NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Most Energy Efficient Cities Right Now
  • QUICK NEWS, May 23: How To Tell Kids About Climate Change; California Takes A New Look At Wind; Mercedes Benz Goes Solar – With Batteries
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Solar For Everybody Else
  • QUICK NEWS, May 22: The Plan To Beat Climate Change; Ready For The Offshore Wind Boom; Solar Research Faces Trump Cuts
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Forget The Planet, Save The Pizza
  • Weekend Video: Wind Power Shines Its Light
  • Weekend Video: Storing Solar As A Liquid
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Inner Circle Of Climate Action
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Europe Building Wind For A Continent
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Global Solar Is A Better And Better Buy
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Big Wind A Go-Go Near Home of Beatles’ Beat
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, May 18:

  • TTTA Thursday-Methane From Alaskan Tundra Accelerating Climate Changes
  • TTTA Thursday-U.S. Voters Back Paris Climate Deal 5 to 1
  • TTTA Thursday-The Tesla Solar Roof Value Calculation
  • TTTA Thursday-Senator Slams Tilted DOE Grid Study
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How To Plan For New Energy
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: What New Wires Could Do
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Questions To Answer To Get New Energy Right
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, May 24:

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Surging, States Responding
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Big Solar-Residential Solar Face Off
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Hard Road To A New Solar Paradigm In Montana

    Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Surging, States Responding

    As the solar industry matures, business gets a little more complicated; While solar got a much-needed boost when Congress extended the 30% ITC, state policy changes are slowing down growth in the residential market

    Herman K. Trabish, October 6, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the new administration in Washington has provoked a completely new look at the role of states in the future of New Energy.

    The solar industry is quickly maturing and moving with unprecedented speed into the mainstream energy world. But while business is getting better, it’s not getting any easier. Growth in the residential solar market continues to slow. Solar got a much-needed boost when Congress extended the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of 2015, but state-level policy changes are impeding the market. Reducing solar’s net energy metering (NEM) and other incentives have damaged thriving solar markets like Hawaii and Nevada. California policy changes are fundamental to the slowed growth, setting the stage for potential implications as similar policy changes continue to be debated in many other states.

    California’s eventual transition to time-of-use rates as part of its NEM 2.0 proceeding is one major policy change. Explaining how rates can vary by times of the day and how they will affect the return on new systems complicate the rooftop solar sales discussion with homeowners. Such complications also make it difficult to set the right price for loans and leases. “The more there has to be policy in the sales pitch to the homeowner, the more complicated it becomes," said GTM Research Senior Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman. Complications could be harder to overcome if potential new customers are no longer the more easily convinced early adopters, Honeyman added. The addressable market in sunny California is still big but the “low hanging fruit” may have already been picked… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Big Solar-Residential Solar Face Off

    Solar split: How a new petition is dividing rooftop and utility-scale installers in SEIA; Rooftop installers want a bigger voice in the trade group, but stress unity is still the priority

    Herman K. Trabish, October 12, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the contending factions have not resolved but have set aside their differences and formed a working relationship.

    An emerging movement in the solar industry is calling for rooftop installers to get a bigger voice in the sector’s largest trade group, and threatening trouble if they are denied. Small solar installers within the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) started the turmoil by demanding their policy priorities be considered on equal footing with those of larger, utility-scale developers, whose deep pocketbooks give them leverage within the group. The demands show how diverging policy priorities could pull factions of the solar industry apart, but leaders on both side of the debate insisted to Utility Dive they recognize the importance of keeping the industry unified and are reaching out to those who feel under-represented.

    The split has been aggravated by a significant cost difference between utility-scale and DG solar. At the core of the SEIA dissension is a simple but deep failure by DG installers and utility-scale developers to understand how interdependent they are, Shah said. SEIA is a diverse association with diverse interests and its biggest challenge is getting its members to explicitly recognize that every member of the industry helps every other member, said VP Dan Whitten. How the solar industry resolves its internal divides is sure to have an impact on the entire utility sector. SEIA's Kraemer added that rate design and net metering policy fights are symptoms of larger questions about the right utility business model for the future and how to properly compensate utilities for commodity sales and infrastructure investments... click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Hard Road To A New Solar Paradigm In Montana

    Big Sky solar: On the long, hard road to net metering reform in Montana; Years of legislative wrangling have yielded little, but recent closed-door policy talks could point a way forward

    Herman K. Trabish, October 13, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The Montana settlement, like many the New Energy industries and utilities have made in recent months, is partial and tentative but represents work in the right direction.

