Energy Exchange

East Coast meets West Coast style – how 2 states are advancing clean energy

By Rory ChristianLauren Navarro

Cities and states are taking the initiative to address climate change independently from the federal administration. With unique political contexts and environmental needs, each local authorities’ policies address specific climate challenges.

California’s new landmark mandate, requiring solar panels on new home constructions, and New York’s ongoing Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, illustrate just how different paths can lead to accomplish the same intent: to fight climate change.  They are also indicative of how elected officials are prioritizing energy, infrastructure, and housing in their planning.

The longer states wait to take action to set or meet environmental goals, the more expensive their efforts will become. More importantly, the delay can affect the economic and health benefits from new jobs and lower emissions that improve residents’ quality of life.

New York and California are well positioned because they’ve capitalized on emerging trends by addressing legal and regulatory issues in ways other states have yet to do. Let’s take a look at their approaches and challenges. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Innovation, New York, New York REV, Solar Energy / Comments are closed

Four ways California utilities can make a big dent in reducing methane emissions

This blog was co-authored by Tim O'Connor and Ellison Folk, an Environmental Attorney at Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger.

California utilities finally have a set of plans to cut methane leakage from the state’s natural gas pipelines. This is good news, but there are still a handful of improvements that could help make the state’s gas pipelines leak even less.

Methane leakage is a serious environmental and safety issue that afflicts the entire natural gas supply chain. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas that must be reduced if California is to reach is ambitious climate goals.

Even before the Aliso Canyon disaster attracted national attention, California passed a groundbreaking law (SB 1371) requiring public utilities to reduce natural gas emissions. Last June, the California Public Utilities Commissioned ruled utilities must adopt plans that implement 26 best practices (See Appendix B) to reduce methane emissions.

Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

California’s legislative session could be huge for state economy and world climate

This year’s legislative session here in California is poised to be a wild ride in clean energy – more ideas, intertwining issues, and intrigue are developing than in the last 10 years. A signal that the state’s clean energy policy is coming of age, leaders and significant players are weaving all of the separate programs together and answering major policy questions. This progress can have a major impact on both California and the world around us.  It’s like Pangea, spreading apart and creating the new world – only much faster.

A game-changer for the West

Take AB 813 by Assemblymember Chris Holden, for example. The bill would create a regional electricity market in the West – something that would combine the state’s desire to expand its clean energy and climate policy and the need for all states, including California (with its high expectation for renewable resources), to balance and run their grids more affordably and effectively.

It is a policy solution that thinks large and small – taking into account the out-of-state pollution reductions necessary in order for California to move the needle on its climate goals while preserving participating states’ and communities’ control over their resource choices. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy / Read 1 Response

How location-based prices and utility rewards could help California’s electric grid

By Larissa Koehler, Jamie Fine

Distributed energy resources, from rooftop solar panels to smart well-weatherized homes and timed electric vehicle charging, are vital pieces of the clean energy puzzle. Coordinating how and where to encourage them in a way that benefits the electric grid, the environment, and Californians can be complicated. In its’ Integrated Distributed Energy Resource proceeding, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) recently asked stakeholders [PDF] to “consider how existing programs, incentives, and tariffs can be coordinated to maximize the locational benefits and minimize the costs of distributed energy resources.”

This key step forward in the proceeding is potentially a big deal. Why? Rocky Mountain Institute’s report puts it this way [PDF]:

“More granular pricing, capable of reflecting marginal costs and benefits more accurately than today’s rates do, will provide better incentives to direct distributed resource investments, regardless of whether investments in and management of [distributed energy resources] are undertaken by customers, by utilities, or by third-party service providers.”

By reflecting both costs and benefits in retail prices that electricity customers pay, California can modernize the grid while spurring the efficient and fair build out of distributed clean energy resources. This can help the state substitute traditional and inflexible polluting resources [PDF] with a variety of more nimble distributed energy resources where the grid can handle them. What’s more, distributed energy resources can lead to cleaner air in areas traditionally burdened by higher levels of harmful air pollution. They can achieve all this while bolstering the electric grid and protecting the health of the environment and of Californians. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: Sensing solutions

This post is part 5 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch part 4.

Pollution from oil and gas production can pose serious health risks to nearby communities. In Los Angeles, nearly 600,000 people live within ½ mile of an active oil well. That’s why a combination of smart policy and smart technology is needed to safeguard the region’s public health.

The good news is that California is already a national leader on environmental issues – and it must continue to be one as it listens to and cares for communities near urban oilfields. These communities are standing up and demanding clear air and the accurate, real-time pollution monitoring that can make it a reality.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: Game changer

This post is part 4 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch parts 1, 2, and 3.

Los Angeles has long been a city defined by creativity and innovation. Now, that same spirit of innovation promises to help the region tackle the threat of pollution from the 3,500+ active oil and gas wells in LA County.

Technical advances are driving down prices and increasing the precision of pollution monitoring technology, which could enable industry and communities to understand what chemicals may be leaking from nearby oil and gas equipment. According to Elias Tobias of Safety Scan USA, “We are seeing the first wave of lower cost, real time oil and gas pollution monitors right now. Other waves will come and make it even better, faster, and cheaper.”

Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed