Author Archives: Jim Marston

10 Clean Energy Facts to Bring Us Together This Holiday Season

rp_solar-photo-300x173.jpgBeing a democrat in Texas – a historically red state – can sometimes result in tense family gatherings around the holidays.

It’s why many of us agree to simply “not talk politics.” But this approach is exactly what’s gotten us where we are today: a divided nation in which neither side understands the other. If we want to heal this divide, we have to start talking about our conflicting points of view – even if it’s uncomfortable.

One way to do this in a respectful, level-headed way (besides having this conversation before the second or third glass of wine) is to bring some facts to family gatherings. Allow the facts – instead of emotional arguments – to speak for themselves.

We still don’t know exactly what a Trump administration could mean for clean energy and the solar or wind industries. But the president-elect has promised to roll back the Clean Power Plan – the nation’s first-ever limits on carbon pollution – and “bring back coal,” both of which could slow our transition to a clean energy economy.

This isn’t just unfortunate for the future health of our kids and grandkids; it’s flat out not what most people want. Over 80 percent of Americans favor expanding renewable sources like wind and solar to provide electricity. Here are a few reasons why that you can bring to family gatherings this holiday season. If you’re going to have a ten-gallon mouth, you may as well fill it with facts.

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What Trump and Pence Don't Get about Clean Energy Jobs

President-elect Trump's victory tour began in Indiana last week, where he and running mate Mike Pence announced they had cobbled together enough taxpayer cash to convince Carrier – a gas furnace manufacturer that planned to move 2,000 jobs to Mexico – to keep some of its jobs in the state.

But just two years ago, Governor Pence allowed Indiana to become the first state to abandon its energy efficiency standards – a move that Carrier and other companies warned would threaten nearly 1,500 jobs and $500 million a year in local economic investment. Evidently, losing 1,500 jobs wasn't enough to worry about. Yet two years and a presidential election later, saving 1,000 on the backs of taxpayers is held up as proof that Trump is making good on his promise to reinvigorate the American economy.

Politics is theatre, but what worries me about the Carrier announcement is that it underscores how our new president and vice president don't understand the true economic potential of clean, modern energy.

The clean energy industry – everything from wind turbines and solar panels, to home energy storage and energy efficiency – is exploding around the country. In 2014, the U.S. clean energy market grew by 14 percent – at nearly five times the rate of the overall economy – to nearly $200 billion. That's bigger than the U.S. airline industry, and roughly equal to the pharmaceutical business. And this growth is creating millions of quality, homegrown jobs. If Trump wants to be the jobs president he promised he would be, someone needs to brief him on the facts. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Solar Energy, Wind Energy| Leave a comment

Why Clean Energy is Center Stage on International Day of Peace

poster-largeEach year since 1981, the United Nations (UN) recognizes an International Day of Peace on September 21. The day is intended to strengthen peace both within and among nations.

As an environmental advocate, I can’t help but think about the effects of climate change on the current state of global peace. And while there are a few climate deniers out there, those who have looked at the science are saying climate change poses a serious threat to global security and peace.

Fortunately, the UN agrees – which is why they chose to focus this year’s International Peace Day on Sustainable Development Goals. Unanimously adopted by all 193 UN member states, the Sustainable Development Goals are broken down into 17 focus areas and are part of a broader agenda to fight inequality, injustice, and climate change by 2030.

Goal 7 – “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all” – is a hugely important part of fostering global peace. The world needs affordable, reliable electricity to heat, cool, and power our homes, and to encourage economic growth. But we also need this electricity to be clean, modern, and efficient, so it doesn’t pollute our communities and exacerbate climate change.

Here are four ways the U.S. is doing our part to achieve an affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy system for all:

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Posted in California, Data Access, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, Energy-Water Nexus, Grid Modernization, Illinois, New York, Solar Energy, Texas| Comments are closed

Market Forces are Driving Coal’s Demise and Cleaning Up the Grid in Texas

power lines unsplash croppedWhat do economists and environmentalists have in common? When it comes to Texas’ energy future, more than you may think.

According to a new study from the Brattle Group, a reputable, national economics consulting firm with extensive experience in Texas’ electricity sector, market forces are leading to coal’s rapid decline in the Lone Star State. Moreover, rapidly-growing cleaner electricity sources like natural gas and renewable energy will be able to entirely meet Texas’ additional power needs – without increasing electric bills. We couldn’t agree more.

That said, we’re confident the impacts are going to be even more powerful in terms of Texas’ wind, solar, and energy efficiency. And the latest report from Texas’ main grid operator, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), continues to support that expectation. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Texas| Comments are closed

Good Policy Gone Bad: How Nevada Killed Jobs and Clean Energy Competition

Road_Closed_sign_along_Nevada_State_Route_317_south_of_Caliente,_NevadaIf you want a good example how bad government can kill good jobs and clean energy innovation, take a look at what’s happening in Nevada, where a decision by Governor Brian Sandoval’s appointees, pushed by NV Energy Inc., essentially killed the thriving local solar energy industry.

In December 2015, Gov. Sandoval’s Public Utilities Commission (PUCN) approved a new net metering rule for people with rooftop solar systems that significantly increases monthly fees they pay their utility and significantly decreases the value of unused energy they sell back to the grid. Under the new rule, rooftop solar owners do not receive payments for the benefits they provide the electric grid and it will simply take too long to recoup a solar investment so that, for most, solar will no longer be a smart financial move. Solar companies are already running for the border.

And if killing jobs wasn’t enough, PUCN’s new rule is retroactive, essentially pulling the economic rug out from under the 17,000 Nevadans who have already invested in solar systems based on existing rules. In some cases, people who have invested tens of thousands of dollars are immediately underwater; it may take them decades to see a financial return on their investment. That is, unless Nevada decides to grandfather all existing solar customers for 20 years (a vote by the PUCN is scheduled for tomorrow). Read More »

Posted in Electricity Pricing, Solar Energy, Utility Business Models| Read 9 Responses

10 Clean Energy Trends that Prove 2015 was a Transformative Year

Back in September when the New York Times declared 2015 “the year humans got serious about climate change,” we knew they were on to something. But as we near the end of 2015, it’s hard to believe we’ve accomplished as much as we have in just 12 months.

This momentum culminated in representatives of 195 nations agreeing in Paris to act together on world knowledge of climate change. This historic agreement will aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, report transparently, and review and strengthen standards every five years. EDF President Fred Krupp stated, “It sends a powerful, immediate signal to global markets that the clean energy future is open for business.”

Though history proves “hindsight is 20/20,” historians just might look back at 2015 as the year everything changed for clean energy. Here’s a look at some of the top trends that fueled climate action by governments, investors, corporations, individuals, cities, utilities, market analysts, real estate professionals, and cleantech leaders in 2015. [Click through the following slideshow to see the trends.] Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed
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