    After more than a year of contentious discussions between legislators, utility leaders and the solar industry, Montana lawmakers formed a special legislative committee — the Energy and Technology Interim Committee (ETIC) — to address how to encourage distributed solar growth without putting stress on the utility system or shifting costs to the rest of the customer base. In forming the ETIC, legislative leaders asked Northwestern Energy (NWE) and Montana Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to work together. When they submitted widely divergent cost-benefit analyses of net metering in Montana, the ETIC asked the MPSC staff, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the Legislative Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) to review the analyses.

    The ETIC process five proposed bills. Amid the political turmoil, NWE CEO Bob Rowe decided to take the initiative. The Community Sustainable Energy Workshops he convened were not to deal with net metering specifically, but to engage stakeholders. As the group worked on designs for pilot projects Rowe said he would take on, the workshops turned into an opportunity for the renewables advocates to learn more about utility concerns and for the utility to learn those of renewables advocates. None of the participants interviewed by Utility Dive fully endorsed the idea that the workshops specifically advanced the ETIC process. But each said that collaboration had contributed to understanding between the utility and renewables advocates… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Most Energy Efficient Cities Right Now

    The 2017 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard

    David Ribeiro, Tyler Bailey, Ariel Drehobl, Jen King, Stefen Samarripas, Mary Shoemaker, Shruti Vaidyanathan, Weston Berg, and Fernando Castro-Alvarez, May 2017

    (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    Executive Summary

    Energy efficiency is one of the least expensive, most abundant, and most underused resources for local economic and community development. Saving energy can make communities more resilient while also protecting human health and the environment. Energy efficiency investments also save money for households and businesses, catalyze local reinvestment, and create local jobs.

    Local governments around the United States can influence energy use in their communities in many ways: through land use and zoning laws, building codes, public finance, transportation investment, economic and workforce development, and in many cases the provision of water and energy. Local and metropolitan energy efficiency initiatives give visible benefits to residents, directly improving the communities where they live and work.

    The 2017 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard compiles information on local policies and actions to advance energy efficiency, comparing cities across five policy areas. This third edition of the City Scorecard ranks 51 large cities, the same as in our previous edition. 1 To reflect the current and near-future policy environment, the City Scorecard considers implemented policies and those that have been adopted but are just beginning to be implemented. The resulting scores identify cities that are excelling and those that have room for improvement. We provide examples throughout the report of best practices used by leading cities. As a result, the Scorecard serves as a road map for local governments aiming to improve their cities’ energy efficiency.

    Key Findings

    The 2017 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard compares cities across five policy areas:

    • Local government operations

    • Community-wide initiatives

    • Buildings policies

    • Energy and water utilities

    • Transportation policies

    Boston earned the top spot for the third City Scorecard in a row. It received 84.5 out of a possible 100 points, an improvement of 2.5 from its 2015 score. As in the 2015 edition, Boston scored well in all policy areas and excelled in buildings policies and energy and water utilities. The city continues to implement its building energy benchmarking requirements, enforce the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code, and partner with its energy utilities through Renew Boston. The utilities serving the city have made substantial investments in electricity and natural gas efficiency programs and offer comprehensive lowincome and multifamily programs.

    Joining Boston at the top of the rankings are New York and Seattle, followed by Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon in a fourth-place tie. All have wide-ranging efficiency policies and programs. Los Angeles entered the top five (and the top ten) for the first time. Los Angeles’s 25-point improvement in this edition paired with its 20-point improvement in the 2015 City Scorecard fueled its rise into the top five.

    Rounding out the top tier are Austin, Chicago, and Washington, DC, followed by Denver and San Francisco in a ninth-place tie. These cities, each of them a repeat top-ten performer, continue to demonstrate their commitment to efficiency.

