FY 2018 EPA Budget in Brief Eliminated Programs total $983 million

Details are found in
[https://www.epa.gov/planandbudget/fy2018].

The Administration is committed to creating a leaner, more accountable, less intrusive, and more effective Government. The FY 2018 budget eliminates programs that are duplicative or those that can be absorbed into other programs or are state and local responsibilities.
Beach / Fish Programs (FY 2016 Enacted: $1.982 M, 3.8 FTE)
This program provides science, guidance, technical assistance and nationwide information to state, Tribal, and federal agencies on the human health risks associated with eating locally caught fish/shellfish or wildlife with excessive levels of contaminants, as well as beach monitoring and notification programs.
The agency will encourage states to continue this work within ongoing core programs.

Categorical Grant: Beaches Protection (FY 2016 Enacted: $9.549 M, 0.0 FTE)
Grants authorized under the Beach Act support continued development and implementation of coastal recreational water monitoring and public notification programs.
After over 17 years of technical guidance and financial support, state and local governments now have the technical expertise and procedures to continue beach monitoring without federal support.

Categorical Grant: Lead (FY 2016 Enacted: $14.049 M, 0.0 FTE)
The program provides support to authorized state and tribal programs that administer training and certification programs for lead paint professionals and contractors. Lead paint certification will continue under the Chemical Risk Review Reduction program.

Categorical Grant: Multipurpose Grants (FY 2016 Enacted: $21.000 M, 0.0 FTE)
This program provides grants to states and tribes to assist with the implementation activities that complement environmental programs. States can continue to fund work through the EPA’s core grant programs and statutes. The agency will work with states to target funds to address their priorities.

Categorical Grant: Nonpoint Source (Sec. 319) (FY 2016 Enacted: $164.915 M, 0.0 FTE)
This program provides grants to assist states and tribes in implementing approved elements of Nonpoint Source Programs including: regulatory and non-regulatory programs, technical assistance, financial assistance, education, training, technology transfers, and demonstration projects. The agency will continue to coordinate with the United States Department of Agriculture on targeting funding where appropriate to address nonpoint sources.

Categorical Grant: Pollution Prevention (FY 2016 Enacted: $4.765 M, 0.0 FTE)
The Pollution Prevention (P2) program is a tool for advancing environmental stewardship by federal, state and Tribal governments, businesses, communities and individuals. In FY 2018 the EPA will focus its resources on core environmental work.

Categorical Grant: Radon (FY 2016 Enacted: $8.051 M, 0.0 FTE)
The program provides funding for the development of state radon programs and disseminates public information and educational materials. The program also provides information on equipment training, data storage and management, and toll-free hotlines. For over 29 years the EPA’s radon program has provided important guidance and significant funding to help states establish their own programs.

Categorical Grant: Underground Storage Tanks (FY 2016 Enacted: $1.498 M, 0.0 FTE)
The program provides funding for petroleum and hazardous substance release prevention and detection activities including: compliance assistance, state program approvals, and technical equipment reviews and approvals. States could elect to maintain core program work with state resources rather than federal.

Endocrine Disruptors (FY 2016 Enacted: $7.553 M, 8.9 FTE) The program develops and validates scientific test methods for the routine, ongoing evaluation of pesticides and other chemicals to determine their potential interference with normal endocrine system function. The ongoing functions of the program can be absorbed into the pesticides program.

Environmental Education (FY 2016 Enacted: $8.702 M, 11.1 FTE)
This program promotes delivery of environmental education through science-based methodologies that promote public engagement. In recognition of the significant guidance and financial support the EE program has provided to non-profit organizations, local education agencies, universities, community colleges, and state and local environmental agencies, funding for some of the environmental stewardship activities could be leveraged at the state or local level.

Environmental Justice (FY 2016 Enacted: $7.282 M, 40.3 FTE)
The program provides support to address environmental and human health concerns in minority, lowincome, Tribal, and other communities. Environmental Justice will continue to be supported in the work done at the EPA, when applicable. EJ work impacting the entire agency will be incorporated into future policy work within the Integrated Environmental Strategy program, which is a part of the EPA’s Office of the Administrator Geographic Program:

Chesapeake Bay (FY 2016 Enacted: $73.000 M, 39.9 FTE)
The program includes the States of Delaware, Maryland, New York, Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, the District of Columbia, the Chesapeake Bay Commission, the EPA, and other federal partners working together to protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay’s ecosystem. The EPA will encourage the six Chesapeake Bay states and Washington D.C. to continue to make progress in restoring the Bay from within core water programs.

Geographic Program: Gulf of Mexico (FY 2016 Enacted: $4.482 M, 14.3 FTE)
The program is a partnership of the five Gulf states, Gulf coastal communities, citizens, nongovernmental organizations, and federal agencies working together to initiate cooperative actions by public and private organizations to achieve specific environmental results. The EPA will encourage the five Gulf of Mexico states to continue to make progress in restoring the Gulf of Mexico from within core water programs.

Geographic Program: Lake Champlain (FY 2016 Enacted: $4.399 M, 0.0 FTE)
The program creates a pollution prevention, control, and restoration plan for protecting the Lake Champlain Basin. The EPA will encourage New York and Vermont to continue to make progress in restoring Lake Champlain from within core water programs.

Geographic Program: Long Island Sound (FY 2016 Enacted: $3.940 M, 0.0 FTE)
The program supports the implementation of the Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the Long Island Sound National Estuary Program. The EPA will encourage Long Island Sound states and local entities to continue to make progress in restoring the Sound from within core water programs.

Geographic Program: Other (FY 2016 Enacted: $7.393 M, 4.9 FTE)
The program provides funding to develop and implement community-based approaches to mitigate diffuse sources of pollution and cumulative risk for geographic areas including: Lake Pontchartrain, Southeastern New England Estuary (SNEE), and the Columbia River Basin. The EPA will encourage states and local entities to continue to make progress in restoring these major aquatic ecosystems from within core water programs.

Geographic Program: Puget Sound (FY 2016 Enacted: $28.000 M,
The program works to protect and restore the Puget Sound, focusing on environmental activities consistent with the State of Washington’s 2020 Puget Sound Action Agenda. The EPA will encourage state, tribal, and local entities to continue to make progress in restoring the Puget Sound from within core water programs.

Geographic Program: San Francisco Bay (FY 2016 Enacted: $4.819 M, 1.9 FTE)
The program is aimed at protecting and restoring water quality and ecological health of the San Francisco Bay estuary through partnerships, interagency coordination, and project grants. The EPA will encourage the state of California and local entities to continue to make progress in restoring the San Francisco Bay from within core water programs.

Geographic Program: South Florida (FY 2016 Enacted: $1.704 M, 1.4 FTE)
The program leads special initiatives and planning activities in the South Florida region, which includes the Everglades and Florida Keys coral reef ecosystem. The EPA will encourage state, tribal, and local entities to continue to make progress in protecting and restoring sensitive aquatic ecosystems in South Florida from within core water programs.

Great Lakes Restoration (FY 2016 Enacted: $300.000 M, 71.7 FTE)
The EPA and 16 federal agencies develop and implement a Great Lake Restoration Initiative to restore and maintain the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. The EPA will encourage the eight Great Lakes states and tribal and local entities to continue to make progress in restoring the Great Lakes from within core water programs.

Homeland Security: Critical Infrastructure Protection (FY 2016 Enacted: $11.489 M, 23.1 FTE)
This program involves the EPA activities that help protect the nation’s public infrastructure from threats and intentional acts. Scientific exposure, hazard and risk data on hazardous chemicals is also provided to local communities to directly support chemical emergency planning, response, and prevention programs. The most critical program work will be performed in the S&T Preparedness, Response, and Recovery program.

Indoor Air: Radon Program (FY 2016 Enacted: $3.082 M, 10.6 FTE)
Within this program, the EPA studies the health effects of radon, assesses exposure levels, sets an action level, provides technical assistance, and advises the public of steps they can take to reduce exposure to radon. For over 29 years the EPA’s radon program has provided important guidance and significant funding to help states establish their own programs.

Infrastructure Assistance: Alaska Native Villages (FY 2016 Enacted: $20.000 M, 0.0 FTE)
The program supports wastewater and drinking water infrastructure projects in Alaska Native and rural villages. The State Revolving Funds are a source of infrastructure funding that can continue to fund water system improvements in Alaska.

Infrastructure Assistance: Mexico Border (FY 2016 Enacted: $10.000 M, 0.0 FTE)
The program provides for the planning, design, and construction of water and wastewater treatment facilities along the U.S. Mexico border. The State Revolving Funds are a source of infrastructure funding that can continue to fund water system improvements in U.S. communities along the border.

