Tag Archives: utility scale solar

City gives nod to solar

By Suzi Nelson, Wahoo Newspaper

On July 27, the Wahoo City Council authorized the mayor to sign a letter of intent for a 2-megawatt solar plant on 10 acres on the east side of Wahoo. The project was approved unanimously by the Wahoo Board of Public Works on July 21, according to Ryan Hurst, general manager for Wahoo Utilities, the city-owned utility department. Hurst said Nebraska Public Power District, the entity from which Wahoo Utilities purchases electricity that is not generated by the local power plant, allows communities to use up to 10% or 2 megawatts of renewable power. Continue reading here.

To read more about NPPD’s limit on renewable energy, click here and scroll down to “South Sioux City” and “NPPD’s Wholesale Power Contracts”.

See Also: Council hears rate study for proposed electric rate changes, Beatrice Daily Sun, posted yesterday.

NPPD NEWS RELEASES

  • Information forums on decarbonization scheduled by NPPD
    NPPD’s Board of Directors is seeking to better understand their constituents’ opinions in three areas: 1) the risks associated with being a carbon emitting utility; 2) what NPPD’s carbon reduction goal should be; and 3) what principles (cost, environmental, reliability, resilience) are most important to customers  as NPPD works to reduce its carbon emissions.
  • NPPD hosting SunWise community solar open house Aug. 10
    GRNE Solar, based out of Lincoln, Neb., is the solar developer for the 500-kilowatt project. GRNE will sell electricity generated by the solar facility to NPPD, and NPPD will resell this energy to Ainsworth solar subscribers at cost. NPPD already has existing solar facilities operating in Kearney, Scottsbluff and Venango amounting to approximately 10.5 megawatts in size.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

In her article, Suzi Nelson references OPPD’s 81 MW solar project in Saunders County, named Platteview Solar.

The Saunders County Board of Supervisors voted 6-0 to approve the Conditional Use Permit for the 81 MW Platteview Solar Project. See: Saunders County approves solar farm construction near Yutan, Associated Press

More About Platteview Solar – Community Energy

In April 2021, Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) and Community Energy (CE) announced a Power Purchase Agreement for Platteview Solar, an 81 megawatt (MW) utility-scale solar photovoltaic installation with a proposed location just south of Hwy 92 near Yutan in eastern Saunders County.

The project site consists of approximately 500 total leased acres, spanning several clusters of land with a flat, gently rolling topography. This announcement supports OPPD’s Power with Purpose initiative. The official project announcement is on OPPD’s The Wire. OPPD is the lone customer for Platteview Solar’s energy, providing long-term stability and support.

Platteview Solar Project FAQS – Community Energy

Among the questions, the following is one that often comes up in discussions about utility-scale solar projects: 

Doesn’t solar take good agricultural ground out of production?

Not in a meaningful way. Saunders County is 486,400 acres of ground.  The proposed project would impact approximately 500 acres. 

Farm ground used for solar projects does not necessarily mean the end of agricultural use on the land.  It will be different than traditional crops, but a robust pollinator program can benefit not only the project properties, but cropland, orchards, residential gardens, trees and other landscaping within 30 miles of the project site. Additionally, the traditional agricultural nature of the property is not permanently lost. The benefits of restorative vegetation on nitrogen and CO2 depleted land improves agricultural land for the future. Solar projects are a long term, but temporary, use of agricultural land that allows landowners to diversify their assets, creating financial stability and allowing agricultural land to remain in families for future generations.

