Energy Exchange

New Jersey Should Leverage Private Capital to Achieve Resilient Energy Goals

seal-40853_640Since Hurricane Sandy exposed the vulnerability of New Jersey’s antiquated power grid, the state has been investing heavily in enhancing the grid’s resilience and promoting clean energy technologies to upgrade to a smarter, more flexible system that can keep people safe and warm when they need it most.

However, as I explain in my NJ Spotlight op-ed published today, limited public funds alone will not be enough to build the state’s clean energy future.

Private capital investment is key to establishing the large-scale, clean energy markets needed to ultimately save customers money, increase grid resiliency, and slash harmful pollution.

New Jersey has already made a step in the right direction with the launch of the Energy Resilience Bank, which was set up with $210 million of federal funds to finance resilient energy systems operating the state’s critical infrastructure, such as hospitals and long-term care facilities. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, New Jersey| Comments closed

How EDF and Chicago are Leading the Way to Energy-Efficient Buildings

chicago-449021_1280One degree Fahrenheit.

Yes, that was Friday’s temperature in Chicago.

But instead of thinking about jetting off to a sandy beach in the Caribbean, my thoughts instead turn to a more practical matter. As I look across the Chicago skyline, I wonder how many of these buildings have old, inefficient heating systems.

The good news is that right here in Chicago, some building owners are finding better, more efficient ways to heat — and in balmier times, cool — their properties.

Over the past year, EDF, the City of Chicago, and some of the city’s leading building owners have teamed up to make real progress in cutting energy use and costs. 

The results of this partnership have helped Chicago move closer to the goal of the city’s Retrofit Chicago initiative: reduce commercial energy use in participating buildings by 20 percent in five years. The Mayor’s office has set the bar for energy savings, and EDF Climate Corps is providing boots on the ground to get it done. And Chicago’s leading building owners and operators are showing creativity and innovation in taking their energy management to the next level. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency, Illinois| Comments closed

What do the ERCOT Reports Really Say About Texas’ Cleantech Market?

Electric power linesThe Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages 90 percent of Texas’ electric grid, has been busy. In the last two months of 2014, the agency released two very lengthy reports examining the future of a lower-polluting power grid in light of upcoming EPA clean air protections, in particular the Clean Power Plan. As the media described it, the reports did not provide the rosiest of outlooks for costs to Texans or electric reliability. But I think they are looking at the reports the wrong way.

The electric grid is changing. Innovative technologies – many of which are created right here in Texas – are lowering electricity bills and increasing energy independence. They are disrupting the way we produce and use electricity and they are changing the way ERCOT looks at grid reliability – albeit not in these two reports.

Cleantech entrepreneurs are at the helm of deciding Texas’ (and, let’s face it, America’s) energy future. And there are quite a few market opportunities outlined in the reports, if you look closely. Here are a few hidden in the report, plus other trends to keep an eye on: Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Texas| Comments closed

2014: A Positive Sign of What’s to come for Clean Energy

Photo by DAVID ILIFF. License: CC-BY-SA 3.0The New Year is a time for reflection, beginning with a look back on the previous 12 months and all that they brought. A quick scan of the U.S. climate and energy news in 2014 will tell you it was a very big year.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first-ever limits on carbon pollution from power plants, the U.S. and China struck a historic climate deal, and Tesla broke ground in Nevada on the largest advanced automotive-battery factory in the world – a  move that’s expected to slash the cost of lithium ion batteries by a third. At the same time that these important national and international advancements were grabbing headlines, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and our partners were working together to incrementally transform the U.S. electricity system by rewriting outdated regulations, spurring energy services markets, and modernizing our century-old electric grid.

The U.S. is on the verge of a revolution in the way we make, move, and use energy. And, having spent years working on governmental and regulatory matters related to our power system and lessening its impact on the environment, I can honestly say there has never been a more exciting time to be in this field. Here are a few of the moments that were near and dear to our hearts over the past year, developments I see as a sure signal 2015 will be another epic year for clean energy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Energy Storage, Illinois, Investor Confidence Project, New Jersey, New York, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Texas, Utility Business Models| Comments closed

Utility Commission Ruling to Continue Growth of North Carolina Solar Industry in 2015

solar-cells-491701_640North Carolina’s ranking of #3 in the country for solar energy investment is receiving national attention and prompting some states in the Southeast to ask, "What is North Carolina's secret?"

The answer: clean energy policies that give solar companies the business certainty they need to make investments.

The North Carolina Utilities Commission did just that in an important ruling last week that keeps standard solar electricity purchase agreements in place. These contracts between utilities and solar developers typically last 15 years and cover solar projects up to five megawatts. They can make all the difference in whether a solar project is built and in a solar developer’s ability to grow and hire new workers.

Duke Energy and other North Carolina utilities sought to weaken the terms of these standard agreements, which are set by the Utilities Commission. The utilities asked the Commission to abandon requirements that they enter into long-term agreements with solar developers and sought to eliminate the ability of larger solar projects to participate. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, North Carolina, Renewable Energy| Comments closed

Why 2015 is the Year for Clean Energy in the U.S. and China

https://www.flickr.com/photos/solarwindtec/7800628878/in/photolist-dXjdBi-anWxfb-dgWcSW-dgZvkB-7hJAVA-oADrZt-4QEpJW-cTjgcm-peEhiU-dgYUsC-pkqkDK-mDanui-9heXvG-9hbP4n-5om1Mv-fK8tQM-81zuQr-nChZ1E-9agPX3-8mBp5i-awgMXU-55CNL1-boqXjN-4JJdcJ-eaJzoj-6xGhiZ-cbVJd1-jryJPW-8rUQ8b-4QpriF-cTjcNQ-cTjg29-bpgZbn-36jEtS-36fbZT-36fbF6-36jETW-36jNXo-36jQF1-36fdKr-36fdXB-36fddR-36jMmd-36f2V4-36jHf1-36f9Ka-36jJsQ-36jNjW-36f8Y8-36f6XcWith a new year comes new promises and new opportunities – and that also goes for the United States and China, the world’s biggest climate polluters.

The good news is both nations appear ready to embrace solar and other renewables, investments that will cement their recent, bilateral agreement to tackle climate change.

Here are five signs renewables will finally gain traction in China and the U.S. in 2015 and continue to grow in coming years:

  1. China's solar investments are not slowing down.

Even in the very near-term, China is poised for dramatic solar adoption. The country was rushing to build 10 gigawatts of solar photovoltaic projects in the fourth quarter of 2014 alone, enough to power more than 7.5 million homes.

And 2015 shows no signs of slowing down, as China and other solar energy markets across the world are expected to continue to gain ground. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Renewable Energy| Tagged | Comments closed