LUST Prevention (FY 2016 Enacted: $25.369 M, 0.0 FTE)
The program provides resources to states, tribes, territories, and intertribal consortia for their Underground Storage Tank (UST) programs, with a focus on inspections, enforcement, development of leak prevention regulations, and other program infrastructure. States could elect to maintain core program work with state resources rather than federal.

Marine Pollution (FY 2016 Enacted: $10.161 M, 37.4 FTE)
The program funds the implementation of regulatory and support activities relating to ocean discharges and related marine ecosystem protection activities. The EPA will seek opportunities to continue to meet statutory mandates through the core national water program.

National Estuary Program / Coastal Waterways (FY 2016 Enacted: $26.723 M, 43.6 FTE)
The program works to restore the physical, chemical, and biological integrity of estuaries and coastal watersheds. The EPA will encourage states to continue this work and continue to implement conservation management plans.

Pollution Prevention Program (FY 2016 Enacted: $13.140 M, 58.1 FTE)
The program promotes environmentally sound business practices and the development of safer (green) chemicals, technologies, and processes. Partners can continue the best practices that have been shared through this program and continue efforts aimed at reducing pollution.

Radiation: Protection (FY 2016 Enacted: $12.263 M, 59.1 FTE)
This program includes activities for radiation clean up; federal guidance; risk modeling; radiation air toxics; naturally-occurring radioactive material; radiation waste management; radioactive and mixed waste operations and measurements, and radiation lab-related infrastructure expenses. The EPA will explore alternatives to continue to meet its statutory obligation to implement its regulatory oversight responsibilities for Department of Energy (DOE) activities at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) facility. The EPA also will explore alternatives for its requirement under the Atomic Energy Act to establish health and environmental protection standards for exposures to radiation.

RCRA: Waste Minimization & Recycling (FY 2016 Enacted: $8.849 M, 51.0 FTE)
The program establishes a framework for redirecting materials away from disposal and towards beneficial uses, such as composting food waste, increasing the recycling of electronics, and reducing waste from federal facilities. The EPA will focus its resources on core environmental work.

Reduce Risks from Indoor Air (FY 2016 Enacted: $13.942 M, 40.7 FTE)
This program addresses indoor environmental asthma triggers, such as secondhand smoke, dust mites, mold, cockroaches and other pests, household pets, and combustion byproducts through a variety of outreach, education, training and guidance activities. This is a mature program where states have technical capacity to continue this work.

Regional Science and Technology (FY 2016 Enacted: $1.532 M, 2.0 FTE)
The program supplies laboratory analysis, field monitoring and sampling, and builds Tribal capacity for environmental monitoring and assessment. Central approach will be replaced with ad hoc efforts.

Science Policy and Biotechnology (FY 2016 Enacted: $1.174 M, 5.4 FTE)
The Scientific Advisory Panel (SAP) organizes and conducts reviews (typically six to ten each year) by independent, outside scientific experts of science documents, science policies, and/or science programs that relate to the EPA’s pesticide and toxic program activities. Statutory requirements will be absorbed by the pesticides and toxics programs.

Small Minority Business Assistance (FY 2016 Enacted: $1.670 M, 8.9 FTE)
This program provides technical assistance to small businesses, headquarters, and regional office employees to ensure that small minority businesses, and minority academic institutions receive a fair share of the EPA’s procurement dollars and grants, where applicable. The agency will integrate its resources for Small and Disadvantaged Business activities under the Small Business Ombudsman program.

Stratospheric Ozone: Multilateral Fund (FY 2016 Enacted: $8.928 M, 0.0 FTE)
This program promotes international compliance with the Montreal Protocol by financing the incremental cost of converting existing industries in developing countries to cost-effective ozone friendly technology. The EPA will continue domestic ozone-depleting substances reduction work.

Targeted Airshed Grants (FY 2016 Enacted: $20.000 M, 0.0 FTE)
This program offers competitive grants to reduce air pollution in the top five most polluted nonattainment areas relative to annual ozone or PM2.5. This program is regional in nature, and affected states can continue to fund work through the EPA’s core air grant programs and statutes.
64.

Toxic Substances: Lead Risk Reduction Program (FY 2016 Enacted: $13.275 M, 72.8 FTE)
The program addresses exposure to lead from lead-based paint through regulations, certification, and training programs and public outreach efforts. Lead paint certifications will continue under Chemical Risk Review Reduction program. Other forms of lead exposure are addressed through other targeted programs such as SRF’s to replace lead pipes.

Trade and Governance (FY 2016 Enacted: $5.907 M, 18.0 FTE)
This program promotes trade related activities focused on sustaining environmental protection while growing the economy. In FY 2018 the EPA will focus its resources on core statutory work. U.S. Mexico Border

(FY 2016 Enacted: $3.063 M, 14.7 FTE)
The program addresses environmental protection of the U.S Mexico border in partnership with the ten (10) Border States, U.S. Tribal government, and the Government of Mexico. This program is eliminated as part of the effort to limit federal investment in lower priority activities and to focus resources on core environmental work under core statutes.

Water Quality Research and Support Grants (FY 2016 Enacted: $26.800 M, 4.0 FTE)
The program focuses on the development and application of water quality criteria, the implementation of watershed management approaches, and the application of technological options to restore and protect water bodies. States have the ability to develop technical assistance plans for their water systems using Public Water System Supervision funds and set-asides from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).
Eliminated Sub-Program Projects Greenhouse Gas Reporting (FY 2016 Enacted: Estimated $66.000 M)

liminated 15 voluntary partnership programs as part of the Administration’s commitment to return EPA to its core work. Certification programs like Energy Star have been and continue to be successfully administered by non-governmental entities like industry associated and consumer groups. The eliminated sub-programs are as follows: AgSTAR, Center for Corporate Climate Leadership, Coalbed Methane Outreach Program (CMOP), Combined Heat & Power Partnership (CHPP), ENERGY STAR, Global Methane Initiative, GreenChill Partnership, Green Power Partnership (GPP), Landfill Methane Outreach Program (LMOP), Natural Gas STAR, Responsible Appliance Disposal Program (RAD), SF6 Reduction Partnership for Electric Power Systems (EPS), SmartWay, State and Local Climate Energy Program, and Voluntary Aluminum Industrial Partnership(VAIP).

Global Change Research (Research: AE) (FY 2016 Enacted: $19.405 M, 47.3 FTE)
The program develops scientific information that supports policy makers, stakeholders, and society at large as they respond to climate change. This elimination prioritizes activities that support decision-making related to core environmental statutory requirements.

Office of Public Engagement (Executive Management) (FY 2016 Enacted: $1.795 M, 12.0 FTE)
The Office of Public Engagement leads and coordinates EPA programs to promote environmental literacy. STAR Research Grants (Research: AE, CSS, SSWR, SHC) (FY 2016 Enacted: $39.058 M, 0.0 FTE) The Science to Achieve Results, or STAR, funds research grants and graduate fellowships in environmental science and engineering disciplines through a competitive solicitation process and independent peer review. EPA will prioritize activities that support decision-making related to core environmental statutory requirements, as opposed to extramural activities. Note that this total includes $3.533 million of Global Change Research funding.

Water Sense (Surface Water Protection) (FY 2016 Enacted: $3.075 M, 8.0 FTE) WaterSense is a voluntary partnership program to label water-efficient products as a resource for helping to reduce water use.

MHA Nation shares energy message with Trump administration

AMY DALRYMPLE Bismarck Tribune Jul 26, 2017

MANDAREE — North Dakota’s Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation has the ear of the Trump administration, with a second federal official visiting Fort Berthold on Wednesday and pledging to support tribal energy development.

William Bradford, director of the Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy, told attendees of the MHA Energy Symposium that tribes, not the federal government, should oversee energy development on their lands.

“Who better knows how to manage the waters and air and land within your reservation than you yourself? Is there anyone? I don’t think so,” Bradford said during the event in Mandaree, a tribal community located in the heart of the Bakken.

Visits this week from Bradford and Gavin Clarkson from the Department of Interior come on the heels of an energy roundtable meeting with President Trump attended by MHA leaders.

Tribal Chairman Mark Fox, who had sat across from Trump during the discussion in Washington, said tribal leaders emphasized the best way to encourage more energy development in Indian Country is to defer more regulation to the tribes.

In addition, Fox said the tribes need to be the primary beneficiaries of the energy resources. He said Trump’s reaction was favorable.

