Summer 1999

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A Newsletter of the Nebraska Energy Office

The Ups and Downs of Natural Gas

Price surges in the cost of natural gas can usually...

Plan on spending more...

$1.4 Million to Improve Homes...

In July, the Energy Office received...

Getting a Leg Up on Your Heating Bills...

Warm air leaking into your home during...

State Buildings to Meet Higher Standards

LB 755, passed by the Unicameral and signed...

The Nebraska Commission on Housing...

Straw Bale Buildings Return to the Prairie

As pioneers settled in Nebraska...

Burke Homestead...

USDA Rural Development and Ag Research Grants

On September2, the U.S. Department...

Electric Restructuring Not Good for All

As pioneers settled in Nebraska...

In 1996, the Legislature directed its...

Nebraska is the only state with...

Heat Pumps, Ethanol in Buses and Energy Savings in Buildings

In June, the Nebraska Energy Office received...

5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

Have there been recent changes to the...

Information Services and Resources

The Energy Efficiency and The Renewable Energy Clearinghouse

The Ups and Downs of Natural Gas

Price surges in the cost of natural gas can usually be traced to just three reasons: excessive demand during heavy use periods such as an icy January blast, fewer gas reserves in storage and operational problems with pipelines or equipment. Those are the findings of the nation's energy experts who have studied the issue for years.

Using Less and Paying More

Most of us have probably heard a frustrated consumer say, "I turned down the thermostat and my gas bill still went up." That consumer may wrongly assume because of what happened, that conservation — using less — "doesn't pay."

But, experts who have studied the natural gas industry have found instances where lower use can translate into higher bills. In these situations, a consumer could reduce use because of a warmer period during the winter, but the per unit cost of the natural gas was considerably higher than in past seasons. This is just what happened in the winter of 1996-1997. In January 1997, the largest monthly increase in the cost of natural gas, 4.8 percent, was recorded.

Historically, situations that lead consumers to cry foul are those where higher than average gas costs coincide with higher than average use, especially during an extended period of cold weather. In these instances, it is not uncommon for bills to double.

In 1997, the federal energy agency listed nearly 445,000 residential and 51,661 commercial customers in the state. Average prices paid for natural gas purchased from local distribution companies by residential and commercial customers were $5.69 and $4.88 per thousand cubic feet, respectively. The national average prices for natural gas were $6.94 and $5.79, respectively.

Seasonal Juggling

Natural gas reaches consumers every day through buried pipelines in America and around the world. All natural gas used comes from just three types of sources: domestic wells, withdrawals from storage or imports. During the summer, consumer demand can easily be met from domestic and imported sources with the excess being placed in storage facilities. In the winter, demand for gas almost always exceeds production and imports, so the gas in storage is used to meet seasonal heating needs.

In Nebraska, production from natural gas wells, primarily in the Panhandle, totaled only 1.66 billion cubic feet in 1997. Since gas produced in the state meets less than 2 percent of the needs, natural gas must be imported.

A Changing Industry

Since price ceilings on natural gas were removed in 1979, the industry has gradually been evolving. In 1993, the industry was fully deregulated.

During the past 20 years, the price of natural gas has gone from a high, but stable environment to one that is considerably lower, but far more volatile. For example, the annual well head price of gas declined by more than 50 percent, adjusted for inflation, between 1983 and 1998. A recent example of volatility occurred on December 4, 1998, when the spot price at the national hub in Henry, Louisiana, hit the extremely low level of $1.01 per million British Thermal Units (BTUs) only to rise to $1.55 the next day.

More Changes Coming?

Even though the natural gas industrywas fully deregulated in 1993, less than half the states have allowed consumers supply choice options. According to the American Gas Association, 54 million households use natural gas, but only 20 million can choose a natural gas supplier.

In Nebraska, only customers served by KN Energy in central and western Nebraska have a choice among five suppliers. As a result of the latest balloting by these natural gas consumers, about 22 percent of eligible natural gas customers chose a supplier other than their traditional one or an affiliated subsidiary.

