CGI America Launches Feed-Out Program

The world is about to see the first market-based, fixed-price funding program for solar and renewable technologies through a Feed-Out Program. The program, the brain-child of the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) and Demeter Power Group, has a goal of helping modernize the nation’s power grid with distributed energy.

Clinton Global Initiative logo“The Feed-Out Program will bring together independent power producers and financiers to enable the lowest-cost, fixed-price offering for renewable energy,” said Michael Wallander, Demeter Power Group founder and president. “But unlike other similar ‘feed-in-tariff’ programs, the energy will be used on the customer-side of the meter.”

According to CGI, $1 trillion a year – a total of $36 trillion – is needed for investment in sustainable energy infrastructure to successfully reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2050. The Program will help tackle this challenge focusing primarily on funding for solar energy while also enabling cost-effective investment in energy storage, fuel cells and electrical vehicle car charging stations.

Yann Brandt, Demeter Co-Founder and EVP of Development noted, “What retail tenant or business owner would not want to save money on their energy bills while offering customers and employees the ability to shade their cars and power up with solar energy? We enable funding for solar-powered carports with electric vehicle charging stations at a net-negative cost to the customer.”

Demeter Power Group logoDemeter is contributing its finance mechanism – PACE3P – to help overcome credit-related challenges that have prevented scalable finance programs in the past. Demeter explained that PACE3P ties services fees to the buildings where the energy is used through a voluntary assessment on property tax bills.

Initially the Program will make financing available to commercial properties located in Northern California communities participating in the California FIRST property assessed clean energy (PACE) Program offered through the California Statewide Community Development Authority. Interested participants must register with Demeter to participate in the platform, which is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2015.

U.S. Mayors Expand Climate Protection Agreement

U.S. Mayors have signed a revised climate protection agreement that for the first time focuses on local actions to adapt cities to changing climate conditions. The agreement is also aims to build grassroots support for local conversation efforts. The action took place during the 82nd Annual U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) meeting where one area of focus was climate change and the role energy efficiency and renewable energy could play in reducing greenhouse gas emissions such as carbon.

14307537950_ca123598fd_zThe Agreement also urges federal and state governments to enact bipartisan legislation, policies and programs to assist mayors in their efforts to lead the nation toward energy independence. Following the signing ceremony, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Environmental Protection Administrator Gina McCarthy congratulated the Conference on their work and engaged in an interactive discussion with mayors from the audience.

USCM President Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson said mayors have been leaders on climate protection, whether it’s cutting carbon emissions or preparing their communities for the effects of climate change. “In the 3.0 era, mayors are innovating, working with the best and the brightest, to lead on climate. Mayors are getting smart about sustainability. We’re moving from fossil fuels to alternative fuels, from waste to reuse. Mayors are using technology and innovation to do what we couldn’t do ten years ago. We’re boosting our economies and protecting our climate at the same time.”

The climate initiative was first launched 10 years ago in February of 2005 and at the time the U.S. Mayors’ Climate Protection Agreement was a landmark pledge by mayors from all across the country to take local action to reduce carbon emissions from city operation and by the community at large, consistent with the goals of the Kyoto Protocol. More than 1060 mayors signed the Agreement, mostly representing larger cities. Since then, USCM has been recognizing mayors for their successful efforts through its annual Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards.

USCM Energy independence and Climate Protection Task Force Co-Chair and Bridgeport, CT Mayor Bill Finch noted, “This is not a cause for mayors. This is a pragmatic problem that requires pragmatic solutions. Mayors across the country are investing in the future by tackling climate change head on. And, those who have signed onto the U.S. Conference of Mayors agreement have made more progress on beating back climate change in their cities than those who have not. Continue reading

SEIA Releases Cutting Carbon Report

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) recently released a report, “Cutting Carbon Emissions Under §111(d): The case for expanding solar energy in America”. The report, which was released to coincide with the Clean Power Plan, offers a detailed case as to why states should take advantage of clean solar energy as part of their efforts to comply with §111(d) of the Clean Air Act. This year alone, solar is expected to generate enough electricity to effectively offset 13.8 metric tons of CO2 emissions.

