December 2002

Nebraska Energy Quarterly logo Nebraska Energy Quarterly gasoline pump

photo of daylily flower
Low-water plants,
like this daylily,
save money and water
Making Good Use of Resources...

Energy and Cost Saving Tips on Water Use

On average, North American cities use twice as much water per person as Western European cities and seven times that used in developing countries...

An Investment in Our Children's Future...

The Alliance to Save Energy's Green School

Green Schools help schools use energy efficiency through building retrofits, changes in operational and maintenance outines and changes in behaviors of building users...

Making the Most of Indigenous Resources...

Three Grants to Further Goals

In September, the Energy Office received three grants totaling $67,000 for projects related to converting indigenous renewable resources to energy...

Get The Latest...

What are Current and Projected Energy Prices and Supplies?

Each month — usually around the 15th or before — the Energy Office provides updates on energy supplies and prices for gasoline, natural gas, diesel, heating oil propane and electricity on our Nebraska Statistics page:

Energy Statistics

Scroll down the main statistics page to find the fuel type being sought.

The Best and Worst of 2003...

Shopping for a New Vehicle?

With the arrival of 2003 model vehicles, the federal government's Fuel Economy Guide is never far behind...

Questions and Answers...

5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

If you already have made energy saving improvements...

Free While They Last...

Harnessing the Earth's Renewable Resources

Science teachers and trivia fans rejoice! A free 6' X 27" full color poster could be yours...

Ever Dynamic...

Taking Nebraska’s Renewable Energy Pulse

With increasing frequency, Nebraskans are asking, “how much of the energy used in the state comes from renewable sources”...

Fireplaces, Safety and More...

Making the Most of Using Wood to Heat Your Home

Before the 20th century, 90 percent of Americans burned wood...

image of ethanol gasoline pump
Ethanol use is on the rise
Renewable Resources...

Nebraska Energy Statistics Additions

Two new data series are now being regularly updated at the Energy Office's energy statistics web site...

Roundup of New and Updated Websites...

For the Research Minded

News Bytes...
image of traffic light
Traffic lights
can save energy
Energy bytes from around the State

Grand Island Traffic Lights go High Tech

Even something as innocuous as changing traffic light bulbs...

More Nebraska Topics...

Nebraska's oil needs continue to be met by shipments from...

Three electric plants that provide generation for the...

In July, Union Pacific Railroad ordered 350 blue rail yard signal lights from..


Harmonizing Landscaping with the Environment...

Low Water Use Benefits and Methods

Drought conditions are not something new in Nebraska.

In fact, in a 1943 study scientists uncovered trees deeply buried in sediment for centuries revealed numerous droughts in the region throughout an 800-year period. In some cases, the droughts lasted for 20 years. So, for a place once known as the “Great American Desert” droughts may be a fairly commonplace occurrence.

photo of succulent plants
Low-water plants save
resources and money

As part of a more comprehensive Green Building effort, the Energy Office is providing information on how to reduce water use, especially in the area of new home construction and landscaping.

Apart from easing drought conditions, why should water be conserved?

Wise use of water is a good idea for many reasons:

  • On a large scale, wise water use protects our environment and preserves a natural resource.
  • On a personal level, wise water use saves money by reducing water bills.
  • On the community level, wise water use will lengthen the life of delivery systems because less stress is placed on the system. Increased water use can overburden municipal and private sewage treatment systems which may result in watering restrictions and higher costs.

Water Waste Facts from Near and Far

  • On average, North American cities use twice as much water per person as Western European cities and seven times that used in developing countries.
  • In the United States, five billion gallons of water are flushed down toilets each day. Use of low flow toilets would cut use to 1.5 billion gallons. Replacing standard 3.5 gallon toilets with 1.6 gallon toilets would save an average household 12,000 gallons of water per year.

How is water used in homes?

A recent evaluation in Lincoln, Nebraska showed that, on average, a family of four uses 300 to 400 gallons of water each day. That 300 to 400 gallons average water use is attributed to the following uses:

  • Toilet flushing - 42 percent
  • Showers and Bathing - 30 percent
  • Laundry - 14 percent
  • Dishwashing - 6 percent
  • Drinking and cooking - 5 percent
  • Bathroom sinks - 3 percent

Where does water go after it is used?

Most municipalities operate and maintain water treatment facilities. The city of Lincoln's Theresa Street water plant treats about 30 million gallons of water a day. During the summer when water use increases, Lincoln's water system delivers 80 to 90 million gallons a day to customers.

Steps To Reduce Water Use In Your Home

There are any number of ways water use can be reduced around the home:

  1. Reduce total indoor water use by installing efficient fixtures and appliances.
  2. Have an efficient and drought resistant landscape that incorporates xeriscape techniques. Other suggestions include planting low-water use turf and using microclimate improvements.
  3. Control runoff from the property using appropriate guttering and landscape designs.
  4. Have a responsible irrigation schedule.
  5. Be frugal with water use.

Nebraska Green Building Program

Green Building logo
Green Building logo

Builders participating in the Energy Office's Nebraska Green Building Program are encouraged to reduce water use during all phases of the construction of their homes as well as specify and install low water use fixtures and landscaping that will help to reduce water use in the future. Builders of Nebraska Green Building Certified Homes are required to install certain items or utilize efficient construction techniques. Builders may also earn credits in the Low Water Use category by including some of the options below:

  • Shower heads have a maximum flow rating of 2.5 gallons per minute*
  • Toilets have a maximum water usage rating of 1.6 gallons per flush*
  • Permeable paving materials are used in at least 60 percent of all paving areas such as walkways, patios and driveways
  • Low water use grasses such as blue gramma, buffalo or fescue are planted
  • A valved distribution system is installed in the home
  • A xeriscaped landscape is installed in more than 80 percent of the property's non-paved areas
  • The kitchen sink has a maximum flow rating of 2.0 gallons per minute
  • A front loading horizontal axis clothes washer is included in the home
  • The home has a water conserving irrigation system with rain-override timer or soil moisture sensor; other features include drip irrigation, soaker hoses and bubblers and zoned irrigation with separate valving for plants' needs
  • A graywater irrigation system is installed in the home
  • Copper piping is used for all potable water lines
  • The site is graded to direct water away from foundations to a harvesting area that prevents water runoff
  • No garbage disposal is included

*Required in the Nebraska Green Building Program.

Return to top

Resources On the Web...

There are a multitude of web-based resources that provide additional information on how to use water more efficiently. Here are just a few of them:

Return to top

Low Water Use and Drought Tolerant Plants Recommended in Nebraska...

