Tag Archives: NET News

Pope’s Climate Expert Tells Nebraska Audience: It’s An Issue In The Laps Of Faith Leaders

By Bill Kelly, Senior Producer/Reporter, NET News

Dr. Veerabhadran “Ram” Ramanathan, an atmospheric and climate scientist, recently spoke to students at Creighton University. In an interview with Bill Kelly of NET News he talked about his post with the Vatican, why the pope made climate an ethical and spiritual issue, and why Nebraska needs to pay attention. Continue reading here.

Nebraska Communities Embrace Solar

By Ariana Brocious, NET News

In the last year, solar power has taken off across Nebraska. Communities around the state have invested in small projects to help diversify their electricity sources and offer renewable energy alternatives to residents.

On the east side of the city of Fremont, a 10-acre parcel has sprouted thousands of metal posts, which will soon hold solar panels. Once fully built, Fremont’s new community solar farm will offer a sharp contrast to the nearby coal plant, which provides enough power to supply the whole city, according to Fremont City Administrator Brian Newton. But the coal plant is aging. So when Newton came to Fremont a couple years ago, city officials started looking at ways to diversify the power supply. They bought 40 megawatts of power from a wind farm south of Hastings. Then Newton used a federal grant to explore building a community solar project. “What we found out was, as a municipality, we could finance and do it cheaper than what we could buy it from a power purchase agreement or any other arrangement,” Newton said. The next step was a community survey to gauge interest from customers. Click here to continue reading. 

Photo by Ariana Brocious, NET News: Fremont’s new community solar farm will be adjacent to its existing coal-fired power plant. The posts are in but the solar panels haven’t yet been installed.

Your Invitation to a Public Forum on Community Solar

To learn more about different types of community solar development in Nebraska and the benefits to our cities and towns, join Nebraskans for Solar and co-sponsoring organizations on Thursday, December 14 at 7 pm at UNO’s Community Engagement Center.

Nebraskans for Solar Board Member Leo Arens will moderate a presentation and discussion on “Community Solar” by a panel of local Solar Champions:

  • Clifford Mesner, Mesner Development, Central City
  • Brian Newton, Utility General Manager, Fremont
  • Jeff Buhrman and Terry Wittler, Capitol Beach Neighborhood Solar LLC,  Lincoln
  • Jeff Berggren, GenPro Energy Solutions, Lexington
  • Michael Shonka, Solar Heat & Electric, Omaha
  • Nebraska Public Power District Spokesperson, Columbus

Co-sponsored by Green Bellevue and Sierra Club. All our events are open to the public. Please join us and contribute to the discussion! Refreshments provided. Click here for parking information.

Photo by Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

Private Power Plant Proposed In Beatrice Challenges Public Power

By Fred Knapp, Reporter/Producer, NET News

Nebraska has been known as the only all-public power state, where electricity is produced by publicly-owned utilities, not for profit. But that’s been changing, and a new proposal in Beatrice could change things a lot more. Continue reading.

Photo: Tobias Tempelmeyer points past the Beatrice airport to the site of a proposed power plant. Credit: Fred Knapp, NET News

Farms, Ranches incorporate Small-Scale Solar Projects

By Ariana Brocious, NET News

In these hot days of summer, it’s easy to appreciate just how much sunlight we get in Nebraska. A growing number of people and communities across the state are starting to take advantage of this resource. “2016 was, in total, a very significant year,” said David Bracht of the Nebraska Energy Office. In the last 18 months, Nebraska’s total solar power generation has grown from around one megawatt to around 13 megawatts. While that’s a big increase, we’re still talking fairly small potatoes when it comes to energy. Continue reading.

Solar installation at Jim Jenkins’ ranch near Callaway, Nebraska. Photo courtesy of Jim Jenkins and Nebraska Energy Office


Ben Gotschall of Davey Road Ranch will be installing an 8.8-kilowatt solar project in a few weeks.

Photo by Ariana Brocious, NET News


Check out other Nebraskans who are benefiting from using solar energy in their farm operations by clicking on Solar Examples on the menu bar at the top of this page.

Opportunity to meet Nebraska solar installers:
Solar Energy Workshop Hosted by Community Crops August 5th at the Eiseley Branch Library in Lincoln

Related news stories:

Nebraska Towns Charge Ahead To Support Electric Vehicles

By Arianna Brocious, NET News

Only a few hundred cars in Nebraska are fully electric, but the number is on the rise—along with the number of places those cars can charge up. Some Nebraska towns are hoping that makes it easier for electric car drivers to leave town. Click here to read more.

