduced by Brainard Sen. Bruce Bostelman, prohibits the use of treated seed in the production of ethanol if its use results in the generation of a byproduct that is deemed unsafe for livestock consumption or land application. Under LB650,, introduced by Sen. Michael Flood of Norfolk and passed on a vote of 48-1, the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission will regulate facilities that inject carbon dioxide through wells into underground geologic formations for permanent or short-term storage.
  • Nebraska Embarks on Major Carbon Capture Initiatives, Environment + Energy Leader
    Chief Industries, Inc. and Catahoula Resources have entered into an agreement to jointly develop carbon capture and permanent sequestration (CCS) within 
  • Most U.S. wind capacity built since 2011 is located in the center of the country, EIA
    Wind capacity in the United States has increased significantly over the past decade, from 40.1 gigawatts (GW) in January 2011 to 118.3 GW at the end of 2020. This wind capacity growth was mostly concentrated in the middle of the country.

OPPD Board Honors Burke’s 24 Years Of Service To Utility

OPPD News Release, June 17, 2021

After 24 years of service to Omaha Public Power District, Timothy J. Burke attended his last monthly board meeting as president and CEO today. The OPPD Board of Directors approved a resolution to honor his service to the utility, the last six years as its leader. Burke will officially step down July 1, with Vice President and CFO Javier Fernandez taking the reins. The board unanimously approved Fernandez for the position last month. He will be OPPD’s 13th CEO.

The board credited Burke with setting OPPD on the right course for the future through his strategic initiative and directive work. They noted that OPPD is financially sound, thanks to process improvement planning and generation work, and the system is resilient, as evidenced by how the utility has handled flooding, a derecho wind storm, the polar vortex and other weather threats. Under Burke’s leadership, the utility has been recognized nationally as one of the country’s top economic development utilities. His focus on the customer has helped existing customers grow and thrive, while also drawing new companies to the area.

Pathways to Decarbonization Energy Portfolio workshops

OPPD hosted a series of public virtual workshops in April and May, providing a deep dive into the Energy Portfolio lane of its Pathways to Decarbonization Study and giving the public insight into the district’s work to meet its goal of being a net-zero carbon utility by 2050, while maintaining affordable, reliable, environmentally sensitive energy services for customers. 

On June 18, OPPD will release a detailed set of assumptions. The information will be posted on OPPDCommunityConnect.com. Feedback from customers via the community engagement platform is welcome until June 26.

OPPD will host another virtual information session on Aug. 4 from 4 to 6 p.m. In that session, utility experts will provide an interim modeling update. Customers may register for this session through OPPDCommunityConnect.com. Two additional workshops will be scheduled later this year to discuss the initial and then final results.

Read the entire news release here.

First of its kind solar farm to save people money

By Amanda Poole, News Channel Nebraska

TEKAMA, Neb. – Farmers in northeast Nebraska are taking on a new crop: the sun. Burt county community members celebrated a new five acre solar farm with a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday morning.  “They should be proud that they were the first utility in the state to do this,” said Jon Crane, President and CEO of Bluestem Energy Solutions. Read more or watch the video here.

Previously Posted: Burt County Solar-Plus-Storage Project Fully Operational, Bluestem Energy Solutions News Release

Photo Credit: Bluestem Energy Solutions

News Release: Burt County Solar-Plus-Storage Project Fully Operational

Burt County Public Power District and Bluestem Energy Solutions introduce one of the first solar projects in the Midwest that features a Tesla Megapack, a utility-scale battery energy storage system.

Tekamah, NE— 5/28/2021 — Burt County Public Power District in partnership with Bluestem Energy Solutions has completed a project that features a 1.4 MWAC solar array and a 6 MWh Tesla Megapack battery storage system across two sites. The solar-plus-storage project is one of the first installations in the Midwest to feature Tesla Megapack. The project is also the first solar and utility-scale battery storage system to be built in tandem in Nebraska.

Developed by Bluestem Energy Solutions and constructed by Boyd Jones Construction Company, the project is now operational in BCPPD’S service territory.

The solar-plus-storage project consists of a battery storage system and two solar array sites located in Burt and Dodge Counties, which will provide a tax boost to both counties. The battery storage systems will enable the interconnected, renewable energy facilities to become a dispatchable resource during peak hours.

