Tag Archives: Nebraska

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

Your utility: 5 facts about public power

By Laura King-Homan, The Wire

Public power utilities represent 60 percent of the electric utilities in the United States, serving 1 in 7 Americans. Nebraska has 166 public power utilities and cooperatives.

Public power is a unique part of living in Nebraska. The state is the only one in the country where all residents get electricity from public power utilities or cooperatives. This week, Oct. 3-9, is Public Power Week. In recognition, here are a few facts you may not know about your public power utilities.

Public power customers enjoy electricity rates averaging 11.6 cents per kilowatt-hour, compared to investor-owned utility customers, who pay an average of 13.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. Nebraska enjoys rates that are even lower, an average of 10.6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Learn more here.

Infographic by the American Public Power Association (APPA)

Also Written by Laura King-Homan
Resolve to be more energy efficient: October tips, The Wire

Additional Recommended Reading

The [annual Energy Efficiency Jobs in America report] comes as lawmakers consider infrastructure and budget reconciliation measures that include billions in funding for efficiency, which experts say could boost the sector’s employment and reduce U.S. carbon emissions. “What I’m seeing in Congress is a growing acceptance … that we have to act,” Rep. Peter Welch, D-Vt., said at an event introducing the efficiency employment report.

Energy Efficiency Jobs in America  by nonpartisan business group E2 and clean energy nonprofit E4TheFuture

A bipartisan Ohio bill would be a first step to recouping savings, say advocates. But huge losses from House Bill 6 would remain. For Ohio, the MEEA report estimates that Ohioans missed out on roughly $980 million in net benefits for one program year. That figure includes savings on energy bills, as well as things like reduced capacity costs and avoided costs for transmission and distribution. When avoided health impacts and the social costs of carbon are factored in, Ohioans would have saved more than $2 billion for a single program year, according to the analysis.

Since he joined FERC four years ago, Glick has argued the agency isn’t taking a sharp enough look at how gas pipelines and liquefied natural gas facilities affect the climate as well as environmental justice communities, or whether the proposed facilities are even needed. Glick’s letter comes as FERC is considering changing how it reviews natural gas infrastructure under a policy statement set in 1999. The agency launched a review of its natural gas policy in April 2018. After Glick was elevated to chairman last January, he asked for another round of comments from stakeholders on issues like how to evaluate greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

Illinois Poised for Nation-Leading, Equitable Climate Bill

By J.C. Kibbey, Natural Resources Defense Council

After years of work, an overwhelming bipartisan majority in the Illinois House has voted (83 yes to 33 no) to pass the Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (SB2408), a nation-leading bill to fight climate change, create good-paying jobs, improve the health of Illinoisans, and support disadvantaged communities. The bill now goes to the Senate, where legislative leaders say they intend to pass it swiftly. Governor Pritzker has championed the bill and has said he will sign it. Read more here.

More about the writer: With Family Roots in the Mines, He’s Championing Illinois’s Clean Energy Future, NRDC

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS HERE

USDA accepts more grassland CRP signup, North Platte Telegraph
[Lands] enrolled in CRP — including grasslands — play an important role in addressing climate change. For example, this enrollment of more than 2.5 million acres of grazing land into Grassland CRP will mitigate an additional estimated 22,000 metric tons of CO2 equivalent.

By the numbers: Nebraska ranked third in acres enrolled, behind only Colorado and South Dakota. Montana and New Mexico round out the top five enrollment states.

About the Conservation Reserve Program (CRP)

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The Future of Agriculture Combined With Renewable Energy Finds Success at Jack’s Solar Garden, NREL News Story. Jack’s Solar Garden is the largest commercially active agrivoltaics system researching crop and vegetation growth under photovoltaic solar panels in the United States. For more information, visit Jack’s Solar Garden, stay tuned for updates on more agrivoltaics projects, and read more about the InSPIRE project’s research at sites around the country.

Making the right buy: LCOE of monofacial vs bifacial modules, PV Magazine
When does increased energy production outweigh increased cost? Clean Energy Associates looks to answer one of its most-asked questions in a new case study.

Wisconsin farmers to receive record-breaking support this year from USDA, NBC26

BIDEN’S INFRASTRUCTURE PLANS & AMERICA’S WORKFORCE

Biden Has Ambitious Infrastructure Plans. But A Worker Shortage Could Hinder Them, NPR
“We were having trouble finding skilled workers for construction jobs, water and energy utilities, telecom and broadband expansions – all the areas where we think this infrastructure bill was going to be investing even before the pandemic. – Andy Van Kleunen, CEO of the National Skills Coalition

GRID INFRASTRUCTURE – NEW ACORE REPORT 

Transmission Makes the Grid Resilient to Extreme Weather, T&D World
New report released by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE). ‘Transmission Makes the Power System Resilient to Extreme Weather’, details the value additional transmission would have provided during five severe weather events in Texas, the Northeast and the Midwest between 2014 and 2021. 

