North Pole surges above freezing in the dead of winter, stunning scientists

By Jason Samenow February 26, 2018 Washington Post Newspaper

GFS model analysis of temperature difference from normal (in Celsius) on Sunday over the Arctic. The temperature is above freezing at the North Pole. (University of Maine Climate Re-analyzer)

The sun won’t rise at the North Pole until March 20, and it’s normally close to the coldest time of year, but an extraordinary and possibly historic thaw swelled over the tip of the planet this weekend. Analyses show that the temperature warmed to the melting point as an enormous storm pumped an intense pulse of heat through the Greenland Sea.

Temperatures may have soared as high as 35 degrees Fahrenheit (2 degrees Celsius) at the pole, according to the U.S. Global Forecast System model. While there are no direct measurements of temperature there, Zack Labe, a climate scientist working on his PhD at the University of California at Irvine, confirmed that several independent analyses showed “it was very close to freezing,” which is more than 50 degrees (30 degrees Celsius) above normal.

GFS model analysis of temperatures (in Celsius) on Sunday over the Arctic. (University of Maine Climate Re-analyzer)
The warm intrusion penetrated right through the heart of the Central Arctic, Labe said. The temperature averaged for the entire region north of 80 degrees latitude spiked to its highest level ever recorded in February. The average temperature was more than 36 degrees (20 degrees Celsius) above normal. “No other warm intrusions were very close to this,” Labe said in an interview, describing a data set maintained by the Danish Meteorological Institute that dates back to 1958. “I was taken by surprise how expansive this warm intrusion was.”
Zack Labe@ZLabe
The extreme event continues to unfold in the high #Arctic today in response to a surge of moisture and “warmth” 2018 is well exceeding previous years (thin lines) for the month of February. 2018 is the red line. Average temperature is in white (http://sites.uci.edu/zlabe/arctic-temperatures/ …)
12:08 PM – Feb 25, 2018
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Such extreme warm intrusions in the Arctic, once rare, are becoming more routine, research has shown. A study published last July found that since 1980, these events are becoming more frequent, longer-lasting and more intense.
“Previously this was not common,” said lead author of the study Robert Graham, from the Norwegian Polar Institute, in an email. “It happened in four years between 1980-2010, but has now occurred in four out of the last five winters.”
[Arctic temperatures soar 45 degrees above normal, flooded by extremely mild air on all sides]

Graham explained that these warming events are related to the decline of winter sea ice in the Arctic, noting that January’s ice extent was the lowest on record. “As the sea ice is melting and thinning, it is becoming more vulnerable to these winter storms,” he explained. “The thinner ice drifts more quickly and can break up into smaller pieces. The strong winds from the south can push the ice further north into the Central Arctic, exposing the open water and releasing heat to the atmosphere from the ocean.”

Scientists were shocked in recent days to discover open water north of Greenland, an area normally covered by old, very thick ice. “This has me more worried than the warm temps in the Arctic right now,” tweeted Mike MacFerrin, an ice sheet specialist at the University of Colorado.

Lars Kaleschke@seaice_de
There is open water north of #Greenland where the thickest sea ice of the #Arctic used to be. It is not refreezing quickly because air temperatures are above zero confirmed by @dmidk’s weather station #KapMorrisJesup. Wacky weather continues with scary strength and persistence.
1:36 AM – Feb 25, 2018
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Such warm water is appearing to have an effect on air temperatures. At the north tip of Greenland, about 400 miles to the south of the North Pole, the weather station Cape Morris Jesup has logged a record-crushing 61 hours above freezing so far this calendar year. The previous record, dating to 1980, was 16 hours through the end of April in 2011, according to Robert Rohde, a physicist at Berkeley Earth, a nonprofit that conducts temperature analysis. At one point, the temperature was as high as 43 degrees (6.1 degrees Celsius).

