One of the worst hit states by last year’s Superstorm Sandy, New York is moving aggressively to avert future climate-related weather events. Governor Cuomo announced the launch of a Green Bank last week, giving the state a timely and much-needed Christmas gift.
The move shows the state’s strong commitment to the acceleration of a clean, low-carbon energy economy. New York joins the ranks of several other states, including Connecticut and Hawaii, in addressing a key issue holding clean energy in America back, namely financing. The Green Bank, which has $210 million in initial funding originating from existing ratepayer and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds, targets market barriers to private financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Working with private sector financial institutions, the Green Bank will offer financial products such as credit enhancement, loan loss reserves and loan bundling to support securitization (which promotes liquidity in the marketplace) and help build secondary markets. These products have long-proven successful in stimulating market developments and creating investment-quality, asset-backed securities that can be bought and traded. Read More
Duke Energy secured approval from the North Carolina Utilities Commission this week to offer more renewable energy to its most energy-intensive customers in the state, including data centers, manufacturers and college campuses.
Duke's "green source" program comes at the request of customers like Google, which opened a $600 million data center in Lenoir, NC, and asked Duke Energy to provide them with more renewable energy offerings.
This is great news for economic development, jobs and the environment in North Carolina. Duke's green source program will increase renewable energy investment beyond the goal set by North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard.
Under the green source program, Duke Energy will work with eligible customers to identify the amount, type and source of renewable energy they want. Duke will then arrange long-term power purchase agreements with solar, wind or other renewable energy suppliers. Participating companies pay any additional costs of purchasing renewable energy. Read More
This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.
If renewable energy is a good thing, then a lot of renewable energy is a very good thing, right? Not exactly, according to recent articles in the L.A. Times and Forbes about challenges posed by the growth of renewables. But, as we’ve pointed out, the issue here is not too much renewable energy, but rather a vulnerable U.S. electric grid built for the last century.
It’s essential to remember the bigger picture in order to arrive at the truth of the matter: If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, renewable energy is a vital part of the solution. And while an unprecedented abundance of renewable power may raise complex questions about how to integrate these resources, it also underscores the need – and vast opportunity – for critical energy infrastructure improvements. Our response as a nation should not be to shrink from the challenges of renewables, but rather to keep working toward a smarter, more resilient energy system to meet the needs of the 21st century and beyond. Read More
New York Governor Cuomo announced last week that the NY-Sun Initiative, a public-private partnership launched last year to spur growth in solar energy, will provide an additional $30 million to stimulate more large solar and biogas projects in the New York City area. The move follows a successful 1.56-MW rooftop solar project in the Bronx.
The expansion of the NY-Sun initiative, which has committed $800 million to solar energy through 2015, provides further example of New York’s leadership role in solar energy in the northeast. New York has some impressive smart power projects under its belt, including the 32-MW solar farm at the Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island, the state’s largest solar installation.
Also in the same area, the Long Island Power Authority’s CLEAN Solar Initiative initiated the state’s first feed-in tariff program, which has plans to purchase up to 50 MW of customer-generated solar energy. Read More
Source: Earth Techling
This commentary originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.
As we highlighted a few weeks back, Texas is on a new path to accelerating its clean, renewable energy economy. The opening of the Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) now enables more West and Panhandle wind turbines to fuel the state’s major metropolises, and the completion of the project couldn’t come soon enough.
A number of companies are looking to grow and invest in Texas, thanks to its plentiful, clean wind power. Google, Microsoft and BBVA Compass are leading the charge and signing long-term agreements to purchase Texas wind energy. These contracts lock in considerable revenue for the state and guarantee Texas’ ranking as the number one wind-producing state in the nation. In fact, West Texas wind has outpaced the growth of coal, natural gas and all other fuel sources that supply the grid, according to a recent report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.
In September, Google added to its growing stock of renewable energy by purchasing the entire output of a 240-megawatt wind farm (enough energy to power 84,000 homes) outside Amarillo to power its Oklahoma data center. Late in November, Microsoft signed a 20-year contract to purchase all of the energy from a 110-megawatt wind farm outside Fort Worth to power its San Antonio data center. And BBVA Compass recently signed a 10-year agreement with Choice! Energy Services, a Houston-based retail energy broker, to power its Texas branches exclusively with wind and solar energy. Read More
On November 18th, the Smart Cities Council released the Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. I am privileged to be a member of the Smart Cities Council Advisory Board, and in such a capacity, served as a review for the Guide.
The Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide is the first of its kind—a comprehensive, vendor-neutral handbook for city leaders and planners to help them assess their current state of technology and give them a roadmap for developing a smart city.
