Tag Archives: Nebraska

‘A unique application’: TVA takes $216M first step toward turning coal ash sites into solar farms

By Josh Keefe, The Tenneseean

 

The Tennessee Valley Authority took its first step toward turning its coal ash landfills into solar energy farms on Thursday. At its quarterly meeting, the TVA board unanimously approved $216 million in funding for a pilot project aimed at building a 100-megawatt, 309-acre solar farm on top of a coal ash landfill at the Shawnee Fossil Plant in Paducah, Kentucky. 

The project is the first step in TVA’s efforts to convert sites contaminated by the legacy of coal into productive sources of renewable energy. If TVA can make the solar installation at Shawnee work and deploy similar efforts across its system, it anticipates adding 1,000 megawatts of solar energy capacity. That is equal to nearly all of TVA’s current solar capacity and enough to power roughly 600,000 homes. Read more here.

Previously Posted

NEW REPORT

Most Power Plants Violating Federal Rules Mandating Cleanup of Toxic Coal Ash Dumps,
by
 the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Earthjustice 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Seven years after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency imposed the first federal rules requiring the cleanup of coal ash waste dumps, only about half of the power plants that are contaminating groundwater agree that cleanup is necessary, and 96 percent of these power plants are not proposing any groundwater treatment. Only one plant out of 292 is planning a comprehensive cleanup.

The failure of the vast majority of power companies to follow the 2015 Coal Ash Rule has serious consequences for water quality and public health. Monitoring data shows that 91 percent of U.S. coal-fired plants have ash landfills or waste ponds that are leaking arsenic, lead, mercury, selenium, and other metals into groundwater at dangerous levels, often threatening streams, rivers, and drinking water aquifers.

These are among the conclusions of a new report, Poisonous Coverup: The Widespread Failure of the Power Industry to Clean Up Coal Ash Dumps, by the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Earthjustice.

IN NEBRASKA

Nebraska Data From The Report: Coal Power Plant Rank / Site, Pollutants Exceeding Safe Levels and by how much, Number of Regulated Disposal Units

79 North Omaha Station
Arsenic (x22), Boron (x2), Cobalt (x2), Lithium (x3), Molybdenum (x23), Selenium (x2), Sulfate (x2). Number of Regulated Disposal Units: 1

182 Nebraska City Generating Station
Arsenic (x5), Boron (x2), Lithium (x1), Molybdenum (x2). Number of Regulated Disposal Units: 2

230 Sheldon Station
Lithium (x3), Sulfate (x3). Number of Regulated Disposal Units: 1

245 Platte Generating Station
Cobalt (x3). Number of Regulated Disposal Units: 1

256 Whelan Energy Center
Lithium (x1), Molybdenum (x1). Number of Regulated Disposal Units: 1

263 Gerald Gentleman Station
No pollutants present at unsafe levels. Number of Regulated Disposal Units: 1

268 Lon D. Wright Power Plant
No pollutants present at unsafe levels. Number of Regulated Disposal Units: 1

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Earthjustice’s Clean Energy Program

Photo Credit: Chris Machian, Omaha World-Herald. Coal is piled outside OPPD’s North Omaha plant. Coal emissions are a major source of pollution, contributing to a variety of health problems.

FACT SHEET: U.S.-UAE Partnership to Accelerate Transition to Clean Energy (PACE)

The White House Briefing Room

The United States and the United Arab Emirates signed a major new clean energy framework on November 1 in Abu Dhabi.  Today President Biden again demonstrated his deep commitment to ensuring a global clean energy future and long-term energy security as the United States and United Arab Emirates announced a robust partnership to ensure the swift and smooth transition toward clean energy and away from unabated fossil fuels. The U.S.-UAE Partnership for Accelerating Clean Energy (PACE) is set to catalyze $100 billion in financing, investment, and other support and to deploy globally 100 gigawatts of clean energy by 2035 to advance the energy transition and maximize climate benefits.  

