Spring 1998

Nebraska Energy Quarterly logo Nebraska Energy Quarterly gasoline pump

32 Towns Save $6.5 Million on Electric Bills

Each of Arnold's 697 residents saved about $250...

Making the Most of $5.75 Million

Once a month, a team of 16 gather in a room to carve up a...

Affordable Housing Contacts...

State Government Moves To Renewables and Energy Efficiency

Solar Powered Highway Signs, E85 Cars and More...

Home Weatherization Pros Coming to Nebraska

400 Expected to Attend August Conference in Omaha...

State's Oldest Hydropower Plant Was A Manufacturing Magnet

An 1892 brochure with 100 pictures heralded the advantages of...

Ways to Reduce Cooling Costs This Summer

It might surprise you to know that buying a bigger...

6% Dollar & Energy Saving Loans

Questions and answers about energy saving loans...

The Most Likely Energy Technologies of Tomorrow

Futurists tread where meterologists and economists wouldn't even dare...

32 Towns Save $6.5 Million on Electric Bills

Nebraska map showing 32 towns that saved $6.5 million on electric bills
Nebraska map showing 32 towns that saved $6.5 million on electric bills

Each of Arnold's 679 residents (35 miles north of Gothenburg) saved about $250 on their electric bills, but they don't know it. Beginning in 1988, the local utility began installing equipment to curtail residents' electric use during certain times of the year.

To partially pay for the equipment, the utility borrowed money at no-interest from a fund maintained by NMPP Energy, an organization of locally-owned electric systems. Since 1988, Arnold's locally-owned utility has been able to pile up $168,598 in savings.

Electric users in 31 other Nebraska towns have also saved money as well more than $6.5 million over the past 15 years.

Simple Solutions

Many times, it's the simplest modifications to a town's electric system that reaps the biggest dollar savings year after year. For some towns, the equipment is nothing more complicated than a monitor to let utility staff know when certain limits are within reach. When electric use approaches the limit, utility staff activate the town's siren, letting townsfolk know to turn off unnecessary electricity-using equipment.

A town's size is no hindrance to being able to save local residents money. Wilcox, 25 miles south of Kearney, has only 349 residents. Yet since 1987, people living there have each saved $135 on their electric bills, about a dollar a month for the past ten years.

North Platte A Big Winner

Most, but not all, of the towns applying for loans have fewer than 2,000 people. The first loans from NMPP's fund went to South Sioux City and Wood River in 1983. But, North Platte residents have saved $2.3 million since their management system was installed in 1985. This is more than one-third of all the savings in the state since the loans were first offered.

Load management systems are used by utilities to reduce their customers' use of electricity during certain periods to avoid having to buy very costly "peak" power.

Utilities contract for electric supplies based on a prediction of how much energy will be needed for any given time. In the summer, many utilities try a variety of methods to avoid exceeding the predicted amount of electrical use to avoid additional charges. In some towns, these charges have totaled tens of thousands of dollars for exceeding the prediction for only a few hours on just one day of an entire year.

$50,000 Goes A Long Way

In 1983, the Energy Office established a no-interest revolving loan fund at NMPP Energy with $50,000 in oil overcharge trust funds. The Electrical Load Management Loan Fund was one of the first uses of oil overcharge funds in the state and one of the first uses of revolving loan funds in the nation. Since 1983, the loan fund has revolved more than ten times, issuing loans totaling more than $500,000.

In 1982, Nebraska began receiving oil overcharge funds as a result of various court actions against actions oil companies that overcharged their customers during the period of price controls from 1973 to 1981. Since direct compensation to injured consumers seemed unrealistic, the courts ordered the money recovered from lawsuits be distributed to the states to fund efforts that provide indirect restitution to injured energy consumers. States were directed to use the money, within parameters established by the courts, to fund energy assistance and conservation programs.

Load management is one of a variety of means utilities have used to keep the state's electric rates among the lowest in the nation.

Any of NMPP Energy's 96 Nebraska members can apply for no interest loans to finance load management equipment. For more information about installing or upgrading your town's electrical load management system, contact Tim Sutherland or Rich Small at NMPP Energy at 402-474-4759.