Next year, the Legislature's Urban Affairs Committee will begin a multi-year study of deregulation issues and the natural gas industry.

Presently, there are four investor-owned utilities that serve nearly two-thirds of the customers in the state. Customers in 15 towns, including Omaha, are served by publicly-owned municipal systems.

“M” and “A”

Another trend that is reshaping the industry is mergers and acquisitions. Almost weekly, a natural gas or electric utility is involved in a merger or buyout of another gas or electric system. Because publicly-owned gas and electric systems are prevalent in the state, these trends have been somewhat muted. In 1986, seven investor-owned natural gas systems operated in the state. Today, there are just four. The past several years have seen several systems — Stuart, Wahoo, Scribner and Neligh — moving from being served by investor-owned.

Editor's Note: Material for this article was based in part on "Why Do Natural Gas Prices Fluctuate So Much?" from the Energy Information Administration. More information on this subject can be obtained at U.S. DOE Energy Information Administration.

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What To Expect This Winter

Plan on spending more to heat your home this winter.

According to the Short-term Energy Outlook from the Energy Information Administration, natural gas prices will be up and if seasonal temperatures return to normal—last year was unusually mild in parts of the nation — Nebraskans could be spending a lot more to ward off the winter chill.

A Third or More

Current projections estimate a 37 percent hike in the cost of natural gas. Most natural gas bills in Nebraska are divided in three parts, one of which is the cost of gas. The actual cost of the gas is usually less than half the total bill for residential users. The other two parts—cost of retail service and transmission — do not fluctuate as much as the price of the fuel.

The Outlook found electric utilities were increasing natural gas use — often used to power turbines that are operated when electricity use is high, especially during hot summers. As a result, natural gas stored for winter use was being depleted faster than expected and could lead to higher prices when winter's bitter north winds begin to blow.

Propane, Too

The Energy Information Administration's near-term projection for propane prices and demand has not been issued. However, customers should also expect price increases since propane can be produced from either natural gas or crude oil, which is also up over last year by about 24 percent. Some independent oil market watchers have said oil prices could rise an additional 25 percent to around $25 a barrel by the end of the year, if rising demand continues without an increase in production.

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$1.4 Million to Improve Homes

In July, the Energy Office received $1.457 million from the U.S. Department of Energy to weatherize the homes of needy Nebraskans. An estimated 661 homes will be less costly to heat next winter after improvements are made in the houses.

Weatherization reduces the amount of energy used to heat a typical low-income household by 20 to 30 percent, saving an estimated $126 each year on the heating bill according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Weatherization also lessens the need for imported fuels and reduces the need for other types of social services such as utility bill paying, housing and health care. Studies have shown that lower income households spend about 15 percent of their income for energy. This amount is more than four times that spent by higher income households.

Typical weatherization services include diagnostic testing, installing attic and wall insulation, sealing ducts, adding caulking and weatherstripping, insulating water heating systems and performing heating system tune-ups.

Regional agencies across the state provide weatherization services to homeowners and renters. Typically, about one-third of the homes are occupied by elderly Nebraskans.

Since the Low Income Weatherization Assistance Program began in 1979, $73.06 million have been spent to weatherize 49,509 homes in Nebraska.

For more information about weatherization services offered by the state, contact one of the service providers listed in the map or Pete Davis in the Energy Office.

Assistance Providers
Wx Assistance Service Providers
Northwest Nebraska Community Action Panhandle Community Services Goldenrod Hills Community Center Lincoln Action Program Weatherization Trust, Inc. Southeast Nebraska Community Action Blue Valley Community Action Mid-Nebraska Community Services Central Nebraska Community Services

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Editor's Note: These weatherization tips were compiled from several sources including: Energy Savers: Tips on Saving Energy and Money at Home.

Getting a Leg Up on Your Heating Bills

Warm air leaking into your home during the summer and out of your home during the winter can waste a substantial portion of your energy dollars.

One of the quickest dollar saving tasks you can do is caulk, seal and weatherstrip all seams, cracks and openings to the outside. You can save ten percent or more on your energy bill by reducing the air leaks in your home, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

Weatherization Tips

  • First, test your home for air tightness.

