Solar power in California has, in many ways, been an unparalleled success: the state has more solar power installed than the rest of the country combined. There are more solar workers in California (55,000) than working actors or utility workers. Solar workers earn a higher than average wage, and the industry is making strides in employing more women, veterans, and people of color. And, the median income of households installing solar in California in 2012 was between $40,000-$50,000, mostly middle- and working-class homeowners.
But there are two sides to this story because, unfortunately, solar power is still inaccessible to many low-income households.
Take my neighborhood of Boyle Heights, on the east side of Los Angeles, for example: over 70 percent of residents are renters and cannot install solar on roofs they don't own. For those who do own their homes, many can't afford to purchase their own solar system (the median income is just over $33,000) or don’t qualify for traditional financing. Residents here have captured a paltry $0.33 per capita in solar incentives over the past 15 years, as compared to Bel Air (yup, that Bel Air) which received almost $200 in solar incentives per capita – over 600 times more than Boyle Heights. Read More
Every time I open my hometown newspaper and see a negative op-ed on America’s first nationwide limits on power plant carbon pollution – the Clean Power Plan – I think, “Oh boy. Some new industry water-carrier opposing commonsense efforts to improve public health.”
Now, to be sure, Texas is not the only state where groups have been telling lies and fearmongering in the press about these new clean air standards. But at least here in Texas, there seems to be one group in particular that’s leading the pack of spreading misinformation: Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF). They’ve been regurgitating the same tired, anti-science, anti-health nonsense for years.
A conservative think tank based in Austin, Texas, TPPF claims it is trying to protect people’s wallets – which is true if by ‘people,’ you mean its members. Just take a look at its donor list, which includes out-of-state interests like the Koch Brothers and Big Tobacco, as well as major coal players like The American Coalition for Clean Coal and Texas coal-burning electric generators.
The truth is, they don’t want Texans to realize the pollution standards are good for our health, water supply, and economy. Here are a few other things they’d prefer you didn’t know about the Clean Power Plan: Read More
“When the connection was finally made the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific engineers ran their engines up until their pilots touched. Then the engineers shook hands and had their pictures taken and each broke a bottle of champagne on the pilot of the other's engine and had their picture taken again.”
– Alexander Topence on the scene in Promontory, Utah in 1869 after Western governors drove the “last spike” of the Transcontinental Railroad.
These are good times for clean energy in California. A decade of visionary policymaking, a motivated private sector, and copious sunshine have joined together to reduce the cost of solar in the Golden State by 90 percent.
We already produce more solar energy than any other state. And thanks to a new law Governor Jerry Brown signed last month, SB 350 (De León), California has committed itself to yet another ambitious clean energy goal: 50 percent of electricity in the nation’s most populous state will come from renewables by 2030. Solar is a central part, among others, of California’s strategy to meet this new target.
Amid all this optimism, fast solar growth poses challenges as well. A lot of it has to do with timing. Read More
Also posted in California
Each 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 November:
November 3-5: European Utility Week (Vienna, Austria)
Speaker: Kate Zerrenner, Manager
- With two programs—the Strategic Conference Program and the free-to-attend Hub Sessions on the exhibition floor—as well as a multitude of new exhibition features, the event is a dynamic environment for the smart energy community to come together and thrash out which strategies will be the most effective or most affordable in the future.
November 6-7: Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit (New Haven, CT)
Speaker: Fred Krupp, President
- How will our planet provide food, energy, and water for a growing population and as our climate changes? Can we develop more sustainable systems for producing and distributing food; drive towards lower carbon and GHG intensity in our economies; and effectively manage our increasingly scarce fresh water supplies and fragile ecosystems? How can efficiency and innovation help reduce our impact—while increasing our well-being? The Yale Environmental Sustainability Summit (YESS) will engage University alumni, faculty, staff, and students—as well as outside experts, practitioners, and scholars—to tackle topics, including these, in the first annual conference of its kind at Yale. Fred is scheduled to deliver remarks during the conference dinner on Friday, Nov. 6. Read More
What a difference a year can make. Even before the last weeks tick away, 2015 stands out as a remarkable and dynamic year for climate and energy in the United States.
Read on for five bold trends that are beginning to reshape our economy – and our national discourse on climate change.
1. Investments in renewables soar
I admit it: For years, I thought renewable energy was more hype than reality. I’m happy to report that recent data proves me wrong.
In just five years, solar panel prices have fallen 80 percent, and solar capacity installed worldwide grew more than six-fold. The overall cost of solar per kilowatt-hour, meanwhile, plummeted 50 percent.
For the first time in history, energy from the sun is as cheap as traditional energy in states such as Arizona, California and Texas.
The proof is in the pudding. Apple, for example, recently signed an $848-million power agreement with a solar provider – bypassing the electric grid. A deal of this magnitude shows where solar is today, and where it is headed. Read More
At the heart of every major transformation are the people carving the new path forward. The same goes for the transition currently occurring in our electricity system, which is moving away from traditional monopoly utilities relying on coal, to a world with distributed energy generation (like rooftop solar),new technology, and disruptive market entrants.
But just who are these trailblazers and how do we identify them? Earlier this year, energy-centric outlet Midwest Energy News set out to do just that for seven states. It launched a call for nominations to recognize “emerging leaders throughout the region and their work to accelerate America’s transition to a clean energy economy” for its 40 Under 40 awards.
Recently, Midwest Energy News announced the winners, who come from a variety of sectors including industry, government, regulatory, business, academic, and advocacy. Environmental Defense Fund is proud to say the group includes Andrew Barbeau, our senior clean energy consultant leading efforts like our demand response collaboration in Illinois. Read More
Also posted in Demand Response