By Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant
Source: LA Better Buildings Challenge
Environmental Defense Fund’s Investor Confidence ProjectSM (ICP) is pleased to announce a partnership with the Los Angeles Better Buildings Challenge to help develop a more robust marketplace for energy efficiency retrofits in the city. Los Angeles has set a goal of achieving 20% energy savings across 30 million square feet of existing buildings by 2020 as part of the Better Buildings Challenge, a national leadership initiative sponsored by the U.S. Department of Energy. If achieved, it is estimated that this 20% reduction in energy costs will create over 7,000 high-quality local jobs, and avert annual carbon emissions equivalent to taking more than 18,000 cars off the road.
The LA Better Buildings Challenge will be promoting the ICP Protocols through its network of building owners and industry stakeholders to help bring even greater transparency and accountability to the energy efficiency market by introducing a system of standardization in the way commercial building retrofits are developed, funded, and managed. The ICP framework assembles best practices and existing technical standards into a set of protocols that define a clear roadmap for developing projects, determining savings estimates, and documenting and verifying results.
David Hodgins, Executive Director of the LA Better Buildings Challenge, describes how the partnership with ICP will help the project meet its goal. “The mission of the LA Better Buildings Challenge is to support our partners in achieving a minimum of 20% savings by 2020, and to get there we need to have a clear path. We are excited to partner with ICP, which offers our partners a best-practice approach to developing, underwriting, and measuring the impact of their resource efficiency projects,” he said. Read More
It’s easy to get caught up in your “average” Saturday morning in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park neighborhood: a warm, spring sunshine, joggers and walkers lining its paths, families setting up the BBQ and piñatas for afternoon birthday gatherings, and residents practicing Qigong under its trees.
For those of us who grew up here, this is quintessential L.A., a visual display of diversity, well-being and community that many of us cherish – and would like to preserve for future generations.
So it gave me great pride to see a packed auditorium of L.A. residents from all corners of the 43rd Assembly District and beyond ready to discuss an issue affecting millions of Angelenos and threatening the fabric of our culture: climate change.
In a unique forum hosted by EDF and Assemblymember Mike Gatto (D-Los Angeles), the community discussed a variety of environmental issues, most notably the impacts of climate change to the district and to the greater L.A. Region, and what residents can do to engage their local representatives on this critical issue. A panel of experts – including the Environmental Defense Fund, the UCLA Luskin Center for Innovation, the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, and the Natural Resources Defense Council – helped kickoff the conversation. Read More
By Lauren Navarro and Emily Reyna
What would you do with extra cash? Starting this April, customers of California’s biggest utilities will experience first-hand how the state’s fight against climate change is actually paying off – in the form of real money.
Wait… real money? How does that work?
Source: Flickr/Mike Schmid
Yes. Millions of household customers of Pacific Gas & Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and other investor-owned utilities will automatically receive a “Climate Credit” twice a year through 2020 – every April and October – as a line item on their utility bill. This money comes from California’s cap-and-trade program, which holds the state’s largest emitters, including electric utilities, accountable for their climate pollution. With cap and trade, regulated companies must buy “allowances,” or permits, if they plan to emit carbon pollution –equivalent to nearly $1.7 billion to date. Now, part of this money is being returned to these utilities’ customers. For average Californians, the Credit will cover the slightly higher rates that cover California’s green transformation. But if you’re conscientious about your energy use – and are a below average energy user – your Credit will be a bonus for you.
The Climate Credit is one way Californians are benefiting from the state’s action on climate and it will help people participate in building a clean energy economy. This smart policy builds on years of people-focused efforts, like energy efficiency standards and clean energy installations. In fact last year California more than doubled its rooftop solar capacity to 2,000 MW of power.
In California, we spend less overall on energy because we use it wisely and waste less, even though we pay more per unit of electricity. In fact, while the state is ranked 8th in average cost of electricity (cents/kWh), we rank 47th in total energy expenditures per capita. Read More
This is the first in a series of posts about leading women in the power, environmental science, advocacy, policy, and business sectors.
Pull back the curtain on climate leadership, and you’ll see women in power. From the author of the country’s leading clean car standards, to the top administrator of the mostambitious climate policy in the nation (California’s AB32), to the scientists and entrepreneurs developing and deploying the advanced technologies driving the nation’s low-carbon economy, women are taking charge of the clean energy sector like never before.
Women have always been on the frontlines of our country’s toughest environmental challenges — including Rachel Carson, who galvanized the country with her exposé of pesticides in Silent Spring, and Hazel Johnson, the ‘Mother of the Environmental Justice Movement,’ who fought against toxic dumping in her own Southeast Chicago community.
But women have not always dominated the energy sector.
Throughout the Industrial Revolution, the story of energy has traditionally been written by innovative men like Thomas Edison and George Mitchell, who invented and invested in the technologies and companies that made oil, coal, and natural gas the dominant fuels of the 20th century. Today, women are rewriting the history books, spearheading a new era of leadership in the clean energy economy.
Tomorrow is World Water Day and this year’s theme is the “energy-water nexus,” the critical, interdependent relationship between water and energy. The generation and delivery of almost all types of energy requires water and, conversely, treating and transporting clean water requires energy. In fact, water-related activities, such as treatment and distribution, account for almost 20 percent of California’s total electricity use. A disruption in access to one of these precious resources can have a detrimental effect on access to the other, creating a vicious cycle that unsettles our way of life.
