John A. Nicholson, Col., USMC (Ret), and EDF consultant (fourth from left), pictured with fellow Board members of the NC Heroes Fund, which provides grants to service members and their families who are experiencing financial difficulties as they transition from active duty back into civilian life.
By: John A. Nicholson, Col., USMC (Ret), and EDF consultant
I cringed when I read this quote, attributed to a senior military representative in Scientific American. I understood what he was trying to say, but the sound bite could easily be misinterpreted.
The Department of Defense (DoD) most certainly “does green,” and it has for some time now. At the highest level of leadership, there is recognition that energy and environmental conservation is important. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reinforced and brought to the forefront the importance of energy planning and, more importantly, its use and integration by our deployed forces. Furthermore, improved energy planning and use has played a significant role in reducing costs and improving the efficiency, resiliency, and security of military bases, facilities, and other installations that prepare DoD forces for their missions. Read More
By: Roger Stephenson, EDF’s Senior Advisor for New Hampshire Affairs
New Hampshire’s solar industry has an opportunity to stand as an example of the economic gains and consumer savings that are possible when lawmakers reach across the aisle.
But the state’s public utilities commission must act quickly and responsibly.
Earlier this year, Republican and Democrat state lawmakers reached across the aisle to move forward on clean energy “net metering” legislation allowing the solar industry to continue growing in the state. (As many readers of this blog know, net metering is a policy that allows solar-equipped businesses and homes to sell their unused solar energy back to the grid.)
As it has in many other states, the solar industry in New Hampshire has seen tremendous growth in recent years. There are more than 73 solar related companies in New Hampshire, employing about 770 people. Last year, more than $45 million was invested in solar installation in the Granite State. But also, like other states, New Hampshire remained handcuffed by policies that stacked the deck in favor of legacy utilities and kept solar energy from truly taking off. Read More
By: Jayant Kairam and Jorge Madrid
American cities have made excellent progress in installed solar. For example, the top 20 solar cities, which account for less than a 0.1 percent of total land area, account for six percent of solar capacity. But what’s really exciting is the potential, which is figured to be nearly 1,200 GW, or enough power 790 million homes a year – more than double the current population. If we are able to tap this potential and harness more of our power from this clean, renewable resource, we could avoid substantial amounts of harmful pollution from the electricity sector.
One huge barrier to utilizing all this potential is “soft costs.” These are costs associated with processing applications, issuing permits, inspections, and regulatory procedures. Laurence Berkeley National Lab finds soft costs related to permitting can increase typical rooftop installation prices by $700 and, combined with other soft cost factors, can increase a system price by as much as $2,500. These additional fees account for 50 to 70 percent of total rooftop solar costs in the U.S. today.
By expediting these processes, cities and third parties can reduce soft costs of solar installation, helping to spread this clean energy resource to more households and communities. Read More
Public voting is open for SXSW Eco 2016 – one of the world’s most high-profile environmental conferences. Cast your vote by May 20 to help determine which panels, workshops, solo talks, and bootcamps the conference will feature Oct. 10-12 in Austin, TX.
Whether or not you plan to attend the conference, your opinion matters: SXSW Eco aims to highlight breakthrough ideas and discover new ways of addressing critical environmental challenges, locally and globally. In other words, what matters to you, matters to SXSW Eco. Read More
By: Robert King, Southcentral Partnership for Energy Efficiency as a Resource, Peter Sopher and John Hall, Environmental Defense Fund
Three of the top five fastest growing cities in the country are here in Texas, and explosive population growth puts a lot of pressure on our electric grid to keep up with demand. Fortunately, the state’s main grid operator, Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), has done a great job of keeping the lights on, and new building codes are ensuring less energy use in the thousands of new houses that are being constructed.
As more and more people flock to the Lone Star State, there is significant potential for energy efficiency to reduce pollution and energy bills for Texas families. But in a report released last October, ERCOT overestimated the cost of energy efficiency in Texas – by more than two times – and understated by about seven times the amount we are on track to achieve. ERCOT’s estimates do not acknowledge Texas’ reality: Energy efficiency, and other sources of clean energy, are already on the rise. Read More
By: John Hall, Texas state director, clean energy, and Colin Leyden, senior manager, state regulatory & legislative affairs – natural gas
When it comes to clean air and clean energy, Texas cities – and their encompassing counties – know what’s good for them.
San Antonio’s Bexar County Commissioners, for example, recently approved a resolution supporting the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the Clean Power Plan.
Bexar County includes the City of San Antonio and adjoining areas. By endorsing the plan, the broader San Antonio community joins Texas’ largest cities Houston and Dallas, whose mayors are also supporting the sensible, cost-effective clean air measure. (In fact, Houston and Dallas filed an amicus brief together with a large coalition of cities to support the Clean Power Plan in court).
All of this comes in the face of staunch opposition from Texas state leaders, who have used taxpayers’ money to sue the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over these safeguards. Meanwhile, Bexar County Judge Nelson W. Wolff and commissioners passed the resolution unanimously, meaning members from both sides of the aisle put politics aside and voted for healthier air for our communities and families. Read More