Tag Archives: Texas

SEIA News Release: Interconnection Whitepaper Details Near Term Reforms Needed to Extricate Hundreds of Gigawatts of Solar Power

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released a whitepaper detailing the extensive interconnection reforms needed to rapidly decarbonize the electricity grid. Across the country state and federal leaders are doubling down on their clean energy goals, but distribution utilities and regional transmission organizations (RTOs) are struggling to keep up with overflowing interconnection queues.

The new whitepaper, Lessons from the Front Line: Principles and Recommendations for Large-scale and Distributed Energy Interconnection Reforms, discusses the various opportunities utilities and regulators have to standardize, automate, and clarify interconnection procedures and policies. On June 16 FERC is expected to publish a proposed rule that will cover many of the same topics raised in this whitepaper. Read the entire news release.

 Additional Recommended Reading 

Solar power and batteries account for 60% of planned new U.S. electric generation capacity

U.S. Energy Information Administration

Power plant developers and operators expect to add 85 gigawatts (GW) of new generating capacity to the U.S. power grid from 2022 to 2023, 60% (51 GW) of which will be made up of solar power and battery storage projects, according to data reported in our Preliminary Monthly Electric Generator Inventory. In many cases, projects combine these technologies.

Battery storage capacity, as well as renewable capacity, significantly increased in the United States during 2021, partly because of tax credits and partly because of falling technology costs, especially for batteries. Depending on the configuration and charging sources, both solar power and battery storage units may be eligible for the solar investment tax credit (ITC), which is scheduled to phase down by 2024. Continue reading here.

Council hears rate study for proposed electric rate changes

By Monica BrichBeatrice Daily Sun

Replenishing cash reserves impacted by the freezing temperatures and rolling blackouts in February was one of the topics the Beatrice City Council heard during its regular meeting Monday evening. The city hired J.K. Energy consultant John Krajewski to perform a rate study. He said the last time Beatrice had a full rate study was in 2009, with an abbreviated study done in 2014. Krajewski said the city has transitioned to a better portfolio of energy sources, as they’re planning to transition away from the Nebraska Public Power District after the next fiscal year. Continue reading here.

ØRSTED 

Ørsted completes largest onshore wind project to date, Globe Newswire


Ørsted has completed the 367 MW Western Trail Wind Farm located in Wilbarger and Baylor counties, Texas – its largest onshore wind project to date that brings Ørsted’s total onshore capacity to over 2.8 GW of wind, solar, and battery storage in operation.

In Nebraska: The 298MW Haystack Wind Farm, adjacent to Ørsted’s 230MW Plum Creek Wind Farm in Wayne County, is due to become operational by the end of 2021. Haystack will utilize existing interconnection infrastructure in Southwest Power Pool North.

All about the Southwest Power Pool, The Wire

IOWA PUBLIC RADIO INTERVIEW WITH ENERGY SECRETARY GRANHOLM

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm Talks Infrastructure, The Ames Lab, Biofuels And More, by Ben KiefferRick BrewerCaitlin Troutman

U.S. Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm was appointed by President Joe Biden and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in February 2021. She served as Michigan’s first female governor from 2003 to 2011. Recently, Granholm virtually toured the Ames Laboratory and met with the lab’s researchers to discuss sustainable energy and technology. She joined River to River on July 29 to discuss the visit as well as share her thoughts on the future of infrastructure, combating climate change and sustainable energy.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE

DOD Official Says U.S. Faces Climate Change Crisis, by David Vergun

Climate change absolutely affects national security, said the senior climate advisor to the secretary of defense. Speaking yesterday to the Department of Energy’s Energy Exchange forum, Joe Bryan said:

Image: Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska amidst severe flooding in 2019, resulting in $400 million in infrastructure damage to the base. Credit: U.S. Air Force

