Tag Archives: Union of Concerned Scientists

USDA Helps Farmers, Businesses and Ag Producers Cut Energy Costs

USDA News Release

Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (PDF, 146 KB) to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

USDA is providing the grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. Under today’s announcement, USDA is investing $1 million in renewable energy projects. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. Read the entire news release here.

INDUSTRY NEWS

SELF-COMMITTING IN POWER MARKETS

Are old Midwest coal plants pushing renewables offline?, E&E News
The utility process of self-committing or self-scheduling power plants to run even when there’s cheaper energy available on the grid is a complex issue and opaque to outsiders. Increasingly, there are questions about whether it’s slowing a transition to cleaner energy amid inexpensive shale gas and falling costs for renewable energy.

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets, by Joseph Daniel, Senior Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists
Markets are supposed to ensure that all power plants are operated from lowest cost to most expensive. Self-committing allows expensive coal plants to cut in line, pushing out less expensive power generators such as wind, depriving those units from operating and generating revenue.

2018 Farm Bill Includes Key Renewable Energy Program

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

The Department of Agriculture’s renewable energy grant and loan programs are pulled together under an initiative called REAP for Rural Energy for America Program. REAP got its start in 2008 as an iteration of the agency’s Renewable Energy Systems and Energy Efficiency Improvements Program. That program was established in 2002 with an initial $23 million in funding for grants, loan guarantees, and combination packages. As for why renewable energy programs are bundled into supporting legislation for the agriculture industry, the connection between food and energy is no mystery: it takes energy to run farm equipment. Read more here.

Photo: Harmony Nursery in Bradshaw, Nebraska. The 25-kilowatt solar system was a USDA
Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant award-winner. Installed by Graham Christensen, owner of GC ReVOLT, LLC.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Union of Concerned Scientists Report – Electric vs. Diesel vs. Natural Gas: Which Bus is Best for the Climate?

By Jimmy O’Dea, Vehicles Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

Battery electric buses range from 1.4 to 7.7 times better than a diesel bus, as shown in miles per gallon emissions-equivalency. Another way of saying this is that a diesel bus has nearly 1½ to 8 times the global warming emissions as an electric bus, depending on the region.

And the grid is getting cleaner every year. Emission rates from electricity have steadily declined the last sixteen years. Transit agencies can also choose cleaner power than what’s provided on their grids by installing solar panels and batteries on site or through renewable electricity contracts. Read more here.

FEATURED EDITORIAL
Care about climate change? Demand cheaper solar panels, The Boston Globe

Are US automakers falling behind vehicle technology trends?

Ask a Scientist – December 2017, Union of Concerned Scientists 

This month we asked Dave Cooke, a UCS senior vehicles analyst, to set the record straight on the status of US automakers. Cooke, who has a PhD in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, is the author of the new report, “In Need of a U-Turn: Automakers’ History of Intransigence and Opportunity for Change.”

Read more here.

Dave Cooke is a senior vehicles analyst in the Clean Vehicles Program, specializing in both light- and heavy-duty fuel economy.  He conducts research on fuel efficiency technologies and the implications for oil consumption and greenhouse gas emissions across the transportation sector. Dr. Cooke received his Ph.D. in condensed matter physics in 2010 from the University of California, Berkeley.  Prior to this, he received his BS in physics from Harvey Mudd College in 2002 and his MS in physics from the University of California, San Diego in 2004.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Beatrice moves toward wind energy

By Alex Zorn, Beatrice Daily Sun

brokenbow1

The city of Beatrice is taking the first step in planning a local wind power generation facility. The City Council approved an application at its Monday meeting for Nebraska Public Power District to do a review of electrical capacity and transmission, in order to assess the feasibility of a wind generation facility. The application was originally recommended by the Board of Public Works at a prior meeting and is the first step in what will be an ongoing process. Click to read more. 

