As prices for new wind and solar projects continue to drop, renewable energy is booming across the United States, surpassing coal earlier this year for the first time ever. And most renewable energy projects are built in rural areas, harnessing abundant wind and solar resources. Yet the electric cooperatives that power most of rural America remain particularly reliant on coal – in part because of billions of dollars in debt on increasingly uneconomic coal plants.
NRECA Infographic:While electric cooperatives have begun to add more new renewable energy projects in recent years, overall they still remain more reliant on coal than other utilities. According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, coal accounts for 40% of electric cooperatives’ fuel mix, compared to 27% nationally. – Joe Smyth
Smyth’s list of recommended reading on electric cooperatives and coal debt:
Along with the usual funding for established research organizations and private sector partners, DOE is also working under the media radar with grassroots organizations to bring more solar energy to more people — especially lower and middle income populations that are falling behind in the solar race. Read more here.
EDF signs for hundreds of millions of modules from Canadian Solar, by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine USA. At the beginning of this year, pv magazine revealed a tsunami of projects applying for interconnection with grid operators across the United States, as one of many signs that 2019 was going to be a big year for large-scale solar in the United States.
Grass-fed beef meets big solar, PV Magazine First Solar has completed the 280 MWac California Flats solar project, co-located with a 73,000-acre cattle ranch which raises grass-fed beef for Whole Foods. This is the biggest demonstration of the synergies between grazing and solar that we’ve seen to date.
Kyocera announced that it has concluded an agreement to acquire 100% ownership of SouthernCarlson, a US distributor of tools, fasteners, packaging and facility supplies, headquartered in Omaha, Nebraska. Under the agreement, SouthernCarlson will operate as a U.S.-based subsidiary of Kyocera Corporation . . . Kyocera has become a leading supplier of industrial and automotive components, electronic devices, semiconductor packages, solar power generating systems, printers, copiers and mobile phones. Read more here.
NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE
NorthWestern Energy Seeks Montana Renewable Generation, Solar Industry Montana’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) requires NorthWestern to procure energy from community renewable energy projects (CREPs) that meet certain criteria. NorthWestern, which provides electricity and natural gas in the Upper Midwest and Northwest, serves approximately 726,400 customers in Montana, South Dakota and Nebraska.
GBHS enters winning solar car, Great Bend Tribune The 21st Annual Sunflower ElectroRally was held April 25 at the Spencer Flight and Education Center in Scott City. The race is part of the Kansas ElectroRally Championship Series. Electric cars, designed and constructed from scratch, race to complete the most laps in a one-hour endurance race. Thirteen teams from Kansas and Nebraska came to compete in the Solar, Standard and Open classes. The program’s goal is to inspire an interest in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) by involving participants in the design, construction, testing and development of competitive electric vehicles.
Omaha Public Power District News Release
February 14, 2019
Omaha Public Power District is committed to investing in the communities it serves. Furthering that effort, today, the OPPD Board of Directors approved a labor contract for streetlight
conversion work within its service territory to replace current technology with light emitting
diode (LED) technology.
This is part of the district’s five-year plan, officially beginning next month, to replace nearly 100,000 existing high-pressure sodium fixtures within its service territory. To date, OPPD has
converted approximately 400 burned out streetlights to LED. The district is utilizing a contractor alongside OPPD employees due to the volume and time frame of work taking place. Continue reading here.
PGE, NextEra team up for largest wind-solar-storage project in US, Utility Dive PGE is moving “aggressively” to integrate smart grid technology alongside renewables, President and CEO Maria Pope said in a statement. The Wheatridge project will be “a model for integrating renewable generation and storage,” she said, in order to cost-effectively reduce emissions and balance the grid.
The Nebraska and Iowa-based nonprofit, the Center for Rural Affairs, recently published a number of publications focusing on renewable energy in Iowa. Its most recent research publication, entitled “Powering Iowa: Rural Perspectives on Iowa’s Renewable Energy Transformation,” highlighted current opinions on various renewable energy issues, such as wind turbines and transmission line development. In addition to the center’s study on opinions of renewable energy, the center authored a white paper on wind energy ordinances in the state and a second publication examining incentives for tax revenue from transmission lines. Read the entire article here.
ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Highline is 80 Years Strong: Electric cooperative celebrates with members at annual meeting, by Darci Tomky, The Holyoke Enterprise Of the energy sold to members from Tri-State, about 30 percent was generated from renewable sources last year. That’s a considerable increase from the 17 percent reported in 2007. “That is the largest percentage of renewables in generation and transmission companies across the country and one of the highest of any utility in the U.S.” said Farnsworth. Included in Highline’s renewable projects is the Trailblazer Waste Heat Generation Site. Emphasizing its value to Highline, Farnsworth said it has brought $2.3 million to Highline’s bottom line since 2009. Highline is currently looking at options for a utility scale solar project that could provide savings to members over the next 20 to 25 years.
Nebraska Cooperatives Currently Using Solar & Wind
NRECA’s Interactive Map: Cooperative Solar Across the Country, shows that 443 cooperatives in 43 states utilize solar as a source of power. Eight Nebraska co-ops currently use solar, following: Georgia (42), Minnesota (37), North Carolina (26), Tennessee (24), Colorado (23), Indiana (23), Iowa (22), Oklahoma (21), South Carolina (21), Wisconsin (19), Arkansas (18), New Mexico (16), Mississippi (14), Illinois (13) Texas (11), Virginia (11), Alabama (10), Florida (9), and Wyoming (9). Click here and scroll down to individual states’ information.
NRECA’s Interactive Map: Cooperative Wind Across the Country, shows that.564 cooperatives in 37 states use wind as a source of power. Thirty Nebraska co-ops utilize wind energy, following Minnesota (44), Missouri (41), Indiana (38), and Iowa (31). Click here and scroll down to individual states’ information, including a list of all 30 Nebraska cooperatives using wind.
Windy states like Kansas are particularly well situated to benefit from the declining costs of wind energy. A Marchreport from Moody’s Investors Service found that in the 15 states with the best wind resources, new wind generation now costs significantly less than existing coal-fired power plants. Kansas is among those windy states, along with the four states where Tri-State sells electricity: Colorado, New Mexico, Wyoming, and Nebraska. Read more here.