Category Archives: General

Women in Power: Leading the Way to a Clean Energy Economy

WIPThis is the first in a series of posts about leading women in the power, environmental science, advocacy, policy, and business sectors.

Pull back the curtain on climate leadership, and you’ll see women in power. From the author of the country’s leading clean car standards, to the top administrator of the most ambitious climate policy in the nation (California’s AB32), to the scientists and entrepreneurs developing and deploying the advanced technologies driving the nation’s low-carbon economy, women are taking charge of the clean energy sector like never before.

Women have always been on the frontlines of our country’s toughest environmental challenges — including Rachel Carson, who galvanized the country with her exposé of pesticides in Silent Springand Hazel Johnson, the ‘Mother of the Environmental Justice Movement,’ who fought against toxic dumping in her own Southeast Chicago community.

But women have not always dominated the energy sector.  Read More »

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Latest EPA Greenhouse Gas Inventory May Not Reflect Full Scope of Oil and Gas Emissions

david-lyon-287x377The Environmental Protection Agency recently released its draft inventory of annual U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Reporting 2012 data, the inventory estimates methane emissions coming from natural gas and petroleum systems at around 7.6 million metric tons – that’s enough natural gas to provide energy to over 7 million homes annually. This new estimate when compared with last year’s report, which estimates emissions for the 2011 calendar year, shows overall methane emissions from natural gas and petroleum systems are 1.2 percent lower. Although this seems like good news, the new data is no cause for complacency, as it’s important to understand the cause of the changes which requires closer examination.

The draft inventory introduces some new methodological changes that reduce estimated emissions from previous years. The primary change was driven by the way EPA estimates emissions from gas well completions and workovers, the steps that follow hydraulic fracturing and clear liquids and sand from the well before production begins. Read More »

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Critical Decision Expected Tomorrow in Colorado on Clean Air Rule

Day 4 of the ongoing hearings on a groundbreaking proposal to reduce air and climate pollution from oil and gas operations in Colorado saw Team EDF pushing back on claims opposition groups have made to try to weaken the proposal.

Leading companies Noble, Anadarko, Encana and DCP also put on strong cases, using their own operational data to show the proposal is cost effective. They should be lauded for their leadership, as should local governments and conservation groups that brought strong analytics to the hearings.

If the proposal is adopted without being weakened, it will eliminate more than 90,000 tons of smog-forming VOCs annually (the same amount produced by all the cars and trucks in Colorado) and more than 100,000 tons of methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas.

Read More »

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COGA and CPA Fight Common-sense Methane Regulation

Dan GrossmanIndustry trade groups – the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) and the Colorado Petroleum Association (CPA) – came out swinging against methane regulation in the third day of hearings on a groundbreaking proposal to reduce air and climate pollution coming from oil and gas operations.

And some wild swinging it was!

They acknowledged that we need to reduce methane, a highly potent greenhouse gas. But they said studies are showing different results about how much methane is being leaked and vented and that we shouldn't regulate methane until we know exactly how much is escaping.

Read More »

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Arguments Heat Up in Colorado Air Rulemaking, But the Facts Remain

Yesterday, we covered the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) taking public testimony from citizens who traveled from around the state to speak in support of a groundbreaking proposal that would slash emissions of smog-forming pollutants and greenhouse gases coming from oil and gas activities.

Formal proceedings kicked off today – and will likely run through the weekend – with various parties presenting their opening cases. EDF went early in the day, providing strong evidence that the proposed rule is cost-effective and urgently needed to combat local air quality problems and climate change. We also highlighted some glaring flaws  in the methodology industry opponents cooked up to show inflated costs for the rules.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), the Colorado Petroleum Association (CPA) and the DGS group are throwing everything they can at the rule to try to gut it.  But they’re in a shrinking minority on the wrong side of history.

Read More »

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Coloradans Overwhelmingly Voice Support for Proposed Air Regulations

Colorado is the quintessential swing state – with voters split about evenly between Republicans, Democrats and Independents.  That can make for some fractious politics at times, but our diversity is part of what makes us great.

What makes us even better is our unity – and that’s what we saw today when, by a margin of almost 10-to-1, Coloradans of all stripes called on the state’s Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) to adopt new rules that would slash air and climate pollution coming from oil and gas development activities.

The AQCC opened its hearings on the proposed rules with a full day of citizen input, with people traveling from around the state (one drove six hours) to make their voices heard.  Residents from rural communities, including many from the Western Slope, stood up, one after another, to tell the AQCC Commissioners that the proposed rules should apply statewide and that the handful of local officials opposing the rules are out of step with the citizens they’re supposed to serve.  In response to those local officials, one citizen from Ridgway implored the Commission to protect all Colorado families and not “turn the West Slope into an air quality sacrifice zone.”

EDF couldn’t agree more.  Air quality in western parts of Colorado is trending in a bad direction, teetering on the edge of violating federal health standards.  The state health department issued nine ozone advisories last winter for Western Slope counties where oil and gas development is prevalent, meaning the air wasn’t healthy for kids, the elderly, active adults and people with respiratory illness.

Read More »

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$200 Million in Private Capital Financing Signals Investors’ Support for Clean Energy

(Credit: www.poonamsagar.com)

(Source: www.poonamsagar.com)

While 2014 is only just getting underway, it is already shaping up to be a banner year for clean energy finance. Capital investments are being made, funds developed, and securitization tools crafted — all with remarkable speed. And private capital markets are aggressively rallying around these efforts, which will only increase the momentum of our collective efforts to drive investments into essential energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Funding for homeowner energy efficiency loans could lead to securitization

Early this year, clean energy consumer finance company, Kilowatt Financial, closed a $100 million deal with  Citi to finance 10-12 year unsecured loans of up to $30,000 for homeowners making energy efficiency improvements to their HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, water heaters, windows, roofing, insulation, lighting, and appliances.