Low-water plants need little care
Low-water plants need little care
Aspen Trees
Aspen Trees
Trees
Common Name Scientific Name Average Height
Amur Maple Acer Ginnala 25 feet
Norway Maple Acer Platanoides 50 feet
Hickory Carya sps. 45 feet
Common Hackberry Celcis Occidentalis 60 feet
Eastern Redbud Cercis Canadensis 20 feet
Thornless Cockspur Hawthorn Crataegur Crusgalli Inerinis 20 feet
Washington Hawthorn Crataegur Phaenopyrum 25 feet
Green Ash Fraxinus Pennsylvanica 60 feet
White Ash Fraxinus Americana 80 feet
Ginko Ginko Biloba 60 feet
Thornless Common Honeylocust Gelditsia Triacanthos Inerinis 60 feet
Kentuck Coffeetree Gyinnocladur Dioicur 60 feet
Junipers Juniperus spp. 25 – 35 feet
Golden Raintree Koelreuteria Paniculata 30 feet
Osage Orange (thornless male) Maclura Piiniiera 50 feet
Crabapple Malur Cultivars 15 – 25 feet
Colorado Spruce Picea Pungens 50 feet
Black Hills Spruce Picea Plauca ‘Densata’ 45 feet
Jack Pine Pinus Banliiana 35 – 40 feet
Austrian Pine Pinur Nigra 50 feet
Ponderosa Pine Pinus Ponderosa 60 feet
Scotch Pine Pinur Sylvestris 60 feet
Douglas Fir Pseudotsuga Inenziesii 50 feet
Scarlet Oak Quercus Coccinea 65 feet
Shingle Oak Quercus Iinbricaria 40 feet
Bur Oak Quercur Inacrocarpa 50 feet
Blackjack Oak Quercur Inarilandica 25 feet
Black Oak Quercus Veliitina 55 feet
Swamp Oak Quercur Bicolor 50 feet
Black Locust Robinia Speudoacadia 60 feet
Bald cypress Tazodiuin Distichuin 50 feet

Return to top

Dogwood and Chokeberry
Dogwood and Chokeberry
Shrubs
Common Name Scientific Name Average Height
Saskatoon Serviceberry Amelanchier Alniiolia 6 feet
Leadplant Amorpha Ainorpha Canescens 8 – 20 feet
Black Chokeberry Aronia Inelonacrpa 10 feet
Mentor Barberry Berberis X Inentorensis 7 feet
Japanese Barberry Berberis Thunbergii 7 feet
Siberian Peashrub Caragana Arborescens 15 – 20 feet
New Jersey Tea Ceanothur Americanus 3 feet
Flowering Quince Chaenoineles Species 3 – 6 feet
Corneliancherry Dogwood Cornus Mas 20 feet
Gray Dogwood Cornus Raceinosa 12 feet
Smoketree Cotinur Coggygria 15 feet
Bush Honeysuckle Diervilla Lonicera 5 – 6 feet
Common Witchhazel Hainainelis Virginiana 15 feet
Juniper Juniperur Chinensis 10 – 15 feet
Beautybush Kolkwitzia Ainabilis 10 feet
Privet Ligustruin Species 15 – 20 feet
Blueleaf Honeysuckle Lonicera Horolkowii 15 feet
Emerald Mound Honeysuckle Lonicera X ‘Emerald Mound’ 2 feet
Amur Honeysuckle Lonicera Inaackii 15 feet
Common Ninebark Psysocarpur Opuliiolias 10 feet
Mugo Pine Pinur Inugo 5 – 15 feet
Nanking Cherry Prunur Toinentosa 15 feet
Western Sandcherry Prunur Besseyi 4 feet
Scarlet Firethorn Pyracantha Coccinea 6 feet
Sumac Rhur Species 6 feet
Missouri Gooseberry Ribes Inissourense 3 feet
Clove Currant Ribes Odoratuin 8 feet
Rugose Rose Rosa Rugosa 4 feet
Winged Euonymus Euonymus Alatus 20 feet
Forsythia Forsythia X Intermedia 10 feet
Potentilla Potentilla Fruticosa 5 feet
Elderberry Sambucus Niegra 8 feet
Vanhoute’s Spirea Spirea X Vanhouttei 5 feet
Western Snowberry Syinphoricarpos Occidentalis 3 – 4 feet
Coralberry Syinphoricarpos Orbiculatur 3 feet
Lilac Syringa Species 10 feet
Wayfaringtree Viburnuin Lantana 10 feet
Nannyberry Viburnuin Lentago 25 feet
Blackhaw Viburnum Viburnuin Pruniioliuin 15 feet
Soapweed Yucca Glauca 3 feet
Adams Needle or Yucca Yucca Filainentosa 3 feet

Return to top

Wild Rose
Wild Rose
Wildflowers & Perennials (Forbs)
Common Name Scientific Name
Yarrow Antennaria Achillea Species
Pussytoes Artemisia Artemisia
New England Aster Aster Novae – Angliae
Butterfly Milkweed Asclepias Tuberosa
False Indigo Baptisia Species
Coreopsis Cultivars Coreopsis Species
Purple Prairie Clover Dalea Purpurea
Purple Coneflower Echinacea Purpurea
Blanket Flower Gaillarada Species
Daylily Heinerocallis Species
Iris Species Iris Species
Gayfeather Liatris Species
Beebalm Monarda Species
Sedum Sedum Species
Black-Eyed Susan Rudbeckia Hirta
Columbine Aquillegia Species
Russian Sage Perovskia Atrilicifolia
Hens-N-Chicks Seinpervirens Species
Buffalo Grass
Buffalo Grass
Turfgrasses
Common Name Scientific Name
Buffalograss Festiica Buchloe Dactyloides
Tall Fescue Arundinacea
Fountain Grass
Fountain Grass
Ornamental Grasses
Common Name Scientific Name
Big Bluestem Bouteloua Andropogon Gerardia
Sideoats Grama Curtipendula
Feather Calamagrostis Acutiflora
Sand Lovegrass Reedgrass Eragrostis Trichodes
Eulaliagrass Miscanthur Species
Switchgrass Panicuin Virgatuin
Fountaingrass Pennisetuin Species
Little Bluestem Schizachyriuin Scopariuin
Indiangrass Sorghastruin Nutans

Return to top


An Investment in Our Children's Future...

The Alliance to Save Energy's Green Schools

Green Schools Earth Apple logo
Green Schools
Earth Apple

Green Schools helps schools use energy efficiently through building retrofits, changes in operational and maintenance routines, and changes in the behavior of building users. Students, teachers, custodians, administrators, and community members all work together toward a common goal — saving energy and money.

