Energy Exchange

Demand Response Is the Best Cure for Texas’ Ailing Grid

Source: North America Power Partners

Source: North America Power Partners

The Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has, yet again, kicked the can down the road on securing reliable energy to power the state’s growing population. The PUC, the state agency charged with managing electricity rates, meets to securely plan for the future, yet they continue to delay planning meetings. This will benefit no one in the short or long-run. To secure reliable power and safeguard against threats of blackouts, the PUC needs to keep pace with the times and leverage technologies that require little to no water, generate negligible carbon emissions, and can respond to the call for electricity.

Last week, the PUC decided to postpone indefinitely an important meeting, originally scheduled for May, to discuss Texas’ recent blackout scares. The PUC has been in a heated debate over Texas’ electricity market structure, and in the midst of backlash from stakeholders, they have decided to push the decision onto the Legislature in 2015. This is not necessarily in the best interest of the state. Texans were asked to conserve energy several times this winter after colder temperatures forced heating units to ramp up. This request to turn down thermostats for threat of rolling blackouts came at the same time the state power grid operator assured Texans that reliability is on the upswing. But it’s time Texas faces the facts. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Smart Grid, Texas | Tagged | Comments closed

Conference on Clean Energy Financing Signals a Shift in Funding the Low-Carbon Economy

Source: eProGuide

Source: eProGuide

In 2010, I began working on financial policy at EDF. Our objective was to implement policies that would allow private sector companies to profitably deliver financing solutions to residential and commercial property owners footing the upfront cost of money-saving energy efficiency and clean distributed generation (such as rooftop solar) projects. While the residential solar market was already gaining steam at the time, most of the other markets had very limited momentum. But after attending the clean energy finance conference that EDF co-hosted yesterday with Citi, energy efficiency solutions provider Elevate Energy, and law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, it appears that the market for financing clean energy projects is beginning to accelerate rapidly.

The agenda featured 12 private companies from the clean energy sector (Kilowatt Financial, Clean Power Finance, Renovate America, AFC First Financial Corp., Renewable Funding, Clean Fund, Joule Assets, Noesis Energy, SCIEnergy, Metrus Energy, Hannon Armstrong, and Honest Buildings), plus a few more in the audience, that are executing a wide range of transactions using Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), On-Bill Repayment, Energy Services Agreements (ESAs), and many other innovative techniques to fund the transition to a low-carbon economy. Read More »

Posted in Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project, New York, On-bill repayment, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid | 1 Response, comments now closed

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 »

Posted in General | 1 Response, comments now closed

Gigafactory Proves that Tesla is Ahead of the Clean Energy Curve, But Does Texas Stand to Benefit?

Source: Texas Public Radio

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, speaking to Texas Legislature in 2013. Source: Texas Public Radio.

Disruptive technologies tend to follow a certain trajectory. First, they are outliers, often ignored, and typically on the cusp of never entering the market. But, for the successful ones, a tipping point is ultimately reached, after which the technology goes viral and changes the status quo it was designed to replace. In the new energy revolution, Tesla is one such company that has surpassed the tipping point and threatens to change the way we produce, distribute, and consume electricity.

It isn't just Tesla's sleek and beautiful electric vehicles that will be key to disrupting the status quo. At a current price point of around $80,000, most people en masse won’t be able to afford a Tesla, even though the company has plans to develop more affordable models. But what makes Tesla unique, besides the strange genius of CEO Elon Musk, is the potential diversification of its offerings, highlighted recently by the company's announcement to build the GigaFactory, a $5-billion battery factory that will employ 6,500 workers.

Set to open in about three years, the new GigaFactory will be large enough to manufacture more lithium-ion batteries than the entire industry produces now, and due to its sheer scale, is expected to reduce the cost of batteries by almost one-third. Read More »

Posted in Electric Vehicles, Energy Storage, Smart Grid | Tagged | 1 Response, comments now closed

Transitioning to a Clean Energy Future Will Require Lots of Private Capital, but How Do We Get There?

By: Victor A. Rojas, Senior Manager, Financial Policy

Source: 401(K) Flickr

Source: 401(K) Flickr

The past two decades have seen a tremendous growth in our understanding of the climate change imperative and in the enormity of the challenge that confronts us. It has become clear that meeting climate change mitigation objectives will require the aggressive deployment of clean energy technologies, substantial amounts of capital, and creative methods of engaging that capital around these activities.

Transitioning to a low-carbon economy costs money (and lots of it). In fact, the International Energy Agency has estimated that $10.5 trillion will be required between 2010 and 2030 to fund this transition worldwide. Given the continuing challenges confronting global economies, the bulk of the capital needed to transition to this clean energy future will, by necessity, be private capital. As a result, creative financing solutions are essential to engaging and unleashing private, institutional capital, and accelerating the flow of those funds toward clean energy projects.

