Tag Archives: Xcel Energy

Hundreds of environmental, consumer groups request investigation of electric utility industry

Contributed by Solar United Neighbors, Solar Power World

More than 230 consumer, environmental and public interest groups urged the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the electric utility industry for widespread abuses. These include bribery, fake dark-money campaigns and denying customers access to renewable energy.

Some of the abuses described in the petition include:

  • An Ohio utility, FirstEnergy, paid $60 million in bribes to the Ohio House speaker’s political machine. In return, the utility secured a $1 billion ratepayer-funded bailout for several of its unprofitable nuclear and coal plants.
  • Florida Power and Light spent millions of dollars on political consultants who engineered a scheme to siphon votes to third-party “ghost candidates” from candidates committed to holding utilities accountable, according to reporting by the Orlando Sentinel. The ghost candidate won in all three races. One utility opponent lost by just 32 votes.
  • A recent national survey found that nearly three-quarters of solar developers experience delays in interconnecting projects to the electric grid. Eighty-five percent of respondents specifically named utility noncompliance with interconnection procedures as a problem. These delays can increase the cost of distributed solar projects and cause customers to back out of long-delayed projects. Minnesota regulators fined Xcel Energy $1 million for failing to keep pace with a backlog of projects. Two years later the backlog remains a barrier to solar growth.

Read more here.

Photo: Federal Trade Commission building. Credit: Wikipedia

MORE U.S. NEWS

Summary: The U.S. economy has been deeply impacted by supply chain constraints. These constraints are due to shortages of labor and multiple classes of materials, causing disruptions on a global level. For public power utilities, the ability to provide reliable and affordable power to homes, businesses, and critical facilities is foundational to both their business model and the recovery and expansion of the U.S. economy. Prioritization of critical electric infrastructure and the electric industry’s critical functions during this period of material shortages and delays is necessary to prevent further economic slowdown and ensure electric reliability.

GLOBAL NEWS

Greenhouse gas concentrations, sea level rises, ocean heat levels and acidification, all set new records during 2021, while some glaciers reached the point of no return, according to the latest flagship report from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), published on Wednesday. The State of the Climate 2021 indicates that extreme weather – the day-to-day face of climate change – wreaked a heavy toll of human lives, triggered shocks for food and water security, and led to hundreds of billions of dollars in economic losses last year.

INNOVATIVE COOPERATIVE VENTURE

Democratizing clean energy: cooperative allows regular folks to profit from solar development, Wisconsin State Journal

A new venture is offering Wisconsin residents and businesses an opportunity to profit from solar energy development. A joint venture of Renew Wisconsin and a group of solar developers and installers, SolarShare Wisconsin co-op allows regular people — regardless of wealth — to invest in small-scale solar farms by pooling their money . . . Unlike large-scale solar farms, which require hundreds or thousands of acres and can generate local opposition, projects of that size can typically be built on less than 40 acres and connected directly to the local distribution grid rather than long-distance transmission lines.

Nebraskans for Solar Note: Nebraska has many very small towns and villages with fewer than 1000 residents where small-scale solar projects could provide a significant percentage of their electricity needs.

New state funding puts solar on the curriculum for Minnesota schools

By Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

A new, first-of-its-kind state fund could help triple the number of solar installations on Minnesota K-12 schools and community colleges. Minnesota ranked 11th in the country last year for solar capacity on school buildings, with 157 installations identified in a national industry report. That leaves hundreds of rooftops with the potential to host money-saving solar projects.

School districts are at a disadvantage when it comes to solar financing since they do not pay taxes and thus can’t take advantage of state and federal tax credits. State lawmakers voted this month to provide an alternative source of funding designed to spur as many as 350 new projects on educational buildings. Read more here.

Solar panels on a school rooftop in Oregon. New state funding could help triple such installations on Minnesota K-12 schools and community colleges. Credit: Portland General Electric / Creative Commons

Rolling blackouts show need for climate action plan

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Specifically, the Legislature should pass Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh’s LB483, which would direct the University of Nebraska to develop “an evidence-based, data-driven strategic plan to provide methods for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events or climate” that could be considered by the Legislature. Nebraska must develop a plan to seriously address climate change. And it needs to do so as quickly as possible, after several efforts similar to Cavanaugh’s failed to advance in recent years. Read more here.