In short, a Green School is energy and environmentally conscious, fiscally responsible and well-connected to the real world.

Everyone Benefits

  • Students benefit from hands-on lessons in energy conservation and efficiency that will pay off now and in the future.
  • Schools benefit from considerable cost savings, curriculum support, cross-functional team building and community involvement.
  • Communities benefit from the partnerships established by the participants.
  • The environment benefits from the more efficient use of polluting fossil fuels.
Michigan students participate in Green School activities
Michigan students participate in
Green School activities

How Green Schools Works

The Alliance to Save Energy's experience with 18 schools in five school districts around the nation can help your school district set up and maintain a successful Green Schools Program.

Energy efficiency concepts fit in easily with many academic subjects and grade levels. Students learn how to assess energy-use behavior, monitor the effects of behavior change, and track resulting energy and cost savings benefits.

Students learn to see the "big picture" of energy efficiency. Students identify and explore energy's links to the environment, the community, and the economy. The program is a "real-world" experience that reinforces curriculum content with lifelong energy-saving practices.

Money saved on energy resources is money that can be spent on educational resources. Green Schools saves energy costs in two ways: through behavior change and building retrofits.

Schools save energy by making simple changes in building operations and maintenance, and by teaching building users ways to use energy more efficiently. They also save water and reduce waste. In addition, inefficient equipment and technologies that waste scarce dollars and pollute the environment can be upgraded — an investment that typically pays for itself within a few years.

Potential Savings

While savings will vary based on local energy costs and an individual school's consumption patterns, the potential savings can be significant. Schools can dramatically reduce energy costs even before building retrofits are installed. Simple changes in energy use behavior and building operations — such as taking advantage of daylight where available, adjusting thermostats and minimizing equipment run times — can result in energy savings of up to 20 percent.

As an added incentive, school districts participating in the Green Schools program agree to return a portion of the savings from the no-cost behavior and operations changes back to the schools that earned them.

Cost-effective retrofits can be financed by school district capital funds or by energy service companies, and often pay for themselves in a few years. Utilities and others can often provide technical assistance in determining appropriate measures to install, and in negotiating the financing arrangements.

Green Schools Are Saving Money

  • In their first year, three Green Schools in Seattle, Washington averaged more than $6,000 each in energy and water cost savings from behavioral and operational changes alone. These savings were realized in an area where electricity rates are the lowest in the country.
  • Seattle also expects to save $260,000 each year after retrofitting its three Green Schools and 12 others.
  • Four Green Schools in the Iroquois School District near Buffalo, New York saved 12 to 21 percent on electricity within the first eight months of implementing the program, with an average savings of $2,500 per school.

Need More Information

To find out more about the Green Schools' successes and resources for schoolwide energy efficiency, visit their web site at Green Schools or contact the Alliance by phone at 202-857-0666.

The Alliance is a nonprofit coalition of prominent business, government, environmental, and consumer leaders who promote the efficient and clean use of energy worldwide.

Return to top


Making the Most of Indigenous Resources...

Three Grants to Further Goals

In September 2002, the Nebraska Energy Office received three grants from the U.S. Department of Energy totaling $67,000 for projects related to converting indigenous renewable resources to energy.

Woodchips are used to fuel biomass power plants
Woodchips are used to fuel biomass
power plants

Two of the grants focused on biomass related activities: Support for the state's Biopower Steering Committee which was created by the Legislature in 1999 and beginning the process for creation of a Nebraska Biomass Energy Roadmap. The third grant was teamed with existing funds to design four wind energy development models taking into account the state's unique public power structure.

Project specifics on each of the grants follow:

  • Nebraska Biopower Steering Committee Development and Biomass Information Dissemination and Outreach, $24,000

Under this proposal, the Nebraska Energy Office will expand the activities of the existing 12-member Nebraska Biopower Steering Committee that was established in 1999. Since its creation, State of Nebraska fiscal resources and contributions from the members or their organizations have supported the Nebraska Biopower Steering Committee's activities.

In support of the activities of the Committee, the Energy Office will be upgrading the agency's web site to maximize access to biomass and biopower information as well as providing access to the Committee and its work.

  • Nebraska Biomass Roadmap: Phase One, $30,000

The Nebraska Energy Office will work with the Biopower Steering Committee and others including growers, biomass industry representatives, and university researchers and extension staff to begin the process to develop a Nebraska Biomass Roadmap.

Switchgrass is often used as biomass fuel
Switchgrass is often used as
biomass fuel

The roadmap concept, utilized by the Department of Energy's nine Industries of the Future, has been used to identify and target certain key elements needed for the realization of goals established by a particular industry group such as agriculture, glass or steel. Once the elements are identified, plans can be developed to reach key goals which thereby move the target industry — in this case biomass — further along the development and commercialization path.

Once the membership of the Nebraska Biomass Roadmap team is determined, the Energy Office will begin the development process. Among the tasks the team will tackle:

  • Select a workable number of biomass energy production targets;
  • Establish specific and achievable goals;
  • Identify steps necessary to create a roadmap.
  • Nebraska Wind Development Models, $13,000

Because of the unique publicly-owned electric utility structure in Nebraska, the Energy Office is seeking to develop several models to spur the development of the state's wind energy resources for electricity production, either for in-state consumption or for sale to others.

Farm with wind machines north of Lincoln
Farm with wind machines north
of Lincoln

The following four distinct models for the development of wind energy in Nebraska will be created:

  • Native American/Tribal Model. This model envisions one or more Native American Tribes based in the state becoming producers of wind energy for on-reservation use and for sale.
  • Large Public Power District Model. This model envisions a large, primarily generation only utility developing wind resources for in-state consumption as well as export.
  • Single Rural Electric System Model. This model envisions a typical rural utility with no generation experience developing wind resources for customer use as well as being sold to others.
  • Multiple Small Municipal System Model. This model envisions several small, geographically-dispersed municipal systems developing wind resources, that may or may not be nearby, primarily for local consumption.
Variable speed wind machines
Variable speed
wind machines

As part of the development of each model, these items will be addressed:

  1. Financing methods for wind resource development
  2. Statutory issues that may need to be addressed to foster wind resource development
  3. Any governance issues that might arise
  4. The impact of the National Energy Bill provisions now under consideration by Congress
  5. Any issues related to non-customer consumption of wind generated power such as power sales to other utilities in the state or for export.
  6. Cost analysis of each model which includes identification of any methods to "close the gap" between traditional generation sources and energy produced from wind.
  7. Develop a list of potential problems or barriers the may be encountered with each model.