The Tesla Megapack is a utility-scale lithium-ion battery storage product installed by Boyd Jones Construction and manufactured at the Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. Megapacks store energy generated by intermittent renewable power sources, such as solar and wind.

BCPPD will experience financial value from the project through various load management activities. In addition to the savings to BCPPD, the project will also provide financial benefits to Burt and Dodge Counties through the Nebraska nameplate capacity tax.

“Burt County PPD is excited to continue our partnership with Bluestem during the operation of this solar project,” said Jon Dockhorn, General Manager of BCPPD. “The projected savings and educational opportunities will benefit our customers for years.”

The solar-plus storage project is partially funded through a grant from the Nebraska Environmental Trust. The Trust is funded by proceeds from the Nebraska Lottery and has awarded more than $349 million to conservation projects in Nebraska since 1994.

The solar fields will be sown with native grasses and flowers, which will provide a pollinator-friendly habitat. Yale’s Center for Business and the Environment has published research showing that pollinator-friendly solar can boost nearby crop yields, reduce soil erosion, and increase the recharging of groundwater.

“This project is an important step, not only for Bluestem and Burt County Public Power, but for Nebraska in general,” said Will Crane, Director of Project Management at Bluestem. “As more renewables come online, battery energy storage systems will play a key role in the continued deployment of renewable energy while providing increased reliability and cost savings.” 


Burt County Public Power District is a distribution utility in Nebraska with headquarters in Tekamah, NE, serving all of Burt County and portions of Cuming, Dodge, Thurston and Washington Counties.

Bluestem Energy Solutions is the project developer, as well as owner and operator. Headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska, Bluestem has been developing and operating renewable energy projects in states throughout the country since 2012.

For more information, press only:
Will Crane    
Bluestem Energy Solutions LLC
950 South 10th Street, Suite 001

Burt County Public Power
613 N. 13th Street, Tekamah, NE 68061


Saunders County approves solar farm

By John Chapman, WOW TV

SAUNDERS COUNTY, Neb. – There will be a solar farm constructed in Saunders County. Despite earlier this month when the county’s planning commission voted 5-1 against a conditional use permit for the project. The county board of supervisors trumped the planning commission’s decisions. It was a 6-0 vote. Community Energy and OPPD made their case saying the project meets the county’s zoning and legal requirements. Officials say the solar farm is safe, good for the environment, and will create jobs and produce millions of dollars in tax revenue for the county. Continue reading or watch the video here.

Photo Credit: Community Energy 

Community Energy Links

Featured FAQ: Doesn’t solar take good agricultural ground out of production?
Not in a meaningful way. Saunders County is 486,400 acres of ground. The proposed project would impact 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.


Battery storage pilot charging forward, by Jodi Baker, The Wire
OPPD is powering ahead with an energy storage project that will help inform the utility as it brings more renewables online. The Battery Research Innovation Guided by High-Potential Technologies (BRIGHT) project, located in Cass County, will provide innovative research that will benefit not only OPPD, but all Nebraska utilities. Researching utility-scale battery storage also supports OPPD’s Pathways to Decarbonization strategic initiative.

Customers can learn more about the project and share ideas on thOPPD BRIGHT pilot page on OPPDCommunityConnect.com, OPPD’s community engagement platform.

Sustainable ‘tiny house’ project making progress

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog

Despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus, the area’s first sustainable small house is moving closer to completion. What is a sustainable house? The way project coordinator Bing Chen describes it, it is a small, ADA-compliant house about the size of a studio apartment that is self-sufficient.

That means it incorporates passive solar heating, solar electrical generation, and a roof-collected rain water system, among other enhancements. Chen is partnering with OPPD and other local organizations on the Small Sustainable House (SSH).

Continue reading here.

Top Image: Architectural visualization of the Sustainable Small House by Steve Eggerling
Right Photo Credit: The Wire 

Additional Links / Resources

Passive Solar Research Group, UNL
Director: Dr. Bing Chen
The Passive Solar Research Group’s “Sustainable Small House” Research Project



Path to Passive: Nebraska’s Passive Solar Primer, 1982 – available for download from the Nebraska Energy Office




Dr. Bing Chen’s presentation to Nebraskans for Solar at UNO’s Community Engagement Center: Small House on the Prairie: A Sustainable Assisted Living Unit (ALU) Demonstration Project Utilizing Renewable Energy (PDF)

Nebraska Environmental Trust Awards $130,000 Second-Year Grant Funding to Independent Colleges Foundation to Help Complete Sustainability Learning Lab at Bellevue University

Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation, Business Wire

The Council of Independent Nebraska Colleges Foundation (CINCF) announced today that it has received a $130,000 grant from The Nebraska Environmental Trust (NET) to provide second-year funding in support of a new sustainability learning lab at Bellevue University. Construction on the Sustainability Learning Lab began in the spring of 2019 and is expected to be completed later in the fall of 2020.