The transaction is designed to facilitate a securitization of loans (which promotes liquidity in the marketplace), help establish a secondary market, and spur energy efficiency investments. Kilowatt and Citi expect to create term asset-backed securities from the loans that will provide a sustainable source of capital for homeowners looking to make home energy upgrades. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Investor Confidence Project, On-bill repayment, Renewable Energy| Tagged , | Comments closed

Old Cities, New Tricks: Sustainability for Economic Revitalization

This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog by Ben Schneider, EDF Communications Manager

Love Park in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The park is nicknamed Love Park for Robert Indiana's Love sculpture which overlooks the plaza.

Love Park in Center City, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The park is nicknamed Love Park for Robert Indiana's Love sculpture which overlooks the plaza.

Curbing pollution to protect the world now and for future generations is an obvious argument in favor of sustainability. But as organizations and companies throughout the country are demonstrating, sustainability is also big business. So much so, in fact, that some of America’s oldest cities are embracing it as a way to revitalize their economies.

Want proof it can work? Look no further than Philadelphia. It’s a quintessentially historic city – the Founding Fathers signed the Declaration of Independence and established the U.S. Constitution there, after all. And if you’ve ever spent any time there, you’ve probably noticed its history is still a central part of its identity. The William Penn statue atop City Hall, Independence Hall, the cobblestone streets – Philadelphia has gone to great lengths to preserve the past as an intrinsic part of its modern character.

Digging a little deeper, it’s clear the city has its eye on the future much more than the past. Greenbuild held their annual conference in Philadelphia last month, and it was abundantly clear public and private entities alike are investing time and resources to aggressively reinvent Philadelphia as a model of 21st century efficiency and sustainability, and they’re not alone.

Hundreds of companies and organizations, and 30,000 attendees, set up shop throughout the city’s Convention Hall to show off their latest work in sustainable building practices. The expo has grown so large it attracted former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for the key note address, who spoke of the potential for green building to bolster the nation’s economy and help America achieve energy independence.

Philadelphia organizations embraced their time in the green building spotlight and emphasized the city’s progress and intent:

  • The city’s water department is two years into a 25-year plan to implement a groundbreaking, city-wide storm water management plan that will drastically reduce water pollution and reinvent the city’s infrastructure in the process.
  • The Navy Yard — which dates back to 1776, when the United States needed to bolster its navy for the Revolutionary War and was shuttered in the mid-1990s – has been remade into a 1,200 acre business campus where 130 companies now utilize the space for offices, manufacturing, research and development, and more.

These kinds of stories are important to remember as the environmental movement continues to broaden our circle of supporters. Within the traditional base of the environmental movement, calls to preserve the world we leave our kids resonate deeply. But we’ll need more non-traditional allies if we’re going to enact the kind of sweeping reforms needed to fight climate change. Adding the economic and financial benefits of sustainability to the conversation are one way to do that.

Philadelphians embrace their rich heritage as much as any city in America – and as they demonstrate, that’s no reason not to look toward the future with excitement as well.

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Debate Over a Changing Texas Energy Market Heats Up at Senate Natural Resources Committee Hearing

Marita MirzatunyOver the past two years, Texas’s changing energy landscape has been a focus of EDF’s work.  In our Texas’ Energy Crunch report from March 2013, we highlighted that Texas has a peak capacity constraint – meaning that the power grid becomes strained when, for example, everyone is using their air conditioning units on hot summer afternoons.  This challenge, coupled with increased climate change and drought, signal the need to prepare by adopting a smarter grid and cleaner resources.

The Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) have been engaged in this conversation and various proposals have been laid on the table to determine what Texas’ energy future will look like.  EDF maintains the position that, whatever reforms are made, customer-facing, demand-side resources – defined here as demand response (DR), renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage – must play a key role to ensuring reliability, affordability, customer choice and environmental improvements.

Energy-Only Status Quo or Capacity Market or…?

Texas’ current energy-only market structure pays power plants only for the energy they produce.  This is beneficial in that generators are not overcompensated, but the downside is that energy companies aren’t incentivized to build in Texas and energy management providers (DR companies) are not viewed as equal players.  Energy prices are low due to an upsurge in cheap, abundant natural gas and wind – and without a guarantee for a high return on investment, companies will not take the risk of constructing costly new power plants. Read More »

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Verizon Invests Big in Clean Energy

This commentary originally appeared on Verizon’s News Center.

Rory Christian PhotoTechnology giant Verizon is making significant strides toward increasing the use of on-site green energy throughout its national portfolio with plans to finish more than $100 million in clean and renewable energy projects across facilities in seven states by the end of this year. The investment is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by over 15,000 metric tons each year, which is comparable to over 2,000 homes’ annual electricity use. Verizon’s video showcasing its plans includes an introduction by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)’s very own Victoria Mills, managing director of Corporate Partnerships.

The move builds on the company’s earlier foray into clean technology, resulting in Verizon’s successful 2005 investment in a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell in Garden City, New York. Fuel cells use an electrochemical process in which oxygen and fuel (natural gas or biogas) react to produce amounts of electricity. The process produces less carbon emissions than more conventional sources of electricity, and enables the possibility of affordable on-site, user-owned power generation that is as constant and reliable as a utility and provides an attractive economic payback for customers.

When selecting locations for solar and fuel-cell energy projects, Verizon was careful to consider sites with favorable zoning requirements, utility partners and regulatory regimes. Despite being financially viable, identifying suitable projects was no simple task. Financing these projects without incentives at the federal and state levels proved impossible, and the incentives often came with conflicting timetables and were difficult to leverage. Read More »

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