The final report, Nebraska Wind Energy Development Models, will be available to public by mid-2003, and will be posted on the agency's web site.

Return to top


Free While They Last…

Harnessing Earth's Renewable Resources

Science teachers and trivia fans rejoice! A free 6' x 27" full-color poster could be yours if you act fast.

"Energy at Work: Harnessing Earth's Renewable Resources" is not only free for the asking (copies are limited), but jam-packed with dozens of historical notes tracing the use of six types of renewable fuels over nearly 200 years.

McNeil wood-powered electric plant,Burlington Vermont
McNeil wood-powered
electric plant,
Burlington Vermont

A Brief History Lesson

Who knew the first fuel cell — often cited as tomorrow's technological marvel — was invented by Sir William Robert Grove in 1839?

He was the first to reverse the water electrolysis process, generating electricity form hydrogen and oxygen. This, in turn, lead to the development of the gaseous voltaic battery which is the forerunner of the modern fuel cell.

Ethanol, the renewable transportation fuel that can displace petroleum fuels was first used for this purpose during World War I, nearly 90 years ago.

During World War II, ethanol production plants again blossomed across the region to serve as replacement for petroleum products used in aviation fuel, ammunition and rubber tires.

Solar power plant, Mojave Desert
Solar power plant,
Mojave Desert

Humans have used renewable energy sources — wind, solar, hydro, geothermal, biomass and hydrogen — since prehistoric times. The poster chronicles the earliest uses of these resources as well as their potential into the future.

To request a poster, contact Ken Shea at 402-471-3530 or by email at Ken Shea

Return to top


The Best and Worst of 2003...

Shopping for a New Vehicle?

With the arrival of 2003 model vehicles, the federal government's Fuel Economy Guide is never far behind.

2003 Honda Insight 56/68 mpg
2003 Honda Insight 56/68 mpg

The Guide, an annual publication produced by the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, estimates gas mileage for all new passenger vehicles for 2003. Each vehicle is ranked by fuel efficiency within three major categories — cars, station wagons and trucks — and 11 sub-categories.

This year, three hybrid gas-and-electric powered vehicles topped the list as the most fuel efficient: the two seat Honda Insight; and five-seaters Toyota Prius and Honda Civic.

Printed copies of the 2003 Fuel Economy Guide are available at new car dealerships, libraries and credit unions.

Online versions of the Guide has added features unavailable in the printed version: emissions and safety data, tax incentives, gasoline prices, frequently asked questions and fuel-saving tips. The online version of the guide is available at Fuel Economy {dot} gov

2003 Beetle 44/49 mpg
2003 Beetle 44/49 mpg

A feature at the web site allows the comparison of new and used cars and trucks on the basis of miles per gallon, greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution ratings and safety information.

The online version also provides links to car buyer guides, sites, magazines and web-based resources, safety and environment, advanced technology and manufacturers.

Return to top


Ever Dynamic...

Taking Nebraska's Renewable Energy Pulse

With increasing frequency, Nebraskans are asking, "how much of the energy used in the state comes from renewable sources?"

While the number is ever changing – the amount of energy changes yearly as do the sources from which the energy is derived – the Energy Office has quantified the number and the sources more definitively than ever before.

Hydro Electric Dam
Hydro Electric Dam

In 1999, 4 percent of Nebraska’s energy consumption was met using renewable sources. Nebraska consumed energy from six categories of renewable sources:

  • Ethanol
  • Geothermal energy
  • Hydroelectric power
  • Solar energy¹
  • Wind energy
  • Wood and waste²

The state consumed 602 trillion British thermal units of energy in 1999 including 24.122 trillion British thermal units from renewable energy sources. Shown in the table below, Nebraska consumed 1,736 gigawatthours of hydroelectric power, 153,000 cords of wood, 18,599,674 gallons of ethanol, 0.32 trillion British thermal units of geothermal energy, 0.016 trillion Btu of solar energy, and 0.02 trillion British thermal units of wind energy.

Renewable Source Btus Energy Generated
Hydroelectric Power 18.000 trillion Btu³ (1,736 gigawatthours)
Wood and Waste² 3.700 trillion Btu (153,000 cords)
Ethanol 2.100 trillion Btu (18,599,674 gallons)
Geothermal Energy 0.320 trillion Btu NA*
Solar Energy¹ 0.016 trillion Btu NA*
Wind Energy 0.020 trillion Btu NA*
Renewable Energy Consumption 24.156 trillion Btu NA*
Total Energy Consumption 602.000 trillion Btu NA*
*NA = Not Available

In 1999, hydroelectric power was almost three-fourths of renewable energy consumption in Nebraska.

Renewable energy consumption was 4 percent of total energy consumption in 1999, the most recent year for which data is available. If hydroelectric power is excluded, renewable energy consumption was 1 percent of total energy consumption. If both hydroelectric power and ethanol are excluded, then only 0.7 percent of total energy consumption came from renewable resources in 1999.

Notes:

¹Solar energy includes solar thermal and photovoltaic energy.

²Wood and waste is one energy source from the biomass category.

³Consumption is listed in British thermal units, or Btu, to enable totaling all the categories of energy.

Sources:

State Energy Data Report 1999, Consumption Estimates. Energy Information Administration, Office of Energy Markets and End Use, U.S. Department of Energy, Washington, DC.

Lincoln Electric System

Inventory of Electric Utility Power Plants in the United States 1999. Energy Information Administration; Office of Coal, Nuclear, Electric and Alternate Fuels; U.S. Department of Energy; Washington, DC.

Inventory of Nonutility Electric Power Plants in the United States 1999. Energy Information Administration; Office of Coal, Nuclear, Electric and Alternate Fuels; U.S. Department of Energy; Washington, DC.

Electric Power Annual. Energy Information Administration; Office of Coal, Nuclear, Electric and Alternate Fuels; U.S. Department of Energy; Washington, DC.

Nebraska Ethanol Board

Return to top


Fireplaces, Safety and More...

Making the Most of Using Wood to Heat Your Home

Editor's Note: This article is based on a reference brief produced for the U.S. Department of Energy by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and was updated July 2002.

Wood burning fireplace
Wood burning fireplace

Before the 20th century, 90 percent of Americans burned wood to heat their homes.

As fossil fuel use rose, the percentage of Americans using wood for fuel dropped, falling as low as one percent by 1970. Then during the energy crises of the 1970s, interest in wood heating resurfaced as a renewable energy alternative.