On a windy day, hold a lit incense stick next to your windows, doors, electrical boxes, plumbing fixtures, electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, attic hatches and other locations where there is a possible air path to the outside.

If the smoke stream travels horizontally, you have located an air leak that may need caulking, sealing or weatherstripping.

  • Caulk and weatherstrip doors and windows that leak air.
  • Caulk and seal air leaks where plumbing, ducting or electrical wiring penetrates through exterior walls, floors, ceilings and soffits over cabinets.
  • Install rubber gaskets behind outlet and switch plates on exterior walls.
  • Look for dirty spots in your insulation, which often indicate holes where air leaks into and out of your house. You can seal the holes by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edges of the plastic.
  • Install storm windows over single-pane windows or replace them with double-pane windows. Storm windows as much as double the R-value of single-pane windows and they can help reduce drafts, water condensation and frost formation.

As a less costly and less permanent alternative, you can use a heavy-duty, clear plastic sheet on a frame or tape clear plastic film to the inside of your window frames during the cold winter months. Remember, the plastic must be sealed tightly to the frame to help reduce infiltration.

What is Weatherization?

Sealing homes by caulking, weatherstripping and other air infiltration measures, and installing attic, wall and floor insulation.

  • When the fireplace is not in use, keep the flue damper tightly closed. A chimney is designed specifically for smoke to escape, so until you close it, warm air escapes. 24 hours a day.
  • For new construction, reduce exterior wall leaks by either installing house wrap, taping the joints of exterior sheathing, or comprehensively caulking and sealing the exterior walls.
  • If you have heating or cooling ducts located in an attic or crawl space, make sure all duct joints are sealed with mastic (not duct) tape and that ducts are securely connected to register boots.
Where Air Escapes From a House
Where Air Escapes From a House

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State Buildings to Meet Higher Standards

LB 755, passed by the Unicameral and signed into law by Governor Mike Johanns during the last legislative session, requires all new state and state-funded buildings to meet the 1998 International Energy Conservation Code.

The Code also applies to additions and modifications to state buildings. Nebraska becomes the first state to adopt the 1998 Code according to the Building Code Assistance Project.

The International Code replaces the 1995 Model Energy Code, which has been the basis for Energy Office incentives such as low-interest Dollar and Energy Saving Loans and Mortgages. The International Energy Conservation Code was developed with the goal of conserving energy without unnecessarily increasing construction costs or restricting the use of new materials, products or methods of construction. The Code is updated regularly based on comments from code officials and others.

The new law also extends minimum energy efficiency requirements to all other new buildings that are built using public funds such as low and moderate income housing as well as some local government buildings.

The Department of Administrative Services has authority to waive or modify code requirements as needed. The Energy Office is writing rules and regulations to address procedural questions in applying the Code. The proposed rules will address such issues as when in the design process the plans should be submitted, how should requests for variances to the Code be handled and should plans drawn by professional engineers and architects be reviewed. The rules should be completed by the end of the year.

More information about the International Code is available from Kirk Conger in the Energy Office.

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Plan Ahead

The Nebraska Commission on Housing and Homelessness scheduled the conference, "Tools for Building Communities in the 21st Century. A Policy Forum and Training on Housing and Homelessness Practices," on October 4-5 at the Cornhusker Hotel in Lincoln.

For more information, contact Lara Huskey at the Department of Economic Development, phone 402-471-3759, email Lara Huskey.

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Editor's note: The Energy Office is providing this information on straw bale construction as a service to Quarterly readers. Publication of this article in the Quarterly does not constitute an endorsement of the building practice.

Straw Bale Buildings Return to the Prairie

As pioneers settled in Nebraska, they had to deal with one of the realities of the Plains. Trees were scarce. In the east and central parts of the state, many initial homes were often constructed of sod or dugouts in banks or hills. In the Sandhills, where even sod was rare — bales of straw, or prairie meadow hay, wetland reeds and even tumbleweeds — were substituted.