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Making the Most of $5.75 Million

Once a month, a team of 16 gather in a room to carve up a kind of pie, only they call it a technical assistance review. At stake are housing projects all across the state. The 16 provide technical assistance and evaluate and recommend funding for people and organizations that want to build or rehabilitate affordable houses in Nebraska.

This year, the nearly $6 million pie is a lot bigger about $4 million larger than last year. This is the first year $3.8 million from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is available. In 1997, the Legislature dedicated $4 million a year for six years to increase the number of affordable houses. Other funds in the pie are $1.2 million from the HOME/Community Development Block Grant Program, $250,000 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits, and $500,000 in Dollar and Energy Saving Loans from the Energy Office. This is the first year the Energy Office has set aside loan funds for these projects.

35,000 Homes Needed

A 1996 study estimated that Nebraska would need nearly 35,000 more affordable homes between 1995 and 2000. Generally, housing affordability means that owners or renters spend 30 percent or less of their income for housing and utilities. The 1996 study also found that, "nearly one in four Nebraskans pay more than 30 percent of their gross income for rent and utilities."

Since 1995, the Energy Office has been a part of the affordable housing team, but recently the agency added more staff time to the effort. Others on the review team are staff from the state's Department of Economic Development, Nebraska Investment Finance Authority, and federal Departments of Housing and Urban Development and Agriculture.

When team members say "technical assistance," it really means help is on the way. Help can be learning how to:

  • assess needs in a community and financial resources,
  • acquire regional and community support,
  • create infrastructure,
  • design a project, select a development team, and
  • apply for financing.

The state and federal funds can be used for building single and multi-family rentals and single family homes for sale as well as rehabilitation and preservation of existing housing. Applicants must also meet minimum requirements such as approval of a regional priority plan for their area, evidence of site control, proper zoning, an environmental review of the site, a site review by a team member, and specific applicant program requirements from the funding sources.

But back to cutting up the pie. Funding requests are evaluated on community need and market analysis, ability to meet the community's affordable housing needs, construction and financial feasibility, community or neighborhood support, and organizational and management capacity.

Project financing is limited to $80,000 in tax credits, $350,000 in block grants, and $20,000 in loans for single family homes and $60,000 for multi-family homes. The new trust funds are allocated on a case-by-case basis and limited by region, number of applications, and scoring and ranking criteria.

Maxing The Limits

Team members seek to make the best use of limited resources. With an eye to aesthetics and livability standards, the members' objective is to recommend funding for as many qualified, affordable housing units as possible. Cost per unit, funds allocated per unit, and funds/tax credits per occupant are also important factors in evaluating applications.

While project approval rests with the three agencies that control the funding, any project that has received the team's recommendation has been financed.

Assistance is provided year-round, but financing applications are limited to three times a year. Applications for funds in 1998 can be submitted between May 1 and June 30 and August 1 and September 30. The first application period ended March 31. Funding decisions are generally known 45 days after the applications periods close.

For more information about the state's affordable housing efforts, contact any of the review team members listed in the box above.

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State Government Moves To Renewables and Energy Efficiency

In January, Governor Nelson signed his first executive order of 1998, requiring state agencies to aggressively incorporate energy conservation and renewable energy into their future activities.

"I feel it is vitally important that Nebraska continues to rank among the nation's leaders in promoting energy conservation, and in the development and use of renewable fuels. And I believe agencies in state government can set an example for all Nebraskans to follow," Nelson said.

According to the Governor, the effort targets five areas:

  • All state agencies will be required to use renewable energy technologies and conservation techniques wherever cost-effective, available and practical, especially in building design, transportation and remote locations. The plan calls for the Roads Department to operate entirely on renewable fuels by 2025.
  • All state agencies, wherever practical, shall use only renewable energy in all operations by 2025.
  • The state's Board of Educational Lands and Funds will draft a plan to allow building renewable energy facilities on state land.
  • State agencies should purchase electricity produced from renewable resources.
  • Yearly, the governor will recognize a state agency that has demonstrated the greatest commitment to increasing the use of renewable energy.