LB483 – Provide for a climate change study and action plan

Wikimedia Commons Photo: George W. Norris Legislative Chamber, Nebraska State Legislature

POWER A CLEAN FUTURE OHIO COALITION

Ohio refinery city joins coalition to support local clean energy transitions, by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

Ohio’s clean energy policy has moved backward at the state level over the past decade. Various lawmakers have fought against the state’s clean energy standards and have been hostile toward renewable energyespecially wind energy. Allegations of corruption also surfaced last summer around House Bill 6, which gutted the clean energy standards and codified subsidies for certain nuclear and coal plants.

Against that backdrop, various cities and communities in Ohio have taken steps to increase their use of clean energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Power a Clean Future Ohio formed last year to expand that progress. Power A Clean Future Ohio 

SECURITIZATION

XCEL ENERGY INITIATIVE

Xcel plans to double its renewable energy generation by 2030. It’ll cost consumers $8 billion to do it, The Colorado Sun

Xcel Energy will spend $8 billion to double its renewable energy generation and storage and add new transmission lines, while closing all of its coal-fired power plants in Colorado by 2040. The initiative, unveiled Wednesday, would reduce Xcel’s carbon emissions in Colorado 85% from 2005 levels by 2030.

NEVADA & OTHER STATES LEADING ON ENERGY STORAGE

Grid-scale batteries, a key player in the future of renewable energy in Nevada, Sierra Nevada Ally
Nevada is one of seven states to adopt an energy storage mandate.

NEW BRATTLE GROUP REPORT

Grid-Enhancing Technologies’ Could Save $5B per Year by Boosting US Renewables Capacity, by Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

The U.S. could double its capacity for new wind and solar power, save billions of dollars and cut millions of tons of carbon-dioxide emissions from its generation fleets if federal incentives can be aligned to deploy a suite of technologies to unlock the full capacity of transmission grids.  So says a new report from The Brattle Group, modeling the benefits of a set ofgrid-enhancing technologies” across the wind-power-rich grids of Kansas and Oklahoma.

According to its analysis, spending about $90 million to implement these technologies could yield a payback in less than a year, with annual power cost savings of about $175 million delivering ongoing benefits for years to come. That’s because the technologies in question can drastically increase the renewable energy capacity of the grid operated by Southwest Power Pool.

BIDEN’S SUPPLY CHAIN EXECUTIVE ORDER 

American Clean Power Association Statement on Supply Chain Executive Order

SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUELS

Exclusive: U.S. airline CEOs to meet with White House on cutting carbon footprint, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chief executives of major U.S. airlines are set to meet virtually with two key White House advisers on Friday about efforts to reduce carbon emissions and use renewable fuels, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

ENHANCED GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS

DOE Awards $46 Million for Geothermal Initiative Projects with Potential to Power Millions of U.S. Homes, Department of Energy News Release

“There is enormous untapped potential for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) to provide clean and reliable electricity to power tens of millions of homes across the country,” said Kathleen Hogan, Acting Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “These investments in EGS research support President Biden’s mission to take on the climate crisis by pushing the frontiers of science and engineering and creating jobs in cutting-edge clean energy fields.”

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are different from conventional geothermal resources that occur naturally in the U.S. and are geographically limited due to the need for underground heat and fluids. EGS are manmade geothermal reservoirs and can be engineered in most parts of the country, potentially expanding geothermal energy production and transforming the domestic energy portfolio.
Utah FORGE website.

WELLS FARGO NEWS RELEASE

Wells Fargo Surpasses $10 Billion in Renewable Energy Tax-Equity Investments
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wells Fargo Renewable Energy & Environmental Finance (REEF) today announced it recently surpassed $10 billion in tax-equity investments in the wind, solar, and fuel cell industries. Wells Fargo has invested in more than 500 projects [in 32 states], helping to finance 12% of all wind and solar energy capacity in the U.S. over the past 10 years.

