Tag Archives: rural electric cooperatives

When red states go green

By Alex Robinson, Corporate Knights

“It’s not really whether we’re going to transition or not. It’s what are we going to transition to.” -Jonathan Naughton, co-director of the Wind Energy Research Center at the University of Wyoming

The Cowboy State is known for its enormous wide-open spaces, national parks such as Yellowstone, ranchers and lots and lots of coal. And yet, the energy transition is quietly happening here. According to S&P Global Market Intelligence, Wyoming had more wind-energy project capacity in advanced development or under construction than any other state in the second quarter of 2022, with 6.5 gigawatts (Chokecherry will contribute almost half of this). Wyoming isn’t alone in this regard among conservative states that have historically had fossil-fuel-focused economies. Oil-friendly Texas had the second-highest wind project capacity in advanced development or under construction, with around four gigawatts. Massachusetts – a blue state with a Republican governor since 2015 – came in third. Read more here.

Christmas In August: Electric Utilities Hit Renewable Pay Dirt With IRA Passage

By Llewellyn King, Forbes

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Image: Electric cooperatives 
cover more than half the nation’s land area. 

The great prizes are the extension to not-for-profit utilities of the investment tax credits and production tax credits normally associated with tax-paying entities. These will be recovered by the not-for-profit utilities through “direct pay,” which means just that: a check.

As not-for-profit utilities don’t have an income tax liability, they have had in the past to collaborate with for-profit companies to reap any of the tax credit benefits. Now they will get a direct payment from the Treasury Department. Continue reading here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

ACP CEO Heather Zichal Statement on President Biden Signing the Inflation Reduction Act into Law

American Clean Power Association 

“With the stroke of the pen, a clean energy future is now the law of the land. This does for climate change and clean energy what the creation of Social Security did for America’s senior citizens. This law will put millions more Americans to work, ensure clean, renewable and reliable domestic energy is powering every American home, and save American consumers money.”  Continue reading here.

MORE NEWS RELEASES

“This new law will help the United States deploy enough clean energy to substantially decarbonize the electric grid and tackle climate change. It features long-term investments in clean energy and new incentives for energy storage, which give solar and storage businesses a stable policy environment and the certainty they need to deploy clean energy and meet the President’s ambitious climate goals. The bill also includes Senator Ossoff’s Solar Energy Manufacturing for America Act, which will support domestic solar production through new tax credits, lay the groundwork for thousands of new manufacturing jobs by the end of the decade, and usher in a new era for solar manufacturing in the United States.” Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA President and CEO 

“With this legislation, America can finally move beyond years of on-again, off-again renewable tax credits to a long-term clean energy tax platform that will provide renewable companies with the stability they need to do business. This legislation will spur vital new investment that will help deploy thousands of megawatts of new renewable power, create hundreds of thousands of good-paying jobs, lower the cost of electricity for American families, and substantially reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We look forward to working with the Biden administration as they implement this law and build on it with additional measures to deliver the clean energy future Americans want and scientists say we desperately need.” – Gregory Wetstone, ACORE President and CEO

The Inflation Reduction Act includes long-term extensions of critical tax incentives supporting the deployment of all three wind applications – land-based, offshore and distributed – and new programs to support the siting and construction of high-voltage transmission lines, which will be important for both land-based and offshore wind. Also included are new production-based tax credits for domestic manufacturing and supply of wind components and equipment, which will provide strong incentives to onshore key supply chains of wind turbines and related components. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Princeton: Solar deployment to increase fivefold under Inflation Reduction Act

By Ryan Kennedy, PV Magazine

Princeton University released a Rapid Energy Policy Evaluation and Analysis Toolkit (REPEAT) in collaboration with Dartmouth College, Evolved Energy Research, and Carbon Impact Consulting, outlining the potential impact of the bill should it become law.

The impact on the US solar industry would be huge, to say the least. Princeton said solar deployment may accelerate from 2020 rates of 10 GW of capacity added per year to nearly five times as much by 2024, adding 49 GW of utility-scale solar each year. Solar deployment may be well over 100 GW per year by 2030, said Princeton. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

Public Power Would Gain Access to Direct Payment of Tax Credits under Energy, Climate Deal, American Public Power Association
Public power utilities, rural electric cooperatives, the Tennessee Valley Authority, state and local governments, and other tax-exempt entities would have access to refundable direct payment tax credits under an energy and climate agreement announced on July 27.

