Selected category: Energy Efficiency

Cracking the Code on California’s Clean Tech Leadership

Clean Tech IndexBy: Katie Hsia-Kiung

It may be hard to believe that just 15 years ago the term “clean tech” was largely unheard of. Today, the term has gained widespread usage, and is often applied to a diverse array of businesses, practices, and tools. Clean tech not only includes renewable energy technologies like wind and solar, but also electric motors, green chemistry, sustainable water management, and waste disposal technologies, to name just a few.

One research institution that has followed this sector through its short, but burgeoning history, is Clean Edge, a firm devoted exclusively to the study of the clean tech sector. Last week, the firm released their annual U.S. Clean Tech Leadership Index, which ranks each state based on several indicators across three categories: technology, policy, and capital. For the sixth year in a row, California came out on top as the leading state for clean technology. In fact, over the past year, California has widened its lead over the rest of the pack, with a score that is 15 percentage points higher than Massachusetts, the state in second place. According to the report, “with 55,000 people employed in its booming solar industry alone, a carbon market in place with its AB 32 trading scheme, and a 50 percent renewables goal by 2030 set by Governor Jerry Brown, California sets the pace for what a clean-energy economy looks like.” Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Cap and Trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Electric Vehicles, Renewable Energy| Comments are closed

Clean Jobs Legislation Maintains Momentum in Illinois

https://www.flickr.com/photos/oregondot/3049873452/in/photolist-PNtRR-a8bb4G-5FVki8-5Dr6mn-e56Sft-5Dvp83-7xGorg-9HajEF-5FZA45-5Dr5AM-aDnUMq-baP3Vr-9Hajwk-9Hdde3-9HddDQ-9duVAZ-azxqwi-5vWdqV-9HajMr-9HajAr-7F1KLB-hAP1e5-89gXDE-5Dvp4C-5BKeyv-7Pm1of-9duWjg-6mQ4Kx-2x6mJ1-afLB6B-9HddaE-9HajnK-9BV2oD-89vACi-a3XVDW-aS6Gwz-aHGbjv-6AQk5p-aS6GyX-9Hddo1-aDoWZu-bxPEVP-9HddMu-bjUNjL-auFcC7-auFd2y-9vatMw-9vaudW-9vavdq-9v7uozAt the start of the 2015 Illinois legislative session, a diverse coalition came together to introduce and support the Illinois Clean Jobs bill – legislation which would strengthen Illinois’ energy efficiency policies, as well as update and extend the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). The bill would also create a market-based strategy to meet new federal carbon regulations to limit carbon emissions from existing power plants, otherwise known as the Clean Power Plan (CPP).

So now that the regular legislative session has ended, where does the Clean Jobs bill stand?

A victory for the little guy

Initially, the Clean Jobs bill was far from the energy legislation spotlight. Two deep-pocketed companies also introduced bills. Exelon proposed a bailout for three of its uneconomic nuclear reactors. And Commonwealth Edison (ComEd) wanted to restructure its rates to ensure a profit because efficiency and clean energy had reduced the demand for power.

Most political observers felt Exelon and ComEd – which employ teams of lobbyists and enjoy substantial political clout – would quickly obtain what they asked for. Yet neither went anywhere, and it was actually the Clean Jobs legislation that obtained more co-sponsors than the Exelon and ComEd bills – combined. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, Illinois, Renewable Energy| Comments are closed

How to Ensure New Natural Gas Infrastructure Doesn’t Lock Out Renewables

PipelineIn an ideal world, our electricity system would run on 100 percent clean, renewable energy. Moving toward that goal means transitioning away from a system of centralized, fossil fuel power plants, to an intelligent, efficient, networked energy grid that smoothly integrates vastly increased amounts of renewables and energy-efficient solutions.

To do that, we have to balance the intermittency of renewables with our steady need for electricity. That’s where natural gas comes in: When the sun stops shining or the wind stops blowing and renewables are offline, gas-fired plants can ramp up more quickly and efficiently than coal plants.

Many policymakers, regulators and industry members believe we have to build thousands of miles of new pipelines costing $150 billion or more to feed this need. But that could be an unnecessary and expensive mistake, not just now but over a very long term. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, General, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models| Tagged , | Comments are closed

California Leaders See Climate Action as a Winning Political Issue

567465036_2f33f6506e_bIt’s always inspiring to see people stand up and fight for issues that matter to them. In our world, when politics can at times seem petty or backwards, it’s especially uplifting to see politicians do this. And that’s exactly what’s happening inside California’s state capitol.

The three most powerful political leaders in the state – Governor Brown, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, and Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins – are moving in lockstep to enact an ambitious long-term climate and clean energy agenda. Yesterday, we witnessed a major demonstration of that political leadership when the pro tem and speaker marshalled support to move fundamental pieces of legislation through a key part of the lawmaking process – passing bills through their respective houses of origin.

The bills currently under consideration put in place a climate pollution reduction target of 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050 and reaffirm the ongoing role of market-mechanisms like cap-and-trade in California. They accomplish this while also codifying the governor’s goals to meet half of our energy demand with renewable energy, double energy efficiency in existing buildings, cut our harmful petroleum addiction in half, and reduce climate pollution 40 percent below 1990 levels all by 2030. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Cap and Trade, Clean Energy, Climate, Renewable Energy| Comments are closed

Debunking FirstEnergy’s Bailout Arguments

FE strike outFirstEnergy, the giant Ohio-based company that owns power plants and transmission lines in several midwestern and northeastern states, is running out of arguments for its proposed bailout.

The Public Utility Commission of Ohio (PUCO), which is currently considering the proposal by FirstEnergy for substantial, customer-funded subsidies to bail out its uneconomic power plants, has suggested the utility must prove four points.

  1. Financial need

As we all know, need is different than want. And with a balance sheet showing $12.4 billion in shareholder equity, clearly the giant utility is able to keep these plants open. But FirstEnergy and its shareholders are reluctant to subsidize their own risk – instead, they want Ohio customers to take on the cost and associated risk. Strike one. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, FirstEnergy| Read 2 Responses

EDF and Other Environmental Groups Call on Pennsylvania to Step up Energy Efficiency

Update: The Public Utilities Commission recently extended Pennsylvania's energy efficiency and conservation programs for an additional five years – the longest phase yet, and among the longest in the country. Pennsylvania can expect to save 6.6 million megawatt-hours of electricity and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 5.1 million metric tons. 

pennsylvania-sealUtilities across the country offer energy efficiency programs, many of which obtain good results simply by replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescents (CFLs) or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). In Pennsylvania, however, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and other environmental groups are going further by seeking more comprehensive and longer-term efficiency measures.

Compared with neighboring states, Pennsylvania’s efficiency programs tilt heavily – 65 percent – toward the residential sector. Since residents account for only 37 percent of the state’s total electricity, environmental groups see substantial efficiency opportunities exist in the commercial and industrial (C&I) sectors. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Pennsylvania| Comments are closed
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