Robert Rohde@rarohde
25 Feb
Replying to @rarohde
An updated time series for Cape Morris Jesup, Northern Greenland using DMI’s hourly values.The last 10 days have seen a series of swings near and above freezing. In 2018, there have already been 61 hours above freezing at Cape Morris Jesup, Greenland.
The previous record was 16 hours before the end of April in 2011. pic.twitter.com/BCgcxAtKng
5:02 PM – Feb 25, 2018
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Kent Moore, a professor of atmospheric physics at the University of Toronto, who published a study in 2016 linking the loss of sea ice to these warm events in the Arctic, said a number of factors may have contributed to the latest warming episode.For one, he said, recent storms have tracked more toward the North Pole through the Greenland Sea, drawing heat directly north from lower latitudes, rather than through a more circuitous route over the Barents Sea. He also said ocean temperatures in the Greenland Sea are warmer than normal. “The warmth we’re seeing in the Greenland Sea is definitely enhancing the warm events we’re seeing,” Moore said. “I’m surprised how warm it is, but I am not sure why.”
NASA satellite imagery shows a strong storm near Greenland on Feb. 23 that drew a major pulse of warm air into the Arctic.
The rise in Arctic temperatures is probably also tied to a sudden warming of the stratosphere, the atmospheric layer about 30,000 feet high — above where most weather happens — that occurred several weeks ago, Moore said. Why these stratospheric warming events happen is poorly understood, as are their consequences. However, they tend to rearrange warm and cold air masses, and this latest one has also been linked not only to the Arctic warmth but also to the “Beast from the East” cold spell over Europe.
1:41
‘Beast from the East’ blankets Europe A cold spell dubbed the “Beast from the East,” has brought snow, strong winds and cold temperatures to many regions across Europe. (Taylor Turner/The Washington Post)
Moore stopped short of saying that the warm spikes observed in the Arctic in recent years are a sure sign that they are becoming a fixture of the winter Arctic climate; more data is needed, he cautioned. Whether a blip or indicative of a new normal, scientists have uniformly expressed disbelief at the current Arctic temperatures and the state of the sea ice. “This is a crazy winter,” said Alek Petty, a climate scientist at NASA, in an interview. “I don’t think we’re sensationalizing it. “It’s never been this extreme,” Ruth Mottram, a climate scientist at the Danish Meteorological Institute, told Reuters.

Government’s dire climate change report blames humans The government’s National Climate Assessment cited human influence as the “dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.” (Patrick Martin/The Washington Post)

Jason Samenow is The Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang’s chief meteorologist. He earned a master’s degree in atmospheric science and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.

As concern grows over bitcoin’s energy use, what’s next for cryptocurrency?

Authored BY:Robert Walton@TeamWetDog PUBLISHED March 28, 2018

Cryptocurrency mining is driving up power prices in small towns with cheap electricity. Can Bitcoin be made more efficient, or is the future of crypto in another currency? As concern grows over bitcoin’s energy use, what’s next for cryptocurrency?

David Bowman started mining bitcoin in his apartment in 2014. As he puts it, “jerry-rigging around and busting the circuits here and there.” He has since expanded, though he balks at calling it a “commercial.” operation. Compared to his neighbors, his energy use is paltry.

Most anywhere else, his power demand for mining would have gone unnoticed. But Bowman runs Plattsburgh BTC, and the small city in upstate New York has improbably become the front line in a growing energy debate.

Here’s the issue: Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency begun in 2009 that leverages blockchain technology in order to operate without a central clearing authority. Transactions are confirmed by “miners” who are compensated for the computing power necessary to verify transactions in a few ways. But the primary incentive is being awarded new bitcoins, and as their value has risen, so has interest in mining the currency.Bitcoin’s creators never imagined massive server farms and dedicated computing power, Bowman told Utility Dive. But that’s what happened.

People began pooling resources, launching what he calls “an arms race.” Bitcoin was once mined in the background of college kids’ laptops, but now all but requires Application-Specific Integrated Circuit (ASIC) hardware that does one thing and one thing only: mines Bitcoin. “It has become an arms race, and it definitely was not intended to be that way.”