Could a Michigan green bank offer a blueprint for Biden’s green recovery?

By Tom Perkins, Energy News Network

As President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team prepares its green economic recovery plan, a Michigan clean energy finance program could provide a bipartisan model for how to spur energy savings and job growth. Biden has already proposed a national green bank as part of his $2 trillion plan to achieve carbon neutrality by the middle of the century. The initiative would provide capital to help finance projects such as rooftop solar panels, electric vehicle charging stations, weatherization and building efficiency upgrades. Similar programs exist in about a dozen states, and among the oldest and most effective is Michigan Saves. As President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team prepares its green economic recovery plan, a Michigan clean energy finance program could provide a bipartisan model for how to spur energy savings and job growth. Continue reading here.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

MACRO GRIDS

Report: U.S. trails other countries in building macro grids for moving, sharing electricity, Iowa State University News Service

AMES, Iowa – Countries around the world are well ahead of the United States in planning and building “macro grids” capable of moving electricity from one grid or distant geographic region to another, according to a new report authored by an Iowa State University engineer and a former doctoral student.

RECYCLING OLD WIND TURBINE BLADES

Cement production to use old wind turbine blades after GE inks new deal, CNBC
GE Renewable Energy and Veolia North America (VNA) have signed a “multi-year agreement” to recycle blades removed from onshore wind turbines in the United States. In an announcement Tuesday, GE Renewable Energy said the blades would be shredded at a VNA site in Missouri before being “used as a replacement for coal, sand and clay at cement manufacturing facilities across the U.S.”

REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

Nestlé digs deeper into regenerative ag, puts $3.6B behind net-zero plan, GreenBiz
Almost one-third of the money that Nestlé intends to invest will be dedicated to cultivating regenerative agricultural practices that improve soil health and reduce dependence on synthetic fertilizer across 500,000-plus farms from which Nestlé sources ingredients. Nestlé intends to pay those farmers, as well as 150,000 other ingredient suppliers, a premium for adopting these techniques in a verifiable way.

5 Major US Utilities That Haven’t Promised to Fully Decarbonize: Some of the holdouts will surprise you.

By Julian Specter, Greentech Media

Electric utilities all over the place are promising to eliminate or net out their carbon emissions — here’s GTM’s look at the top five. Such promises were unthinkable for utilities just a few years ago. But the trend took off when Xcel Energy figured out it could retire coal plants, build clean power plants, and make more profits while keeping electricity costs down. The combination of positive public perception, a bigger rate-base and greater appeal to sustainability-minded investors turned the carbon-free commitments into the rule, not the exception, for the utility sector.

“They’re really trying to appease a nascent but quite powerful movement of [environmental, social and governance focused] shareholders and institutional investors,” said David Pomerantz, executive director of utility watchdog group Energy and Policy Institute, which tracks carbon targets. “Once it started taking off…it became awkward if a company didn’t have a goal.” A few exceptions do remain, though — holdouts that have not promised to eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading here.

Photo: NextEra Energy constructed Nebraska’s 35-acre, 5-megawatt solar array east of Fort Calhoun, which became operational in late December of 2019. NextEra contracted with OPPD to sell the power it produces to the utility for at least 20 years.

Previously Posted

  • NextEra is also pursuing a 423-megawatt solar project in Nebraska. It has acquired land rights and now is waiting to find a buyer and to hear what the Southwest Power Pool would charge for a connection to the grid. That figure is critical in developing renewable projects. [Phil Clement, who directs projects in Nebraska for NextEra] said that although it’s not now in the plan, storage could become a part of a Nebraska solar array as well. NextEra always builds solar projects “with storage in mind,” he said. Source: Solar-storage project would be ‘game-changer’ for Kansas City region, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network
  • NextEra, Nebraska farmers aim to build largest solar farm in the Midwest, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

NEBRASKA-BASED VALMONT INDUSTRIES IN THE NEWS

Convert launches new PV tracker control system, contributed by Convert, PV Magazine

Solar PV tracking manufacturer, Convert, is launching its TRJ-AI Tracker Control System. The company says its new TRJ-AI innovation provides the industry the opportunity to easily control, manage, and monitor tracking systems from digital devices reliably and remotely to optimize the energy production of solar plants.