It was produced in collaboration with some of the world’s top smart city experts and includes technology recommendations for a city’s most important responsibilities: buildings, energy, telecommunications, transportation, water and wastewater, health and human services, public safety and payments.
My reviews were solely of the energy and water chapters, but the Guide as a whole offers a collection of guidelines, best practices and more than 50 case studies as well as 27 proven principles that will enable cities to achieve a smart city status. City planners will be able to identify the best path forward for their particular city, creating a customized plan that will work, even if development of the plan is gradual. Read More
This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.
Today president Obama took an important step toward supporting a clean energy future by directing the Federal Government to consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. This is more than double the current level, making this a significant moment in President Obama’s second term.
Renewable energy has become cost-competitive over the years and the quality of innovative clean technologies has dramatically improved. These are clean, efficient, homegrown resources that we can count on now, and President Obama’s public support of renewables in this announcement will serve to further drive their competiveness in the market.
This memorandum also directs agencies to update their building-performance and energy-management practices, “by encouraging the use of the consensus-based, industry-standard Green Button data access system (Green Button) and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star Portfolio Manager.” Recommendations under this section ask agencies to install smart energy and water meters, participate in demand response where possible and make the data collected from smart meters publically available in order to better manage energy performance and allow for benchmarking. Read More
Guest Blog Post By: R. Blake Young, President and CEO of Comverge
The complex task of managing peak energy demand is not something that should be addressed in a piecemeal fashion, and this is particularly true in the demand response industry. For reference, demand response (DR) balances supply and demand, providing peaking capacity to utilities without investments in new plants. DR incentivizes change in customer energy usage patterns to reward lower electricity use at times when system reliability is jeopardized or the price of electricity is higher.
While Comverge supports both residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) demand response programs, it’s important to remember that the residential sector is an incredibly valuable and essential part of any energy management program. The infographic below illustrates why residential demand response is so important to our nation’s energy mix. Read More
Over the past two years, Texas’s changing energy landscape has been a focus of EDF’s work. In our Texas’ Energy Crunch report from March 2013, we highlighted that Texas has a peak capacity constraint – meaning that the power grid becomes strained when, for example, everyone is using their air conditioning units on hot summer afternoons. This challenge, coupled with increased climate change and drought, signal the need to prepare by adopting a smarter grid and cleaner resources.
The Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) have been engaged in this conversation and various proposals have been laid on the table to determine what Texas’ energy future will look like. EDF maintains the position that, whatever reforms are made, customer-facing, demand-side resources – defined here as demand response (DR), renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage – must play a key role to ensuring reliability, affordability, customer choice and environmental improvements.
Energy-Only Status Quo or Capacity Market or…?
Texas’ current energy-only market structure pays power plants only for the energy they produce. This is beneficial in that generators are not overcompensated, but the downside is that energy companies aren’t incentivized to build in Texas and energy management providers (DR companies) are not viewed as equal players. Energy prices are low due to an upsurge in cheap, abundant natural gas and wind – and without a guarantee for a high return on investment, companies will not take the risk of constructing costly new power plants. Read More
Also posted in Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, General, Smart Grid, Texas
Tagged Capabilities Market, Capacity Market, Energy-Water Nexus, ERCOT, PUCT, Texas Energy Market, Texas Public Utilities Commission, Third Way
This commentary originally appeared on Verizon’s News Center.
Technology giant Verizon is making significant strides toward increasing the use of on-site green energy throughout its national portfolio with plans to finish more than $100 million in clean and renewable energy projects across facilities in seven states by the end of this year. The investment is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by over 15,000 metric tons each year, which is comparable to over 2,000 homes’ annual electricity use. Verizon’s video showcasing its plans includes an introduction by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)’s very own Victoria Mills, managing director of Corporate Partnerships.
The move builds on the company’s earlier foray into clean technology, resulting in Verizon’s successful 2005 investment in a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell in Garden City, New York. Fuel cells use an electrochemical process in which oxygen and fuel (natural gas or biogas) react to produce amounts of electricity. The process produces less carbon emissions than more conventional sources of electricity, and enables the possibility of affordable on-site, user-owned power generation that is as constant and reliable as a utility and provides an attractive economic payback for customers.
When selecting locations for solar and fuel-cell energy projects, Verizon was careful to consider sites with favorable zoning requirements, utility partners and regulatory regimes. Despite being financially viable, identifying suitable projects was no simple task. Financing these projects without incentives at the federal and state levels proved impossible, and the incentives often came with conflicting timetables and were difficult to leverage. Read More