Citibank: How Investments in Clean Energy can Save Trillions

citibanklogo_389x235By: Karin Rives

A number to remember: $44 trillion. It’s what Citibank estimates that climate change will cost the global economy by 2060 unless we take decisive steps to rein in greenhouse gas emissions.

To put the number in perspective, that is roughly the combined gross domestic products of the United States, China and the European Union.

But the banking giant’s recent forecast also offers a financially attractive way forward.

The Citi researchers estimated what our energy-hungry world will spend on conventional power infrastructure and procurement over the next several decades. They then compared that with what it would cost to instead develop low-carbon energy sources to meet rising demand from especially developing nations.

Their conclusion: By transitioning to a clean energy economy we will, in fact, save an estimated $1.8 trillion by 2040.

This number, of course, only tells part of the story. Investments in clean energy will bring an array of other benefits, not the least of which are new markets, industry growth and more jobs – all of which will fuel the economy and boost GDPs.

So why is the Citibank report important? Because it gives us numbers that can help us move the needle forward at a very critical time. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, General| Leave a comment

One Million and Beyond: Rebates to Accelerate Smart Thermostat Adoption in Illinois

smart statOne million is a big number, but that’s the goal for getting smart thermostats into Northern Illinois homes. In partnership with environmental and consumer groups, Chicago-based electric and gas companies this week agreed to offer rebates that will cut an intelligent monitor’s cost in half, helping empower people to reduce both their energy bills and pollution.

This smart-thermostat initiative is the nation’s largest and makes devices eligible for up to $120 in rebates (on average, a smart thermostat will run you about $250). The partnership between the utilities and advocacy groups expects the financing will lead to the installation of one million smart thermostats across Northern Illinois over the next five years.

A diverse group announced the program this week: Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), Nicor Gas, Peoples Gas, North Shore Gas, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Illinois consumer advocacy group Citizens Utility Board, Illinois Commerce Commission, and smart thermostat manufacturers, ecobee and Nest. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, General, Smart Grid| Leave a comment

Can Smart Buildings Boost Demand Response in an Era of Capacity Performance?

illinois-396648_1280By: Andrew Barbeau, President of The Accelerate Group, LLC, and senior clean energy consultant to EDF

Early January 2014, during the heart of the Polar Vortex, grid operator PJM had its finger on the switch ready to start rolling blackouts across 13 states and Washington, D.C. As temperatures plunged to 20- and 30-below zero, coal piles froze and conveyors broke down at coal plants, gas plants without firm delivery contracts sat idle without fuel, and PJM officials were sending out pleas for help for large electricity consumers to cut their use. Twenty-two percent of power generators failed to show up as expected that day, and PJM officials vowed not to let that happen again.

Likely not able to prevent future extreme weather events, PJM is looking at a major restructuring of its own market design to change how and when it pays for power to ensure the lights (and heat) stay on. But some believe those market changes come with some significant risks – particularly to the role of demand response, or emergency events during which buildings, homes, and industrial facilities are rewarded for reducing their electricity use.

Over the past several months, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Accelerate Group have been working closely with PJM, Illinois consumer advocacy group Citizens Utility Board, and a number of building owners in Chicago to develop the Combined Capacity Asset Performance Project (C-CAP), an innovative pilot program to demonstrate how demand response can continue to play a strong and vital role in PJM’s electricity market. Read More »

Posted in Clean Power Plan, Demand Response, General, Illinois| Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A Stealth Tool to Modernize the Electric Grid

Electricity regulators, clean energy innovators, and rappers have all lamented poor communication. And some have pushed for cleaner, cheaper, more reliable solutions for meeting our energy needs. This is particularly so with the much anticipated emergence of a new kind of non-event based, price-responsive demand response (DR), or flexible DR.

Whereas traditional DR signals customers to voluntarily and temporarily reduce their energy use at times when the electric grid is stressed, this type of DR does that and more. The big difference? It signals customers, their appliances, and their electric vehicles to increase their energy use when electricity is clean, plentiful, and cheap.

For example, electric vehicles can be programmed to charge at mid-day when the sun is bright and solar energy is at its peak, and use that stored energy when the sun sets. Better yet, many of our cars, homes, and appliances can be programmed to monitor grid conditions in real time, via the Internet, and respond accordingly by charging or defecting. Also known as a “set-it-and-forget-it” feature, this function enables the seamless integration of flexible DR while also supporting the full potential of energy efficiency measures and distributed energy resources (DERs), like rooftop solar and energy storage.

The seamless and stealth nature of this type of DR, which can be largely automated by tools and service providers, is something neither the customer nor the utility have to think about. It’s like a secret agent, operating behind walls and wires to find the greatest energy (and cost) saving-potential. Regulators need to unleash this “secret agent DR” by rewarding it fairly and efficiently in the energy marketplace, giving it a “license to thrill” in households and businesses across California. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Time of Use| 1 Response

Canada Has a Big Climate Opportunity, but will Policy Makers Seize It?


Drew-Nelson-1A new analysis out today shows Canada’s oil and gas sector can achieve substantial cuts in emissions of methane – a powerful pollutant and the primary ingredient in natural gas – using low-cost pollution controls. Conducted by ICF International, the independent report evaluated the many reduction opportunities for Canada’s oil and gas industry to curb harmful and wasteful methane emissions. EDF commissioned the study and released it in partnership with the Pembina Institute, Canada’s leading clean energy think tank.

Natural gas is about 95 percent methane and packs a climate warming punch 84 times more powerful than carbon dioxide in the first 20 years after it is released. Because of its short-term potency, methane accounts for 25 percent of the global warming we feel today.

Canada is the fourth largest global emitter of oil and gas methane emissions, according to a Rhodium Group analysis. Better controlling these emissions across Canada can provide instant benefits to the climate and for public health (methane is emitted along with other toxic pollutants that lead to smog), while also saving millions in wasted natural gas. And, even better, we now know that reducing these emissions in Canada is highly cost-effective, similar to the conclusion of an earlier ICF analysis done for the U.S.  Read More »

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Forum Shows Government and Business Can Work Together to Tackle Oil and Gas Methane Emissions

rp_powering-the-economy.pngThere is often staunch disagreement between industry and policymakers on how to address pollution. But an event last week convening business leaders, federal and state officials and other stakeholders showed that there’s at least one idea on which they can agree and work together: the feasibility of reducing methane emissions from the oil and gas sector.

Here are four perspectives shared at this event that give me hope we can solve the large, but addressable problem of methane pollution from the oil and gas industry if we take a fact-based, collaborative approach. That would be great news in itself, and powerful precedent for tackling the broader climate opportunities ahead.

Environmental regulations are not a zero sum game. Martha Rudolph, director of Environmental Programs at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment, was on the front lines when Colorado proposed the nation’s first direct regulation of methane pollution from the oil and gas industry. At the event, she shared her state’s powerful example of unlikely allies coming together to protect climate and communities in a way that makes business sense. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Leave a comment
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