“Technology is ever-evolving and our commitment is to guarantee a better solution and a higher performance than the current standards, every time. Today with the innovative TRJ-AI Tracker Control System, the customers are able to take control when and where they want,” says Yury Reznikov, vice president and general manager of global solar for Valmont Industries, Inc, the Nebraska-based company that acquired Convert in 2018. “This means having complete control of your solar photovoltaic plant while increasing yield, minimizing risks, and optimizing O&M costs at the same time.”

Valmont Industries Website
Valmont Careers

MORE ON NEW SOLAR SCHOOLS STUDY & SOLAR POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS

Virginia jumps to head of the class on school solar installations, report shows, by Elizabeth McGowan, Energy News Network

California is still the runaway valedictorian of solar-powered K-12 schools nationwide, but a recent renewable energy policy evolution in Virginia has propelled the state to head-of-the-class status. Since 2017, Virginia schools leapfrogged an impressive 12 spots — from 20th place to eighth place — in solar capacity installed, according to a report released Tuesday by a Charlottesville nonprofit.

Generation 180 collaborated with the Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association to compile Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools. The organization was founded in 2016 to equip individuals and communities across the country to play a role in the transition to 100% clean energy. Report co-author Tish Tablan is the program director for Solar for All Schools, a Generation 180 initiative.

 About Power Purchase Agreements

Solar Power Purchase Agreements, Solar Energy Industries Association 
A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost. Schools all across the country are using Solar Power Purchase Agreements to solar power their buildings for free or at minimal cost.

Crowdfunding For Clean Energy — Raise Green Launches New Marketplace

By Zachary Shahan, CleanTechnica

You may recall that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) finalized equity crowdfunding regulations nearly 5 years ago. Now, “Raise Green is the first company to offer equity crowdfunding focused on investments for climate solutions nationwide” under that option. One cool feature about the platform is it will help you to really see how far your money went on the climate or energy side of things, as well as the financial side. “Raise Green aims to give people the direct impact they have been looking to make on climate change by providing access to verifiable investment opportunities.”

Curious to learn more about the inspiration for starting this, the founding team’s thoughts on the investment climate today and in the coming decade, and a few other matters, I asked Franz Hochstrasser, CEO and Co-Founder of Raise Green, a few questions to supplement the news and add more context. Read more here.
Photo: Co-Founders Franz Hochstrasser (left) and Matthew Moroney

Previously Posted
Alumni seek students’ insights into Raise Green crowdfunding platform, Yale News

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

COMANCHE 3 – ‘COLORADO’S BILLION DOLLAR MISTAKE’

Will Colorado’s newest coal plant survive beyond 20 years?, by Allen Best, The Aspen Times
A 2019 law, HB19-1261, the Climate Action Plan to Reduce Pollution, ordered electrical utilities regulated by the PUC to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide 80% by 2030 relative to 2005 levels. This is part of a broader goal identified by the law of decarbonizing Colorado’s economy 50% by 2030. A majority of coal plants in Colorado will be closing during the decade. Altogether, nine coal-burning units at five stations across the state will be closed by 2030. That will leave just four units, including Comanche 3, remaining in operation, all of them operated by Xcel.

Previously Posted: Xcel Energy proposes one of largest packages of energy investments in state history, Xcel News Release, Business Wire. Almost $3 billion of accelerated and incremental capital investment planned to support Minnesota’s economic recovery, advance clean energy goals, and keep customer bills stable.

GLOBAL SOLAR MARKET

Terawatt scale by 2022, PV Magazine International
The solar sector is no stranger to breaking records. Perhaps the most impressive figure to emerge from SolarPower Europe’s new ‘Global Market Outlook’ is that the global solar sector will reach terawatt scale by 2022 – just four years after the 500 GW milestone was reached. Michael Schmela from SolarPower Europe sets out the reasoning behind this and other key findings in the report.