“We believe, as a nation, that the door is open as it was under Obama and now it is under Trump to try to do development the right way,” Fox said.

Former U.S. Rep. Earl Pomeroy, who attended the conference to talk on federal tax reform, applauded the federal officials for their comments on tribal sovereignty, regulation challenges and dual taxation inequities.

“I think they got the message,” Pomeroy said.

Fox and other MHA leaders reiterated during the two-day symposium that the tribe should receive a greater share of tax revenue for oil production on the reservation, which is currently split with the state.

“This is our land; those are our resources. The only entity that should be taxing off of economic development and energy development off of trust lands are Indian tribes,” Fox said.

In an interview, Fox said the Tribal Business Council continues to consider options to get more revenue to offset impacts of oil development, including the possibility of leaving a tax sharing agreement with the state.

The issue is going to be a priority for an upcoming August meeting with the MHA Tribal Business Council and Gov. Doug Burgum, Fox said.

North Dakota Petroleum Council President Ron Ness said the state can and should do more to offset energy impacts on Fort Berthold. Ness encouraged tribal leaders to continue working with the governor to find a solution.

“Don’t punish the operators by pushing dual taxation on them,” Ness said.

Fox said his vision is that oil development at Fort Berthold will ultimately raise the standard of living for all 15,627 tribal members and the generations that follow.

“We don’t want to wake up one day and say all that oil and gas and we’re in a worse situation today than we were before the first barrel came out,” Fox said. “That’s a tragedy that we’re trying to avoid.”

Solar Industry Expected to Add Over 200,000 New Jobs by 2020

Legislation extending the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) was signed into law on December 18th, 2015. The bill extends the 30% Solar Investment Tax Credits for both residential and commercial projects through the end of 2019, and then drops the credit to 26% in 2020, and 22% in 2021 before dropping permanently to 10% for commercial projects and 0% for residential projects. In addition, the bill included language allowing owners who commence construction on their projects before the end of 2021 to claim the larger credit once their project is placed in service, as long as that project is placed in service before the end of 2023.
The extension of the Solar ITC will lead to sustained growth in the U.S. solar industry. By 2020, the industry will deploy more than 20 gigawatts (GW) of solar electric capacity annually and employ more than 420,000 workers. The additional solar generation will more than offset carbon emissions from the lift of the oil export ban on an annual basis by 2019.

Deployment
The ITC extension will lead to more than 72 GW of solar photovoltaic (PV) installations from 2016 through 2020, with installations expected to grow in 2021. The 72 GW over 5 years represents an increase of over 25 GW (or 54%) over baseline expectations without the extension.
Thanks to the extension, by 2020, the U.S. will have installed approximately 98 GW of PV and 2 GW of concentrating solar power (CSP) to total 100 GW of solar electric capacity. This is enough capacity to power more than 20 million U.S. homes.
By 2020, the U.S. will be installing 20 GW of solar capacity annually. To put this in perspective, at the end 2014, 20 GW was the total amount of solar America had installed in its history.
By 2020, solar will provide more than 3.5% of all U.S. electricity, up from just 0.1% in 2010, an increase of well over 3000% in just a decade.
Employment
The ITC extension will trigger the addition of 220,000 solar jobs over the next 5 years.
Total solar industry employment in 2020 is expected to be 420,000 – more than double the number of solar workers today (2015).
The 420,000 jobs in 2020 represent 180,000 more thans than would be expected without an ITC extension.
The forecast of 420,000 jobs in 2020 is closing in on the projected size of the entire U.S. electric utility industry (505,000 jobs in 2024), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Investment
The ITC extension will spur an estimated $132 billion in additional investment in the U.S. economy between 2016 and 2020, toughly $40 billion more than would have been invested without the ITC extension.
By 2020, the U.S. solar industry is estimated to be adding more than $30 billion annually into the U.S. economy.
Emissions
Assuming the lift of the oil export ban increases global CO2 emissions by 10 million metric tons (MMT) annually (source: Council on Foreign Relations), the ITC extension is estimated to fully offset those additional emissions on an annual basis by 2019.
By 2021, U.S. solar generation will offset more than 100 MMT of CO2 annually, with roughly 25 MMT, or 25%, due to the ITC extension.
In 2021, the 100 MMT of CO2 offset from U.S. solar matches the emissions of 27 typical coal power plants or 20 million passenger vehicles. (Source: EPA’s Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies Calculator)
Note: SEIA’s analysis is based on deployment data from GTM Research

ECJ Live! Talk Show Trailer at National Convention, Baltimore youtu.be July 25th at 4:30pm the ECJ Program is hosting a LIVE Talk Show at National Convention! Come to the Center Stage or tune in to our Environmental and Climate …

Published on Jul 21, 2017
July 25th at 4:30pm the ECJ Program is hosting a LIVE Talk Show at National Convention! Come to the Center Stage or tune in to our Environmental and Climate Justice Program’s Ustream channel to learn more about environmental justice and racial justice:
http://www.ustream.tv/channel/vbAsy2Rkxaf

COMMENTS

Appellate Court Made Wrong Call in Exelon-Pepco Takeover Case

July 20, 2017

Statement: Of David J. Arkush,
Managing Director of Public Citizen’s Climate Program
Counsel for DC SUN and Public Citizen

Note: Today the Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia rejected challenges to Exelon’s takeover of Pepco by DC Solar United Neighborhoods (DC SUN), Public Citizen, D.C.’s Office of People’s Counsel and the District of Columbia government.

The Public Service Commission twice rejected Exelon’s attempt to take over Pepco because the deal was bad for the District. Less than a month after the second rejection, the commission shocked the parties and the public by granting the takeover via a 2–1 vote over the opposition of virtually everyone except Exelon and Pepco. That reversal was the result of a rushed and unfair process that shut out the public and consumer advocates at the most critical points in the case. And despite producing more than 300 pages of opinions on the deal, the commission has never explained exactly why it thinks Exelon’s takeover of Pepco is good for the District.

In fact, it’s a bad deal. Pepco made that clear right after the commission decided the case, when it requested a massive rate increase that would wipe out the purported ratepayer benefits that it touted when seeking approval and even impose additional charges.

We are disappointed that the court upheld the decision and are considering our next steps.

Read the decision.

President Trump’s budget proposal would eliminate federal energy efficiency programs like ENERGY STAR – which saved U.S. consumers $34 billion off their utility bills in 2015 alone

Dear Ronald,

If you’ve shopped for a computer, washing machine, or refrigerator, you’ve seen a little blue label on products that have been certified by ENERGY STAR. The voluntary program – established under President George H. Bush – reviews the energy efficiency of a variety of consumer goods, and labels the best performers ENERGY STAR certified.

President Trump’s budget proposal would eliminate federal energy efficiency programs like ENERGY STAR – which saved U.S. consumers $34 billion off their utility bills in 2015 alone!

We need your help telling Congress that programs like ENERGY STAR benefit all Americans. Email your legislators now.

About 18,000 companies and other organizations are ENERGY STAR partners, voluntarily putting the label on their products that meet efficiency guidelines. That helps consumers identify products that use less energy and cost them less to run. There is also ENERGY STAR for congregations that helps houses of worship become more energy efficient.

Since ENERGY STAR’s founding in 1992, the program has been highly successful. In addition to saving consumers billions off their utility bills in 2015, ENERGY STAR has kept 2.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gases from entering the atmosphere.

But the Trump Administration has decided to cut one of the most successful and noncontroversial energy-related programs ever. It’s up to Congress to determine funding levels for energy efficiency programs – email your legislators now and tell them you oppose eliminating ENERGY STAR and the cuts to other energy and climate programs.

We must bring pressure to bear on Congress to restore critical climate and energy funding in the budget. This funding is absolutely essential to building the clean energy economy and fighting global warming.

The Trump Administration’s proposed budget makes no sense – it takes the moral low ground by eliminating programs that help poor and vulnerable communities and help us be better stewards of energy. Please speak out to save ENERGY STAR today.