Unfortunately, California is learning the hard way about the inextricable link between water and energy. The Golden State is having major water shortage problems and despite some much needed rain a few weeks ago, the state still remains in a severe drought. In fact, this past winter in California was one of the driest on record.
The drought has had perceptible effects on California’s energy production, substantially decreasing hydroelectricity levels, compared to 2011. Due to the decrease in hydroelectricity in the state, which usually makes up about 10% of California’s fuel mix, the state has been forced to increasingly rely on dirty, unsustainable fossil fuels, and energy costs have increased. Energy generation from traditional forms of power, such as natural gas, nuclear power, and coal, are not without their own water demands as well. Read More
When it comes to protecting the environment and fighting climate change, California has always been a first mover.
Now the state is boldly acting to unleash a new market that saves energy, cuts pollution, and drastically increases clean energy investment for California’s residents.
Last week, California approved a $10 million reserve that will revive the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program for residential customers.
PACE allows customers to take advantage of energy saving upgrades to their home with no money down. Customers simply use a portion of their savings to pay off the investment over time through their property tax bill. Financing can be entirely provided by private lenders at no cost to taxpayers.
Since its first use at a San Francisco office building in 2012, PACE has been a resounding success in the commercial sector. In fact, the commercial markets have quickly taken to PACE and continue to set new deal-size records.
Last week, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) finalized an important decision for Southern California’s energy supply following the closure of the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS). The plan emphasizes increased reliance on clean energy in this part of the state – an important step towards a fully realized low-carbon future.
The decision authorized San Diego Gas and Electric and Southern California Edison to procure at least 550 megawatts (MW) of ‘preferred resources,’ which include renewable energy, demand response (a tool that’s used by utilities to reward people who use less electricity during times of “critical,” peak electricity demand), energy efficiency, at least 50 MW of energy storage, and up to 1,000 MW of these resources altogether.
That’s a major step forward, as utilities across the country traditionally rely on large fossil fuel plants to meet regional demand.
However, the CPUC also authorized the procurement of 1,000 MW of power from natural gas generation, demonstrating that Southern California still has a ways to go to reach its clean energy potential.
Two weeks ago, State Senator Kevin de León introduced a bill to establish the first “Green Bank” in California, a bold proposal that would unleash low-cost financing opportunities for clean energy projects throughout the Golden State.
I recently had the opportunity to testify at a hearing on the bill to discuss the best practices for green banks across the country and how the program would work in California.
First, a bit more on Green Banks:
At its core, the program is a clean energy finance bank set up by the state, designed to enable increased investment in clean energy projects and companies by working closely with the private sector to remove financial or structural barriers. The goal is simple: increase the amount of clean energy at a low-cost and encourage private investment by reducing the overall risk of clean energy projects.
While the concept is new to California, Green Banks have already taken root in other states. Connecticut established the first program in 2012, New York’s version launched a few weeks ago, and Hawaii is expected to come online this summer. Read More
Today, Governor Jerry Brown added to an encouraging trend of historic agreements between California and global partners, this time striking a deal with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The agreement expands cooperation on issues important to both jurisdictions including alternative energy, water conservation, and agriculture. It also allows Israeli companies to access California’s Innovation Hubs in an effort to improve the Golden State's global economic competitiveness.
But perhaps most important were Brown’s comments on the need to collectively confront climate change, continuing a common theme reflected in his remarks last week during a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signing with Peru when he said, “…unlike our more conservative colleagues, people in other countries really take climate change more seriously and they want to work with California. So given some of the dysfunction in Washington, I’m going to increasingly work with other countries to sign climate change agreements.”
Brown’s remarks follow MoUs signed with Australia and China last year, and come at time when the Golden State is looking to expand its partnership on energy and climate with Mexico. Today’s agreement continues concerted efforts to find progress and growth opportunities anywhere California can – including outside our nation’s borders. Read More
Also posted in Climate, Linkage
(This post originally appeared on the EDF's Energy Exchange blog)
EDF has been advocating for states to establish On-Bill Repayment (OBR) programs that allow property owners and tenants to finance clean energy retrofits directly through their utility bills with no upfront cost. California and Connecticut are working to establish OBR programs, but Hawaii is expected to beat them to the punch. Hawaii’s program is critical as electric rates are about double the average of mainland states and most electricity has historically been generated with dirty, expensive oil.
Given the potential of OBR to lower electricity bills, reduce that state’s carbon footprint, and expand job growth in the clean energy sector, EDF has been working closely with Hawaii and multiple private sector investors for the past year to develop their OBR program. Once formally launched later this spring, Hawaii’s program will be one of only two in the nation, preceded by New York who enacted their program in 2011.
OBR in a nutshell
Here’s how OBR works: Banks and other private investors team up with contractors and project developers to create competitive options for installing energy efficiency or renewable generation projects. Linking the repayment to the customer’s utility bill is expected to lower financing costs, increase availability of credit for projects that might not otherwise qualify, and allow owners to finance long payback projects without fear of needing to refinance if they sell the property. Read More