Tag Archives: The Gazette

Wind energy the new ‘cash crop’ for Colorado farmers

By Liz Forster, The Gazette

For more than a century, Jan and Virgil Kochis’ family has farmed wheat, corn and other cash crops on 10,000 acres of pasture and farmland near Matheson in Elbert County.

It’s the only lifestyle they know, they said. So when crop prices started to plummet, the Kochises turned to a resource that is breathing new economic life into eastern Colorado: wind turbines. Continue reading here.

Liz Forster is a general assignment reporter with a focus on environment and public safety. She is a Colorado College graduate, avid hiker and skier, and craft beer enthusiast.

Photo by Excel Energy: Colorado Wind Turbines

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Students to decide themselves on climate change

By Stephen J. Berry, The Gazette

People who reject predominant scientific findings that humans are the main cause of climate change may be glad at first that new public-school science standards don’t require teachers to teach that in class. But if inquiry-based teaching guides under development in the Iowa K-12 Climate Science Education Initiative are used, students may reach that conclusion by themselves. The Climate Science Education Initiative, a project of the University of Iowa’s Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research and College of Education, will help teachers apply Next Generation Science Standards that do not take the step of telling students what to think about climate change.

Read more here.

Photo: On April 22, timed to coincide with Earth Day, people in 600 cities including Iowa City, above, marched to help show the value of science. Although a predominant scientific finding is that humans have been the primary cause of climate change in the last century, new teaching guides being developed at the University of Iowa will not say so outright. It’ll be up to students to use scientific data to reach their own conclusions. Credit: Stephen Mally/The Gazette

Opinion: Clean energy still trumps partisan politics

Midwest Energy News Commentary, by Jeremy Kalin, CEO of Minneapolis-based Eutectics, whose mission is to mobilize capital in underserved and untapped clean energy markets nationwide.

jeremy-kalinThe economics of solar and energy efficiency remain as strong today as they did before Election Day. Even rumored major tax reform cannot roll back the strong value proposition for clean energy. Solar projects continue to “pencil-out” for business owners, public buildings, affordable housing properties and individual homes. LED lighting will continue to be a “no-brainer,” with a solid return on investment. Clean energy progress happens out in the community – not in a politician’s office. And we know that clean energy is good business, exceeding $44.7 billion in investments in the United States last year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Read more.

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Community Solar Project breaking ground Wednesday

Published by the Scottsbluff Star Herald

sunwise

An official groundbreaking for the Scottsbluff Community Solar Project on Wednesday will begin the physical work on a project that’s been in the works for nearly two years. The public is invited to the event, which will eventually see a 128-killowatt solar array in the area, providing greener electricity to the city.  Click here for additional details.

SunWise Community Solar

MORE MIDWEST RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS
Iowa reaches new high mark for wind energy, The Gazette
Sustainable: Solar Energy growing fast in Minnesota,
Finance & Commerce

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST
4 ways to motivate people to warm to community solar, Green Biz

Q&A: How batteries can help personalize our energy system

Written by David J. Unger, Midwest Energy News

george-crabtree

Facebook and Google personalized the news. Uber and Lyft tailored transportation to individual needs. Now, advances in battery technology promise to introduce a similar kind of customization and independence into energy, says George Crabtree, director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), based at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. Crabtree oversees a team of scientists and researchers across five national labs, 10 universities and five private-sector partners looking to dramatically improve energy storage technology. Founded in 2012 with a $120-million award from the Department of Energy, JCESR (pronounced JAY-caesar) has the ambitious 5-year goal of developing battery prototypes five times as energy-dense as today’s commercial batteries at one-fifth the cost (“5-5-5” for short). Click to continue reading.

Photo: George Crabtree, Director of the Joint Center for Energy Storage Research (JCESR), based at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. Credit: JCESR

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Proposals from Iowa utilities raise red flags for solar advocates, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News
Solar power shines when we need it most, by David Osterberg and Nathaniel Baer, guest columnists, The Gazette
Members Like Solar; Does Your Co-op?by Michael W. Kahn, Electric Co-op Today
New Missouri wind farm on pace for fall finish, by Ray Scherer, St. Joseph News-Press

It’s the Dawn of the Community Solar Farm

By Chris Martin, Bloomberg News

Bloomberg

It’s like rooftop solar, without the rooftops. A growing number of consumers are buying into community solar farms that allow renters and apartment dwellers to access renewable energy produced on neighborhood plots that can be small enough to host a little league baseball game. Some are so modest they’re referred to as “solar gardens.” Continue reading.

Image: 13 acre, 1.5-megawatt Jefferson County Community Solar Garden.
Photographer: Andy Cross / Denver Post via Getty Images

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Clean Power Plan offers chance to right past injustices, advocates say

 By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News
crawford-plant-chicago

Advocates say a little-known provision of the Clean Power Plan could become a powerful tool to advance environmental justice. The Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) is aimed at “removing barriers to investment in energy efficiency and solar measures in low‐income communities,” plus sparking “zero-emitting” renewable energy development, as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency describes it. Continue reading.