But the question of how to most effectively unlock the enormous amounts of capital necessary to pay for our transition to a low-carbon economy still remains. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project, On-bill repayment, Renewable Energy | Tagged , | 1 Response, comments now closed

New Jersey to Make Grid Smarter, More Flexible with Energy Storage

Source: Carbon Cycle 2.0

Source: Carbon Cycle 2.0

Energy storage devices that collect electricity at times of abundance and deliver when demand is greatest are essential to upgrading our outdated power grid to a smarter, more flexible electricity system. New Jersey took a positive step toward implementing more energy storage earlier this year when its Office of Clean Energy released a proposal to allocate $2.5 million for incentives that would encourage more energy storage use. EDF recently took the opportunity to comment on the proposal, highlighting the ways in which energy storage can deliver added resiliency, environmental benefit, and flexibility.

Energy storage could be critical in next storm

Energy storage can help stabilize a power grid, which is particularly important in a place like New Jersey where Superstorm Sandy left a third of homes and businesses in the state without electricity, even five days after the disaster. Large-scale deployments of energy storage can reduce peak or high demand, when the dirtiest power plants are usually turned on, while smaller, community-scale energy storage, when paired with renewable energy like solar power, can keep the lights on when the electric grid at large goes down. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Storage, New Jersey, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid | 3 Responses, comments now closed

PACE Financing for Clean Energy, Part 2: Lowering the Funding Costs

rp_Brad-Copithorne-Photo2-200x300.jpgYesterday, my colleague Scott Hofmeister described an insurance pool that California has introduced to help communities integrate Property Assessed Clean Energy (“PACE”), a unique program that allows homeowners to finance money-saving clean energy retrofits through their property tax bill. These programs are popular in Sonoma, Orange, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern, and Fresno Counties, and we expect them to spread rapidly throughout the state.

Home Energy Renovation Opportunity (HERO), a residential PACE program run by Renovate America that has partnered with the Western Riverside Council of Governments, has funded over $180 million of clean energy retrofit projects in a little more than two years of operation. These investments are expected to save homeowners more than 2 billion kilowatt-hours, reduce consumers’ utility bills by almost $500 million and avoid more than 1.4 million metric tons of CO2 emissions, or the equivalent of removing almost 300,000 passenger vehicles from the road for a full year. And notably, the HERO program is entirely funded by private investors. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing | 3 Responses, comments now closed

EDF Wins Business Achievement Award for Efforts to Advance Clean Energy Financing

By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant

CCBJawardEach year the Climate Change Business Journal (CCBJ) awards businesses and non-profits for their outstanding work in the climate and environment industry. This year, we are thrilled to announce that EDF’s own Investor Confidence Project (ICP) was named a winner of CCBJ’s Business Achievement Award in the category of Finance. Winners of the 18 categories – ranging from solar and wind power to transportation and energy efficiency – were recognized this month at an Environmental Industry Summit in San Diego.

The Investor Confidence Project received recognition for its efforts to help create a market for investor-ready energy efficiency projects. From the CCBJ award website: “ICP is moving the energy efficiency industry closer to the Holy Grail of securitization, in which energy efficiency projects can be valued based on consistent parameters with little project-specific analysis and vetting-processes that ratchet up soft costs quickly.” Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project | Tagged , | Comments closed

On World Water Day, Why Talk About Energy?

Source: UN Water

Source: UN Water

The theme of this year’s World Water Day on March 22nd is the “energy-water nexus,” and the timing couldn't be better. According to the United Nations (who first established World Water Day in 1993):

  • 780 million people worldwide lack access to safe drinking water.
  • 1.3 billion people worldwide lack access to electricity.
  • 90 percent of the power generation in the world comes from water-intensive fossil fuels.
  • As countries progress and develop, there is an increased risk of conflict between power generators, other water users, and environmental concerns.
  • By 2035, global water withdrawals for energy are predicted to increase by 20 percent, and water consumption for energy is expected to increase by 85 percent.

For the past year, I’ve been trying to bring awareness to the connection between energy and water in Texas, but this issue is much bigger than a single state. Energy and water are both basic components of life and economic progress, and they are also inextricably linked. Energy is used to secure, deliver, treat, and distribute water, while water is used (and often degraded) to develop, process and deliver energy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy-Water Nexus, Utility Business Models | Tagged | 2 Responses, comments now closed

White House Meeting on Climate Change Resilience Shows National Commitment

Source: The White House

Source: The White House

Today, the White House is hosting an event highlighting its commitment to boosting resilience among communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. EDF commends the White House for taking steps to make climate change preparedness and resilience a national priority, especially since this has mostly been a regional issue dealt with in areas affected by severe weather events, such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

At the event, federal agencies, businesses, researchers, and academia, among others will discuss plans to use data-driven technologies and leverage freely available government data to develop products and services that will help the country better prepare for the effects of climate change. The event will showcase insights gathered from scientific data as well as cutting-edge technologies built by American innovators that are essential to better understanding and managing the risks posed by climate change. Read More »

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