By: Claire Dooley, student at the Bren School of Environmental Science & Management
Most of us in America would argue that affordable and reliable energy access is a basic life necessity, possibly even a basic human right. However, JD Power & Associates recently reported that only 3% of consumers are actually reviewing their energy usage more than once a month. Interaction with this commodity is almost entirely passive. Utilities do whatever it is they do to keep the electrons flowing, and we pay the bill.
With all of the public attention that energy’s impact on climate change has received in recent months—including IPCC findings that human-induced global warming is unequivocal and a new EPA regulation on coal-fired power plants—consumer awareness and interest in curbing our reliance on dirty energy is on the rise. Concurrently, the massive influx of residential clean energy technologies is providing unprecedented opportunity for the public to participate in climate change solutions. Read More
Each 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 October:
Oct 2: 2014 Energy Competition Symposium, Columbus, OH
Speaker: Cheryl Roberto, Associate Vice President, Clean Energy
- The future of competitive retail and wholesale energy markets, product innovations for retail customers, and improving the shopping experience for consumers are among the larger themes to be explored at the Retail Energy Supply Association’s 2014 Energy Competition Symposium, a half-day event exploring the leading issues affecting retail energy competition nationally.
Oct 6-7: 2014 Utility Environmental Benchmarking Forum, Charlotte, NC
Speaker: Cheryl Roberto, Associate Vice President, Clean Energy
- Since 2010, Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has hosted the Forum which has provided a platform for the electric utility industry to benchmark their performance on environmental metrics. Now, TVA and Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) are teaming up to ensure the Environmental Benchmarking Forum will continue for years to come. Discussion topics include environmental performance measures and data, lessons learned from leading utility companies and energy providers, and sustainability programs, profitability, and effective implementation. Read More
This is the fifth in a series of posts about leading women in the power, environmental science, advocacy, policy, and business sectors. To see previous installments, please use the ‘Search’ field in the left sidebar to search for ‘Women in Power.’
Working out the specifics of how to restructure incentives for public utilities may not be the trendiest aspect of the clean energy future, but it’s key to making the low-carbon economy reality one day.
Audrey Zibelman, chair of the New York Public Service Commission, says the devil is in the details. Among the many things on her plate today: A bold initiative to overhaul the state’s utility business model, the first such reform in the nation.
Zibelman spoke with me about what it will take to transform America’s electricity industry and change our energy habits. Read More
By: Qiao Feng, Clean Energy Research Intern, and Peter Sopher, Clean Energy Policy Analyst
Last week, amidst the U.N. Climate Summit and historic climate march, governments, investors, and financial institutions took the opportunity to make big announcements about their investment in clean energy. Bank of America announced a $10 billion initiative to speed up investment in clean energy, U.N. climate leaders announced a public-private partnership to mobilize more than $200 billion in clean energy financing globally, and New York proposed a $5 billion clean energy fund that could replace the city’s soon-to-expire renewable-energy and efficiency mandates.
So clean energy finance must be skyrocketing upward, right? It’s hard to know now what the 2014 numbers will bear, and we probably won’t see that kind of analysis till 2015, but looking at global investment in renewable power and fuels (excluding large hydro-electric projects) for 2013, these numbers were 14 percent lower than investments in 2012, and 23 percent below the 2011 record, suggesting a downward trend.
However, as conveyed in the Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) report, Global Trends in Renewable Energy Investment 2014, if the drop in renewable investment were a cloud, it would have several silver linings: Read More
Superstorm Sandy crippled much of New Jersey’s critical infrastructure when it swept through the state two years ago. Stuck without power at home, many of the state’s residents also couldn’t get to work because the operations center for New Jersey Transit (NJ Transit) flooded, damaging backup power systems, emergency generation, and the computer system that controls train operations.
New Jersey is doing its best to make sure that won’t happen again. After a highly competitive grant process, NJ Transit last week received $1.3 billion in federal funds to improve the resilience of the state’s transportation system in the event of devastating future storms. The funds include $410 million to develop the NJ TransitGrid into a first-of-its-kind microgrid capable of keeping the power running when the electric grid goes down.
Microgrids are different from traditional electric grids in that they generate electricity on-site or nearby where it’s consumed. They can connect to the larger grid or island themselves and operate independently. Read More
Last night, EDF, CleanTX, Pecan Street Inc., and Google hosted one of the clean energy events of the season.
