Selected category: Clean Energy

Vote-a-Rama Reveals Senators’ Environmental Agenda

capitolIt’s been a big news day in the U.S. Senate, with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid announcing he won’t run for another term.

But that's not the only news.

We have had our eyes on the Senate’s marathon “Vote-a-Rama” budget process that wrapped up around three-thirty this morning.

A number of environmental and energy votes came and went in a flurry of two-minute debates. While the votes mean little in terms of law (the budget bill doesn’t even go to the president for signature), Senators on both sides of the aisle brought up measures as trial balloons to find out where Senators stand on issues that could resurface when Congress takes up other legislation in the future.

Disturbingly, but not surprisingly, polluter lobbyists were hard at work and Senators filed dozens of amendments attacking the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and other environmental measures. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Power Plan, Climate| Leave a comment

In North Carolina, Walmart and Other Corporate Giants Call for Clean Energy Choices

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walmartcorporate/5250475208/Leading national companies in North Carolina want more choice and competition when it comes to energy, including where it comes from and who they buy it from. That’s the message recently delivered to the North Carolina legislature in a letter signed by 10 corporate giants in the state.

The list of companies calling for action is impressive, including:

  • Some of the country’s largest retailers – Walmart, Lowes, Target, Family Dollar, and Macy’s
  • Major manufacturers – Volvo, textile giant VF, Unilever, and New Belgium Brewing
  • Agriculture commodities giant Cargill

North Carolina’s current law prohibits companies from contracting with energy providers other than utilities. It’s easy to understand how that law squashes consumer choice and competition.

The 10 companies want the ability to buy clean, renewable electricity directly from providers other than utilities like Duke Energy and Dominion. Greater choice in the North Carolina electricity market would provide a wide range of benefits. For example, companies and homeowners would be able to lease rooftop solar panels from clean energy providers at little to no upfront cost and lock in long-term, stable electricity rates. Read More »

Also posted in North Carolina, Renewable Energy| Leave a comment

Who Could Benefit Most from Fair Electricity Pricing? Low-Income Customers

new york city 2These are exciting times. New York’s ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) has paved the way for change of unprecedented proportions. New York regulators are preparing the state for a future in which rooftop solar installations are ubiquitous and the rumbling staccato of gasoline-fueled automobiles is replaced by the relative silence of electric vehicles.

While more rooftop solar energy and electric vehicles are certainly part of our energy future, some of the biggest changes are likely to come from less visible – and less obvious – sources, particularly for customers in densely populated metropolitan areas and low-income customers, who make up a significant portion of New York state’s customer base.

Urban dwellers, for whom mass transit is a central part of daily life and owning your own rooftop is less common, may view electric cars, rooftop solar, wind, battery storage, and on-site energy generation as appealing, but also abstractions more suitable for upstate homeowners than those living in crowded apartment buildings.

For these customers, the opportunity to contribute to a clean energy future will be guided largely by the domain of Adam Smith’s invisible hand: economic forces that enable greater control over how much energy is used and at what price. Read More »

Also posted in Electricity Pricing, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Leave a comment

Hitting Those Clean Energy Notes

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San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) Photo source: Flickr/Jason Hickey

When the door to one power plant closes, a window to more clean energy solutions opens.

It may seem logical that once a power plant closes, another one needs to be built to replace it – after all, we need to make up for its potential energy generation with more natural gas or nuclear-powered energy, right? San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is certainly trying to convince Californians this is true. Trouble is, EDF and other environmental groups, along with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), aren’t buying it. And you shouldn’t either.

This story begins in 2013, when the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Stations (SONGS) permanently closed, shutting down a nuclear power plant with a capacity of 2,200 megawatts (MW) and sparking a debate about how to replace this lost power source. When first determining how to proceed in the wake of the SONGS closure, the CPUC decided SDG&E could buy between 500 to 800 megawatts (MW) of new energy resources by 2022. Further, at least 200 MW of this power had to – and all of it could – be met with preferred resources like energy efficiency, renewable energy, energy storage, and demand response (an energy conservation tool that pays people to save energy when the electric grid is stressed). Read More »

Also posted in California, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency| Leave a comment

Austin Launches Texas’ Inaugural PACE Program, Unleashes Private Funding for Water and Energy Efficiency

By: Charlene Heydinger, Executive Director, Keeping PACE in Texas

PACEinaBox-logoToday marked a milestone for Texas’ clean energy economy. Travis County voted to adopt the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, making it the first county in Texas to do so. This means Austin and the surrounding area will soon reap the economic and environmental benefits from giving energy-intensive, thirsty Texas a reprieve with water efficiency and clean energy.

What is PACE?

PACE, enacted during the 2013 Texas Legislature with support from both sides of the aisle, has the potential to unlock a considerable amount of private funding for clean energy projects in the state. Specifically, it is an innovative financing program – completely free of government mandates and public funding – that enables commercial, industrial, multi-family, and agricultural property owners to obtain low-cost, long-term loans for water conservation, energy-efficiency, and renewable energy projects. Participants will then repay these loans for clean energy projects through their property tax bill. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Texas| Leave a comment

In Austin, Clean Energy Innovators Are Helping to Alleviate Energy Poverty

gridmates_share_energyAt Environmental Defense Fund, we advocate for policymakers, utilities, and other decision makers to design programs and support policies that enable everyone to benefit from a clean energy future, especially low-income families who are disproportionately affected by pollution from power plants. Recently, in Texas, a new innovation caught our eye that brings this concept to life.

This post is an interview with Gridmates CEO George Koutitas, who is harnessing the Internet, crowdsourcing, and generosity to bring light and warmth into homes that otherwise wouldn’t have power. 

What is energy poverty? In the U.S. and Texas, how many live without electricity or struggle to pay for their electricity bill each month?

In the U.S., approximately 48 million people are at or below the poverty line and may be suffering from energy poverty, meaning they cannot afford to pay for electricity and other utilities. In Texas, more than 4.6 million people are living in energy poverty. These are low-income families and, in some occasions, they owe a $5,000 accumulated debt to utilities. This debt often leads to energy service disconnections, leaving families without heat and power. Thankfully, in 2014, the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provided energy assistance to roughly 6.9 million households nationwide, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Read More »

Also posted in Smart Grid, Texas| Tagged | 1 Response
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