Photo: Wind-farm turbine near the small, centrally-located city of Broken Bow. Credit: Caroline Jezierski

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Refining Nebraska’s approach to economic development, Plattsmouth Journal / Fremont Tribune
6 Signs The Big Global Switch To Solar Has Already Begun, Oil Price.Com
Solar Working for All Americans, Solar Energy Industries Association Blog
10 Reasons Why We Love Community Solar, Forbes
Iowa City Climate Action Plan: Creating a Regenerative City In The Heartland, Huffington Post
Hundreds Rally in Chicago to Support the EPA’s Clean Energy Incentive Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
How Electrifying Railroads Could Help Us Transition from Fossil Fuels and Power Rural Economies, In These Times / Rural America Post
How Kansas City became the EV mecca of the Midwest, ClimateWire, E&E Publishing
Electric Vehicles: How to make a clean car even cleaner, ClimateWire, E&E Publishing
Tesla and SolarCity to Combine, SolarCity Media Release
Alliant Energy Announces $1 Billion Wind Project, Transmission & Distribution World Magazine
Alliant pursues wind energy plans in Wisconsin after major Iowa wind investment, Utility Dive
An Energy Storage Mandate Could Be Coming Soon to Massachusetts, Greentech Media
Energy Storage Procurement Guidance Documents for MunicipalitiesClean Energy States Alliance
Report Release: An Integrative Business Model for Net Zero Energy Districts, Rocky Mountain Institute  

Kansas City Power & Light opens its first solar farm in Missouri

Kansas City Business Journal

KCP&L

Kansas City Power & Light has opened its first solar farm, which will produce enough electricity to power nearly 440 homes. Located in Greenwood, Mo., the 12-acre-plus solar facility is nearly 100 times larger than KCP&L’s solar array at Kauffman Stadium. Click to read more.

Photo: Kansas City Power & Light’s first solar farm. Credit: John West

ALSO IN THE NEWS
Ethanol makers consider renewable energy options to stay competitive, Nebraska Radio Network
Energy Storage Would Get U.S. Tax Credits in Bipartisan Bill, Bloomberg News
Democratizing DERs: What role should utilities play in spreading clean energy to all?, Utility Dive
New Report Finds That Efficiency, Clean Energy Put Dent in Co2 Emissions, Climate Central
Link to the Report: Benchmarking Air Emissions of the 100 Largest Electric Power Producers In The United States
Thinking Big: Wind Industry Is Moving to Taller Turbines: Will the Transmission System Be Ready?Union of Concerned Scientists

This One Chart Says It All for the Future of Solar Energy

By John Rogers, Senior Energy Analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Posted on EcoWatch.

PV Price

One graphic says so much about how far solar has come and how bright its future looks. A friend and former colleague—my business partner from when I worked in solar—recently shared a graph [above] showing the drop in the prices of solar panels and the growth in worldwide installations of solar . . . Solar is now an important contributor not just to the power grid in leading states, but also to economic development and job creation.  And, thanks to cost reductions, state policies and the extension of the important federal tax credits for it and other renewables, solar is set to have another record-breaking year in the U.S. in 2016.
Read more here. Photo Credit: Treehugger

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Renewable Energy Surges to Record-Breaking Levels Around the World, by Andy Rowell, Oil Change International

Click here for information on 47 Nebraska incentives and policies that support renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Michigan Green Bank Could Attract Billions in Clean Energy Investment

By Sam Gomberg, Energy Analyst, Union of Concerned Scientists

By smartly using public funds to leverage private capital, a Michigan green bank program could drive significant investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

By smartly using public funds to leverage private capital, a Michigan green bank program could drive significant investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy.

Green banks are state-funded financial institutions that use a pool of public funds and a suite of financial tools to attract a larger pool of private investments in clean energy projects. UCS analyzed the potential outcome of creating a green bank in Michigan, based on the state-specific data and experiences of existing green banks and clean energy lending programs in other states and countries.

Read more.

Complete Analysis: Green Banks: Transforming Clean Energy Finance in Michigan

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Green bank in Michigan could reel in $3B in private investment, by Robert Walton, Utility Dive