    Los Angeles, San Diego, Kansas City, and Phoenix are the most-improved cities compared with the last edition, with all showing double-digit scoring improvements. All these cities have made real strides in efficiency. For example, Los Angeles’s Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency (EBEWE) program consists of energy audit, retrofit, and benchmarking requirements for commercial and residential buildings, as well as water efficiency measures. San Diego is another good example. The city’s Climate Action Plan established goals to reduce energy use by 15% per housing unit in 20% of all such units and to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15% by 2020.

    Thirty-two cities improved their scores, many with significant point increases. In addition to the four most-improved municipalities, seven others improved their scores by at least 10 points. These cities are Austin, Philadelphia, Denver, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Raleigh, and Portland. Several of the 11 cities with double-digit improvement are currently ranked between 11th and 20th overall. If they maintain their momentum, they may reshuffle the top-ten rankings in future City Scorecards.

    Cities have taken positive steps since the 2015 edition, especially for buildings policies. Eight cities have adopted benchmarking and transparency policies since the last edition, and several have either updated their building energy codes or advocated for the state to do so. More cities have also established community-wide goals to save energy and/or reduce their GHG emissions, and a growing number are on track to achieve these goals. Thirty-five cities in the 2017 edition have either energy or climate goals, whereas only 30 had such goals in 2015.

    Leaders in efficiency in local government operations are Denver, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, and Washington, DC. All have set policies to increase efficiency in city government, procurement, and asset management.

    The top-scoring cities in community-wide initiatives are Austin, Minneapolis, Portland, and Washington, DC. They have efficiency-related goals for the whole community and strategies to mitigate urban heat islands. They also have policies or programs to plan for future efficient distributed energy systems.

    Leading cities in buildings policies include Boston, Austin, Los Angeles, and New York. These cities have adopted or advocated for stringent building energy codes, devoted resources to building code compliance, established requirements and incentives for efficient buildings, and increased the availability of information on energy use in buildings.

    The leading cities in the energy utilities area are Boston and Providence. The energy efficiency programs of the utilities serving these cities offer high levels of savings and reach underserved markets, including low-income and multifamily households. Austin, Boston, Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, and San Diego are the leading cities in tackling efficiency in their water systems and water uses. Ratepayers in these cities have access to efficiency programs designed to save water and energy simultaneously.

    Finally, cities with the top transportation policies scores include Portland and New York. Their initiatives include location efficiency strategies, shifts to efficient modes of transportation, transit investments, efficient vehicles and vehicle infrastructure, and energyefficient freight transport.

    All cities, even the highest scorers, have significant room for improvement. Boston was the only city to earn at least 80 points. Only 18 cities earned over half of the possible 100 points. All 51 cities can improve their efficiency initiatives to increase their scores.

    While cities can improve across all policy areas, cities have the most room for growth in transportation policies. In most policy areas, at least one or two cities earned more than 90% of the available points. In transportation policies, however, only two cities earned more than 70% of the available points…

    Strategies For Improving Efficiency

    As noted above, every city we analyzed has considerable room for improvement. We offer the following recommendations for cities that want to improve their energy efficiency and their ranking in the City Scorecard.

    Adopt energy savings targets. Develop and codify energy efficiency goals for public and private-sector energy savings. Goals to reduce energy use, both community-wide and in government operations, can lay the foundation for further policy activity (Chapters 2 and 3).

    Lead by example by improving efficiency in local government operations and facilities. Integrate energy efficiency into the day-to-day activities of local government. Adopt policies and programs to save energy in public-sector buildings and fleets and in standard practices such as procurement (Chapter 2).

    Actively manage, track, and communicate energy performance, and enable broader access to energy use information. Tracking and reporting progress toward goals will reveal opportunities for improving energy plans, such as revising time lines, targets, or program strategies. Work with utilities to improve local government access to energy use data to better manage progress toward goals. Help increase energy data available to residents and businesses to encourage them to take their own efficiency actions (Chapters 2, 3, and 5).

    Adopt policies to improve efficiency in new and existing buildings. To improve the efficiency of new buildings, ensure that building energy code enforcement and compliance activities are effective and well funded. If the city has authority under state law, adopt more stringent building energy codes; if not, advocate for the state to do so. To improve energy efficiency in existing buildings, provide incentives for efficient buildings, require energy audits, and implement energy performance requirements for certain building types. Encourage better integration of energy information into local real estate markets by requiring energy benchmarking, rating, and transparency (Chapter 4).