David Bowman
CEO, Plattsburgh BTC
The Bitcoin system creates 12.5 new coins every 10 minutes, awarded to the miner who solves a complex math problem and creates the “block” of transactions to be verified and added. There have been ample stories about whether Bitcoin is a bubble and what it’s really worth. The number of bitcoins awarded for solving the math problem halves roughly every four years. There is a limit to the total number of bitcoins, with the last one projected to be awarded sometime in 2140.

Currently valued around $8,000, the price has brought together investors spending millions to develop faster and more efficient mining operations. “But a byproduct of that is gigantic centralized mining operations,” Bowman said. “And it’s also created rampant energy consumption. “It has become an arms race, and it definitely was not intended to be that way.”

How much and what kind of energy does Bitcoin use?

Bitcoin’s energy use is a widely debated topic, with estimates varying widely; according to the crypto-focused platform Digiconomist, the currency’s annual consumption is 57 TWh worldwide. Marc Bevand, an analyst and crypto entrepreneur, in January estimated a smaller amount, 18.4 TWh — while allowing that it could be as high as 27.5 TWh or as low as 14.2 TWh. But Digiconomist also estimates annual global mining revenues at more than $7 billion, and costs of $2.9 billion, so the incentives are clear.

There is no question that Bitcoin uses a lot of energy, but the more important questions may be where it is coming from, and are miners paying their fair share of system costs. In the United States, miners have migrated to regions where cheap hydroelectricity is plentiful, such as the Pacific Northwest. But those concerned with Bitcoin’s potential impact on the Earth’s climate often point to China, and argue miners are utilizing cheap coal-fired generation.

By some estimates, most of the world’s power consumption for bitcoin mining comes from China — up to two-thirds, much of it from coal-powered plants in inner Mongolia. Bevand doesn’t believe that, but not because he thinks Chinese miners are particularly altruistic or climate-minded. “Since renewables have become the cheapest sources of energy, I am expecting the mining industry to drive up investments in renewables.”

Marc Bevand
Analyst and crypto entrepeneur
As with many things, it’s a matter of dollars and sense. “Since renewables have become the cheapest sources of energy, I am expecting the mining industry to drive up investments in renewables,” Bevand said via email. “Contrary to popular belief, actually a large fraction of miners in China are using hydroelectricity, plentiful and cheap in the Sichuan province. Hydro appears to still beat coal somewhat, even in China.”

Bitcoin is an energy-intensive industry, and energy makes up a large portion of miners’ costs. For Bowman, in New York, he says it’s about 25% of his cost — and will rise to about a third in a few years, for a variety of reasons.

“Energy is the single biggest cost of doing business,” he said. “And you have to upgrade [computing equipment] to be more efficient, if you want to remain competitive.” There is no doubt that Bitcoin can be made more efficient, on a per-transaction basis, said Navigant analyst Richard Shandross. But that might be beside the point. Bitcoin’s large energy use is not a flaw, but a key feature in the system that makes the blockchain secure, he said. “The result may be a secure currency system, but tons of energy gets wasted in the process,”

Richard Shandross
Analyst, Navigant
“It’s the energy consumption that makes it so hard to defraud the currency,” Shandross explained. “It’s got to be very expensive and time consuming to rewrite a blockchain.”

Bitcoin works by tempting computers to solve what is essentially a complicated math problem. First to solve it gets the prize: currently, 12.5 bitcoins, and that user also adds the next block to the blockchain. As more Bitcoins are released, the problems get harder to solve, requiring more computing power. And over time, the number of bitcoins awarded to miners declines.

“The result may be a secure currency system, but tons of energy gets wasted in the process,” Shandross said.

