Tag Archives: Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)

A 100% Renewable Energy Future is Possible, and We Need It

By Paula Garcia, Senior Bilingual Energy Analyst,
Union of Concerned Scientists

Nebraskans for Solar Note: The writer provides a link to information about “a growing number of states that are already committing to 100 percent renewable or carbon-free energy.” As you undoubtedly already know, Nebraska is one of them.

A transition to renewable energy is not just one of the most consequential tools at our fingertips to act on climate, but also represents a great opportunity to increase control over our energy choices, improve the health of our communities and the planet, create jobs and wealth, and much more. But how feasible is this transition? And can this transition benefit us all? 

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS)—together with environmental justice groups COPAL in Minnesota, GreenRoots in Massachusetts, and the Michigan Environmental Justice Coalition—collaborated on an analysis to look into those questions. On the Road to 100 Percent Renewables examined how two dozen state members of the U.S. Climate Alliance (USCA) can meet all of their electricity needs with renewable energy—while decarbonizing other sectors of the economy and ensuring equitable benefits to all communities. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Dennis Schroeder/NREL/Flickr

Additional Recommended Reading

Report recap: Four highlights from AWEA’s Wind Powers America Third Quarter Market Report

By Greg Alvarez, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog

We’re three quarters of the way through an eventful 2020 (quite the understatement), but the good news is U.S. wind power just posted the best third quarter on record. That means more affordable, reliable, clean power for millions of American families and businesses. This finding and more are contained in AWEA’s Wind Powers America Third Quarter Market Report. Here’s a roundup of four notable highlights to keep an eye on: Continue reading here.

Photo by Mike Zakrzewski, Nebraska farmer in O’Neill: The Grande Prairie Wind Farm


Wind Energy In Nebraska
Installed Wind Capacity: 2,364 MW
State Ranking for Installed Capacity: 12th

  • Iowa
    Installed Wind Capacity: 10,664 MW
    State Ranking for Installed Capacity: 2nd
  • Kansas
    Installed Wind Capacity: 6,524 MW
    State Ranking for Installed Capacity: 4th
  • Illinois
    Installed Wind Capacity: 5,659 MW
    State Ranking for Installed Capacity: 6th


Tesla Expanding Into Solar Microgrids And Virtual Power Plants, CleanTechnica
The renewable energy revolution is in full swing. It will involve decentralized power generation as well as enhanced long distance transmission lines. Nothing is off the table. Tesla is creating an enormous virtual power plant in Australia that will incorporate rooftop solar and battery storage at 50,000 homes. Green Mountain Power is conducting a similar program in Vermont. Just as one day soon electric vehicle sales will surpass sales of conventional vehicles, our grandkids will likely grow up in homes that have residential storage batteries in the garage or in the basement next to the electrical panel.


It’s Time For Elon Musk To Admit The Significance Of Hydrogen Fuel Cells, Forbes
Contributed article by Alex Ivanenko, “co-founder and CEO of HyPoint, the company developing zero-carbon emission hydrogen fuel cell systems for aviation and urban air mobility.”

The technology for zero-emission hydrogen fuel cells for use in transportation and other industries isn’t a pipe dream — it already exists. Though you might not know it, hydrogen-powered trainstruckscarsairplanes and ships are already out in the wild. CNBC noted that “there are dozens of fuel cell buses in use or planned in Ohio, Michigan, Illinois and Massachusetts, as well as California” and that “more than 23,000 fuel cell-powered forklifts in operation at warehouses and distribution centers across the U.S. in more than 40 states, including at Amazon and Walmart facilities.” That’s just the beginning.




News Release by DOE’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity

On August 20th 2020, the Department of Energy’s Office of Economic Impact and Diversity (ED) launched its trademark Equity in Energy Initiative at the 43rd Annual National Conference of the American Association of Blacks in Energy’s (AABE). Equity in Energy, under the direction of the Secretary of Energy, Dan Brouillette [leads] the charge in fostering an inclusive energy economy at the DOE and the energy sector. 

Equity In Energy Booklet


About the Writer
James Gignac, is lead Midwest energy analyst for the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Prior to joining UCS, Mr. Gignac served as environmental and energy counsel and as assistant attorney general to the Illinois Attorney General. Mr. Gignac earned a JD from Harvard Law School, and a BA in history and political science from Albion College.