Air pollution, however, grew along with the renewed interest since wood burning emits air pollutants, including nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. This led the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and many states to develop low emissions requirements for wood-burning appliances. As a result, today you can choose from a new generation of wood-burning appliances that are cleaner burning, more efficient and powerful enough to heat many average-sized, modern homes.

Altogether, the wood-burning appliance you choose, your chimney, how you maintain the system, the fire you build, the wood you use and even the safety precautions you take will determine the overall energy efficiency of wood heating.

Wood stove
Wood stove

Wood-Burning Appliances

A wood-burning appliance's efficiency is a product of its combustion efficiency - how completely fuel is burned - and heat transfer efficiency - how well the device transfers heat to the home. When it comes to heat transfer, wood-burning appliances have either radiant or convective attributes - or a combination of both. Radiant devices radiate heat onto nearby objects directly. When we rub our hands in front of a fireplace, we experience radiant heat. A convective device, on the other hand, includes a heat-transfer system that circulates air through the appliance and distributes it, thus heating a home's air supply.

The location of the appliance (and chimney) will influence how well heat is distributed and conserved in your home. Wood-burning appliances are essentially space heaters. Therefore, it's best to put one in the room where you spend most of your time, but it should include a way for heat to circulate to the rest of the house.

It's also important to use a properly-sized appliance for the space to be heated. You don't want to make the mistake of purchasing one that is too big. When an appliance is too big, residents tend to burn fires at a low smolder to avoid overheating, which wastes fuel and is one of the biggest causes of air pollution. A reputable dealer should talk with you about size requirements, but here's a good rule-of-thumb: a stove rated at 60,000 British thermal units (Btu) can heat a 2,000 square foot home, while a stove rated at 42,000 Btu can heat a 1,300 square foot space. A Btu is the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water 1º F.

High-efficiency, wood-burning appliances not only have lower emissions, but they are also often safer. For example, in addition to saving energy, complete combustion helps to prevent a buildup of flammable chimney deposits called creosote. A wood-burning appliance that has been tested for safety will bear a label from a recognized authority. However, avoid buying a secondhand appliance even if it has a safety certification label. A minute flaw resulting from its previous use could result in a hazard.

For safety, and to maximize efficiency, you should consider having a professional install your wood-burning appliance. A professional will carefully evaluate everything from your chimney to your floor protection. A certified professional can also help you choose the best wood-burning appliance to heat your home. The following is a brief overview of the different types of appliances available.

Fireplace insert
Fireplace insert

High-efficiency fireplace inserts

Designed more for show, traditional open masonry fireplaces fall at the bottom of the list in energy efficiency. On average, they are only about 10 percent efficient. In fact, conventional fireplaces can cause net heat loss because they can draw so much warm air out of a home while contributing little heat.

A few devices have been designed to improve the energy efficiency of conventional fireplaces. Of these, only high-efficiency fireplace inserts have proven effective in increasing the heating efficiency of older fireplaces. Essentially, the inserts function like woodstoves. They fit into the masonry fireplace or on its hearth, and use the existing chimney. You must install a flue collar that continues from the insert to the top of the chimney. A well-fitted fireplace insert can function nearly as efficiently as a woodstove.

High-efficiency fireplaces

Some modern fireplaces heat at efficiencies near those of woodstoves and are certified as low emission appliances. Although designed to include the fire-viewing benefits of a traditional fireplace, this generation of fireplaces can effectively provide heat as well. Through vents under the firebox, room air is drawn in, heated through a heat exchanger, and sent back into the house either through vents at the top of the fireplace or through ducts leading to nearby rooms. Some of these fireplaces are approved to route heated air to a basement auxiliary fan. The air then travels through ducts to other rooms in the house.

Masonry heater
Masonry heater

Masonry heaters

Masonry heaters produce more heat and less pollution than any other wood-burning appliance. They are common in Europe, but you won't find many in the United States, perhaps because of their high installation costs.

Masonry heaters include a firebox, a large masonry mass such as bricks, and long twisting smoke channels that run through the masonry mass. A small hot fire built once or twice a day releases heated gases into the long masonry heat tunnels. The masonry absorbs the heat and then slowly releases it into the house over a period of 12 to 20 hours. Masonry heaters commonly reach a combustion efficiency of 90 percent.

Advanced combustion woodstoves

Advanced combustion woodstoves provide a lot of heat but only work efficiently when the fire burns at full throttle. Also known as secondary burn stoves, they can reach temperatures of 1100° F - hot enough to burn combustible gases.

These stoves have several components that help them burn combustible gases, as well as particulates, before they can exit the chimney. Components include a metal channel that heats secondary air and feeds it into the stove above the fire. This heated oxygen helps burn the volatile gases above the flames without slowing down combustion. While many older stoves only have an air source below the wood, the secondary air source in advanced combustion stoves offers oxygen to the volatile gases escaping above the fire. With enough oxygen, the heated gases burn as well. In addition, the firebox is insulated, which reflects heat back to it, ensuring that the turbulent gases stay hot enough to burn. New advanced combustion stoves have advertised efficiencies of 60 to 72 percent.

Catalytic combustors

Many woodstoves or fireplace inserts include a catalytic combustor - a honeycomb-shaped disc covered by a rare metal like platinum - placed across the exhaust vent. The catalytic combustor lowers the temperature required for burning gases released during combustion from 1100° to 600°F.

A stove or insert with a catalytic combustor burns gases and particulates for fuel before they can escape through a chimney, as long as the fire's temperature is at least 600°F. Lower temperatures not only mean a cleaner burn but also a longer one. New catalytic stoves and inserts have advertised efficiencies of 70 to 80 percent.

Centralized wood-burning boilers

Like wood-burning appliances, centralized wood-burning boilers have been improved over the last several years. Modern, centralized wood heaters use wood gasification technology that burns both the wood fuel and the associated combustible gases, rendering them efficient up to 80 percent. In addition, systems are available that can switch to oil or gas if the fire goes out.

Chimneys should be inspected
Chimneys should be inspected

The Chimney

Chimneys harness the heat of the fire to create what's called a stack effect. As the warm air from the fire rises, cooler house air rushes into the wood-burning appliance through vents, providing the oxygen the fire needs to burn. Starting a fire with a good hot burn will encourage this healthy draft to flow. Also, between the higher and lower pressure zones of the home lies a neutral pressure zone. The neutral pressure zone tends to move toward the largest air leak. When the top of the chimney is located above the home ceiling (as it should be), the chimney's neutral pressure zone is above the neutral pressure zone of the house. Such proper chimney placement creates a gentle flow of air into the appliance and out the chimney even when no fire burns.

