Battleground States Support Clean Energy

According to new poll results in eight battleground states, there is widespread support for the Clean Power Plan. This week the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released final rules. Overall, 58 percent support the plan while 40 percent oppose it after hearing arguments for and against the plan. States polled included Virginia, Florida, Ohio, New Hampshire, Colorado, Nevada, Minnesota, and Pennsylvania.

AUFCLogoWideWebDuring a press conference releasing the poll results held by Americans United for Change who commissioned the research, climate advocates called on Republican Attorney Generals preparing to sue the EPA over the new public health standards and the “do-nothing Republicans in Congress” to stop putting polluters over people and act on climate change.

Among the findings by Tom Jensen, Director of Public Policy Polling, in his summary memo include:

  • There is widespread support for the EPA’s new plan to limit carbon pollution from power plants. Voters in all states, age groups, Democrats and Independents support the Clean Power Plan. Overall, 58% support the plan, while 40% oppose it after hearing arguments for and against the plan.
  • Voters across all 8 swing states and in all age groups consider climate change a serious problem. Democrats (77/22) are very concerned about climate change, with independents (55/44) in agreement. 37% of Republicans consider it serious while 62% don’t. There are more Republicans concerned about climate change than Democrats who are unconcerned.
  • When asked if they agree with Mitch McConnell’s urging the states to ignore the EPA and not develop a plan to cut carbon pollution, the answer was a resounding no: only 31% think states should drag their feet on implementation of new clean power plans; 59% say states should move forward and develop a plan to reduce carbon pollution from power plants.
  • Supporting climate change measures isn’t a particularly risky move for members of Congress. 63% say they would either be more likely to support their member or it would make no difference if they supported the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. This holds true in each state surveyed. Even Republicans say they would either be more likely to support their members in the future or it would make no difference: 47% total compared to 43% who would be more likely to oppose.

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S2E Flips Switch on Solar Farm

S2E Technologies Inc. (S2E) has completed what they call the largest contiguous solar farm in Canada.  The 100 MW solar farm is located in the county of Haldimand, Ontario and will produce enough electricity to power nearly 17,000 homes in the Province. S2E said they played a crucial role in facilitating an agreement between major shareholders in the project, Samsung Renewable Energy Inc., Conner, Clark & Lunn Infrastructure, and Six Nations of the Grand River and the engineering, procurement and construction provider, Canadian Solar Inc.

S2E Technologies Inc. (S2E) announced completion of the largest contiguous Solar Farm in Canada (CNW Group/s2e Technologies Inc)

S2E Technologies Inc. (S2E) announced completion of the largest contiguous Solar Farm in Canada (CNW Group/s2e Technologies Inc)

“We are proud of our role and to be able to take a long term minority stake in the project,” said Milfred Hammerbacher, CEO of S2E.  “Building teams and providing sustainable solutions is our passion.  We believe projects like these will make a positive difference for our communities and future generations.”

Carlos Fernandez, President of S2E added, “This project has already lead to S2E partnering with Sifton Properties Ltd, a London based real estate developer, on an exciting new Smart Community in London Ontario, which could be one of the largest Net Zero Energy communities in the world.”

EPA Releases Final Clean Power Plan Rules

Final rules for the Clean Power Plan have been released by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as announced by President Obama. The plan calls for carbon reduction from the power sector (aka utilities) by 32 percent below 2005 levels in 2030. According to the EPA, power plants are the largest drivers of climate change in the U.S. emitting nearly one-third of all carbon emissions. This legislation is the first of its kind to set limits on carbon emissions for this sector.

During the announcement, the President said, “There is such a thing as being too late when it comes to climate change.”

The goal of the Clean Power Plan, and coupled with other pieces of legislation such as the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) is to reduce not only carbon emissions, but toxic emissions, from the two largest polluting sectors – power and transportation. By 2030, emissions of sulfur dioxide from power plants will be 90 percent lower and emissions of nitrogen oxides will be 72 percent lower, compared to 2005 levels. EPA said Americans will avoid up to 90,000 asthma attacks and spend up to 300,000 more days in the office or the classroom, instead of sick at home. And up to 3,600 families will be spared the grief of losing a loved one too soon. These statistics will be even better with the reductions from the transportation sector.

CCP infograph“We’re proud to finalize our historic Clean Power Plan. It will give our kids and grandkids the cleaner, safer future they deserve. The United States is leading by example today, showing the world that climate action is an incredible economic opportunity to build a stronger foundation for growth,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “The valuable feedback we received means the final Clean Power Plan is more ambitious yet more achievable, so states can customize plans to achieve their goals in ways that make sense for their communities, businesses and utilities.”

