Tag Archives: Nebraska Extension

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.

The future of ag policy debate

Contributed by Bradley D. Lubben, FarmProgress

Just as I teach students in class to understand the drivers of policy development, it is worthwhile to understand the fundamental challenges facing agriculture as a way to frame the policy issues and debate that is certain to come.

I believe the fundamental challenges or expectations of society for agriculture include four key questions: Will agriculture provide commodity food, feed and fiber production for global demand? Will it provide branded, specialized or production-process-verified products for local food systems? Will it provide bioenergy and renewable energy production to help meet U.S. energy demand? Or will it provide environmental benefits or agro-ecosystem goods and services for society? Read more here.

Lubben is the Extension policy specialist at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

NEBRASKA’S ECONOMIC RECOVERY & RESILIENCE

THE SECOND INFRASTRUCTURE BILL

The Build Back Better Framework, The White House Briefing Room
This framework will set the United States on course to meet its climate goals, create millions of good-paying jobs, enable more Americans to join and remain in the labor force, and grow our economy from the bottom up and the middle out.

The Build Back Better framework is fully paid for:
Combined with savings from repealing the Trump Administration’s rebate rule, the plan is fully paid for by asking more from the very largest corporations and the wealthiest Americans. The 2017 tax cut delivered a windfall to them, and this would help reverse that—and invest in the country’s future. No one making under $400,000 will pay a penny more in taxes.

Specifically, the framework:

  • Stops large, profitable corporations from paying zero in tax and tax corporations that buyback stock rather than invest in the company.
  • Stops rewarding corporations for shipping jobs and profits overseas.
  • Asks the highest income Americans to pay their fair share.
  • Invests in enforcing our existing tax laws, so the wealthy pay what they owe.

RELATED READING

CO Family Farm Taps Solar to Boost Revenues, Food Production

By Eric Galatas, Public News Service

As the nation moves to ramp up clean-energy productionJack’s Solar Garden, a locally owned farm just south of Longmont, could provide a model for family-scale operations across the U.S. The farm has boosted revenues after planting 3,200 solar panels, enough to power more than 300 homes, and uses the soil underneath to grow produce. Continue reading here.

Photo by the National Renewable Energy Lab: Jack’s Solar Garden in Boulder County offers tours to visiting farmers and local schools to help cultivate the next generation of agrivoltaic farmers.

Additional Recommended Reading & Viewing

  • YouTube Video: Agrivoltaics: Solar Panels Bring Life to Struggling Farms | NowThis

The Land Report

Bill Gates: America’s Top Farmland Owner, The Land Report

Land Report Infographic: Bill and Melinda Gates own farmland across 18 states,
including among their largest holdings 20,588 acres in Nebraska.

In January 2020, The Land Report announced the launch of a sustainability standard that was developed by US farmland owners and operators. Called Leading Harvest, the organization’s goal is to create a sustainability standard that can be implemented across the greatest swath of agricultural acreage. Currently, more than 2 million acres in 22 states and an additional 2 million acres in seven countries are represented. Among the participants in the 13-member Sustainable Agriculture Working Group are Ceres Partners, Hancock Natural Resources Group, The Rohaytn Group, and UBS Farmland Investors.

The Land Report Winter 2020. Posted on January 11, 2021 by the Land Report Editors 

America’s 100 Largest Landowners 2020, The Land Report

Land Report 100

Nebraska Agriculture Fact Card, February 2020, Nebraska Department of Agriculture

Nebraska’s Natural Resources

  • Nebraska’s farms and ranches utilize 45 million acres, 92% of the state’s total land area.
  • Nebraska is fortunate to have aquifers below it. If poured over the surface of the state, the water in those aquifers would have a depth of 37.9 feet.
  • Nearly 80,000 miles of rivers and streams add to Nebraska’s bountiful natural resources.
  • There are 22 million acres of rangeland and pastureland in Nebraska, half of which are in the Sandhills.

City council approve solar project agreement

By Nick Stevenson, Norfolk Daily News

The Norfolk City Council approved a Community Solar Project Agreement at its meeting Monday night. City Engineer Steve Rames told the council members the agreement amends the current Distribution System Lease Agreement between the Nebraska Public Power District and the City. Read more here.

Photo by Ammodramus / Wikimedia Commons

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

UPCOMING EVENT

Solar Land Lease Considerations for Landowners: Webinar Presented by Nebraska & Ohio Extension Specialists

NEBRASKA LEGISLATIVE BILL 824

In 2016 the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 824, which removed some regulatory barriers connected to renewable energy development in our state.

