Energy Exchange

High Methane Emissions in PA Reinforce Need for Strong Regulation

NatlGasFlares_142558250_Photos-RFNearly every month, for the past six months, a new scientific study has been released that provides new insights in to where methane, a highly potent, climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas, could be reduced across the entire natural gas system – the next six months will be no different. But this week, a new joint Purdue-Cornell study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences revealed high emissions from drilling.

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Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania | Leave a comment

Why America Needs Methane Policy

Methane policy

Source: Ron Dahlquist, Getty Images

Recently, the White House took a crucial stride to tackle methane pollution and natural gas waste. A key aspect of the strategy tasks the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with enacting policy to reduce emissions from the oil and gas industry. Yesterday, EPA formally initiated its process, issuing five white papers focused on the biggest opportunities to cut the industry’s methane emissions. A final decision for action is expected later this year.

The Administration’s strategy to reduce methane emissions is an urgently needed development to slow the rate of climate change in our lifetimes. That’s because methane is an incredibly powerful and climate-destabilizing greenhouse gas. Whether you’re a concerned citizen who wants better protections from pollution, an individual compelled to see the U.S. do more to defend the people and places most vulnerable to global climate change, or an energy watchdog who wants to minimize needless waste—know that solutions are within our grasp.

Let’s look at a key piece of the process that the White House galvanized and that EPA has now started to carry forward. EPA’s white papers provide thorough, technical assessment of oil and gas methane emission sources and mitigation technologies, and they provide the factual basis to support policy action. The process requests feedback from the public and a range of expert stakeholders that will help EPA answer:  Is now the time to create a real methane policy for oil and gas? I am optimistic the answer will be a resounding “YES.”

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Posted in Air Quality, Climate, Methane | Tagged | Leave a comment

Four Ways the U.S. Military Can Adopt Clean Energy for National Security

USArmy

Ribbon cutting ceremony for the Fort Carson solar array. U.S. Army photo by Michael J. Pach.

At the U.S. Defense Department, the multiple national security threats created by sea level rise and severe weather command daily attention; climate change has been on its radar for years.  The recently published Quadrennial Defense Report (QDR), an assessment of U.S. defense readiness, addresses the growing threat that climate change poses to military capabilities and global operations. Adding to that, the newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that extreme weather events will begin occurring more frequently across the globe. As first responders in the wake of extreme weather events, the U.S. military will be called upon to provide emergency support and services for a large portion of them.

The timing of these reports highlights a growing defense challenge but also provides an opportunity for the Defense Department to lead from the front in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Read More »

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EDF Helps Standardize Energy Efficiency Projects in Texas

By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant

Texas Pace In A BoxTexas currently has the highest rate of energy consumption of any U.S. state and accounts for 10% of the country’s total energy consumption. Most of that energy goes to energy-intensive industries, such as aluminum, chemicals, forest products, glass, and petroleum refining, which consume 50% of the state’s energy, compared with a national average of 32%.

Last year, the Texas legislature passed statewide legislation enabling cities to use their property taxes as a way to finance clean energy and energy efficiency for industrial, agriculture, water, and commercial buildings. This innovative financing tool, generally referred to as property-assessed clean energy (PACE), has the potential to unlock a considerable amount of funding for both renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the state, while simultaneously offering building owners cheaper financing options and secure repayment through their property tax assessment. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project, Renewable Energy, Texas | Tagged | Leave a comment

Changes to Electricity Systems Will Enhance U.S. Grid Reliability

Cheryl Roberto PhotoLast Thursday morning, with my heart quickly jumping, I entered the grandeur of the United States Senate hearing room for the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Keeping the lights on — are we doing enough to ensure the reliability and security of the US electric grid? hearing as an invited witness. I was eager to share EDF’s vision of a cost-effective, clean energy system that enhances reliability − but I couldn’t help being a little awed by the moment. I had never testified on Capitol Hill before and the dignity of the setting and importance of the message I wanted to share weighed on me.

Here are the high points of my testimony (though you can read it in full here):

  • The nation’s electricity system stands at a transformative crossroads: The costs of distributed generation technologies like rooftop solar and battery storage are falling and energy productivity is rising. In our digital world, people have increased demands for power quality and reliability, but needs for power quantity are predicted to fall – mostly due to “gains in appliance efficiency and an increase in vehicle efficiency standards by 2025.” As a result, our system is transforming from a one-way, centralized power delivery network in which customers passively receive electricity to a two-way flow of both power and information in which customers both receive and produce electricity. The very model of centralized, utility-scale power generation is no longer sacrosanct. The electricity systems we built in the last century, and the regulations that govern them, are no longer adequate – neither to ensure reliability, or to accommodate the rapid changes in technology, consumer needs, environmental standards, and the changing marketplace. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models, Washington, DC | Leave a comment

Indiana Governor’s Inaction Results in First Rollback of Energy Efficiency Standards in the Nation

Indiana State Capitol, Source: David Schwen

Indiana State Capitol, Source: David Schwen

At the end of March, the Indiana legislature passed a bill repealing the state’s energy efficiency standard, becoming the first state in the nation to roll back its energy savings goals. Governor Mike Pence could have signed the bill into law or he could have vetoed it. He did neither; instead, the bill became law because he took no action within the prescribed time period. His statement as to why he allowed the bill to become law left us scratching our heads.