EPA said they received and reviewed more than 4.3 million public comments on the proposal, and participated in hundreds of meetings with stakeholders. The plan, according to the EPA, works by building on strategies states and businesses are already using. Today, the U.S. uses three times more wind and 20 times more solar energy than it did in 2009, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. It safeguards energy reliability by setting common-sense, achievable state-by-state goals that build on a rapidly growing clean energy economy and gives states and utilities the time and flexibility they need to meet their goals.

The final rule establishes guidelines for states to follow in developing and implementing their plans, including requirements that vulnerable communities have a seat at the table with other stakeholders. EPA said it is proposing a model rule states can adopt, as well as a federal plan that they will put in place if a state fails to submit an adequate plan. Both the proposed model rule and federal plan focus on emissions trading mechanisms to make sure utilities have broad flexibility to reach their carbon pollution reduction goals. EPA also finalized standards to limit carbon pollution from new, modified and reconstructed power plants.

There were mixed emotions on the plan but general praise from environmental, health and the renewable energy industries that this was a bold move in a forward direction. Click here to read more about the Clean Power Plan from the White House perspective.

Arcadia Power Receives Green-e Energy Cert

Arcadia Power’s new wind energy renewable energy project is now certified by Green-e Energy, a certification by the Center for Resource Solutions (CRS) that validates renewable energy sold on the retail market, is in fact renewable energy.

Based in Washington, D.C., Arcadia Power offers its wind energy customers renewable energy certificates (RECs) sourced from wind energy facilities located across the U.S. By offering RECs Arcadia-Logofrom wind facilities, Arcadia Power said its customers have the ability to reduce the environmental impact of their electricity use while helping provide wind facilities an additional income stream, stimulating growth in the U.S. renewable energy.

“By offering its residential and business customers access to renewable energy generated across the U.S., Arcadia Power is helping build the market for renewable energy while giving its customers the option to green their power with Green-e certified renewable energy,” said CRS Communications Director Jeff Swenerton.

Ryan Nesbitt, co-founder and President of Arcadia Power added, “We’re excited to be working with CRS and Green-e to ensure that our customers are getting 100% certified Wind Energy as part of our mission to change the way America consumes energy.”

Green-e Energy is a leading renewable energy certification and verification program in North America. In 2013 nearly 717,000 total retail customers purchased 33.5 million megawatt-hours, enough to power over a quarter of U.S. households for a month.

Wind Can Play Big Role in Clean Power

As states begin to put their Clean Power Plans (CPP) into place, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) has conduced analyses on potential optimal energy sources as part of a state’s electricity  mix. The leader: wind.

According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), wind’s role has not been widely discussed. As it relates to wind energy, the EIA found (as detailed in a report from AWEA):

  • Wind energy plays the largest role in the lowest cost energy portfolio for CPP compliance, with significant wind energy deployment in nearly all regions.
  • Recent declines in the cost of wind energy, coupled with the wind’s role in protecting against increases in the price of natural gas, make wind energy the lowest cost compliance options for nearly all regions.
  • Using zero-emission wind energy provides states with valuable flexibility that allows for less dramatic changes to the generation mix than using a resource with some emissions.
  • Based on EIA’s analysis, wind energy should be viewed as a “no regrets” solution for meeting the CPP.
Michael Goggin, Senior Director of Research, American Wind Energy Association.

Michael Goggin, Senior Director of Research, American Wind Energy Association.

In an interview with Michael Goggin, senior director of research for AWEA, he said that states are already forming regions and they are in the process of developing their plans and wind energy is playing a role in these plans. AWEA has provided a handbook for states to use as a guide for incorporating wind into the CPP plans.

Today, he noted, wind energy is being transferred from one region to another; however, improving transmission lines will be an important factor for states as they continue to add more renewable energy to their mix and replace aging infrastructure.

Using EIA’s analysis as a guide, Goggin explained that by 2030, the energy generation mix is expected to be: wind (57%), natural gas (10%), solar (14%) and energy efficiency (19%) while the costs of wind significantly declines and in the last four years, wind energy prices have declined by 60 percent along. However, he noted that wind opportunity identified by the EIA is conservative and does not account for changes that the EPA has proposed to the CPP rule that are expected to expand wind energy’s role even further. He added that their costs are outdated and about 15 percent higher than actual wind costs today, so in the future, wind is likely to be even more cost-effective than indicated.

Wind will play a role in all regions, said Goggin, even those that don’t generate the wind electricity themselves. He along with the AWEA team are working with regions to help them develop their plans. The EPA is expected to issue final rules in August.

To learn more about wind’s role in the Clean Power Plan, listen to my interview with Michael Goggin here:AWEA's Michael Goggin Talks Wind, CPP

Wind Energy Zoning Needs Improvement

Tthe Center for Rural Affairs has released a report, “Zoned Out: An Analysis of Wind Energy Zoning in Four Midwest States,” that finds zoning need improvement. According to Alissa Doerr, Center for Rural Affairs legal extern and author of the report, Zoned Out analyses different approaches to zoning commercial wind energy systems in four different Midwest states – Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. The report also broke down the advantages and disadvantages of these approaches, and what makes for effective zoning standards.

