Tag Archives: Omaha World Herald

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.

OPPD board approves $1.18 billion budget

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

[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. Read the entire article here.

Note: According to OPPD, a total of only about 100 customers have installed solar energy systems, to date. In a recent Omaha World-Herald article, OPPD management stated that it “had not yet determined how much more, if any, customers are paying for electricity because of the renewable energy the utility has already added to the mix . . . People should not draw a direct correlation between renewables and rising rates, said Javier Fernandez, the district’s chief financial officer.”

Those who take measures to make their homes more energy efficient or who install solar energy systems benefit not only their own households but also their neighbors’ and their local utility in a number of ways. Six benefits of rooftop solar are excerpted below from the following source: Let’s Be Clear: Solar Energy Benefits Everyone, Solar Energy Industries Association

Widely-recognized benefits of rooftop solar:

  • Rooftop solar reduces the need for utilities to build new transmission and distribution infrastructure.
  • In the long run, “fixed costs” are not truly “fixed”. The need for them ultimately depends on demand for electricity, and rooftop solar reduces that demand.
  • Expensive utility transformers can get overloaded on hot summer days when people are using more energy to cool their homes. Rooftop solar can reduce strain on the system on these days, which extends the life of expensive utility equipment and creates savings for everyone.
  • Avoided fuel hedging costs created by volatile fossil fuels like natural gas is another widely-recognized benefit of rooftop solar.
  • Avoided electricity losses from power plants that are located far away from cities is another benefit rooftop solar provides.
  • Solar and other renewables reduce the state’s reliance on expensive “peaker” generation plants that would drive prices higher if they had to run.

PUBLISHED BY THE OMAHA WORLD-HERALD

  • The fixed cost on your OPPD bill will now be $30 a month, up from $10.25 in 2015
    Outgoing board member Tom Barrett, who represents northeast Omaha, asked OPPD management whether they had done the research to verify their prediction that most customers would pay the same or less under the new rate structure. Management officials said they had not yet done so. 
  • OPPD’s board set to take an environmental tilt. What will it mean for electricity costs? 
    The costs of OPPD going further, faster on renewables and carbon are not yet clear. OPPD officials have said they had not yet determined how much more, if any, customers are paying for electricity because of the renewable energy the utility has already added to the mix . . . People should not draw a direct correlation between renewables and rising rates, said Javier Fernandez, the district’s chief financial officer.

The fixed cost on your OPPD bill will now be $30 a month, up from $10.25 in 2015

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

Outgoing board member Tom Barrett, who represents northeast Omaha, asked OPPD management whether they had done the research to verify their prediction that most customers would pay the same or less under the new rate structure. Management officials said they had not yet done so. Read the entire article here

OPPD December 2015 Marketing Graphic: “Rethinking Rates”

Previously Posted

ALSO IN THE NEWS
OPPD set to replace old-fashioned streetlights with LEDs starting in January, Omaha World-Herald
OPPD management updated the utility’s board Tuesday about a five-year replacement plan for the roughly 100,000 streetlights the district maintains in 13 counties. The new lights are expected to save as much as 25 percent in costs to power them over traditional high-pressure sodium streetlights.

Previously Posted

EDITORIAL
Turbine plan would strike fair balance, Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

OPPD’s board set to take an environmental tilt. What will it mean for electricity costs?

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

The costs of OPPD going further, faster on renewables and carbon are not yet clear. OPPD officials have said they had not yet determined how much more, if any, customers are paying for electricity because of the renewable energy the utility has already added to the mix . . . People should not draw a direct correlation between renewables and rising rates, said Javier Fernandez, the district’s chief financial officer . . . If the next OPPD board aims the utility at 100 percent renewables or zero carbon, [Russ Baker, director of OPPD’s environmental and regulatory affairs] said OPPD management will work with them to mull what that would look like, what it might cost and how technology would need to change. Read more here.

Image Credit: Facebook, one of a growing number of corporations committed to sourcing 100% of their energy from renewables and encouraging their suppliers to do so, as well. Facebook’s goal is to reach that level by 2020. RE100

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

REPORTS OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

  • Lazard’s recently-released Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) analysis reports that solar photovoltaic (PV) and wind costs have dropped an astounding 88% and 69% since 2009, respectively.
  • Sierra Club’s 2018 Case Study Report: Ten cities that have made commitments to be powered entirely with clean energy. Download the Case Studies 2018 Report (PDF} in English or Spanish.
  • Free SEPA Research: Non-Wires Alternatives: Case Studies from Leading U.S. Projects
    In today’s electricity market, non-wires alternatives are capturing public attention and inspiring decision makers to explore the grid benefits and potential cost savings resulting from integrating new distributed technologies in place of new infrastructure upgrades.

New Documentary “Paris To Pittsburgh” Celebrates How Local Communities Are Implementing Solutions To Climate Change

Paris to Pittsburgh will air globally on the National Geographic Channel in 172 countries and 43 languages beginning with the broadcast premiere in the U.S. on
December 12 at 9 pm local time. Click above image to link to the documentary’s website to watch the trailer.

News Releases

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • Omaha World-Herald Editorial: Report describes climate challenges; Nebraskans should collaborate on solutions
  • Omaha World-Herald Midlands Voices: It is time for Nebraska to prepare for climate change, by Donald Wilhite, professor and director emeritus in climate science from the University of
    Nebraska-Lincoln. He is the founding director of UNL’s National Drought Mitigation Center.
  • More clean energy desired, by David E. Corbin, Nebraska Sierra Club Chair and Nebraskans for Solar board member, Omaha World-Herald, The Public Pulse
    OPPD has made environmental progress. Its unambitious goal from several years ago of 10 percent renewable energy by 2020 has been greatly surpassed, but the 50 percent renewable goal that was just passed is still a low bar. The utility will already be close to 50 percent within the next few years. More than 90 U.S. cities, more than 10 counties and two states have already adopted 100 percent clean energy goals. OPPD needs to aim higher.
  • Opinion: Here’s the good news in that alarming report on climate change, Market Watch
    The solution is at hand: The cost of ditching carbon is much less than you think. Government will have a role to play — but most of the work in the U.S. will be up to consumers like you, and buying decisions you make in the next decade.

In Blow to Pipeline Project, Court Invalidates Trump Administration’s Keystone XL Environmental Review, Blocks Construction

Written by Mark Hefflinger, Bold Nebraska

GREAT FALLS, Mont.– A federal judge ruled today that the Trump administration violated bedrock U.S. environmental laws when approving a federal permit for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project. The judge blocked any construction on the pipeline and ordered the government to revise its environmental review.

The decision is a significant setback for a pipeline that investors are already seriously questioning. TransCanada has not yet announced a Final Investment Decision on whether to move forward and build Keystone XL should it receive all the necessary permits.

Continue reading here.

Bold Nebraska Image: Solar XL #2

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING