Tag Archives: Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign

Omaha utility and environmentalists agree on the path to net-zero — but not the timeline

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The Omaha Public Power District and the Sierra Club, often at odds over energy issues, have found some important common ground: The utility can achieve its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at minimal additional cost — or even slightly reduced cost — to customers. 

The utility and environmental group both recently made public the results of computer modeling by consultants to determine how the utility could meet its net-zero goal while minimizing impacts on reliability, resiliency, and affordability. Continue reading here.

Photo: Omaha Public Power District’s Nebraska City Station. Credit: Ammodramus / Creative Commons

Additional Recommended Reading

American Public Power Association: The Need for Direct Payment Of Refundable Tax Credits for Public Power 

Tax-exempt entities, including public power utilities, cannot directly benefit from either the ITC or PTC for a facility that they own. Some entities with little to no tax liability do jointly own qualifying facilities with a “tax equity” partner whose sole role is to monetize an ITC or PTC. However, a public power utility cannot feasibly enter this sort of “partnership flip” transaction.  Public power utilities can indirectly benefit from such credits by entering long-term power-purchase agreements with taxable entities that can claim these credits. However, the transactional costs of such agreements can be high. Additionally, only a portion of the value of the tax credit is generally considered to be passed on to the purchaser, thus muting the incentive effect.

These costs and limitations are problematic in that tax-exempt entities serve a substantial percentage of the nation’s retail electric customers (14.4 percent by public power and 13.0 percent by rural electric cooperatives). Additionally, omitting tax-exempt entities from energy-related tax incentives makes it more costly for public power utilities to make investments in renewable and other non-emitting resources and clean energy technologies that will be needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change. This is a significant shortcoming if Congress is seeking market-wide changes in energy-related investment and production decisions.

Kayaking to Cut Coal Fired Power Plants: 2,341 Miles Down the Missouri River

By Clarence Dennis, Flatland KC

Part passion, part protest, Graham Jordison is paddling his kayak all 2,341 miles of the Missouri River, completely on his own. On Monday morning, Jordison pulled his orange boat onto the rocks at Kaw Point in Kansas City, Kansas, just a few hundred yards from the state of Missouri’s final stretch of the “Big Muddy.”

Jordison’s journey, which set off July 18 from Three Forks, Montana, is about a week away from the finish line in St. Louis, where the Missouri River pours into the Mississippi River. The long-distance paddler is moving at an average of 35 miles per day, give or take. Continue reading here.

Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal and Gas Campaign

Photo: Graham Jordison on the Missouri River near Sioux City. Credit: Emma Colman

BEYOND TAR SANDS

EDP Renewables, TC Energy Sign Power Agreement for Alberta Wind Farm, North American Wind Power

 “This agreement, which is Alberta’s largest power purchase agreement for wind, is an important step as TC Energy continues to build its renewable energy portfolio,” states Corey Hessen, TC Energy’s senior vice president and president of power and storage.

Previously Posted: Developer Abandons Keystone XL Pipeline Project, Ending Decade-Long Battle, by Jeff Brady and Neela Banerjee, NPR

FULLY ELECTRIFIED CAMPUS INITIATIVES

Columbia Pledges That All Future Campus Construction Will Be Fossil Free, Columbia News
As Climate Week NYC begins, the university explores creating a fully electrified campus. The Columbia Climate School is university partner of the weeklong climate showcase.

RESIDENTIAL RENEWABLES FOR ALL 

Advocates push for clean energy tax credits to help low-income households in budget bill, contributed by Jason Plautz, Utility Dive

A new coalition of more than 350 environmental groups, renewable energy companies and minority advocates is pushing for House Democrats to maintain tax language increasing clean energy access for low-income communities in the budget reconciliation package. 

 EVGO MILESTONE

EVgo Celebrates 300,000 Customer Account Milestone, Valdosta Daily Times
EVgo Inc. (NASDAQ: EVGO), the nation’s largest public fast charging network for electric vehicles (EVs) and first powered by 100% renewable electricity, today announced its nationwide customer accounts have crossed the 300,000 mark. The milestone arrives as EVgo continues to expand its fast-charging network footprint with convenient and reliable fast charging stations where drivers shop, work, and play.

FEATURED OPINION

Congress must commit to electric vehicles, Utility Dive
Contributed article by Ben Prochazka, Executive Director, Electrification Coalition; Dr. Shelley Francis, Co-Founder and Director, EVHybridNoire; Jeff Allen, Executive Director, Forth; and Joel Levin, Executive Director, Plug In America.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Would Upper Midwest carbon capture pipelines offer a lifeline to coal plants?