Included in the series:


Lomneth Farm’s 12-kilowatt solar system in North Omaha. Installed by GC ReVOLT, which is owned by Graham Christensen. View more GC ReVOLT projects here.

See Solar Examples for more photos and descriptions of solar-powered farms in Nebraska.




Links to Incentives, Depreciation & Net Metering Information


Opportunity for Solar to Dot the Coalfields of Southwest Virginia

Contributed by Chelsea Barnes, Solar Industry

[In April Governor Ralph Northam signed the Solar Freedom Act and the Virginia
Clean Economy Act into law]. The new laws set up enormous opportunity for solar developers in Virginia’s coalfields. To boost the potential even more, eight local governments in the region achieved SolSmart designation in 2019, setting themselves up to more readily facilitate solar development. Over the past four years, the Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia has readied the region for solar energy development through education, collaboration and advocacy, but its efforts were stymied by policy inequities and regulatory barriers. Now, the new laws mean solar developers can walk through the region’s door of opportunity and deliver the solar services so many people are seeking. Read more here.

Chelsea Barnes is the New Economy Program Manager for Appalachian Voices, a regional environmental advocacy nonprofit. Photo Credit: Appalachian Voices

Previously Posted



Farmer-focused renewable energy coalition formed, AgriNews
The Indiana Agriculture Coalition for Renewable Energy announced its formation across the state following two informational conference calls in March and April. The conference calls convened farmers, landowners, renewable energy developers, nonprofits and corporations to discuss knowledge and resource gaps related to the intersection of renewable energy and agriculture in Indiana.



MISO deploys GridUnity platform to streamline electric generation interconnection, GridUnity News Release, PR Newswire

The GridUnity platform has been deployed by utilities and ISO/RTOs across 17 U.S. states to date. Learn more at https://gridunity.com.

Prior to the GridUnity solution, MISO engineers were manually reviewing each application in detail. With the new GridUnity tool, applicants receive immediate, automated feedback if an entry is incomplete, ensuring all submitted applications meet established standards. MISO staff will now be able to review and respond to submitted applications in a fraction of the time that was previously required, providing guidance throughout the rest of the interconnection process. This will create a fully transparent and near-real-time interconnection queue, freeing engineers to spend their time addressing the higher-value needs of their customers.


Wooden Turbine Towers Promise To Push Wind Industry To Greater Heights, contributed by Mike Scott, Forbes. A new design for wind turbine towers could see them made from wood rather than steel, soaring to ever-greater heights and producing more power, if a new trial proves successful.


Thanks To Renewables And Machine Learning, Google Now Forecasts The Wind, by Jeff McMahon, Senior Contributor, Forbes

Google and the Google-owned Artificial Intelligence firm DeepMind combined weather data with power data from 700 megawatts of wind energy that Google sources in the Central United States. Using machine learning, they have been able to better predict wind production, better predict electricity supply and demand, and as a result, reduce operating costs.  In a Deepmind blog post, they outline how they boosted profits for Google’s wind farms in the Southwest Power Pool, an energy market that stretches across the plains from the Canadian border to north Texas:


Retail co-location may prove key to sustainable funding for EV charging, panel finds, Utility Dive Adding charging facilities at retail and restaurant locations is one of the most profitable ways to increase EV infrastructure, a senior project manager at Atlas Public Policy said during a Wednesday webinar hosted by the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions that also featured representatives from Georgia Power and EVgo.


Stop the Summer Reading Slide With Eco-Themed Kids’ Books

Alliant coal plant could cost Wisconsin customers $257M by 2030, report says

By Catherine Morehouse, Utilty Dive

Two Wisconsin coal plants cost Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin customers $16 million in 2019 alone, according to a report released Tuesday from the Sierra Club. Alliant on Friday announced it plans to retire one of those facilities — the 380 MW last remaining unit of its Edgewater plant — by 2022. However, the 1,023 MW Columbia coal plant has no set retirement date, and if it continues to operate the utility’s share of the plant could cost customers $257 million through 2030, according to Sierra Club. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Related: Alliant Energy looks to add 675 MW of PV and quadruple Wisconsin’s solar capacity, PV Magazine



The (energy) efficient road to small business recovery, Utility Dive
The following is a contributed article by Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Co-Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and John Di Stasio, President of the Large Public Power Council.


