US Senators Say Yes to Clean Power

A group of U.S. Senators have come out in support of EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The group submitted a letter to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy stating that while the emission reduction goals are admiral, they believe that with modest EPA Clean Power Planchanges to reflect real-world market and technological conditions, the plan can be more effective as well as better aligned with state power plans.

Citing Best System of Emission Reduction that requires that an emissions limitation technology be “adequately demonstrated” and also taking into consideration costs and non-air quality health and environmental impact, the Senators offer several tangible suggestions for improvement with the recommendation of using the Alternative Renewable Energy Approach methodology as outlined in the EPA proposal with the following changes:

  • Recognizing the regional nature of the electricity system. State targets should reflect regional renewable energy generation and use alternative methodology to estimate regional technical potentials constrained by costs and grid integration limitations and then equitably set state targets that align with its Renewable Portfolio Standards.
  • Remove the benchmark deployment rate as a constraint on the target. The EPA should set targets based on the Integrated Planning Model (they do not do this now). The model can calculate renewable energy development potential by evaluating the technical potential, costs and grid conditions in each state.
  • Use current data to evaluate resource potential. The Senators cite the use of outdated data in the proposal and stress the need to use current renewable energy data that reflects today’s market conditions and recent technological developments.
  • Include distributed generation technologies in calculating state targets. Distributed generation was not included in EPA’s proposal and the Senators stress the need for this energy category to be included.

In addition, the senators also recommend considering all efficiency measures that have been adequately demonstrated in the marketplace; adopt a consistent approach in which any state that implements energy efficiency measures will receive full credit for such measures; and emissions reduction from displaced fossil fuels through the deployment of renewable energy and efficiency should be accurately captured in emissions reduction targets for states.

Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) commented on the Senator’s suggested changed to the Clean Power Plan.

“As an organization – and as an industry – we are very encouraged that so many Senators have signaled their enthusiastic support for the EPA’s Clean Power Plan. As the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in America, solar contributes in a significant way to a balanced energy portfolio. In fact, in the third quarter of this year alone, the United States installed 1,354 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaics (PV), up 41 percent over the same period last year. Moving forward, we believe solar can be a real game changer for states trying to meet their requirements under the Clean Power Plan, and we stand ready to help.”

CRS Announces Green-e Certification

A new Green-e certification program has been launched by the Center for Resource Solutions. The program is targeted to organizations that build clean energy projects or contract for renewable energy from these facilities. Apple, who received the 2014 Green Power Leadership Awards, is the first company to participate in Green-e Direct, which certifies the energy that the company generates from renewable resources and purchases directly including solar, wind and geothermal energy.

Green-e worked closely with Apple to develop the new certification option that offers independent, third-party oversight over the renewable electricity’s chain of custody beginning with generation and ending at retirement. Green-e Direct also offers participants assurance that the electricity will not be double-counted or double-claimed by regulations or other electricity users, and confirmation that the electricity meets the environmental quality requirements in the Green-e Energy National Standard.

Green-e Direct“We developed this new Green-e certification option so that renewable energy leaders like Apple can have the assurances and recognition of Green-e certification for their direct renewable energy purchases and onsite generation,” said Jennifer Martin, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Resource Solutions. “We are excited to continue working with Apple as they set the example for companies looking to power their operations with 100% renewable energy.”

Green-e Direct is intended to encourage long-term commitments by organizations that want to reduce the environmental impact of their electricity use, while providing a way to help recognize and promote leading companies that invest in clean energy. Renewable electricity certified through Green-e is subject to an extensive third-party verification process that ensures the energy meets the highest standards for quality in North America, and is eligible for use in a wide range of environmental standards, including LEED, B Corp., and Cradle to Cradle.

Martin added, “Green-e Direct reduces some of the complexity and uncertainty for companies that contract directly for clean energy. They want a clear message to their stakeholders about the difference they are making, and we can guide them through the complicated tracking and claims process, while certifying their clean energy use.”

Green-e Direct is available through Green-e, a nonprofit certification program that certifies renewable energy that meets environmental and consumer protection standards developed in conjunction with leading environmental, energy, and policy organizations.

E2 Launches Military Clean Energy Site

Screen Shot 2014-12-01 at 10.22.47 PMEnvironmental Entrepreneurs (E2) has launched a new web page dedicated to highlighting the U.S. military’s support and deployment of clean energy and energy efficiency projects. The organization says that investments made on military installations have broad reaching effects on saving tax payers money, improving their operational readiness and creating private-sector jobs.

