Energy Exchange

USDA Loan Improves Energy Efficiency in Rural North Carolina

carolina houseA rural electric cooperative in North Carolina is one of the first in the country to receive funds from a new United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) on-bill finance program that will help customers improve energy efficiency, lower utility bills, and reduce carbon pollution. Roanoke Electric Membership Cooperative, which serves 14,ooo rural customers, is in my home state.

Roanoke Electric’s membership base is similar to other economically distressed rural areas, which have a growing elderly population and residents with homes that need energy-saving upgrades.

The cooperative diligently promotes energy efficiency, yet there are still customers with utility bills that are higher than their mortgage payments some months. Securing upfront capital to finance home improvements can be challenging. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, North Carolina, On-bill repayment| Comments closed

Clean Energy Conferences Roundup: November 2014

rp_Source-National-Retail-Federation-Flickr-300x200.jpgEach 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 November:

Nov 3-4: Smart Cities Conference, San Diego, CA
Speaker: Kate Zerrenner; Project Manager

  • Featuring presentations from innovative utilities, advanced solution providers, and insights from leading experts, Smart Cities attendees will walk away with a roadmap to shape the convergence of energy infrastructure and public services. The conference will also focus on maximizing utility plans, people, and processes to evaluate the performance of grid investments and evolving revenue streams. Read More »
Posted in Clean Energy, Conference Roundup| Comments closed

5 Reasons Virtual Net Metering is Better than Plain Ol’ Net Metering

solar gardenSeveral states have embraced net metering in order to encourage the adoption of solar energy and other distributed generation. Sometimes referred to as “running a meter backwards,” net metering allows people to generate their own electricity, export any excess electricity to the grid, and get paid for providing this excess energy to the utility who may use it to power nearby homes or manage overall electricity demand.

Net metering leads to lower – or in some cases negative – electricity bills without having to invest in expensive batteries to store excess energy, which can be cost-prohibitive. By generating energy on-site where it’s consumed, net metering also reduces the strain on distribution systems and cuts the amount of electricity lost to long-distance transmission and distribution (estimated at seven percent in the U.S.). Net metering, moreover, tends to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by incentivizing people to adopt renewable energy and become more aware of energy-saving opportunities. Read More »

Posted in Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid| Comments closed

Leadership on Sustainability Must Include Helping Shape Smart Policy

By: Tom Murray, VP Corporate Partnerships

rp_iStock_Solar_Installer.jpgThis past year, we’ve seen some bold action by companies in what we’ve dubbed the business-policy nexus, and it’s taking several different forms. Some have been calling for state or federal action on environmental impacts, while others are taking far-reaching voluntary efforts that could help support policy advocacy in the future.

Whether you view engagement on public policy as risk mitigation, providing market certainty, supporting corporate sustainability goals, or securing competitive advantage, leading businesses are increasingly stepping up their efforts to support smart policy reform that will benefit the environment and economy.

Keeping toxic chemicals out of supply chains

Walmart and Target are moving to proactively get harmful chemicals out of their supply chains, even though the nation’s main chemical safety law, the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), is outdated and hasn’t been reformed in nearly two decades. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, Energy Efficiency, Methane| Tagged | Comments closed

Barriers to Clean Energy Financing Could Fall with EPA Plan

windows_378x235Considering installing solar panels or weatherization to go along with the remodeling project you’ve been thinking about? Energy bills would drop and your carbon footprint would shrink, a true win-win.

Whether it’s financially doable may depend on where you live, of course. Clean energy financing in the United States is a hodgepodge of public and private-sector programs that vary considerably across, and within, state boundaries.

What will it take?

Connecticut homeowners in some – but not all – cities can tap into the state’s Smart-E loans available from five- to 12-year terms at an interest rate that won’t exceed 6.99 percent, and with no equity down. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, Energy Financing, Renewable Energy| Comments closed

Germany’s Energiewende is Shifting the Energy Paradigm – Now it’s Time to Optimize

solar-cells-491701_640Revolutionary paradigm shifts often require cohesive development of many moving parts, some of which advance more quickly than others in practice. Germany’s revolutionary Energiewende (or “energy transition”) is no exception. Set to achieve nearly 100 percent renewable energy by 2050, Germany’s Energiewende is one of the most aggressive clean energy declarations in the world. While growth of Germany’s installed renewables capacity has been explosive in recent years, optimization measures designed for Energiewende have manifested at a relatively slow pace.

Germany already has one of the most reliable electric grids in the world, but as implementation of Energiewende continues, optimization will be key to its future success. This will require better sources of backup generation to accommodate the intermittency of wind and solar, a dynamic energy market that ensures fair compensation for this backup, and a more flexible, resilient grid enabled by smart grid technologies to fully optimize demand side resources and a growing renewable energy portfolio. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Energy Storage, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Tagged | Comments closed