New Resources Developed by Nebraska’s Largest Utilities – Plus an Upcoming Event

Announcing LES’ Electric Vehicle Webinar Series
By Marc J. Shkolnick, LES Manager/Energy Services

Electric vehicle enthusiasts are invited to participate in one or more noon-hour webinars presented by Lincoln Electric System. The virtual workshops will cover a wide array of topics ranging from home and public charging trends and technologies, results of LES’ residential charging study, considerations for buying or leasing a new or used electric vehicle and innovations in electric transportation. LES has booked experts from the Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to present and engage in question and answers for each webinar. RSVP by visiting www.les.com/ev

LES News Release: Recent grant enables LES to offer first EV rebate
Lincoln Electric System has received a grant of $120,000 from the Nebraska Environmental Trust for its “Electric Vehicle Public Engagement and Rebate Program.” The Trust Board announced funding for the project at its June 11 meeting, and LES made the official announcement during its own administrative board meeting July 17. Funds will be used to offer LES customers purchase or lease rebates for new, all-electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.


New Series of Solar Videos Created by NPPD & UNL 
By David Rich, NPPD Sustainable Energy Manager

The series’ co-creator and presenter F. John Hay, shown in the above photo, is an Extension Educator for Biological Systems Engineering at UNL. Small wind turbines and small solar systems for home, farm, or business are among his various areas of research and teaching interests. The videos include:

The resources are also posted here on NPPD’s website. Click “Videos”.


New platform gives customers a way to connect
By Laura King-Homan, The Wire


OPPD recently launched a new way to connect with customers – and hear what they have to say. The utility’s new outreach websiteOPPDCommunityConnect, replaces the previous website and provides a more interactive experience. It also supports the utility’s strategic directive around stakeholder engagement and transparency.

Current conversations featured on the site include:

  • Power with Purpose – OPPD’s utility-scale solar and backup natural gas generation project
  • Pathways to Decarbonization – The work OPPD is doing to reach net-zero carbon production by 2050
  • COVID-19 pandemic updates and community resources

OPPD has streamlined its customer-owned generation program
By Jodi Baker, The Wire

“We know more and more customers are looking into owning their own generation, and we want to guide them in the process,” said Kirk Estee, Customer Alternative Energy Solutions Manager for OPPD. “We are their energy partner, and we’re here to help.”With those goals in mind, OPPD recently revamped and streamlined its process of applying for Customer-Owned Generation (COG). And the utility created a new website, with educational resources, such as a quick-start guide, information on net metering for billing, and available tax credits. Customers will also find a calculator to determine their pay-off period for an investment in solar panels.


LES ANNOUNCEMENT

LES’ signature sustainability event is back this year in a whole new way — online!

We’re hosting our 10th annual Sustainable Living Festival digitally as a weeklong extravaganza July 20-24.

This year, we need your help in spreading the word about the event. Feel free to invite friends and family to this virtual festival through social media and your other channels! Each day, we will have a variety of content from local experts to help festivalgoers discover easy ways to take care of our environment and live more sustainably.

See the lineup of live events and mini sessions & register here.

Solar and pollinators: a photo essay

By Rob Davis, Director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy
at Fresh Energy, PV Magazine

A promising new trend is showing signs of incrementally helping the solar industry to increase revenue, decrease operations and management costs, open up new markets, accelerate permitting, decrease litigation risk, and attract new land lease partners. It’s not a new module, inverter, or racking — it’s an innovative approach to the vegetation design and management. Civil engineers working on LEED-certified building design have long known that the vegetation specified in a project can provide meaningful functional benefits, in addition to being a cost-effective way to gain points toward the standards. These innovations—using ecology to benefit technology—have now made their way into the solar industry in projects throughout the country.
Continue reading here.

 

Rob Davis, Director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy.
Posts by Rob Davis

 


Previously Posted

Kearney’s Solar Farm is a pollinator-friendly site.


Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Program for All Ages


Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program

This 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.

American farmers can’t afford this administration’s climate apathy

By Roger Johnson, Opinion Contributor, The Hill

Though the obstacles are many, farmers are actively looking for solutions. We are gathering with neighbors and friends, in church halls and community spaces across the countryside to share ideas for how to adapt to changing weather and reduce emissions. We are implementing conservation practices that sequester carbon in the soil. We are installing on-farm renewable energy producing systems. We are growing corn and other crops for ethanol and other biofuels, renewable energy sources that will power America’s future. And we are working with food companies to reduce the environmental footprint of some of America’s favorite foods.

All of these efforts depend on a strong foundation of objective, publicly funded, and widely-disseminated research. As climate change presents bigger and more complex problems, we will need more of this kind of research — not less. Without continued innovation or access to findings, farmers may not have the tools to face these challenges going forward. But by supporting climate science, this administration can help ensure that farmers are using the best practices on our land to mitigate and adapt to climate change and that policy makers are developing programs and incentives to support those practices. Read more here.

Roger Johnson is a farmer and the president of National Farmers Union, the oldest general farm organization in the United States. NFU represents 200,000 family farmers and ranchers.