PREVIOUSLY POSTED ON INFRASTRUCTURE

Report Card for America’s Infrastructure
Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers’ Report Card for America’s Infrastructure depicts the condition and performance of American infrastructure in the familiar form of a school report  card—assigning letter grades based on the physical condition and needed investments for improvement.

FACT SHEET: The American Jobs Plan, The White House Briefing Room
Statement about America’s manufacturing infrastructure:
The U.S. manufacturing sector accounts for 70 percent of business R&D expenditure, 30 percent of productivity growth, and 60 percent of exports. Manufacturing is a critical node that helps convert research and innovation into sustained economic growth . . . While manufacturing jobs have been a ladder to middle-class life, we have let our industrial heartland be hollowed out, with quality jobs moving abroad or to regions with lower wages and fewer protections for workers.

OPPD reaches customer-owned generation milestone

By Julie Wasson, OPPD Customer Service, The Wire

On June 28, 2021, OPPD received its 500th customer-owned generation (COG) interconnection application. This was the 165th application received so far this year, which is on track to be a 500% increase in interconnection applications over last year.

OPPD kicked off a multi-team project in 2019 to improve the COG application process using new, state-of-the-art online application software. The application software went live in April 2020 and, so far, more than 20 different solar installers have used the online application on behalf of mutual customers. Without the new online application process, the volume the utility has seen this year would not have been possible. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Battery project makes room for more rooftop solar in Decorah, Alliant Energy News Release
A free DOE webinar on the project will be offered on July 30 at 12:00 p.m. CDT. Anyone interested in learning more can join by 
registering here

Lots of ‘renewable’ options for energy consumers, but why are so few of them any good?

By Ivy Main, Virginia Mercury

Virginia residents who want to do right by the planet are confronted with a bewildering array of renewable energy and “green power” options. Unfortunately, few of these programs actually deliver renewable energy. People who want the gold standard — electricity from new wind and solar projects — are completely out of luck if their utility is Dominion Energy Virginia or Appalachian Power. 

To understand how there can be so many options and none of them good, we first have to talk about renewable energy certificates.  RECs are a topic that is way more interesting than it sounds because — well, it would have to be, wouldn’t it? RECs are how we know that some electricity can be attributed to a renewable source. If you want to know what kind of renewable energy your utility is buying, or if you yourself want to buy renewable energy, RECs matter. Read more here.

About Ivy Main


Ivy Main is a lawyer and a longtime volunteer with the Sierra Club’s Virginia chapter. A former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee, she is currently the Sierra Club’s renewable energy chairperson. 

 

Top Photo: Dominion Energy’s Whitehouse solar farm in Louisa County. Under the Virginia Clean Economy Act, after 2025 most of the Renewable Energy Certificates retired by Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power will come from Virginia wind and solar facilities.

Recommended Resource: State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, National Conference Of State Legislatures

IN NEBRASKA

Conservancy charts a solar showcase on the coalfields of Central Appalachia

By Elizabeth McGowen, Energy News Network

When Danny Van Clief chose a career in solar energy, he wasn’t seeking a turbulence-free glide path. Instead, the CEO of Sun Tribe Development wanted the freedom to jump with both feet into formidable challenges — ones that might spook other developers.

That pluck has landed his Charlottesville company the opportunity to be the first to generate large-scale renewable power on the coalfields of Central Appalachia. If the bold venture announced this week comes to fruition, roughly 550 acres of deforested minelands sprinkled across an expansive Nature Conservancy preserve will generate up to 75 megawatts of solar energy within two to three years. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Brad Kreps / The Nature Conservancy

THE NATURE CONSERVANCY IN NEBRASKA

Featured Resources
Nebraska’s Climate Solutions: See how The Nature Conservancy is finding hope for the future in all corners of Nebraska.