Michael Schmela is executive adviser, head of market intelligence, and a member of the leadership team at SolarPower Europe, the continent’s PV industry association. 

SPP NEWS

Southwest Power Pool could add more than 5 GW of wind generation capacity by end-2020, S&P Global. The rise in wind generation as part of a national energy transition toward renewable sources has pulled down wholesale power prices.

100% RENEWABLE ENERGY

Applied Materials to go 100% renewable, inks wind PPA with Apex, Renewables Now
Applied Materials Inc, which makes equipment used in the production of solar cells, will be one of the off-takers of Apex Clean Energy’s 500-MW White Mesa wind project in Texas. 

MORE WIND ENERGY NEWS

Wind power is emerging as the main source of renewable energy, Reve
For the last five years, American businesses have been buying 20% of all new wind farm capacity installed in the U.S. And that number is only going to grow. Wind-generated electricity is a bargain. Costs have fallen about 70% over the last decade. These lower prices have attracted a much more diverse group of customers.

AWEA Resources

NEW CARBON FOOTPRINTS STUDY

Wealthy American homes have carbon footprints 25% higher than low-income residences, study says, CNN

In some particularly affluent US suburbs, emissions are up to 15 times higher than nearby neighborhoods, according to the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The homes of wealthy Americans generate around 25% more greenhouse gases compared to lower-income residences, mostly because of their larger size, a new study found. The study’s authors say improving energy efficiency in the home is a huge opportunity for homeowners — and especially wealthy ones — to lower their energy usage.

Bipartisan Appeal: Solar Can Span the Aisle and Bridge the Gaps

Solar Energy Industries Association Blog

As Congress considers how best to revive our ailing economy, investing in homegrown solar energy could jumpstart investment and create jobs. Solar energy isn’t a niche technology: there are now more than 2.5 million solar systems installed in every state and before the pandemic 250,000 Americans had a solar job.

The latest polls show overwhelming support for expanding clean energy and Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle are listening to their constituents that are demanding more clean energy. While bipartisan support for clean energy is now getting attention, it isn’t a new concept and it isn’t a surprise. Continue reading here.

SEIA News Release: Nearly 650 Companies Urge Congress to Include Solar in Recovery Legislation, SEIA News Release. WASHINGTON, D.C. — Nearly 650 solar companies sent a letter to Congress today galvanizing support for legislation that deploys clean energy to help rebuild the U.S. economy.

FROM GTM 

Biden Pledges $2T in Clean Energy and Infrastructure Spending, Greentech Media
“We’re not just going to tinker around the edges,” says Democratic candidate, promising “historic investments” in solar, wind, batteries and transmission.

MORE ON FERC ORDER 841 RULING

  • FERC Order 841: US about to take ‘most important’ step towards clean energy future, Energy Storage News. “Today’s decision is a big step towards realizing cleaner, healthier air for all Americans and creating opportunities for more clean energy jobs. FERC’s order 841 creates an even playing field for energy storage to compete with traditional fossil fuel generators,” EDF attorney Michael Panfil said. “It removes market barriers for energy storage and unlocks its enormous public health, environmental and cost-saving potential”.
  • D.C. Circuit Ruling Empowers Energy Storage Technology To Tap Bigger Markets, Forbes
    Energy storage, or the use of batteries to absorb electricity from the grid when it is plentiful and discharge it when it is scarce, is ready for the big leagues. That was the implication of a ruling on Friday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that has renewable energy enthusiasts beside themselves with glee. Analysts believe that the ruling could clear the way for the development of up to 50 gigawatts of energy storage, which would equal a third of the country’s current total wind and solar capacity.

DOE’S ENERGY STORAGE GRAND CHALLENGE

DOE unveils draft roadmap for US global energy storage leadership, Utility Dive
The Department of Energy released a draft roadmap Tuesday for its Energy Storage Grand Challenge, first announced in January, which aims to develop and bring to market​ the next generation of energy storage technologies. The program also aims to advance a domestic supply chain for energy storage, something that has gotten increasing attention, analysts say, in the wake of disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. DOE is seeking public input by Aug. 21 to help inform the activities proposed under the draft roadmap.