    Partner with energy and water utilities to expand access to energy efficiency programs. Because utilities are the primary funders and administrators of efficiency programs in most places, partner with them to develop and administer an energy-saving strategy, plan, or agreement. As part of this, work with utilities to design energy efficiency programs to reach historically underserved markets such as low-income and multifamily households (Chapter 5).

    Decrease transportation energy use through location-efficient development and improved access to additional travel modes. Use location-efficient zoning and integrate transportation and land use planning so residents can access major destinations via energy-efficient transportation. Expand transportation choices for residents, including those in low-income or affordable housing. Use complete streets policies and car- and bicycle-sharing programs to encourage a switch from driving to other modes of transportation.2 Create neighborhoods that support safe, automobile-independent activities (Chapter 6).

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    QUICK NEWS, May 23: How To Tell Kids About Climate Change; California Takes A New Look At Wind; Mercedes Benz Goes Solar – With Batteries

    How To Tell Kids About Climate Change Climate change predictions can be scary for kids. What can you say?

    Kirsten Clark, May 22, 2017 (Louisville Courier-Journal via USA Today)

    “…Climate change — as well as other environmental issues like deforestation and wildlife extinction — have the potential to be scary for children. The implications of climate change can contribute to stress, depression and anxiety for everyone, but especially for kids…[Experts say parents should approach these topics in several ways. First, encourage actions like a recycling and help] them brainstorm ways to have a larger-scale impact…Talk about animals to get them] talking more and learning more about environmental issues…Be in nature to allow them to see they’re also a part of the natural cycle and what they] do affects the environment…[Examine daily habits and learn from the] kids...[They often care more] than adults do…” click here for more

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    California Takes A New Look At Wind California is falling behind in producing wind power

    Danielle Osborne Mills, May 22, 2017 (Sacramento Bee)

    “American renewable energy was born in California…[But] California is at risk of falling behind…[It has fallen to fourth in installed wind capacity behind] Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma…[T]his is a bad time to fall behind…California’s leadership has been clear in its direction to the state’s energy agencies and utilities. In 2015, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León led the passage of a law requiring [50% renewables by 2030 and a 40% cut in] greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2030…Agencies are devoting significant resources to the development of an all-encompassing planning process…[New renewable energy investment is needed] and a diverse set of technologies from a larger geographic footprint will reduce ratepayer costs…[A] new bill also authored by de León, Senate Bill 100, proposes moving the 50 percent target up to 2026 and eventually hitting 100 percent clean energy by 2045…” click here for more

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    Mercedes Benz Goes Solar – With Batteries Mercedes-Benz and Vivint Solar partner to compete with Tesla in home energy

    Robert Ferris, 18 May 2017 (CNBC)

    “Mercedes-Benz is partnering with U.S.-based Vivint Solar to compete with Tesla and similar companies in residential solar energy and storage…[Beginning in Q2, Mercedes-Benz Energy will offer] its 2.5 kilowatt-hour energy storage batteries with Vivint's rooftop solar to make a combined product for [California] homeowners…[A] similar program has already been successful in Europe…Costs will vary depending on the system, but a fully installed 2.5 kWh battery system, when paired with a solar energy system will cost about $5,000…A 20 kWh home energy storage system — made of several connected batteries —will cost about $13,000 fully installed…The offering includes the complete package: batteries, inverter, all required technical components, professional installation, permitting, system design and consultation with Vivint Solar. The installation of the entire system, including the solar panels and the battery, typically takes one to two days, once permits are secured…[Tesla] has touted the benefits of selling energy storage batteries with solar panels…” click here for more

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    Monday, May 22, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Solar For Everybody

    Bringing the Benefits of Solar Energy to Low-Income Consumers A Guide for States & Municipalities

    Bentham Paulos, May 2017 (Paulos Analysis)

    Executive Summary

    The declining cost of solar energy is creating opportunities for all Americans to save money on their energy bills. And no one benefits from energy savings more than low income consumers, who pay a much higher portion of their income for energy than middle- and high-income consumers.

    But being poor creates barriers to accessing solar power and its economic benefits. Low income consumers lack sufficient savings that can be used to buy solar systems, and they may have low credit scores or a lack of credit history that may impede their ability to finance a system. They are often renters, or live in multifamily housing, without ownership of their roof.