Once the new EPA emission standards are in place, each state will be required to create a compliance plan that must be approved by federal regulators. Failure to do so could result in a more restrictive EPA-mandated plan.

“For many states struggling to reduce their carbon emissions, solar can be a real game changer,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “We have a very simple message to SEIA Cutting Carbon Emissionsstate regulators: Do the math. When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, the 13 GW of solar currently installed in the United States generates enough pollution-free electricity to displace 14.2 billion pounds of coal or 1.5 billion gallons of gasoline. Put another way, it’s the equivalent of taking 2.7 million passenger cars off U.S. highways each year.”

According to the report, which was prepared by SEIA staff in consultation with member companies, solar has already proven to be a key part of many states’ energy mix – as demonstrated on March 8 when solar provided a record 18 percent of California’s 22,700 megawatt (MW) demand.

“Today, solar is the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States, employing 143,00 Americans and accounting for nearly 30 percent of all new electric generation capacity installed in 2013 – second only to natural gas,” Resch continued. “All totaled, solar is now generating enough clean, reliable and affordable electricity to effectively power nearly 2.5 million homes. We’re doing our part to help fight climate change, but we can do a lot more in the future – and that’s something we will be stressing to state regulators once the new carbon rules for power plants are announced.”

Resch also noted that solar energy’s rapidly falling prices and rapidly growing generating capacity, as well as the volatility of fossil fuel prices, give solar energy the potential to transform compliance with both new carbon emission requirements and other existing requirements under the Clean Air Act.

The report notes, “Historically, air pollution emission reduction from the electric sector has been achieved primarily through pollution control equipment at power plants. Today, the EPA and states recognize that the reduction of carbon emissions from the electric sector requires a new approach that treats the production and delivery of electric power as a broad system, in which power plant modifications, demand side reductions and renewable energy all contribute to emission reductions.

“Solar contributes to a balanced portfolio of energy resources, and can help achieve an optimal long-term strategy for each state’s economy and environment,” the report continues. “By including solar energy as part of their §111(d) compliance plan, states can cost-effectively meet their Clean Air Act requirements while reaping a wide range of additional benefits.”

Fight Over Clean Power Plan Gets Dirty

I’ve written a bit about the Clean Power Plan – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed plan to reduce carbon emissions from utility plants by 30 percent by 2030. The plan has caused hope and consternation and both environmental groups and the utility industry is weighing in.

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has cited a new disinformation campaign has been waged by “Big Polluters” who they say are intent on subverting the country’s first ever carbon pollution standards (aka, Clean Power Plan. In response, NRDC has launched a campaign of it’s own in response to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Study and National Mining Association (NMA) who say that putting limits on carbon will increase electricity prices. However, both the Washington Post and Denver Post have fact checked the study and claims and found some of them to be false.

“The real truth is: We need to cut the carbon pollution spewing out of power plants to protect our health and future generations. We can do this, and save people money on their electric bills even as we invest in energy efficiency that creates hundreds of thousands of new jobs,” said Peter Altman, director of NRDC’s Climate and Clean Air Campaign.

NRDC launched the ad on national television outlets and digital platforms to challenge critics of carbon pollution standards proposed on June 2 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The standards, when finalized says NRDC, can reduce carbon pollution at least 30 percent by 2030 by empowering states and utility companies to work together to make reductions in the most cost-effective way for each state.

In addition to debunking opponents’ claims, the NRDC ad goes after Big Polluters’ efforts to undermine energy efficiency initiatives in a number of states. For example, utility and fossil fuel-funded front groups peddled disinformation to attempt a freeze on Ohio’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) and Energy Efficiency Resource Standard (EERS) in 2014.

But ramping up energy efficiency, NRDC has shown, can help accomplish the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, and help consumers. NRDC recently released an analysis showing that strong limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants could save Americans $37 billion on their electric bills and create a net 274,000 jobs. These jobs, growing mostly through investments in energy efficiency and renewables, can put to work electricians, roofers, carpenters, insulation workers, heating/air conditioning installers and heavy equipment operators, among others.

