Board members of NCORPE, the water augmentation project in southwest Lincoln County, have invited the developer of four northeast Nebraska wind farms to make a public presentation Monday in Curtis. A representative of Invenergy will discuss the firm’s wind- and solar-energy projects during the Nebraska Cooperative Republican Platte Enhancement Project’s 10 a.m. board meeting at the Curtis Community Center. General Manager Kyle Shepherd said a public comment period will follow Invenergy’s presentation, which arises from his board’s ongoing interest in leasing part of NCORPE’s 19,500-acre pumping ground for renewable energy projects. Continue reading here.
Before his time in the Unicameral, he was a member of the Metropolitan Utilities District board for nearly thirty years. He’s sponsored energy policy bills in the Legislature, including one in 2015 that he says “leveled the playing field” for renewable resources like wind and solar to compete with coal and natural gas. “Nebraska has had the fastest growing renewable energy situation in the entire country,” he says. “We are number three in wind resources, and we need to fully capture that source of energy to make our environment more clean and more healthy.”
The next step, McCollister says, is using net metering to incentivize individual energy contributions to the grid through solar panels and wind turbines. And moving outside of energy policy and looking at the future of the state as a whole, he backed up what many have said is key to keeping jobs and industry within Nebraska: an expansion of trade education, training people for specialized jobs. Read more here and listen to the full interview on July 12, 2019.
Photo Credit: Nebraska Unicameral Information Office
After mastering terminology and nomenclature, as well as safety techniques, Northeast runs its wind energy students through more in-depth courses about motor controls and mechanical systems. Students can leave Northeast after a year to pursue an internship and a job with a wind energy company, [Instructor John Liewer] said, or they can complete the two-year program and receive their degree, an associate of applied science.
Statewide, demand for wind turbine technicians — a job designated as an “H3,” or high-skill, high-wage and high-demand — is expected to increase by 90% between 2016 and 2026. Read more here.
A solar power project being proposed east of Lincoln would be more than five times larger than all solar installations operating in the state combined. Ranger Power wants to build a 230-megawatt solar farm on more than 1,000 acres of land generally east of 134th Street between O Street and Havelock Avenue.
Colin Snow, the development manager for the local project, said the company “took an early interest” in the site east of Lincoln largely because of the fact that it is close to a Lincoln Electric System substation and is close to the “major load stations” of Lincoln and Omaha. Read more here.
Photo: OPPD’s 5-megawatt community-scale solar project under construction by NextEra Energy Resources. Credit: OPPD
NextEra reaches record development in Q2, PV Magazine [From] 2021-2022, the company plans to have solar development overtake wind development. This is a huge prediction for any power company, let alone one of the most prolific wind developers in the country.
Nebraska is in the midst of a wind energy boom–it’s one of seven states on track to double
its installed wind capacity in the coming years. Like many rural communities across the U.S., this has brought wide-ranging benefits to the state.
“Wind energy, the fastest-growing source of electricity in the U.S., is transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the federal government gave land to homesteaders 150 years ago,” the Omaha World-Herald reported. “As commodity prices threaten to reach decade lows and farmers struggle to meet debt payments, wind has saved family farms across a wide swath of the heartland. Read more here.
Philip Clement, project director for renewable development at NextEra, said his company will look toward Wayne State and Northeast Community College for employees to be trained in the industry. “That’s the goal, hopefully to develop the skill set in the local areas so we can hire these people to work at the wind farm and keep the people in Wayne,” Clement said. He said the economic benefits include that almost $600,000 in property tax revenues will be generated annually to Wayne County, making it the largest taxpaying entity in the county. The project is estimated to be in operation for about 30 years.
Click here to read the entire article and some of the answers provided during the meeting’s Q&A.
Photo: Dr. Chuck Parker, a Wayne State College professor of economic development, serves as moderator and explains the ground rules for a public meeting Wednesday evening at the Wayne Fire Hall. Before the meeting ended, nearly all 150 chairs were filled along with some people standing. Credit: Norfolk Daily News / Jerry Guenther
By Anna Luke, Into the Wind, American Wind Energy Association Blog
Where are wind tech jobs located?
Most wind tech jobs are located in the center of the country and west coast. This makes
sense – the jobs are near the turbines, and those areas are where most of the country’s wind towers have been built. But there are utility-scale wind projects in 41 states, and every one of those wind farms needs a team of technicians to keep things running smoothly. As wind energy expands to other areas, including offshore development, even more techs will be needed.
NEBRASKA COMMUNITY COLLEGE GAP ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Nebraska’s Community College Gap Assistance Program offers financial aid to community college students taking non-credit courses that could lead to jobs in high-need fields. Eligible fields include renewable energy.
Qualifying applicants are low-income students who would not be eligible for federal financial aid because, although they’re enrolled in college, they are not enrolled in courses for credit that lead directly to a degree.
The program, which launched July 1, 2016, receives 9 percent of the available Nebraska Lottery funds set aside for education every year. This equates to about $1.4 million for FY 2016-17. Gap Program funds will be distributed to the state’s community colleges, which will recruit and select eligible low-income students in identified high-need fields to receive grants.
Eligible students must have a family income at or below 250 percent of federal poverty guidelines. Student grants can be used for tuition, direct training costs, required books and equipment, and fees, including those for industry testing services and background check services.
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 theGrande 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.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING 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.