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

An environmental group is warning that a proposed pipeline network that would carry carbon emissions to underground storage in Illinois and North Dakota could also extend the life of fossil fuel power plants in the Upper Midwest.

The recently announced projects would immediately benefit ethanol producers, but the Sierra Club says they might also offer a regulatory or economic lifeline to coal-fired power plants in the region under future federal emissions policies. Continue reading here.

LINKS TO ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

Department of Energy’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management

DOE’s Carbon Capture Program at the National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL). The program is managed by DOE’s Office of Fossil Energy and Carbon Management.

NETL Resources Include:

National Carbon Capture Center

Department of Energy News Releases

Global CCS Institute

IN NEBRASKA

Midlands Voices: New OPPD chief must continue important decarbonization work

By John Crabtree and Graham Jordison, Omaha World-Herald

Last month Omaha Public Power District announced the retirement of Tim Burke, chief executive officer after 24 years of service to the district, six years as CEO. Burke, especially during his tenure as CEO, has demonstrated courageous leadership. The OPPD board of directors faces a daunting challenge in finding a replacement who will shoulder the mantle of OPPD leadership with the passion and courage to match that shown by Burke.

On April 28 the OPPD board of directors announced a finalist from their internal search for a new CEO – Javier Fernandez, chief financial officer at OPPD. Hiring a new CEO with the capacity and vision to fulfill Burke’s commitment to decarbonization, and moving OPPD away from coal and gas-fired generation to clean energy, has been and will continue to be a crucial test of the leadership and vision of the members of the OPPD board of directors, as well. Continue reading here. Requires digital subscription.

John Crabtree is campaign representative for the Beyond Coal campaign for the Sierra Club in Nebraska. Graham Jordison is the organizing representative for the campaign.

OPPD’s Pathways to Decarbonization Workshops

OPPD’s first two Pathways to Decarbonization public workshops were held virtually via WebEx on April 7 and 28. Workshops are technical in nature and designed to build from one another. Recordings and presentations from the first two events, as well as pre-registration for the next two workshops are available at OPPDCommunityConnect.com

  • Workshop #3: Developing Key Assumptions and Scenarios: May 12, from 4–6 p.m.
  • Workshop #4: Developing Modeling Approach: May 26, from 4–6 p.m.

To watch past workshop recordings and provide feedback, click here.

After the age of contagion, what’s the ‘new normal’?

By Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

The pandemic, along with all of the bleak economic news, led me to revisit the 2016 book I co-authored with Mark Mykleby and Patrick Doherty: The New Grand Strategy: Restoring America’s Prosperity, Security and Sustainability in the 21st Century. It called for tapping into three massive pools of demand — for walkable communities, regenerative agriculture and resource productivity. Together, we said, they would create trillions of dollars of new economic activity while making our communities and our nation stronger and more resilient from any of a variety of shocks and disruptions.

Since then, we at GreenBiz have reported on a spate of studies and plans that similarly align sustainability with large-scale economic development: the circular economy (a $2 trillion opportunity), carbon tech (a trillion-dollar opportunity), sustainable food and land systems ($4.5 trillion), low-carbon cities ($24 trillion), climate action ($26 trillion) and more. As I noted last fall, trillion is the new billion. And then there’s the Green New Deal, a concept that seems to have been rekindled in the age of contagion. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SOLAR POWER WORLD PODCAST

Contractors Corner: Paradise Energy Solutions
Four brothers started Paradise Energy Solutions 10 years ago to help farmers reduce energy costs in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. The company has since grown into six additional states and expanded into the residential and commercial markets. Paradise Energy views its mission as building trusting relationships within its communities. In this episode of the Contractors Corner podcast, Solar Power World editor-in-chief Kelly Pickerel talks with Dale Good, president and CEO of Paradise Energy Solutions, about the company’s beginnings in Pennsylvania Dutch Country and its transition into larger markets.

Coal plants are closing across the West. Here are the companies sticking with coal

By Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times

January 2020 began with two coal-fired generators in Montana shutting down for good. A few days later, a subsidiary of billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway committed to closing a coal unit in Arizona this year. The same week, an electric cooperative based in Colorado also pledged to shutter a New Mexico coal plant by the end of 2020. Two weeks after that, Arizona’s biggest utility promised to retire its last coal plant seven years ahead of schedule. Although some energy providers are investing in gas, western utilities are increasingly looking to solar farms, wind turbines and giant batteries to replace their coal plants.

Speaking at the VerdeXchange conference in Los Angeles last week, Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s vice president for government relations, Jonathan Weisgall, said more coal plants closed in 2019 than in any year since 2015, despite President Donald Trump’s efforts to support the coal industry. Economics are part of the story, but they’re not the whole story. “I don’t recall a customer calling us recently asking for 100% coal electricity,” Weisgall said. “It tends to be 100% renewable.” Read the entire article here.