Sincerely,

Interfaith Power & Light

ENERGY STAR® is a joint program of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Department of Energy (DOE). Its goal is to help consumers, businesses, and industry save money and protect the environment through the adoption of energy efficient products and practices. The ENERGY STAR label identifies top performing, cost-effective products, homes, and buildings.
Since inception, ENERGY STAR has shown impressive results: in 2010 Americans saved enough energy to avoid greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those from 33 million cars, while saving nearly $18 billion on utility bills.
A Memorandum of Understanding between EPA and DOE on improving the energy efficiency of products and buildings establishes working arrangements to enhance and expand the various aspects of ENERGY STAR. EPA and DOE are coordinating efforts to expand and enhance the ENERGY STAR products program, the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, and the National Building Rating Program, also known as the Commercial Building Energy Asset Score program.
• The ENERGY STAR products program sets specifications, testing procedures, and verification testing requirements for various consumer appliances, electronics, and commercial equipment.
• The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program combines DOE’s research into residential energy use with ENERGY STAR’s outreach capabilities to promote energy-efficient home retrofits.
• The Commercial Building Energy Asset Score program is developing a commercial building energy asset rating program to allow building owners, managers, and operators to more accurately assess building energy performance.
ENERGY STAR Most Efficient Program
The ENERGY STAR Most Efficient program was launched in May of 2011 by DOE and EPA to identify and advance highly efficient products in the marketplace. Its goal is to increase market awareness and promote innovation in these products. This program identifies the most efficient products among those that qualify for ENERGY STAR for certain product categories on an annual basis. Additional information about the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient Program can be found on the EPA website.
Additional Information
For more information on the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, contact David Lee atDavid.Lee@ee.doe.gov.
For more information on the Commercial Building Energy Asset Score, contact Arah Schuur atArah.Schuur@ee.doe.gov.
For more information on how DOE test procedure development, testing, and verification of ENERGY STAR products, contact ESTAR_verification_and_testing@ee.doe.gov.

Solar power is already saving lives in the US. Here’s how.

Updated by David Roberts@drvoxdavid@vox.com Jul 2, 2017, 9:22am EDT

Solar power is still a fairly tiny portion of US electricity, but it is growing incredibly fast. This is exciting to people for all sorts of reasons — economic development, jobs, local/democratic/decentralized power, and just general tech-of-the-future gee-whizzery.

But it’s worth stepping back occasionally and reminding ourselves of the original and still greatest benefit of solar: namely, that it displaces fossil fuel electricity. And burning fossil fuels to create electricity kills people, so displacing fossil fuel power directly saves lives.

A study published in 2016 took a crack at quantifying the doesn’t-kill-people benefits of US solar.

Let’s back up a second.

In 2010, the Obama administration started talking about ways to make solar power competitive with traditional electricity generation. Out of those talks came the Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative, an ambitious plan to accelerate solar development and deployment. The program’s goals: to drive the cost of solar power down to 6 cents a kilowatt-hour by 2020, which would help expand solar to 14 percent of US electricity by 2030 and 27 percent by 2050.

To assess the program’s progress at its halfway point, and lay out a road map to 2020, the DOE commissioned a series of studies, gathered under the banner “On the Path to Sunshot.” There are eight of them, on all sorts of fascinating topics.

Of particular interest is the report that does something Sunshot never tried to do in its initial vision study: quantify the environmental and public health benefits of hitting those targets.

An assessment of the environmental and public health benefits of solar
The report is titled, appropriately enough, “The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Achieving High Penetrations of Solar Energy in the United States.” It’s by a team drawn from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL).

The researchers asked three simple questions. First, what are the cumulative environmental and public health benefits of the solar power that has been installed so far in the US, as of 2014? Second, what benefits would be secured if Sunshot’s targets for solar were hit? And third, where would those benefits be concentrated?

Now, some caveats. This modeling involved comparing solar to baseline scenarios in which no solar was built, in the first case, and in which no more solar is built after today, in the second. Neither of those is meant to be a realistic scenario.

And these modeling exercises are not meant to grant the administration, or the Sunshot Initiative, credit for all the solar that’s been built or credit for all the benefits. Obviously some solar would have been built, and will be built in the future, regardless of Obama’s policies. (And of course other low-carbon energies could achieve similar benefits.)

And finally, these are just benefits — no account of the costs of a large-scale shift to solar, which are real.

Okay, with all that said, on to the results!

1) Benefits of existing solar
Here are the annual benefits of the solar installed in the US to date:

benefits of solar
(DOE)
If you can’t see the chart, that’s:

Annual reduction of 17 million metric tons of CO2, which is, based on the central estimate of the social cost of carbon, “equivalent to an annual global benefit of $700 million.”
Annual reductions of “10,000, 10,300, and 1,200 metric tons of SO2, NOx, and PM2.5, respectively … which provide annual domestic air quality benefits of $890 million.”
Annual water “withdrawal and consumption savings of 294 billion gallons (0.8% of power sector total) and 7.6 billion gallons (0.5% or power sector total), respectively, with much of those savings located in drought-impacted California.”
It’s worth keeping in mind that the somewhat clinical phrase “domestic air quality benefits” is another way of describing fewer kids having asthma attacks, fewer adults missing workdays, and fewer people dying of respiratory and circulatory ailments.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that none of these social benefits are priced into the cost of solar; it is not compensated for its “positive externalities.” If it were, it would knock almost 5 cents a kilowatt-hour off the price, which would mean the Sunshot cost target was already achieved.

2) Benefits of solar at Sunshot target levels
Here are the benefits of hitting the Sunshot solar penetration targets (again, as compared with a scenario in which no new solar is built):

benefits of sunshot solar
(DOE)
For the chart-averse, that’s:

A cumulative savings of 10 percent of power sector emissions from 2015 to 2050, which represents a $259 billion global climate benefit.
Reductions in emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) sufficient to secure a cumulative $167 billion worth of avoided health and environmental damages.
Reduction of power sector water withdrawals by 46 trillion gallons (4 percent of total sector withdrawals) and water consumption by 5 trillion gallons (9 percent of total sector consumption). Importantly, water savings are concentrated in arid states.
The climate and pollution benefits together amount to $400 billion between 2015 and 2050, measured in present-value terms and using central estimates.

3) Where the benefits are concentrated
Finally, it’s interesting to note that the local benefits of solar vary significantly based on what kind of power it displaces. In places where it pushes aside coal (as opposed to natural gas or even wind), benefits are highest.

I already mentioned that the water-saving benefits of solar are overwhelmingly concentrated in arid California. Here’s where the local air quality benefits are concentrated:

solar air quality benefits
(DOE)
On the left are the monetized air quality benefits. On the right are the equivalent changes in solar prices if the benefits were included in costs. Looks like the heavily populated Northeastern corridor could use more solar!

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Clean Energy Is Trouncing Oil, Gas and Coal in Trump Era

By Joe Ryan , Chris Martin , and Brian Eckhouse July 18, 2017, 3:00 AM PDT From Bloomberg

President Donald Trump took office vowing to revive the coal industry’s fortunes. So far, the smart money has been on clean energy.

An index of 40 publicly-traded solar companies, wind-turbine component makers and others that benefit from reduced fossil fuel consumption is up 20 percent this year. That’s more than double the S&P 500’s 9.8 percent gain. And better than the 8.3 percent rise by an index of leading coal companies.

The eco-friendly stock rally — which comes as oil and natural gas-focused shares have dipped — stems from a constellation of factors, including a Nevada law to boost rooftop solar, China’s mass-transit policy and optimism that Elon Musk’s Tesla Inc. might deliver its Model 3 sedan on time. In short, Trump’s pro-fossil fuel agenda hasn’t damaged investor support for clean energy.

“Nothing dreadful has happened, and these companies continue to execute,” said Jenny Chase, Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s lead solar analyst.

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As clean-energy stocks climb, investors have pumped more money into wind and solar. U.S. investments totaled $14.7 billion during April, May and June, up 51 percent from the previous quarter to mark the highest level since 2015, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. European investments rose 10 percent, to $8.8 billion.

“We are seeing catalysts for these markets driven by the fact that people increasingly realize clean energy is more profitable than conventional energy,” said David Richardson, an executive director at Impax Asset Management, which focuses on sustainability and has about $8.7 billion under management, up 32 percent this year.

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Solar stocks are performing especially well under Trump. Sunrun Inc., the largest independent U.S. rooftop panel installer, is up 32 percent, closing Monday at $7.01. That rally has been fueled in part by a Nevada law passed in June to make solar more affordable for the state’s homeowners. Nevada gets more sunshine than almost anywhere in the nation, but it’s been a dead-zone for solar since regulators slashed rooftop panel subsidies in 2015. The new legislation largely restored those credits.

Solar manufacturers are rallying, too. First Solar Inc., the largest American panel maker, has gained 33 percent, to $42.72. Average panel prices, which plunged 35 percent last year, have begun to stabilize, falling just 8 percent since December, to 33 cents per watt. The market shift stems from solar developers aggressively stocking up on panels, fearing that a pending federal trade case could lead to tariffs on imported equipment.

