There’s a clean energy revolution happening in California – and it has the potential to topple the old polluting forces while fighting climate change with the power of the sun.
California is not only producing the most solar power in the country – 8.5 gigawatts, enough to power two million homes – it’s producing more solar power than the rest of the country combined. In 2014 alone, the state more than doubled its solar power, becoming the first state to generate five percent of its total electricity from utility-scale solar. This record does not even count rooftop solar and distributed generation (where California also leads the country), bringing the state closer to an estimated seven percent of its total power generation from free sunshine.
The solar industry employs more than 54,000 Californians – nearly one-third of all solar workers in the nation – and solar jobs in the state grew by 16 percent in 2014 alone (compared to 2.2 percent overall state job growth in 2014). California solar jobs are expected to grow by another 17 percent in 2015.
California cities are the vanguard of this revolution, with Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, and Sacramento leading the charge. New research finds that California’s cities and urban centers could generate enough solar to meet the state's power needs three to five times over, without developing a single additional acre of the state's natural areas. 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 April:
Apr 8: Breaking Energy Startup Forum and Mixer (New York City, NY)
Speaker: Rory Christian, Director, New York Clean Energy
- Breaking Energy is hosting our first “Energy Startup Forum and Mixer,” which brings together clean energy industry experts, editors, and members of the finance and legal communities to speak frankly about the energy startup space, New York’s clean energy landscape, and to answer attendees’ questions about the industry. We love the one-on-one time with panelists, but this is also a great opportunity to interact with our readers: Learning what they like about Breaking Energy and how we can bolster our coverage. Read More
The most important takeaway from a study released today by Washington State University (WSU) is that despite improvements, large amounts of methane continue to leak from the nation's local natural gas systems. Because methane is a particularly potent greenhouse gas, these yearly emissions are comparable to the CO2 from as many as 19 coal-fired power plants.
The estimated value of the gas escaping each year, by the way, is up to $195 million.
Although these figures represent a major ongoing challenge for gas utilities, they do reflect substantial improvement over the past two decades, thanks to a combination of effort and investment by utilities, along with a series of both state and federal policy changes enacted since 1992.
The new findings reinforce the fact that when regulators and companies both set their minds to fixing a problem, they can get some pretty good results. Methane, the primary component of natural gas, is a particularly powerful climate warmer – 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the first 20 years after it is released to the atmosphere.
While they remain a serious problem, the ongoing utility emissions also represent an important opportunity for companies and regulators to make a big dent in greenhouse pollution. EDF believes the study underscores three major areas where improvement is necessary: Read More
It’s been a big news day in the U.S. Senate, with Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid announcing he won’t run for another term.
But that's not the only news.
We have had our eyes on the Senate’s marathon “Vote-a-Rama” budget process that wrapped up around three-thirty this morning.
A number of environmental and energy votes came and went in a flurry of two-minute debates. While the votes mean little in terms of law (the budget bill doesn’t even go to the president for signature), Senators on both sides of the aisle brought up measures as trial balloons to find out where Senators stand on issues that could resurface when Congress takes up other legislation in the future.
Disturbingly, but not surprisingly, polluter lobbyists were hard at work and Senators filed dozens of amendments attacking the Clean Air Act, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and other environmental measures. Read More
Leading national companies in North Carolina want more choice and competition when it comes to energy, including where it comes from and who they buy it from. That’s the message recently delivered to the North Carolina legislature in a letter signed by 10 corporate giants in the state.
The list of companies calling for action is impressive, including:
- Some of the country’s largest retailers – Walmart, Lowes, Target, Family Dollar, and Macy’s
- Major manufacturers – Volvo, textile giant VF, Unilever, and New Belgium Brewing
- Agriculture commodities giant Cargill
North Carolina’s current law prohibits companies from contracting with energy providers other than utilities. It’s easy to understand how that law squashes consumer choice and competition.
The 10 companies want the ability to buy clean, renewable electricity directly from providers other than utilities like Duke Energy and Dominion. Greater choice in the North Carolina electricity market would provide a wide range of benefits. For example, companies and homeowners would be able to lease rooftop solar panels from clean energy providers at little to no upfront cost and lock in long-term, stable electricity rates. Read More
These are exciting times. New York’s ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) has paved the way for change of unprecedented proportions. New York regulators are preparing the state for a future in which rooftop solar installations are ubiquitous and the rumbling staccato of gasoline-fueled automobiles is replaced by the relative silence of electric vehicles.
While more rooftop solar energy and electric vehicles are certainly part of our energy future, some of the biggest changes are likely to come from less visible – and less obvious – sources, particularly for customers in densely populated metropolitan areas and low-income customers, who make up a significant portion of New York state’s customer base.
Urban dwellers, for whom mass transit is a central part of daily life and owning your own rooftop is less common, may view electric cars, rooftop solar, wind, battery storage, and on-site energy generation as appealing, but also abstractions more suitable for upstate homeowners than those living in crowded apartment buildings.
For these customers, the opportunity to contribute to a clean energy future will be guided largely by the domain of Adam Smith’s invisible hand: economic forces that enable greater control over how much energy is used and at what price. Read More