"Increasing reliance on domestic renewable resources and reducing dependence on irreplaceable fossil fuels is vital for our national security. Development of renewable energy will create jobs, diversify the industrial base, create tremendous opportunities for rural development and enhance the stability of the state economy by producing a value-added product. The use of renewable energy and increasing energy efficiency will reduce our air and water pollution," Nelson said.

Building on the Past

The Department of Roads already has one solar powered rest area near Lincoln and may plan others as they are rebuilt. The agency has also begun using solar powered informational signs on the interstate.

Nearly one out of every five vehicles in the state's fleet uses 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline and more of these vehicles will be purchased. Currently, the Roads Department has about 100 vehicles using biodiesel, a 10 percent soy oil and 90 percent diesel blend. The agency has recently begun experimenting with an ethanol by-product instead of using salt on icy highways.

Several years ago, the state began incorporating energy efficient lighting systems in facilities across Nebraska. According to the Department of Administrative Services, savings from the lighting replacements save about $45,000 yearly.

The Sun Shines Bright

The Governor said the executive order has spurred architects designing the Department of Corrections' new prison to incorporate energy conservation and solar energy wherever possible.

Nebraska's Energy Director, Bob Harris, said his agency took representatives from the state's Building Division, Game & Parks Commission, Roads Department, and Corrections to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Colorado to acquaint the state's building professionals with the latest information for including solar technology in numerous applications. "The advances made in wind and solar technologies are remarkable," Harris said. "We are rapidly approaching the point where these technologies will be cost competitive with electricity produced from inexpensive fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas."

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Free Resources — Supplies Limited

Call, fax or mail your request for any of these recently issued or restocked publications. Supplies of some titles are limited, so act fast.

All publications are provided free of charge. Direct your requests to Jerry Loos in the Energy Office.

cover of Energy Tips magazine
  • Biofuels for Transportation: The Road from Research to the Marketplace. An elemental primer on biofuels including ethanol from biomass and biodiesel and the effect these fuels can have on global warming. The roles of the federal government and its energy laboratories play in the research process is also detailed.
  • Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home. This newly updated 36-page full color publication includes practical advice on installing additional insulation, do-it-yourself weatherizing, energy efficient lighting, appliance options and ways to reduce hot water use. The booklet also offers energy-wise suggestions such as: To save energy, place the kitchen sink faucet lever in the cold position when using small amounts of water. Placing the lever in the hot position uses energy to heat the water even though it never reaches the faucet
  • Global Change and Agriculture. This special issue of Agricultural Research features reprints from two earlier issues. The topics include "Preparing Agriculture for a Changing World" and "FACEing the Future." Both articles detail the global climate change work being performed by the Agricultural Research Service.
  • 1998 Calendars
  • NMPP Energy's "Energy Is..." calendar featuring artwork from fifth grade students that won the energy company's 8th annual contest.
  • The Miami-Dade County Climate Wise calendar features 12 of the region's Climate Wise industrial partners and why these companies have benefited from joining this voluntary pollution prevention effort.
  • 1998 Fuel Economy Guide. One of the agency's most frequently requested publications has been updated for 1998. Copies of the U.S. Department of Energy's Fuel Economy Guide for Model Year 1998 are now available. The Guide can be used as an aide to consumers considering the purchase of a new vehicle. The estimates of miles per gallon listed for each new vehicle are from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  • Taking an Alternative Route: Fueling the Future This U.S. Department of Energy publication provides an excellent overview of current regulations and options for using alternate transportation fuels such as biodiesel, electricity, ethanol, methanol, natural gas and propane.
  • Tips for Energy Savers. The original on which the updated publication (see above listing) is based. Still a perennial favorite of consumers.
  • The American Farm: Harnessing the Sun to Fuel the World A photo-filled booklet that explores American agriculture's new crop options. Tomorrow's farms may be the producers of more than just food, but energy crops as well. The potential role of trees and prairie grasses in the farms of the future is also considered.

