Energy Exchange

Three More Reasons to Cheer Clean Energy Job Growth in North Carolina

powerplantruleBusiness-friendly clean energy policies in North Carolina continue to support the success of clean energy companies – boosting job growth and economic development.

In the past 30 days alone, three corporate announcements illustrate the power of the state’s Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard, which requires utilities to expand their use of renewable energy and energy efficiency, and North Carolina’s renewable energy tax credit, which rewards companies for investing in clean energy.

Strata Solar

Strata Solar announced it has invested $1 billion in North Carolina solar energy, including 65 solar facilities in 40 counties, and employed 2,000 workers during the past five years.

The Chapel Hill-based company has the attention of Governor Pat McCrory, who praised its investment: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, North Carolina, Renewable Energy / Language: / Comments are closed

Hawaii Taps On-Bill Repayment Program for Clean Energy Financing and Job Creation

Source: The Green Leaf

Source: The Green Leaf

EDF has been advocating for states to establish On-Bill Repayment (OBR) programs that allow property owners and tenants to finance clean energy retrofits directly through their utility bills with no upfront cost. California and Connecticut are working to establish OBR programs, but Hawaii is expected to beat them to the punch. Hawaii’s program is critical as electric rates are about double the average of mainland states and most electricity has historically been generated with dirty, expensive oil.

Given the potential of OBR to lower electricity bills, reduce that state’s carbon footprint, and expand job growth in the clean energy sector, EDF has been working closely with Hawaii and multiple private sector investors for the past year to develop their OBR program. Once formally launched later this spring, Hawaii’s program will be one of only two in the nation, preceded by New York who enacted their program in 2011.

Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, On-bill repayment, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models / Tagged | Language: / Read 1 Response

Texas is a Leader in Clean Energy Jobs. Let’s Keep It that Way.

Source: UCSUSA

Source: UCSUSA

This commentary originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.

Over the past several years, a combination of market forces and targeted policies has brought about enormous growth in clean energy technologies around the United States. A clean energy economy has developed around these new technologies, creating tens of thousands of homegrown jobs each year. Despite the industry’s initial surge, recent economic uncertainty has led to a plateau in clean energy job growth in most, but not all, regions in the U.S.

According to a report released by Environmental Entrepreneurs, the U.S. created 10,800 clean jobs in the third quarter of 2013, down from 37,000 in the previous quarter.

Notably, Texas doesn’t follow the national trend. Texas clean energy companies created over 660 jobs in the fall quarter of 2013 alone, up from less than 500 jobs in the previous quarter, cementing Texas in the list of top 10 states for clean energy jobs. Read More »

Also posted in Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, Texas / Language: / Read 1 Response

“Good Jobs, Green Jobs” Explores Novel Financing For Energy Efficiency Upgrades

This commentary was originally posted on the EDF California Dream 2.0 Blog.

Increasing energy efficiency (EE) and renewable energy are two ideal ways to cut climate pollution. Yet financing for these types of projects is often limited.

California has proposed using on-bill repayment (OBR) to help close a financing gap for EE that some have estimated to exceed $10 billion annually. It would be the first statewide program of its kind in the country to use third-party financing to fund energy-related upgrades for any type of building.

The program allows private loans for building efficiency upgrades and renewable energy projects to be repaid through utility bills. Billions of dollars could be made available at attractive terms for a variety of buildings, including single-family homes where owners are upside down on their mortgages, small businesses, large commercial properties and multi-unit rental buildings.

At next week’s Good Jobs, Green Jobs Western Regional Conference in Los Angeles, a panel of experts will discuss how the program can make energy upgrades more affordable and create good, green jobs. This workshop will feature a description of OBR, provide a status update on regulatory developments, and consider program design tradeoffs.

The workshop, “On Bill Repayment Solves the Financing Puzzle,” will be hosted by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and moderated by our Chief California Economist, Jamie FineBrad Copithorne, EDF’s energy and policy specialist who designed the program will describe how it works and how energy users can take advantage of the program to save money on energy bills and hedge against higher energy prices.

Other panelists include: Gretchen Hardison, Environmental Affairs Officer, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; John Rhow, Director, Barclays Capital; and Neil Alexander, Account Manager, Utility Solutions Group, TRANE. These experts will share their perspectives on the program, and how it can be designed to meet the unique needs of their constituencies.

EDF looks forward to hosting the panel and discussing ideal ways to shape the final program. We are expecting California’s Public Utilities Commission to soon decide whether to offer OBR to all utility customers as a way to reduce energy use, grow the economy and protect public health and our environment.

Also posted in California, Energy Efficiency, On-bill repayment / Tagged | Language: / Read 1 Response

Energy Efficiency Investments – The Reality Behind The ‘Job Killing’ Sound Bite

In letters to the President delivered yesterday, business groups as diverse as the Industrial Energy Consumers of America (representing major manufacturing sectors such as cement, paper, chemicals and steel), the Ohio Business Council for a Clean Economy, Ingersoll Rand and Recycled Energy Development all agree and are asking for the same  thing: EPA should make energy efficiency front and center as it adopts regulations to set greenhouse gas standards for power plants under the Clean Air Act

Given the existence of many positive return-on-investment energy efficiency options, including energy efficiency as a compliance strategy, is a no-brainer. In fact, McKinsey & Company’s Unlocking Energy Efficiency in the U.S. Economy shows the U.S. industrial sector alone can reduce annual energy consumption 18 percent by 2020 and save more than $442 billion in energy costs by investing in energy-efficiency opportunities that quickly pay for themselves (investments that have a positive NPV, or net present value). In the process, they also reduce greenhouse gases, which is what EPA wants. 

