Tag Archives: Omaha World Herald

Midlands Voices: Nebraska’s wind industry generates over $3 million for counties

By Lucas Nelson, a policy associate for the Center for Rural Affairs,
Omaha World-Herald

Tax revenue from wind projects in Nebraska is primarily derived from a nameplate capacity tax and property taxes. Projects in the state have generated about $3 million in revenue just for local schools, and additional revenue supports other services for counties.

The state’s nameplate capacity tax is equal to $3,518 per megawatt of energy. The tax is assessed on wind energy facilities based on their total potential for energy generation — the average turbine has a capacity of about three megawatts. Read more here.

Farm practices could be a way to reduce impact of heavy rains, UNL researcher says

By Roseann Moring, Omaha World-Herald

Keep living roots in the soil to get more precipitation absorbed. That was a key takeaway from a University of Nebraska-Lincoln researcher’s deep dive into water retention practices. The Nebraska Legislature this year approved the creation of the Healthy Soils Task Force. Healthy soils are those with more carbon, or living matter, in it, said Chairman Keith Berns, a Bladen farmer who also runs a cover crop seed business. The benefits of healthy soil, he said, include being better for the environment, producing healthy food and saving money for the producer.

“It works really well and allows them to make more money but it’s also environmentally better,” Berns said. And, yes, it increases water absorption — which in turn helps prevent flooding and erosion. [Aaron Hird, Nebraska’s soil health specialist at the Natural Resource Conservation Service] said every farmer he talked to that had cover crops during this year’s flooding said those fields fared better than others nearby. And cover crops can help the soil recover from the effects of the flood, allowing production to resume faster, he said. Read the entire article here.

The above graphic was published as part of the research Andrea Basche and co-author Marcia DeLonge conducted to analyze different farming practices and soil retention. Credit: University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Related Article
Analysis IDs ag practices to fight flood, drought, by Scott Schrage, University Communication, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

About the Co-Authors
Andrea Basche is Assistant Professor of Agronomy and Horticulture at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and Marcia DeLonge is Research Director and Senior Scientist, Food and Environment, Union of Concerned Scientists.

Previously Posted Articles

  • Nebraskans talk extreme weather. Just don’t call it climate change, Christian Science Monitor
  • Soil matters more than you thinkby Shauna Sadowski, GreenBiz
    A single teaspoon of healthy soil can support more microorganisms than there are people on the planet. These microorganisms play a role in unlocking the soil’s complex network of physical, biological and chemical functions, and scientists are just scratching the surface in understanding these interconnected relationships. What we do know is that healthy soil has the potential to restore ecosystems, increase biodiversity and improve water quality, among other ecosystem services. It also can draw carbon out of the atmosphere and store it underground, helping to reduce greenhouse gases. With 70 percent of sequestered carbon stored in lands directly influenced by agriculture, grazing or forest management, the food industry has a unique opportunity to tackle climate change through better soil management. 
  • How regenerative land and livestock management practices can sequester carbon, by Shauna Sadowski, GreenBiz. Developing a holistic, inclusive and outcomes-based approach to regenerative agriculture means inviting all types of farmers to the conversation and prioritizing impact measurements at the farm-level. We recognize that farmers are critical to advancing this work, and we want to do what we can to support them and advance their regenerative practices.

National / International Resources

Nebraska Resources

Nebraska Legislation
LB 243, to create a Healthy Soils Task Force, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on April 11, 2019 by a vote of 43 to 0 and signed by Governor Ricketts on April 18th.

Featured White Paper
Regenerative Organic Agriculture and Climate Change A Down-to-Earth Solution to Global Warming, The Rodale Institute

The white paper from the Rodale Institute found developing tests to measure carbon sequestration is the best chance for quantitatively showing the amount of regenerative agriculture needed to actually help the climate. The trials will find the best ideas and offer support networks for farmers who are already working on regenerative models. “With the use of cover crops, compost, crop rotation and reduced tillage, we can actually sequester more carbon than is currently emitted, tipping the needle past 100% to reverse climate change,” Mark Smallwood, executive director of Rodale Institute, said in the report.

Upcoming Webcast
GreenBiz – Natural Climate Solutions: Tap into the Opportunities, November 12, 2019, 10 to 11 am.

Sarpy County data centers have $522 million impact statewide, UNL report shows

By Reece Ristau, Omaha World-Herald

Business leaders in Nebraska take every available opportunity to refer to the state as the “Silicon Prairie,” a play on the term for Northern California’s cluster of big technology companies. The idea behind the term — to bring those companies, and by extension, high-paying jobs and more money, into the state — is playing out in Sarpy County, which recently landed its eighth data center with Google’s $600 million announcement. University of Nebraska-Lincoln researchers recently set out to determine how big an impact the data center industry has on the local economy, and their findings revealed some whopping figures. Continue reading here.

Green Bellevue celebrates 10 years

By Brody Hilgencamp, Bellevue Leader / Omaha World-Herald

Sharon Rea has been president of Green Bellevue for eight months, and she uses an apt metaphor to describe the organization she has been tapped to lead and the people who founded it. “The seeds that they planted — literally — everything is carrying forward,” she said.