Previously Posted Research

Beneath Solar Panels, the Seeds of Opportunity SproutNational Renewable Energy Laboratory 

“It doesn’t have to be an either-or choice. For all our agriculturally productive land, let’s help PV developers and farmers plan out these solar projects so that farmers can get under the arrays and continue to work the land for the next 20 or 30 years.” —Gerry Palano, energy program coordinator, Massachusetts Department of Agriculture

New Environment America Report – Blocking Rooftop Solar: The Companies, Lobbyists And Front Groups Undermining Local Clean Energy

Released by the Environment Florida Research & Policy Center

Recent corruption scandals in Ohio and Illinois, in which utilities and other special interests allegedly used their clout to twist public policy in their favor, highlight how far anti-solar efforts have gone. Policymakers must resist pressure from utilities and the fossil fuel industry and implement pro-solar policies that will continue America’s momentum toward clean energy

In 2021, a national network of utility interest groups and fossil fuel-linked think tanks continues to offer funding, advice and support to utilities across the country seeking to undermine rooftop solar power. These include . . .  Continue reading here.

Download Report (PDF)

IN NEBRASKA

Our State’s Overall Solar Development & Potential

Net Metering Legislative Bills

Net metering changes considered – Legislative Update, Senator John Cavanaugh
The Natural Resources Committee heard testimony Feb. 10, 2021 on two bills that would modify Nebraska’s net metering laws.

Approved Legislation: In 2016 the Nebraska Legislature passed LB 824, which removed some regulatory barriers connected to renewable energy development in our state.

NEBRASKA LACKS UPDATED ENERGY PLAN / CLIMATE ACTION PLAN 

State energy plans show how process can match final product in impact, Energy News Network, February 10, 2021

More Previous Efforts

    • Nebraska needs overall plan for energy policies, Lincoln Journal Star, November 4, 2015 Nebraska’s Energy Office director says the state needs a comprehensive approach to its energy policies as it faces what could be a “seismic” change in federal regulations governing emissions. David Bracht, Gov. Pete Ricketts’ chief adviser on energy issues, talked about state energy policies Wednesday at the eighth annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference in Omaha. . . . [The] Nebraska Legislature has instructed the state Energy Office to create a comprehensive energy plan and budgeted more than $630,000 to see it done.
    • LB469: Provide procedures and reporting requirements relating to a state plan on carbon dioxide emissions, require a strategic state energy plan, and provide requirements for meteorological evaluation towers.
    • 2011 Nebraska Energy Plan, National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO)

SOUTH SIOUX CITY

Nebraska solar farm highlights tension between cities, electricity wholesaler, Energy News Network, August 19, 2020

South Sioux City’s City Council decided four years ago not to renew its contract with NPPD. It has gradually reduced its purchases from the utility down to 10% of its load this year, and will stop buying power from the wholesaler altogether on Jan. 1, 2022. “We’ve been very happy with the decision the [city] council made to get more into renewables,” said Lance Hedquist, the city administrator of the community of about 13,000 also located in northeast Nebraska. The city has added solar and wind energy to its portfolio, and now obtains about half of its power from renewables, he said.

  • NPPD’s Wholesale Power Contracts
    Wholesale energy sales are made to 60 entities under wholesale power contracts that terminate on Jan. 1, 2036 and to 10 other entities with wholesale power contracts that terminate on Dec. 31, 2021. The 10 wholesale customers that did not sign the 2016 contract provided the notice required under their existing 2002 contracts, and began in 2017 to reduce their purchases to 0% over a five-year period.  Source: Fitch Rates Nebraska Public Power District’s General Revs ‘A+’; Outlook Stable

MODEL AGGREGATED SOLAR PROJECT – A WAY FOR COMMUNITIES TO REDUCE COSTS

MEAN Issues RFP For Participant Community Solar PV Installation Project, July 15, 2021
The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) is issuing a Request for Proposals on behalf of 11 MEAN participant communities interested in obtaining energy from solar PV installations to be built in their respective communities. The project is an effort by MEAN to bring economically priced solar energy to interested MEAN participant communities. Participating communities hope to obtain lower solar costs through economies of scale through this joint effort. RFP proposals are due Aug. 31, 2021 with a bid award date set for Oct. 27, 2021.