NEWS FROM COLORADO

DIVESTMENT NEWS

How the University of Dayton divested from fossil fuels — and what happened to its bottom line, by Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter. More than 180 Catholic institutions worldwide have publicly committed to fossil fuel divestment. That includes Seattle University in Washington and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. In Nebraska, Creighton University announced in February it was divesting a portion of its endowment. 

EV NEWS

15 states, DC will collaborate on 100% electric truck sales by 2050, Transportation Dive
Governors from 15 states and the mayor of Washington, D.C., signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to ensure 100% of medium- and heavy-duty sales are zero-emissions vehicles (ZEV) by 2050, according to a Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) press release. The group has an interim target of 30% electric vehicle (EV) sales by 2030.

As Fossil Fuel Pipelines Fall to Opposition, Utilities See Renewable Energy as Safe Bet

By Jeff St. John, Senior Editor, Greentech Media

Legal challenges halted several major pipeline projects across the U.S. in recent days, underscoring a seismic shift facing the U.S. utility industry: the rise of renewables as a potentially less costly and risky alternative to fossil fuels. Over the weekend Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, two of the country’s biggest utilities, canceled their Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, citing costs that have ballooned to as much as $8 billion and ongoing legal challenges from landowners and environmental groups. The pipeline’s legal challenges include an April federal court decision overturning Nationwide Permit 12, a federal permit authority allowing pipelines to cross waterways and wetlands, which threatens the viability of projects including the massive Keystone XL oil pipeline. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted
In A Post-Pandemic World, Renewable Energy Is The Only Way Forward, by Senior Contributor Enrique Dans, Forbes. A post-pandemic economic reconstruction based on restructuring the energy map makes sense. We know we have to do it, and we know the reason we haven’t done it so far is because it challenges the interests of a powerful few.

MORE ON FOSSIL FUEL PIPELINES

  • Judge orders Dakota Access pipeline shut down pending review, Omaha World-Herald
    FARGO, N.D. — A federal judge on Monday ordered the Dakota Access pipeline shut down pending a more thorough environmental review, handing a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe three years after the pipeline first began carrying oil following months of protests.
  • US Supreme Court deals blow to Keystone oil pipeline project, Omaha World-Herald
    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court handed another setback to the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline from Canada on Monday by keeping in place a lower court ruling that blocked a key environmental permit for the project. Canadian company TC Energy needs the permit to continue building the long-disputed pipeline across U.S. rivers and streams.

TESLA

Tesla’s Success Is Good News For Everyone, by Senior Contributor Enrique Dans, Forbes
The company is now the gold standard for an industry that for too long has innovated reluctantly and at a snail’s pace. 

ACQUISITION NEWS

Sunrun to acquire Vivint Solar for $3.2 billion in all-stock transaction, PV Magazine
The new, bigger Sunrun will have 500,000 customers and more than 3 GW of solar power assets. Is there value in scale in residential solar?

THERMAL ENERGY STORAGE

Storing Heat Energy Offers $300bn Opportunity To Cut Carbon Emissions, by Mike Scott, Forbes. Thermal energy storage allows polluting industries to clean up and reduce emissions.

Report Shows Bipartisan Support for Boosting Clean Energy

Public News Service

LINCOLN, Neb. — Support for renewable energy in the U.S. cuts across party lines, according to a new Yale University report. Three in four Republicans surveyed are in favor of increased funding for clean energy research, generating power on public lands and giving tax rebates for installing solar. Support was even higher among Democrats.