FIFA World Cup to Feature Biofuels & Solar

FIFA World Cup BrasilThe FIFA World Cup 2014 is underway in Brazil and this year’s event features several renewable energy and sustainable measures never before seen during the event.

Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA) is supplying the governing body of the football fleet (known as soccer to those living in the U.S.) with ethanol. Flex-fuel cars from Hyundai, Model HB20 Edition FIFA World Cup, are running the streets and roads of Brazil powered with fuel from cane sugar.

The adoption of ethanol is one of the measures to avoid, reduce and offset emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2) released dioxide in the atmosphere, the ‘Football for the Planet,’ according to FIFA’s official environmental program that aims to reduce the negative impact of their activities on the environment. In Brazil, FIFA and the Local Organising Committee (LOC) of the 2014 World Cup are putting in place projects that address key areas such as waste, water, energy, transport, logistics and climate change.

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

Kids play football on the beach as Brazil prepare for the World Cup on June 11, 2014 in Maceio, Brazil. (Photo by Alex Livesey – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)

For the consultant Emissions and Technology of Sugar Cane Industry Association (UNICA), Alfred Szwarc, the initiative of the FIFA program is extremely appropriate as sugarcane ethanol compared with gasoline. He cites sugar-based ethanol reduces 90 percent of greenhouse gases that cause climate change when compared to straight gasoline. Reducing global warming is one of focuses of the “Football for the Planet” FIFA campaign.

In addition to biofuels, Yingli Green Energy has provided dozens of solar panels to various operations involved with FIFA and this year the company plans to offset all carbon emissions arising from its promotional activities in Brazil to make the FIFA World Cup Brazil the greenest in history. The company’s efforts included all solar powered stadiums, commercial displays, customer hospitality, media activities, and employee travel and accommodation. To achieve carbon neutrality, Yingli has:

  • Supplied over 5,000 Yingli solar panels and nearly 30 off-grid solar energy systems to help power matches at multiple FIFA World Cup stadiums;
  • Partnered with ClimatePartner, an independent, certified environmental agency, to accurately calculate and verify emissions data for the duration of Yingli’s sponsorship activation in Brazil;
  • Committed to investing in carbon emission reduction certificates that are generated by a local Brazilian project, and that are certified by the Bureau Veritas Certification Holding SAS.

“By becoming history’s first carbon neutral sponsor of the FIFA World Cup, Yingli is honoring its commitment to our environment and to our planet,” noted Mr. Liansheng Miao, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Yingli Green Energy. “As a company whose products and mission are deeply intertwined with sustainability issues, we are dedicated to reducing the ecological impact of all aspects of our business operations, including our highly visible and pervasive marketing activities.”

Best Way to Curb Harmful Emissions? Restore the RFS.

The renewable fuels industry has not weighed in much on the debate surrounding the recent unveiling of the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed regulation: Clean Power Plan. The proposed mandate, that is now open for comment, would reduce power plant emissions by 30 percent by 2030 using 2005 levels. According to Brian Jennings, executive vice president for the American ACElogoCoalition for Ethanol (ACE), while acknowledging the ambitions rule to limit GHG emissions from power plants, it must be noted that the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has been successfully reducing GHG emissions from the transportation sector since 2007 when the legislation was enacted.

Jennings said that in 2013 alone, the use of biofuels cut 38 million metric tons of GHG emissions from the transportation sector – the equivalent of the emissions from removing 8 million cars on the road or permanently parking every motor vehicle in Florida. “In other words, the RFS is the strongest and most successful law ever enacted to reduce dangerous GHG emissions from transportation fuels,” said Jennings.

“If the Administration is serious about using the Clean Air Act to implement a broad-based effort to reduce GHGs across various sectors, the best and most important way to do that is to ensure that the RFS works as intended to drive higher usage of renewable fuels versus how EPA has proposed to reduce the RFS for 2014,” continued Jennings. “EPA’s current RFS proposal sets a dangerous precedent by letting oil companies off the hook when it comes to compliance with Clean Air Act GHG standards for transportation fuel. If the Administration expects power plants to comply with this new proposal by curbing their emissions, how can it let oil companies shirk responsibility for complying with the Clean Air Act RFS provision by refusing to allow consumer access to higher blends of ethanol?”

