Tag Archives: renewable energy

Facebook Data Center to expand over 500 acres in Springfield

 By Austin Plourde, Omaha World-Herald, March 24, 2021

Facebook announced today that it is further investing in the Sarpy County community by expanding its Papillion Data Center by an additional one million-square-feet. According to a press release from Facebook, this expansion will bring an additional $400 million in capital investment to Sarpy County, as well as 100 new operational jobs.

Matt Sexton, community development regional manager at Facebook’s Papillion Data Center, said Facebook is no stranger to the Springfield area as the data center has worked with the Springfield Platteview Community School District through several grants and initiatives to enhance STEM education. “Expanding into Springfield was a no brainer for us,” he said. “They’re an incredible community that’s growing and it’s really exciting to be there.” Read more here.

The Papillion Data Center Facebook has changed its name to Sarpy Data Center to reflect the expansion.

Sustainability in Agriculture

American Farm Bureau Federation (AFBF)

America’s farmers and ranchers are leading the way in climate-smart practices that reduce emissions, enrich the soil and protect our water and air, all while producing more food, fiber and renewable fuel than ever before. U.S. agriculture contributes just 10% to overall GHG emissions, far less than other major industries, and plays an active role in enhancing wildlife and absorbing carbon. At Farm Bureau, we are proud of agriculture’s sustainability story, and we believe the future of agriculture is bright as we work together to further climate-smart solutions that protect our resources, farms and communities. See AFBF Resources Here.

Quick Links to Resources By Topic

To chart the course ahead with recommendations to achieve climate goals through voluntary, market-driven programs, AFBF co-founded the Food and Agriculture Climate Alliance.

 


To showcase the tremendous progress farmers and ranchers have made in achieving sustainability goals, AFBF co-founded
 Farmers for a Sustainable Future.

New FERC Chair’s Focus: Environmental Justice and Climate Change Impacts

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

 

Richard Glick has a long list of priorities for his chairmanship of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He has already outlined many of them, such as reforming energy market policies that restrict state-supported clean energy resources, expanding transmission capacity and unblocking new grid interconnections, and incorporating climate change impacts into the agency’s decision-making process. Continue reading here.

 

ENERGY INFRASTRUCTURE 

Severe weather, blackouts show the grid’s biggest problem is infrastructure, not renewables

GRID RESILIENCE: GRIDTECH MEDIA

In the near future, the scale of the batteries serving U.S. power grids is set to explode, increasing from about 1.5 gigawatts today to tens or hundreds of gigawatts by 2030. These batteries will play a vital role in shifting intermittent wind and solar power from when it’s produced to when it’s needed and serving broader grid services needs on an increasingly decarbonizing grid.

But as a resource that can both absorb and discharge energy at a moment’s notice, batteries are very different from both dispatchable generators and intermittent wind and solar farms. That requires new technical and economic systems for managing and valuing them — and the grid operators that run wholesale electricity markets serving about two-thirds of the country are struggling to make those changes to keep up with the pace of growth.

Two former state utility commissioners highlight new modeling that shows distributed energy lowers the total costs of decarbonization: Anne Hoskins served on the Maryland Public Service Commission and is the chief policy officer at Sunrun. Jeanne Fox, a former president of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, is also a co-founder and board member of Center for Renewable Integration, Inc.

When planning for future resource investments, most utilities and regulators approach grid and system planning in silos, using tools and models that aren’t equipped to consider the total cost and benefits of distributed energy resources. This has been the case for many decades. For the first time, a team of researchers led by Christopher Clack looked at the holistic grid and incorporated local solar into grid and system planning. The model that Clack used calculated a least-cost development plan for the grid. The results are striking.

NASEO-NARUC TASK FORCE ON COMPREHENSIVE ELECTRICITY PLANNING 

The National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) are providing a forum for the development of state-led pathways toward a more resilient, efficient, and affordable grid. – NARUC Website

 

 

 

 

Twelve States Announce Action Steps to Plan for Grid of the Future: State Energy Groups Release Blueprint for State Action for a More Efficient, Customer-Centric Grid

New, more comprehensive approaches to electricity planning can optimize use of distributed and existing energy resources, avoid unnecessary costs to customers, support state policy priorities, and increase transparency of grid-related investment decisions. The Task Force Roadmaps for Comprehensive Electricity Planning are accompanied by a Blueprint for State Action to support states and stakeholders who were not members of the Task Force in aligning electricity system planning processes in ways that meet their own goals and objectives. To learn more about the Task Force and access the new resources, click the link, below.

 

 

 

Task Force on Comprehensive Electricity Planning

Electricity Planning for a 21st Century Power Grid
Emerging technologies, decreasing costs, consumer preferences, new energy service providers, and state and local efforts are driving significant growth in distributed energy resources (DERs) such as solar, storage, energy efficiency, demand management, and microgrids. These investments increasingly require regulatory and policy innovation and a greater emphasis on planning to overcome system complexities and avoid unnecessary costs associated with operating the grid.