Much of crypto mining’s energy use comes from keeping the computers cool, so there are a variety of solutions, including energy reuse and locating in cooler geographies. But according to Shandross, “energy reuse is not easy or simple,” and right now, the amount of servers on cryptocurrency systems that recycle thermal energy is at most 25%. Geography plays a significant role in mining operations deciding where to set up shop. Right now it’s mostly China, the United States, the E.U. and Georgia, Shandross said. But Iceland has become a popular spot, just for its natural cooling, he added. Natural cooling is good, and combined with cheap electricity, it’s why Bowman set up BTC Plattsburgh in upstate New York. Whether using an area’s natural temperature or running fans to suck the heat from server rooms, that energy is key and has a cost. “It will overrun any AC unit you try to run, so you just have to try and move the heat out,” Bowman said.

Possible alternatives

Bitcoin is not the only crypto currency out there. But it’s easily the most well-known and most-capitalized.There are many others and they do not all work the same. Shandross said there are more than 1,500, though that figure comes with caveats about public access and structure. But there are at least 25 cryptocurrencies with individual market capitalizations above $1 billion, so while Bitcoin may dominate the headlines, it may not be the last cryptocurrency to become mainstream. An alternative is being developed by the Ethereum network, which is second in overall value to Bitcoin. The currency would be based around a validation method called “Proof of Stake,” and Shandross said it uses less energy, though it is not “fully vetted.”

“I have a lot of love for Ethereum,” Bowman told Utility Dive. “It is a lot more efficient than Bitcoin and actually does useful things, too.” Bowman predicts “a whole new breed of cryptocurrencies” will emerge, using smart contracts that can be programed to perform a wide array of tasks. You could borrow some of the computing power necessary for processing your coffee purchase, to test artificial intelligence ideas, for instance. “We need to find ways to either make bitcoin more efficient somehow or possibly move into other currencies,” he said.

Back in Plattsburgh

While the future of cryptocurrency mining may be more efficient, today’s industry uses a lot of energy. And while there are plentiful existential questions to ponder about crypto’s global significance, in specific towns and cities, the impact is felt acutely.
The poster child is the Pacific Northwest, where cheap hydro has attracted, as Politico put it, “suitcases of cash” and mining operations up to 30 MW. Compared to that, Bowman’s operation is tiny. But the same economic forces are at work. Plattsburgh has about 20,000 residents and its power comes from a limited supply of cheap hydro. In January, average bills jumped $10 because the city was forced to buy additional energy. And Plattsburgh isn’t the only municipality dealing with the issue. In response, the New York Public Service Commission announced March 15 it would allow municipal utilities to charge bitcoin mining operations higher power prices.

Bowman set up shop in Plattsburgh, in an abandoned warehouse, when the cost of energy was around $0.018/kWh. It has risen since, and he expects it will continue to. “They are definitely going to have to charge us more at some point,” he said, acknowledging the issue.
In the meantime, Plattsburgh is now the first city in the United States to temporarily ban new cryptocurrency mining operations. The mayor’s office has been involved in discussions of efficiency, and potentially using waste heat in other ways. But in a March 15 vote, the city council decided on an 18 month moratorium on licenses for new mining operations.

Bowman has been working as part of a local roundtable to find solutions and “figure out some ground rules,” to “make sure people aren’t subsidizing this whole thing.” His own energy demands are around 25 kW to 30 kW; “small fry,” he said. City officials say there is one company that runs two large mining operations — Coinmint’s local company North Country Data Center. Combined with a few smaller operations, Bill Treacy, manager of Plattsburgh’s Municipal Lighting Department, said bitcoin mining consumes 10% of the town’s power.

North Country Data is looking to build a much larger operation about two hours northwest of Plattsburgh, near the Canadian border. The company wants to repurpose a vacant Alcoa plant and has requested 15 MW of power from the New York Power Authority (NYPA).

Plattsburgh is a winter peaking municipal utility, thanks to the town’s access to cheap hydro. Residential rates are now about $0.045/kWh, so about 95% of homes use electric heating. “If we use the finite amount of hydro we get from NYPA, we have to buy more expensive supplemental power,” Treacy said. That happened twice this winter.

The existing bitcoin miners can continue to operate while the town takes a year and a half to consider its zoning and building codes.

