California Dream 2.0

PACE Financing for California’s Clean Energy Future, Part 1: Expanding the Residential Market

rp_Scott_Hofmeister-287x377.jpgWhen 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.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, General, On-Bill Repayment | 1 Response, comments now closed

Spring Cultivates Rice Offsets

rp_robert-200x300.jpgThe arrival of Spring can’t come soon enough for some, though it came early for the California offset market.  Three significant events will spur the development of carbon offsets from rice cultivation.  First, the California Air Resources Board (ARB) launched a rulemaking to adopt a compliance offset protocol for rice cultivation projects.  The American Carbon Registry (ACR) also approved a rice protocol for the Mid-South (Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri and Texas).

And at EDF we announced the listing of the first California rice offset project with ACR.

As a part of ARB’s rulemaking, they released a discussion draft of a compliance offset protocol.  This protocol contained three different activities that growers can take to reduce the generation of methane associated with rice cultivation – dry seeding, early drainage, and alternate wetting and drying of fields.  All of these practices have been developed using the latest science and have been shown to reduce methane generation without impacting yield.  Methane is the second largest anthropogenic source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, accounting for 9% of all U.S. GHG emissions from human activities.  Methane is also important because it is more than 20 times more potent a GHG than carbon dioxide.  At the meeting, the ARB stated that they intend to propose the protocol for consideration at the September 2014 Board meeting. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Offsets, Sustainable Agriculture | Tagged , , | Comments closed

CPUC Singing the Right Tune on SONGS, But Southern California Still Needs to Harmonize to Achieve a Clean Energy Future

rp_Navarro_Lauren.jpgLast 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.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid | Comments closed

A Sustainable Urban Forest Takes Root in Santa Monica

ca_innov_series_icon_283x204EDF’s Innovators series profiles companies and people across California with bold solutions to reduce carbon pollution and help the state meet the goal of AB 32. Each addition to the series will profile a different solution, focused on the development of new technology and ideas.

Across the globe, trees in urban centers provide more than just curb appeal – they improve the quality of life and provide critical services like better air quality, reduced climate pollution, decreased urban heat and lengthened roadway life. These benefits amount to significant economic value– the USDA estimates that the 3.8 billion trees in U.S. urban forests represent a green infrastructure investment valued at $2.4 trillion.

According to Tree City USA and the Arbor Day Foundation, there are more than 3,400 communities, home to over 135 million Americans, which have community forest programs. Chances are, if you live in a major city, there is an urban forest program caring for the trees in your community.

Who: Public Landscape Division, Public Works Department, City of Santa Monica, California.

What: Santa Monica has planted over 1,000 trees and is piloting an advanced urban forest tree inventory and maintenance work order enterprise system. Their new software covers tree selection, planting and monitoring and enables Santa Monica to account for carbon sequestered in public trees.

Where: Santa Monica, California

Why: Santa Monica can improve its overall Urban Forest management while contributing to a healthier, climate smart city.

Unfortunately, maintaining the quality and cost-effectiveness of urban forest programs has remained a challenge for many towns and cities, as budgets and personnel are often stretched thin.  As a result, according to a 2013 report by the USDA, many of California’s municipal forest programs need improvement, and in fact, some are failing.

Enter Santa Monica, California, a modest-sized city of 8 square miles and home to approximately 90,000 residents. Located just west of Los Angeles on the Pacific Ocean, Santa Monica is home to surfing, celebrity hide-aways, and perhaps some of the more forward-thinking environmental policies in the state. Read More »

Posted in California Innovators Series, Cap and trade, Climate, Global Warming Solutions Act: AB 32, Offsets | 1 Response, comments now closed

For Landmark Climate Change Law to Work, California Must Stay the Course

rp_erica-morehouse-287x377-228x300.jpgFor months, EDF has been reporting on the exciting conversations happening at the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the Governor's office on the impressive progress California is making towards meeting its AB 32 climate protection goals and on what comes next for the state beyond 2020.

Yesterday, I had the privilege of continuing the dialogue as I testified in support of the AB 32 Scoping Plan Update before the California Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee. While some have recently debated the benefits of AB 32 and its cornerstone cap and trade program, most Californians recognize the benefits that the landmark law has delivered since its adoption in 2006, as well as the progress it promises with continued support from state leaders.

As the rest of the nation (and the world) eyes California, it is imperative that we remain focused on sustaining and strengthening the world’s most comprehensive climate change program,  and ensuring we remain on the path to reaching our 2020 and future greenhouse gas emission reduction goals. Read More »

Posted in General | Comments closed

Science and Economics Agree: The Time is Right for California to Get Serious About Methane Pollution

rp_Larissa-Koehler-200x300.jpgRecent numbers from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) show that methane (CH4) is about 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2) in contributing to climate change over the first 20 years after it is released. Short-lived climate pollutants, like methane, are a large factor in determining how fast our climate will change over the next few decades.

These figures are particularly relevant in California where natural gas (which is about 99.9% methane) is used throughout the economy. For example, natural gas generates much of the state’s electricity through gas-fired power plants, is extensively used for home heating and cooking, and is increasingly being deployed as an alternative fuel for the state’s cars and trucks.

Yet, while California continues to operate and further build out a natural gas backbone in its energy economy, venting and leakage of uncombusted natural gas from pipes and machines can have an environmental impact. In fact, research shows that keeping methane leakage down to a minimum level is the only way to guarantee that the use of natural gas will provide immediate climate benefits, when switching from petroleum products. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Energy | Comments closed

California and Quebec: A Partnership Par Excellence

rp_erica-morehouse-287x377-228x300.jpgOn Tuesday, the Canadian province of Quebec held its second cap-and-trade allowance auction.

Today, the results are in – and they’re encouraging.

99% of the current vintage year allowances and 84% of the future vintage year allowances offered for sale in this auction were purchased at the floor price of $11.39 CAD.  This is a significant increase from Quebec’s first action, which saw the sale of only 34% and 27% of current and future allowances, respectively.

These results reflect growing interest and demand in this burgeoning carbon market after it officially linked with California’s program at the beginning of 2014.

However, the results of Quebec’s auction are a bit different from the results we saw in California's sixth auction last month. Most notably, California’s auction saw higher demand for allowances, driving the settlement prices for both current and future allowances above those seen in Quebec’s auction.

So, why do these differences exist?  And what do the Quebec auctions actually tell us?  Read More »

Posted in Cap-and-trade auction, General, Linkage | Comments closed

Funding the Future with a California Green Bank

rp_Brad-Copithorne-Photo-200x3001.jpgTwo 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 »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy, Energy Efficiency | Comments closed

Historic Agreement Shows Not all Politics – or Climate Change – is Local

ShiraToday, 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 »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Linkage | Comments closed

Hawaii Taps On-Bill Repayment Program for Clean Energy Financing and Job Creation

 

rp_Brad-Copithorne-Photo-200x300.jpg

(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 »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy, On-Bill Repayment | Comments closed