Click here to download the RFP.
Additional MEAN News

Previously Posted

About MEAN
The Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska (MEAN) is the not-for-profit wholesale electricity supply organization of NMPP Energy. Created in 1981, MEAN provides cost-based power supply, transmission and related services to 69 participating communities in four states: Colorado, Iowa, Nebraska and Wyoming. MEAN Members/Participants

About NMPP Energy
NMPP Energy is a member-driven coalition of four organizations based in Lincoln, Neb., serving nearly 200 member communities in six Midwest and Rocky Mountain states. NMPP Energy’s organizations fulfill separate needs to their respective member communities. Collectively, they subscribe to the core philosophies of local control and working together to provide reliable, cost-based energy and energy-related services. NMPP Energy Members 

RECOMMENDED RESOURCE ON LEASING LAND FOR UTILITY-SCALE SOLAR

Considerations for Leasing Land for Solar Development, by F. John Hay – Extension Educator for Bioenergy

Utility scale solar development is here — in the eight months since the solar leasing article was published in August 2020, Nebraskans have seen continued land lease activity, county zoning rule adoption, an extension of the federal tax credit, and projects approved by county commissioners/supervisors. Additionally, one project (Saunders County [OPPD electrical purchase]) has reached the important step of electricity sales, which is the most common tipping point between a proposed project and a project that will get built. Many smaller solar projects have been built in the years prior to 2021, with the largest at about 8 MW, or about 50 acres. The utility scale projects being proposed and approved are many times larger, with 500 or more acres.

Largest agrivoltaic research project in U.S. advances renewable energy while empowering local farmers

Case study contributed to Solar Power World by HansenRE.

The global installed capacity of agrivoltaics, or the co-development of the same area of land for both solar power and agriculture, has grown rapidly from about 5 MW in 2012 to approximately 2,900 MW in 2020. One of the largest driving factors for this growth is the need to continue to build solar projects to mitigate climate change in the face of dwindling available non-agricultural land. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), by 2030, utility-scale solar could cover almost 2 million acres of land in the United States. A recent Oregon State University study also estimates that converting just 1% of American farmland to agrivoltaics would not only meet the nation’s renewable energy targets, but also save water and create a sustainable, long-term food system. Additionally, agrivoltaics have been shown to increase crop production, solar panel efficiency as well as farmer income. Continue reading here.

Photo by Byron Kominek, owner of Jack’s Solar Garden in Boulder, Colorado: A beehive operated by Best Bees and sponsored by Google located at Jack’s Solar Garden. Best Bees installs and maintains honeybee hives on commercial and residential properties across the U.S. and seeks to improve bee health and expand bee populations.

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.

Inside Clean Energy: Real Talk From a Utility CEO About Coal Power

By Dan Gearino, Inside Climate News

Let’s begin with a game of, “Who said that?” Here’s the quote: “There is not a regulated coal plant in this country that is economic today, full period and stop,” he said. You might guess that it’s someone from the Sierra Club Beyond Coal Campaign or the Natural Resources Defense Council. But the correct answer is that those words came from the CEO of the country’s largest electricity utility by market value,  Jim Robo of NextEra Energy, speaking last week in a conference call with analysts about the company’s latest earnings report. Continue reading here.

Also written by Dan Gearino

AMERICAN CLEAN POWER REPORT

American Clean Power Market Report Q4 2020
American Clean Power’s newest market report details the latest U.S. wind industry, utility-scale solar, and energy storage activity and trends. The public version of the report provides a summary of key takeaways and graphics from the full report, which is available for ACP members. ACP’s future quarterly reports will include the association’s own data on utility-scale solar and energy storage, along with wind.

Download the report for free – public version.
Nebraska Clean Energy Fact Sheet

News Release: Wind Industry Closes Record 2020 With Strongest Quarter Ever

About American Clean Power
American Clean Power represents the renewable energy industry in the United States, bringing together over 1,000 member companies, 120,000 members, and a national workforce located across all 50 states. By uniting the power of wind, solar, storage, and transmission companies and their allied industries, we enable the transformation of the U.S. power grid to a low-cost, reliable and renewable power system.

The ACP Team
ACP’s Careers page is coming soon.