The PSC’s decision to allow higher rates could be seen as discouraging new companies from locating businesses in New York, and the commission acknowledged that. In a statement, Chairman John Rhodes said the state wants to welcome industry, but must ensure business customers pay their fair share.

“This is especially true in small communities with finite amounts of low-cost power available,” he said.

Bowman said he understands the concern that miners are moving into towns, using the cheap energy and not giving back. “Big operations come in and are basically using up all the cheap power and not hiring many people … The way to bring more jobs is to innovate to look into blockchain technology and different business models.”

Federal Diversity Internship Initiative

Authored By:Announcements@hbcuconnect.com Wed, Mar 28, 2018

Still trying to decide what to do with your summer? Looking for something other than a semester on campus next fall? Now is the perfect time to apply for the Federal Diversity Internship Initiative – where you can get a paid internship with a federal agency!

This program offers opportunities for students in many fields, but those with interest in business, communications, engineering and public administration will be especially competitive.

Accepted students will have a chance to intern at one of many agencies, including:
Federal Aviation Administration
Consumer Financial Protection Bureau
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
U.S. Department of Treasury
U.S. Census Bureau
National Archives and Records Administration
And more!

These positions are fully-funded: students receive a twice-monthly stipend, paid housing (if needed) and some support for travel to and from the internship site.
Application Requirements
U.S. Citizenship (no exceptions)
3.0 GPA
Be enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate program
Strong interest in federal employment
Available to intern full-time for 10 weeks (summer) or 15 weeks (fall)
April 4, 2018 deadline for summer
April 18, 2018 deadline for fall
To learn more and start an application, please visit www.twc.edu/federal.

Federal Emergency Management Agency Jobs and Internships Webinar

Published: March 23,2018 Hosted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

                                        When: Thursday, April 19, 2018 Time: 4 – 5 p.m. Eastern

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) invites you to participate in the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Jobs and Internships Webinar from 4 – 5 p.m. Eastern on April 19.

Designed specifically for students and recent graduates who are interested in beginning a career with FEMA, this virtual event will feature an overview of FEMA’s application and hiring process, highlight exciting entry-level program opportunities, and a panel of FEMA experts will answer live questions from webinar participants.

The event is free for participants. To register for the event, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FEMA-Webinar-Registration. As space is limited, you are encouraged to register as soon as possible.

More information regarding the webinar will be shared with webinar registrants. Email AcademicEngagement@hq.dhs.gov should you have any questions regarding registration.

WHIHBCU Staff

2018 NAN Convention

CONVENTION APRIL 18-22 AS COUNTRY MARKS 50th ANNIVERSARY OF DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING JR.’S ASSASSINATION

NAN to welcome Senators Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders & Elizabeth Warren along with prominent civil rights and elected leaders from around the country, as community refocuses efforts to stand united in this year’s midterm elections against President Trump’s anti-civil rights policy agenda

NEW YORK (March 21, 2018) — Civil Rights leader Rev. Al Sharpton today unveiled the preliminary schedule for the National Action Network Annual Convention, taking place at the Sheraton New York Times Square Hotel from April 18-22. The Convention, the largest of its kind in the country, will welcome civil rights leaders and allies from around the country as the civil rights community refocuses its efforts to resisting a hostile presidential administration in the upcoming midterm elections.

The NAN convention will bring together influential national leaders from the civil rights movement, government, labor, religion, business, media, the Black church and the activist community – to reflect on King’s legacy and impact while celebrating today’s civil rights leaders and examining the path forward
** Members of the media interested in attending and covering the convention should register for credentials at the following link: https://goo.gl/forms/dY5hPrby7oiTp4f62 **

CONVENTION SCHEDULE:

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 18th

8:00 am – 5:00 pm
CONVENTION REGISTRATION

9:30 am -10:00 am
OPENING RIBBON CUTTING with Rev. Al Sharpton, Chairman Rev. Dr. W. Franklyn Richardson, National Action Network Leadership & Elected Officials

10:00 am – 10:15 am
PLENARY SESSION – Eric Holder, Jr., Former U.S. Attorney General

