Selected category: North Carolina

“We Don’t Do Green”

NC Heros Fund

John A. Nicholson, Col., USMC (Ret), and EDF consultant (fourth from left), pictured with fellow Board members of the NC Heroes Fund, which provides grants to service members and their families who are experiencing financial difficulties as they transition from active duty back into civilian life.

By: John A. Nicholson, Col., USMC (Ret), and EDF consultant

I cringed when I read this quote, attributed to a senior military representative in Scientific American. I understood what he was trying to say, but the sound bite could easily be misinterpreted.

The Department of Defense (DoD) most certainly “does green,” and it has for some time now. At the highest level of leadership, there is recognition that energy and environmental conservation is important. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reinforced and brought to the forefront the importance of energy planning and, more importantly, its use and integration by our deployed forces. Furthermore, improved energy planning and use has played a significant role in reducing costs and improving the efficiency, resiliency, and security of military bases, facilities, and other installations that prepare DoD forces for their missions. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Military, Solar Energy, Wind Energy| Read 2 Responses

Clean Energy Conference Roundup: April 2016

rp_conference-300x2001-300x200.jpgEach month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.

Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in April:

April 4:  Energy Power Dialog (Austin, TX)
Speaker: John Hall, Texas State Director, Clean Energy

  • Participate in a national dialog on energy being hosted at universities across the United States. The Power Dialog will engage approximately 10,000 students in face-to-face conversation with state-level regulators and policy experts in all 50 states about the federal Clean Power Plan (CPP), which requires 32 percent cuts in global warming pollution by 2030. At the University of Texas at Austin, EDF’s John Hall will co-lead the dialog that helps students understand the positions for and against the Clean Power Plan: Why does Texas oppose the CPP? Why should Texas support it? This is not a lobbying or advocacy event, but rather a way to engage students in an important learning opportunity.

Read More »

Also posted in Colorado, Conference Roundup, New York, Texas| Comments are closed

Transforming an Energy Burden into an Energy Opportunity

Energy opportunityEconomic inequality has become one of the dominant political narratives of the day. It occupies discussions on both sides of the aisle, and is shaping elections from city halls to the White House. There’s a good reason for this: the continuing trends of flattening incomes, concentrated wealth, and deepening poverty are historic.

One place this reality is really hitting home for millions of Americans is on their monthly energy bill. For nearly one in three American families, paying a monthly energy bill is a challenge.

The energy burden, as the Department of Energy defines it, is the ratio of energy costs (which includes heating, cooling, appliances, and lighting from electricity, gas, and fuel sources) to household income. Nearly 40 percent of low-income households use electricity to heat their homes (the majority in the South and West), and are suffering a more severe energy burden because of factors like wage stagnation and the quality of housing at lower economic levels.  In 2014, researchers looking at the “energy affordability gap” for low income households (the difference between actual energy bills and what is considered affordable) tabulated it at almost $45 billion nationally. That is an increase of 16 percent from 2011, with nearly 60 percent of the growth accounted for by states in the mid-South, South, and east of the Mississippi. For any of those families, even a 10 percent growth in electricity costs can be destabilizing. Monthly electric bills become another factor forcing households to choose between groceries, childcare, and medical bills.

To make inroads in closing the energy affordability gap and reducing energy burdens for the most vulnerable, Environmental Defense Fund believes we need a combination of greater and scalable clean energy investment in low- and moderate-income communities, and a focus on empowering the many faces that are energy-burdened. The multi-billion dollar affordability gap certainly poses a variety of financial risks, but it’s also rife with opportunity. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, On-bill repayment, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy| Comments are closed

Rural Electric Cooperatives Improve Energy Efficiency with On-Bill Financing

carolina-houseMost 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 AssociationRead More »

Also posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing| Read 2 Responses

4 Reasons North Carolina Should Move Forward Despite the Clean Power Plan Hold

sunrise-224756_960_720In 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 »

Also posted in Clean Power Plan, Climate| Read 2 Responses

Clean Energy Can Help Tackle Rural Poverty

Growing up in eastern North Carolina was a great experience. Wayne County was my home, and I spent many weekends fishing for bass and hunting quail with my father on the family farm in nearby Bladen County. The time outdoors was great for character building, and visiting with relatives, friends, and elders in the community was equally important for understanding my heritage and the challenges my parents overcame.

You see, Bladen County is classified as a “persistent poverty county” by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, meaning the poverty rate has exceeded 20 percent of the population for the last 30 years. More than 25 percent of Bladen residents live in poverty. My family, friends, and elders were no exceptions. Despite the struggles, the personal connection to the land, water, and wildlife nourished and empowered the farming community.

When I joined Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) eight years ago, I seized the opportunity to find inclusive solutions to environmental problems. I started hunting for two different kinds of game: first, diversifying the traditional definition of environmental leadership and second, increasing access to clean, affordable energy for everyone. The two go hand-in-hand. Let me explain. Read More »

Also posted in EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, Solar Energy| Read 2 Responses
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