If you are designing or building a new home, consider placing the chimney inside your home. A more traditional chimney, constructed along the outside of a home, will lose valuable heat to the cold, outside air. If the chimney air temperature falls below that of the inside air, the cold, smelly chimney air will be pulled into the house by the low pressure of the stack effect. In such a scenario, the house has become a better chimney than the chimney. So when a fire is lit, smoke fills the room.

Chimneys must match the size of the appliance, meaning the flue size should match the stove outlet. If the chimney is bigger than the stove or fireplace outlet, exiting exhaust slows, increasing creosote buildup and decreasing efficiency. High-performance chimneys are also insulated. Older masonry chimneys can be relined to safely and efficiently connect them to newer high-efficiency, wood-burning appliances. Again, the chimney liner should be continuous from the appliance outlet to the chimney top. It is not uncommon to pay as much for the chimney as for your appliance.

Free-standing woodstoves exhaust into a connecting pipe, which then connects into the chimney. If the connecting pipe is longer than 8 feet (as in a vaulted ceiling), you should consider investing in double-layer pipe with 1-inch airspace between pipe layers. Efficient modern stoves produce large amounts of heat. Much of this heat can radiate from a longer length of single-layer pipe, slowing down the draft, which can impact the overall efficiency of your wood-burning system.

Maintenance

Cleaning a chimney prevents fires
Cleaning a chimney prevents fires

To keep your wood-burning system operating efficiently and safely, you'll need to maintain it on a regular basis.

Every year, preferably before each heating season, have a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America inspect your wood-burning system. In addition to cleaning the chimney, a certified chimney sweep should have the knowledge to help make sure your appliance, hearth, connecting pipe, air inlets, chimney and all other components are functioning efficiently and safely.

Catalytic combustors need to be inspected at least three times every heating season and replaced according to the manufacturer's recommendations.

Cleaning out the inside of the appliance with a wire brush periodically will also help your wood-burning appliance heat your home efficiently. Even a one-tenth inch of soot can drop the heat transfer efficiency of the metal by 50 percent.

The Fire

When wood burns, it goes through three phases. First, the heat of the fire evaporates the water in the wood. It takes a lot of energy to evaporate water, so excess moisture in the wood wastes much of the heat energy of your fire. Wet wood also often smolders, causing unburned tar deposits of creosote to build up in the chimney, which is then vulnerable to fire.

Next, the wood begins to decompose and vaporizes into smoke. Smoke, a combination of combustible gases and tar droplets, will also burn if enough oxygen is present. Burning smoke produces the bright flames we associate with a well-burning fire.

In the final phase, the charcoal, which is nearly pure carbon, burns. This pure carbon represents roughly 50 percent of the fuel available from burning wood. The other 50 percent of available energy is stored in the smoke, which is why recent developments in wood-burning technology have focused on burning 100 percent of the wood and smoke.

Selecting and storing the wood

Because a lot of energy can be wasted burning wet wood, you should use wood that has been properly seasoned. Properly seasoned wood is harvested in the spring and allowed to dry throughout the summer. Look for wood that is of even color, without any green. It should have a moisture content of just over 20 to 25 percent by weight. Some well-seasoned wood can in fact be too dry for today's airtight modern stoves. If you place wood that is too dry on a bed of coals, it will instantly give up its gases as smoke, wasting unburned smoke and producing creosote buildup.

Store wood away from the house
Store wood away from the house

All species of wood have a similar heat content on a per pound basis when completely dry. Therefore, denser woods will generally cost more and burn longer. Woods like oak, hickory, and pine will burn overnight. Aspen builds a hot fire, which helps clean the chimney.

When selecting wood, you might also want to find out whether the supplier uses sustainable harvesting practices. Unsustainable practices can negatively impact the environment, causing soil erosion and loss of biodiversity. At least ascertain that the wood was not the result of clear-cutting. Clear-cutting is when all, or nearly all, of the trees are cut down on a piece of land.

Store your wood away from the house in case termites discover the woodpile. The top of the pile should be covered, but leave the sides open so air can circulate. If possible, store the wood a foot off the ground to keep it dry.

Seasoned wood is the key to a good fire
Seasoned wood is the key to a good fire

Building the fire

How a fire is built affects its efficiency. Fire-building techniques abound, so it's best to learn what type of fire is best for your particular appliance. As a general rule, though, when solid wood is present you should see flames. You want to avoid a smoldering fire.

Build a hot fire with temperatures high enough to burn off smoke. Unburned smoke - common to smoldering fires - escapes to the chimney where it will condense to form creosote or exit as air pollution. A strong hot fire will also help kick in the chimney draft, which gets air flowing into the fire and out the chimney.

Here's one technique for building a good, strong fire quickly. First, find the air source. If your appliance has a damper, make sure that it's fully open. Near the air source, crumple a generous amount of plain newspaper and add some finely split dry kindling, such as cedar or pine and one or two small pieces of seasoned firewood. You can also use a fire starter made for indoor wood-burning appliances to help skip the smoldering phase and get the fire roaring quickly.

Ideally, one match should start your fire. Keep the appliance doors open slightly. High airflow allows for maximum oxygen supply, which gets the fire hot quickly. When adding new wood pieces, place them behind the fire rather than on top to avoid smothering it. Make sure to leave an inch between all wood pieces to allow oxygen to reach the wood. When the fire really gets going, the chimney draft will kick in and provide a steady oxygen supply to the fire. You can then close the appliance doors.

Safety

Inspect your fireplace and use a checklist
Inspect your fireplace and use a checklist

Burning wood requires careful attention to safety. Professional installation, regular maintenance and inspection by a certified chimney sweep and attentive operation will all help you enjoy your wood-burning appliance in safety.

Here are a few other important things to remember:

Always

  • Attend your fire anytime the appliance doors are open. For open fireplaces, use a screen whenever possible. Sparks can fly, and coals can leap out of fireboxes.
  • Make sure you have adequate floor protection.
  • Make sure you have a working fire alarm, fire extinguisher and carbon monoxide detector.
  • Burn properly seasoned firewood.
  • Start with a hot fire to get a good draft going in your chimney. Back drafts can result in carbon monoxide entering your home.
  • Avoid smoldering fires that can lead to buildup of flammable deposits called creosote.

Never

  • Use lighter fluid or other petroleum-based products to start your indoor fire.
  • Burn anything but untreated firewood or kindling, manufactured fire logs, indoor fire starters, or newspaper in your wood-burning appliance. Treated woods and other odd items such as plastics or other debris can release toxic chemicals into the air or into your home.
  • Place wooden or other flammable objects near the wood-burning appliance.
  • Use cardboard or wrapping paper to start fires, as these can spark a chimney fire.