PACE’s ambitious plan is built upon four pillars: 1) Clean Energy Innovation, Deployment and Supply Chains, 2) Carbon and Methane Management, 3) Nuclear Energy, and 4) Industrial and Transport Decarbonization. Continue reading here.

Related Reading & Viewing

Biden-Harris Administration Announces Approval of First 35 State Plans to Build Out EV Charging Infrastructure Across 53,000 Miles of Highways

WASHINGTON – The Biden-Harris Administration today announced more than two-thirds of Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Deployment Plans from States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have been approved ahead of schedule under the National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure (NEVI) Formula Program, established and funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. With this early approval, these states can now unlock more than $900 million in NEVI formula funding from FY22 and FY23 to help build EV chargers across approximately 53,000 miles of highway across the country. The NEVI formula funding under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which makes $5 billion available over five years, will help build a convenient, reliable, and affordable EV charging network across the country. Faster adoption of electric vehicles is a critical part of the nation’s climate goals as transportation currently accounts for more than a quarter of all emissions. Approved Plans are available on the FHWA web site and funding tables for the full five years of the NEVI Formula program can be viewed here.

“Today, with funding in President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, we are taking an important step to build a nationwide electric vehicle charging network where finding a charge is as easy as locating a gas station,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “With the first set of approvals we are announcing today, 35 states across the country – with Democratic and Republican governors – will be moving forward to use these funds to install EV chargers at regular, reliable intervals along their highways.” Read more here.

Additional Resource: Explore the approved state plans for electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure deployment.

Additional Recommended Reading

When it comes to the climate, if we’re not part of the solution, we’re part of the problem

By David E. Corbin, Ph.D., Midlands Voices, Omaha World-Herald

Well, it’s official: OPPD will be burning coal at the North Omaha plant for three years longer than they promised. They got themselves into a real fix. Those who live in North Omaha will bear the brunt of the polluted air for three more years.

Omaha is already ranked in the top 10 cities in the U.S. for asthma rates and North Omaha has the highest rates within Omaha. So, what should be done? The resolution that the OPPD Board passed in August acknowledged the need to not only engage the North Omaha community, but to also diminish the impact on North Omaha of burning coal for three more years. Continue reading here.

David Corbin is the energy committee chair of the Nebraska Sierra Club and an advisory board member of the American Public Health Association’s Center for Climate, Health & Equity. He also is a former Nebraskans for Solar board member who currently serves as volunteer editor/writer of our organization’s Facebook site.

Additional Recommended Reading: Recently David posted an excerpt on Nebraskans for Solar’s Facebook from an article published by The Reader announcing the good news that  “the Douglas County Board of Commissioners met Tuesday to approve a joint grant application with Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) to install a solar power generation project at the closed State Street landfill.

Recommended resource for other Nebraska communities interested in a similar project:
Rocky Mountain Institute: The Future of Landfills is Bright: How State and Local Governments Can Leverage Landfill Solar to Bring Clean Energy and Jobs to Communities across America,

PUBLISHED BY OPPD THE WIRE

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST 

Links related to several of David Corbin’s references in his op-ed: 

Nebraskans for Solar Note
Nebraska has 166 publicly owned utilities governed by community-elected boards. These include public power districts, municipal utilities, and electric cooperatives. Visit the website of the Nebraska Power Association for a list of all of them.

STATES’ CLIMATE ADAPTATION PLANS

EPA Regional Climate Adaptation Contacts & State Websites

Great Plains
Nebraska and other Great Plains states: No State Level Climate Adaptation Website Currently Identified

Midwest

Illinois Illinois Climate Adaptation Toolkit
Indiana Environmental Resilience Institute Toolkit
Iowa Climate Change
Michigan Michigan Department of Health & Human Services – Resilience Efforts at the National and Local Levels
Minnesota Adapting to a Changing Climate
Missouri No State Level Climate Adaptation Website Currently Identified
Ohio No State Level Climate Adaptation Website Currently Identified
Wisconsin What are Wisconsin’s possible Adaptation Strategies?