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Editor's Note: This is the fifth in a periodic series on energy events in Nebraska.

State's Oldest Hydropower Plant Was A Manufacturing Magnet

An 1892 brochure with 100 pictures heralded the advantages of businesses relocating to "the midway city of the continent, the electric city of the West."

Residents of the town envisioned their city becoming the Minneapolis of the Plains. In just ten years from 1880 to 1890 the town's population had grown from 1,800 to more than 8,000. Twenty-five different manufacturing industries had already put down roots flour and oat mills, cracker factory, packinghouse, cannery, brick works, machine shops, foundry, iron works and others. But the crowning jewel was the cotton mill, the second largest industrial structure in the state.

A cotton mill in Nebraska?

Yes, Kearney residents worked hard to make their industrial empire a reality. The key to attracting the manufacturing firms was waterpower and hydroelectric power made possible by the Kearney Canal, a 24-mile channel of water diverted from the Platte River. An estimated 400 home weatherization professionals are expected to attend a regional training conference in Omaha August 24-27.

Decades of Dreams

Old photos of Kearney, Nebraska
Old photos of Kearney, Nebraska

As early as 1873, locals dreamed of providing irrigation to farms in the Platte Valley. W. W. Patterson took that idea and improved on it. Patterson hoped to construct a canal from the Platte River to a reservoir above the city. The canal would provide irrigation and the reservoir would generate waterpower.

In 1882, Kearney Canal and Water Supply began construction of the canal, but work was halted by lack of funds. George Frank of Corning, Iowa, bought the company and completed the project in 1886.

Around 1887, using waterpower to produce electricity was considered. By April 1888, the Canal Company completed construction of the power plant and electricity began flowing to the city and its vibrant industries.

Cotton Comes, But It's Not Cheap

It was the Canal Company's next owner, H. D. Watson of Greenfield, Massachusetts, who began luring eastern manufacturers to Kearney. Among the manufacturers were the five Cumnock brothers, known as the "Cotton Kings."

Erecting a cotton mill came at a steep price for the city. The Cumnocks wanted a subsidy of $250,000, exemption from city taxes for ten years and free waterpower for five years, with a guaranteed waterpower rate thereafter. It was illegal for the city to grant the tax exemption, but the other conditions were met.

Continued in the next column

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State's Oldest Hydropower Plant... continued...

While the cotton mill reportedly cost $400,000 to build, it probably was closer to $250,000. In essence, the Cumnocks got a new mill free-of-charge, although, obsolete machinery from an eastern mill was put in the Nebraska mill.

By September 1892, the mill was in operation and its first shipment of 76,000 yards of sheeting was shortly on its way to Iowa, Kansas and Missouri. With a daily capacity of 26,000 yards of unbleached muslin, annual output was valued at $3.4 million.

Kearney's electric plant grew to the point that it generated 2,725 horsepower from a collection of turbines and engines. Electricity use was gradually moving beyond just powering industry. Sixty-eight miles of electric lines spread through the city and more than 3,000 lights were in use. The Kearney Street Railway cars were converted to electricity and operated over a 5.5 mile route.

Boom to Bust

Almost as soon as the cotton mill began operations, Kearney's economic boom lost its steam and the nationwide depression of 1893 put an end to the city's manufacturing dreams. All the fledgling industries, except the cotton mill, vanished as rapidly as they had sprung up. By 1900, Kearney's population shrank as well, losing 2,400 people.

The cotton mill operated until 1901, but it sustained tremendous economic losses. A number of factors made it unprofitable the cotton was imported from Texas, coal was needed most of the year because the canal and reservoir froze, and sales of cotton goods were less than robust because of the lack of population. But these factors did not cause the mill's demise. Much like the Nebraska of today, it was a shortage of labor. Because few Nebraskans wanted to work in confining manufacturing plants, the mill imported all of its laborers.

By 1902, Kearney's industries were gone, but electricity had become part of the lives of the residents.