Here’s what he said:

“I could not sign this bill because it does away with a worthwhile energy efficiency program developed by the prior administration. I could not veto this bill because doing so would increase the cost of utilities for Hoosier ratepayers and make Indiana less competitive by denying relief to large electricity consumers, including our state’s manufacturing base.” Read More »

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Resiliency+ Series: A Highlight of Clean Energy Technologies that will Strengthen New Jersey’s Electricity Grid

Source: Greenpeace, Tim Aubry

Source: Greenpeace, Tim Aubry

Improving energy resiliency has become critically important throughout the United States – particularly in the Northeast, where devastating events like Superstorm Sandy debilitated our electricity grid. States are searching for ways to create a stronger, smarter, and more flexible energy infrastructure, so that storm damage can be minimized and restoration times shortened. Doing so, however, is no small task. Ensuring that the lights stay on in critical facilities like hospitals, emergency shelters, and water treatment facilities requires innovative thinking, as well as a forward-looking instead of reactive approach to our power sector.

The issue is critical for New Jersey

New Jersey was among the worst hit when Superstorm Sandy pummeled the East Coast eighteen months ago. The state suffered more than $30 billion in damage, most of it along the Jersey shore, while an estimated 2.6 million households across the entire state lost power, many of them for weeks. Five days after Sandy hit, a third of New Jersey’s homes and businesses still did not have electricity. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, New Jersey, Smart Grid | Leave a comment

Fossil Fuel Industry's Tired Battle Against Clean Energy is Also a Losing One

Source: Alternative Energies

Source: Alternative Energies

The assault on successful renewable energy legislation continues, long after the facts have proven that state renewable policies deliver clean, affordable, and reliable energy solutions that the majority of Americans support. Apparently, the fossil fuel industry and its so-called “free market” allies didn’t get the memo.

There’s a great line in the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s 2000 blockbuster Gladiator where a soldier says to his general, as they are about to slaughter an overmatched foe, “People should know when they’re conquered.” The general replies, “Would you? Would I?”

So I can’t really blame the fossil fuel industry for fighting old battles in an effort to undo approaches that have increased investment in renewable energy in states around the country, created thousands of jobs, and continue to lower energy costs with each passing day. Read More »

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Showtime Brings Realities of Texas Drought Home to Millions

Source: Jack Newton

Source: Jack Newton

It may seem like only yesterday that Texans were asked to conserve water after another scorching summer, but in reality it was four, dry years ago. The drought, which began in 2010 after La Niña altered sea level temperatures in the Pacific, continues to persist in the Lone Star State and promises to surpass the state’s record-setting multi-year drought from the 1950s. Ranchers have been forced to sell off cattle, town water supplies continue to go dry, and power plants struggle to provide a reliable supply of electricity due to water scarcity and long stretches of hot weather. Given these bleak conditions, it should not come as a surprise that 70 percent of Texans believe global warming is happening—and 52 percent said they have personally experienced the effects of global warming.

An all-star team of producers, including James Cameron, Jerry Weintraub and Arnold Schwarzenegger, intends to bring the Texas drought home to millions of televisions across the nation in the Years of Living Dangerously series premiering Sunday. Through this series, a host of celebrities, activists and journalists share the stories of those impacted most by our changing climate and what’s being done to save our planet. What is clear right now, in Texas and beyond, is that as climate change intensifies, we must adapt to more extreme weather conditions and make resilient changes that mitigate further stress. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy-Water Nexus, Texas | Tagged | Leave a comment

Roberto Rocks the House (and the Senate Too): Why Protecting Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards is Imperative

Source: American Insurance Association

Source: American Insurance Association Flickr

Cheryl Roberto, Associate Vice President and leader of EDF’s Clean Energy Program, recently testified before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee against S.B. 310, which would freeze Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards at current levels. Sen. William Seitz, the Committee Chair, described her testimony as “passionate,” “very persuasive” and “thought provoking.”

Roberto described how the electric grid has changed. The old model, in effect for the past hundred years, relies on one-way power flows from large, centralized utility power plants, with limited customer service options and limited information available to customers on their energy usage. The new model involves two-way power flows between the utility and customers who own small, on-site solar, wind, and combined heat and power units. Customers receive detailed, real-time energy usage and price information. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Ohio, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models | Tagged | 5 Responses