Vilsack: America’s voluntary approach to agriculture is better than Europe’s mandates

By Jared Strong, Iowa Capital Dispatch

BOONE, Iowa — The more than $1 billion the federal government is devoting to voluntary efforts to reduce agriculture’s adverse effects on the environment is a better long-term strategy than mandating new rules for farmers, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack said Tuesday.

While state and federal officials in the United States have tended to avoid implementing rules that might force farmers to radically change their long-held practices, the European Union has specific requirements about crop rotations, permanent pastures and the use of buffer strips and other conservation practices that improve soil quality. Continue reading here.

Also written by Jared Strong: USDA plans ‘historic’ funding to help struggling farmers and develop new ag leaders, Iowa Capital Dispatch

FROM THE NEBRASKA EXAMINER 

MORE ON HIGH-SPEED-INTERNET INFRASTRUCTURE 

Treasury Announces Five Additional Capital Projects Fund Awards to Increase Access to Affordable, High-Speed Internet

Connecticut, Indiana, Nebraska, North Dakota, and Arkansas are approved to receive approximately $408 million under the American Rescue Plan and will connect more than 90,000 homes and businesses to affordable, high-speed internet

INFLATION REDUCTION ACT BENEFITS EVERYONE

Republicans voted ‘no’ on the climate bill. Their states will get billions of dollars from it anyway, by Ella Nilsen, CNN

More than $370 billion of the law will go to tax credits for
 clean electricity, vehicles and energy efficient appliances. And that money will trickle down to Democrat- and Republican-controlled states alike, said Bob Keefe, executive director of nonpartisan clean energy group E2. “It’s going to be harder for red states to say clean energy jobs are bogus and that it’s something for California when it’s something that’s happening in their backyards,” Keefe told CNN.

The law goes far beyond financing for solar and wind energy. There’s also money for hydrogen fuel and funds to incentivize power plants to capture their planet-warming emissions before they hit the air. It also contains billions of dollars to fund a new program that will crack down on the fossil fuel industry’s methane emissions — a powerful greenhouse gas that scientists say must be controlled.

FROM FARM PROGRESS

Project looks to measure carbon absorption, emissions daily: Study examines how grazing livestock influences carbon, water and biodiversity.

Climate change has brought much scrutiny on the beef industry. But is it justified? Scientists have been studying grazing management and its impact on ecological function, and “there is evidence to suggest, if it’s well managed, cattle can be very edifying to land and improve its function versus deteriorating or extracting,” says Jason Rowntree, the C.S. Mott Professor of Sustainable Agriculture in the Michigan State University Department of Animal Science. “But the science is pretty isolated in terms of geography.”

FACT SHEET: Biden-⁠Harris Administration Announces Six New Actions to Lower Electricity Bills for Working Families

The White House Briefing Room

Boosted by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Actions to Connect More States and Families to Affordable, Reliable Solar Projects and Create Clean Energy Jobs

President Biden is laser focused on lowering energy costs for working families while creating good-paying jobs and tackling the climate crisis. As extreme heat continues to affect tens of millions of Americans, hitting low-income families harder than others, President Biden is implementing new programs to help maintain a consistent and affordable energy supply to cool their homes.

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration is announcing six new actions to lower home electricity costs for hard-hit American families by increasing access to affordable and more reliable clean energy and create clean energy jobs: Continue reading here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FACT SHEET: White House Announces over $40 Billion in American Rescue Plan Investments in Our Workforce – With More Coming

The White House Briefing Room

On Wednesday, the White House will announce that over $40 Billion in American Rescue Plan funds have been committed to strengthening and expanding our workforce. White House officials will highlight top American Rescue Plan workforce best practices from Governors, Mayors, and County Leaders across the country, and call on more government officials and private sector leaders to expand investments in our workforce. Vice President Kamala Harris will deliver remarks kicking off a half-day White House Summit.

