Selected tags: energy

Recruiting Tech Innovators to Find Climate Solutions

54097_Circuit Earth.JPGAmerica is in the midst of two booms: one in sensor technology and another in natural gas. Recent innovations—specifically advancements in drilling and hydraulic fracturing technologies—have dramatically increased the nation’s access to reserves of natural gas. While this influx of new technology has altered the energy industry, the resulting large-scale development has brought with it some real environmental and climate risks. Now is the time for the same ingenuity that transformed America’s energy landscape to help identify solutions to reduce the impacts caused by increasing supplies of natural gas.

Just this last month, two innovator programs were announced – one led by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and another from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) – both are focused on developing new technologies capable of minimizing methane emissions from the natural gas supply chain. The programs are different but complementary and together signal there is  momentum building to engage the best and brightest innovators to help address a consequential component of the climate issue. Read More »

Posted in Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Also tagged , , , | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Arguments Heat Up in Colorado Air Rulemaking, But the Facts Remain

Yesterday, we covered the Colorado Air Quality Control Commission (AQCC) taking public testimony from citizens who traveled from around the state to speak in support of a groundbreaking proposal that would slash emissions of smog-forming pollutants and greenhouse gases coming from oil and gas activities.

Formal proceedings kicked off today – and will likely run through the weekend – with various parties presenting their opening cases. EDF went early in the day, providing strong evidence that the proposed rule is cost-effective and urgently needed to combat local air quality problems and climate change. We also highlighted some glaring flaws  in the methodology industry opponents cooked up to show inflated costs for the rules.

The Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA), the Colorado Petroleum Association (CPA) and the DGS group are throwing everything they can at the rule to try to gut it.  But they’re in a shrinking minority on the wrong side of history.

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Historic Agreement Demonstrates Broad Commitment To Build Clean Energy Economy

 This commentary originally appeared on EDF's California Dream 2.0 blog.

With the stroke of a pen, North American efforts to combat climate change and promote clean energy reached a new level today.

I was lucky enough to witness the historic event, as Governor Jerry Brown joined the leaders of Oregon, Washington State and the Canadian province of British Columbia, to sign an agreement that formally aligns climate and clean energy policies in the four jurisdictions.

This signing by these “Fab Four” of the Pacific Coast Collaborative makes sense given all they have in common: they’re geographically connected, share infrastructure, and their combined regional economy accounts for a $2.8 trillion GDP, making it the world’s fifth largest economy.

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The Electric Utility Of The Future

Progressive Power Providers Show a Path Forward

Traditionally, electric utilities have been in the business of providing reliable power to their customers.  Prices for each class of customer are fixed by state regulators and a customer’s choice is pretty much limited to whether they want to turn on the switch or not.  Much of the EDF Smart Power initiative is focused on helping to create new utility business models that change this paradigm by increasing customer choice, providing market feedback on these choices and incentivizing the use of cleaner sources of power.

Several electric utilities are getting ahead of the curve by embracing these changes.  While both own large fossil fuel assets, NRG Energy and NextEra Energy have also been developing utility-scale and distributed renewable generation projects across the country.  NRG Energy develops solar and other renewable projects for government, commercial and other institutional customers, and NextEra Energy, the largest generator of wind and solar power in North America, develops and finances large commercial and small utility solar projects through its subsidiary Smart Energy Capital. Cumulatively, they have provided more than 110 megawatts of distributed solar generation capacity to schools, government and commercial facilities, among others.

Over the past week, two other energy providers, Direct Energy and Viridian, have announced deals with SolarCity to offer no-upfront cost solar installations to their current and prospective customers.  In many cases, these solar installations will provide clean energy at a lower cost than the customer currently pays for dirtier, fossil fuel power.  Direct Energy even took it a step further by agreeing to provide part of the financing for their customers.  Since there are few investors that currently finance solar projects, Direct Energy can expect to earn a very attractive return on their investment.  While solar financing has been around for several years, Direct Energy and Viridian can now offer customer solutions that bundle solar installations with other energy services.

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Posted in Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models| Also tagged | 1 Response, comments now closed

Welcome To Chicagoland

This commentary originally appeared on EDF's Climate Corps blog.

By: Sitar Mody, Senior Manager of Strategy, Environmental Defense Fund

Today, EDF Climate Corps is thrilled to launch a major initiative to accelerate energy performance in buildings in the city of Chicago.

Chicago is a beautiful city. Chicago is an historic city. Chicago is also a city with a clear and powerful dedication to advancing energy efforts citywide. Many buildings in Chicago are already on a path to greater energy management having committed to Retrofit Chicago – the city’s premier initiative to help buildings reduce their energy use by 20% over 5 years.

EDF’s new Building Energy Initiative in Chicago will complement Retrofit Chicago by giving building owners and operators the “boots on the ground” to sustain their commitments and facilitate access to advanced energy markets – all to save money and the environment.

EDF is recruiting 50 buildings in the city to participate in EDF Climate Corps and developing a robust network for building owners and operators to accelerate adoption of leading energy management practices and gain confidence in implementing innovative investments. We also have two experts, Devesh Nirmul and Ellen Bell, on the ground in Chicago to provide year-round technical support.

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A State Race To Save Energy

Earlier this year, the Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy unveiled a plan to double nationwide energy productivity by 2030.  It’s an ambitious move to greatly increase our nation’s use of energy efficiency, which represents a huge – and largely untapped – opportunity.  Reducing wasted energy through efficiency cuts harmful pollution and saves people money on their energy bills.  After all, the cheapest, cleanest, most reliable electricity is the electricity we don’t have to use.

Source: Church Times

Similarly, the State Energy Race to the Top Initiative (Initiative) is an incentive for states to make voluntary progress to increase their energy productivity. The U.S. Senate is moving forward to make this idea a reality.  Originally introduced as a bill in June, the Initiative has now been filed as a potential amendment, sponsored by Senators Mark Warner (D-VA), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Jon Tester (D-MT), to the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill.  If passed, the Initiative will stimulate energy innovation in both the public and private sectors, and allow states to tailor energy saving policies to their particular needs.

Administered by the Department of Energy (DOE), the Initiative will be broken into two phases.  In the first phase, following the submission of state proposals through their energy office, DOE selects 25 states to receive funding (a combined $60 million) to move their energy productivity concepts forward.  Although states have complete independence in developing and implementing their own clean energy strategies, the DOE will provide technical assistance upon request.  Eighteen months later, in the second phase, the 25 states will be asked to submit progress reports to DOE.  Based on their projects’ success, DOE will then select up to six states to receive a share of $122 million to continue their energy saving efforts.

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