DNV GL Releases Offshore Wind Manifesto

DNV GL has released its finding of a report, “Offshore wind: a manifesto for cost reduction,” at WindEnergy Hamburg 2014. The offshore wind industry is looking to reduce costs to ensure growth. In response to this need, DNV GL is offering the industry its manifesto for offshore wind cost reduction identifies and quantifies cost reduction opportunities. It also set out a challenge and the company has committed to take action on the issue.

DNV GL Pledges to Help Reduce Offshore Wind Costs by 25%The cost reduction strategies outlined in the manifesto are categorized into three basic types: “Doing it right,” by mitigating risk and increasing certainty; “Doing it better,” by improving the efficiency of existing processes; and “Doing it differently,” by innovating for the future. Working with industry partners, the actions DNV GL commits to in the manifesto have the potential to achieve reductions in the cost of energy of up to 25 percent. According to DNV GL, these savings, combined with trends in other areas such as improved supply chain efficiency, has the potential of delivering a total reduction of 40 percent which is recognized by many stakeholders as the level required to secure the future of the industry.

CEO for DNV GL – Energy, David Walker, said, “This is about securing the future of offshore wind. Achieving cost reduction is about more than just new technology and innovation. It also requires us to get the basics right which means getting people together, assessing the issues in detail and defining best practice. This may be seen as incremental or even unglamorous, but it is exactly what a maturing industry looks like and it is exactly what is required to drive down costs.

“The good news is that we are seeing signs of progress, but we need to do much more as an industry,” added Walker. In this manifesto document, we in DNV GL recognise the role we can play in the cost reduction story – we are committed to helping offshore wind do it right, do it better and do it differently.”

The manifesto document contains 14 specific pledges across a wide range of topics from reducing subsea cable installation risks through to accelerating the commercialization of floating offshore wind technology:

Polar Bears to Warm Up Elephants at Oregon Zoo

H_slinky-infographic-3What in the world do polar bears and elephants have to do with renewable energy? Lots with a creative use of geothermal energy at the Oregon Zoo where an underground heating-cooling system will improve energy efficiency. Polar bears like it cool and elephants like it hot and with the help of “Slinky” or a geothermal loop, the two endangered species will keep each other comfy. The innovative high-tech system will be buried 12 feet underground.

“Essentially, this system works the same way as your household refrigerator,” explained Jim Mitchell, zoo construction manager. “The condenser that cools the coils in your refrigerator produces heat, which is expelled away from the coils with a fan. Our system has just added another step: capturing that heat for use elsewhere rather than blowing it all away.”

According to Mitchell, heat is created as a byproduct of cooling the polar bear swimming pools at the zoo. And rather than just expel that heat, the geothermal system will direct it through rows of Slinky-like coiled pipes buried deep in the northern section of Elephant Lands.

The ground maintains a constant temperature, insulating the pipes. Then, when it’s time to crank the thermostat, pumps connected to the system will deliver heat to Forest Hall, the 32,000-square-foot indoor portion of Elephant Lands.

The geothermal loop and other energy-efficient design systems are expected to cut Elephant Lands’ energy requirements in half, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent and serve as the primary heat source for what will be one of the country’s largest indoor elephant facilities.

Eventually, other renewable sources of heat will be fed into the geothermal system. While it won’t be readily apparent to visitors, the roof at Forest Hall will feature a huge array of solar panels.

“Gradually, we may eliminate the need for fossil fuels at the majority of buildings and exhibits at the zoo,” Mitchell said.

Curator Bob Lee, who oversees the zoo’s elephant program said of the project, “The beauty of this system is in how it gives elephants choice. Most of the time, the elephant family will be able to move freely indoors and out, and we’ll be able to sustainably maintain a comfortable temperature for them.”

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.

Green Charge Networks Closes $56M Capital Raise

Green Charge Networks has closed a $56 million capital raise. K Road DG is providing funding and strategic management services to the company to enable them to accelerate deployment of GreenStation, under Green Charge’s Power Efficiency Agreement (PEASM). According to the company, the funding round is the largest amount of capital raised by any company in the intelligent energy storage space.

Green Charge offers an energy storage product that they say is proven to reduce power demand charges for commercial and industrial customers on their monthly utility bills. Green Charge’s GreenStation has been successfully installed by 7-Eleven, Walgreens, UPS, school campuses, and cities across New York and California. Now with the PEASM, Green Charge will own and operate energy storage assets deployed at customer sites, while providing the customer with a powerful combination of utility bill savings, zero capital and maintenance costs, and mitigated performance risk.