The arrival of the horse-powered baler in the 1880s — and mechanized ones even later — made straw a popular building material through the early 1940s. Schools, churches, homes and farm and ranch buildings were created with bale walls, reviving building techniques used centuries earlier in Europe and other parts of the world.


Today, bale building is experiencing a worldwide revival. Builders in Europe, Asia and the Americas are blending old techniques with new technologies to construct energy efficient, comfortable, easy to build, innovative and creative buildings. The uniqueness of building with straw bales is its compatibility with other building methods such as concrete, cob, adobe, timber frame and steel.

The Scott house near Gordon, Nebraska, built in 1936
The Scott house near Gordon, Nebraska, built in 1936

Tested at an insulating value of R-48 or greater — twice the insulation value of most homes — bales are energy-efficient building blocks. A bale with a thickness of 14 to 18 inches is also a natural soundproofing material. Nebraskan Lucille Cross spent her childhood in a hay bale house. She frequently tells the story of the time when the family was inside playing cards, unaware that a tornado was swirling outside.

Stacked and secured within post-and-beam or load-bearing structural systems, bales can be coated with stucco and plaster that preserve the bales and add structural strength. Typically, 300 bales are used for every 1,000 square feet of structure.

There is no need to wrap the walls to prevent air leakage. Conventional roofing can be used. Living roofs combining standard roofing materials with earth and compost to sustain plants and add mass. Full or partial basements, slab on grade or a crawl space are workable as are standard footings and foundations. Properly constructed and maintained bale buildings can easily last for several hundred years.

A bale building is ideal for passive solar design. Stuccoed walls absorb and store the day's radiated heat. Properly orienting a building on the site aids in solar energy gain, protection from winter winds and snow and summer storms and hot breezes.

Cheap to Pricey

Open interior space with few halls and walls helps keep material costs down and eases utility costs by allowing air to flow easily throughout all spaces with minimal equipment. Building costs can be highly variable, but generally range from $5 to $120 a square foot. The national average for new home construction is $53 a square foot. Homes constructed of bales have been built for as low as $5,000 and as much as $200,000.

There are other efficiencies in the use of straw beyond forming walls from a crop byproduct or binding crop residue into bales of standard sizes. The use of these crop residues creates new markets for something that would otherwise be burned, buried or left to decay.

Straw can also be chopped for use as a component of a "bioblock" — a mix of other recyclable materials including plastics and wood — used like a concrete masonry unit or concrete block. Straw can be compressed into board form for use as plywood, sheathing, flooring and other building products. Plants manufacturing products from straw have been appearing from Texas to Canada in the past several years. One manufacturer uses straw to create a variety of consumer products ranging from business cardholders and brushes to bird feeders and downspout splash guards. Of course, straw has been used as a binder in bricks, stucco and adobe for centuries.

The Straw Bale Association of Nebraska, founded in 1998, is a channel for information, a network for anyone interested in the revival of Nebraska's best building idea and a resource for balers, builders and enthusiasts. For more information about straw bale construction or the Straw Bale Association of Nebraska, contact Joyce Coppinger of Re:Build Associates, phone 402-483-5135 and 800-910-3019 or by email Joyce Coppinger.

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Nebraska Straw Bale Homes and Buildings


  • Burke Homestead, south of Alliance
  • Fawn Lake Ranch, near Hyannis
  • Lone Oak/The Elms, east of Emerald
  • Martin-Monhart Bungalow, Arthur
  • Pilgrim Holiness Church, Arthur
  • Scott House, Gordon
  • Sturtz Ranch, near Stapleton

New Construction

  • Tyson Home, Lemoyne
  • Von Nielson Body Shop, Arthur
  • Cooney's Construction Shop, Arthur
  • Cottage at Dobby Lee's Frontier Town, Alliance
  • Angel's Convenience Store, Spencer
  • Early-Paprocki Lakeside Cottage, Columbus
  • Gardner Guest House, Denton
  • MacIntyre Home, Raymond
  • Elementary School Classroom, Gothenburg

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USDA Rural Development and Ag Research Grants

On September 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will close the door of opportunity for a series of small business grants. That date is the deadline for grant applications to be received by the federal agency.