John Hansen, president of the Nebraska Farmers Union, says boosting renewable energy would create new jobs, and provide property tax relief by adding to local tax bases. He adds wind and solar also can help farmers. Continue reading here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Nebraska’s wind energy continues to grow, Norfolk Daily News
A newly released report indicates that Nebraska is a top five state in recruiting direct business purchases of wind energy. Commercial and industrial companies bought 4,447 megawatts (MW) of U.S. wind capacity last year, setting a new record for annual procurements and bringing total corporate agreements for wind power to 16,857 MW, according to the first Wind Powers American Business report from the American Wind Energy Association.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

  • In Iowa, conservative group looks to counter local wind, solar opposition, Energy News Network. A conservative promoter of clean energy has launched an initiative in Iowa to help counter local opposition to wind and solar developments. The Iowa Land & Liberty Coalition, a project of the Iowa Conservative Energy Forum, will focus on building support for renewables in counties that have either rejected large renewable projects or considered adopting restrictions.
  • Xcel Energy proposes one of largest packages of energy investments in state history, Xcel News Release, Business Wire. As part of Xcel Energy’s commitment to helping customers and the state recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s proposal would include almost $3 billion of accelerated and incremental projects that will create jobs, advance the transition to cleaner energy, and keep customer bills stable.
  • Residents call on Colorado Springs Utilities to focus on a renewable energy, not natural gas, The Gazette. Residents pointed out moving to renewable energy could come with less risk because wind is free and natural gas could be subject to the uncertain pricing of commodity markets and unknown future regulations because it produces greenhouses gases, including methane.
  • Massachusetts lawmakers ask Liberty Mutual to stop financing fossil fuels, Energy News Network. Liberty Mutual’s clients include some major, and controversial, fossil fuel projects, including the expansion of the Keystone XL pipeline, the Trans Mountain tar sands pipeline in Canada and the Pacific Northwest, and the Mariner East II natural gas pipeline in Pennsylvania. Further, the insurer has $8.9 billion invested in fossil fuel companies or utilities that make extensive use of fossil fuels.
  • Bringing solar to the heart of coal country, PV Magazine
    The Solar Workgroup of Southwest Virginia, spurred on by Virginia’s pro-solar legislative spring, has released a request for qualifications, seeking a partner to co-develop commercial-scale solar projects in seven coal counties.
  • Electrification Can Supercharge California’s Post-COVID Economy, Forbes article contributed by Hal Harvey , CEO of Energy Innovation, a San Francisco-based energy and environmental policy firm. The path is clear: Decarbonize the electric grid, then electrify everything—creating good jobs and thriving clean tech industries along the way. California has gotten off to a great start with the power grid, as more than half our electricity already comes from carbon-free sources, and this should reach almost 80% by 2030. This creates further benefits: Cleaning up the grid will automatically clean up transportation and buildings, which are the state’s first and fourth biggest carbon polluters.
  • 8minute Solar Nabs Its First Supply Deal With California Community-Choice Aggregators, Greentech Media. 8minute, which develops solar and storage, has already inked deals for projects with all of California’s large investor-owned utilities: Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Electric & Gas. But the project announced this week is the developer’s first foray in the world of CCAs, which have increasingly pulled customers and thus demand from California’s traditional utilities.  
  • New initiative to bring more solar energy to La Crosse County, WXOW
    La Crosse County, the City of La Crosse and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) created a new initiative to bring more solar energy to the area. Grow Solar is the name of the new plan, and it aims to help area home and business owners access cheaper installations of solar energy.
  • Double-Sided Solar Panels to Increase Energy Savings, Inside Indiana Business
    An environmentally friendly apartment building in Valparaiso is the first in Indiana to use a double-sided solar panel to further reduce electric costs.

BLM LAND-USE POLICIES 

Solar opportunities ‘ignored’ across 100 million acres in the Southwest, PV Magazine
The Bureau of Land Management “has ignored most possibilities” for utility-scale solar “on its vast land holdings across the solar-rich Southwest,” says a paper. Renewable energy development accounts for less than 1% of economic activity on BLM lands, while oil and gas account for 70%, according to BLM data. IEEFA analysts Karl Cates, Seth Feaster and Dennis Wamsted wrote the paper, titled “Federal Land Agency Lags on Solar Development Approvals Across Southwest U.S.”