10:15 am – 10:30 am
PLENARY SESSION – Tom Perez, Chairman, DNC

11:00 am – 12:30 pm
WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE UNION UNDER TRUMP?
Moderator:
Rev. Al Sharpton, President & Founder, National Action Network
Panelists:

Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO of FPWA and Author
The Honorable Ras Baraka, Mayor, Newark, NJ
Lee Saunders, President, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME)
Nicolle Wallace, Host, Deadline White House, MSNBC
Randi Weingarten, President, American Federation of Teachers (AFT)
**More to be added**

12:30 pm – 2:00pm
THE STATE OF AMERICAN JUSTICE IN THE AGE OF TRUMP
Moderator:
Michael A. Hardy, Esq., Executive Vice President & General Counsel, National Action Network
Panelists:
Benjamin Crump, Principal, Ben Crump Law, PLLC
Donna Lieberman, Executive Director, New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
**More to be added**

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
HOW DO WE DEAL WITH THE DIGITAL DIVIDE?
Moderator:
Lord Q. Dowdell, Chairman, NAN’s New York City Chapter Technology Committee Panelists:
Keith Davis, Director, Cisco Academy Support Center
Chanelle Hardy, Director of Strategic Outreach and External Partnership, Google
Camille Joseph, Regional Vice President, State Government Affairs, Charter Communications
Crystal
Patterson, Government and Politics Outreach Manager, Facebook
Terry Sweeney, Panasonic
Antonio Williams, Senior Director of Government and External Affairs, Comcast
2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
MENTAL HEALTH PANEL TO BE ANNOUNCED
6:00 pm
KEEPER’S OF THE DREAM RECEPTION (ticketed event)
7:00 pm
KEEPER’S OF THE DREAM DINNER AND PROGRAM(ticketed event)
3:30 pm – 7:30 pm
YOUTH HACKATHON & TECHNOLOGY COMPETITION
THURSDAY, APRIL 19th
10:00 am – 11:30 am
MEDIA PANEL :Moderator:

Errol Louis, Political Anchor, Spectrum News NY1
Panelists:
Chauncey Alcorn, Trending News Writer, MIC Charles Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York
Times

Ari Melber, Host, The Beat with Ari Melber, MSNBC

Cheryl Wills, Host, In Focus with Cheryl Wills on NY1
**More to be added**
11:00 am – 12:30 pm
DAUGHTERS OF THE MOVEMENT
Moderator:
Dominique Sharpton, National Director of Membership, National Action Network

Panelists:
Jennifer Jones Austin, CEO and Executive Director, FPWA, Federation of Protestant Welfare
Agencies and Board Member, National Action Network
Ilyasah Shabazz, Daughter of Malcom X

Ashley Sharpton, Daughter of Rev. Al Sharpton
Keisha Sutton James, Vice President, ICBC Broadcast Holdings
**More to be added**

12:30 pm – 2:30 pm
WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT & NETWORKING LUNCHEON
Co-Chairs:
Michelle Ebanks, President, Essence Communications & People en Español
Tanya Lombard, Assistant Vice President of Public Affairs, AT&T
Host:
Angela T. Rye, Principal & CEO, IMPACT Strategies and Political Commentator, CNN
Honorees:
Valeshia Butterfield Jones, Co–Founder & Chair, Women in Entertainment
Empowerment Network
Yvette Pugh, Director, Federal Public Affairs, AT&T
Angela Turner, SVP, Affiliate & Consumer Marketing, REVOLT
Symone Sanders, Correspondent, CNN
Michelle Mittler, Correspondent, CBS

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm
BLACK INTELLECTUALS
Moderator:
Dr. Jamal Watson, Executive Editor, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education Magazine Panelists:
Dr. Eddie Glaude, Jr., Chair, Center for African American Studies and the William S. Tod Professor of Religion and African-American Studies, Princeton University
Dr. Christina Greer, Associate Professor of Political Science, Fordham University
Dr. Marc Lamont Hill, Professor of Media Studies and Urban Education, Temple University
Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Professor and Director, Antiracist Research and Policy Center Department of
History, American University
Dr. Tricia Rose, Chancellor’s Professor of Africana Studies and Director of the Center for Study
of Race and Ethnicity in America, Brown University