The Highs and Lows for Solar in 2020: Wrapping up the biggest stories of a chaotic year.

By Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

Joe Biden’s win presents big upside for the solar industry. The candidate campaigned on a national plan to reach 100 percent clean electricity by 2035. Solar offers a key technology to achieve that goal, with 2020 marking its second year in a row to claim the largest share of new generating capacity of any resource. Read more here.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY GREENTECH MEDIA

10 Victories for Virtual Power Plants in 2020, by Julian Spector
This concept goes by various names — virtual power plants, flexible loads, behind-the-meter networks — and encompasses tools like rooftop solar, batteries, smart thermostats, smart appliances and electric vehicle chargers. Though small individually, distributed energy resources are projected to grow to 387 gigawatts in the next five years, according to research by Wood Mackenzie.

So, What Exactly Are Virtual Power Plants?

Greentech Media’s Must-Read Grid Edge Stories of 2020, by Jeff St. John
By far the biggest grid edge story of 2020 was the continued commitment of U.S. utilities to midcentury decarbonization goals — or more pertinently, those utilities that aren’t already facing state-level mandates to eliminate their carbon footprints.

Solar Market Forges Ahead in Q3 as Residential Installations Recover and Utility-Scale Pipeline Grows

SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. and HOUSTON, TX — U.S. solar companies installed 3.8 gigawatts (GW) of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in Q3 2020, a 9% increase from Q2 installations as the industry experienced a recovery from the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Q4 2020 report, released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, solar accounts for 43% of all new electric generating capacity additions through Q3 2020, more than any other electricity source. The report projects a record 19 GW of new solar capacity installations in 2020, representing 43% year-over-year growth from 2019. Continue reading here.

US Large-Scale Solar On Track for a Record 2020, Greentech Media
New Solar Market Insight report shows that, coronavirus-related hiccups aside, the utility-scale solar sector is set for growth.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

SOLAR SCHOOLS

21 Virginia Schools Now Using Solar to Lower Carbon Footprint, by Emily Holbrook, Environment + Energy Leader. Twenty-one schools across Virginia are reducing their carbon footprints by powering their operations with solar energy through a partnership between BrightSuite Solar, a subsidiary of Dominion Energy, and Sun Tribe. This partnership brings together two of Virginia’s leading renewable energy companies and their expertise in financing and installation to help school divisions meet their clean energy goals.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA PAPER

 

Moving Forward Together: A transpartisan agenda to rebuild trust and tackle America’s biggest challenges

This paper outlines 12 areas of policy where the potential exists for real reforms that bridge the partisan divide and restore Americans’ faith and trust in one another and in their government.

 

EDF REPORT

Climate Risk In The Electricity Sector: Legal Obligations to Advance Climate Resilience Planning by Electric Utilities, by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School.

Authors: Romany M. Webb, Michael Panfil and Sarah Ladin

This paper explores two legal doctrines, public utility law and tort law, which we argue obligate electric utilities to plan for the impacts of climate change on their assets and operations. Public utility law requires electric utilities to meet, among other things, prudent investment and reliability standards. Tort law establishes a duty of care that obligates electric utilities to, among other things, avoid foreseeable harm when performing acts that could injure others. We argue that, as climate science becomes more precise and predictive, these legal standards take on new meaning and require electric utilities to engage in climate resilience planning. Read a two-page summary here.

Additional Recommended Reading: Why Electric Utilities Must Engage In Climate Resilience Planning, Climate Law Blog, Sabin Center For Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School

Focusing the recovery on green infrastructure could create millions of jobs

By Adele Peters, Fast Company

[The World Resources Institute] plans to model exactly how many jobs could be created through specific policies. But for now, in a series of fact sheets based on previous research, they give a rough sense of the scale. Until COVID-19 hit, the energy efficiency sector was the largest job creator in energy, employing at least 2.4 million people as of 2019 (the coal industry, by contrast, employed around 70,000 people.) Read more here.