The website includes an interactive map showing details of clean energy projects at approximately 40 military installations nationwide; in-depth written profiles and videos of what the military’s clean energy investments look like on the base level; and resources like links to major reports and links to all the main service branch installation offices.

Iraq War veteran, former Army officer, and energy leadership consultant Jon Gensler said of the new site, “Congress should take a page from the military and move clean energy forward by extending clean energy and energy efficiency tax incentives. It doesn’t matter if you wear a green uniform or a blue uniform or if you live in a red state or blue state – clean energy works for all Americans because it works for our fighting forces. Clean energy makes our military more effective, saves taxpayer money, and brings jobs to the towns and cities that are home to our military installations.”

Global Investment for Climate Change Falls Again

According to a new report from Climate Policy Initiative, global investment in activities that reduce the threat of climate change fell for the second year in a row from USD $359 billion in 2012 to USD $331 billion in 2013. The report, “Global Landscape of Climate Finance,” found while public sources and intermediaries contributed $137 billion, private investment dropped by $31 billion (all numbers USD).

Global Landscape of Climate Finance 2014The study found that the decrease in private funds was due largely to falling costs of solar PV. Solar development costs were down $40 billion in 2013 as compared to 2012. However, the report states that the situation remains grave: The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that an additional $1.1 trillion in low-carbon investments is needed every year between 2011 and 2050, in the energy sector alone, to keep global temperature rise below two degree Celsius. In other words, the world is falling further and further behind its low-carbon investment goals.

Climate finance spending was split almost equally between developed (OECD) and developing (non-OECD) countries, with $164 billion and $165 billion respectively. Nearly three-quarters of all spending was domestic: It originated in the country in which it was used. Private actors had an especially strong domestic investment focus with $174 billion or 90 percent of their investments remaining in the country of origin. These figures illuminate a bias by private investors toward environments that are more familiar and perceived to be less risky. However, public sector money made up the vast majority of developed to developing country flows, which fell by around $8 billion from the previous year to between $31 and $37 billion in 2013.

“As policymakers prepare a new global climate agreement in 2015, climate finance is a key ingredient to bring the world on a two degree Celsius pathway. Our analysis shows that global investment in a cleaner more resilient economy are decreasing and the gap between finance needed and actually delivered is growing,” said Barbara Buchner, senior director of Climate Policy Initiative and lead author of the study. “Our numbers demonstrate that most investment is happening at the national level with investors favoring familiar environments they perceive to be less risky. This implies that domestic policy frameworks and appropriate risk coverage are critical to encourage investment.”

Clean Energy Jobs on Rise in Q3 2014

A new report from Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) found more than 18,000 clean energy and clean transportation jobs were announced in more than 20 states in the Q3 2014. In the previous quarter, E2 tracked more than 12,000 announced jobs, while in the Q3 2013 almost 15,000 jobs were announced.

Tesla Motors’ announcement of its massive new “gigafactory” for the production of electric car batteries near Reno, Nevada propelled the state to the top spot in the state rankings E2 Q32014 Clean Energy Jobs Reportfor the first time with more than 6,500 jobs announced. Rounding out the Top 10 states were: New York, California, Colorado, North Carolina, Michigan, Connecticut, Louisiana, Texas, and Illinois and Maryland (tied).

The report was released just two days after the midterm elections and found that both Republican and Democratic congressional districts benefitted almost equally from clean energy job announcements in the quarter. At least 9,095 jobs were announced in Republican congressional districts, compared with 7,690 jobs announced in districts represented by Democrats. About 1,250 job announcements spanned both Republican and Democratic districts.

“The election is over. Now it’s time to live up to the stump-speech promises. One easy way to create jobs and drive economic growth in both red and blue states alike is by moving quickly to extend clean energy and energy efficiency tax incentives and other smart policies,” said E2 Executive Director Bob Keefe. “We’ve learned what happens when our elected officials do nothing: American workers get kicked to the street, at a time when every job counts.”

E2’s said its Clean Energy Works for Us Jobs report shows the power and the potential Congress has for creating clean energy jobs through smart policies. The expiration of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for the wind industry, for example, dealt a major blow to wind industry employment. To avoid more massive job losses, Congress can quickly move forward in a bipartisan fashion to extend the PTC and other tax policies driving growth in renewable energy and energy efficiency. These incentives have been critical to creating good jobs in both red and blue states. If Congress fails to renew these policies, there could be a negative impact on clean energy jobs in America. Continue reading

Analysis: EU Can Cut Natural Gas Imports By Half

Ecofys natural gas reportAccording to a new report, ramping up cost-effective investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency can help the European Union cut its dependency on natural gas by half. The analysis also found this measure could reduce carbon emissions by 49 percent or more, or drop emissions below the 1990 level by 2030, more than is currently proposed. The report was released just days before the European Council meets to set new climate change targets.