Photo: The now-closed Crawford coal plant looms over Chicago neighborhoods in this 2012 photo. Credit: Chris Bentley / Creative Commons

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Bringing Solar to Everyone, Triple Pundit: People, Planet, Profit
Op-Ed by Ryan Evans, President of the Utah Solar Energy Association: Solar energy industry deserves encouragement ‘the Utah way’, Salt Lake Tribune
Wisconsin’s St. Croix Electric Cooperative, Dairyland Adding 15 Megawatts of Solar Energy, Electric
Co-op Today
Pacific Power: Oregon 50% RPS will barely raise customer rates through 2028, Utility Dive
Worthington group planning bulk buys to get deal on solar, The Columbus Dispatch
Johnson County moves forward with solar projects, The Gazette
FERC greenlights Apple’s petition to sell electric power, Utility Dive
Michigan Solar Car defends national title in sweeping victory, University of Michigan
Iowa State University Students Create Solar-Powered Car, Drive It Through South Dakota, KDLT News
Grant helps charge EV technology used at OPPD, The Wire – OPPD Blog
Heartland Community College’s wind turbine has met about 41% of the Illinois school’s energy needs, Pantagraph  

Ohio city’s energy financing tool could be start of regional trend

Written by Douglas J. Guth, Midwest Energy News

pnc-tower

The program allows building owners to utilize Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for upgrades on non-residential properties via bonds or governmental loans. The amount borrowed is repaid via a special assessment on a property tax bill over a period of up to 30 years.

In PNC [Plaza’s] case, the Columbus-Franklin County Finance Authority leveraged PACE in concert with a regional energy fund to pay for eligible building updates. The loan is tied to the facility’s property bill and does not count as debt, meaning PNC’s owners can spread repayment costs over the life of the project so generated savings eclipse that of the annual loan payment.
Click to read more.

Photo by Friscocali / Creative Commons: A clean energy financing district in Columbus, Ohio helped obtain $3.2 million for upgrades to the PNC Plaza.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Indian Creek Nature Center ‘Amazing Space’ is a green machine, The Gazette
Lawmaker’s View: Minnesota can follow Germany’s lead in combating climate change, Duluth News Tribune
Independence Day: Local utilities ditch power suppliers for renewables, stable pricesUtility Dive
Massachusetts Becomes Third State to Set an Energy Storage Mandate, Microgrid Knowledge
2016 Solar+Storage Jobs: A Discussion Paper, The Solar Foundation
Report: Growth of grid-tied storage to rival solar’s recent trajectory in upcoming decade, Utility Dive
Big batteries for every home and business: Energy storage to double this year, Computer World 

U.S. Wind Energy Industry Booming

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) published the US Wind Industry Second Quarter 2016 Market Report this week, revealing continuing strong growth in the industry. During the second quarter, a total of 169 wind turbines were installed over four states, with Texas installing 200 MW, followed by Kansas with 72 MW, Nebraska with 36 MW, and one turbine installed in Iowa.

AWEA

”There’s never been a better time to buy American wind energy,” said Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA.

“Smart utilities and other customers are locking in prices at record lows by starting construction this year to qualify for the full-value PTC. The industry is thriving thanks to policy stability, and we appreciate support from champions in Congress for a multi-year extension of the PTC. Wind power supports 88,000 well-paying jobs, and the wind turbine technician is the fastest growing profession in the U.S. This is what an efficient, performance-driven policy delivers – more low-cost clean energy and the American jobs that make it happen.”

PTC: Production Tax Credit

U.S. Wind Industry Second Quarter 2016 Market Report, American Wind Energy Association.
Click here to download the non-member version of the report. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
AWEA: Wind industry set to provide 20% of US power by 2030, Utility Dive
MidAmerican Energy reaches settlement to move 2 GW wind farm forward, Utility Dive
 Alliant to invest $1 billion in Iowa wind energy, The Gazette

Minnesota advocates ‘pleasantly surprised’ with new U.S. Bancorp climate policy

Written by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

us-bank

Minnesota climate activists say they are “pleasantly surprised” after Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp issued a new environmental policy in June that will reduce lending for coal-fired power plants, coal mines and other environmentally harmful projects. Two bank officials have been meeting with MN350 members for the past several months on a new environmental policy that would discourage lending to fossil fuel interests. Advocates say the policy move — which they add could be stronger — is important because U.S. Bancorp (the parent company of U.S. Bank) is one of the largest financial services companies in the United States. Click to read more.

Photo: Climate activists outside U.S. Bancorp’s headquarters in Minneapolis. Credit: MN350

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Deutsche Bank Pulls Back from Deals in Coal-Mining Sector, The New York Times
Solar energy powers Iowa jobs, The Gazette
North Dakota panel approves proposed $250 million wind farm, Bismarck Tribune
Regulators pave way for 102-megawatt wind farm in western Wisconsin, Journal Sentinel
Sonnen Launches a Home Battery for Self-Consumption at a 40% Reduced Cost, GreenTech Media
22 Proposed Microgrid Sites in Boston Could Save $1 Billion, Microgrid Knowledge
Student prompts schools to consider renewable energy, Winston-Salem Journal
Could Net-Zero Energy Schools Improve Children’s Education?, Rocky Mountain Institute
Solar car team prepares for race at Homestead, Beatrice Daily Sun
Utilities rebuild an aging lexicon to keep pace with change, EnergyWire