The holidays are upon us. As we prepare to gather with our friends and family, eat too much, and lounge around watching football, many people use this time to reflect on what they are grateful for. Being able to pay one’s electricity bill probably doesn’t make most people’s list, but for many Americans, it might.
The average household spends $1,945 annually on electricity, and homes with the lowest 20 percent of income spent nearly six percent of their income on energy bills. For many households, the cost of energy remains unaffordable. To put it in perspective, compared to middle- or upper-class homes, low-income households spend about twice the percentage of their income on energy. Yet, as Greentech Media points out, “many [energy management] solutions are tailored to the biggest homes, those awash in thousands of square feet of central air with a pool pump. Other solutions are tailored for middle-class homes, such as aggressive rebates for more efficient appliances. Many apartment-dwellers, however, do not own their major appliances."
The future of smart home, energy-saving technologies is often more focused on affluent, early-adopters who benefit from innovative ways to save energy because they can afford the newest gadgets. Thankfully, these people are using their buying power to lead the way, as more demand will bring prices down for everyone. While it is important for all of us to conserve and better manage energy use, low-income individuals have the most to gain. Yet the technologies that can enable savings are often out of financial reach. Read More
Last week the New York Times reported that, for the first time in history, clean energy resources like solar and wind are becoming cost competitive with conventional coal in some markets. This paradigm shift, where clean energy is beginning to compete head-to-head with traditional energy sources, calls for a change in perspective.
This ‘change in perspective’ is a movement toward what I would describe as “sustainable sustainability” – in which “sustainable” means the ability to stand the test of time, and “sustainability” refers to an environmentally responsible approach to making, moving, and using energy. In other words, we must find a way to ensure clean energy resources remain competitive in the marketplace and become ‘business as usual’ resources in the overall energy mix. The International Energy Agency (IEA) does a great job of explaining the need for this shift:
In the classical approach, variable renewables are added to an existing system without considering all available options for adapting it as a whole. This approach misses the point. Integration is not simply about adding wind and solar on top of ‘business as usual’. We need to transform the system as a whole to do this cost-effectively.”
By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant
Last week, EDF’s Investor Confidence Project (ICP) co-hosted an energy efficiency finance networking event in San Francisco, bringing together 70 local project developers, for the first-ever SF Inter-Connect. Held in collaboration with San Francisco Department of the Environment (SF Environment) and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) on November 12 at the SF Environment offices, the event gave each investor, much like in ‘speed dating’, exactly five minutes to pitch the crowd on their products, describing how they worked and what kind of projects the investor was looking for.
The Investor Confidence Project is accelerating the development of a global energy efficiency market by standardizing how Investor Ready Energy Efficiency™ projects are developed and energy savings estimates are calculated. The ICP system offers a series of protocols that define industry best practices for energy efficiency project development and a credentialing system that provides third-party validation. This leads to increased confidence among building owners and investors in the reliability of projected savings. Read More
In order to fund the transition to a low-carbon economy at a pace rapid enough to prevent runaway climate change, the International Energy Authority has estimated that an annual $1 trillion will be required globally. What policies or mechanisms can be used to facilitate private capital engagement on so grand a scale?: Green banks, which are government-created financial institutions that use attractive interest rates and other incentives to leverage money from the private sector to fund clean energy projects.
Earlier this week, EDF co-hosted the first day of the two-day, second annual International Green Bank Summit in our New York City headquarters, bringing together green bank stakeholders from around the world. The summit focused on how green banks can better leverage limited amounts of public capital to engage and accelerate the deployment of private capital into essential energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate change mitigation initiatives.
Green banks are catalysts
With one dollar of public finance leveraging about three dollars of private capital, global green banks have catalyzed nearly $20 billion dollars to date in clean energy projects around the world and expect to raise more than $40 billion over the next five years. So far, only a handful of countries have developed green banks. Read More
By: Kenneth Gillingham, assistant professor of economics at Yale University’s School of Forest & Environmental Studies, David Rapson, assistant professor of economics at the University of California, Davis, and Gernot Wagner, lead senior economist at EDF
The rebound effect from improving energy efficiency has been widely discussed—from the pages of the New York Times and New Yorker to the halls of policy and to a voluminous academic literature. It’s been known for over a century and, on the surface, is simple to understand. Buy a more fuel-efficient car, drive more. Invent a more efficient bulb, use more light. If efficiency improves, the price of energy services will drop, inducing increased demand for those services. Consumers will respond, producers will respond, and markets will re-equilibrate. All of these responses can lead to reductions in the energy savings expected from improved energy efficiency. And so some question the overall value of energy efficiency, by arguing that it will only lead to more energy use—a case often called “backfire.”
In a new RFF discussion paper, “The Rebound Effect and Energy Efficiency Policy,” we review the literature on the rebound effect, classify the different types, and highlight the need for careful distinction between causal links—which are indeed worthy of the “rebound” label—and mere correlations, which are not. We find, in fact, that measures to improve efficiency, despite potential rebound effects—are likely to improve welfare, generally. Read More
We knew this was coming. Everyone knew. The power sector is the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world, yet there are no limits on how much carbon power plants can emit into our air. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) for new and existing power plants is urgently needed, is well within Texas’ reach, and can ensure that Texas (more so than other states) forges a strong and prosperous clean energy economy.
But this week, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages roughly 90 percent of Texas’ power grid, issued a report that overestimates the challenges posed by the CPP to the state’s electric grid reliability. Furthermore, it failed to appropriately recognize key tools available to ERCOT and the state to meet the proposed CPP.
Here’s a breakdown of what the report missed: Read More