SOLAR ENERGY INDUSTRIES ASSOCIATION

U.S. Solar Market Eclipses 100 Gigawatts

Solar Energy Industries Association News Release
June 15, 2021

WASHINGTON, D.C. and HOUSTON, TX — The U.S. solar market surpassed 100 gigawatts (GWdc) of installed electric generating capacity, doubling the size of the industry over the last 3.5 years, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Q2 2021 report, released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie. Solar had a record-setting Q1 2021 and accounted for 58% of all new electric capacity additions in the United States. Renewable energy accounted for nearly 100% of all new electric capacity in Q1. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO RENEWABLE ENERGY INVESTORS & DEVELOPERS

Confidence Among Renewable Energy Investors at an All-Time High: Report, Environment+Energy Leader

A new analysis released recently by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) finds that confidence among both renewable energy investors and developers is at an all-time high. The report, “Expectations for Renewable Energy Finance in 2021-2024,” presents the results of a new survey of large financial institutions and renewable energy development companies on their confidence in the sector in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The new report also tracks progress on the $1T 2030: American Renewable Investment Goal, an initiative ACORE launched in 2018 to help secure $1 trillion in private sector investment in renewable energy and enabling grid technologies by 2030.

Additional Recommended Reading
ACORE insight: The federal agenda for energy and climate, PV Magazine

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA NEWS

Successful bond sale yields $400 million for university building maintenance projects

The sale – the largest issuance of new bonds in NU history – was the first transaction after the passage of LB384, a plan championed by Sen. John Stinner of Gering to extend through 2062 a state-university partnership on deferred maintenance. The Legislature and Gov. Pete Ricketts’ approval of the bill this session allowed the university to capitalize on current historically low interest rates, resulting in a 2.99 percent rate for funds with an average lifespan of 35 years. Chancellors have developed initial lists of priority projects to be addressed with the new $400 million in bond proceeds. Notably, one-quarter of the proceeds – $100 million – will be used for energy efficiency or other “green” projects, reflecting a system-wide commitment to sustainability.

LB384: Provide for and change provisions related to transfers of funds and funding for university and state college facilities, create and change permitted uses of funds, and create a grant program. 

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE

Department of Natural Resources awarded grant for initiative to assess rare earth elements, critical minerals, The Missouri Times

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — A partnership between the Missouri Department of Natural Resources and the University of Kansas will receive $1.5 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to study the feasibility of recovering critical minerals from coal and associated strata in the Cherokee-Forest City Basin, which encompasses Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Osage Nation. The Department of Energy’s Carbon Ore, Rare Earth and Critical Minerals Initiative is a $19 million nationwide effort to assess rare earth elements and critical minerals in fossil fuel-producing areas.

Previously Posted: Statement About Coal & News Release On The Referenced DOE Grant

“Coal may contain as many as 76 of the 92 naturally occurring elements of the periodic table.”
SourceUnited States Geological Survey

DOE Awards $19 Million for Initiatives to Produce Rare Earth Elements and Critical MineralsDepartment of Energy News Release 

“The very same fossil fuel communities that have powered our nation for decades can be at the forefront of the clean energy economy by producing the critical minerals needed to build electric vehicles, wind turbines, and so much more,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm“By building clean energy products here at home, we’re securing the supply chain for the innovative solutions needed to reach net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 – all while creating good-paying jobs in all parts of America.” 

Production of rare earth elements and critical minerals, which serve as key components to several clean energy applications such as magnets in wind turbines and batteries in electric and conventional vehicles, is a prime example of how DOE is supporting regional economic growth and job creation in regions traditionally home to the fossil fuel industry.

See Also: FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Outlines Key Resources to Invest in Coal and Power Plant Community Economic RevitalizationThe White House Briefing Room

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

Illinois energy bill proposes ‘green bank’ as national movement builds

By Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

Illinois would get a “green bank” to finance equity-focused clean energy investments under the latest version of the Clean Energy Jobs Act pending in the state legislature. If the proposal passes, Illinois would join more than a dozen states including Florida, New York and Connecticut that use publicly funded green banks to leverage private investment for renewables, energy efficiency and other projects, especially in communities that have been underrepresented in the clean energy economy.  The state-level proposal comes as a federal bill with bipartisan support would create a national green bank — dubbed the Clean Energy Accelerator —  that would work in tandem with state banks. Continue reading here.