**More to be added**
2:30 pm – 4:30 pm
FINANCIAL SERVICES/PENSIONS
Moderator:
**More to be added**
5:00 pm – 5:15 pm
PLENARY – The Honorable Joseph Kennedy, III, U.S House of Representatives, (MA-04)
6:00 pm – 6:15 pm
PLENARY – The Honorable Jim Clyburn, U.S House of Representatives, (SC-06), House Assistant Minority Leader
6:15 pm – 6:30 pm
PLENARY – The Honorable Cedric Richmond, U.S House of Representatives, (LA-2) and Chairman, Congressional Black Caucus
3:30 pm – 7:30 pm
YOUTH HACKATHON & TECHNOLOGY COMPETITION
7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
TRUTH TO POWER REVIVAL
Dorinda Clark-Cole, Evangelist & Gospel Singer
FRIDAY, APRIL 20th10:00 am – 3:00 pm
NATIONAL ACTION NETWORK RESOURCE CENTER
9:30 am
PLENARY – The Honorable Elizabeth Warren, U.S. Senate, Massachusetts

9:30 am -11:00 am
HOW TO DEAL WITH GUN CONTROL
Moderator:
Min. Kirsten John Foy, Northeast Regional Director, National Action Network
Panelists:
Marie Delus, Volunteer Leader, Moms Demand Action
Monte Frank, Legal Advisor, Newtown Action Alliance Campaign Iesha
Sekou, Founder, Street Corner Resources
**More to be added**

11:00 am
PLENARY – The Honorable Kamala Harris, U.S. Senate, California

11:00 am – 1:30 pm
ADVANCING EQUAL EDUCATION IN THE ERA OF TRUMP
Moderator:
The Honorable Frederica Wilson, Representative, U.S. House of Representatives (FL–24)
Panelists:
Rev. Nelson B. Rivers, III Vice President, Religious Affairs
and External Relations, National Action Network
Nashonda Hunter, Acting Director, Charity Foundation Director
Heather Foster, Vice President, PreK–12 Education, Widmeyer Communications
David Johns, Executive Director, National Black Justice Coalition

12:00 pm
PLENARY – The Honorable Bernie Sanders, U.S. Senate, Vermont

12:00 pm – 2:00 pm
REVEREND DR. WILLIAM A. JONES MEMORIAL LUNCHEON
Speakers:
The Honorable Cory Booker, U.S. The Honorable, New Jersey
The Honorable Al Green, Representative, U.S. House of Representatives (TX-09)

The Honorable Shelia Jackson Lee, U.S. House of Representatives (TX-18)
The Honorable Nancy Pelosi, Democratic House Leader, U.S. House of Representatives, (CA-12)
Honorees:
Reverend Jesse Jackson, Founder and President, Rainbow PUSH Coalition Reverend C. T. Vivian,
Founder, C. T. Vivian Leadership Institute
Xernona Clayton, Founder, President and CEO, Trumpet Awards Foundation, Inc. and Creator,
Executive Producer, Trumpet Awards

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
THE BLACK CHURCH: 2018 VOTER MOBILIZATION
Co–Moderators:
Rev. Nelson Rivers, Vice President, Religious Affairs and External Relations, National Action Network, and Pastor, Charity Missionary Baptist Church
The Honorable G. K. Butterfield, U.S. House of Representatives, (NC–01)
Panelists:
Stefanie Brown James, Co–Founder, The Collective PAC
Quentin James, Founder, The Collective Pac
Bishop Rudolph McKissick, Jr., Senior Pastor, Bethel Baptist Institutional Church, Jacksonville, FL
Bishop Dennis V. Proctor, AME Zion, Northeastern Episcopal District
Bishop Talbert Swan, II, Executive Secretary, Church of God in Christ