    Many programs and policies that encourage solar deployment rely on leveraging public dollars with private investment, where a small contribution of public funding can trigger a larger contribution from the market. A 30 percent tax credit on a solar investment, for example, is matched by a 70 percent investment by a homeowner. But low-income consumers are less able or likely to respond to this kind of offer, so some policy incentives fail to reach low-income populations. One alternative is to provide a greater portion of public funding directed toward low-income consumers, but that means limited public budgets don’t yield as much private investment or as many solar projects.

    Policymakers have been trying a range of approaches to bring solar to low-income consumers. This guide surveys the field and recent studies to give a sense of what is being tried, and what could be tried. It examines what has and hasn’t been working, and what factors determine whether a given policy or program might work in a given circumstance.

    There are many existing government programs and policies aimed at reducing poverty, providing housing, and promoting clean energy. These provide a strong starting point for how to bring the benefits of solar power to low-income households. But there are also many new and emerging ideas, including government policies and programs, new business approaches, and philanthropic and volunteer initiatives.

    Summary of solutions, by category

    Much of the activity around low-income solar access has been aimed at financing to solve the first-cost barrier that low-income households face. Financing ideas either adapt existing techniques or develop new approaches. Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), Pay As You Save (PAYS), and third-party ownership arrangements are just a few of the many financing ideas discussed in this paper.

    There are also many government policies and programs that are being adapted or created for low-income solar to make it more affordable. Some of these are compensation mechanisms, which allow customers to capture the full value of their solar investment. The most common examples are net metering for solar generators located on the customer’s side of the meter, and virtual net metering, which enables community solar by tracking output from off-site generation. Compensation mechanisms are distinct from direct incentives, whereby government policies provide explicit financial or other inducements.

    Energy assistance programs are also starting to see the value of low-cost solar as a way to reduce energy burdens, often in combination with energy efficiency measures. The LowIncome Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) are starting to include solar as cost-saving measures. Many states have existing utility rate discount or bill payment programs that could harness solar to generate savings for consumers

    While much attention focuses on solar’s direct benefits to low-income customers by reducing energy bills, solar can also provide indirect help by cutting costs for low-income support services. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), especially, is starting to use solar to improve energy security for the millions of low-income Americans it serves, while saving taxpayers some of the $5 billion HUD spends annually on utility bills. By installing solar technologies, shelters, food kitchens, churches, and service organizations of all kinds could redirect energy savings toward their primary mission.

    Summary of recommendations

    This guide is primarily for policymakers interested in bringing the benefits of solar to low-income consumers and communities. While this guide makes some policy and program recommendations, it recognizes that not all policymakers face the same constraints, policy environments, stakeholders, economics, and opportunities.

    To be helpful to all readers, regardless of their specific situation, the guide suggests some design principles for developing a successful low-income solar program. It highlights some options that seem especially relevant, universal, or promising; and it describes a simple segmentation of audiences—homeowner, tenant, and support service—and the implications of reaching each of them. Finally, the guide presents several scenarios that may apply to states in certain situations.

    Of course, the recommendations presented in this guide may not be best in any given circumstance. The lengthy discussion of other solutions is intended to help guide possible alternative actions.

    In short, successful low-income policies and programs share some design principles: they are tailored to low-income consumers; they are cost-effective and financially sustainable; they have measurable results; and they are flexible enough to adapt to changing conditions and new learning.

    The guide offers several suggestions for policies and programs that seek to expand solar to low-income consumers:

    • Leverage existing state energy policy to support low-income solar deployment, such as by adapting net metering, portfolio standards, and financial incentives for renewables.

    • Incorporate solar into low-income energy efficiency programs to reduce implementation costs and provide deeper savings for households with very high energy burdens.

    • Adapt existing housing and anti-poverty programs to include solar, such as LIHEAP and WAP, public housing, and economic development incentives.

    • Set up a financial vehicle that can develop, test, and deploy innovative financial strategies and provide leadership and technical expertise to other agencies.

    • Promote volunteerism to provide low-cost solar to low-income communities, such as new solar homes built by Habitat for Humanity—and reinforce it through supportive incentives and policies.

    • Partner with trusted allies in reaching out to low-income communities to ensure greater buy-in and program enrollment.

