The Paris climate negotiations can set the stage for a global shift on climate change – when our world’s emissions finally stop rising, level off, and begin to fall.
There is reason to be optimistic: from China to the United States, from Europe to South Asia, countries are coming together with commitments to cut climate pollution. And so are cities, companies, investors, entrepreneurs – and even moms. That’s real momentum that could open a new era for how we make and use energy.
The real action starts after we all go home from Paris with the biggest question coming out of COP-21: Now what? I want to share three specific ideas for the future – ideas that could accelerate access to clean energy.
First, the biggest barriers today lie in how to deploy the technology we have or will soon have. Solar panels, “smart” buildings, electric cars – the cost of these technologies is on its way down. Yet we still face problems of scale, because barriers in policy and finance limit the ability of clean technologies to deploy in ways accessible to everyone. Read More
A recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) concludes that the way a utility charges customers can greatly influence whether they will install solar panels. It is a timely analysis because utilities across the country are redesigning their rate structures to accommodate our changing electricity system, which is becoming cleaner and more efficient than ever before.
What’s unfortunate is that some utilities are intentionally trying to destroy customers’ incentive to install solar panels. Why? Because rooftop solar reduces shareholder profits and revenue for utilities.
Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), a solar industry trade group, reports that in 2014, residential customers installed solar panels at an astounding 36 percent growth rate compared to 2013. But the LBNL study says the rate design changes now being proposed by utilities across the country could slash solar panel growth up to 60 percent. Clearly, poorly designed rate changes could devastate the potential for solar panels to help transform the electricity sector. Regulators should not let this happen.
Utilities have the opportunity to change their rate design to provide incentives for more solar adoption while also recouping investments and properly balancing their books. Read More
By: Rory Christian and Jacob Robinson
The seventh annual Climate Week NYC has kicked off, and it's invigorating to reflect on the progress to date since last September when over 400,000 activists demanded bold climate action at the People's Climate March. During the last year, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) has continued to observe and nourish the growing appetite among America’s business community to move together on carbon reduction. This movement should not be understated, especially as New York regulators continue to move forward with the “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) proceeding.
Outlined in a set of regulatory proceedings, in which EDF has been deeply embedded, this vision for a cleaner, more affordable energy future has the potential to spur innovation, modernize the electric grid, and transform the century-old electricity system as we know it. If done right, REV will prepare New York for a future in which clean distributed energy resources (DERs) – such as microgrids, rooftop solar, battery storage, energy efficiency, and other on-site energy options – will play an increasingly important role in how the state makes, moves, interacts with, and uses energy.
While it’s important that governments craft the clean energy rulebooks, leadership can and should also come from industry, as EDF’s Tom Murray urged earlier this year. Organizations across sectors are already paving the road for strong regulatory reform that values clean DERs and customer engagement. EDF’s own Climate Corps program is proof of this. But what New York’s business leaders really want is regulatory certainty that the clean energy investments they’re making now – or at least considering –will pay off once NY REV is implemented. Read More
They say crises don’t test your character, they reveal it. I believe they do the same thing to your vision of the future. Times are tough for Ohio’s FirstEnergy, and CEO Chuck Jones is signaling where he wants the utility to be in the future: the past.
First, we need to look back to last year, when Jones pushed the Ohio legislature to halt state efficiency and renewable energy standards that helped reduce electricity demand and saved Ohio customers millions of dollars.
This year, Jones’ vision quest is a $3 billion bailout – to be paid for by his customers – that would guarantee the purchase of power generated by FirstEnergy’s older and costlier power plants. In a recent op-ed, Jones argued that the deal would secure Ohioan’s energy independence. Read More
SAS Institute, Inc. – a North Carolina-Based technology company – has joined big names like
Apple, Facebook, and Google in a growing chorus of high-profile tech firms urging lawmakers to protect North Carolina’s burgeoning clean energy economy.
SAS told state lawmakers in a recent letter: “Technology companies value North Carolina’s existing energy policies, which enable us to operate and grow our businesses in a sustainable manner.”
At stake is North Carolina’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard (REPS), which requires utilities to get 12.5 percent of their energy from sources such as solar and wind by 2021.The REPS and other thoughtful clean energy policies have helped create new markets that are attracting investments, building businesses, and creating jobs. The results are impressive.
North Carolina’s clean energy industry is growing
Today, North Carolina’s clean energy industry includes more the 1,200 firms providing nearly 23,000 jobs. In 2014, the industry generated nearly $5 billion in gross revenues for the state’s economy.
Much like North Carolina’s world-class university system, the growing clean energy economy makes the state an attractive choice for business leaders who are looking for the right place to invest and grow their businesses. Read More
‘Disruptive’ is a favorite word among entrepreneurs and innovators, but start-up companies like Airbnb and Uber truly have disrupted long-standing industries over the past few years. Beyond their youth and success, what further links these two companies as well as many others (such as Teespring, Postmates, Patreon, and Verbling), is the way they empower people.
Exemplified by Airbnb and Uber, among others, is a new kind of business model that is revolutionizing many sectors, including how we get our electricity. Just like hotel and taxi industries, these disruptive, decentralized trends are taking hold in energy – affording people more choice, enabling existing resources and technology, and empowering people to veer from the traditional provider of services. Moreover, they even allow some people to make money in ways that didn’t exist until recently. Read More