Energy Exchange

Rural communities need internet access, and rural electric co-ops are providing it

When I stop for a quick bite back home in rural North Carolina, I know the restaurant crowd is not always an indication of how great the food is. Often people are there for the free internet connectivity because access is very limited in the community.

The digital divide between those who have internet at home and those who do not occurs in both rural and urban areas. It is markedly apparent in rural communities, where nearly 40 percent of residents lack access to broadband, compared to 4 percent in cities.

As a result of the digital divide, rural communities are suffering, yet are coping in innovative ways with the help of strong leadership from rural electric cooperatives. More than 900 member-owned, non-profit rural electric co-ops today represent more than 42 million people in 47 states.

Rural electric co-ops are more than just poles and wires; they are economic drivers for the communities they serve. They are in the business of not only providing energy, but also social and economic benefits. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Equity, Energy Innovation / Read 1 Response

Clean energy is lowering electric bills in North Carolina – but this solar trade war could reverse that trend

North Carolina’s in the middle of a clean energy boom, but the looming threat of an international trade war may leave the state’s incredible success story a few chapters short.

Over the last few months, two floundering solar manufacturers petitioned the U.S International Trade Commission (ITC) to take action against foreign competitors. These companies want the United States to levy tariffs on imported solar products because they can’t match the cheaper prices. Recently, the ITC agreed with the companies’ complaint and recommended to President Trump a 30 percent tariff.

President Trump will decide this month what to do – he can follow the ITC recommendation, but, by law, doesn’t have to. He should reject the tariffs, so North Carolina’s clean energy economy can continue to thrive. Read More »

Also posted in Solar Energy / Read 1 Response

How solar helped a church pull out of the red and steward the community

This summer, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) collaborated with First Baptist Church in Mount Olive, North Carolina to host an event to explore the new opportunities solar energy is providing for the church and Wayne County.

We spent most of the day together and heard how First Baptist Church is benefitting from solar energy projects situated a couple of miles from the church. The church has provided land for two solar installations, built by Birdseye Renewable Energy and owned and operated by Strata Solar, a Chapel-Hill based solar developer. The solar farm we all toured generates more than 10,000 MWh of energy every year.

Speakers included Senior Pastor Dennis Atwood and Angelo San Fratello, President of Trustees.

"It's a matter of stewardship for us and we didn't want the land to be developed for some purpose that would be contrary to the mission of our church," Atwood said. "And solar farming is clean energy, and it's a good use of the earth and it essentially goes back to providing power for almost an entire town." Read More »

Also posted in Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy / Read 1 Response

“We Don’t Do Green”

NC Heros Fund

John A. Nicholson, Col., USMC (Ret), and EDF consultant (fourth from left), pictured with fellow Board members of the NC Heroes Fund, which provides grants to service members and their families who are experiencing financial difficulties as they transition from active duty back into civilian life.

By: John A. Nicholson, Col., USMC (Ret), and EDF consultant

I cringed when I read this quote, attributed to a senior military representative in Scientific American. I understood what he was trying to say, but the sound bite could easily be misinterpreted.

The Department of Defense (DoD) most certainly “does green,” and it has for some time now. At the highest level of leadership, there is recognition that energy and environmental conservation is important. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have reinforced and brought to the forefront the importance of energy planning and, more importantly, its use and integration by our deployed forces. Furthermore, improved energy planning and use has played a significant role in reducing costs and improving the efficiency, resiliency, and security of military bases, facilities, and other installations that prepare DoD forces for their missions. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Military, Solar Energy, Wind Energy / Read 2 Responses

Clean Energy Conference Roundup: April 2016

rp_conference-300x2001-300x200.jpgEach 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 April:

April 4:  Energy Power Dialog (Austin, TX)
Speaker: John Hall, Texas State Director, Clean Energy

  • Participate in a national dialog on energy being hosted at universities across the United States. The Power Dialog will engage approximately 10,000 students in face-to-face conversation with state-level regulators and policy experts in all 50 states about the federal Clean Power Plan (CPP), which requires 32 percent cuts in global warming pollution by 2030. At the University of Texas at Austin, EDF’s John Hall will co-lead the dialog that helps students understand the positions for and against the Clean Power Plan: Why does Texas oppose the CPP? Why should Texas support it? This is not a lobbying or advocacy event, but rather a way to engage students in an important learning opportunity.

Read More »

Also posted in Colorado, Conference Roundup, New York, Texas / Comments are closed

Transforming an Energy Burden into an Energy Opportunity

Energy opportunityEconomic inequality has become one of the dominant political narratives of the day. It occupies discussions on both sides of the aisle, and is shaping elections from city halls to the White House. There’s a good reason for this: the continuing trends of flattening incomes, concentrated wealth, and deepening poverty are historic.

One place this reality is really hitting home for millions of Americans is on their monthly energy bill. For nearly one in three American families, paying a monthly energy bill is a challenge.

The energy burden, as the Department of Energy defines it, is the ratio of energy costs (which includes heating, cooling, appliances, and lighting from electricity, gas, and fuel sources) to household income. Nearly 40 percent of low-income households use electricity to heat their homes (the majority in the South and West), and are suffering a more severe energy burden because of factors like wage stagnation and the quality of housing at lower economic levels.  In 2014, researchers looking at the “energy affordability gap” for low income households (the difference between actual energy bills and what is considered affordable) tabulated it at almost $45 billion nationally. That is an increase of 16 percent from 2011, with nearly 60 percent of the growth accounted for by states in the mid-South, South, and east of the Mississippi. For any of those families, even a 10 percent growth in electricity costs can be destabilizing. Monthly electric bills become another factor forcing households to choose between groceries, childcare, and medical bills.

To make inroads in closing the energy affordability gap and reducing energy burdens for the most vulnerable, Environmental Defense Fund believes we need a combination of greater and scalable clean energy investment in low- and moderate-income communities, and a focus on empowering the many faces that are energy-burdened. The multi-billion dollar affordability gap certainly poses a variety of financial risks, but it’s also rife with opportunity. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, On-bill repayment, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy / Comments are closed