The grants are designed for small businesses to pursue innovative research on important problems facing American agriculture and rural areas of the nation that could lead to a significant public benefit. Small businesses are defined as having fewer than 500 employees.

According to the USDA, up to 80 grants of up to $70,000 each could be awarded nationwide. Research applications in the following areas will be considered:

  • Plant production and protection;
  • Animal production and protection;
  • Air, water and soils;
  • Food science and nutrition;
  • Rural and community development;
  • Industrial applications; and
  • Marketing and trade.
USDA logo
USDA logo

For example, grant requests in the area of rural and community development" ...should not concentrate primarily on the development of new technology, but rather on applying new or existing technology to address important issues or solving significant problems. The proposals do not need to be centered on agriculture, but may be focused on any area—information systems, education, health care — that has the potential of providing significant benefits to rural America."

The Ag Department suggests that successful grant winners will include a market feasibility study as part of the six month project.

Several suggested areas for projects included:

  1. development of income or employment opportunities,
  2. improvements in service delivery by local governments and public institutions, and
  3. employment and revenue generating opportunities.

More information about the grants, including application forms, can be obtained at U.S. Dept. of Agriculter.

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Electric Restructuring Not Good for All

Editor's Note: The following is an excerpt from Governor Johanns' testimony on electric utility deregulation before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in June.

The complete text of his remarks can be found at the Governors' Public Power Alliance web site at Public Power Alliance Governor Johanns and Tennessee Governor Sundquist serve as co-chairs of the Alliance.

"Before we rush headlong into yet another federal experiment in the deregulation of an essential public service, perhaps we ought to pause and take stock of the legacy of prior initiatives. First, let's recognize that the absence or reduction of regulation does not in itself necessarily increase competition. Without the proper market characteristics, competition will not develop and consumers may pay the price. We are finding this to have been the case in rural Nebraska.

"And surprisingly, in larger cities, too. In Council Bluffs, Iowa—population 54,000—the local investor-owned utility tried to open the electric market to other suppliers. Not a single utility—other than a subsidiary of the local utility— wanted to compete for customers in this test of competition in the electric industry in Iowa. Can we realistically expect electric industry competition when population density in some rural areas is less than two customers per mile of line?

"Airline deregulation has resulted in a dramatic loss of air service in rural Nebraska with enplanements in our smaller cities down more than 56 percent since 1978, and two of those airports—Columbus and Sidney—now closed to commercial air service entirely. In the railroad industry, the story is much the same. Nearly 2,000 miles — roughly one-quarter of the active rail lines in Nebraska have been abandoned since 1982 and our vital agricultural industry, especially in remote parts of the state, is finding it ever more difficult and expensive to get products to market.

"As you know, when it comes to electricity Nebraska is unique. We have a longstanding tradition of enjoying the benefits of what we commonly refer to as public power — every single resident receives electric power from a municipality, public power district, or rural electric cooperative. No other state can make that claim. At the beginning of the century., Nebraska Senator George Norris, the father of the Tennessee Valley Authority, fought to create public power to give consumers local control, reliable, service and low rates. In the late 1960s, long before the Energy Policy Act of 1992 required deregulation of the wholesale electric industry, Nebraska had wholesale wheeling. Today that pioneering tradition continues, and Nebraskans are better off because of it."

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Study to Determine Impact of Electric System Deregulation

In 1996, the Legislature directed its Natural Resources Committee to study the state's electric system and the affect of deregulation on the nation's only electric system owned in its entirety by consumers.

The study is nicknamed "LR455" because the legislative resolution—or LR for short— authorizing the study was numbered 455. The study will be completed at the end of this year.

The study is being guided by a task force and 40 advisory committee members. The task force is comprised of a project manager,facilitator and six Nebraska Power Association representatives. This group primarily functions as the study's staff.

Background information on the study and a list of the members of the advisory group can be found at LR 455 Advisory Group info

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A Peek at the State's Electric Industry

Nebraska is the only state with no investor-owned electric companies operating within its borders, so a federal energy information agency believes the state could be affected differently than all other states by federal proposals to restructure the electric industry.

The restructuring report identified 164 utilities serving almost 855,000 customers in the state. According to the Energy Information Administration in 1997, 55 percent of the electricity in the state came from coal and the two nuclear power plants in the state supplied 22 percent. Virtually all the coal used for electricity production comes from Wyoming's Powder River Basin.

The average price of electricity in the state is 5.32 cents per kilowatthour, which is the twelfth lowest in the nation. The national price average in 1997 was 6.86 cents. Nebraska's low cost of electricity is due, in part, to the proximity of the coal fields and low transportation costs associated with moving the coal from Wyoming to the power plants.

The average age of the state's generating systems is not young: coal and oil-fired plants average 21 years, nuclear plants average 22 years, gas-fired plants average 30 years and hydroelectric plants average 46 years.

Between 1986 and 1996, the growth rates for various types of customers ranged from two percent annually for residential customers, to three percent for commercial customers and more than five percent for industrial customers.

The amount of pollution emissions related to electricity generation ranked the state at 33rd, 35th and 38th for sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide emissions, respectively.

The complete overview of Nebraska's electric industry is available at the Energy Information Administration web site at EIA Nebraska Electric Industry Overview

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Heat Pumps, Ethanol in Buses and Energy Savings in Buildings

In June, the Nebraska Energy Office received three new competitively awarded grants totaling $157,000 from the U.S. Department of Energy. The grants will help the agency promote geothermal heat pumps for schools, test a blend of ethanol and diesel in Omaha buses and help reduce the state's Army National Guard' s energy costs in its facilities. In-kind contributions and cost sharing by the agency's partners will add $134,000 to the projects.

Specific details about the projects:

  • The Geothermal Heat Pump Training Program will team three electric utilities. Nebraska Public Power District, Omaha Public Power District and Lincoln Electric System. along with Central Community College and Energy Office staff to provide information to school officials, architects and engineers and provide training for well drillers and installers of geothermal heat pump installations. The one-year grant is for $50,000. Nebraska, a national leader in geothermal heat pumps, has an estimated 30 systems currently installed in schools. For example, one district, Lincoln Public Schools, expects to save $1.75 million in 20 years from the heat pump systems installed in four new elementary schools.
Clean Cities
Clean Cities logo
  • The Omaha Clean Cites Coalition Oxy-Diesel Project will fuel 10 Metro Area Transit Authority buses with a 15 percent ethanol/80 percent diesel blend for one year to test the ability of the fuel blend to reduce pollution. A special fuel blending agent makes the diesel/ethanol fuel usable without engine modifications. Other partners on this $42,800 grant include the Nebraska Grain Sorghum Board and the Nebraska Corn Marketing and Development Board.
  • The Federal Energy Management Program/Nebraska Army National Guard effort will allow the hiring of a resource efficiency manager by the Guard so that energy saving improvements identified earlier can be made in the 1.3 million square feet of federal and state military buildings under the Guard's jurisdiction. This $64,500 grant is for one year.

Since 1996, the state's Energy Office has won 11 competitive federal grants totaling $1.432 million. Six of the grants, totaling $1.15 million, were for housing-related activities that expanded the agency's services to the state's builders, realtors and local housing officials.

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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.

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

5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

Have there been recent changes to the maximum amount that can be borrowed?

Yes. Effective June 7, 1999, you may borrow up to $25,000 for eligible energy saving improvements in a single-family dwelling and up to $75,000 for a multi-family building, which is two or more units. Before, the maximum loan amounts were $20,000 and $60,000, respectively. Other loan maximums remain the same: $100,000 for small businesses, non-profits and Rebuild Nebraska partners; $150,000 for Climate Wise Partners; $75,000 for farm and ranch operations; $175,000 for political subdivisions, except schools and state government; $100,000 for rural nursing homes located outside first class or larger cities; and $150,000 for telecommunications projects and alternate fuel projects.

Are the maximum loan amounts applicable to the borrower or the building or operation?