From 1898 to 1919, the canal and power company was sold four times with owners stretching from Kearney to Missouri. The advent of public power brought stabilization and continuity of ownership. In the 1930s, Consumers Public Power District bought the canal company. Today, we know the former Consumers as Nebraska Public Power District.

Frozen in Time

Kearney's hydropower facility is believed to be the oldest in the state. Today, it has just one generator - dating from 1920 - with a capacity of 1,490 kilowatts of electricity. In 1987, citizens, and civic, university and utility concerns began efforts to preserve the Kearney hydropower plant. Renamed the Spillway Park and Museum, preservation was planned in three phases. The first phase, restoration fo the hydro plant and planting trees and shrubs was completed in 1997. The second phase calls for construction of two new bridges to enhance the scenic walkways of the grounds. The final phase includes restoring of the power plant building and converting it to a museum.

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Ways to Reduce Cooling Costs This Summer

It might surprise you to know that buying a bigger room air conditioning unit won't necessarily make you feel more comfortable during the hot summer months.

In fact, a room air conditioner that's too big for the area it is supposed to cool will perform less efficiently and less effectively than a smaller, properly sized unit. This is because room units work better if they run for relatively long periods of time than if they are continually switching off and on. Longer run times allow air conditioners to maintain a more constant room temperature. Running longer also allows them to remove a larger amount of moisture from the air, which lowers humidity and, more importantly, makes you feel more comfortable.

Sizing is equally important for central air conditioning systems, which need to be sized by professionals. If you have a central air system in your home, set the fan to shut off at the same time as the cooling unit (compressor). In other words, don't use the systems central fan to provide circulation, but instead use circulating fans in individual rooms.

Tips to Keep Your Cool

  • Whole house fans help cool your home by pulling cool air through the house and exhausting warm air through the attic. They are effective when operated at night and when the outside air is cooler than the inside.
  • Set your thermostat as high as comfortably possible in the summer. The less difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the lower your overall cooling bill will be. When it is 90 outside, a 78 air conditioner setting can feel very comfortable.
  • Don't set your thermostat at a colder setting than normal when you turn on your air conditioner. It will not cool your home any faster and could result in excessive cooling and, therefore, unnecessary expense.
  • Set the fan speed on high except in very humid weather. When it's humid, set the fan speed on low. You'll get better cooling, and slower air movement through the cooling equipment allows it to remove more moisture from the air, resulting in greater comfort.
  • Consider using an interior fan in conjunction with your window air conditioner to spread the cooled air more effectively through your home without greatly increasing your power use.
  • Don't place lamps or television sets near your air conditioning thermostat. The thermostat senses heat from these appliances, which can cause the air conditioner to run longer than necessary.
  • Plant trees or shrubs to shade air conditioning units but do not block the airflow. A unit operating in the shade uses less electricity than the same one operating in the sun.

Unexpected Money Savers

photo of a programmable thermostat
Programmable thermostat

You can save as much as ten percent a year on your heating and cooling bills by simply turning your thermostat back ten to 15 degrees for eight hours each day. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat.

Using a programmable thermostat, you can adjust the times you turn on the air conditioning according to a pre-set schedule. As a result, you don't operate the equipment as much when you are asleep or when the house or part of the house is not occupied.

  • Programmable thermostats can store and repeat multiple daily settings (six or more temperature settings a day) that you can manually override without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program. When shopping for a programmable thermostat, be sure to look for the Energy Star label.

And Even More Ideas...

For more information on cooling, contact:

  • Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute 703-524-8800 or www.ari.org
  • Energy Star 888-782-7937 or www.energystar.com
  • U.S. Department of Energy's Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Clearinghouse 800-363-3732 or www.eere.energy.gov/erec/factsheets.

This excerpt is from Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy & Money at Home. For details on how to obtain a copy of Energy Savers, click here.

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The Nebraska Energy Quarterly features questions asked about 6% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans.

Loan forms may be obtained from participating lenders or the Energy Office.