Photo: Nature Conservancy’s 50-kilowatt off-grid solar system at the Niobrara Valley Preserve, one of the Conservancy’s largest in the U.S. The Nebraska Environmental Trust awarded a grant for the project  It was designed by Morrissey Engineering of Omaha and installed by SWT Energy in collaboration with Sentry Electric of Lincoln, Nebraska.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

About The Nature Conservancy
The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries and territories: 38 by direct conservation impact and 34 through partners, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit: www.nature.org

FREE CERES & IIGCC WEBINAR 

The Role of Natural Climate Solutions in Corporate Climate Commitments: A Spotlight on Investor Engagement

This webinar on May 18 at 10 a.m. will launch a new publication by Ceres and IIGCC, “The Role of Natural Climate Solutions in Corporate Climate Commitments: A Brief for Investors.” Developed in collaboration with investors, the brief provides asset owners and managers with guidance for engaging portfolio companies on the use of NCS in their climate commitments.

Website Links

Mine workers union endorses Biden energy policies in exchange for job training

By Julie Tsirkin, NBC News

WASHINGTON — The United Mine Workers of America leadership announced Monday they support President Joe Biden’s green energy policies in exchange for a robust transition strategy, a move the union hopes its membership will support as a way to transition toward new jobs.

In his $2 trillion infrastructure plan, Biden proposed a sweeping investment in green energy such as wind, solar and other renewable energy projects. In an effort to help fossil fuel workers transition to new jobs, the plan also includes billions of dollars to employ dislocated utility workers in the coal, oil and gas industries. Read more here.

Remarks by Vice President Harris on the American Jobs Plan, The White House Briefing Room

OFFSHORE WIND INDUSTRY WORKFORCE

Emerging offshore wind industry provides careers of the future, by Jen Scungio, American Clean Power Association. Putting steel in the water to deliver clean energy from offshore wind to communities will require a workforce with a diverse skillset to plan, construct, and operate offshore wind farms. In fact, ACP research shows reaching 30 GW of U.S. offshore wind by 2030 will create 83,000 new American jobs. Since 74 different occupations are needed to build, operate, and maintain an offshore wind farm, the possible opportunities for those interested in offshore wind careers are endless.

Fact Sheet: Biden Administration Jumpstarts Offshore Wind Energy Projects to Create Jobs, The White House, March 29, 2021

INTERESTING ENGINEERING VIDEO

TRANSMISSION

Glick discloses that FERC is in discussions with state regulators on transmission issues, American Public Power Association

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is in discussions with the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) to develop a formal approach between the states and FERC “that will allow us to jointly tackle” transmission issues head on, FERC Chairman Richard Glick said on April 15.

Previously Posted

NAVAJO NATION’S RENEWABLE ENERGY DEVELOPMENT

Navajo Nation solar project will cement San Juan County’s position as exporter of renewable energy, The Salt Lake Tribune

“Our communities were once heavily dependent on fossil fuel energy, but now we are seeing change happen,” said Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez. “[The Red Mesa solar farm] is another milestone for the Navajo Nation as we continue to transition to clean, emissions-free renewable energy for our communities and in the open market.” A far more massive proposed project, the $3.6 billion Navajo Energy Storage Station, is slowly advancing through the regulatory process.
Image Credit: Navajo Tribal Utility Authority

CARBON NATION DOCUMENTARY & NEW RESEARCH 

Carbon Nation at 10: The future’s not what it used to be, GreenBiz article contributed by Peter Byck
Much has changed in these past 10 years: Coal was 42 percent of our energy mix in the United States; it’s now 23 percent. Large-scale solar electricity was about 38 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2011, it’s now less than 7 cents. Onshore wind was between 8.2 cents and 11.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, it is now between 2.6 cents and 5.7 cents.

Peter Byck is a professor of practice at Arizona State University, in both the School of Sustainability and the Cronkite School of Journalism. He is director, producer and writer of “Carbon Nation.” He is helping to lead a $5.3 million research project on Adaptive Multi-Paddock (AMP) grazing; collaborating with 20 scientists and 10 ranchers, focused on soil health and soil carbon storage, microbial/bug/bird biodiversity, water cycling and much more.

FOOD & ENVIRONMENT REPORTING NETWORK

How farmers can be at the forefront of the climate solutionFERN’s Ag Insider
Robert Leonard is the author of “Deep Midwest: Midwestern Explorations.” Matt Russell is a co-owner of Coyote Run Farm and the executive director of Iowa Interfaith Power and Light.

The Food & Environment Reporting Network is the first independent, non-profit news organization that produces in-depth and investigative journalism in the critically under-reported areas of food, agriculture, and environmental health. Through partnerships with local and national mainstream media outlets, we seek to tell stories that will inspire, inform, and have lasting impact.

OSU RESEARCH

Oregon State University study finds flowers flourish underneath solar panels, Solar Power World

A new study by Oregon State University researchers found that shade provided by solar panels increased the abundance of flowers under the panels and delayed the timing of their bloom, both findings that could aid the agricultural community.