GCN_Stacked_Logo“Power efficiency is the next frontier in energy savings,” said Vic Shao, CEO at Green Charge. “We plan to leverage the alliance and financing from K Road DG to scale our company’s deployments and continue our customer-centric innovations.”

Green Charge Network explains that similar to a solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), the PEASM shifts the performance burden onto Green Charge as the asset owner instead of the customer. This type of financing model was key to spreading distributed solar around the globe, but has not been available in the energy storage market until now. This financing allows Green Charge to serve the broadest cross-section of the market.

“We are excited to enter into this strategic alliance and to provide growth capital that will drive deployment of Green Charge’s innovative technology to C&I customers on a commercial scale,” added William Kriegel, CEO of K Road DG. “K Road DG believes that Green Charge’s technology solutions respond directly to a global demand for intelligent energy storage.”

Market research firm IHS predicts that the energy storage market is expected to grow to an annual installation rate of over 40 GW by 2022 — from only 0.34 GW in 2012 and 2013.

UCR Helps Solar Energy Get a Boost

A recent article published in the Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters by University of California, Riverside (UCR) chemists looks at the research focused on “singlet fission,” a process in which a single photon generates a pair of excited states. This 1->2 conversion process has the potential to boost solar cell efficiency as much as 30 percent.

UC Riverside Singlet Fission researchIn addition to improving solar panels, the research can also aid in developing more energy-efficient lighting and photodetectors with 200 percent efficiency that can be used for night vision. Biology may use singlet fission to deal with high-energy solar photons without generating excess heat, as a protective mechanism.

Today solar cells work by absorbing a photon, which generates an exciton, which subsequently separates into an electron-hole pair. It is these electrons that become solar electricity. The efficiency of these solar cells is limited to about 32 percent; however, by what is called the “Shockley-Queisser Limit”. Future solar cells, also known as “Third Generation” solar cells, will have to surpass this limit while remaining inexpensive, requiring the use of new physical processes. Singlet fission is an example of such a process.

“Our research got its launch about ten years ago when we started thinking about solar energy and what new types of photophysics this might require,” said Christopher Bardeen, a professor of chemistry, whose lab led the research. “Global warming concerns and energy security have made solar energy conversion an important subject from society’s point-of-view. More efficient solar cells would lead to wider use of this clean energy source.”

Intersolar North America Awards Champion of Change

The first ever Champion of Change award was bestowed upon Michael Peevey, president of the California Public Utilities Commission during Intersolar North America taking place this week. The award was given in conjunction with the California Solar Energy Industries Association (CALSEIA) for Peevey’s outstanding commitment to supporting renewable energy at the national and international levels.

“For three yeTuesday, July 8ars, the Intersolar AWARD program has singled out landmark projects in North America that represent major technological, economical and environmental achievements,” said Markus Elsässer, CEO of Solar Promotion International, an organizer of Intersolar North America. “This year’s winners demonstrated how well designed systems that utilize the latest technologies to deliver cost-effective solar energy could benefit a variety of customer requirements. These projects, from off-grid applications to mid-sized systems to utility-scale installations, highlight solar energy’s versatility and show that the industry is well on its way toward maturation.”

The Intersolar AWARD winners for solar projects in North America were judged on pioneering character, uniqueness, economic benefits, benefits for the environment and society, degree of technical innovation and proof of innovation. An independent committee of industry experts chose three award winners:

  • First Solar won the award for its Agua Caliente Solar Project, a 290 MW project that is currently the largest fully operational PV power plant and covers 2,400 acres in Yuma County, Ariz. First Solar developed, engineered, constructed and operates the system, which was designed to minimize land disturbances and to maximize stability, reliability and cost-effectiveness. This project revolutionizes how solar integrates with the power grid.
  • Solaire Generation Inc. won the award with the Whole Foods Market Solar Carport. The 325-kilowatt installation is New York’s largest solar carport, and, in addition to generating enough energy to meet 20 percent of the store’s demand, the eye-catching project showcases how solar power can be integrated with other green initiatives such as rainwater harvesting and brownfield re-development. The carport has a capacity to recover 30,000 gallons of rainwater and is educating shoppers with its unique design of both the practical and aesthetic potential of solar.
  • Princeton Power System won the award with its distinctive Alcatraz Island Microgrid System. Created as a response to failures of conventional energy sources, Alcatraz is a pioneer in energy independence. Princeton Power Systems cooperated with the U.S. National Park Service and created a system that provides more than 80 percent of the island’s electricity needs for the one million visitors that come every year. The 400kW system creatively utilizes prison spaces, such as old generator rooms and rooftops, and integrates cutting-edge technologies without compromising the historic quality of the site and making the system invisible to the outside viewer.

