By: Lauren Navarro and Tim O’Connor
Every day thousands of Americans suffer from dirty air – costing the young and old their health, livelihood, and in many cases, their lives. As California is home to the top five most polluted cities in the country, we need action.
Thankfully, after many long hours of debate and negotiations at the state capitol, the California Legislature passed SB 350 (De León) last Friday. The California State Assembly passed the bill, with a 52-26 vote with bipartisan support before passing it on to the senate where it was approved in a concurrence vote. This bill increases California’s renewable energy mix to 50 percent and doubles the energy efficiency of existing buildings. Both of these provisions will serve to combat dirty air and fight climate change, while ushering in a new era for the state’s electricity system – one defined by a cleaner, more resilient, and dynamic electric grid. Read More
Seven months ago, I made a strong statement that may have left some people shaking their heads. I said that we can turn the corner on climate change – end the centuries-long rise in greenhouse gas emissions and see them peak and begin to decline – in just five short years.
As it turns out, 2015 is shaping up to be a year of giant steps toward that goal.
In a deeply reported New York Magazine piece, political writer Jonathan Chait calls it “the year humans finally got serious about saving themselves.” Says Chait, “The world is suddenly responding to the climate emergency with – by the standards of its previous behavior – astonishing speed.”
I agree. Here are four reasons I believe we’re headed in the right direction: Read More
Many American households and businesses saw energy costs soar this summer with July being the hottest month in Earth’s hottest year on record.
Utilities rely on “peaker plants” during these record-setting heat waves to avoid blackouts. Such plants are more expensive and often more polluting to operate, and utilities pass the higher costs straight on to their customers.
Fortunately, this energy equation is changing. Innovative pricing and smart energy systems are gradually taking hold across the United States, already allowing homes and businesses to save energy and cut costs. It’s just the beginning of what I call our next energy revolution.
Here are three technologies on the market today that are fueling this trend: Read More
To avoid the worst effects of climate change, we must do more to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions. Yet, we still do not have a price on carbon, one of the most prevalent greenhouse gases in the world and the biggest contributor to climate change. Despite knowing that a carbon price creates broad incentives to cut emissions, the current average price of carbon globally (which is below zero, once half a trillion dollars of fossil-fuel subsidies are factored in) is much too low relative to the hidden environmental, health, and societal costs of burning a ton of coal or a barrel of oil.
Policies that comprehensively reform the energy sector—a sector designed around fossil fuels—are necessary even as the price of renewable energy declines. The cost of solar photovoltaics, for example, has declined 80 percent since 2008. Prices will continue to fall, but not fast enough to make a dent in the climate problem.
Policymakers are more likely to price carbon appropriately if renewables are competitive with (or cheaper than) fossil fuels. But reducing the cost of renewable energy requires substantial investment, and thus a carbon price. The best hope of resolution is through controlled policy experiments designed to drive down the cost of renewable power sources even further and faster than in the past five years. Read More
Critics of North Carolina’s clean energy industry recently bought some radio ads asking state lawmakers who support North Carolina’s clean energy policies to change their minds and turn their backs on this growing industry. These opponents mistakenly argue our state’s clean energy policies burden North Carolinians with rising energy costs that hurt families and cost the state jobs. These claims are baseless.
Yes, energy costs in North Carolina have increased – $40 or $50 per month for many households since 2001. But the growth of renewable energy is not the reason why. Conventional energy sources like coal are getting more expensive, accounting for as much as 84 percent of this increase.
The truth is, renewable energy is helping to slow rising energy costs, saving North Carolina electricity customers $162 million since 2007. And while clean energy continues to grow, so will the savings for our state’s families and businesses – delivering nearly half a billion dollars in additional savings over the next 15 years. Read More
By: Victoria Mills and Cheryl Roberto
To many, it may seem that pursuing environmental sustainability would fall relatively low on a municipal housing authority’s goals. After all, providing moderate and low-income families with clean, stable homes in the face of uncertain federal subsidies and increasing taxpayer scrutiny is challenge enough.
The Housing Authority of the City and County of Denver (DHA), therefore, deserves praise for its innovative solar power program that not only provides renewable energy, but creates revenue for the housing authority, creates green jobs in the region, and saves taxpayers’ money – all the while reflecting the spirit of the federal Department of Energy’s Better Buildings Challenge, which looks to reduce energy consumption by 20 percent by the year 2020. DHA serves as a model for municipalities across the country.
Andrea Davis of the DHA’s Real Estate Department and Chris Jedd, portfolio energy manager, showed the creativity and sheer will to make a lofty renewable energy goal affordable, manageable and successful, while providing their communities with empowerment, economic opportunity, and a vibrant living environment. Read More