PacifiCorp is a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.

Previously Posted
Warren Buffett Is One of the World’s Richest Fossil-Fuel Billionaires, Bloomberg
This post includes divestment/reinvestment resources.

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Midlands Voices: OPPD moving too fast with power plan

By John Crabtree, Omaha World-Herald. The writer, of Fremont, Nebraska,
is the campaign representative for Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.

After stating a desire to engage the public in its on-going decarbonization planning, OPPD has presented a plan of its own without engaging stakeholders in a meaningful way. “Power with Purpose” was first introduced at the Oct. 17 board meeting. A timeline was established for consideration of the proposal at the Nov. 14 meeting and specifying that OPPD would receive public input on the proposal through Nov. 8. Having touted the intention to get feedback about the plans, OPPD is now pushing through a plan to spend what would amount to half billion dollars of ratepayer funds while only offering a few weeks for the public to process. Read more here.

Related

More power needed: OPPD plans to build Nebraska’s largest solar farm, plus natural gas plants, Omaha World-Herald. Construction on the new solar farm and natural gas plants is expected to begin in 2020. The solar farm could be completed in 2022 or 2023. The natural gas plants could be built by 2023 or 2024.

Previously Posted Reports & News Stories

Energy Efficiency

Nebraska’s growth potential for developing our communities’ energy-efficient economies is enormous, which would reduce our dependency on fossil fuels and keep more of our energy dollars in our state. Nebraska ranks 43rd on the 2019 American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy State Scorecard. The Scorecard demonstrates that energy efficiency is “a key resource nationwide, with utilities spending approximately $8 billion in 2018 for efficiency programs and saving 27.1 million MWh of electricity:” Resource Link: 2019 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard – 13th Edition

Nebraska’s Energy Efficiency Scorecard

Other State Rankings

  • Colorado: 14th
  • Iowa: 23rd
  • Kansas: 46th
  • Massachusetts: 1st
  • Minnesota: 8th
  • Missouri: 30th

Carbon Footprints / Environmental Impacts Of Solar & Wind Energy Versus “Cleanest” Natural Gas Power Plants

  • An introduction to the state of wind power in the U.S., by Philip Warburg, environmental lawyer and former president of the Conservation Law Foundation. Published by Yale Climate Connections. As a non-carbon-emitting technology, wind power has a big environmental advantage over its leading fossil fuel competitors. Onshore and offshore wind has a life cycle carbon footprint of 20 grams or less of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour. The “cleanest” natural gas power plants – those that use combined cycle technology – produce more than 400 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour. Supercritical coal plants – the least polluting in the industry – generate close to 800 grams of CO2 equivalent per kilowatt-hour.
  • Life Cycle Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Solar Photovoltaics, National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Photovoltaic (PV) solar has a life cycle carbon footprint of 40 grams or less of COequivalent per kilowatt-hour.

The 100 percent renewables moonshot: We’re closer than you think

By Grant Smith, Senior Policy Advisor for Energy at
Environmental Working Group, Contributor, The Hill

Advocates for 100 percent renewable energy often compare the effort needed to meet that goal to efforts to put a person on the moon. The truth is this: We’re closer to 100 percent renewable energy today than we were to the moon in 1961, when President Kennedy made his famous pledge to land there by the end of the decade. Read more here.

Pixabay Photo

ENVIRONMENTAL WORKING GROUP NEWS RELEASE

Bloomberg Report: Trump To Call for 70 Percent Cut In Renewable Energy Funding. EWG said it is a scheme that is dead on arrival, because the clean energy revolution has wide support in even the most conservative parts of the nation. Bloomberg said the Trump administration’s 2020 federal budget request will call for slashing funding for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, from its current level of $2.3 billion to $700 million, or roughly 70 percent. 

To date, third-party evaluations have assessed one-third of EERE’s research and development portfolio and found that an EERE taxpayer investment of $12 billion has already yielded an estimated net economic benefit to the United States of more than $230 billion, with an overall annual return on investment of more than 20%.
EERE Strategic Goals
EERE Strategic Plan

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & VIEWING

Trump tries to hold the line on coal, but America is moving on (from California to New York), by Mary Ann Hitt, Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign Director, Contributor, Red, Green and Blue. From retiring a coal plant that Trump tried to save with a tweet, to a historic announcement that Los Angeles won’t repower its gas plants, I want to be sure you’ve heard about these recent victories on the ground for the climate and clean energy movement that are moving our nation toward 100% clean energy.