According to the USDA’s latest census released April 2019, a total of 133,176 farms and ranches use renewable energy producing systems, more than double the 57,299 in 2012.

Photo: A 25-kilowatt photovoltaic system installed in 2015 powers the Hammond family farm operations west of Benedict, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Matt Ryerson / Lincoln Journal Star
News Story: Farms flexing solar power, Lincoln Journal Star
Installers: MarLin Wind & Solar and North Star Solar Bears

 

Rick Hammond and his family are the subjects of This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Farm, the One Book, One Nebraska pick for 2019. Ted Genoways’ award-winning book is also this year’s All Iowa Reads Selection.

 

Farm Energy Resources

Resource for Farmland Owners: Understanding Important Solar Lease Terms

By Evin Bachelor, Law Fellow, Ohio State University Extension Agricultural & Resource Law Program, Ohio Country Journal

We wanted to highlight some of the important provisions of a solar lease that you as a farmland owner should look for in your solar lease, and understand what they mean. A good solar lease will be very thorough, and include a lot of legalese. It would be a wise decision to consult with an attorney to ensure that your understanding of your solar lease reflects what the documents say. For now, here are a few provisions to be on the lookout for in your solar lease. Read more here.

 Photo Credit: American Public Power Association

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Solar Energy: National Agricultural Library, USDA
Wind Energy: National Agricultural Library, USDA

IN NEBRASKA

NextEra looking into potential solar farm in northeast Nebraska, Lincoln Journal Star
NextEra has signed a lease for 2,500 acres in Pierce County with brothers Ryan and Aaron Zimmerman, who have a 345-kilovolt Nebraska Public Power District power line running through their land. The brothers told the Energy News Network website that they previously had an agreement with a smaller solar company a couple of years ago.

LEARN HOW TO INSTALL YOUR OWN SOLAR SYSTEM & SAVE MONEY 

Solar Design and Installation Hands-On Workshop: Nebraska Extension & Dixon Power Systems
July 17th – 19th

Registration due by July 8th.
Cost: $300

Pollinator-friendly solar energy becomes the norm in Minnesota

By Elizabeth Dunbar, MPR News

The environmental benefits of Connexus Energy’s solar-plus-storage project are obvious enough, but this time of year, you’ll notice something more: prairie grasses and flowers planted under and around the sea of solar panels. Pollinator-friendly plantings at large solar energy sites have become common in Minnesota in recent years. Not only do they provide habitat for the bee and butterfly populations people have been concerned about, but they also promote soil health and probably even boost the solar panels’ electricity output on warm days. The National Renewable Energy Lab is using the Ramsey Renewable Station and a couple dozen other sites around the country to test that. Continue reading here.

 

Rob Davis, Director, Center for Pollinators in Energy
Posts by Rob Davis

 


Previously Posted

Kearney’s Solar Farm is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. 

 

Nebraska Pollinator Habitat Certification Program

This 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.

Rural America is ready for some sort of a New Deal, preferably green

By Art Cullen, Published by The Guardian and Republished by Yahoo! News

The Midwest would welcome a New Deal, and this is where it must start. The Great Plains from Iowa down through Kansas and Texas lead the world in wind energy production. Yet the wind energy production tax credit is set to wane and expire over the next five years. Those wind turbine royalties are increasingly important in western Kansas where you can barely raise a corn crop even with irrigation because of soil degradation and warmer nights wrought by climate change. Wind energy technicians who keep the blades whirring are paid good union wages and are welcome residents in tiny Iowa villages. They could ply their trade in West Virginia as well. Read the entire article here.

Art Cullen is editor of the Storm Lake Times in Iowa and won the 2017 Pulitzer prize for editorial writing. Cullen is the author of the book, Storm Lake: A Chronicle of Change, Resilience, and Hope from a Heartland Newspaper (Viking 2018).

Spring Deadline for USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) Applications: Includes information on incentives for solar and small wind.

The spring deadline to apply for USDA Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grants is April 1, 2019. Applications for loan guarantees are accepted year round. REAP assists agricultural producers and rural small businesses in reducing energy costs and consumption by purchasing and installing renewable energy systems and making energy efficiency improvements in their operations.

A 25-kilowatt photovoltaic system installed in 2015 powers the Hammond family farm operations west of Benedict, Nebraska. Photo Credit: Matt Ryerson / Lincoln Journal Star

Rick Hammond’s array cost $84,864 in 2015, but a combination of a USDA grant and federal tax credits brought the cost to him down to $19,100. Source: Farms flexing solar power, Lincoln Journal Star. Installers: MarLin Wind & Solar and North Star Solar Bears

Additional Recommended Reading

 

Rick Hammond and his family are the subjects of This Blessed Earth, the One Book, One Nebraska pick for 2019. Ted Genoways’ award-winning book is
also this year’s All Iowa Reads Selection.

 

More Farm Energy Resources