Tag Archives: Nebraska Extension

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

With solar energy costs declining, more opportunity for farms and residences

By Kerry Hoffschneider, Correspondent, York News-Times

[F. John Hay, a University of Nebraska Extension educator in the realm of energy] spoke to approximately 80 Nebraska farmers, businesspeople and everyday citizens from all walks of life about the potential for solar energy production on the residential and farm/ranch level, especially the most common approach to harnessing the sun’s energy – a grid-tied solar photovoltaic system . . . So what’s the cost? That’s what most farmers and ranchers and nearly every consumer wants to better understand. That’s why Hay has compiled an in-depth report entitled: Solar Electric Investment Analysis, that begins to do just that.  Read more.

Download Solar Electric Investment Analysis (PDF), Nebraska Extension Publication 

F. John Hay’s contact information: 402-472-0408 or jhay2@unl.edu.