NEBRASKA JOBLESS CLAIMS

Why unemployment claims are so low in South Dakota, Utah and Nebraska, CNN Business
Some of the contributing factors include a diverse mix of industries, low jobless rates before the crisis and stronger state budgets. During the past seven weeks, 110,764 Nebraska residents filed initial claims for unemployment benefits, or about 10.5% of its March labor force, according to Labor Department data. As with South Dakota, the initial claims data doesn’t reflect the impact to farmers and ranchers, which account for about 5% of the state’s jobs. In the coming weeks, [Economist Eric Thompson, director of the Bureau of Business Research at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln] plans to keep close watch on the continuing claims.

FORT CALHOUN STATION 

Fort Calhoun Station crosses fuel-move milestone, The Wire, OPPD Blog
Late in the day on May 13, 2020, [FCS workers] secured the final canister of spent nuclear fuel inside its massive dry cask storage home, marking another closed chapter in the site’s decommissioning. Members of the OPPD Board of Directors lauded the success during their May 14 public meeting, noting that the project was done safely and event-free, as well as on time and on budget. They also recognized the men and women of FCS, both current employees and the many past employees and retirees who served at the plant during its lifespan. In 2016, the Board made the difficult decision to cease operations at FCS due to economic necessity and significant shifts in the energy industry.

ENERGY TRANSITION DRIVERS

Driving the shift to renewables, by Allen Best, Mountain Town News
“It’s no longer just a green movement, it’s an economic movement,” said Duane Highley, chief executive of Tri-State Generation and Transmission, which delivers electricity to 43 member cooperatives in Colorado and three other states. Tri-State recently signed contracts for 1,000 megawatts of wind and solar energy that will be coming online by 2024 at average price of 1.7 cents per kilowatt-hour. “Nebraska and Wyoming don’t have the same intensity of passion behind the renewable energy movement that New Mexico and Colorado do. But one thing all of our members can agree upon is low rates and low costs.”

Tri-State Also In The News Here
Tri-State’s clean energy battles with two Colorado electric co-ops now threaten the utility’s finances, The Colorado Sun

TENASKA

Wind Farm in Northwest Missouri Begins Commercial Operation, Tenaska News Release
Tenaska Clear Creek is the 18th power project that the company has brought online. The wind farm produces renewable energy under a 25-year power purchase agreement with Associated Electric Cooperative Inc., an electric generation and transmission cooperative based in Springfield, Missouri, that provides wholesale power to six regional cooperatives, including NW Electric Power Cooperative Inc. of Cameron, Missouri, and 51 local cooperative systems in Missouri, southeast Iowa and northeast Oklahoma that serve 910,000 members.

Tenaska Jobs Portal

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

JINKO’S 580-WATT SOLAR PANELS

Forget 400 watts. JinkoSolar launches 580-W solar panel for utility-scale market, Solar Power World

SOLAR-SELF-CHARGING EV 

Ford files patent for an inflatable, solar-powered, EV-charging car shield, Electrek
The dream of a solar-self-charging electric vehicle lives on. A Ford patent application was published this week for a roof-mounted device that, with a flip of a switch, cocoons the entire parked vehicle in a shield of solar panels. The patent application was filed on November 8, 2019, and published on May 14, 2020. Ford is not alone in its pursuit of putting solar panels on EVs. Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, and Tesla have all made forays into using rooftops to solar-charge an EV or hybrid. Ford’s new patent application describes the technical challenge:

GM & TVA PARTNERSHIP

GM, TVA Partner to Transition Manufacturing Plant to Solar Energy, Solar Industry
General Motors has partnered with TVA to power its Spring Hill manufacturing plant with solar energy. For such a large and complex operation, going carbon-neutral presents a lot of challenges; GM has set 2030 as its neutrality goal. But at its Spring Hill, Tenn. manufacturing facility, the solar solution will commence operation much sooner through TVA’s Green Invest program. There, operations will be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2022.