The rain gardens and recycling are big deals, leaders said, but the pièce de résistance would be the group’s next grand plan: a solar farm in the Bellevue area. The group hopes to work with Omaha Public Power District to make it happen. “I see us putting a lot of effort to that initiative in the next few months,” Rea said. “We’re determined.” Read more here.

Photo by Brody Hilgenkamp: Ruth Richter, left, Sharon Rea and Don Preister

Bellevue’s Proposed Landfill Solar Project – Previously Posted 

Given solar energy’s substantial price declines over the past several years since Bellevue’s landfill solar project was first proposed, it would be good to see an up-to-date analysis of the project’s levelized costs over a twenty-year power purchase agreement.

Bellevue/Sarpy County & Omaha Participating in The National Solar Tour

The National Solar Tour is the largest annual grassroots
renewable energy event in the nation.

The following local, second-annual solar tours are free and  open to the public – everyone is welcome to attend. Whether you are a solar owner, completely new to solar, or somewhere in between – these events are for you.

  • National Solar Tour Event – Omaha, October 5, 2019, 11 am to 2 pm. RSVP HERE.
  • National Solar Tour Event – Bellevue/Sarpy County, October 6, 2019, 11 am to 2 pm. RSVP HERE.

Local Solar Tour Sponsors: Green Bellevue, Nebraska Sierra Club, Nebraskans for Solar

‘BagMonster’ makes a point about plastic bags at Omaha’s Earth Day event

By Alli Davis, Omaha World-Herald

Elmwood Park swarmed with dogs, chickens, rabbits and humans for the 30th annual Earth Day Omaha event on Saturday. Oh, and a BagMonster. David Corbin, a retired public health and health education professor at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, said he wore the costume to raise awareness about the upcoming Omaha City Council vote on whether to ban plastic bags from Omaha’s grocery stores, bakeries and other places that primarily sell food. Corbin is the president of the Nebraska Chapter of the Sierra Club, and he also received Earth Day Omaha’s Friend of the Environment Lifetime Achievement Award at the event. Read more here.

David is also a member of Nebraskans for Solar’s Board of Directors.

Four other people and organizations received Friend of the Environment Awards:

  • Individual: Nancy Scott
  • Business: University of Nebraska Medical Center
  • Youth: Cate Kelly
  • Nonprofit: Saving Grace

Top Photo Credit: Alli Davis

10 easy steps to going green and having fun in the process

By Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

If you want to live a greener lifestyle, there’s no better person to ask than Don Preister. The former Nebraska legislator and current Bellevue City Councilman hasn’t generated trash in three years. “One step at a time is the way to get there,” said Preister, who leads a zero-carbon footprint lifestyle. “I didn’t get to where I am by doing everything at once.” Daniel Lawse, an Omaha father of three and chief century thinker at the sustainability consulting firm Verdis Group, adds this suggestion: Make it fun. Continue reading here.

Photo of Don Preister taken by KETV last October to illustrate a story about the 2018 National Solar Tour organized by the American Solar Energy Society and Solar United Neighbors. A
local tour was sponsored by Nebraska Sierra Club, Green Bellevue and Nebraskans for Solar.

Previously posted news stories about the fun and educational tour, which will be held again this fall.

Midlands Voices: Nebraska gains with wind power

Written by David Bracht, Omaha World-Herald

The writer served as the director of the Nebraska Energy office from 2015 to 2018.

Clean and affordable wind energy is powering homes and fueling economic growth. In 2019, no state is better positioned than Nebraska to reap the benefits associated with this important renewable energy resource . . . Bolstered by more than $2.6 billion in private investment and supportive state and local policy, close to 2,000 Nebraskans work in wind today. Those jobs, and the option for young people to return home, bring new life to communities that have been suffering population decline for decades . . . With another 1,428 megawatts of wind under construction or soon to start, Nebraska is one of only seven states on course to double wind capacity once the projects are completed. And much more is possible.

Read more here.

OPPD fee hikes hurt low-income, low energy users and conservationists, OWH analysis confirms

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald
OPPD Infographic 

Conservationist Craig Moody, who joined the OPPD board after the vote on fee and rate changes, says he is concerned that OPPD is encouraging people to use more power instead of less, which he says is wrong. He said he would like OPPD to explore a tiered fee structure, one similar to what the Lincoln Electric System uses. Lincoln charges different fixed fees for customers based on how much power they use.

[Commenting on OPPD’s monthly fixed fee, which starting this month amounts to $360 per year, newly-elected board member Eric Williams stated]: “I think that all five of the new board members were pretty open during our campaigns that the high fixed fee structure is something that’s hurting a lot of people. We would like to take another look at it.” One option, he said, may be revisiting OPPD’s Strategic Directive 2 on rates this spring, to see whether the goal of being affordable is being met. Read the entire article here.

PREVIOUSLY POSTED INFORMATION

OPPD’S  justification for the fixed fee increase is included in the following article by Aaron Sanderford: OPPD board approves $1.18 billion budget
 [Monthly fixed fees] will increase to $30 a month in 2019, up from $10.25 in 2015. Utility officials have said the shift is needed as appliances and devices become more efficient and as more people start generating power at home, including by using solar panels.