The completed project will include a 7,000-square foot outdoor-indoor facility supporting a greenhouse, solar and wind generation stations, a biofuel algae pond and an outdoor classroom. The lab will support science and environmental sustainability education, research, public awareness and green workforce development. When completed, it is expected to engage and educate more than 2,500 students, educators, researchers and campus visitors a year. Read more here.


Northeast Community College will host two roundtable sessions in the coming weeks that will serve as a follow up to business and community members’ participation in workforce needs assessments of the region that have been completed on behalf of the Northeast Nebraska Growing Together Initiative. The first session will be held on Tuesday, September 29, from 4-5 p.m., with the second session on Thursday, October 1. Both sessions will be held virtually via Zoom.

To register for either of the Northeast Community College Workforce Roundtable Solutions sessions, go online to northeast.edu/workforce-solutionsRegister by September 25th.

EV program recharging for another year

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire

OPPD’s popular electric vehicle rebate program is back for a third year. Historically, the program has had a measurable impact on adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) in the OPPD service territory. The rebates have sold out every year. This year, the rebates for residential electric vehicles and chargers are still available. A fleet vehicle replacement rebate for businesses is new this year. EV fleet rebates are rare in the national market, but OPPD is leading the way by making these rebates available to business customers. Learn more here.


Environment America Launches a 10-state campaign calling for all new homes to be built with solar panels

Environment America News Release

BOSTON — In January 2020, California became the first state to require all new houses to be built with solar panels. Today, Environment America is launching a first-of-its-kind campaign calling on additional states across the country to set similar standards for solar power on new homes. The coordinated national campaign will advocate for a solar homes requirement in at least ten states: Colorado, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Texas. While each state may have slightly different goals, the campaign’s intention is to introduce bills in 10 states in the next two years. Continue reading here.


New US Solar Power Scheme Aims At Invisible Middle, by Tina Casey, CleanTechnica
A vast middle ground of opportunity for solar power development is ripe for the picking if only somebody could see where it is. Well, the US Department of Energy sees it, and is determined to pick it. The agency is moving forward with a plan to kickstart activity in the area of mid-sized arrays ranging from 50 kilowatts to 3 megawatts. That may sound like peanuts, but it includes the important community solar sector, so — wait, what is community solar anyways?


The magnificent seven: US states with energy storage mandates, targets and goals, Energy Storage News. The US national Energy Storage Association’s policy director, Jason Burwen, spoke with Andy Colthorpe about the seven early adopter states and whether this is likely to be a spreading pattern across the country.




The 2020 GreenBiz 30 Under 30, GreenBiz Editors
We are proud to introduce our fifth annual cohort of twentysomethings who are sustainability leaders within — and without — their companies, nonprofits and communities. The Class of 2020 hails from seven countries, including Switzerland, the Netherlands, Brazil and Taiwan, and they are tackling diverse challenges — from cultivating a more sustainable food system to advocating for climate justice on behalf of disadvantaged communities to testing best practices for circular cities to negotiating impactful renewable energy contracts. The list of their accomplishments is long and growing longer by the day, and they’re just getting started.


Pollinator-Saving Solar Panels: Good for Farmers, Good for Business, by Tina Casey, Triple Pundit. Conventional solar arrays typically force farmers to choose between raising crops and generating electricity in order to survive financially. However, a new body of research called agrivoltaics is demonstrating that farmers can have the best of both worlds. A recent report the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, for example, indicates that properly designed, low-impact solar arrays can be compatible with agricultural use.





Is this electric plane the future of flying?, GreenBiz article contributed by David Elliott, Senior Writer, World Economic Forum. The world’s largest all-electric plane has completed its maiden voyage, flying for 30 minutes in the skies above Washington state. Its safe landing in Moses Lake, about 186.5 miles southeast of Seattle, is a milestone in a dream that’s been floating about since the late 1800s — air travel powered by electricity.