Previously Posted APPA Issue Brief: The Need for Direct Payment of Refundable Tax Credits for Public Power

Inflation Reduction Act Of 2022

Legislative Text

Summaries

 Source: Senate Democrats Website

Rural electric co-ops get shocking estimates of the cost to break up with Tri-State Generation

By Mark Jaffe, The Colorado Sun

Some of Tri-State’s 43 member co-ops have voiced a desire to develop more homegrown and cleaner electric generation – they are required to buy 95% of their electricity from the association, which still has substantial coal-fired generation.

“This does not move the ball,” United Power CEO Mark Gabriel said. “I think they are off by three zeros,” he said of his co-op’s exit fee. The association’s filing was in response to a ruling in June by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that Tri-State’s exit policies were “unjust and unreasonable or unduly discriminatory.”  Read more here.

Note: Nebraska Tri-State members seeking exit fees are the Wheat Belt Public Power District and the Northwest Rural Public Power District.

ACP NEWS RELEASE

The American Clean Power Association and the U.S. Energy Storage Association announce intent to merge

WASHINGTON DC, July 22, 2021 – The boards of directors of the American Clean Power Association (ACP) and the U.S. Energy Storage Association (ESA) have voted to pursue a merger of the two trade associations to combine their staff, programs, and members. The merger will bring together the diverse membership and talented team members of ESA with the resources and reach of ACP. Additionally, it will enhance the American Clean Power Association’s efforts to advocate for the economic and environmental advantages of the clean power economy and further position the renewable energy and storage industries for success as they move into a decade of transformative growth.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Deb Haaland Confirmed As 1st Native American Interior Secretary

By Nathan Rott, NPR KIOS

Deb Haaland, a member of New Mexico’s Laguna Pueblo, has become the first Native American Cabinet secretary in U.S. history. The Senate voted 51-40 Monday to confirm the Democratic congresswoman to lead the Interior Department, an agency that will play a crucial role in the Biden administration’s ambitious efforts to combat climate change and conserve nature.

Her confirmation is as symbolic as it is historic. For much of its history, the Interior Department was used as a tool of oppression against America’s Indigenous peoples. In addition to managing the country’s public lands, endangered species and natural resources, the department is also responsible for the government-to-government relations between the U.S. and Native American tribes. Read more here.

PUBLIC POWER

Cleaner Energy is Coming; the Public Needs to Own It. InsideSources article contributed by Josue De Luna Navarro, an associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

A future where energy is 100 percent publicly owned and not profit-driven isn’t such a pipe dream. Deep-red Nebraska has had publicly owned electricity — which consists of public utility companies, co-operatives, and power districts — since 1946. This means that the state’s energy framework is not based on making a profit, but instead on providing power as a basic human right to its people. Whatever surplus they generate gets invested back into the community. Because of this structure, the state has lower utility bills than neighboring states. Other publicly owned rural electric cooperatives dating back to the New Deal exist all across the country. These systems aren’t perfect, but they prove that public energy ownership is perfectly possible.

American Public Power Association ResourcePublic Power in Nebraska

FEATURED LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Waverly Utilities doing its part on renewable energy, by Bob Buckingham of Waverly, The Courier
We would like to thank David Fredrick for his interest in Waverly’s energy future. His recent guest column provides us an opportunity to address the future of renewable opportunities for Waverly Utilities.

Previously Posted: GUEST COLUMN: Renewable energy is a good bet, contributed by David Fredrick, The Courier

LIHEAP

New $1.9 trillion COVID relief plan includes additional $4.5 billion for LIHEAP, American Public Power Association

The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 signed into law by President Biden on March 11 includes a number of provisions of importance to public power utilities including an additional $4.5 billion in funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). Overall, the act provides roughly $1.9 trillion in direct aid to individuals, state and local governments, and businesses.

Nebraska LIHEAP, Nebraska Department of Health & Human Services

The COVID relief plan also includes:

  • $100 million for grants to monitor and mitigate pollution in environmental justice communities
  • $30 billion for public transit systems

FROM THE WHITE HOUSE BRIEFING ROOM

LONG-DURATION ENERGY STORAGE

Long-term storage gets a closer look with the growth of renewables, decarbonization push, by Paul Ciampoli, American Public Power Association

With continued growth in wind and solar power, long duration energy storage is seen by some as a key way in which to help smooth the country’s transition to a future where renewable energy plays a central role in the overall power supply mix and the push for decarbonization continues apace. Long-duration storage is still in the early stage of the product maturity curve and there are many economic and operational challenges that must be addressed if it is to play a key role in supporting the grid.