Photo by Jim Bowen / Creative Commons

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FEATURED STUDY

Recognition of and response to energy poverty in the United States, Nature Energy

Abstract
A household is energy poor when they cannot meet energy needs. Despite its prevalence, the US has not formally recognized energy poverty as a problem distinct from general poverty at the federal level, which limits effective responses. In this review, the authors examine the measurement and evaluative metrics used by the two federally-funded energy programs focused on reducing high energy bills to understand how program eligibility requirements and congressional funding appropriations have shaped the national understanding and implementation of energy poverty assistance. We find that current measurement and evaluative metrics hinge on the distribution of government resources and the number of vulnerable households assisted, rather than improving household well-being and reducing overall energy poverty.

SOLAR+STORAGE GUIDE

Understanding Solar+Storage: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Solar PV and Battery Storage, Clean Energy Group Publication

The guide is informed by more than six years of experience through Clean Energy Group’s work with property owners, developers, nonprofits, and communities to advance solar+storage in underserved communities. The questions and topic areas addressed in the guide are based on feedback from nearly one hundred stakeholders who submitted questions about solar+storage.

The information presented in the guide focuses primarily on customer-sited, behind-the-meter solar+storage installations, though much of the information is relevant to other types of projects as well, including storage-only projects and front-of-the-meter solar+storage projects. It is meant to serve as a starting point to establish a foundation of knowledge and understanding for individuals and organizations beginning to explore solar+storage options for their homes, businesses, or community facilities.

A Spanish-language version of this guide is available here.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

NYC installing solar at nearly 50 public schools, other facilities, PV Magazine
The 22 MW of solar projects are expected to include some energy storage systems and help New York City and the state meet sustainability goals.

ELECTRIC MACHINES & VEHICLES

AFFORDABLE ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES 

Report: Accelerating The Transition To Electric School Buses: How schools, lawmakers, and utilities can work together to speed the transition to zero emission buses. Released by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

The vast majority of school buses in the United States run on diesel, a fossil fuel that has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and cancer. Diesel exhaust is also a greenhouse gas, which contributes to climate change.

However, there is an alternative: zero-emission battery electric school buses. The technology is here, and electric school buses are ready to roll, but the question remains: how do schools pay for them? While electric buses can save schools money over the lifespan of the bus, the initial price tag of a new electric bus can turn many schools off to the idea of electrification.

Particularly promising options are vehicle-to-grid technology and Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS) programs. By pairing them, “each electric bus could save school districts up to $130,000 per electric bus.”

Download the Report.

FEATURED LEGAL ACTION

Midwest Renewable Energy Association Files Lawsuit to Open Solar and Other Clean Energy Opportunities for Wisconsinites, Earthjustice News Release

STEVENS POINT, WI — The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin Circuit Court to remove barriers preventing Wisconsinites from accessing the benefits of local clean energy development. MREA’s filing asks the court to ensure that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) sticks to regulating monopoly utility companies and does not illegally interfere with competitive clean energy alternatives for Wisconsin families and businesses.

MREA’s lawsuit specifically challenges two unlawful policies that stifle Wisconsin’s clean energy economy. First, MREA challenges guidance documents from the PSCW that preclude financing options available in most other states where solar energy is more affordable. MREA also challenges a PSCW order that unlawfully prohibits Wisconsin homes and businesses from utilizing market incentives to reduce their power consumption during peak hours and thereby reduce power costs for everyone.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.

About The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration.Together with partners around the Midwest, we work to expand renewable energy adoption through innovative programs, renewable energy training, and educational events. MREA is a nonprofit organization.