But energy efficiency goes beyond a cheap compliance strategy.  It pays returns in perpetuity:  Imagine if several years down the road when these investments have paid for themselves, this $442 billion savings is made available for investments in U.S. manufacturing. The job creation potential then takes off.  At conservative rates of four jobs per million dollars invested, that would create an estimated 1.75 million jobs.  

Typically, facilities can find 20-30 percent in energy efficiency opportunities that pay for themselves in less than two years. For example, EDF recently helped the IUE-CWA union conduct a three day “Treasure Hunt” to search for energy-saving opportunities at the Cobasys advanced battery manufacturing plant in Springboro, Ohio. Even at this state-of-the-art facility built in 2003, the team identified savings that would cut the plant’s energy bill by 18.5 percent and emissions of greenhouse gases (carbon) by 19 percent.

It’s hard to see how a regulation that asks facilities to implement these savings would “kill jobs” when the investments pay  back in less than two years, and provide the company with benefits from  cost savings in perpetuity.          

Once again, a careful look at how companies can comply with EPA regulations shows the “jobs killing” rhetoric to be simply scaremongering. Energy efficiency investments create 8.9 to 11.9 jobs for every $1 million in spending. (Spending on fossil fuels, by contrast, generates 3.7 jobs (oil and gas) to 4.9 (coal) jobs per $1 million in spending.)  So, compliance isn’t a burden and the path forward is job intensive. 

It’s a nice added benefit that energy efficiency jobs can be found across the U.S. and across industry sectors.  For example, the Industrial Energy Consumers of America asked EPA to place special emphasis on industrial cogeneration, an energy efficiency solution also known as ‘combined heat and power’ or ‘waste heat recovery’. A value chain assessment of this solution by Duke University shows that it will increase demand for large equipment such as generators and turbines, all made in the U.S., and lots of new steel piping, good news for the steelworkers.

In sum, a dollar spent on energy efficiency provides triple returns: industrial facilities and building owners quickly see their investments generating annual cost savings (just 2-3 years out), power plants don’t need to build new capacity and raise rates to pay for it, and all the firms across the U.S. that supply energy efficiency solutions see new customers.  And, in the process, CEOs can also check off that “compliance with EPA regulation” box because greenhouse gas emissions will drop significantly.  “Job killing EPA regulations” is a great sound-bite but the experience of firms in the real-world doesn’t support the rhetoric.

Also posted in EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency / Language: / Read 4 Responses

Smart Grid Jobs Booming In Bay Area

Source: Silicon Valley Smart Grid Task Force

This commentary was originally posted on the California Dream 2.0 Blog.

There’s something happening here. What it is, is perfectly clear: the smart grid is creating jobs in Silicon Valley and across the San Francisco Bay Area, according to a report just released by the Silicon Valley Smart Grid Task Force, which EDF oversaw as an advisory council member.

A well-respected research firm, Collaborative Economics, asked local businesses about their jobs in the smart grid sector. The results are early since the smart grid is still mostly in the planning stage but indications suggest it’s a job-engine that California can rely on.

The report divides the industry into four sectors:

  1. power management and energy efficiency,
  2. energy storage,
  3. local clean energy (distributed generation such as rooftop solar, small wind turbines, plus equipment manufacturing and installation), and the
  4. delivery of electricity (transmission and distribution).

During the depths of the recession from 2008 to 2009 when national unemployment doubled from 5% to nearly 10%, smart grid employment in Silicon Valley actually grew.

Manufacturing jobs in the industry are shining brightly against the dark cloud of declining blue-collar employment in the state. Today, more than half of the 12,500 smart grid jobs in the Silicon Valley are in manufacturing.

Investment activity across the diverse smart grid sectors has been robust since 2005 and with strong venture capital (VC) investments. California accounted for 69 percent of total US VC investment in 2010 and total amounts increased 66 percent from 2009 to $2.8 billion.

Investor interest in smart grid is no surprise, since the potential benefits of smart grid are significant and potentially very lucrative:

  • cleaner air,
  • reliable electricity supply,
  • low-cost electric vehicle charging, and
  • energy independence by way of local clean energy.

At the press conference where the report was released, San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed captured the importance of the smart grid when he said that many of the city’s Green Vision Goals for jobs, electric vehicles and renewable energy will only be reachable with a smart grid.

Another reason the Bay Area is creating smart grid jobs is that many of the companies at the heart of the region’s economy – information technology giants such as Oracle, Cisco, and Google, energy companies such as PG&E and Calpine, and technology leaders such as GE and Honeywell – are all at the smart grid frontier.

Consumers have rightly asked, ‘what can smart grid do for me?’ In addition to the many environmental benefits, smart grid means empowerment, both in the traditional electrical sense and now in terms of controlling one’s energy use and costs. Now we have another answer: your next job might be helping to build the smart grid.

Also posted in California, Grid Modernization / Language: / Read 3 Responses