Most Americans think their electricity comes from large power companies. In North Carolina, my home state, that might mean Duke Energy or Dominion Resources. But did you know that 42 million people in 47 states get their electricity from electric cooperatives? These member-owned electric utilities were first formed back in the 1930s to provide electricity to people living in rural areas and small towns.
Today, there are more than 900 not-for-profit electric cooperatives. Their mission remains the same today as it did back then: deliver safe, reliable, and affordable electricity to rural families and businesses.
In rural areas, housing and commercial buildings tend to be older and less energy efficient, increasing energy bills. Often energy efficiency improvements, such as insulation, are overlooked when residents are faced with hard decisions about where to spend money.
Plus, qualifying for a loan to finance efficiency improvements is more difficult in economically distressed rural areas. Addressing this reality poses a significant challenge for electric cooperatives, which serve 93 percent of the nation’s persistent-poverty counties, according to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Read More
Yesterday, British Columbia’s Premier Christy Clark announced that the province will align with Alberta’s groundbreaking new policies on reducing emissions of the potent greenhouse gas methane from the oil and gas industry. Alberta had announced in November a goal of cutting oil and gas methane emissions 45 percent by 2025, and BC’s new commitment is just one more sign that there is growing momentum in Canada to tackle this powerful climate pollutant.
In a surprise move this month, the U.S. Supreme Court “stayed” (or put a hold on) the Clean Power Plan, which sets common-sense carbon pollution standards for power plants, our nation’s largest source of carbon pollution. States can craft their own plans to meet the standards, including the deployment of renewable energy generation, energy efficiency, and fuel switching. The Clean Power Plan also provides incentives for increasing energy efficiency in low-income areas.
About 20 states are moving ahead and continuing work on plans to curb carbon pollution and comply with the plan. Other states – including my home state of North Carolina – are challenging the plan’s implementation. This action is unfortunate because North Carolina will benefit from the plan on many levels, and studies show that compliance is not going to be a problem for North Carolina, as opponents claim. Read More
These numbers don’t lie. They represent the strong support new methane waste and pollution reduction rules from the Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management enjoy across the west. Methane is a potent climate pollutant and the main constituent of natural gas, so when oil and gas companies on public land allow methane to be leaked, burned or vented to the atmosphere, it not only impacts air quality and our climate, it also represents an economic loss to taxpayers.
Here’s how this math adds up to a win for taxpayers, public health and the climate. Read More
In his final State of the Union address last night, President Obama did not spend any time bragging about his signature environmental achievements, such as the Clean Power Plan or the Paris climate accord. Instead, he highlighted the need for a more flexible electric grid in order to accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy, noting that, “Rather than subsidize the past, we should invest in the future.”
But some climate deniers and industry leaders alike are stuck in the past, and do not share Obama’s enthusiasm for a clean energy future. They argue that this path will cost too much and have a devastating impact on our economy. We’ve heard this argument before, and it doesn’t hold true. Read More
The Paris climate negotiations can set the stage for a global shift on climate change – when our world’s emissions finally stop rising, level off, and begin to fall.
There is reason to be optimistic: from China to the United States, from Europe to South Asia, countries are coming together with commitments to cut climate pollution. And so are cities, companies, investors, entrepreneurs – and even moms. That’s real momentum that could open a new era for how we make and use energy.
The real action starts after we all go home from Paris with the biggest question coming out of COP-21: Now what? I want to share three specific ideas for the future – ideas that could accelerate access to clean energy.
First, the biggest barriers today lie in how to deploy the technology we have or will soon have. Solar panels, “smart” buildings, electric cars – the cost of these technologies is on its way down. Yet we still face problems of scale, because barriers in policy and finance limit the ability of clean technologies to deploy in ways accessible to everyone. Read More