24 Congressional Democrats urge FERC to reject net metering overhaul, Utility Dive
A group of Democratic senators and representatives on Tuesday wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, urging the regulatory body to shut down a net metering proposal that experts say would effectively overturn the policy nationally. In the letter, Congress Members questioned FERC’s authority to make such a rule and also asked the commission to ask the petitioner, New England Ratepayers Association (NERA), to disclose its members. 

Upcoming Advanced Energy Economy Webinar

Net Energy Metering and State Authority: What’s at Stake for Advanced Energy in FERC Petition, June 3 at 2 p.m.

This webinar will explain how FERC ruling the wrong way could impact existing and emerging state and municipal and cooperative utility approaches to supporting distributed energy resources in retail markets. 


  • Ted Thomas, Chairman, Arkansas Public Service Commission
  • Hannah Muller, Director of Public Policy, Clearway Energy
  • John McCaffrey, Senior Regulatory Counsel, American Public Power Association
  • Jeff Dennis, Managing Director and General Counsel, Advanced Energy Economy


Dirty Energy, Big Money, by the PEAK Coalition
How Private Companies Make Billions from Polluting Fossil Fuel Peaker Power Plants in New York City’s Environmental Justice Communities – and How to Create a Cleaner, More Just Alternative

The high costs of these peaker plants—both in public health impacts and on New Yorkers’ electric utility bills—are largely hidden to the public. It is not well known, but the owners of these plants receive exorbitant payments from utilities and other energy service providers just for the plants to exist. 


The Coal Bailout Everybody Is Talking About, by Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst with the Climate & Energy program at UCS

 As we found in our new UCS report, Used but How Useful, How Electric Utilities Exploit Loopholes, Forcing Customers to Bail Out Uneconomic Coal-Fired Power Plants, utilities across 15 states right in the heart of the U.S. exploited power market loopholes, costing customers $350 million in 2018.

Previously Posted

“Solar for All”: How Utilities Can Increase Access to Solar Energy

By John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists


A new report looks at what utilities can do to “bring solar within reach” for a broader swath of U.S. households, particularly in lower-income areas and communities of color. The answer: a lot.

Solar for All is a product of the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), the Partnerships for Southern Equity, and the South Carolina Association for Community Economic Development, and is supported by more than a dozen other state and regional organizations. Click to continue reading.

Powering Up Solar Energy For All

By Derrick Z. Jackson, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

Union of Concerned ScientistsSolar energy for low-income residents is becoming a staple of local news. Last week, the New York City Housing Authority announced a new sustainability campaign that includes 25 megawatts (MW) of rooftop and parking-canopy solar power by 2025. The Wall Street Journal wrote that the 2.5 million square feet of panels could power 6,600 apartments and would cover the equivalent of eight Washington Square parks . . . Piece by piece, this is what top solar advocates are hoping to see even more of very soon—whether on individual homes, public housing, or community shared projects or funded by local, state, federal, foundation, or private sources.

Click here to learn about other low-income solar developments Jackson features in his blog and two reports about policies that make these possible.

New Analysis Shows Minnesota Can Save Millions AND Cut Carbon Pollution

Written by Sam Gomberg, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog

A new UCS analysis released today shows that strengthening Minnesota’s commitment to renewable energy and energy efficiency will drive billions in capital investments, reduce carbon emissions, and lead to significant cost savings on consumer electricity bills through 2030. Further, by setting a cap on carbon emissions and auctioning off carbon allowances, the state could generate more than $200 million in annual revenues that could be used to further reduce electricity bills or be reinvested for the benefit of Minnesotans. Read more here.

Sam Gomberg is an energy analyst and an expert on responsible energy policies that support the development of renewable energy and energy efficiency resources.