In his latest article, Aaron Sanderford states that the fixed fee harms the poor and elders as well as conservationists, including “those who generate their own power.” The annual fixed fee, now $360, does create a barrier for rooftop solar development, as the amount itself, on top of the cost of a solar system, will put the option out of range for many household budgets. As OPPD also states, it increases the payback period for a solar system:

OPPD’s Rate Restructuring FAQs posted on the utility’s website:
FAQ #9:  I am considering installing solar panels and/or wind generation at my home. How would this affect me?
Answer: Because the fixed portion of the bill is increasing, customers who wish to install solar or wind to meet part of their energy needs would see an increase in the payback period associated with recovering their investment.

Those who have installed solar know that the PV systems on their rooftops benefit not only their own households and their neighbors’, but also OPPD in a number of widely-recognized ways. Six benefits of rooftop solar are excerpted HERE from the following source: Let’s Be Clear: Solar Energy Benefits Everyone, Solar Energy Industries Association

Many utilities across the nation have no fixed monthly fees, or they have rolled them back or are in the process of doing so:

Are regulators starting to rethink fixed charges?, Utility Dive
[In 2017], regulators only approved 6 out of 84 proposals for higher customer charges, suggesting regulators might be looking for “something better,” Proudlove told Utility Dive. Autumn Proudlove is senior manager of policy research at the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC).

Omaha World-Herald Editorial: Blueprint Nebraska has potential to address important needs across the state

The Nebraska Blueprint initiative is a worthy project that aims big. It’s drawing input from
Nebraskans across the state for a long-term strategy to maximize economic development and improvements in Nebraskans’ quality of life.

The project has significant pluses. It has strong support from a wide range of state
organizations, businesses and community leaders. Jim Smith, a capable former state senator from Papillion, is the initiative’s executive director . . . Blueprint Nebraska has 16 “industry
councils” to gather information on specific issues and develop strategies. Read more here.

The program is similar to Blueprint Mississippi, of which University of Nebraska President Hank Bounds was part before he came to Nebraska. Bounds has said the program in Mississippi
generated thousands of high-paying, long-lasting jobs. Source: 
Papillion Sen. Jim Smith resigns from Legislature early to take on new role with economic group, Omaha World-Herald,
July 10, 2018

Related
North Platte Telegraph Editorial: Nebraska isn’t for everyone, but we could be

Links to More Information

Blueprint Nebraska Survey & Report
In Spring 2019, the Steering Committee will issue a comprehensive report that will recommend five or six areas that it believes Nebraskans must focus on in order to achieve the ultimate goal of
long-lasting economic prosperity for everyone.
Click here to learn more and to link to the Blueprint Nebraska Survey.

Flush With Data Centers, Sarpy County Lines Up Another

Newcomer’s identity is not yet revealed, but size may rival Facebook’s campus.

By Cindy Gonzalez, Omaha World-Herald

The identity of the latest on-deck newcomer — which would join the likes of Facebook and Travelers insurance — for now is being kept secret from the public. Still, Papillion officials earlier this month gave the government go-ahead to what is being called “Project Wizard.” . . . What is the magnet for the data centers? [Andrew Rainbolt, executive director of the Sarpy economic development group], said they’re attracted to the area in part because of new energy rates created by the Omaha Public Power District for big electricity users seeking to power their operations with renewable energy. Read the entire article here.

Image Credit: Facebook

Papillion Data Center on Facebook

PREVIOUSLY POSTED

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCUREMENT

Corporate Renewable Energy Procurement Continues to Break Records in 2018, Rocky Mountain Institute News Release

Corporate renewable energy procurement has set a new single-year record for new capacity of announced wind and solar deals in 2018, the Business Renewables Center (BRC), a membership
program at Rocky Mountain Institute, reported in its updated corporate-backed renewable energy
procurement deal tracker. “The record number of companies successfully pursuing renewable energy this year sends a clear signal that environmental sustainability is a serious priority for business leaders across the economy,” said Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute. “These companies aren’t going to wait for public policy on climate issues to catch up—they are taking the initiative to accelerate toward a prosperous, low carbon economy.”

One for the Books: The Biggest Corporate Renewable Deals of 2018, Energy Manager Today
Facebook: The BRC found that the social media giant signed 20 renewable contracts totaling 1,894.5 MW in 2018, which tops all the corporate deals the BRC tracked in 2016 put together. Those deals
included a power purchase agreement with Enel Green Power North America in March for energy from Enel’s planned 320 MW Rattlesnake Creek wind farm in Nebraska.

THE RENEWABLE ENERGY BUYERS ALLIANCE

The Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) is led by four non-profit organizations that have brought together their deep expertise in transforming energy markets.

Collectively, REBA works with more than 100 large buyers that represent enormous demand for renewable power. REBA’s goal is to help corporations purchase 60GW of additional renewable energy in the US by 2025.

REBA Initiatives

Click image to link to the map.