Author Archives: Lenae Shirley

This trade dispute could upend America's booming solar industry. Here's what it means for you.

If you work in the solar industry, want to buy solar panels or care about climate change, you may want to pay attention.

Two floundering solar manufacturers, with no concerns but their corporate bottom line, are about to pull the rug from under one of America’s fastest-growing industries and tens of thousands of well-paid jobs.

The manufacturers petitioned the U.S International Trade Commission this spring to take action against foreign competitors, claiming overseas rivals export products to America’s solar market at prices they can’t match. This at a time when the United States solar industry as a whole is booming.

In a decision that shook the industry and a host of free-trade advocates, ITC agreed with these single two petitioners and it’s now up to President Trump to decide whether to retaliate with an import tariff or other punitive options.

There’s a good chance he will – and this would be really bad news for American solar companies and consumers alike. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Solar Energy| Read 1 Response

More Subsidies than You Think Influence the Cost of Electricity

The Texas electricity market is evolving. Low prices have helped natural gas become the dominant electricity generation resource, surpassing coal for the first time. The state’s unique competitive wholesale market, along with recently built transmission lines, have led to exciting opportunities for the rapid development of wind and solar generation. But in looking at the cost of various fuel sources and Texas’ energy future, confusion about electricity subsidies needs to be addressed.

Yes, wind and solar power have recently benefitted from the federal Production Tax Credit and Investment Tax Credit. That said, it’s important to recognize that natural gas and coal generation have enjoyed state and federal incentives for a century, and continue to do so.

The tax benefits for wind and solar generation are not the same as those for fossil fuel generation, but each plays a similar role: Tax benefits affect the final cost of electricity. Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas, Solar Energy, Texas, Wind Energy| Comments are closed

These Policy Solutions Can Help Unleash The Full Potential of Renewable Energy

cps-energy-4New installed renewable energy capacity surpassed coal for the first time last year, the International Energy Agency reported recently.

It means that we added more wind and solar to our global energy system than oil, gas, coal or nuclear power combined – a trend that is expected to continue over the next five years.

But to truly transition to a global clean energy economy, we must accelerate this growth rate and modernize our electricity grid to maximize the potential of these new renewables. That way we can use as much clean energy as possible on any given day.

Many of these optimizing solutions already exist today.

They include technology such as powerful batteries that can store energy when renewables don’t produce electricity, for example, when the sun is shaded by a cloud.

There are also energy management tools such as demand response that pay customers for saving energy at critical times when the grid needs it. And innovative electricity pricing programs that encourage customers to shift some of their power use to times of day when clean energy sources are plentiful and electricity is cheaper.

All can, with the help of good policy, make the most of variable energy sources – as would a modernized and more dynamic electric grid. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Community Solar, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Financing, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Solar Energy| Comments are closed

Learn for Yourself about the Power of a Connected Home + Event Invitation

It wasn't long after my husband connected our first smart home device, a Nest Learning Thermostat, that I noticed a change.

Each time he walked by this new gadget, he would stop and do a little dance. He was interacting with this new friend, and it was a purely emotional response. He even insisted we repaint our wall to better showcase the Nest Thermostat, though he never suggested that for our artwork. Not only was our home connected, but now our hearts were in it.

This was no ordinary smart device. The Nest Thermostat gave us a sense of power, control, and freedom. And it said “hi” to us with its shining light as we approached. The best thing was the money we were saving by lowering our electricity bill, because we could now make sense of how we were using our air conditioning. This also helped reduce our carbon footprint. Read More »

Posted in Grid Modernization, Texas| Tagged , | Comments are closed

In Austin, Clean Energy Innovators Are Helping to Alleviate Energy Poverty

gridmates_share_energyAt Environmental Defense Fund, we advocate for policymakers, utilities, and other decision makers to design programs and support policies that enable everyone to benefit from a clean energy future, especially low-income families who are disproportionately affected by pollution from power plants. Recently, in Texas, a new innovation caught our eye that brings this concept to life.

This post is an interview with Gridmates CEO George Koutitas, who is harnessing the Internet, crowdsourcing, and generosity to bring light and warmth into homes that otherwise wouldn’t have power. 

What is energy poverty? In the U.S. and Texas, how many live without electricity or struggle to pay for their electricity bill each month?

In the U.S., approximately 48 million people are at or below the poverty line and may be suffering from energy poverty, meaning they cannot afford to pay for electricity and other utilities. In Texas, more than 4.6 million people are living in energy poverty. These are low-income families and, in some occasions, they owe a $5,000 accumulated debt to utilities. This debt often leads to energy service disconnections, leaving families without heat and power. Thankfully, in 2014, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provided energy assistance to roughly 6.9 million households nationwide, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Grid Modernization, Texas| Read 1 Response
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