“By expanding our AWARD program to honor individuals alongside technologies and key projects, we are highlighting the people and the ideas that drive the industry,” added Klaus Seilnacht, CEO of FMMI International GmbH, an organizer of Intersolar North America. “The solar industry needs advocates like Michael Peevey. We are excited to continue to recognize the people who have helped make North America one of the largest solar markets in the world.”

DOE Allocates $4B in Loan Guarantees

The Department of Energy (DOE) has issued a loan guarantee solicitation making as much as $4 billion in loan guarantees available for innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects located in the U.S. that avoid, reduce, or sequester greenhouse gases.

DOE_logo1“As the President emphasized in his Climate Action Plan, it is critical that we take an all-of-the above approach to energy in order to cut carbon pollution, help address the effects of climate change and protect our children’s future,” said Secretary Ernest Moniz. “Investments in clean, low-carbon energy also provide an economic opportunity. Through previous loan guarantees and other investments, the Department is already helping launch or jumpstart entire industries in the U.S., from utility-scale wind and solar to nuclear and lower-carbon fossil energy. Today’s announcement will help build on and accelerate that success.”

The Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Projects Loan Guarantee Solicitation is intended to support technologies that are catalytic, replicable, and market-ready. Within the solicitation, the Department has included a sample list illustrative of potential technologies for consideration. While any project that meets the appropriate 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 including micro-hydro or hydro updates to existing non-powered dams; and efficiency improvements.

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

Las Vegas & Gresham OR Win Climate Protection Award

The 82nd annual United States Conference of Mayors is underway in Dallas, Texas and Las Vegas, Nevada (NV) Mayor Carolyn Goodman and Gresham, Oregon (OR) Mayor Shane Bemis were awarded the 2014 Mayors’ Climate Protection Awards. The climate protection award is an initiative sponsored by The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) and Walmart, and recognizes mayors for innovative programs that increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. An independent panel of judges selected the winners from a pool of applicants.

“Mayor Goodman and Mayor Bemis are changing the energy future of their cities and the nation, showing how local innovation can offer solutions to our growing climate challenges,” said Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, president of The U.S. Conference of Mayors. “Mayoral leadership and successful local initiatives are a crucial part of our nation’s arsenal in combating climate-harming emissions.”

U.S. CONFERENCE OF MAYORS LOGOCindi Marsiglio, Walmart’s vice president of U.S. Manufacturing and Sourcing, added, “We are proud to join with the Conference in honoring these cities and their mayors for their leadership in curbing greenhouse gas emissions and improving the quality of life for their citizens,” said “These local initiatives cut energy use, clean the air, reduce emissions, and save money, all of which helps build stronger communities and a stronger economy.

Las Vegas, Nevada won for its net zero initiative in the Large City Category. The City of Las Vegas is challenging itself to become the nation’s first net-zero energy, water, and waste municipality. This net zero initiative has seen the construction of more than 1 million square feet of municipal green buildings. Additionally, more than 80 percent of the city’s 50,000 streetlights have been upgraded to LEDs. The city now has more than 5.25 Megawatts of solar photovoltaic at 30 facilities. These systems have reduced city energy consumption by approximately 15 percent, saving the city more than $1 million dollars annually. Comingled recycling at all city facilities has raised recycling rates to 55 percent, up from 20 percent five years ago. The city has reduced its municipal water consumption by 27 percent since 2008, through turf conversions, xeriscaping, and equipment installations throughout city facilities.