The study, “Increasing the EU’s Energy Independence: A No-Regrets Strategy for Energy Security and Climate Change,” was authored by international consultants Ecofys as part of the Open Climate Network (OCN). The report finds that natural gas consumption can be halved overall by implementing cost-effective measures that accelerate the use of renewable energy and efficiency improvements in industry, buildings and energy supply.

Relative to current projections, these measures can achieve:

    • 58% reduction in gas consumption from buildings (equal to 23% of all natural gas presently consumed by EU);
    • 20% reduction in gas consumption from industry (equal to 5% of all natural gas presently consumed by EU); and
    • 63% reduction in gas consumption from power generation (equal to 19% of all natural gas presently consumed by EU).

Replacing natural gas imports with clean alternatives will enhance Europe’s stability in energy supply, increasing resilience to possible interruption from unstable suppliers.

“Contrary to popular belief, Europe can be energy independent,” said Jennifer Morgan, Director of the Climate and Energy Program at World Resources Institute. “This analysis shows that the EU can cut natural gas imports in half without raising costs for consumers. This is a win-win approach for the EU, increasing its energy security and raising the bar for climate action.”

MN Wind Industry Shines in Profile Report

A new report demonstrates the successes and competitive advantage its clean energy industry has brought to Minnesota. The findings were released by MN Governor Mark Dayton and led by the Minnesota State Departments of Commerce and Employment and Economic Development with input from those in the clean energy industry including Wind on the Wires.

“Minnesota’s early action to embrace wind energy has created thousands of great professional jobs in our economy,” said Wind on the Wires Executive Director Beth Soholt. “We applaud Minnesota’s leadership in the clean energy sector. We are enormously proud of the nearly 2,000 wind power jobs and particularly the 553% increase in wind power businesses in Minnesota since 2000.”

According toMinnesota Clean Energy Economy Profile the Minnesota Clean Energy Economy Profile report, Minnesota has seen a 288 percent increase in wind power jobs since 2000, compared to an 11 percent state employment growth during the same time period. Wages in the wind power sector are more than $10,000 higher than the average annual wage in Minnesota. The report find that for wind, the greatest number of jobs can be found in installation and maintenance, project development and financing, and supplying manufactured component parts.

“Wind on the Wires has worked side-by-side with many groups, organizations, and our members to establish the key policies that have helped drive this incredible growth and economic development for our state,” added Soholt. “We urge Governor Dayton and the legislature to ensure that Minnesota achieves at least half of its electricity from clean energy by 2030 because it’s the right thing to do to create jobs, boost economic development, and reduce carbon emissions that endanger our health and pollute Minnesota’s vast water resources.”

Clean Tech Will Provide Jobs in Emerging Countries

According to a new report from World Bank Group, there are significant clean tech opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in developing countries. The new report, “Building Competitive Green Industries: the Climate and Clean Technology Opportunity for Developing Countries,” frames responding to climate change as an extraordinary economic opportunity, particularly in developing countries. The report, published by infoDev, recommends actions by the public and private sectors to foster the growing market for SMEs in the clean technology sector.

World Food Bank Clean Tech report“Fostering home-grown clean-tech industries in developing countries can create a sustainable and wealth-producing sector of the economy,” said Anabel Gonzalez, senior director for the World Bank’s Global Practice on Trade and Competitiveness, “While simultaneously addressing such urgent development priorities as access to clean and affordable energy, clean water and climate-resilient agriculture.”

In just the last decade, clean technology has emerged as a major global market. Over the next 10 years, an estimated $6.4 trillion will be invested in developing countries. Of the total market in developing countries, some $1.6 trillion will be accessible to SMEs, according to the report. China, Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa are the top three markets in the developing world for SMEs in clean technology, with expected markets of $415 billion, $349 billion and $235 billion, respectively for sectors such as wastewater treatment, onshore wind, solar panels, electric vehicles, bioenergy, and small hydro.

More can be done to support green entrepreneurship. As sited in the report, clean technology SMEs face daunting challenges, particularly in accessing early and growth stage financing. Countries can help by creating targeted policy incentives to encourage their own clean technology sectors. The report provides policymakers with a range of practical instruments that help support SMEs in clean technology sectors such as innovative finance, entrepreneurship and business acceleration, market development, technology development, and the legal and regulatory framework.