“It created some tailwind for the manufacturers,” said Sophie Karp, an analyst at Guggenheim Securities.

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Some of the biggest clean-energy gainers include fuel cell manufacturers, which use liquid hydrogen to generate electricity through a chemical process that emits only water. While hydrogen-powered engines have been slow to catch on in cars — largely because of a lack of fueling stations — China has been pushing to use the technology in buses.

As Beijing has beefed up investments this year, fuel cell maker Hydrogenics Corp. has nearly doubled, to $8.70. Ballard Power Systems Inc. is up 73 percent, to $2.86.

Electric car maker Tesla is up 50 percent this year as the company has begun limited production of its Model 3 sedan, its cheapest vehicle yet. Musk says he expects production to reach 20,000 cars a month by December.

In the end, some of the clean-energy gains may be fleeting. The trade case that’s driving up solar panel prices may ultimately lead to tariffs that analysts warn could slow overall demand. Fuel cell companies have a long history of ephemeral rallies. And Tesla’s stock has been slipping since its June 23 peak after a troubling quarterly sales report and ongoing concern about its ability to mass produce. It closed down 2.5 percent Monday, at $319.57.

Before it’s here, it’s on the Bloomberg Terminal. LEARN MORE

Message from the Assistant Secretary

Today, the United States is faced with a national imperative to address the enormous
challenge presented by climate change and to seize upon the multi-trillion dollar economic
opportunity that a transition to a global clean energy economy will provide.
In his historic 2013 speech at Georgetown University releasing his Climate Action Plan,
the President laid out this national imperative in clear terms: “A low-carbon, clean energy
economy can be an engine of growth for decades to come. And I want America to build that
engine. I want America to build that future—right here in the United States of America.
That’s our task.”
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is at the forefront of achieving this task. The first strategic objective of the
2014–2018 DOE Strategic Plan is to “advance the goals and objectives in the President’s Climate Action Plan by
supporting prudent development, deployment, and efficient use of all of the above energy resources that also create new
jobs and industries.” The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) leads DOE’s efforts to help build a
strong clean energy economy as the engine of growth described by President Obama, while also reducing our oil use,
saving families and businesses money, and reducing pollution. We support many of America’s best innovators and
businesses to research, develop, and demonstrate cutting-edge technologies and work to break down market barriers in
sustainable transportation, renewable power, and energy efficiency.
Today, a number of technological advancements that EERE has supported through investments in American innovation
over the last four decades are, for the first time in our nation’s energy history, showing a clear path to direct cost
competitiveness with conventional forms of energy. Wind, solar photovoltaics (PV), light emitting diodes (LEDs),
and electric vehicles are just four EERE technologies that have experienced spectacular cost reduction and deployment
growth in recent years.1
But even with these successes, EERE’s targeted investments in clean energy are needed more now
than perhaps ever before.
While the United States has world-class innovation capacity and a unique culture of entrepreneurship, there has
historically been significant under-investment in many of clean energy’s most promising and important technologies.
As these technologies have advanced, market barriers have become a more significant and visible limitation to the speed
of deployment. Our sense of urgency is further increased as we see the rest of the world investing billions of dollars in
clean tech R&D and deployment while the impacts of climate change are becoming more apparent in our daily lives.
Our national imperative is clear: win the clean energy race. This would ensure that the United States captures a
significant and growing share of the multi-trillion dollar global clean energy market and the jobs, energy security and
other opportunities that will be created along the way. This Strategic Plan is EERE’s blueprint for how we will tackle the
challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the country and the world in clean energy and how we will evaluate our
success. EERE’s talented team will lead the execution of this plan, working with internal and external partners including
other DOE offices, industry, universities, state and local governments, stakeholder groups, and international partners.
EERE’s strategic relationship with NREL and the other national laboratories—with their world-class R&D capabilities and
facilities—will be particularly important to the accomplishment of our mission.
I hope you find this document and its contents informative and useful. At EERE, we are engaged in an undertaking that will
not only transform our energy and economic systems, but that also has the potential to leave our nation and our world
safer, stronger, and more prosperous for future generations. I know that working together, we can and will be successful.
Sincerely,
Dr. David T. Danielson
Assistant Secretary
1 Revolution Now: The Future Arrives for Four Clean Energy

About the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Learn about the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) mission, vision, accomplishments, and strategic goals as defined in the 2016–2020 Strategic Plan.

The mission of EERE is to create and sustain American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy. Its vision is a strong and prosperous America powered by clean, affordable, and secure energy.

Photo of a web infographic.
To date, third-party evaluations have assessed one-third of EERE’s research and development portfolio and found that an EERE taxpayer investment of $12 billion has already yielded an estimated net economic benefit to the United States of more than $230 billion, with an overall annual return on investment of more than 20%.

Strategic Goals

EERE aims to achieve the following strategic goals:

Accelerate the development and adoption of sustainable transportation technologies.
Through improvements in engine efficiency, vehicle weight reduction, battery performance, drop-in biofuels, fuel cell performance, and reduced biofuel and hydrogen production costs, EERE can meet this goal. This includes supporting advanced vehicles and alternative fuels.
Increase the generation of electric power from renewable sources.
Through reducing the cost of hydropower and solar, wind, wave and tidal, and geothermal power, EERE can increase renewable generation.

Improve the energy efficiency of our homes, buildings, and industries.
EERE has set milestones for providing energy savings of 25%–50% by 2020–2030. By developing new materials, technologies and processes for American homes, buildings, and industry, EERE will implement minimum energy performance standards, improve building energy codes, and support home weatherization.

Stimulate the growth of a thriving domestic clean energy manufacturing industry.
Through reducing the life-cycle energy consumption of EERE-targeted manufactured goods by 50% by 2025, EERE will encourage the manufacture of clean energy technologies in the United States.

Enable the integration of clean energy into a reliable, resilient, and efficient electricity grid.
Through new grid-support technologies, as well as standards, test procedures, sensors, communication protocols, cyber security, and resilience these technologies need, EERE can meet clean energy goals.

Lead efforts to improve federal sustainability and implementation of clean energy solutions.
Through EERE technical support to all federal agencies and federal agency access to third-party financing, EERE can help federal agencies to be early leaders in deploying clean energy.

Enable a high-performing, results-driven culture through effective management approaches and processes.
Through enhancing and maintaining EERE’s workforce and establishing clear plans to deliver on EERE’s mission, the organization will see a high-performing culture.

Energy Department Announces $46.2 Million for 48 Projects to Advance Solar Power Technologies

ENERGY.GOV – Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy
SunShot Initiative

Today, the Department of Energy announced $46.2 million for 48 projects as part of its SunShot Initiative. These projects are intended to develop innovative, early-stage solar power technologies, which are aimed at lowering costs and improving reliability and efficiency.

“The SunShot Initiative is a proven driver of solar energy innovation,” SunShot Initiative Director Charlie Gay said. “These projects ensure there’s a pipeline of knowledge, human resources, transformative technology solutions, and research to support the industry.”

The projects span two SunShot programs: Photovoltaics Research and Development 2: Modules and Systems (PVRD2), which will advance research in solar photovoltaic technology; and Technology to Market 3 (T2M3), which supports early-stage solar technology research.

In addition, cost share requirements will leverage additional private sector funding, yielding a total public and private investment of nearly $65 million. The funds provided are cooperative agreements that involve substantial federal oversight and consist of go/no go technical benchmarks, which reinforce attentive project stewardship.

Photovoltaics Research and Development 2: Modules and Systems
Developing the next generation of photovoltaic technologies – 28 projects, $20.5 million

PVRD2 supports a wide variety of photovoltaics research pathways, including module design, high-risk emerging research, and technology facilitating rapid installation. Nearly 80 percent of these projects are led by academic institutions, ensuring that the next generation of energy researchers pursue cutting-edge solar technologies. These projects will investigate new solar concepts that have the potential to be broadly applied across the industry. The program is the latest of SunShot’s efforts to fund early-stage research and development designed to make solar one of the most cost-efficient energy sources in the nation. View the full list of awardees HERE.

SunShot Technology to Market 3: Incubator 12, SolarMat 5
Supporting entrepreneurs and small businesses in early-stage research to accelerate new technologies – 20 projects, $25.7 million

T2M3 selects solar energy technologies and focuses on research to address early-stage, pre-commercial risk reduction. To maintain solar energy’s current growth trajectory, the industry needs a wide variety of products and services that can increase system values while reducing costs, increase consumer access to solar, and facilitate solar grid integration. Despite solar’s rapid growth, the challenge remains for small businesses to find funding for early-stage, transformative technology research and development. Businesses that receive funding under this program will perform the early-stage research to bring their technologies to a proof point where they are ready for private sector follow-on support. View the full list of awardees HERE.