    • Ensure any low-income solar policies and programs will actually provide tangible benefits to low-income households and communities.

    In choosing which policy approaches to take, it may first be useful to consider the specific solar consumer you are trying to assist, and the current policy and market environment.

    Not all low-income solar customers are the same. They face different challenges and may need different solutions or different combinations of solutions to overcome them. For example, low-income homeowners can see clear benefits from owning solar systems, but may face first-cost hurdles. Tenants of apartment buildings may not be able to own a rooftop system, but they may be able to benefit from a flexible community solar program. Low income housing landlords may be able to benefit from tax credits, energy savings, and increase in property value from going solar but may be unwilling to share those savings with tenants. Groups that provide support to low-income communities face their own hurdles and opportunities. As nonprofit or governmental agencies, they may enjoy low-cost financing, but may not be able to access tax credits and other incentives.

    The very definition of “low-income” varies widely, from one government agency or jurisdiction or program to another. Some programs, for example, include all households earning less than 60–80 percent of the area median income as low income, while others use income relative to the federal poverty level. Definitions can have a significant impact on program design and implementation. Being consistent with other programs may be important, or it may be helpful to target particular customer segments within the low-income customer class. “Moderate-income” households may best be served by different programs and policies tailored to fit their needs. This guide largely avoids these definitional complications to provide general guidance that can be adapted to specific situations.

    Lastly, to help inform programmatic options, the guide presents a few sample scenarios that state and local agencies may face when thinking about low-income solar program development. These scenarios vary by the state policy environment for renewables, the type of audience to be reached, energy costs, and other low-income energy policies.

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    QUICK NEWS, May 22: The Plan To Beat Climate Change; Ready For The Offshore Wind Boom; Solar Research Faces Trump Cuts

    The Plan To Beat Climate Change A new book ranks the top 100 solutions to climate change. The results are surprising. A chat with Paul Hawken about his ambitious new effort to “map, measure, and model” global warming solutions.

    David Roberts, May 10, 2017 (VOX)

    “…[The looming dangers of climate change are clear but] what about solutions?...[Paul Hawken, whose Natural Capitalism was called by President Clinton one of the five most important books in the world, has laid out] the 100 most substantive solutions to climate change, using only peer-reviewed research…[Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed Reverse Global Warming] is basically a reference book: a list of solutions, ranked by potential carbon impact, each with cost estimates and a short description. A set of scenarios show the cumulative potential…It is fascinating, a powerful reminder of how narrow a set of solutions dominates the public’s attention…” click here for more

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    Ready For The Offshore Wind Boom Massachusetts prepares for wind energy; The state aims to harness the strong, steady winds off its coast.

    Jan Ellen Spiegel, May 22, 2017 (Yale Climate Connections)

    “Off-shore wind energy is common in Europe. It’s never taken off in the U.S…[But Massachusetts] will soon request competitive bids for off-shore wind development – at sites 14 miles or more from Martha’s Vineyard…To encourage development, the state built a marine terminal to receive, construct, and repair wind turbines, which are too big for most ports…To make sure the state also uses the clean wind energy, Massachusetts passed new legislation that requires the purchase of 1,600 megawatts of wind-powered electricity per year within the next decade…Bidding for the first projects will start this year…[The first commercial-scale off-shore wind projects should be up and running] within four or five years.” click here for more

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    Solar Research Faces Trump Cuts Trump’s budget expected to massively slash research on renewable energy — and ‘clean coal’

    Chris Mooney, May 18, 2017 (Washington Post)

    “The Trump administration is expected to propose massive cuts to federal government research on wind and solar energy next week…The department’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), which funds research on advanced vehicles as well as other aspects of clean energy, would face a roughly 70 percent [proposed] cut in 2018, carving about $1.45 billion from its $2.09 billion 2017 budget…The consequences of the proposed cuts could be wide ranging, potentially undermining the office’s SunShot Initiative, which has worked to drive down the costs of large-scale solar energy, which now runs about 7 cents per kilowatt hour. A goal of reaching 3 cents per kilowatt hour for large-scale solar electricity had been set for 2030…The cuts are far from becoming a reality. In recent budget negotiations, Congress funded Energy Department programs roughly on par with 2016 levels, rather than follow a Trump administration proposal to slash them deeply …” click here for more