Return to top


Renewable Resources...

Nebraska Energy Statistics Additions

Two new data series — Wind Generation and Ethanol Production — are now being regularly updated at the Energy Office's energy statistics web site.

With the exception of electricity derived from hydro resources and wood used for heating, wind and ethanol hold the greatest renewable energy development potential in the state.

Wind turbines near Kimball, NE
Wind turbines near
Kimball, NE

Windy Resources

According to the American Wind Energy Association, Nebraska is ranked sixth in the nation with the greatest energy potential from wind.

By the end of 2002, Nebraska will have 11 operational wind turbines located on four sites — Kimball, Lincoln, Springview and Valley. (Valmont dismantled the Valley wind turbine and tower in mid-October, 2002, and hopes to have it back on line within the next six months.)

Energy generated by wind power was estimated to be less than 1 percent of Nebraska's energy consumption in 1999 and less than 1 percent of the electricity generated in 2000. At the end of 2001, Nebraska's wind turbines generated 7,600 megawatthours of electricity which was enough energy to power about 836 homes. (Generation data is not available for the wind turbine at Valley, Nebraska.)

Additional wind generation information can be found at Wind Energy Generation in Nebraska

Distillers at an ethanol plant
Distillers at an ethanol plant

Ethanol By the Numbers

According to the Nebraska Ethanol Board, there are six operating ethanol plants located in the state with two additional plants projected to be operational in 2003.

Ethanol production in 2002 is projected to reach 365 million gallons processed from 223 million bushels of corn and milo. In 2001, there were seven operating plants that produced approximately 352.45 million gallons of ethanol. The 2001 production was an increase of 9.7 percent over the 321.15 million gallons produced in 2000.

Nebraska's 2001 production was almost 20 percent of the nation's total ethanol production in 2001 of 1.77 billion gallons.

This new data series tracks production since the first ethanol plant began operation in 1985 and lists annual production volumes for each plant in the state.

Estimated ethanol production in Nebraska can be found at Historical Nebraska Ethanol Production

Return to top


Roundup of New and Updated Websites...

For the Research Minded

superconductivity logo
Superconductivity

The U.S. Department of Energy and the Office of Scientific and Technical Information created a series of web sites or portals to technical reports, news releases and journal articles.

Among the subject portals established are:

  • Biofuels
  • Geothermal Energy
  • Photovoltaics
  • Biopower
  • Heavy Vehicle Technology
  • Solar Buildings
  • Concentrating Solar Power
  • Hydrogen Energy
  • Superconductivity
  • Environmental Management
  • Hydropower
  • Wind Eenergy
  • Fuel Cell Technologies

The database, which is updated biweekly, also allows users to search related databases maintained by other Department of Energy entities such as the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

This new feature can be found at Subject Portals

Return to top


Making Wise Appliance Choices

When planning on replacing an appliance, one of the first stops — before you go to a store — should be the Environmental Protection Agency's Energy Star web site.

Energy Star appliances

typical household appliances

Energy Star offers businesses and consumers energy efficient solutions that help save money while protecting the environment for future generations.

The appliances rated by Energy Star include clothes washers, refrigerators, dishwashers and room air conditioners. After an appliance is selected, the program can search all brands or any individual brand for numbers of specific models that meet Energy Star standards which are 25 percent more energy efficient than the industry standard. At least 38 brands of dishwashers are contained in the searchable database.

And if you're looking for a television, computer, stereo or lightbulb, Energy Star can help. For more information about how Energy Star can help, visit their web site at Energy Star Products

Return to top


Online Energy Audits for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Lincoln Electric System now provides a no-cost service that helps businesses find ways to easily reduce energy costs.

Boiler energy audit
Boiler energy audit

The utility has found the online interactive audit is easy to use and can provide the customer with practical, customized advice on methods to cut costs. Armed with the details from one month's electric bill, all most business customers will have to do is answer a few questions about how energy is used at the company.

One business owner who took the survey, said it showed how his monthly energy bills could be reduced by 16 percent. The results identified 22 energy-saving ideas that ranged from lighting to cooling and refrigeration. One of the advantages of the online audit is that customers don't have to have a lot of technical knowledge.

Since each audit profile is customized, the customer is provided a user identification and password are assigned so that the customer can return to the site to complete an analysis or update information after improvements are made.

The commercial energy audit can be found at the Lincoln Electric System web site at Lincoln Electric System

Click on "Business" in the list at the left, then click on "Commercial Energy Profile" in the drop-down menu.

Return to top


Is A Small Wind Turbine in Your Future?

Small wind generator
Small wind
generator

The U.S. Consumers' Guide for Small Wind Electric Systems, revised in October 2002 provides information to help determine if a small wind electric system can supply all or a portionof the energy needed in homes and businesses. Topics included in the Guide:

  • How to make you home more energy efficient
  • How to choose the right size turbine
  • The parts of a wind electric system
  • Determining if there is sufficient wind resources on your site
  • Choosing the best site for a turbine
  • Connecting the system to a utility grid
  • Is independence from a utility feasible with wind energy

The Guide can be found at NREL documents

Return to top


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
Telephone

Toll Free: 1-877-337-3463

computer icon
Internet

Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE)

Return to top


The Nebraska Energy Quarterly features questions asked about 5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

Loan forms may be obtained from participating enders or the Energy Office, or the agency's web site by clicking here.

Loans as of September, 30 2002: 20,057 for $156.7 million

Questions and Answers...

5% Dollar and Energy Saving Loans

Do improvements need to save a minimum amount of energy or dollars to qualify for a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan?
Blown insulation is one way to save energy
Blown insulation is one way
to save energy

No. All specific types of improvements listed on application Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 8 are pre-qualified. These projects have been proven to be cost-effective, or the technologies warranted promotion. This means projects listed on the forms have proven energy or dollar savings.

What if the improvement is not listed on any of the forms?
Can it still be financed with for a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan?

Projects other than the pre-qualified improvements, may be submitted to the Energy Office to determine if they are eligible for a loan. These projects must be supported by a technical audit.

Applicants may complete and submit energy audit Form 32 and Form 33 to support an energy efficiency project, or Form 36 for a waste minimization project.

Energy efficiency projects must demonstrate a 5 year simple payback for appliance replacement, a 10 year simple payback for operating systems, and a 15 year simple payback for building system and envelope projects. Waste minimization projects must demonstrate a reduction of waste generated and being disposed. Once the Energy Office has issued an acceptance statement for the project, the applicant may take the acceptance statement to a participating lender to apply for a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan.