ORPHAN OIL & GAS WELLS

Energy companies have left Colorado with billions of dollars in oil and gas cleanup, High Country News

When an oil or gas well reaches the end of its lifespan, it must be plugged. If it isn’t, the well might leak toxic chemicals into groundwater and spew methane, carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere for years on end. There are nearly 60,000 unplugged wells in Colorado in need of this treatment — each costing $140,000 on average, according to the Carbon Tracker, a climate think tank, in a new report that analyzes oil and gas permitting data. Plugging this many wells will cost a lot —more than $8 billion, the report found.

Previously Posted

Co-ops trying to leave Tri-State say the electric utility is “stonewalling” by refusing to calculate the price to exit

By Mark Jaffe, The Colorado Sun

Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association is “stonewalling” efforts by seven rural electric cooperatives – in Colorado, New Mexico and Nebraska – to get estimates on how much it will cost them to leave the association, according to a complaint filed with federal regulators. “Tri-State’s refusal to perform the calculation required… is patently unjust and unreasonable,” according to the complaint to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “Eight of us asked for numbers in November and December through letters,” said Dean Hubbuck, chief energy resource officer at United Power in Brighton, Tri-State’s largest co-op. Continue reading here.

Nebraska Tri-State Members Seeking Exit Estimates:

As wind industry goes big, this New England startup looks to shrink turbines

By David Thill, Energy News Network

Skyscraper-high blades are increasingly standard on wind farms, but Pecos Wind Power thinks its small, distributed turbines will be a better fit in Vermont. The fact that the turbines are serving the communities they’re sited in could help secure community support, said Julia Leopold, head of communications at VPPSA [Vermont Public Power Supply Authority].

“If you can directly correlate the benefit of the project to the community, then the community will be a bit more receptive to it,” she said, noting large renewable projects are sometimes sited in communities while their power is sold elsewhere. Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION & RESOURCES

IN NEBRASKA 

Bill would regulate wind energy in Nebraska, KMTV

A new era for Tri-State

By Allen Best, Mountain Town News

Tri-State Generation and Transmission last week promised to deliver what Colorado wants, an 80% reduction in carbon emissions by 2030. As for how it will deliver on that pledge, it remains a bit of a mystery. Less coal production, obviously. More wind and solar, ditto. And, as has been highlighted in recent filings, more transmission to get electricity from renewable sources to its 16 member co-operatives in Colorado. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted

Tri-State Association members are located in four states: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nebraska.

Solar companies invest in acres in the Midwest

Kenosha News

More and more rural electric cooperatives and individual farmers are turning to solar power as an energy alternative. Brady Boell, director of safety and member services for the Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative, says his cooperative has built five sites in Iowa since October 2018. “The idea was to offer members a way to invest in solar energy,” he says. “Many cannot install these arrays on their own property, so this allows them to invest.” Solar energy use has rapidly grown over the past two years, says Tim Dwight, president of the Iowa Solar Trade Association and owner of Integrated Power Corporation, a solar energy installer. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Bill refines solar rules with input from pork producers, Kenosha Times

Photo Credit: Raccoon Valley Electric Cooperative

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY GUIDES FOR SOLAR & SMALL WIND PROJECTS

NRECA RESOURCES

National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Renewable Energy Resources

Previously Posted News Release

DOE Selects NRECA for Wind Energy Research Initiative
The Department of Energy has selected the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to research small-scale, community-based wind energy solutions that can be deployed by electric cooperatives. NRECA will team with co-ops around the country to evaluate and deploy diverse types of distributed wind projects. Like NRECA’s solar deployment project, a similar DOE-funded program that accelerated utility-scale solar at co-ops across rural America, NRECA expects this project to increase the number of electric cooperatives incorporating wind applications into their resource planning. DOE has identified high technical potential for “hundreds of thousands of turbines” totaling more than 10 gigawatts of electric capacity on rural distribution grids. 

CO-LOCATION RESOURCES

Co-locating apiaries, pollinator-friendly plants, and industrial hemp with solar and wind projects can provide extra income for farmers and improve Nebraska’s honey production and retail sales, among other benefits. Click here and scroll down for a list of resources.

INCENTIVES & DEPRECIATION

Incentives for Homeowners & Businesses
Business and residential solar projects qualify for the federal solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which is now 26% through December 31, 2020.

 

 

All Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency

Resource: Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE)

Business Equipment Depreciation Resources

LAND LEASES

Solar and wind farm leases create extra income for farmers and other landowners and provide valuable tax revenues for local communities.