We brought everyone in the Austin clean energy community – from legislators to cleantech entrepreneurs to EDF members – together to celebrate the tremendous progress our great city has made as a clean energy leader over the years, serving as an incubator and hub for some of the most exciting and innovative companies in the clean tech sector. After all, it is the collective hard work and dedication of everyone that put Austin on the map as a global leader in the clean energy economy.
We also kicked off the evening with a screening of our new video that highlights what the smart grid is doing for American energy. Set in Austin’s Mueller neighborhood, one of the world’s largest green-built communities and Pecan Street Inc.’s testbed for energy innovation, this short film tells the dynamic story of a clean energy future from within the American home. It gives people who live in a connected community a chance to express what clean energy means to them personally, from independence and innovation to health and reliability. The heroes of the film are ordinary people from the community who are part of this quiet revolution.
By: Tom Murray, Vice President, Corporate Partnerships Program
As we approach the 25-year anniversary of EDF’s work with the corporate sector, it’s an opportune time to reflect on our successes and plan for the work ahead.
Over the years we have worked with McDonalds, Walmart, FedEx, KKR and many others to integrate sustainability into their operations, strategy, and supply chain management. Together, we have kick-started market transformations in sectors including fast food, shipping, retail, private equity and commercial building energy efficiency. While we’ve made great strides, there remains a huge distance to go in order to fully protect our natural resources, clean up our dirty energy system, and turn the corner on global greenhouse gas emissions in time to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.
Looking ahead, the opportunity and need for more aggressive private sector leadership has never been greater. Moving from environmental progress today to full scale solutions tomorrow will require a new type of corporate leadership. This next step will require a willingness to align corporate sustainability operations, strategy AND policy. Read More
Every year, it seems, is predicted to be the “year for solar,” and for certain states this may ring true.
But in Texas, despite having a close relationship with the sun and its heat (2011 gave us 100 days over 100 degrees and no rain), we have yet to realize our potential for solar energy development, the highest potential of any state in the nation. Texas currently only has about 213 megawatts (MW) of solar energy installed (compared to over 237 MW in little ol’ Massachusetts). Recent developments, however, make me encouraged that the next few years will be the catalyst for finally fulfilling that potential.
A few weeks ago, the Austin City Council voted on an ambitious solar step forward, directing a “utility-scale solar target of 600 megawatts by 2017, a rooftop solar target of 200 megawatts by 2020, explicit language enabling third-party solar ownership, a floor price for the value-of-solar tariff…and a mandatory strategy to procure 200 megawatts of fast-response storage.” The resolution will require the municipal utility, Austin Energy, to obtain 60 percent of its electricity generation from renewables over the next decade, and to be completely carbon-free by 2030. Read More
Source: Caroline Culler
Take thousands of people, put them on a college campus – and watch the energy and water usage spike. That's what happens in the fall at universities across the country when students flood back to classrooms and dorms.
The nation's oldest public university system is keeping a keen eye on utility meters. The University of North Carolina (UNC) is on its way to reducing energy and water use by 30 percent by 2015.
Also noteworthy is UNC's goal for 2050, when the university's 17 campuses aim to be carbon neutral.
Slowing down UNC's progress are North Carolina statutory restrictions that make it difficult for campuses to finance and use their own renewable energy. Read More
Source: Kevin Case Flickr
Over the weekend, New York City Mayor de Blasio unveiled an ambitious plan to address energy use in the city’s buildings, called NYC Built to Last. Through this plan, NYC is committing to reduce its emissions by 80 percent below 2005 levels by 2050. This makes NYC the largest city in the world to commit to a goal like this. Representing three quarters of the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, New York City buildings must play a central role in any effective climate action plan, and Mayor de Blasio knows this.
A key component of this plan is the ‘retrofit accelerator,’ a program modeled on the successful NYC Clean Heat program. Retrofit accelerator aims to upgrade 20,000 private buildings, making up 15 percent of citywide built square footage. Of these buildings, 40 percent of them will be low-income housing.
EDF partnered with the City to create NYC Clean Heat, which forged a diverse coalition of financial, real estate, and non-profit communities to launch a $100 million financing program to help phase out dirty heating oils. Last week, the City announced the program met its goal of reducing soot pollution from heating oil in NYC by 50 percent. The program helped 4,000 buildings – half of them affordable housing – convert to cleaner, more efficient heating fuels. Read More