“We are proud of our net zero initiative and the progress we are making,” said Las Vegas Carolyn Goodman. “What is happening here in Las Vegas on energy innovation shouldn’t just stay here. All cities, as well as the nation, can benefit from net zero initiatives.” Continue reading

UC Riverside Named an Energy Frontier Research Center

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced $100 million in new funding for 32 new Energy Frontier Research Centers (EFRCs). The EFRCs are designed to accerlerate the scientific breakthroughs needed to build a new 21st century energy economy in the U.S. One of the new research centers will live at University of California- Riverside (UC Riverside). “Spins and Heat in Nanoscale Electronic Systems” (SHINES) will receive $12 million over four years from DOE. The lead researcher is UC Riverside Professor of Physics Jing Shi, who will work with researchers from seven universities. SHINES is one of 10 new projects announced, along with 22 other projects receiving new funding based on achievements to date.

“Today we are mobilizing some of our most talented scientists to join forces and pursue the discoveries and breakthroughs that will lay the foundation for our nation’s energy future,” Secretary Moniz said. “The funding we’re announcing today will help fuel innovation.” He said the intent of the Energy Frontier Research Centers is to make fundamental advances in solar energy, electrical energy storage, carbon capture and sequestration, materials and chemistry by design, biosciences, and extreme environments.

UC Riverside Professor Jing Shi“I am happy to hear the news,” said Shi, the UCR physics professor who has put together an interdisciplinary team of researchers from UC Riverside, UCLA, Johns Hopkins, Arizona State University, University of Texas, Austin and Colorado State University, Fort Collins. “I’m looking forward to seeing the scientific advances that they come up with,” said Michael Pazzani, UC Riverside’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development. “This is exactly the kind of scientific leadership that UC Riverside has been encouraging and supporting This project will lay the groundwork for energy technology for the nation.”

SHINES will investigate several aspects of basic research: new ultrathin films, nanostructured composites, high resolution imaging, the transport of electrical signals, heat and light. “All of it will be studied, modeled and simulated in order to help the nation’s ability to advance in the way we use energy,” said Shi, the lead researcher.

Mosaic Launches New National Solar Tech Platform

Mosiac is going national. The first solar company to ever use crowdsourcing investments to finance solar projects has just launched another first of its kind technology platform: Mosaic Places. The technology will enable the nation to go solar one location at a time.

So how does it work? The public can nominate community centers, schools, libraries and places of worship as well as local businesses to go solar. The site already contains nearly 300,000 places across the U.S.

I went to Mosaic Places and checked to see if my friend’s Join Mosaic Put Solar On Western Hills Magnet Centerschool was listed. It wasn’t yet so I nominated Western Hills Magnet Center, an Omaha, Nebraska elementary school for solar energy. The building was built in 1952 and has had no upgrades since. In fact, some rooms have no air conditioning (no, a 100 degree room is not a good learning environment for children). With solar, the school can save money on energy and invest the funds back into the kids. And, it gives these students the opportunity to learn about solar first-hand. This is a perfect example of engaging kids in science, technology, engineering in math (STEM) that our schools need so much more of.

Now that I have my school in the system, it asks for as little as a petition – people just click support (which I already have) to participate. However, serious money can be raised to put solar on a place as Mosaic matches supporters with dollars.

Mosaic Places was born out of a successful New Years pledge launched by Mosaic and actor Mark Ruffalo asking people to #PutSolarOnIt in 2014. While a solar installation was installed, on average, every four minutes in the U.S. in 2013, the nation has put solar on less than 1 percent of the homes and commercial buildings that would financially benefit from solar on their roofs. With thousands of incoming pledges for the #PutSolarOnIt campaign, Mosaic built a platform that would help people achieve their commitments. The product launch comes days before the first national #PutSolarOnIt Day of Action this June 21st, the Summer Solstice and longest day of the year.

Put Solar On It“We have been dreaming about this product for years,” said Mosaic President, Billy Parish. “It’s based on our belief that every building can go solar if the community is behind it. Mosaic has built a product that enables everyone to participate in transitioning the country to 100% clean energy.”

The funds raised are designed to bridge the gap for community buildings whose solar installations may need a few thousand dollars to be financeable by conventional means. For every 50 people that click “support” on a Place’s page, Mosaic will donate $100 to put solar on it. In addition, homeowners who go solar through a Mosaic Place’s page will be eligible to receive a $500 gift, which they can donate to put solar on that place.

Any individual can use Mosaic Places by going to www.putsolaronit.com, finding or adding a Place and sharing their chosen Place with their friends to get supporters and raise funds to put solar on it. Schools, places of worship and other community groups can fundraise to put solar on their buildings by asking their community members to support their Place’s page and put solar on their homes through their Place’s page.