RE100

General Motors is one of 235 companies that are members of RE100, a global corporate leadership initiative bringing together influential businesses committed to 100% renewable electricity. A growing number of RE100 companies also are helping their supply chains transition to renewable energy. Learn more about GM’s 100% commitment here.

FEATURED CLIMATE ACTION

Opinion: Your bank could help fight climate change — but will it?, The Colorado Sun
Contributor Mario Molina is the executive director of Protect Our Winters, a group that helps passionate outdoor people protect the places and lifestyles they love from climate change.

Keystone XL developer pushes back construction date in Montana

By Jay Kohn, KTVQ

A TC Energy spokeswoman told MTN News Wednesday that construction on the pipeline crossing between the United States and Canada, did not get underway this morning as was previously anticipated. Spokeswoman Sara Rabern described the situation as “fluid”. On Tuesday, TC Energy announced the Keystone Pipeline project has new life – thanks to a $1 billion investment from the government of Alberta that will fund the project for the next year. The pipelines would transfer oil from the tar sands of Alberta to an existing line in Nebraska. The project has multiple ongoing challenges in federal court. Read more here.

Previously Posted News Stories & Resources: 

 TAR SANDS’ PRICE

U.S. Coal Bankruptcies Reveal The Future Of Alberta Tar Sands, Forbes
With oil demand softening, only the most efficient oil producers will survive. By some estimates, “the price of oil could permanently plummet to $25 a barrel by the mid-2020s. Only the cheapest oil in places like Saudi Arabia could be economically produced. Canada’s oil sands, where most projects need an oil price of $60 to $80 a barrel just to break even, would cease to make financial sense.” 

STRANDED ASSETS

  • “Stranded assets” are referenced in the above article. What are they?
    According to the Carbon Tracker InitiativeStranded assets are now generally accepted to be fossil fuel supply and generation resources which, at some time prior to the end of their economic life (as assumed at the investment decision point), are no longer able to earn an economic return (i.e. meet the company’s internal rate of return), as a result of changes associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
  • The growing concern over stranded assets, GreenBiz

FOSSIL FUEL COMPANIES’ ENERGY TRANSITION

Thriving in a low carbon future: M&A and the new energy economy, Utility Dive
Contributed article by Mary Anne Sullivan, Sarah Shaw and Alex Harrison, Partners at Hogan Lovells. Traditional oil and gas companies and utilities want to ride the wave of new technologies that can preserve their market position, even as old markets are redefined. Many companies have a combination of these motives. One particular trend we are witnessing in this sector is traditional oil and gas and utilities companies moving into new areas, principally renewable energy, electric vehicles and storage.

NEBRASKA’S ENERGY TRANSITION / LOCAL LEADERSHIP

SECURITIZATION 

Securitization laws are easing the transition from coal and other fossil fuels in the following states:

Pair of wind energy projects moving forward in Banner County

By Mark McCarthy, Scottsbluff Star-Herald

HARRISBURG — Two companies are showing renewed interest in wind farms in Banner County, and hope to have systems up and running in the next couple of years. Orion Energy and Invenergy LLC are both working on securing leases, conducting environmental assessments and conducting public surveys in the hopes of getting projects up and running. Representatives for both companies projected that there would likely be systems up and running over the next two years. Ben Turner, manager of renewable development for Invenergy LLC, said they are looking at a project of up to or over 500 megawatts, likely utilizing between 150 and 200 turbines. The company has just over 100,000 acres leased. Continue reading here.

Map Credit: World Atlas

IOWA NEWS

In Iowa, clean energy advocates hope solar will complement wind farms, written by Karen Uhlenhith, Energy News Network

Iowa has long been one of the nation’s leading producers of electricity from wind. Now, the state appears ready to take a great leap forward with utility-scale solar. Invenergy, a major developer of large renewable generation projects nationwide, began construction in December on three solar arrays with a total capacity of 750 megawatts. It may at some point add three batteries with a capacity of 190 MW. The Iowa Utilities Board about a month ago issued generation certificates for the projects, which are in three adjacent counties on the Iowa-Minnesota border.