Report suggests Minnesota aim beyond Clean Power Plan target, by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News 

Clean Power Plan: After the stay: Where all 50 states stand, by Elizabeth Harball and Emily Holden, E&E Publishing  

States of Progress Updates: Existing Clean Energy Commitments Put Most States in Strong Position to Meet the EPA’s Final Clean Power Plan

By Jeremy Richardson, Jeff Deyette, Rachel Cleetus, Steve Klemmer, and Tori Greenen, Union of Concerned Scientists – Updated August 13, 2015UCS

Key Takeaways

  • The EPA’s Final Clean Power Plan (CPP) and its timeline and trajectory for emission cuts are achievable
  • At least 31 states are on track to be more than halfway toward meeting their 2022 targets thanks to existing commitments to clean energy
  • At least 21 states are on track to surpass their 2022 emissions reduction targets, including 3 states expected to sue the EPA
  • At least 16 states are on track to achieve their 2030 targets based on existing clean energy commitments
  • By prioritizing renewable energy and energy efficiency, and collaborating with their neighbors, states can reliably and cost-effectively meet their emissions reduction goal

Read the entire report here: www.ucsusa.org/statesofprogress

Fact Sheet: EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program 

49 States Making Plans for EPA Carbon Rule—Even the Ones That Hate It

By Naveena Sadasivam, InsideClimate News

Gina McCarthy

Gina McCarthy

The Environmental Protection Agency’s plans to finalize the rules on carbon emissions from power plants are still several months away. But most states, even those challenging the agency in court, are already investigating ways to comply.

The EPA expects 49 states to submit plans once the rules are finalized. The non-partisan group Great Plains Institute for Sustainable Development, which has been organizing talks in the Midwest on the Clean Power Plan, says 41 states have joined regional groups exploring options to comply with the rule.

Continue reading.

Additional Recommended Reading
States Sue the EPA Over Clean Power Plan, Disprove Their Own Argument with Existing Efforts to Reduce Carbon Emissions, By Jeff Deyette, Assistant Director of Research & Analysis, Clean Energy, Union of Concerned Scientists

The Costs of Rooftop Solar in Nebraska Just Keep Declining – And Lincoln is Leading the Way!

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) infographic, below, “By 2017, more than half the states could have rooftop solar that’s as cheap as local electricity prices.”

The following factors are helping to bring about this transformation: The prices for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems have dropped precipitously over the last several years, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. The federal tax credit reduces its price by another 30%, in effect until December 31, 2016.

Lincoln Electric System (LES) provides additional incentives, as described in the PDF, “Customer-owned Renewable Generation.” (PDF link, below). The total payment customers can receive is determined as follows:

• Southern-facing, fixed-photovoltaic panels – $375 for each kilowatt of the system’s nameplate DC capacity. For a 4-kW system (sixteen 250-watt panels), for example, the customer receives a capacity payment of $1,500.

• Western-facing or single or dual-axis tracking photovoltaic solar – the unit’s nameplate DC capacity (kW) x $475, or $1,900 for a 4 kW system.

Price of a 4-kW PV system (sixteen 250-watt panels) in Lincoln with incentives:

Solar system and labor @ $3.50/watt* (4000 watts) = $14,000
Federal Tax Credit – 30% ($4,200)
LES Capacity Payment $375 x 4 kW ($1,500)

Total price after incentives are subtracted = $8,300

Western-facing solar modules would provide customers a capacity payment of $1900, reducing the price to $7,900.

Based on an average household use of 1000 kilowatt hours (KWH) per month, this 4kW system will provide about 52% of the house’s energy. Check your electricity bills to find out how many kilowatt hours your household uses each month.

The price for a 2-kW PV system (eight 250-watt panels) in Lincoln, with incentives is $4150, which will provide 25% of an average household’s energy needs. For a western-facing system the cost = $3950. In Omaha, while the 30% federal tax credit lasts, a homeowner can have a 4-kW PV system installed for $9800 and a 2-kW system for $4900.

* A typical cost for a photovoltaic (PV) system in Nebraska is currently $3.50 per installed watt. According to the most recent data in the September 2014 report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Tracking the Sun VII, the median installed price of PV installations in the United States is $4.40 per watt.

Solar development in our state would very likely accelerate, benefitting our local economies, if OPPD and NPPD would provide their customer-owners the same incentives as Lincoln Electric System currently offers.

The biggest incentive of all, the 30% federal tax credit, is available to everyone until the end of 2016. Even without capacity payments, when the upfront costs of solar PV systems currently being installed in Omaha and other Nebraska communities are averaged out over the 25 to 30+ year lifespan of the modules, rooftop PV looks like a cost-effective investment, especially after figuring in the 30% federal tax incentive.

Customer-owned Renewable Generation
Nebraska Incentives/Policies for Solar