So I want to #PutSolarOnIt on Western Hills Magnet Center. Where do you want to put solar on it?

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

USDA Announces REAP Funding

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced that the agency is seeking applications from rural small businesses and agricultural producers for funding to make energy efficiency improvements or to install renewable energy systems. The funding announced today is being provided through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP).

“Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” Vilsack said. “This funding will help farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations, create jobs and help America become more energy independent. When small rural businesses and farmers cut their energy costs with cleaner and more efficient energy, we are both helping their bottom lines and reducing the amount of greenhouse gas pollution that affects our climate.”

USDA Reap ProgramAccording to the USDA, investments from programs like REAP help support the true engine of America’s economic growth – a thriving middle class. REAP is one of many USDA programs and initiatives to support an expanded domestic energy economy. In addition to helping to increase renewable energy production, USDA makes investments in the bioeconomy, provides support for the emerging biobased products industry, supports new technologies, and supports energy efficiency improvements.

REAP funding has helped farmers expand renewable energy use in recent years. The new Census of Agriculture shows the number of farms utilizing renewable energy production has doubled in the last five years. More than 57,000 farms reported using a renewable energy system in 2012, while 23,451 operations reported doing so in 2007. Solar panels accounted for 63 percent of renewable energy systems on farms, with 36,331 farms reporting their use.

Created by the 2008 Farm Bill, REAP was reauthorized by the recently passed 2014 Farm Bill. For fiscal year (FY) 2014, USDA plans to award up to $12.3 million in grants and $57.8 million in loan guarantees. Additional REAP funds provided by the Farm Bill will be made available with a subsequent notice.

USDA is accepting applications for:

  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantee and grant combinations;
  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement loan guarantees; and
  • Renewable energy system and energy efficiency improvement grants.
  • Requests for grants may not exceed 25 percent of a project’s cost – either for stand-alone grant requests or for grants combined with loan guarantees.

Mayors Leading Way in Energy Efficiency

This week the mayors from across the U.S. released results of a new survey pointing to successes of cities using Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) program funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to improve energy efficiency and lower carbon emissions.

Screen Shot 2014-03-04 at 9.18.21 AMUnveiled by Gresham, Oregon Mayor Shane Bemis, Bridgeport, Connecticut Mayor Bill Finch, and Carmel, Indiana Mayor Jim Brainard, the survey findings derived from the responses of 204 mayors demonstrate how cities invested their EECBG program funds to help further local initiatives to reduce energy use, deploy new energy technologies and curb harmful energy emissions, among other local outcomes. All three mayors are members of the Mayors’ Climate Protection Center.

“These findings underscore that mayors have been leading by example on energy efficiency and conservation for years,” said Gresham Mayor Shane Bemis, Chair of the Conference’s Energy Committee. “Mayors all across the country have been actively working to advance energy-saving measures in communities large and small, and what we see in this report translates into real budgetary savings, local job creation and small business growth.”

Some of survey’s key findings include:

  • The three top uses of EECBG dollars by cities were energy retrofits of government buildings (83 percent of cities), LED/other energy-efficient street lighting (42 percent), and solar energy systems on public buildings and facilities (31 percent).
  • Most mayors directed a majority of their EECBG funds to investments in municipal projects and operations. Nearly seven in eight mayors (87%) expended a majority of their EECBG grant dollars on municipal projects and operations.
  • LED/other energy-efficient lighting ranked first among energy technologies that have already been deployed by cities, with local and federal resources, most notably EECBG grants, providing the primary sources of funding for these deployments.
  • The availability of EECBG funds to cities has influenced city budgetary priorities, and also prompted new partnerships with a range of private sector and governmental entities.
  • A majority of mayors cited energy service contracting as the innovative energy financing strategy that EECBG funds helped most often.

Of the report’s findings, Bridgeport Mayor Bill Finch, who Co-Chairs the Conference’s Energy Independence and Climate Protection Task Force noted, “Even as mayors were confronting budget constraints due to the recession and federal spending cuts, this report shows that cities leveraged EECBG dollars by making investments that are still paying dividends today. In my city, we are reducing electricity usage and making solid waste and sewage sludge operations more efficient. So, clearly, this modest federal commitment has bolstered mayors’ efforts to advance energy efficiency, conservation and technology deployment initiatives in their cities.” Continue reading