May the purchase of an appliance, such as a dishwasher, be financed if an existing appliance is not being replaced?

Only replacement appliances are eligible for funding, whether it is for a pre-qualified appliance listed on Form 1, or an appliance supported by an energy audit. The objective of the program is to reduce energy consumption by replacing older, inefficient equipment with newer, highly energy efficiency units, thus providing borrowers with lower utility bills.

There are many energy efficient washers that can be financed with a loan.
Can the Energy Office provide recommendations on the various types?
Front loading washing machine
Front loading washing machine

Front-loading washing machines are more energy efficient than top-loading machines, according to a report on appliances.

The Energy Office does not recommend one manufacturer or product over another, whether it is for windows, furnaces, doors, air conditioners or any other project eligible for a loan.

The borrower may choose any manufacturer or contractor they desire, as long as the project being proposed meets the minimum standards or payback requirements.

The Energy Office can provide some guidance on what to look for in a product and encourages everyone to check references or with others who have experience with the contractor or product.

The new owner of an existing home is considering a number of improvements using a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan.
In completing the required information about energy suppliers, what information on energy use is to be provided if this information is not available from the previous owners?

If information on the energy suppliers for the previous owners of a home, building, or operation is not available, identify the energy suppliers you will be using to meet your energy needs.

Loose fill insulation is being blown into our sidewalls as part of an improvement project.
As a result, quite a few holes have been drilled into the old wood siding, which is in such bad shape that it cannot be removed.
Can new siding be financed with a loan so that the holes and the old siding be covered?

New siding can be financed with a loan when insulating the wall cavities, provided an exterior insulation board is added and that a total of R-10 insulation is added to the exterior walls. The application forms you use for this project are Form 2 and Form 2 siding.

The contractor needs to complete Form 2 siding and utilize example 2 or 3 on the reverse side of the Form to make sure the project will qualify for a loan.

Do lenders have the same requirements for getting for a Dollar and Energy Saving Loan?

Borrowers must meet the credit requirements of the lender to whom they apply. The lender is solely responsible for determining the creditworthiness of the applicant. Requirements and policies for loans may vary from lender to lender. Lenders are required to loan 100 percent of the cost of an eligible project and may only charge approved loan fees, but they are not required to make a loan to an applicant who does not meet their credit standards.

Is there an agency or group that grants certification of solar products offered for sale in Nebraska?

The Energy Office is unaware of any group or agency that oversees certification of solar products.

In counties with populations of more than 100,000 people, the state does require all electrical work be performed by a licensed electrician. For more information, see the Nebraska State Electrical Division and the Nebraska Department of Labor

The best source for additional information on solar products, who does this type of business in Nebraska, and requirements for connecting to the systems, would be your electricity supplier.

Photovoltaic roof panel
Photovoltaic roof panel
Can photovoltaic systems be financed with Dollar and Energy Saving Loans?

To qualify for a loan, photovoltaic systems must have an energy audit showing the system will have a simple payback of 10 years or less for an operating system such as a water pump for livestock or 15 years or less if a building system that is used for heating or cooling.

Form 32 and Form 33 may be used to submit a photovoltaic system for consideration.

Return to top


Tidbits from Nebraska and Beyond...

News Bytes


traffic light
Traffic Lights

Grand Island Traffic Lights Go High Tech

Even something as innocuous as changing traffic light bulbs can add up to big dollars.

Grand Island, working in conjunction with Nebraska Public Power District, is replacing traditional incandescent bulbs in traffic lights with light-emitting diode — LED, for short — ones.

The new LED bulbs use only 8 to 24 watts of power, compared to 150 watts used by incandescent bulbs. The new LED bulbs are expected to last up to 12 years before a replacement is needed.

Based on an initial test at one traffic light, the city expects to save $400 a year in electricity costs for each traffic light that is converted to LED bulbs. Over the next four years, Grand Island plans on converting 71 traffic lights at a cost of $5,000 for each light.

For more information about LED bulbs in traffic lights, contact Kent Rabourn at NPPD at 402-563-5909.

Return to top


The Oil America Uses Comes from Many Nations

America's oil needs continue to be met by shipments from other nations.

Based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy, from January to August in 2002, 57.6 percent of the oil and refined products came from foreign nations.

The top five suppliers — who met more than a third of our needs were:

  1. Canada 9.7%
  2. Saudi Arabia 7.7%
  3. Mexico 7.6%
  4. Venezuela 7.1%
  5. Nigeria 3.1%
A typical oil field
A "typical" oil field

The other nations in the top ten supplying oil to America included Iraq, the United Kingdom, Norway, Angola and Algeria.

For the latest information on where the nation's imported oil and refined petroleum products originates, visit the American Petroleum Institute's web site at American Petroleum Institute

Return to top


Solar Powered Lights To Glow at Union Pacific's North Platte Rail Yard

In July 2002, Union Pacific Railroad ordered 350 blue rail yard signal lights from Canarah, a Canadian firm. What makes these lights unusual is that they combine energy efficient light-emitting diode [LED] technology with rechargeable batteries and small solar cells.

Solar powered light emitting diode
Solar powered light
emitting diode

Blue lights are used in rail yards when trains are being serviced to indicate maintenance crews are in the area and the train is parked.

The lights, which cost $93,000, were installed in late summer in the North Platte Rail Yard which is the largest rail yard in North America.

Light-Emitting Diode lights have become very popular in recent years because of the significant energy savings — and maintenance savings — they offer over conventional incandescent bulbs.

Return to top


Nebraska's Electric Generation Plants Score High with Low Costs

Electric Power Substation
Electric Power
Substation

Three electric plants that provide generation for the state's three largest utilities took second, third and fourth places - based on cost of production - in a recent industry survey.

According to a study in Platt's Power Magazine, Nebraska Public Power District's Gerald Gentleman station near Sutherland ranked as the second least cost producer in the nation at $8.32 per megawatt-hour.

A megawatt-hour — one thousand kilowatts — is equal to the amount of power used in a month in a typical home having an electric hot water system.

Ranking third least costly producer was Omaha Public Power District's Nebraska City Station that generated power at $9.29 a megawatt-hour.

A long-time top five leader, Laramie River Station near Wheatland, Wyoming, that is partially owned by Lincoln Electric System, ranked fourth at $9.41 a megawatt-hour.

Return to top


Ongoing


Mission

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

Return to top


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.

Return to top


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.

Return to top