Enviro Groups React to Prez Obama’s Climate Speech

“Yes this is hard, but there should be no question that the United States of America is stepping up to the plate. We recognize our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to combat it. We will do our part,” said U.S. President Barack Obama during the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit that is taking place this week in New York.

During his speech he pledged to put forth a proposal to continue combating climate change beyond 2020 as well as committed to addressing the serious and growing impacts of climate change that the poorest and most vulnerable around the world are already facing. In addition, he took responsibility for America’s role in climate change.

“As I sat in the audience today, I heard President Obama demonstrate the kind of climate leadership the world needs. He made it clear the U.S. is serious about fighting climate change through major cuts to our carbon pollution and other greenhouse gas emissions,” said Frances Beinecke, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRCD) after the speech. “He promised to help communities around the world become more resilient and speed their development of clean energy. And he challenged other nations to step up their climate actions by promising a commitment to our own. This was a message of hope — hope that together we can head off the worst damages from climate change and leave our children a healthier world.”

Jennifer Morgan, director, Climate and Energy Programs for the World Resources Institute welcomed the President Obama’s clear focus and personal commitment. “I am encouraged by President Obama’s promise to put forth an ambitious post-2020 climate commitment early next year. Strong signals that the United States is decarbonizing its economy will set the stage for a successful outcome at the climate negotiations next year. As growing evidence shows, investing in a low-carbon economy creates jobs, reduces air pollution and improves people’s lives. The United States now must build on the importance progress made in recent years.”

It has been five years since the last climate summit in Copenhagen and the next summit will take place next year in Paris. Obama noted that scientists have learned a great deal more about climate change in the past few years and that they will continue to learn more. He also stressed that climate change is happening and action will mean survival.

“As the President made clear, we don’t have the luxury to act as though climate change isn’t happening,” continued Morgan. “For the most vulnerable communities, taking action now is a matter of survival. The good news is that we have the technology and techniques in hand to both shift to the low carbon economy and build resilience to climate impacts. President Obama’s announcement today is a key step in putting those tools to use. Better and more information about climate impacts is one of our most powerful tools to combat climate change. The President has signaled his commitment to ensure everyone around the world has access to the data they need to anticipate and protect themselves from the consequences of global warming.”
Continue reading

Stanford Releases State Clean Energy Cookbook

States are implementing renewable energy and energy efficiency program that could be adopted by their neighbors to improve their economies and reduce emissions cost-effectively according to a joint study by Stanford University’s Steyer-Taylor Center for Energy Policy and Finance and Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. These policies could be particularly valuable as states develop plans to meet pending U.S. Environmental Protection Agency regulations to cut power plant carbon emissions.

The State Clean Energy CookbookThe State Clean Energy Cookbook: A Dozen Recipes for State Action on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,” was led by former U.S. Senator Jeff Bingaman and former Secretary of State and Treasury George Shultz. The report analyzes and makes specific recommendations regarding 12 policies that states are using today to encourage energy efficiency and renewable energy. It also analyzes the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) State Energy Program, which assists all 50 states.

The authors reach “an encouraging conclusion” in the report, writing, “Both red states and blue states are turning green – whether measured in dollar savings or environmental improvement.”

“We are impressed by the breadth of experience that states around the country already have in encouraging energy efficiency and renewable energy in ways that save money, reduce pollution and strengthen their energy security,” said Shultz, who co-chairs the Hoover Institution’s Shultz-Stephenson Task Force on Energy Policy. “The goal of the study is to provide a source for states to compare and contrast innovative policies, so that they can learn from each other.”

Recipes for policy success include:

  • A detailed policy description
  • Recommendation for implementation
  • Current state examples
  • Discussion of policy benefits
  • Specific policy design considerations
  • Additional policy resources

Bingaman, former chairman of the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee who co-authored the study, concluded “States truly are the ‘laboratories of democracy’ when it comes to renewable energy and energy efficiency, adopting groundbreaking programs and policies that could provide benefits around the country.”

Solar Cells You Can See Through

Did you know that you can have the best of both worlds? Solar energy and a view. A team of researchers as Michigan State University (MSU) have done just this- developed a new type of solar concentrator that when placed over a window, creates energy but doesn’t block the view. It is called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator and can be used on buildings, cell phones and any other device that has a clear surface.