Center for Rural Affairs Logo“Wind energy zoning remains generally uncoordinated and subject to state and local regulations, resulting in a piecemeal approach where zoning standards vary between states and within states,” Doerr said. “In order for wind energy development to continue increasing, there must be an effective approach to wind energy zoning implemented that reduces inconsistency and unpredictability caused by the patchwork approach that is currently in place.  The key is finding the right balance between local and state control.”

Doerr noted that as more wind energy projects are developed, members of local communities continue to have questions including how it will affect the community and what role the community plays in the development process. She added that zoning authorities must aim for efficient and effective standards, incorporating considerations from the local areas where wind development would take place.

Doerr further explained that the key to effective wind siting and zoning regulation is to strike the right balance between local and state control, avoiding some of the pitfalls for either approach, while trying to capture the benefits. Authorities at the state and local level must consider the pros and cons that can result from difference ordinances. The ideal balance should be focused on consistent standards that still allow for local autonomy.

“As wind power continues to play a bigger role in meeting our energy demands, it’s important that we craft regulations that incorporate local preferences and address local concerns, while also providing clear and consistent standards for developers,” Doerr concluded.

Block Island Wind Farm Has Steel in Water

The American wind energy industry along with Rhode Island state legislators and others celebrated what Deepwater Wind is calling a “historic moment” for the offshore wind industry as the first “steel in the water” milestone was met this week for the Block Island Wind Farm. This marks the installation of the first offshore wind farm foundation component – a 400-ton steel jacket on the sea floor – by Weeks Marine and Mason Construction. The site is located roughly three miles off the Block Island coast.

On hand for the ceremony were Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Director Abigail Ross Hopper, the state’s Congressional delegation, and more than a hundred other elected officials, leaders of national environmental advocacy organizations, federal and state regulators, Block Islanders and project supporters to celebrate the milestone where guests took a ferry tour of the offshore construction site.


Block Island – Photo Credit: Coastal News Today

“Rhode Island is proud to be home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm – a great opportunity for our state to stake out real leadership in this growing industry,” said Rhode Island Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “Not only are we going to create over 300 good-paying jobs, but we’re going to rebrand ourselves as being more innovative and, over time, make Rhode Island a place that has a more diversified energy supply and greener energy. I’m committed to supporting this progress with a comprehensive jobs plan focused on making it easier to do business in Rhode Island and making sure we are training the workforce today to support the innovations of tomorrow.”

Deepwater Wind CEO Jeffrey Grybowski noted, “We know the world is watching closely what we do here, and we’re incredibly proud to be at the forefront of a new American clean-tech industry launching right here in the Ocean State. This moment has been years in the making – and it’s just the start of something very big.” When complete, the offshore wind farm will generate 30 MW.

Construction is set for an eight-week period this summer and more than a dozen construction and transport barges, tugboats, crew ships and monitoring vessels will be active at the offshore construction site. In addition, vessel and crane operators, engineers, welders, scientists, protected species observers and dozens of others are all involved with this momentous operation.

“Weeks Marine and Manson Construction are enthused to assist with this challenging project and excited for the future opportunity it promises,” said Rick Palmer, Project Director for Weeks/Manson, a joint venture leading the installation work. “We commend Deepwater Wind for their diligent efforts that have led to this milestone achievement.” Continue reading

Energy Policy Modernization Act Intro’d

U.S. Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alas) and Maria Cantwell (D-Wash) have introduced legislation entitled “The Energy Policy Modernization Act of 2015,” a bipartisan bill designed to increase the use of renewable energy in the U.S. Karl Gladwell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) noted that the legislation would help America achieve its geothermal potential, “by addressing some of the most important barriers to geothermal development in the U.S.”

Photo Credit: Geothermal Technologies Office

Photo Credit: Geothermal Technologies Office

The legislation features five titles reflecting common ground on energy efficiency, infrastructure, supply, accountability, and land conservation. In the supply title, it includes several provisions supporting geothermal energy. It would:

  • set a 50,000-MW National Geothermal Goal;
  • direct federal agencies to identify priority areas for development;
    •allow federal oil and gas lease holders to obtain a non-competitive geothermal lease to facilitate coproduction of geothermal power — today 25 billion barrels of hot water are produced annually from oil and gas wells within the United States;
  • facilitate new discoveries by allowing the limited non-competitive leasing of adjacent lands where a new discovery has been made; and
  • provide geothermal exploration test projects a limited categorical exclusion provided the lands involved present no extraordinary circumstances.