The Truth About Texas: Thermal Power Plant Failures are the Blackout Culprits

By Heather Zichal, Chief Executive Officer,
American Clean Power Association

Texas has suffered this week, but crisis reveals character. Record cold weather brought this state to the brink, but never brought Texas to its knees. Neighbors have come together to help neighbors, and everyone from front line responders to the engineers and experts who manage electricity production have worked around the clock to restore power. That’s the real Texas.

But even amid an all-hands-on-deck crisis, some seized the political opportunity to deceive and distort. The critics of clean power – those who attack it in rain, snow, or sun – started spinning a dangerous fiction to promote an agenda that has nothing to do with restoring power to Texas communities. The facts of how Texas got here are not in dispute. Continue reading here.

Texas Power Crisis: No Energy Source Alone Is to Blame and There Is No One Answer

By Sean Gallagher, Vice President of State & Regulatory Affairs,
Solar Energy Industries Association

A lot is being said, written and tweeted about the power outages in Texas. Much of it is not constructive and some is fundamentally dishonest. The hot takes and political analysis that are divorced from reality do nothing to help the millions of people who are without power in freezing conditions, nor are they constructive ways of stopping future outages.

While regulators are trying to restore power, and are making initial assessments of what happened, it is clear that solar plus storage can bring needed power to homes and businesses, emergency facilities such as hospitals and fire departments, and whole communities. Here is one example: Continue reading here.

Explore SEIA’s Initiatives & Advocacy Here.

The Best Electricity Plan: Overbuild Solar & Wind Power Plants

By Zachary Shahan, CleanTechnica

More than 8 years ago, researchers from the University of Delaware (UD) and Delaware Technical College (DTCC) put forward a rather “radical” idea — to deal with wind and solar power’s intermittency while also acknowledging wind and solar power’s falling costs, why not just overbuild wind and solar power plants in the future?

What seemed like a radical idea back in 2012 is gaining increasing support today. More and more people see that, indeed, solar power, wind power, and batteries have become cheap enough that you don’t need “baseload power” or other filler power plants in many places. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Also by Zachary Shahan

CHICAGO’S 100% RENEWABLE ENERGY LEADERSHIP

Chicago launches $200M RFP to power city facilities by renewable energy, Utility Dive
The City of Chicago has released a $200 million request for proposals (RFP) for a contract to procure renewable energy for all city-owned buildings. Under the contract, all city-owned buildings, streetlights and other facilities would run on renewable energy starting in 2022 and lasting at least five years. Supplier applications are due Nov. 6, and the city intends to choose a vendor in January.  This RFP supports Chicago’s stated goal of running all city-owned buildings on 100% renewable energy by 2025 and transitioning the entire city to renewable energy by 2035.

NEW TRADE GROUP

AWEA Introduces New Trade Group, the American Clean Power Association, Greentech Media
The largest wind trade group in the U.S. announced Friday it will officially broaden its mission beyond wind as part of a newly-formed industry group. The American Wind Energy Association, which advocated for that industry and its member companies for over 40 years, will merge with a new organization called the American Clean Power Association. More than 30 member companies from utilities, wind, solar and other new energy industries coalesced to make a trade group “that better represents the renewables industry of today,” the group said Friday.

Previously Posted: Solar, Wind, Storage Link Arms in Push for ‘Majority Renewables’ by 2030
With the 2020 election drawing closer, the solar and wind sectors announced a joint push to quadruple their combined share of the U.S. power mix by 2030.

PV MAGAZINE POSTS

BLACKROCK’S DIVESTMENT PLEDGES – AN UPDATE

Winners and Losers of BlackRock’s Climate Pushback (So Far), Greentech Media
In January, the world’s largest asset manager issued a warning shot that the status quo on climate change was no longer going to cut it. With more than $6 trillion of investments under management and influence in boardrooms of nearly 1,800 companies, what BlackRock says carries big weight across the corporate and political world. But that weight only hits home if BlackRock follows through and presses for a response to climate change in boardrooms.