Clean Power Plan Should Give Utility Industry a Boost

Earlier this week the EPA announced a legacy proposal that would reduce carbon pollution from power plants by 30 percent below 2005 numbers. While much of the response from organizations was positive, may associations believe the proposed Clean Power Plan regulation will harm rural areas, not help.

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, the reduction in carbon will lead to higher energy prices; but not only would farmers face higher prices for electricity, but any energy-related input such as fertilizer. They also claim rural electric cooperatives that rely on old coal plants for cheap electricity would be hit especially hit hard.

Coal-Fired-Power-Plant“U.S. agriculture will pay more for energy and fertilizer under this plan, but the harm won’t stop there,” American Farm Bureau Federation President Bob Stallman said. “Effects will especially hit home in rural America.”

Yet according to Lux Research, the Clean Power Plan have noted that while the proposed regulation has spurred furious debate, what is missing from the conversation it the role of innovation. The firm said these rules can help spur innovation that will make it easier for the world to reduce its emissions.

The new EPA rules are unlikely to have a dramatic impact on global emissions on their own, said Lux Research, given that almost all future growth in carbon emissions will come from developing and underdeveloped countries – most notably China, which became the largest carbon emitter in 2007. Hence, much of the debate about the rules has centered on how likely they are to help induce China and other nations to agree to binding targets of their own.

“The political discussion about climate change misses a critical point; whatever their role in climate negotiations, these new rules will accelerate technology development and deployment, making it more practical and affordable for nations everywhere to reduce emissions,” said Aditya Ranade, Senior Analyst at Lux Research. “Their influence on innovation is where they will need to have the biggest impact for the world to achieve its CO2 reduction goals.”

Lux Research analysts predict that four major technology sectors will get a boost: Continue reading

EPA Officially Releases Clean Power Plan Proposal

In what could be an unprecedented move by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the agency has released a proposed plan to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels by 2030. The Clean Power Plan is the first proposed policy that would cut CO2 from existing power plants – the single largest source of carbon pollution in the U.S. Possible solutions to cutting carbon include integrating renewable power to the grid from sources such as geothermal, solar, wind and bioenergy (biomass or pellets derived from waste).

According to the EPA, power plants account for nearly one-third of all domestic greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Although there are current limits in place for the level of arsenic, mercury, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particle pollution that power plants can emit, there are currently no national limits on carbon pollution levels.

EPA Gina McCarthy“Climate change, fueled by carbon pollution, supercharges risks to our health, our economy, and our way of life,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “EPA is delivering on a vital piece of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan by proposing a Clean Power Plan that will cut harmful carbon pollution from our largest source–power plants.”

“By leveraging cleaner energy sources and cutting energy waste, this plan will clean the air we breathe while helping slow climate change so we can leave a safe and healthy future for our kids. We don’t have to choose between a healthy economy and a healthy environment–our action will sharpen America’s competitive edge, spur innovation, and create jobs,” added McCarthy.

Building upon trends already underway to reduce GHG emissions (including carbon) in other industry sectors including the transportation sector (cars, planes, etc.) as well as working along side states who have already put carbon policies in place for their utility sectors, the goal is to create a nationwide plan to cut pollution while make power plants more energy efficient. In addition, the plan fits within the steps laid out in President Obama’s Climate Action Plan and his June 2013 Presidential Memorandum.

In 2009, the EPA determined that greenhouse gas pollution threatens Americans’ health and welfare by leading to long lasting changes in our climate that can have a range of negative effects on human health and the environment. By 2030, The Clean Power Plan specifically calls for:

  • Cutting carbon emission from the power sector by 30 percent nationwide below 2005 levels, which is equal to the emissions from powering more than half the homes in the United States for one year;
  • Cutting particle pollution, nitrogen oxides, and sulfur dioxide by more than 25 percent as a co-benefit;
  • Avoiding up to 6,600 premature deaths, up to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, and up to 490,000 missed work or school days—providing up to $93 billion in climate and public health benefits; and
  • Shrink electricity bills roughly 8 percent by increasing energy efficiency and reducing demand in the electricity system.