SOLAR DEPLOYMENT IN ILLINOIS & BEYOND

HOME SOLAR WARRANTIES

How To Decipher Home Solar Warranties, by Sarah Lozanova, Earth911
Buying a solar energy system is a significant purchase . It is also one of the few home upgrades that will pay for itself in savings. However, the savings from a solar system relies on long-term energy production. If a solar panel or inverter fails, it will decrease the output of the array. Solar warranties protect homeowners from costly repairs and help ensure the system is producing clean energy for decades.

Often, homeowners get two or three proposals for a solar system and then have trouble comparing them without extensive research. Examining the product and labor warranties is one way to differentiate between different bids. Broadly speaking, there are two general types of warranties: for the equipment itself and the labor. 

Co-ops trying to leave Tri-State say the electric utility is “stonewalling” by refusing to calculate the price to exit

By Mark Jaffe, The Colorado Sun

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is “stonewalling” efforts by seven rural electric cooperatives – in Colorado, New Mexico and Nebraska – to get estimates on how much it will cost them to leave the association, according to a complaint filed with federal regulators. “Tri-State’s refusal to perform the calculation required… is patently unjust and unreasonable,” according to the complaint to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “Eight of us asked for numbers in November and December through letters,” said Dean Hubbuck, chief energy resource officer at United Power in Brighton, Tri-State’s largest co-op. Continue reading here.

Nebraska Tri-State Members Seeking Exit Estimates:

Apex announces Jayhawk Wind sale to power Facebook facility in Nebraska

By Jonathan Riley, The Morning Sun

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Apex Clean Energy announced Monday that it has sold the Jayhawk Wind project in northwest Crawford and southwest Bourbon counties to two other power companies, WEC Energy Group and Invenergy, along with a renewable power purchase agreement with Facebook. “Jayhawk Wind will help Facebook meet its goal to support its operations in the region with 100% renewable energy and reach net-zero carbon emissions,” Apex said in a press release. Read more here.

Facebook’s Climate Commitment

Climate change is one of the most urgent issues facing our world today. We’re working to minimize our energy, emissions and water impact, protect workers and the environment in our supply chain, and partner with others to develop and share science-driven solutions.

We’ve launched the Climate Science Information Center to connect our community with factual resources from the world’s leading climate organizations and experts, as well as show people how they can reduce their own environmental impact. Through these efforts, we hope to drive more awareness around this issue and spur climate action.

Learn about Our Climate Commitment.

Ending Carbon Pollution: The Energy Efficiency Imperative

By Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Co-Director, Climate & Clean Energy Program,
Natural Resources Defense Council

A recommendation for America to “invest in energy efficiency and productivity” leads a new blueprint for “Accelerating Decarbonization of the U.S. Energy System” by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine. This is the latest confirmation of a resounding consensus that energy efficiency improvements are at the heart of any plausible plan for halting the carbon pollution fueling the climate crisis.

Recent reports also by the International Energy Agency, the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE), and Evolved Energy all agree: Affordable, equitable, and reliable electricity service in an economy reducing carbon emissions depends vitally on harnessing the full capacity of cost-effective energy efficiency. In fact, ACEEE concluded that “energy efficiency can slash U.S. energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by about 50% by 2050, getting us halfway to our national climate goals . . . ” Continue reading here.

Interactive Online Map: ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard. Nebraska’s ACEEE Scorecard Rank: 41. As the map shows, several states in the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) have ACEEE scorecard rankings in the 40’s, with Wyoming at 51. States also scoring in the 40’s: North Dakota 48, South Dakota 45, Kansas 47, Louisiana 45.

Nebraska’s low ranking highlights our state’s need for a comprehensive energy plan that includes energy efficiency.

Minnesota’s Outstanding Leadership

Minnesota, with a Scorecard of 9 (tying with Oregon), ranks the highest among Southwest Power Pool member states and provides an excellent national model for states, municipalities, utilities and other entities with zero-emission goals.

Driven by strong energy savings goals established under the state’s 2007 Next Generation Energy Act, Minnesota continues to rank among the top energy-efficient states in the nation. The state has also invested in policies and programs to drive efficiency in other sectors, including activities to ensure energy code compliance and through lead by example policies that set energy conservation requirements for state owned resources. Minnesota continues to explore opportunities to advance efficiency in other ways to promote building electrification and encourage adoption of electric vehicles. The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency is also pursuing a rulemaking to adopt California’s low- and zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) standards. – ACEEE State Energy Efficiency Scorecard

SPP Resources