Loans to date: 13,947 for $90.2 million

Questions and Answers...
Ben Franklin on a $100 bill

6% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

Rebuild Nebraska is a federal/state effort to recruit businesses and multi-family housing owners to voluntarily agree to improve the energy efficiency of their buildings and reduce waste. The building and system improvements planned by Rebuild partners can be financed with Dollar and Energy Saving Loans.

When can contracts for these projects be signed and the work begun on the improvements?

Rebuild Nebraska projects as well as Climate Wise projects being made by manufacturers may not be contracted for or undertaken prior to the Energy Office signing a Commitment Agreement for its share of the funds with the lender, if the improvements are being financed with a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan.

If the borrower begins the project before a Commitment is signed, the borrower will not be able to finance the improvement with a low interest loan.

If timelines prohibit the borrower from waiting until the Energy Office has signed a Commitment Agreement with the lender, the borrower should seek funding for the project with a conventional loan or through other community, state, or federal financing that may be available.

Besides Dollar and Energy Saving Loans, are there other ways for commercial and multi-family building owners and manufacturers to finance energy efficiency and waste minimization projects?

There are numerous financing options from self-financed to federal grants and loans available to building owners and manufacturers.

The Energy Office's Financing Your Improvements explores several basic ways of financing improvements and details 36 specific options currently available in Nebraska as well as contacts for more information.

To obtain a copy of Financing Your Improvements, contact Jack Osterman in the Energy Office.

What must be done to qualify for a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan when furnaces fail in the winter or are "red-tagged" as unsafe to operate?

In situations such as these, the lender needs to provide the Energy Office with an explanation of the emergency furnace problem and the specifics on the new equipment to be installed.

As soon as this information is received from the lender, the Energy Office verifies the new equipment meets the requirements for a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan, then notifies the lender that the borrower may proceed with the replacement furnace. However, the lender still needs to submit all the applicable loan paperwork to obtain a commitment of Energy Office funds for the furnace.

Replacement equipment must not be installed prior to the lender receiving notification from the Energy Office that the replacement equipment qualifies. Should the emergency situation arise when the Energy Office is closed, the replacement may be installed, but the lender needs to contact the Energy Office as soon as the Office opens to verify the equipment that was installed meets loan criteria.

Extreme caution should be used by lenders in these cases to make certain that equipment meeting Energy Office standards has been installed and the replacement was a justified emergency the equipment was "red-tagged," emitting carbon monoxide or the heat exchanger was cracked that couldn't be postponed until the Office re-opened.

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Home Weatherization Pros Coming to Nebraska

map of Midwest region

An estimated 400 home weatherization professionals are expected to attend a regional training conference in Omaha August 24-27.

The attendees from 12 states an area encompassing Montana to Louisiana and North Dakota to New Mexico will be attending up to 50 different sessions where work skills can be honed and new techniques and theories learned.

The federally-funded weatherization program makes free energy saving improvements in the homes of needy Americans, especially the elderly. In 1997, the Energy Office made weatherization improvements in 1,255 homes in Nebraska.

The regional office of the U.S. Department of Energy selected Omaha as the conference site. The Energy Office will be aided by an eight-member regional planning committee that will select topics and trainers for workshops at the event. A professional conference planner will round out the events planning team.

The Energy Office, the conference host, is also responsible for providing logistics and on-site support for the event. For more information about the Weatherization Assistance Program or the late summer conference, contact Pete Davis in the Energy Office.

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$660,000+ Added For Loans

In late February, the Energy Office added more than $660,000 to the Dollar and Energy Saving Loan fund. All but $200,000 of the funds will be used to finance improvements in existing buildings.

The $200,000 will be added to the mortgage revolving fund that provides lower cost financing for new homes that meet stringent energy use guidelines. Since local lenders that offer the loans provide half the money for a loan, the $460,000 that was recently added will finance about $920,000 in energy efficiency improvements.

These new funds were part of a plan for use of a larger amount, $789,674, in oil overcharge funds that were submitted by the Governor to the Legislature for review.

Oil overcharge funds are received by the state as a result of various court actions against oil companies that overcharged their customers during the period of federal price controls form 1973 to 1981. States can only use the money, within parameters established by the courts, to fund energy assistance and conservation programs.