Learn more about the Department’s SunShot Initiative and its programs.

A Joke That Is Not Funny EPA Director Scott Pruitt Suggests Climate Science Debate On TV

Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt wants scientists to debate the science of climate change, possibly on television.

Pruitt’s idea, outlined to Reuters, is part of a program he’s organizing to challenge the overwhelming scientific consensus on climate change, including that human activity via greenhouse gases is far and away the primary cause of global warming.

“There are lots of questions that have not been asked and answered,” Pruitt said regarding climate science.

“Who better to do that than a group of scientists … getting together and having a robust discussion for all the world to see,” he said, according to Reuters.
Asked if the debate should happen on television, Pruitt continued, “I think so. I think so. I mean, I don’t know yet, but you want this to be open to the world. You want this to be on full display. I think the American people would be very interested in consuming that. I think they deserve it.”

Pruitt’s boss, President Trump, was a well-known reality television star before running for president, having hosted “The Apprentice” for more than a decade.

As outlined late last month, Pruitt wants the climate critique program to take the form of a “red team/blue team” exercise common in military and intelligence circles.

In those exercises, a team is tasked specifically with opposing the dominant viewpoint to fight flaws.

Pruitt has been an outspoken skeptic of climate science. But he has stated that he believes the climate is changing and humans contribute to some extent.

Nonetheless, he has acted to roll back nearly all of former President Barack Obama’s climate change rules, including limits on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and rules to restrict methane pollution. And as Oklahoma’s attorney general, Pruitt led multiple lawsuits against the Obama administration’s environmental regulations.

Scientists and environmentalists were largely dismissive of Pruitt’s “red team/blue team” idea, saying that years of peer review and other organized efforts to study the climate have thoroughly examined the science and potential flaws.

Congress Unnerved by Energy Grid Hack

By Jeremy Dillon Jul 10, 2017 11:25 AM

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., has been concerned about the energy grid’s vulnerabilities for some time, and has been warning the administration against budget cuts to cybersecurity agencies. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

For months, Sen. Maria Cantwell has been warning in letters to the Trump administration and colleagues that Congress needs to do more to keep the nation’s energy supply safe from cyberattacks. Now it appears she has a widespread attack to bolster her admonitions.

Reports from Bloomberg and The New York Times last week indicated that Russian-backed hacking groups may be responsible for recent targeted cyberattacks to nuclear power plants and grid operation system manufacturers, threatening the electric grid and the economy it supports.

While the FBI and Department of Homeland Security say they are aware of the “potential cyber intrusion affecting entities in the energy sector,” the agencies said “there is no indication of a threat to public safety, as any potential impact appears to be limited to administrative and business networks.”

But for Cantwell, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, the hacks are just the latest signs of how vulnerable the electric grid is to foreign threats.

“The disturbing reports of the past 24 hours indicate that our adversaries are trying to take advantage of the very real vulnerabilities of our energy infrastructure’s cyber defenses,” Cantwell said in a statement to CQ Roll Call.

She added that she is “reiterating my call for President Trump to immediately perform the long overdue assessment of cyber vulnerabilities that 19 Senators have requested, and abandon his proposed cuts to the Department of Energy’s Office tasked with protecting our energy networks from cyber attacks.”

DOE’s Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability — the program area responsible for cybersecurity-related efforts — would see a more than 40 percent reduction in funding in fiscal 2018, according to the DOE budget request.

In March, Washington’s Cantwell joined with Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., in a letter to President Donald Trump to highlight the need to bolster the Department of Energy’s role as lead agency in defending against grid cyberattacks, especially from Russia. In a followup June 22 letter, Cantwell led a group of 18 other Democratic senators in calling for a 60-day analysis of Russian capabilities “to use cyber warfare to threaten our energy infrastructure.”

DOE has acknowledged the seriousness of the threat. In its second Quadrennial Energy Review, a sweeping analysis of the energy sector conducted under the Obama administration, DOE said that the cybersecurity of the grid remains a key vulnerability, and it should be treated with the same importance as other national security threats.

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The report notes the growing frequency of cyberattacks across the board in the energy industry, saying they “have not yet caused significant disruptions… but the number and sophistication of threats are increasing, and information technology systems are becoming more integrated with energy infrastructure.”

And Cantwell is not the only lawmaker paying attention to the fallout of the recent hacks.

A House Energy and Commerce Committee spokesman said in an email that “the Committee is aware of these reports and is monitoring the situation. There is much we do not know at this time but we are in contact with the relevant authorities and stakeholders.”

Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, meanwhile, who has a bipartisan bill with Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, to address cybersecurity concerns, renewed his call for a national strategy. “News of attempts to hack nuclear power plants underscores need for US to develop comprehensive cyber strategy,” King said in a tweet Friday.

Reminder: The Fight for 100 Percent Renewable is Political

By John Farrell Jun 28, 2017

As an increasing number of cities across the U.S. pledge their commitment to purchase 100% of their power from renewable sources in the coming decades, some researchers questioned the feasibility of such energy policies. One recent 100% study takes the position that it is impractical for the continental U.S. to commit to 100% water, wind, and solar (WWS) energy sources between 2050 and 2055.

This article started off a Twitter discussion about the study, and more broadly, about the possibility of a 100% WWS energy commitment becoming reality. The studies are focused solely on the technical and economic challenges of the commitment. My 10-part response notes that we have to be focused on the politics, since it’s in city councils and statehouses that decisions actually happen.

The map provides markers to show local activity and layers to highlight state policies. The markers include:
Local Community Renewable Energy Projects, mostly community solar and community wind
Community Groups that are helping take charge of their community’s energy future
100% Renewable commitments by cities, either for electricity for municipal use (small markers) or on behalf of the entire city (large markers).
Utility (Feed-in) Tariffs that allow small power producers a simplified path to selling energy from new, distributed renewable energy projects into the electric system.

Community Power Map

The layers include:
The State Community Power (CP) Score, a value assigned each state based on its policies supporting local energy action.
Net Metering policies, including those that allow customers to aggregate their energy use across multiple buildings or generate energy off-site
Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing that allows communities to set up repayment programs for energy efficiency and renewable energy through the property tax system
Community Choice Aggregation laws allowing cities to choose their energy suppliers on behalf of all residential and small commercial customers
State (Feed-In) Tariffs that allow small power producers a simplified path to selling energy from new, distributed renewable energy projects into the electric system.
Residential Energy Building Codes that allow cities to set higher standards than the state, or give cities the ultimate authority
State Renewable Portfolio Standard Carve-Outs for solar or distributed renewable energy that require utility companies to purchase renewable electricity specifically from small-scale sources

Amid EV Surge, Austin Eyes a New Way of Doing Business

By Karlee Weinmann Jun 26, 2017

Improving battery life and safety standards place electric vehicles and self-driving cars closer than ever to the mainstream, and the City of Austin is laying plans to capitalize on the transition.

Experts predict a dramatic transformation of the U.S. transportation system will take hold in the coming decade. Karl Popham, who manages emerging technologies and electric vehicles at Austin Energy, expects major disruption too, fueled mainly by a distinct shift in how drivers view auto ownership.

For decades, the marketplace has nurtured a “single-car ownership” model, built around the idea that every adult driver wants to own a vehicle. But the popularity of carshare services like Zipcar and Car2Go, as well as ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, suggest a fundamental fracture in that longstanding framework.

“The American dream of having that house and the cars and the 2.1 kids and all those kind of things maybe doesn’t necessarily apply as a universal truth to younger generations,” said Popham, who works for the eighth-largest municipal utility in the nation. “We need to think more in terms of convenience and mobility, and less about owning something that is ultimately parked over 90% of the time.”

Electric and autonomous vehicle technology supports the change, said Popham, whose city-owned utility is a leader in conservation and renewable energy. He recently spoke with John Farrell, head of the Energy Democracy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, about changes already in motion and what’s yet to come.

Note: We published this podcast and post alongside a new, comprehensive report — Choosing the Electric Avenue — Unlocking Savings, Emissions Reductions, and Community Benefits of Electric Vehicles — that explores in-depth the influence electric vehicles can have in building clean energy economies at the community scale.

