Category Archives: Renewable Energy

Is Residential Solar on the Rise in Texas?

iStock_Solar_InstallerLast week, I wrote about the continued success of Texas’ wind energy industry, but the growth in solar is also impressive. Nationally, solar energy accounted for 74 percent of all new electric generation in the first quarter of 2014. Plus, residential solar installations surpassed commercial projects for the first time in history earlier this year. This is significant, proving that more homeowners are making the switch and investing in a cleaner energy supply.

According to the Center for American Progress, “more than 60 percent of solar installations are occurring in zip codes with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000." This is an important revelation as the price of solar comes down quickly, projected to be cost-competitive with fossil fuels by 2020, more homes can and will add solar panels. In fact, experts expect more than half of all American homebuilders to offer rooftop solar as an option in new single-family homes by 2016. That’s a significant uptick from just 12 percent in 2013.

These findings make clear that people are taking their energy use into their own hands, highlighting the power of people in the new energy landscape, where customer-centric demand-side resources – rooftop solar, energy efficiency, demand response (which compensates electricity customers for conserving energy), electric vehicles, and energy storage- will play a key role. I discussed this trend in a radio interview with Voice of Russia a few weeks ago in a segment entitled Whole Home Automation: Promising for Consumers and Climate. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Smart Grid, Texas | Tagged , | Comments closed

Clean Energy Finance 101

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collections.

Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Collections.

As innovative energy products and services come to market, so do new mechanisms to fund them. And existing funding options become more popular. This has resulted in a boom of finance jargon, especially regarding energy efficiency and renewable generation. Though many of the finance terms used in clean energy finance are similar to those used in traditional finance, it’s easy to get lost. We hope this glossary will help those in clean energy navigate the new and growing world of clean energy finance.

Asset Class: A grouping of similar types of investments that behave similarly in the marketplace and are subject to the same laws and regulations. Broad examples of asset classes include:

  1. Equities (also known as stocks) – assets that represent ownership of part of a company.
  2. Bonds – assets that guarantee a fixed payment stream.

Bonds are often further categorized based on structure or source of the payments. Examples of these subclasses include municipal, corporate and mortgage bonds. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Dynamic Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, On-bill repayment, Smart Grid | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Texas Wind Energy Continues to Blow Us Away

Source: katsrcool/Flickr

Source: katsrcool/Flickr

We have a lot to celebrate this Global Wind Day (June 15). Across the nation, wind energy accounted for almost one-third of new power capacity over the past five years and the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) estimates that wind energy has the potential to double over the next few years.

Nowhere is the growth in wind energy more evident than in Texas, the nation’s top wind producing state. Texas' wind energy generation grew by 13% in 2013 and more than 60% of all wind projects under construction in the first part of the year were in Texas.

This success has been aided by the Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), a modest tax credit for new facilities good for ten years after the wind farm’s start date. Like those received by the oil, gas, and nuclear industries, tax incentives help ignite growth in the market. EDF has strongly advocated for this incentive over the past few years.

Unfortunately, the breaks that oil and gas have received over the last 100 years are often (conveniently) ignored by those wanting to maintain the status quo, making the PTC a point of debate among politicians. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, General | Comments closed

Power Plant Rule a Tipping Point for Clean Energy Economy

powerplantruleFor those of us (and all of you) who’ve been urging the government to implement meaningful climate policy, the release yesterday of a plan to cut carbon emissions from power plants has been a long time coming. But it finally came.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed carbon pollution rule for existing fossil-fueled power plants – also known as the Clean Power Plan – are a huge win for our climate.

We also think it could go down in history as the tipping point in our nation’s transition to a clean energy economy. Here’s why:

Old, dirty power plants will be retired

The nation’s fleet of coal-fired power plants is the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. Placing carbon regulations on this source of electricity for the first time in history will transform our energy system. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models | Comments closed

EPA Hands Over the Keys with Clean Power Plan, California Already on Cruise Control

epaEPA’s Clean Power Plan, proposed today, is a roadmap for cutting dangerous pollution from power plants, and as with any map, there are many roads to follow. For this journey, states are in the driver’s seat and can steer themselves in the direction most beneficial to their people and to the state’s economy, as long as they show EPA they are staying on the map and ultimately reaching the final destination.

As usual, California got off to a head start, explored the territory, blazed a lot of new trails, and left a number of clues on how states can transition to a lower carbon future, and California’s successes are one proven, potential model for other states to follow. The state’s legacy of clean energy and energy efficiency progress is a big reason the White House and EPA could roll out the most significant national climate change action in U.S. history. Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, California, Cap and Trade, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency | Comments closed

Connecticut’s Green Bank Gives Commercial PACE a $24 Million Boost

CEFIALast week, Connecticut’s Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority (“CEFIA”), the state’s Green Bank, announced the sale of $24 million in loans for clean energy retrofits of commercial properties. The loans were originated through the state’s Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, which allows property owners to access 100 percent up-front financing for energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements on their buildings.  Repayment is attached to a lien on the property tax bill, making PACE loans very attractive assets for investors.