FOSSIL-FREE CLEANING PRODUCTS

Carbon ‘rainbow’: Unilever pledges $1.2B to scrub fossil fuels from cleaning products, BusinessGreen story republished by GreenBiz

Unilever last week revealed plans to funnel close to $1.2 billion over the next 10 years into initiatives that will allow it to replace chemicals in its cleaning products made from fossil fuel feedstocks with greener alternatives — an investment it described as critical to meeting its aim of achieving net-zero emissions from its products by 2039. 

Tri Global Energy Strikes a Blow for Wind Leadership in Illinois, Indiana

Tri Global Energy News Release, Business Wire

Tri Global Energy (TGE), a leading U.S. originator and developer of utility-scale wind energy projects, has achieved the status of the number one developer of wind projects in Texas for the second quarter of this year, based on the newly released Wind Powers America Second Quarter 2020 Report from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), which analyzes wind power capacity by state, including projects under construction and in advanced development. The report shows Texas remains the country’s leader in development of wind energy, with nearly 20% of the U.S. total. The AWEA report credits Texas with 6,587 megawatts (MW) of wind projects in construction or advanced development, with TGE contributing nearly 1,500 MW toward that total.

John Billingsley, TGE’s Chairman and CEO, also anticipates the company will become a major developer in two additional wind states – Illinois and Indiana – during the upcoming quarters. “Both Illinois and Indiana have realized significant increases in wind power during the last year and a half,” he said. “TGE is on track to develop several renewable projects in both states.” Billingsley adds that TGE also is developing renewable projects in Virginia. Read more here.

TRI GLOBAL ENERGY PROJECT IN NEBRASKA

Wind Energy Generation in Nebraska, Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
Scroll down to see all our state’s wind energy projects in development, including:
Tri Global Energy is planning to develop a 100–megawatt wind farm which will be named the Sugar Loaf Wind Farm in Garden County.

AWEA State Wind Energy Fact Sheets

Nebraska
Nebraska is one of the top states in the country for potential wind energy generation, with a technical potential of approximately 465,000 megawatts (MW) according to NREL.

  • Installed wind capacity: 2,132 MW
  • State rank for installed wind capacity: 14th
  • Direct wind industry jobs in 2019: 2,001 to 3,000
  • Capital investment in wind projects through 2019: $3.8 billion
  • Annual state and local tax payments by wind projects: $12 million
  • Annual land lease payments: $14.7 million

Illinois

  • Installed wind capacity: 5,659 MW
  • State rank for installed wind capacity: 6th
  • Direct wind industry jobs in 2019: 8,001 to 9,000
  • Capital investment in wind projects through 2019: $10.9 billion
  • Annual state and local tax payments by wind projects: $49 million
  • Annual land lease payments: $37 million

Indiana

  • Installed wind capacity: 2,317 MW
  • State rank for installed wind capacity: 13th
  • Direct wind industry jobs in 2019: 6,001 to 7,000
  • Capital investment in wind projects through 2019: $5.0 billion
  • Annual state and local tax payments by wind projects: $12 million
  • Annual land lease payments: $20 million

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Gage County Planning Commission Recommends Increase in Wind Turbine Setback Distance, News Channel Nebraska

“I can tell you a one-mile setback would be among the most stringent…and so that would set Gage County and this part of the state apart from what we’re seeing all across the Midwest….which would inhibit us from a very significant natural resource. As you’re considering this amendment, I hope that you think about not only the facts you hear, recognizing that you’re going to hear a lot of contradictory facts…..but look what real people have experienced who are around us…and how that’s impacted them and benefitted them and how it could also benefit our community and our state”. – David Bracht, an Omaha attorney and former Nebraska Energy Director

The issue now goes to the Gage County Board of Supervisors, which will also conduct a public hearing and make a final decision.