“Our energy renaissance has taken us from a position of energy scarcity to one of energy abundance, but current law rarely reflects that fact. After months of working together, the bipartisan legislation we introduced today marks a critical step toward the modernization of our federal energy policies. By focusing on areas where agreement was possible, we have assembled a robust bill with priorities from many senators that will promote our economic growth, national security, and global competitiveness,” Chairman Murkowski said in a press statement.

The Senators cite that the end result will be more affordable energy, more abundant energy, and more functional energy systems that will strengthen and sustain our energy nation’s renaissance. The bipartisan Energy Policy Modernization Act will also achieve these goals in a fiscally-responsible manner.

Earlier this week the Senate Finance Committee voted 23-3 in support of legislation sponsored by Sens. Hatch, R-Utah, and Wyden, D-Ore., to extend the expired Production Tax Credit for geothermal power plants that start construction by December 31, 2016.  The Murkowski-Cantwell legislation builds upon legislative proposals introduced previously by Sens. Heller, R-Nev., Wyden, D-Ore., and Tester, D-Mont., along with several co-sponsors. The bill now awaits the Committee’s markup, expected next Tuesday.

Green Charge Networks & ChargePoint Partner

Green Charge Networks and ChargePoint have forged a partnership in the electric vehicle (EV) space. The two companies will combine EV charging with EV charging stations. The companies cite combining energy storage with EV charging will eliminate the high cost of demand charges caused by spikes in power usage. This challenge is oftentimes a barrier for EV charging installation.

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

“We are proud to partner with ChargePoint, whose mission is to bring convenient charging to every EV driver,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge Networks. “Having EV charging readily available at public locations, especially along highly traveled corridors, will enable further electrification and accelerate adoption of electric vehicles. The combination of energy storage with EV charging is important and necessary, especially in California where demand charges are some of the highest in the nation.”

The first customer of the combined technology is Redwood City, California. The city is focused on reduced its environmental footprint (they have their own Climate Action Plan) and electric vehicle use is one their solutions. Today, Redwood City has five EV charging stations combined with energy storage including two DC Fast Charging Stations that were installed in 2014.

Redwood City said these EV charging stations, located at the public library and in a public parking garage, are heavily used with an average of 8-10 sessions per day. Green Charge Networks’ said their intelligent energy storage is shaving multiple peaks per day (80 in May, 2015) caused by the EV charging stations. The energy storage is expected to save nearly $7,000 annually in demand charges at the five Redwood City locations alone. The Redwood City energy storage equipment and installation came at no cost to the City; rather, Green Charge’s financing model provides a zero down cost solution. Green Charge Networks installs, owns and maintains all of the energy storage equipment.

“By combining EV charging and energy storage to reduce consumption during peak hours, businesses can save money,” added Pasquale Romano, ChargePoint CEO. “This can significantly reduce the cost for a business to offer EV charging thereby increasing EV adoption while promoting grid stability.”

PG&E Donates Solar to Habitat Homes

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) has donated $1 million to support the installation of rooftop solar on 79 homes with 18 different Habitat for Humanity local affiliates throughout Northern and Central California. The company said its Solar Habitat Program, in partnership with Habitat for Humanity, is making affordable housing and solar energy a reality for deserving families, particularly in neighborhoods that have been historically underserved and overlooked.

PG&E is proud to support Habitat for Humanity’s mission of making homeownership a reality for deserving families. Our sustained collaboration on the Solar Habitat Program allows these homes to be both financially and environmentally sustainable. Together, we’re building a cleaner, brighter future for the people of California,” said PG&E Corporation Chairman, CEO and President Tony Earley.

PG&E employee volunteers help to put in landscaping on a Habitat home equipped with solar panels in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

PG&E employee volunteers help to put in landscaping on a Habitat home equipped with solar panels in San Luis Obispo, Calif.

The company has been supporting the housing program for more than 10 years. Today, they are the exclusive solar partner for Habitat for Humanity and to date, more than 660 new homes have been built with solar energy.

“Thanks to our partnership with PG&E and the Solar Habitat program, Habitat homeowners spend less on electricity and that helps us keep the overall cost of homeownership low. This is a critical piece of the overall affordability of Habitat homes,” said Phillip Kilbridge, CEO of Habitat for Humanity Greater San Francisco.

The PG&E’s said their Solar Habitat program lowers the electricity bill of an average household by $500 per year. Each solar panel generates nearly 300 kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy from sunlight per month, avoiding the release of more than 132,000 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere over the 30-year life of the system. In total, Habitat families have saved $9 million in energy costs through this partnership.

Earlier this year, the company and the non-profit celebrated their decade-long solar partnership by hosting the Brown Bag Build at Justin Herman Plaza in San Francisco. Community members contributed over 200 volunteer hours to Habitat for Humanity to safely construct 60 doors and window frames in 30-minute shifts during their lunch breaks for the Habitat Terrace development in San Francisco’s Ocean View neighborhood.