Since passage of the law, states, localities, community colleges, and local organizations have leveraged American Rescue Plan resources to deliver training, expand career paths, encourage more Registered Apprenticeships, provide retention and hiring bonuses in critical industries, and power efforts to help underserved Americans and those who face barriers to employment secure good jobs. These investments in the workforce – along with the American Rescue Plan’s direct payroll support that has saved or restored jobs across a broad set of industries – have contributed to a record 9 Million jobs added since President Biden took office in the fastest and strongest jobs recovery in American history. Continue reading here.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE NEWS

USDA Accepts More than 3.1 Million Acres   in Grassland CRP Signup,  Farm Service Agency, EIN Presswire

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2022 – The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is accepting offers for more than 3.1 million acres from agricultural producers and private landowners through this year’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) Grassland Signup, the highest in history. This program allows producers and landowners to continue grazing and haying practices while protecting grasslands and promoting plant and animal biodiversity and conservation, and it’s part of the Biden-Harris administration’s broader effort to address climate change and to conserve natural resources

  • Top states included Colorado (642,000 acres), South Dakota (nearly 425,000 acres) and Nebraska (nearly 422,000 acres). 

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR NEWS

Department Leaders Complete Multi-State Swing to Highlight Legacy Pollution Investments from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

 Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and Senior Advisor and Infrastructure Coordinator Winnie Stachelberg traveled this week to highlight recent investments made by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to plug and remediate orphaned oil and gas wells in national parks, national forests, national wildlife refuges and on other public lands. Millions of Americans live within a mile of hundreds of thousands of orphaned oil and gas wells, which lead to hazardous pollution, water contamination, and safety hazards for our communities.

The Department recently announced a $33 million investment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law in fiscal year 2022 to plug, remediate and reclaim hazardous sites on federal lands – part of a historic $4.7 billion allocated through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to clean up orphaned oil and gas wells across the country. The historic investments will create good-paying, union jobs, catalyze economic growth and revitalization, and reduce dangerous methane leaks.

The Department of the Interior focuses on 8 priorities:

Ways to join the Department of the Interior:

The Energy & Environmental Building Alliance Joins the American Solar Energy Society in Showcasing Innovations to Help Consumers Cut Rising Energy Costs and Assert Their Energy Independence via the ASES National Solar Tour

American Solar Energy Society News Release, PR Newswire

Registration Now Open for Contractors and Sustainable Living Advocates Seeking to
Host or Sponsor Free, Open House Tours Showcasing Money-Saving Innovations for
Homes, Businesses, Commercial Structures and Non-Profits via the
October 1-2 National Solar Tour, America’s Largest Grassroots Solar Living Event

BOULDER, Colo., July 5, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Hot on the heels of Independence Day, the American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is partnering with the Energy and Environmental Building Alliance (EEBA) to inspire net zero, solar-powered and sustainable living improvements to help people assert their energy independence and combat runaway energy costs on properties of all scope and scale via the 27th ASES National Solar Tour, America’s largest concurrent collection of free, in-person and virtual open house tours. Read the entire news release here.

FROM SOLAR POWER WORLD

July solar policy snapshots: A guide to recent legislation and research throughout the country
Illinois rule changes will simplify solar + storage interconnection, Springfield, Illinois
The Illinois Commerce Commission recently revised the state’s rules regarding how solar and other DERs connect to the distribution grid. The changes will reduce the time and cost to interconnect and make it easier to use energy storage to balance intermittent resources.

IN NEBRASKA

NEW CENTER FOR RURAL AFFAIRS GUIDE

Decommissioning Solar Energy Systems Resource Guide

Falling equipment costs coupled with increased demand for clean energy have led to a rapid rise in solar development over the past decade, a trend expected to continue, especially in rural areas. But, local governments also need to think about what happens to the sites that reach the end of their life cycles. The Center’s new guide outlines management options and recommendations of what information should be included in decommissioning plans. 

States Are Tackling Climate, Using Federal Cash as Congress Lags

By Zach Bright, Bloomberg Law

Some Republican-led states such as Nebraska and South Carolina, despite resistance to sweeping plans framed as climate action, are nonetheless lowering greenhouse gas emissions as they move to clean energy because of its long-term economic benefits over fossil fuels.