According to Jessica Bailey, Director of PACE for CEFIA, “Connecticut’s PACE program is able to provide financing for commercial property owners to implement money saving clean energy projects. Without PACE, most of these property owners might not have access to attractive financing and these projects would not be completed.” Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project, On-bill repayment | Tagged | 1 Response, comments now closed

Resiliency+: Distributed Generation and Microgrids Can Keep Lights On During the Next Storm

Resiliency+ is a new blog series, which highlights the ways in which different clean energy resources and technologies can play an important part in increasing energy resiliency in New Jersey and around the country. Check back every two weeks, or sign up to receive Energy Exchange blog posts via email.

Source: Postdlf

Source: Postdlf

Unlike large, centralized power plants, distributed generation and microgrids create electricity on or near the premises where it can be primarily used. Solar panels on rooftops, for example, are a form of distributed generation: they create electricity that can be used in the same location where the renewable energy is generated. Microgrids are similar – systems that serve a specific energy consumer, such as university campuses, with on-site energy generation that can operate both independently from (i.e. ‘islanded’) and connected to the larger energy grid.

A National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study found that distributed generation and microgrids, “are integral to energy resiliency.” With the right enabling technology, distributed generation and microgrids have the potential to ‘island’, meaning that they can function separately from the main electricity grid. In other words, in the aftermath of a storm or during a blackout, distributed generation and microgrids are able to keep power running. The importance of this technology cannot be understated. Without it, electricity that has the potential to work during a system-wide blackout – like solar power or energy storage – will be rendered powerless. Distributed generation and microgrids provide the pathway for these clean energy resources to function during and after a natural disaster. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Smart Grid | Tagged | 3 Responses, comments now closed

Commercial Demand Response – An Untapped Resource for the Congested Grid

By: John Gruss, Vice President and General Manager of Enerliance

lobosAccording to the recently released National Climate Assessment, 2012 was the hottest year on record for the continental United States, and experts predict that temperatures are only going to rise. Couple this with an energy grid that is already under severe strain, and there can be no denying we’ve got a serious problem on our hands.

Every year an overstressed electric grid faces increasing challenges to cool and operate homes and buildings. As we approach summer, with heat waves that are growing longer in duration, this crisis could result in energy shortages and blackouts that are not merely a matter of disrupted comfort and lost productivity but are a serious threat to national security and human health. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models | Comments closed

Transition to Clean Energy will make the U.S. Military More Efficient, Effective, and Safe

http://www.theburdenfilm.com/

http://www.theburdenfilm.com/

When most of us think about military operations, we think of tanks rolling across a desert, large aircraft carriers on the ocean, or long lines of Humvees in convoys. These vehicles, and their missions, take a lot of energy and are part of the large category of “operational energy use.” In fact, 75% of all military energy use is operational.

This operational energy use has created a massive dependence on fossil fuels, resulting in some unintended consequences, which:

  • Cause ships, planes and vehicles, like tanks, to cease operations during refueling. This takes time and keeps the vehicle from completing its mission. Fuel convoys are also prime targets for ambushes and improvised explosive devices (IEDs).
  • Bind the military to a volatile commodity with changing prices and an unstable future.
  • Exacerbate climate change, an issue that U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recently called a “threat multiplier.” According to Secretary Hagel, climate change will influence resource competition and “aggravate stressors abroad such as poverty, environmental degradation, political instability, and social tensions.” These stressors will increase the frequency, scope, and duration of future conflicts and, by extension, U.S. military interventions around the globe.  Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Smart Grid | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Fact: Clean Energy is Working in Ohio

windpowerohioChris Prandoni certainly is welcome to his own opinions, but not his own facts. As the Director of Energy and Environmental Policy at Americans for Tax Reform, Prandoni may favor coal-fired power plants and dislike energy efficiency and renewables, but there’s no doubt Ohio’s clean energy standards are saving consumers money and bringing huge investments into the state.

Prandoni supports S.B. 310, which has already passed the Ohio Senate and is expected to enter the House within the next week, and promises to kill the state’s renewable portfolio standards (RPS) and energy efficiency directives. If Prandoni has his way, and as he points out in his misinformed Forbes op-ed, Ohio would be the first state in the nation to “pare back” its clean energy mandates, but this is not something Ohioans should be proud of. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Ohio, Utility Business Models | Tagged | 1 Response, comments now closed