Energy Exchange

How to decarbonize California’s economy without breaking the bank

As temperatures rise and the impacts of climate change become more prevalent, California is aggressively implementing solutions that will take more greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere. California has one of the most ambitious climate goals of any state in the country, pledging to get to 100% clean electric power by 2045.

To get to 100% clean electricity, California will have to remove carbon (or “decarbonize”) in two major areas: vehicles and buildings. For California’s residential and commercial buildings – which, combined, make up about 25% of the state’s total greenhouse gas pollution — decarbonizing means changing how we heat (space heating for warmth, water heating and clothes drying are the best examples) and how we cook.

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Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Ohio Supreme Court ends FirstEnergy’s illegal subsidies in a win for customers and the environment

The Ohio Supreme Court today rejected FirstEnergy’s “credit support” charges approved by state regulators in 2016. The Supreme Court ordered the charge be removed, saying state regulators had failed to place the necessary conditions on how FirstEnergy spent the subsidies.

For years, FirstEnergy has been seeking a bailout for its uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. The Ohio-based utility finally got its wish in late 2016, when the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio approved more than $600 million in customer-funded subsidies.

Today the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that those customer funded subsidies must be removed. In the three years’ time the appeals process has taken, FirstEnergy has collected nearly all of the $600 million it was seeking. Current law states that FirstEnergy gets to keep the $600 million rather than refund it to customers. We have been working hard to change the refund law and today’s ruling should give added momentum to this effort.

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Also posted in Clean Energy, Ohio / Comments are closed

New and better way to assess the climate impact of new pipelines

The urgent need to decarbonize the energy system makes it imperative for state and federal regulators to understand the climate impacts of proposed energy infrastructure. Officials deciding whether to approve new natural gas pipelines must be able to answer a crucial question: Will a particular pipeline reduce pollution by speeding the demise of more carbon intensive alternatives, or increase greenhouse emissions by locking in dependence on another fossil fuel?

Yet to date, natural gas utilities and pipeline developers have been largely unwilling to provide detailed life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) assessments to regulators reviewing their supply projects and plans. Nor have regulatory agencies been pressing for this data.

In fact just this morning, Federal Energy Regulatory (FERC) Commissioner Richard Glick testified to Congress that “the Commission is ignoring its statutory mandates under the Natural Gas Act by refusing to analyze reasonably foreseeable greenhouse gas emissions associated with new interstate natural gas pipelines and facilities used to import or export liquefied natural gas.”

But a new analysis released this week of a proposed interstate pipeline project in New York and New Jersey significantly advances this compelling need. The fact that it was commissioned by a utility company makes it even more significant.

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Also posted in Natural Gas, New Jersey, New York / Comments are closed

Illinois’ Clean Energy Jobs Act taps power of energy efficiency

By Christie Hicks and Andrew Barbeau

The rollout of Illinois’ Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA) has focused attention on the bill’s four main pillars: a 100% renewable energy target by 2050, the decarbonization of the state’s power sector by 2030, the electrification of the transportation sector and a focus on equity and economic justice.

But there’s a hidden gem of an opportunity in the bill that is just as promising as solar panels and electric cars: energy efficiency.

Energy efficiency programs and technology are among the most cost-effective routes to lower climate emissions and energy bills. And just like solar, wind and other clean energy tools, it’s a job creator. CEJA recognizes and capitalizes on that potential.

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Also posted in CEJA, Energy Efficiency, Ohio / Comments are closed

Equity, innovation can be part of Illinois’ efforts to electrify transportation

By Christie Hicks and Andrew Barbeau 

As Illinoisans consider ways to drive down pollution and the costs of energy, one place to look is what they drive.

The transportation sector has now overtaken the power sector as the leading source of carbon pollution in Illinois, responsible for nearly one-third of all carbon emissions. Any state-level climate action must address transportation emissions.

That is why electrification of the transportation sector is one of the four key pillars of the newly-introduced Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA). By incentivizing electric vehicles (EVs), mass transit and other transportation alternatives, we can remove the equivalent of a million gas and diesel-powered vehicles from the road. Doing so will have immediate air quality benefits, especially in low-income communities and communities of color that bear the biggest burden of this pollution.

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Also posted in CEJA, Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Illinois / Comments are closed

Jobs, equity and economic justice are at the core of new Illinois Clean Energy Jobs Act

By Christie Hicks and Andrew Barbeau 

Illinois has once again put itself at the forefront of the movement to promote a clean energy economy. In March, we wrote about the Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA), a groundbreaking bill that Environmental Defense Fund was proud to play a central role in developing.

Like its predecessor, the Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), CEJA recognizes that growing the clean energy economy is not just a core solution for climate change. It can also be a vehicle for expanding equitable access to quality jobs, economic opportunity and wealth creation — especially in economically disadvantaged communities and communities of color that have borne the heaviest burden of dirty fossil fuel pollution.

Simply put: jobs, equity and economic justice are at the core of this legislation.

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Also posted in CEJA, Clean Energy, Illinois / Comments are closed