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    Saturday, May 20, 2017

    Forget The Planet, Save The Pizza

    Everybody has their priorities. From ONgov via YouTube

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    Wind Power Shines Its Light

    Wind was named number two among the top one hundred climate change solutions in Drawdown by renowned environmentalist Paul Hawken.From American Wind Energy Association via YouTube

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    Storing Solar As A Liquid

    These are great ideas that could go a long way toward beating climate change but they have a long way to go.From Seeker via YouTube

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    Friday, May 19, 2017

    The Inner Circle Of Climate Action

    Study: inspiring action on climate change is more complex than you might think; People have to grasp how climate change impacts them, and we need to value environmentally sound behavior

    John Abraham, 19 May 2017 (UK Guardian)

    “…[Humans are causing climate change but they are not acting to stop it. A new paper describes] the hurdles that get in the way of meaningful action…[I]t is not just internal forces (emotions, beliefs, attitudes, etc.) that affect human behavior…[External factors] like social networks, societal roles, cultural worldviews, habits, infrastructure, investments, etc, are often severely underestimated in the extent to which they steer behavior. One fault of prior messaging is an almost exclusive focus…[on internal factors and a near-complete neglect of externals. A bigger hurdle is that] humans are not well equipped to coordinate behavior for common benefit…[because of the social dilemma that it can be] in the collective’s interest to act in one way but individuals may benefit personally if they act in another way… To radically alter the way humans think and live; educate the next generation; and design physical, governmental, and cultural systems, humans must experience and better understand their profound interdependence with the planet…” click here for more

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    Europe Building Wind For A Continent

    North Sea Wind Power Hub: A giant wind farm to power all of north Europe Coming up: 100GW mega wind farms on synthetic islands in the middle of the North Sea.

    William Steel, May 18, 2017 (Ar Technica)

    “The harnessing of energy has never been without projects of monolithic scale. From the Hoover Dam to the Three Gorges Dam…[engineers] have recognised that with size comes advantages…The trend is clear within the wind power industry too, where the tallest wind turbines now tower up to 220m, with rotors spinning through an area greater than that of the London Eye, generating electricity for wind farms that can power whole cities…[An unprecedented plan from electricity grid operators in the Netherlands, Germany, and Denmark aims to rewrite the rulebook on offshore wind development…[They are planning to] build an artificial island in the middle of the North Sea to serve as a cost-saving base of operations for thousands of wind turbines, while at the same time doubling up as a hub that connects the electricity grids of countries bordering the North Sea, including the UK…In time, more islands may be built too; daisy chained via underwater cables to create a super-sized array of wind farms tapping some of best wind resources in the world…” click here for more

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    Global Solar Is A Better And Better Buy

    Solar Is Now the Cheapest Energy There Is in the Sunniest Parts of the World

    Jason Dorrier, May 18, 2017 (Singularity Hub)

    “…The world currently uses about 14 cubic kilometers of oil, or oil equivalent in oil, gas, and coal…[but] the sun bombards our planet with 10,000 times the energy we use from all sources combined…Wind was a footnote in the energy mix 10 years ago…[but grew 10 times and now] makes 6% of all electricity in the US…Solar power has grown by 100 in the last 13 years…[with 35% to 40%] annual growth over the last 20 years…Solar prices are plunging even faster than those who are wildly optimistic [expected]…In the sunniest parts of the world, unsubsidized solar is becoming the cheapest form of energy. In the US, natural gas is the cheapest energy at around five or six cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh)…[but solar deals have recently been signed in California at $0.051/kWh, in Chile at $0.029/kWh, and in Dubai at $0.024/kWh...Storage and batteries are still key…[but over the last 15 years, capacity of lithium-ion batteries tripled, and the energy cost per unit of energy dropped by a factor of 10]…” click here for more

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    Big Wind A Go-Go Near Home of Beatles’ Beat

    Mersey feat: world's biggest wind turbines go online near Liverpool; UK cements its position as global leader in wind technology as increasing scale drives down costs

    Adam Vaughan, 17 May 2017 (UK Guardian)

