Selected category: Renewable Energy

Another Tech Giant Supports North Carolina Renewable Energy Policies

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SAS Institute, Inc. – a North Carolina-Based technology company – has joined big names like
Apple, Facebook, and Google in a growing chorus of high-profile tech firms urging lawmakers to protect North Carolina’s burgeoning clean energy economy.

SAS told state lawmakers in a recent letter: “Technology companies value North Carolina’s existing energy policies, which enable us to operate and grow our businesses in a sustainable manner.”

At stake is North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of their energy from sources such as solar and wind by 2021.The REPS and other thoughtful clean energy policies have helped create new markets that are attracting investments, building businesses, and creating jobs. The results are impressive.

North Carolina’s clean energy industry is growing

Today, North Carolina’s clean energy industry includes more the 1,200 firms providing nearly 23,000 jobs. In 2014, the industry generated nearly $5 billion in gross revenues for the state’s economy.

Much like North Carolina’s world-class university system, the growing clean energy economy makes the state an attractive choice for business leaders who are looking for the right place to invest and grow their businesses. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, North Carolina, Utility Business Models| Leave a comment

Powering Texas: Big, Clean, Market-Driven Changes are Already Underfoot

By: Peter Sopher, policy analyst, clean energy, and Sarah Ryan, clean energy consultant

wind-364996_640 pixabayOver the past century, the electric grid in the United States has experienced only minor changes. There is evidence, however, the power sector is changing. We are moving away from traditional coal generation and toward alternative, cleaner energy sources. And despite our state being primarily known for oil and gas, Texas is no exception.

In fact, Texas’ electricity sector has been trending cleaner over the past decades, driven by deregulation of the electricity market, the development of the massive highway of transmission lines built to carry West Texas wind to cities throughout the state – the Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ), and technological progress. Basically, once the market was opened up to competition, the more economic options – which also happen to be cleaner – began to gain a foothold. And there’s no stopping this train.

Where we are and where we’re going

To start, the declining use of fossil fuels to power our lives is perhaps the most significant change in Texas. As shown in Figure 1 below, fossil fuels’ (coal and gas’) proportion of the state’s electricity generation mix shrunk from 88 percent in 2002 to 82 percent in 2013. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, General, Natural Gas, Texas| Comments are closed

FirstEnergy Clings to the Energy Past

800px-Power_lines_(8618709561) flickrAll around the country, we are seeing signs of innovation when it comes to the electricity industry. The state of New York is performing a comprehensive review of related technologies and business practices, Illinois is modernizing the electric grid and empowering customers to save energy by creating transparency around smart meter data, and the wind industry in Texas continues to set new records. The U.S. grid is truly beginning to evolve from the system Thomas Edison created 100 years ago, moving toward a more flexible grid that runs on clean, renewable resources.

Yet some players – with significant revenue and power – are not on board. FirstEnergy, the Akron-based utility giant, has been clinging to the past and waging war on clean energy in Ohio, as I explain in my op-ed published today in the Akron Beacon Journal. The Beacon Journal is the hometown newspaper of FirstEnergy’s headquarters. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, FirstEnergy| Read 2 Responses

Bringing The Pope’s Climate Encyclical to Life, a Church at a Time

SacredHeartLast week’s papal encyclical on climate change galvanized those of us who already see responsible stewardship for the earth as both a moral mandate and business imperative. In the 184-page document, Pope Francis calls for a sweeping overhaul of political, economic, and individual practices to halt the degradation of the environment and protect our planet for the long term.

The pope's sweeping vision is sure to prompt churches, people of faith, and a whole range of organizations to rethink their actions with regard to use of energy, water, and other natural resources. But already, religious organizations have been working quietly and steadily to effectively manage their environmental impact, in keeping with the established theological tradition of moral economic development and use of resources.

Take Gene Murphy of Prescott, Arizona, as a prime example of someone sitting at the intersection of religion, sustainability, and business. As the business manager for the Sacred Heart Parish in the Diocese of Phoenix, Gene has developed scalable solutions for his church and school that could and should be replicated across all churches, schools and relevant organizations. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing| Comments are closed

America’s Renewables: Increasingly the Low-Cost Option

By: Nancy E. Pfund, Managing Partner of DBL Investors, and Anand Chhabra, former Summer Associate at DBL Investors and current JD/MBA Candidate at Stanford University

https://www.flickr.com/photos/usdagov/7556615906/Does more renewable energy mean more expensive electricity? In the nation’s debate on energy, few questions are more important to American families and businesses.

Many critics of renewables allege skyrocketing electricity prices and economic crisis, owing to growing reliance on renewables. This commentary has emphasized “exploding electricity prices,” an “attack on any state’s economy,” and “gouging job creators and American families with higher electricity bills.”

Wait, what?

In our report, Renewables Are Driving Up Electricity Prices – Wait What?, we address this concern directly by assessing average retail electricity prices in the U.S., with a particular focus on whether states rely a lot or a little on renewables. What we discovered is that many of the fears espoused by critics of renewable energy are overblown. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing| Comments are closed

Residential Electricity Pricing in California: We Need an Overhaul, not a Tune-Up

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This post has been updated since its original publication on June 11th, 2015.

Here at Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), we love win-win solutions. This is why we’re big fans of time-of-use (TOU) electricity pricing (a type of time variant electricity pricing). As I’ve written before, TOU pricing better reflects the true cost of electricity, which fluctuates throughout the day. What’s more, it brings with it significant benefits for the environment, electric reliability, and people’s wallets. By empowering customers to better control their energy bills and reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, everyone wins with TOU pricing.

Thankfully, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) included TOU pricing as one of the key elements in their plan to reform residential electricity rates. But how and what Californians pay for electricity – the best way to structure rates – is currently up for debate at the CPUC.

The CPUC issued its proposed decision on restructuring California’s residential rates and moving customers to TOU rates in the new structure, which EDF strongly supports as an evolutionary leap forward.  Subsequently, Commissioner Mike Florio issued an alternate proposed decision that nudges the current tiered rate system forward with a time-variation “adder.” Unfortunately, Florio’s alternate proposal amounts to more of a tune-up than the substantial overhaul required to prepare for a future grid that runs on carbon-free renewables, like wind and solar, and also powers our cars, trucks, trains, and boats.

Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing| Read 2 Responses
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