MSU Solar Concentrator ModuleThe key word here is “transparent” according to Richard Lunt of MSU’s College of Engineering.

While research in this arena is not new, the results were poor as the energy production was low and inefficient and the materials were colored thereby blocking the view below the solar cell. The MSU solar harvesting system uses small organic molecules developed by Lunt and his team to absorb specific nonvisible wavelengths of sunlight better than its predecessors.

“No one wants to sit behind colored glass,” said Lunt, an assistant professor of chemical engineering and materials science. “It makes for a very colorful environment, like working in a disco. We take an approach where we actually make the luminescent active layer itself transparent. We can tune these materials to pick up just the ultraviolet and the near infrared wavelengths that then ‘glow’ at another wavelength in the infrared.”

The “glowing” infrared light is guided to the edge of the plastic where it is converted to electricity by thin strips of photovoltaic solar cells. “Because the materials do not absorb or emit light in the visible spectrum, they look exceptionally transparent to the human eye,” Lunt said.

One of the benefits of this new development is its flexibility. While the technology is at an early stage, it has the potential to be scaled to commercial or industrial applications with an affordable cost. Lunt noted that more work is needed in order to improve its energy-producing efficiency. Currently it is able to produce a solar conversion efficiency close to 1 percent, but noted they aim to reach efficiencies beyond 5 percent when fully optimized. The best colored LSC has an efficiency of around 7 percent.

Ecotech’s Clean Jobs Index Shows Clean Job Growth

Screen Shot 2014-08-14 at 8.40.16 AMThere are more than two million job postings in the clean and sustainable energy sector for the first two quarters of 2014, according to Ecotech Institute’s Clean Job Index that looks at job postings in the green energy sector. This is nearly a 88 percent increase from this time last year. Ecotech Institute created the Clean Jobs Index to provide objective job information about the renewable energy industry.

Highlights from the Clean Jobs Index Q1 and Q2 2014:

  • Number of U.S. Clean Jobs Postings in Q1 and Q2 2014: 2,637,133 (an 87.5 percent increase from Q1 and Q2 2013)
  • Number of New Clean Jobs since January 1, 2014: 1.2 million

Ecotech Institute prepares students for jobs in clean energy. Below is a list of some of the fastest growing job sectors of clean energy:

  • Power Utility Technology: 132 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Solar Energy Technology: 116 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Electrical Engineering Technology: 74 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Wind Energy Technology: 65 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Facility Management: 64 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Renewable Energy Technology: 63 percent increase in jobs from 2013
  • Energy Efficiency: 53 percent increase in jobs from 2013

“This Clean Jobs Index really demonstrates the rapid growth of the sustainable energy industry,” said Chris Gorrie, academic dean at Ecotech Institute. “Almost double the clean jobs were posted in the first half of 2014 compared to the first half of 2013. Ecotech Institute is the only educational institution out there that’s entirely focused on this space, and makes sure students are prepared for these available green energy jobs.”

Solar & Storage Microgrid Project Planned for Vermont

A new solar + storage microgrid project has been announced for Rutland, Vermont. The Stafford Hills project is being developed by Green Mountain Power in collaboration with Dynapower and GroSolar. The U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Electricity along with the Energy Storage Technology Advancement Partnership (ESTAP) funded the energy storage component project along with funds from the State of Vermont. In addition, the project is being managed by Clean Energy States Alliance and Sandia National Laboratories.

Solar + Storage System in Vermont“This project is a national model for the future of clean energy – combining solar with energy storage,” said Lewis Milford, president of Clean Energy Group, which manages the Clean Energy States Alliance. “Solar power and battery storage will provide clean reliable power to a school that serves as an emergency shelter, helping a community cope with loss of power in a future disaster. This new form of resilient power is what all communities need to protect themselves from power outages in severe weather events.”

According to Clean Energy Group, this project is unique in several ways:

  • It is one of the first exclusively solar-powered microgrids in the US, and the first to provide full back-up to an emergency shelter on the distribution network;
  • It is the first solar+storage microgrid to be developed on a brownfield site, contributing to brownfield redevelopment efforts in Rutland, VT;
  • It incorporates 7,722 solar panels, capable of generating 2.5 MW of electricity, helping GMP to reach its goal of making Rutland, VT the Solar Capital of New England, and helping Vermont to reach its renewable energy goals;
  • It incorporates 4 MW of battery storage, both lithium ion and lead acid, to integrate the solar generation into the local grid, and to provide resilient power in case of a grid outage;
  • It incorporates innovative multi-port inverters designed specifically for this project by Dynapower, a local Vermont firm;
  • It will provide resilient power to a Rutland school that serves as a public emergency shelter (additional critical facilities may be similarly supported by this microgrid in the future); and
  • It will provide clean, distributed generation and resilient power to an economically challenged, urban community that is targeted for revitalization, and that suffers frequent power outages due to storms.