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A ‘Next-Wave Mobility Plan’
Popham’s vision lines up with an innovative, wholesale push for electrification approved by the Austin City Council last year. The “next-wave mobility plan” prioritizes electric, shared, and autonomous vehicles in the city’s transportation plans. City leaders and staff, including Popham, are working together now to map out specific solutions that further the three-pronged approach.

“We want to be a proactive partner and leader with new and established companies to bring these revolutions sooner rather than later to the City of Austin, so it can be the new normal — and a roadmap and benchmark, quite frankly, for other cities,” Popham said.

Austin already supports a shared vehicle economy, including through ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft. It’s also home to an autonomous vehicle program run by Google, currently in its pilot phase. But it’s farthest along in its strategy when it comes to electric vehicles, with a network of 550 public charging stations that drivers can access — as much as they want — for $4.17 per month.

More than 1,000 drivers have opted in to Austin’s public charging program, modeled after a gym membership. Electric vehicle owners can sign up for a six-month “membership” for $25 (which shakes out to $4.17 monthly) and enjoy unlimited access to the public charging stations. For some, especially those who also have workplace charging infrastructure, it’s all they need to keep their cars powered up. Others pair the public network with at-home chargers.

The Business of EV Charging
Austin Energy estimates the city’s drivers do 85% of their car-charging in personal garages and carports, behind the meter. The public network, however, provides another option. And the opt-in “membership” program encourages drivers to use it. Some auto dealers hand out a prepaid membership when they sell electric vehicles off the lot. But even drivers who don’t the six-month buy-in can use the public chargers anytime, for $2 per hour.

“We did it to encourage overall [electric vehicle] adoption,” Popham said. “We know the majority of charging happens at home. … But what the $4.17 does, it gets them to rethink the paradigm.”

The program bucks the typical utility model of hinging bottom-line performance on greater electricity sales, an increasingly outdated strategy as new technology — from energy efficiency to demand response — pushes it out of step with current market conditions. But creative sales models like this can be a smart move for utilities; these vehicles inherently boost demand for electricity.

Each electric vehicle currently represents an additional $400 in annual revenue for Austin Energy, Popham said.

Encouraging charging during off-peak times, when electricity demand is lower, enables electric vehicles to play an important role in managing the overall grid. Austin Energy doesn’t offer a full suite of incentives, like some utilities do, for drivers to charge at these times (such as overnight, when there is excess wind generation). But it has launched a pilot program that provides lower rates outside the peak-demand window.

The Austin program offers drivers unlimited charging at public stations for a $30 monthly rate. That covers at-home charging as well, as long as drivers plug in outside the peak demand period, which stretches from late afternoon to early evening. If a driver charges during that window, the cost ticks up.

A $30 flat fee shakes out to about $0.09 per kilowatt-hour, assuming the average electric vehicle uses 4,000 kilowatt-hours per year. That rate is higher than similar programs offered by other utilities that feature off-peak rates as low as $0.03 per kilowatt-hour. But for Popham, the cost differential between his utility’s program and others isn’t too concerning.

Austin Energy’s program is in its early stages, meant to generate data and driver feedback to inform more permanent solutions, he said. In addition, Popham noted grid benefits even when drivers charge electric vehicles at peak times — they help offset the afternoon influx of solar generation as more arrays come online.

Promising Demand Response
As part of its push to maximize the benefits of electric vehicles, Austin Energy has also tested demand response technology, methods that allow the utility to encourage or require drivers to charge during times when it’s best for the grid. The utility runs a similar program using smart thermostats, to regulate air conditioners when electricity demand ticks toward its peak.

While it harnessed similar technology, the electric vehicle experiment yielded even better results than the thermostat initiative, Popham said. No one opted out of the vehicle-charging pilot and drivers seemed willing to tweak their at-home charging habits to align with utility needs, where ceding control of their home-cooling systems was a tougher sell.

“What our study shows is people are much more comfortable with stopping their charging for a few hours on your EV,” Popham said. “We considered it a fairly good success and definitely could be part of our roadmap moving forward.”

Fleet Electrification
Austin’s transition to a more electrified transportation future doesn’t stop with its private customers. In fact, the city itself is at the center of the plan. Austin plans to integrate 330 electric vehicles into its municipal fleet between now and 2020, a move expected to generate $3.5 million in savings — including fuel and maintenance costs — over 10 years.

The transition places Austin alongside a slew of other cities turning to electricity to power their vehicles. Nearby Houston reported savings of $110,000 per year by replacing just 27 of its light-duty cars with electric models. In many of those cities, as in Austin, the change is as much about saving money as it is modeling the possibilities of electrification.

“It’s also important for us as a city to eat our own dog food,” Popham said. “We want people to see in the community city vehicles driving on electric just to demonstrate the technology and that they work, and get more people exposed to them.”

In addition, Austin’s transit authority is planning to bring between 10 and 20 electric buses into its fleet. Officials are working now to cobble together the funding they need to purchase the buses and build out required charging infrastructure. Though electric buses cost more upfront, Austin authorities say the cost of bus ownership over 10 years is less than that for gas-powered models.

Austin Energy has also helped airlines save money by transitioning their heavy-duty equipment, used to load and transport baggage, to electric models.

Down the line, Popham said, the city’s transit options could include a shared electric, autonomous shuttle, or food-delivery vehicle to run groceries from the store to people’s homes. Along with buses, those potential innovations will drive up electricity sales for Austin Energy.

“There’s a lot of different kinds of business cases and applications that we’re pretty excited about,” he said.

What’s Next?
The economics of vehicle electrification are increasingly compelling, especially as battery costs plummet (indeed, battery packs are expected to clock in at just one-quarter of their 2010 price by 2022, a reduction that on its own could cut the price of electric vehicles by 25%).

But in order to fully realize a modernized transportation sector, with widespread use of electric and autonomous vehicles, Popham said automakers need to help plug significant gaps in today’s marketplace — especially in Texas, where larger vehicles dominate the roadways.

For starters, he said, manufacturers need to boost production of electric trucks and SUVs — a high-demand segment nationwide. The Ford F-150 pickup has been the top-selling vehicle in the U.S. for more than three decades, and last year the Chevrolet Silverado and Dodge Ram ranked second and third.

A number of hybrid and electric SUVs have come online so far and achieved high satisfaction ratings, with more models expected to hit sales floors in the future. Electrifying the pickup truck has been a slower process, but not a stagnant one — electric vehicle mainstay Tesla is planning to manufacture one, while Workhorse Group (which built a hybrid delivery van) has already tackled it.

As consumers, municipalities, and companies alike tiptoe into the electric vehicle marketplace, auto manufacturers will face rising demand across vehicle segments. And with its new plans in place, Austin officials say the are confident they’ll be ready to adapt to near-inevitable changes in market dynamics.

“There’s a very good chance it won’t be the single-occupancy vehicle, single-car ownership model, which is the very inefficient model we see today,” Popham said. “It could be all electric and automated vehicles.”

District of Columbia regulators seek to enhance retail energy consumer protections

By Robert Walton  July 10. 2017

  •  The District of Columbia Public Service Commission has proposed new protections for electric and natural gas customers, including allowing additional time to cancel a contract, adding requirements to advertising variable-rate contracts, and speeding service changes while adding layers of verification.
  • D.C.’s Office of the People’s Counsel proposed classifying distributed generation providers as energy suppliers, but the Commission said the decision on how to classify DG would be discussed in its grid modernization docket, F.C. 1130.
  • The new protections came as part of a rulemaking designed to amend certain provisions of the district’s Utility Consumer Bill of Rights within the retail electrical choice market.
  • Utility regulators in the nation’s capitol are considering new consumer protections that could change how competitive retail providers of electricity and gas interact with customers.
  • For an electricity customer, transfers to a new supplier should take no more than three business days after the utility has received notice of the change, and new privacy policies will protect customer information.
  • The changes specify that within 24 hours after making changes to publicly available current offers, retail suppliers “shall provide the Commission Secretary with information regarding the changes in its rates, charges and services that are being made so that the Commission has current information about the Energy Supplier.”
  • Changing the definition of “energy supplier,” to include “persons engaged in distributed generation” could expand distributed resource requirements, butEnergy Choice Matters notes some provisions apply to “contracts” rather than suppliers, so the impact of OPC’s proposal is unclear. And the PSC will decide whether or not to classify DG as an “energy supplier” in its ongoing grid modernization proceeding.
  • Consumer protections, particularly for low-income ratepayers, have become an increasing focus. New York has taken steps to crack down on unscrupulous marketing, and last week a New York court maintained the state’s ban on energy service company sales to low-income customers.