Don Cox, Tesla enthusiast who teaches an electric vehicle class at UNL. More than 370,000 orders have already been placed for Tesla’s next car, the more affordable Model 3, which won’t even hit the road until late this year.


Anne McCollister, co-founder of the nonprofit Nebraska Community Energy Alliance. With funding from the Nebraska Environmental Trust, McCollister’s group has helped 27 communities and partners around the state install electric car charging stations.

Credit for both photos: Arianna Brocious
Included with the article: Tesla map of Nebraska charging stations
Nebraska Community Energy Alliance’s Website


Program Helps Satisfy Nebraska’s Growing Wind Energy Workforce Demand

By Ben Bohall, Producer/Reporter, NET News 

In 1998, there were only four wind turbines in the entire state. Now, there are more than 700. But as Nebraska’s wind farms continue to expand, finding trained people to work them has been a challenge. A unique education program is trying to change that . . . According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for wind turbine service technicians is expected to more than double by the year 2024. Last year, turbine service techs took home $53,000 a year, on average. Construction is underway on 81 wind farm projects in 25 states, several of which are in Nebraska. The biggest is the Grande Prairie, near O’Neill, which is expected to have 200 new turbines. Read more.

Photo: Students of Northeast Community College’s wind energy technician program train on the campus’ fully functioning 100-kilowatt turbine. Courtesy photo.

NBC Nebraska: Wind turbine on campus will power, educate college
Central Community College-Hastings will have a wind turbine in operation by the end of December. “We consume a lot of energy on the campus, electrical energy,” said [CCC President Bill Hitesman]. “That will produce enough energy to run the campus at its peak performance.”
The college will be expanding course offerings for students in the renewable fuels field.

NPPD 2016 Board Elections Affect Many Nebraskans

By Ariana Brocious, NET News


Nebraska is the only state that relies entirely on public power, meaning we get our electricity from locally-owned, nonprofit utilities as opposed to investor-owned private companies. The state’s largest utility, the Nebraska Public Power District, is run by an eleven-member board of directors. This fall, candidates for four of those seats will be up for election. “The board really sets the direction on whether they’re going to keep upgrading and maintaining existing plants or if they’re going to go with new technology like wind and solar and other renewable sources,” said Janece Mollhoff, natural resources director with the nonpartisan League of Women Voters of Nebraska. Continue reading.

Nebraska Eases Wind Power Regulations, Some Landowners Have Concerns

NET : wind turbineBy Ariana Brocious, Nebraska Public Radio (NPR) / PBS

The Nebraska Legislature recently passed a bill to ease regulations for wind power.  The change could affect wind energy in the state, but there are still other factors challenging renewable energy projects.

For years Nebraska wind energy proponents have lamented the fact that the state lags so far behind its neighbors in producing wind power. Kansas and Iowa have installed four to five times the amount of wind energy capacity as Nebraska—even though Nebraska is consistently ranked among the top states for wind power potential. A new law seeks to change that.

“It’s really a reduction of paperwork,” said Rich Lombardi, a lobbyist with the Wind Coalition, which represents wind developers and trade groups. Read or listen to the entire story here.

Top Photo Credit: Ariana Brocious, NET News

Nebraska’s Largest Wind Farm Coming to Holt County

By Fred Knapp, Reporter/Producer, NET News

Project Manager Alicia Knapp points to where one of 200 wind turbines will be located. Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News

Project Manager Alicia Knapp points to where one of 200 wind turbines will be located. Photo by Fred Knapp, NET News

Excerpt: Over the next year, the company Knapp works for – Berkshire Hathaway Energy or BHE Renewables – will upgrade roads and install 200 wind turbines spread over 54,000 acres of farm and pasture land here in Holt County, which stretches from the Sandhills to the Niobrara River . . . The company says it will pay landowners lease payments totaling $2.5 million a year, and there will be about $2 million a year in tax payments to divide between the schools, the county, fire districts and townships.


Nebraska: The Next Wind Frontier, The Nebraska Lawyer Magazine, January/February 2015 Issue, pages 27-33. Written by
 Jennifer L. Cooke-Yin and David L. Bracht