Dr. Imre Gyuk, Energy Storage Program Manager in the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, U.S. Department of Energy, added, “This project provides resilient power during emergencies while benefitting the grid at other times. The technical innovations will reduce cost and make the project commercially viable. This is the perfect project! It has social value, technical innovation, and furthers renewable integration for the grid.”

Sierra Magazine Releases 2014 Coolest Schools

The “Coolest Schools” in America rankings are out and the top school is University of California, Irvine. Compiled annually by Sierra Club, the rankings focus on America’s greenest colleges. The ranking universities displayed a deep and Dickinson College Studentsthorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues, and encouraging environmental responsibility. More than 150 schools filled out an extensive survey created in a collaboration between Sierra and the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. Using a customized scoring system, Sierra ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards.

“For eight years Sierra magazine has encouraged America’s colleges and universities to fully embrace their unique and multifaceted role in tackling the climate crisis and protecting America’s air, water, public health, and beautiful places,” said Bob Sipchen, Sierra magazine’s editor in chief. “From innovative research and development to powering campuses with wind and solar, to educating students in the most advanced thinking on sustainability, colleges and universities are leaders and models for the rest of society. Sierra magazine congratulates those that made our annual ‘Coolest Schools’ list.”

Sierra magazine’s top 10 schools of 2014 are:

1. University of California, Irvine (Irvine, CA)
2. American University (Washington, DC)
3. Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA)
4. Loyola University Chicago (Chicago, IL)
5. Lewis and Clark College (Portland, OR)
6. Stanford University (Stanford, CA)
7. University of South Florida (Tampa, FL)
8. Green Mountain College (Poultney, VT)
9. University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)
10. Georgia Institute of Technology (Atlanta, GA)

This is UC Irvine’s fifth consecutive year as a top 10 finalist, but its first time as the winner, thanks in part to its three on-campus solar projects, a 19-megawatt turbine cogeneration plant, and energy-efficiency goals that are consistently exceeded. Other factors that helped those at the top of our list: American University has D.C.’s largest solar array; Dickinson runs an organic farm; Stanford is divesting from coal; and USF supplies a solar charging station for electric vehicles.

“The Cool Schools ranking is yet another indication of how deeply young people understand the benefits of clean energy and of how adept they are at turning awareness into action,” said Karissa Gerhke, director of the Sierra Student Coalition. “To capitalize on this power, the Sierra Student Coalition will join with students across the country this fall to launch the Campuses for Clean Energy campaign, a transformative movement that will demand 100 percent clean energy for campuses.

New Jersey Home to First Energy Resilience Bank

New Jersey has created what they term the first of its kind in the U.S. “Energy Resilience Bank” (ERB) to focus on energy resilience. The bank was created in response to the impacts of SuperStorm Sandy where over 8 million people lost electric power in the region – many for several days. The ERB will provide $200 million for municipalities to finance clean resilient power solutions. Projects could include those that “would ensure a highly reliable power supply to critical public facilities such as water and wastewater treatment plants, hospitals, shelters, emergency response centers and transit networks in the event the larger electrical grid fails.”

New Jersey Disaster Recovery Action PlanOn July 23, 2014, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a sub-recipient agreement with the New Jersey Economic Development Authority to work jointly in the establishment and operation of the ERB. The ERB would be financed through use of $200 million of New Jersey’s second Community Development Block Grant-Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) allocation. According to the Governor Christie’s announcement, “the ERB will support the development of distributed energy resources at critical facilities throughout the state …to minimize the potential for future major power outages and increase energy resiliency.”

Clean Energy Group’s President, Lewis Milford, applauded the creation of the ERB. “New Jersey has created a model for all states to finance resilient power projects, to protect against power outages during severe weather events. The ERB is an important way for states to finance projects like solar with energy storage in food banks, fire stations, wastewater treatment plants, and schools. It deserves to be a national infrastructure finance model for states around the country.”

The Clean Energy Group is working with states and communities to help deploy more resilient power projects, and the organization cites financing as a remaining a key stumbling block. The New Jersey approach through the new ERB is a model that all states should consider as they deal with increasing problems of severe weather and the power system, problems that are only growing worse, according to Clean Energy Group.