Continue reading

Denver Clean Cities Helps Reduce Gas Use

Coloradans are breathing cleaner air with the help of the Denver Metro Clean Cities (DMCCC). Utilizing alternative fuels and advanced vehicle technologies, stakeholders displaced 5.88 million gallons of gasoline in 2013. This prevented 27,000 tons of greenhouse gases and air pollutants from entering the atmosphere – equivalent to the carbon dioxide generated by approximately 90,000 homes during five days.

electricvehicleparkingClean Cities is a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) program designed to reduce petroleum consumption in the transportation sector. Colorado is home to three such coalitions, which cumulatively helped stakeholders displace 10.2 million gallons of gasoline and 49,000 tons of greenhouse gases last year.

Tyler Svitak, the Clean Cities Manager at the American Lung Association in Colorado, described how the program works. “We assist public and private vehicle fleets, local governments, fuel providers, utilities, and other stakeholders in beginning or expanding an alternative fuel portfolio, which often involves education, technical guidance, or connection to a similar project locally or nationally.”

The City and County of Denver has had a close relationship with Clean Cities since its inception in 1993, and as the City’s fleet continues to look toward innovative ways to save money and reduce emissions, Clean Cities is assisting in the process.

“The Denver Metro Clean Cities Coalition has been a valuable resource for Denver for years, helping educate our City about alternative fuels and opportunities to implement them,” said Felix Espinoza, Denver Public Works’ Fleet Management Director. “Our partnership with Clean Cities has furthered our goals of incorporating alternative fuels and green technologies that improve air quality, lower operating costs, and provide a healthy, livable, and connected city.”

Svitak explains that harnessing alternative transportation fuels like electricity, natural gas, and propane can dramatically reduce pollutants coming from vehicle tailpipes, increase our nation’s energy security, and boost local economies, but what is often a more convincing argument is the amount of money saved in operating costs from using these alternatives.

Last quarter the average national price of natural gas was $2.09 per gasoline gallon equivalent (the amount of energy in natural gas it takes to equal the energy of one gallon of gasoline), propane was $2.43/gallon, and electricity was $1.16 per eGallon (the electrical energy equivalent of a gallon of gasoline), and for fleets or consumers traveling enough miles, the payback over the life of a vehicle can be significant.

Though, there are still significant challenges to the widespread adoption of alternative fuels and Clean Cities helps to overcome those through education, knowledge, and training. Refuel Colorado, a Colorado Energy Office project aimed at increasing alternative fuel use in the state, incorporates an energy ‘coaching’ program where organizations like Clean Cities, Garfield Clean Energy, and 4CORE help fleets and local governments understand the factors influencing their bottom line, including lifecycle ROI analysis to help look at the long term savings instead of the initial investment.

DOE Issues Draft Renewable Energy Solicitation

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a draft loan guarantee solicitation to identify innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. The projects much avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases. When finalized, the solicitation is US DOE Energy logoexpected to make as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available to help commercialize technologies that may be unable to obtain full commercial financing.

“Through our existing renewable energy loan guarantees, the Department’s Loan Programs Office helped launch the U.S. utility-scale solar industry and other clean energy technologies that are now contributing to our clean energy portfolio,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “We want to replicate that success by focusing on technologies that are on the edge of commercial-scale deployment today.”

The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market ready. Within the draft solicitation, the DOE has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the eligibility requirements is eligible to apply, the Department has identified five key technology areas of interest: advanced grid integration and storage; drop-in biofuels; waste-to-energy; enhancement of existing facilities; and efficiency improvements.

The Department welcomes public comment on a range of issues and will consider public feedback in defining the scope of the final solicitation. In addition to initiating a 30-day public comment period, a schedule of public meetings will be posted on DOE’s website. The draft solicitation can be found online at