Under the plan, the Low-Income Weatherization Assistance Program operated by the Energy Office also received $117,214 for making energy saving improvements in homes of needy Nebraskans. Native American tribal governments in the state will also receive $5,223.

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Going to the Sources for Help and Funding

Economic Development

Julie Hendricks

Housing & Urban Development

Terry Gratz

Nebraska Investment Finance Authority [NIFA]

Jim Caruso

USDA/Rural Development

Bryon Fischer

Energy Office

Jack Osterman

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Did You Know?

The United States continues to consume more than one-fourth of the world's oil production, but it produces only about one-tenth of the oil. The transportation sector currently accounts for approximately two-thirds of all U.S. petroleum use and roughly one-fourth of total U.S. energy consumption.

Excerpt from "Taking an Alternative Route"

U.S. Department of Energy

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The Most Likely Energy Technologies of Tomorrow

Futurists tread where meteorologists and economists wouldn't even dare. While weather forecasters feel confident about looking five days ahead and economists will gaze only one or two quarters ahead with trepidation, futurists throw caution to the wind and shoot ahead 30 years and more to the world to come.

To find out what the world of tomorrow will look like, a George Washington University professor and two students compiled a survey of which technologies are likely to emerge in the next 30 years. Their findings appeared in the November/December issue of The Futurist.

"This is the best available knowledge that we can pull together. It is the best scientific consensus from a panel of 50 international authorities," Professor William Halal said.

While the findings identified 85 likely technological advances establishing a permanent base on the moon by 2028, entertainment on demand by 2003 and the majority of farmers will have adopted organic or alternative farming methods including a 50 percent reduction in fertilizers and pesticides by 2012 the Quarterly has focused on only the advances in energy technologies.

  • 2010
    About 10 percent of energy comes from alternate energy sources such as geothermal, hydroelectricity and solar. (77% probability)
    Note: According to the Energy Information Administration, nearly eight percent of the nation's energy needs were met by renewable resources in 1997.
  • 2011
    Biological materials such as grasses, trees and other forms of organic matter are used to supply about 10 percent of energy needs. (60% probability)
  • 2016
    Energy efficiency improves by 50 percent through innovations in transportation, industrial processing, environmental control and related fields. (61% probability)
  • 2017
    Fuel cells that convert other forms of energy to electricity are commonly used about one-third of the time. (53% probability)
  • 2020
    Fission nuclear power is used for about half of all electricity generation. Fission energy is the result of splitting an atom's nucleus and is the type of technology used in current nuclear plants. Hydrogen becomes routinely used in energy systems. (50% probability)
  • 2026
    Fusion nuclear energy is used commercially for electricity production. Fusion is based on the release of energy that occurs when atomic nuclei are combined under extreme heat and pressure and is similar to the sun's method of producing energy. (50% probability)

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Information Services and Resources

The Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) provides fact sheets, brochures, videos and publications on energy efficiency and renewable energy.

letter icon
Mailing Address

Office of the Assistant Secretary
Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
Mail Stop EE-1
Department of Energy
Washington, DC 20585

phone icon

Toll Free: 1-877-337-3463

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Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

At this site, you can find 21 different factsheets on such topics as energy-efficient windows, solar hot water heating, loose-fill insulations, solar power and landscaping for energy efficiency. While the factsheets cover technical information, the material is presented in a down-to-earth way and contain resource lists for further information. The factsheets can be viewed as text-only documents or with graphics HTML and PDF, respectively.

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“The mission of the Nebraska Energy Office is to promote the efficient, economic and environmentally responsible use of energy.”

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Americans with Disabilities Act

In accordance with the American Disabilities Act, the state will provide reasonable accommodation to persons with disabilities.

If you need reasonable accommodation to participate in any program or activity listed in this publication, please contact the Energy Office at 402-471-2186 to coordinate arrangements. Upon request, this publication may be available in alternative formats.

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DOE Grant

This material was prepared with the support of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Grant No. DE-FG47-92CE60410. However, any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of DOE.

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