Read more here.


LAWRENCE BERKELEY NATIONAL LABORATORY STUDY

Solar-plus-storage vs. wind-plus-storage, by Emiliano Bellini, PV Magazine
Scientists from the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory have compared the costs of several of solar-plus-storage configurations with those of other wind-plus-battery plants across seven US wholesale electricity markets. They described their findings in Keep it short: Exploring the impacts of configuration choices on the recent economics of solar-plus-battery and wind-plus-battery hybrid energy plants,” which was recently published in the Journal of Energy Storage.

MODEL ‘SOLAR-AS-A-SERVICE’ PROGRAM

IPS plans largest solar energy project in state history by a school systemFox 59
Indianapolis Public Schools has announced plans to move forward with the largest solar energy project by an educational institution in the state of Indiana. According to IPS, the solar energy project would significantly reduce cost, cut carbon emissions and boost sustainability efforts for 20 schools. Sun FundED has worked in bringing solar energy to other educational institutions including Indiana Wesleyan University and Taylor University. They’ve also signed up, or are soon to sign up, schools in Michigan, Florida, South Carolina, Minnesota and Virginia, according to the company.

See Also: IPS Partners with Indiana Firm to Plan Largest K-12 Solar Project Ever in Indiana, Indianapolis Public Schools

Featured Resources

CARBON DIOXIDE PIPELINES

EPA Regional Administrator Meg McCollister Urges School Districts, Tribes and School Bus Operators in Kansas, Iowa, Missouri and Nebraska to Apply for $500M In Available Funding for Clean School Buses

Environmental Protection Agency News Release, May 20, 2022

“This historic investment under President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will forever transform school bus fleets across the United States,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “These funding opportunities to replace older, heavily-polluting buses will result in healthier air for many of the 25 million American children who rely on school buses, many of whom live in overburdened and underserved communities. Today we take a major step toward a future where clean, zero-emissions school buses are the American standard.”

“This new funding can make a big impact for children across Iowa, Kansas, Missouri and Nebraska and the nine tribal nations here,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meghan A. McCollister. “I urge all eligible school districts, tribes, and school bus operators to make the time this summer to apply for Clean School Bus rebates. Applications will be accepted until August 19, 2022. Over the next five years, this program will deliver $5 billion to school districts to improve our bus fleets and improve health and safety for our kids and communities.” Questions about applying may be directed to CleanSchoolBus@epa.gov.

Read the entire news release here.

Note: This is the first competition that EPA is running through the Clean School Bus program. The Agency will also launch a grant competition later this year. Further Clean School Bus competitions funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will be run every year over the next five years. To learn more about the rebate programs, applicant eligibility, selection process, and informational webinar dates, visit www.epa.gov/cleanschoolbus. 

Links to more information:

Links to U.S. PIRG Reports & Blog

UPCOMING DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY WEBINAR

180 Day Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Briefing, Monday, May 23rd at 10:30 am CT
The U.S. Department of Energy is hosting this 30-minute webinar with Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Principal Deputy Under Secretary for Infrastructure Kathleen Hogan to provide updates on the implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) and to share the progress made in its first 180 days. The webinar will feature updates on the $10 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding already released as well as a preview of upcoming funding opportunities. In addition, it will highlight how equity and the Justice40 initiative are being incorporated into BIL programs and allow time for a Q&A. Submit your questions via the link in your registration confirmation email.

UPDATED DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY CAREER MAPS

For anyone seeking a job in clean energy, DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has created various interactive and user-friendly maps to help you think about what your career can look like in clean energy. Each map is organized into easily navigated sections based on degreed versus vocational careers, making for clearer roles and paths.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

FEATURED CLIMATE EDUCATION & ACTION RESOURCES

  • UNICEF: Talking to your child about climate change: How to engage children on the issue with hope and positivity. Numerous links to resources are provided.
  • Talk Climate.Org resource pages are designed to support justice-based climate education, to provide guidance for productive and empowering climate conversations, and to offer ways to take climate action.