SOLAR SCHOOLS

Amherst school officials interested in pursuing solar energy panels on buildings, Lynchburg News & Advance. The project would be funded through a power purchase agreement, which would permit a solar provider to install and maintain the panels and operating equipment on the division’s buildings. The costs of the equipment, installation, and maintenance would be assumed by the solar provider and the financing company that works in conjunction with the solar provider, according to Wells.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Resource: What is a solar power purchase agreement?

CHANGES IN WIND TURBINES

3D printing, wooden materials and dizzying heights: How wind turbines are changing, CNBC
Wind turbines are growing in size and productivity thanks to advances in technology. 
The techniques used to build these turbines are also beginning to change.

GLOBAL INVESTMENT IN RENEWABLES

Goldman Sachs Sees $16 Trillion Investment In Renewables By 2030, CleanTechnica
Goldman Sachs analyst Michele Della Vigna and her colleagues have issued a research note for investors that claims investments in renewable energy are set to overtake those in oil and gas for the first time next year. They think the clean energy field, including biofuels, will be a $16 trillion investment opportunity between now and 2030, according to a report by Bloomberg. The research note says renewables will represent about 25% of all energy spending in 2021 — up from 15% in 2014. The research note says clean energy could drive $1 to $2 trillion a year in infrastructure investment between now and 2030 and create 15 to 20 million jobs globally.

Previously Posted: U.S. overtakes China as most attractive country for renewables investment, Reuters

Facing coal plant closure, Minnesota provider seeks cleaner path

By Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

Facing the closure of a coal-burning plant that had been its main source of power for decades, a southern Minnesota utility recently unveiled an aggressive plan to develop renewable energy over the next decade. A mixture of necessity and market forces led Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency (SMMPA) to set a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 90% through generating more than three-quarters of its power from carbon-free sources by 2030. The agency’s largest source of electricity, the Sherco 3 coal plant, will close the same year. Read more here.

Subscribe to Energy News Network daily email digests here.

Photo: The Stoneray wind farm in southwest Minnesota is part of Southern Minnesota Municipal Power Agency’s renewable energy portfolio.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

NATIONAL NEWS

BUILDING A GLOBAL NET-ZERO ECONOMY

In a time of global uncertainty, now is the time to invest in a 1.5C futurecontributed by Lise Kingo, CEO & Executive Director, United Nations Global Compact, GreenBiz

There never has been a time like today for coming together to jumpstart a worldwide transformation towards a more inclusive and sustainable net-zero economy. This is the background for the largest United Nations-backed CEO-led advocacy effort, launched just a few days ago, urging world leaders to build net-zero climate targets into COVID-19 recovery plans and stimulus packages. Behind the statement are more than 160 CEOs of the world’s leading businesses, representing more than $2.4 trillion in market capitalization, led by the U.N. Global Compact and its partners in the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTi).

ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE PAPER & WEBINAR

Global Stimulus Principles: The Economy We Build Should Not Be the Same Economy We Decarbonize, by Ben Holland, Jake Glassman, Christian Roselund, Carla Frisch, Michael Banker

This paper outlines four core principles of stimulus and recovery efforts that should guide any global response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also provides guidance for effectively integrating these principles into our efforts to rebuild, while setting us on a path toward a cleaner, healthier, more just, and more sustainable future. Learn more and download the paper here.

Upcoming Webinar: Green Stimulus and Recovery: A Path to Global Resilience, May 28th
at 12 pm CDT.
Hear from Rocky Mountain Institute CEO Jules Kortenhorst, alongside RMI Principals Carla Frisch and Uday Varadarajan, who will share four core principles of strategic stimulus and recovery for global responses to the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn that can simultaneously benefit the economy, the environment, and our communities. These principles derive from the first report in a series on stimulus and recovery investment that RMI will be releasing over the coming weeks. Learn more about these new principles and how they can be used to optimize decision-making in stimulus and recovery investments to move us forward on a path to global resilience.

WOOD MACKENZIE

The Right Coronavirus Recovery Could Make 2019 The Year of Peak Carbon, Greentech Media. There’s no better way to honor the lives lost than by making 2020 a turning point in the energy transition, writes Martyn Link, chief strategy officer at Wood.