With greater alignment of resource and distribution system planning, states and utilities could:

  • Improve grid reliability and resilience
  • Optimize use of distributed and existing energy resources
  • Avoid unnecessary costs to ratepayers
  • Support state policy priorities
  • Increase the transparency of grid-related investment decisions

Previously Posted

  • Nebraska needs overall plan for energy policies, Lincoln Journal Star, November 4, 2015
    [Former] Nebraska’s Energy Office director says the state needs a comprehensive approach to its energy policies as it faces what could be a “seismic” change in federal regulations governing emissions. David Bracht, Gov. Pete Ricketts’ chief adviser on energy issues, talked about state energy policies Wednesday at the eighth annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Omaha
  • 2011 Nebraska Energy Plan, National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)

Recently Posted

Nebraska’s better off without Keystone XL

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Increased investment in renewable energy — wind energy, solar power, electric vehicles, etc. — proves that America’s future will involve fewer fossil fuels going forward, a fact underscored by the growing number of financial institutions and other entities that now refuse to invest in the oil and gas industry . . . The grassroots coalition of environmentalists, farmers, ranchers and property-rights advocates who fought the pipeline tooth and nail can celebrate, knowing their efforts weren’t in vain. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

When TC Energy said the pipeline would create nearly 119,000 jobs, a State Department report instead concluded the project would require fewer than 2,000 two-year construction jobs and that the number of jobs would hover around 35 after construction.

The market case, even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent oil prices plummeting, has also deteriorated. Low oil prices and increasing public concern over the climate have led Shell, Exxon, Statoil, and Total to either sell their tar sands assets or write them down. Because of this growing market recognition, major new tar sands projects haven’t moved forward with construction for years, despite investments from the government of Alberta, Canada. For example, in 2020, Teck Resources withdrew its ten-year application to build the largest tar sands mine in history—citing growing concern surrounding climate change in global markets.

Alberta’s Renewable Energy Growth

Biden Moves To Have U.S. Rejoin Climate Accord

By Nathan Rott, NET

In one of his first acts in the Oval Office, President Joe Biden signed an executive order to have the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement, the largest international effort to curb global warming. The U.S. officially withdrew from the accord to limit climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions late last year, after President Donald Trump began the process in 2017. It is the only country of the nearly 200 signatories that has withdrawn. Read more here.

President Biden halts Keystone XL pipeline project, by David Earl, KETV
In one of his first executive orders, President Biden called the Keystone XL project a “disservice to the national interest” and said that leaving the permit for it in place would not be consistent with his economic and climate imperatives. The Biden Administration said it wants good, union jobs, but wants those workers on the frontlines of the climate crisis, building wind and solar power instead of oil pipelines.

Additional Recommended Reading 

The Solar Power Bonanza: Farmers Can Readily Tap Into The Explosive Growth In Solar Generation

By Dave Mowitz, Successful Farming

Sandy and Greg Brummond know a good deal when they see one. Five years ago they cashed in on incentives offered on solar systems and invested in a $39,000 solar array that sits atop their farm shop near Craig, Nebraska. The payoff was twofold for the Brummonds. Their current system (which can be expanded) generates 43% of the electricity their farm and home uses. Second, their solar array came with financial help. “To offset some of the cost, we got a $9,000 federal grant,” Sandy Brummond explains. “We also qualified for a 30% federal tax credit that offset $12,000 from the purchase and installation cost.”  Read more here.

Photo by Brian Seifferlein, NET Videographer: The Brummonds’ 10-kilowatt solar system. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Solar ITC Extension
COVID Aid Package Makes Initial Commitment to a Clean Energy Recovery, News Release, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). Under this legislation, the solar ITC will remain at 26% for projects that begin construction in 2021 and 2022, step down to 22% in 2023, and down to 10% in 2024 for commercial projects while the residential credit ends completely.

New EIA Report
Renewables account for most new U.S. electricity generating capacity in 2021
According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) latest inventory of electricity generators, developers and power plant owners plan for 39.7 gigawatts (GW) of new electricity generating capacity to start commercial operation in 2021. Solar will account for the largest share of new capacity at 39%, followed by wind at 31%. About 3% of the new capacity will come from the new nuclear reactor at the Vogtle power plant in Georgia.

New SCE Paper: “Reimagining The Grid”
2021 Outlook: The DER boom continues, driving a ‘reimagining’ of the distribution system, by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive. Continued falling prices of DER, ambitious new state and federal policies, and customer demand in 2021 will drive growth, power industry representatives said. And while utility-scale renewables growth will still boom, DER, including rooftop solar, batteries and electric vehicles (EVs), can be central to protecting reliability, according to a new Southern California Edison (SCE) paper describing the evolution of tomorrow’s grid.

Biden’s “Green Brain Trust”
Renewables and unions: Biden rounds out energy Cabinet, by Lesley Clark and Heather Richards, E&E News. Biden is gathering a “green brain trust” of officials with technical expertise as well as political ambassadors to serve as evangelists for his policy initiatives, said Kevin Book of the consulting firm ClearView Energy Partners LLC. “Biden appears to be deliberately deploying technical experts to strategic roles and political champions to operational ones,” Book said.