Institute for Local Self-Reliance

The Institute’s mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. To this end, ILSR works with citizens, activists, policymakers and entrepreneurs to design systems, policies and enterprises that meet local or regional needs; to maximize human, material, natural and financial resources; and to ensure that the benefits of these systems and resources accrue to all local citizens.

Since 1974, ILSR has championed local self-reliance, a strategy that underscores the need for humanly scaled institutions and economies and the widest possible distribution of ownership.

 

 

 

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT Volvo, Betting on Electric, Moves to Phase Out Conventional Engines

THE NEW YORK TIMES: By Jack  Ewing  JULY 5, 2017

A Volvo plug-in hybrid at an auto show in Beijing in 2014. CreditDiego Azubel/European Pressphoto Agency

Volvo Cars on Wednesday became the first mainstream automaker to sound the death knell of the internal combustion engine, saying that all the models it introduces starting in 2019 will be either hybrids or powered solely by batteries.

The decision is the boldest commitment by any major car company to technologies that currently represent a small share of the total vehicle market but are increasingly viewed as essential to combating climate change and urban pollution.

While most major automakers offer hybrids and battery-powered options, none of them have been willing to forsake cars powered solely by gasoline or diesel fuel. On the contrary, United States automakers have continued to churn out S.U.V.s and pickup trucks, whose sales have surged because of relatively low fuel prices.

Yet Volvo’s move may be the latest sign that the era of the gas guzzler is slowly coming to an end. Tesla, which makes only limited numbers ofelectric cars, surpassed Ford and General Motors this year in terms of stock market value, despite making significantly fewer cars than those automotive giants — a clear indication of where investors think the industry is headed. 

Though based in Sweden, Volvo is owned by Geely Automobile Holdings of China, which already produces battery-powered cars for the Chinese market. The decision by Volvo to focus on electric vehicles could ultimately give it and Geely a head start if, as many analysts expect, sales of battery powered cars begin to take off. China is already the largest market for electric vehicles.

Volvo’s battery-powered vehicles will be produced initially in China, but eventually also in Europe and at a new factory the company is building near Charleston, S.C.

Hybrids, which combine battery power with gasoline or diesel engines, accounted for about 2 percent of passenger car sales in the United States last year, a number that has been declining because gasoline prices have fallen.

And cars that run solely on battery power are still rare in most countries because of high purchase prices, lengthy charging times and limited ranges.

Still, most carmakers expect the share of electric cars to grow quickly as the technology improves, prices fall and public charging stations become more commonplace. Rapid advances in self-driving cars will also encourage a shift to battery power: It is simpler to link self-driving software to an electric motor than to a conventional engine.

Daimler, the maker of Mercedes-Benz cars and trucks, said on Wednesdaythat it would invest 5 billion renminbi, or $735 million, in a new battery factory it will build in Beijing with its Chinese partner, BAIC Motor.

The major American automakers are moving forward with their own electrification strategies, albeit on a much smaller scale than Tesla and now Volvo.

General Motors, for example, this year introduced the Chevrolet Bolt — a battery-powered model that sells for about $35,000 before government incentives are applied. The Bolt can travel 238 miles on a single charge and will be the basis for other electric models that G.M. expects to add to its lineup.

Ford has sold electric versions of a few mainstream models, but it has not yet developed an all-electric vehicle from the ground up. That is changing, however. The company has said it will introduce a battery-powered S.U.V. by 2020 and will add other electric models thereafter.

The third big domestic automaker, Fiat Chrysler, has lagged. It sells an electric version of its Fiat 500 subcompact car and a hybrid gas-electric variation of its Chrysler Pacifica minivan. But the company has yet to announce any plans to build a new vehicle that is available only as an electric model.

Even though consumer demand for electric cars is so far small, carmakers view it as a way for them to meet stricter fuel economy and pollution standards. The pressure is particularly acute in Europe, where an emissions cheating scandal at Volkswagen has set off a sharp decline in the sales of diesel cars, which account for about half the auto market in the region.

 Carmakers including Volvo have depended on diesel to provide better fuel efficiency and lower carbon dioxide emissions. But the Volkswagen scandal has raised awareness of the health effects of diesel exhaust.

Diesel engines burn fuel more efficiently than gasoline motors, but they produce far more nitrogen oxides, which cause asthma and are considered a carcinogen. The cost of the equipment needed to neutralize diesel fumes is becoming prohibitive.

“The diesel engine is getting more expensive,” Mr. Samuelsson said during a news conference in Stockholm on Wednesday. “We would prefer to talk about the alternatives.”

The changing political landscape in the United States has somewhat muddied the outlook for electric cars on the other side of the Atlantic. The Obama administration was highly supportive of electrified vehicles, which could help companies meet tougher federal fuel-economy standards.

But, so far, President Trump has not pursued policies that encourage the development of electric vehicles.

Moreover, the persistence of low gasoline prices continues to push American buyers toward bigger vehicles — trucks and S.U.V.s — and has made the fuel economy of electric or hybrid vehicles less potent as a selling point.

Volvo’s transition will be gradual. It plans to still produce existing models with conventional engines after 2019, but it will no longer introduce new models with the older technology. Depending on demand, Volvo will completely phase out cars powered solely by gasoline or diesel by around 2024.

But by focusing on electrification, Volvo can concentrate its limited research and development resources on new technologies rather than continuing to invest in fuel-powered motors that may become obsolete. With sales of 534,000 cars last year, Volvo is dwarfed by companies like Toyota, Volkswagen and General Motors, each of which sold about 10 million vehicles in 2016.

Volvo will be able to draw on technology developed by its parent company, Geely. The companies can also save money by purchasing components such as batteries together.

Analysts said Volvo’s decision to pursue a lineup dedicated to electric and hybrid vehicles is motivated, in part, by the Chinese government’s efforts to reduce harmful emissions from internal combustion engines.

“Chinese ownership of Swedish-based Volvo likely played a role in the automaker’s announcement today,” said Michelle Krebs, an analyst with the auto-research site Autotrader.com. “China’s air pollution problems have prompted a more serious push toward cleaner automobiles.”

Volvo said on Wednesday that it would introduce five models from 2019 to 2021 that would run solely on electric power. That includes two models sold under Volvo’s Polestar brand, which the company is marketing as a maker of high-performance electrified cars.

Other models will include plug-in hybrids, which can be charged from power outlets and run for short distances solely on batteries, and so-called mild hybrids, which charge their batteries from the car’s conventional engine or by recovering energy from braking. Hybrids still require gasoline or diesel fuel, but they are typically more efficient because the batteries share the load.

Mr. Samuelsson said the company also wanted to encourage suppliers to invest in battery technology and charging stations.

“It’s important to make a clear statement,” he said.

The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA)

The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) is a national, nonprofit coalition of public agencies and organizations working together to advance clean energy. CESA members—mostly state agencies— include many of the most innovative, successful, and influential public funders of clean energy initiatives in the country.

CESA works with state leaders, federal agencies, industry representatives, and other stakeholders to develop and promote clean energy technologies and markets. It supports effective state and local policies, programs, and innovation in the clean energy generation sector, with an emphasis on renewable energy, financing strategies, and economic development. CESA facilitates information sharing, provides technical assistance, coordinates multi-state collaborative projects, and communicates the views and achievements of its members.

Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) works with state and municipal agencies and other stakeholders to advance clean energy markets. CESA works with its members and others to develop and promote clean energy technologies and policies through:

  • Information exchange and analysis: CESA supports a growing peer network of states and muncipalities dedicated to learning from each other and joining forces to expand the markets for clean energy technologies.
  • Partnership development: CESA jumpstarts new strategic partnerships between the states, the federal government, and industry players to accelerate clean energy investment.
  • Joint projects: CESA assists states to work together to tackle major challenges and to achieve their clean energy goals.
  • Client services: CESA delivers quality, tailored data and expertise on clean energy technologies, policy, and finance to its members; we work with the National Labs and Department of Energy to provide analysis of renewable energy technologies and markets; and we represent the interests of state clean energy programs in federal forums to ensure states are provided with more resources and flexibility to drive their programs.

States policies and programs are now clearly the main driving force for renewable energy progress in the U.S. CESA is dedicated to supporting this state leadership, activity, and innovation in the clean energy sector. We invite you to join us in driving a new national clean energy future.

http://cesa.org/about-us/

Note: Clean Energy States Alilance does not provide funding for projects, does not sell or endorse solar equipment, and does not provide commercial products of any kind.

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