    “The planet’s biggest and most powerful wind turbines have begun generating electricity off the Liverpool coast, cementing Britain’s reputation as a world leader in the technology...[Dong Energy’s 32 turbines in Liverpool Bay] are taller than the Gherkin skyscraper, with blades longer than nine London buses…Each of the 195m-tall turbines in the Burbo Bank extension has more than twice the power capacity of those in the neighbouring Burbo Bank windfarm completed a decade ago…The project is the first time the 8MW turbines have been commercially used anywhere in the world…

    Collectively [the UK now has an offshore wind capacity] of 5.3GW, generating enough electricity to power 4.3m homes. Eight further projects already under construction will add more than half that capacity again…[T]he cost of offshore wind has fallen a third since 2012…[Dong thinks 13MW or 15MW turbines are within reach]…” click here for more

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    Thursday, May 18, 2017

    Methane From Alaskan Tundra Accelerating Climate Changes

    The ‘ancient carbon’ of Alaska’s tundras is being released, starting a vicious warming cycle; “This is ancient carbon, thousands and millions of years old.” It’s being released “much earlier than we thought.”

    Joe Romm, May 16, 2017 (ThinkProgress)

    “The Alaskan tundra is warming so quickly it has become a net emitter of carbon dioxide ahead of schedule…Since CO2 is the primary heat-trapping greenhouse gas — and since the permafrost contains twice as much carbon as the atmosphere does today — this means a vicious cycle has begun that will speed up global warming…[This is the first substantial report that a major portion of the Arctic is a net source of heat-trapping emissions and] warns that our current climate models need to be updated…[For a very long time, the] permafrost, or tundra, has been a very large carbon freezer…But we’ve been leaving the freezer door wide open and are witnessing the permafrost being transformed from a long-term carbon locker to a short-term carbon un-locker…Melting permafrost can release not just CO2, but also methane, a much stronger heat-trapping gas…Russian scientists have recently discovered some 7,000 underground bubbles of permafrost-related methane in Siberia. Since methane traps heat 86 times more effectively than CO2 over a 20-year span, these findings suggest that the effect of the melting permafrost is even greater than first thought…” click here for more

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    U.S. Voters Back Paris Climate Deal 5 to 1

    By 5 to 1, voters say the U.S. should stick with the Paris Agreement

    Ed Maibach, Anthony Leiserowitz, and Jennifer Marlon on May 16, 2017

    “… [The President’s] senior advisers have wrestled over whether to keep the U.S. in the Paris climate agreement, repeatedly postponing their meeting to reach a final decision…[But] a clear majority of Americans say that global warming is happening, human-caused, and a serious threat requiring action. More specifically, there is broad public support for the Paris Agreement — even among Trump voters…In a nationally representative survey conducted last November after the election, we found that seven in 10 registered voters say the U.S. should participate in the Paris climate agreement. Only 13 percent say the U.S. should not…Majorities of Democrats and Independents, as well as half of Republicans, say the U.S. should participate. Only conservative Republicans are split, with marginally more saying the U.S. should participate than saying we should not…

    [A] majority of Americans in all 50 states say that the U.S. should participate in the Paris climate agreement…[Even the lowest levels of popular support are over 50% and] the states that provided President Trump with his electoral win are over 60%]…” click here for more

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    The Tesla Solar Roof Value Calculation

    Tesla Solar Roof versus Solar Panels: A Detailed Price Comparison

    May 17, 2017 (PowerScout)

    “Tesla recently announced that they have started accepting reservations for their eagerly anticipated solar roof…To understand the cost differential between a Tesla Solar Roof and traditional solar panels, we ran the numbers on a typical three-bedroom single family home in California with an estimated 2,000 sq.ft of roof space and an average monthly electric bill of $150…It is not surprising that Tesla has priced their product at a premium compared to other alternatives. It is a similar strategy to how they have priced their cars…

    If the existing roof is relatively new or you don’t need a new roof for many years, it is significantly cheaper (by 68%) to install solar panels on your existing roof than purchasing a Tesla Solar Roof…For homeowners, that have a really old roof with limited lifetime left, a Tesla Solar Roof could be a real option. Getting a traditional roof with solar panels is still cheaper by about35%. With the Tesla Solar Roof offering additional benefits such as better aesthetics, higher strength, longer roof warranties and the added convenience of dealing with only one company for roofing and solar, each homeowner can evaluate if the benefits are worth the additional price…” click here for more

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