Growing numbers of students are calling on Nebraska colleges to divest from fossil fuel firms

By Omaha World-Herald Staff Writer Rick Ruggles, Kearney Hub

Creighton University announced late last week that it would divest from its investments in fossil fuels within 10 years and pursue solid investments in renewable energy. Creighton University students marched early last year for divestment. Doane University pledged in 2019 to cease new investments in fossil fuels. The NU system, with campuses in Omaha, Lincoln and Kearney, has heard calls for divestment from students at Board of Regents meetings and elsewhere. Read more here.

Nebraska-Based Bluestem Energy Solutions In The News  

Jo-Carroll Energy completed solar project, Freeport Journal-Standard
Jo-Carroll Energy, in partnership with Bluestem Energy Solutions, has completed a 2.3 megawatt solar project in Jo Daviess and Carroll counties. The now-operational solar farm consists of two solar array sites located near Apple Canyon Lake and Mount Carroll. It will provide a tax boost to both counties along with additional benefits to Jo-Carroll and its member-consumers. 

Photo Credit: Fresh Energy

Creighton University to divest fully from fossil fuels within 10 years

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Creighton University announced it plans to phase out all investments in fossil fuels from its $587 million endowment within the next 10 years and target new investments in sustainable energy. Under the new investment policy, Creighton will sell off public securities of fossil fuel companies within five years and end holdings in private fossil fuel investments within 10 years. At the same time, it plans to seek out new investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The decision, approved by the trustees in September and announced on New Year’s Eve, comes more than two years after students on the Jesuit campus in Omaha, Nebraska, began pressuring school leadership to divest from companies involved in the extraction and refining of coal, oil and natural gas because of their leading role in human-driven climate change. The move makes Creighton the fourth U.S. Catholic university to make public its plans to divest fully from fossil fuels. Continue reading here.

Photo by Brady Manker: Creighton University students advocate for climate action in 2019.

Additional Recommended Reading

For decades, environmentalists have warned that climate change endangers the planet. Now, more asset managers than ever are in agreement as they see a threat to the bottom line. The fossil fuel divestment campaign has captured global attention, with many high-profile institutional investors withdrawing investment from fossil fuels. The campaign has achieved particular traction among faith investors, local authorities, and education establishments such as US and European universities. The climate crisis has put high emitting industries under pressure in an already disrupted business environment due to covid-19. Pressure from shareholder activists are prompting more investors than ever to reshape their portfolios. 

NOAA Public Domain Image

Biden introduces his climate team, says ‘no time to waste’

By Kevin Freking, Associated Press, Omaha World-Herald

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) — Just as the United States has needed a unified, national response to COVID-19, it needs one for dealing with climate change, President-elect Joe Biden said Saturday as he rolled out key members of his environmental team. “We literally have no time to waste,” Biden told reporters as [he] introduced his choices.

The approach is a shift from Donald Trump’s presidency, which has been marked by efforts to boost oil and gas production while rolling back government efforts intended to safeguard the environment. The incoming Biden team will try to undo or block many of the current administration’s initiatives. There also will be an emphasis on looking out for the low-income, working class and minority communities hit hardest by fossil fuel pollution and climate change. Continue reading here.

The Biden Plan To Build A Modern, Sustainable Infrastructure And An Equitable Clean Energy Future, Joe Biden.Com

Driving Toward a Majority Renewables America to Catalyze Nearly One Million Direct U.S. Clean Energy Jobs

American Wind Energy Association News Release

Washington D.C. December 16, 2020 – Clean energy resources – wind, solar, energy storage, hydropower, and other renewables – represent a once-in-a-generation opportunity to drive U.S. economic recovery and add hundreds of thousands of family-supporting jobs. According to a new, first-of-its-kind study released today by global natural resources research consultancy Wood Mackenzie and the American Clean Power Association (ACP), reaching a majority renewables grid will deploy over $1 trillion in capital investment into the American economy over the next decade, while supporting 980,000 direct jobs, stabilizing wholesale power prices, and reducing U.S. carbon emissions by over 60 percent. Targeted administrative actions and Legislative policies are essential for the U.S. to achieve these benefits within the next ten years.

“A majority renewables electric system for the U.S. is possible within a decade and will deliver much-needed investments in our economy and create a pathway toward steady, well-paying employment for workers across the country. This research shows that a collaborative promise of an American grid powered by wind, solar, hydropower, energy storage, and other renewables represents an economic powerhouse that will lead our country towards a more prosperous, healthier, and cleaner future,” said Amy Farrell, ACP Senior Vice President of Government and Public Affairs. Continue reading here.

Related
Job creation and clean energy go hand in hand in post-pandemic recovery, by John Hensley, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog

Also of Potential Interest
Renewables bring deflation to the energy sector, Financial Times
Opinion contributed by Mark Lewis, chief sustainability strategist at BNP Paribas Asset Management.