In the case of a single-family home or a multi-family building, the maximum loan amount applies to the building, not the borrower. Thus, if a borrower owns five single family dwellings, up to $25,000 could be borrowed on each dwelling, provided the borrower qualifies for a loan with a participating lender. The same would apply to multi-family buildings. The borrower could get a loan of up to $75,000 for energy saving improvements on each building.

For businesses, non-profits, Rebuild Nebraska and Climate Wise partners, farms and ranches, and political subdivisions, the maximum loan amount applies to the business or operation, not a building.

For telecommunications and alternate fuel projects, the maximum loan amount applies to the borrower, who may borrow up to $150,00 for telecommunications projects as well as $150,000 for alternate fuel projects.

If a borrower has not reached the maximum loan amount on a home, building, business or operation, can additional loans be taken out for eligible work?

A borrower may secure additional funds up to the maximum loan amount for new eligible projects. If a borrower already has a loan for energy saving improvements totaling $20,000 on a single family dwelling, the same borrower, or a different borrower if the house has since sold, could get a loan of up to $5,000 for additional work on the same house. This interpretation applies to all loan categories, where additional loans for energy saving improvements may be obtained until the loan limit is reached.

If a borrower is making additional energy saving improvements, does the loan have to be a new, separate one or can the loan be combined with the earlier one on the same property?

Whether the loan will be separate or combined with a previous loan, is at the discretion of the lender. However, if the new project is combined into one loan with an older loan, the maturity date for the combined loans cannot extend beyond the maximum allowable term on the original loan. For example, if the original loan had a term of ten years and had been in repayment for four years, the new loan will combine the old and the new projects. The loan could not be written for and amortized for a period longer than six years.

What are Rebuild Nebraska and Climate Wise partners?

Rebuild Nebraska is a voluntary effort to increase the use of energy efficient technologies in commercial and multi-family buildings. Climate Wise is a voluntary energy efficiency and waste minimization partnership for manufacturers. Partners are eligible for Dollar and Energy Saving Loans as well as additional technical assistance in identifying and financing the improvements. Contact Jack Osterman for more information on these partnerships.

Can anyone finance waste minimization projects as well as energy efficiency projects with a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan?

Any Nebraska business—commercial, industrial, or agricultural — can finance waste minimization projects with a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan. Potential projects include pollution prevention assessments; equipment to renew or recapture solvents, chemicals and abrasives; projects modifying processes to require fewer or lower toxicity solvents; projects to convert bulk, reusable or lower-volume packing and shipping materials; projects to control inventory to reduce volume of wasted materials; projects which produce new or additional products from current waste streams; projects which separate toxic constituents from the general waste streams; recovery and reuse of waste oil or wood in approved heaters and boilers; recycling equipment; combustion of waste for energy recovery in approved burners; compaction of waste prior to landfilling; and recovery and reuse of waste oil from vehicle fleets.

Waste minimization loans at 2.5% interest are available from participating local lenders for eligible projects that are completed by December 31, 1999. Potential projects must be described in the Energy Office's Waste Minimization Project Summary, Form 36, and the Summary submitted to the Energy Office for review and approval. Projects cannot be started or contracted for prior to the Energy Office signing a Commitment Agreement with the applicant's lender to participate in the loan and purchase its share of the loan. Project Summary forms are available from the Energy Office or can be downloaded or printed from the agency's web site: Nebraska Energy Office

Do you have to submit more than one form for some projects such as doors, windows, roofs and siding? If so, what application forms must be completed and sent to the lender along with the project estimates?

Application Form 2, Door, Window, Wall and Ceiling Projects, must be completed and submitted by the loan applicant for all the projects listed on that form. In addition to Form 2, the loan applicant and contractor must complete and submit Form 2/Siding if the wall insulation project includes siding; Form 2/Roofing if the attic or ceiling insulation project includes roof repair or replacement; and Form 2/Window/Door if the project is for the replacement of windows or exterior doors. All borrower forms can be dowloaded from the agency's web site, Nebraska Energy Office, and submitted to the agency for processing.

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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

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Toll Free: 1-877-337-3463

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Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

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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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U.S. 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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