2:00 pm – 3:30 pm
MAYORS PANEL ON PRISONER REENTRY
Moderator:
The Honorable Jim McGreevey, Former Governor, New Jersey
Panelists:
Adrian Mapp, Mayor of Plainfield, NJ Don Guardian, Mayor of Atlantic City, NJ
Rev. Steffie Bartley
Kedar Hall Charles Little
Helena Muhammad, Reentry Specialist
Tony Vauss, Mayor of Irvington, NY
Christine Dansereau, Mayor of Rosell, NJ
Angela Garretson, Freeholder of Union, NJ

3:30pm – 7:30pm
YOUTH HACKATHON & TECHNOLOGY COMPETITION

7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
TRUTH TO POWER REVIVAL

SATURDAY, APRIL 21st

10:00 am – 12:00 pm
MEASURING THE MOVEMENT
Discussion Leader:
Rev. Al Sharpton, Founder and President, National Action Network
Leaders:
Melanie Campbell, President & CEO, National Coalition on Black Civil Participation
Kristen Clarke, President & CEO, Lawyers Committee on Civil Rights Under the Law
Vanita Gupta, President and Chief Executive Officer, Leadership Conference on Civil and
Human Rights
Janice Mathis, Executive Director, National Council of Negro Women (NCNW)
**More to be added**

(Time TBD)
THE SOCIAL MILLENNIAL: HAS SOCIAL MEDIA WEAKENED OR STRENGTHENED OUR APPROACH TOWARDS ISSUES OF TODAY
Moderator:
Christopher McCullough, Morehouse NAN
Panelists:
David Carter, NAN DC Youth Leader
Rachaeli Davis, Senior Editor, Essence Festival
Quan Lateen-Hill, Produced by Quan, Afropunk
Taylor Trudon, The New York Times, and MTV News
**More to be added**

(Time TBD)
BREAKING THE SILENCE: ADDRESSING SEXUAL ASSAULT AND HARASSMENT IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY
Moderator:
Tylik McMillan, President, National Action Network NCAT Chapter
Panelists:
Brianna Myrie, Sexual Assault Activist
Shawn Swinton, Sexual Student Assault Activist
**More to be added**

(Time TBD)
WE’VE GOTTA HAVE IT! A CONVERSATION WITH SPIKE LEE AND CAST OF HIS NEW NETFLIX SERIES
Moderator:
Mary Pat Hector, National Youth Director, National Action Network
Panelists:
Bintou Jobarteh, VP, Spelman National Action Network
Nia Page, Student, Comparative Women’s Studies
**More to be added**

3:30 pm – 7:30 pm
YOUTH HACKATHON & TECHNOLOGY COMPETITION

6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
ANNUAL FASHION SHOW (RSVP REQUIRED)

About National Action Network (NAN)

National Action Network is one of the leading civil rights organizations in the country with chapters throughout the entire United States. Founded in 1991 by Reverend Al Sharpton, NAN works within the spirit and tradition of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to promote a modern civil rights agenda that includes the fight for one standard of justice, decency and equal opportunities for all people regardless of race, religion, nationality or gender.

For more information go to www.nationalactionnetwork.net.

 For More Information Contact:

Rachel Noerdlinger, rnoerdlinger@mercuryllc.com

Ross Adair, radair@mercuryllc.com

Alex Butcher-Nesbitt, abutchernesbitt@mercuryllc.com 
Phone: (212) 681-1380 

Meet with DoE Procurement Director at Gov Contracting Conference and Expo

       U.S. Dept. of Energy / TTExpo” <U.S._Dept._of_Energy

Published: March 22,2018

 ExpoRichmond 2018 opt 2

                                                   FREE Conference Seminars & Expo Pass!
   This conference on procurement brings together business and government to develop vendor relationships.
Register to Attend the 7:30 am:
                                                                “Breakfast with the DoD”

                                                              featuring a keynote address from:
                                                                  Debbie Frankovich
                                   U.S. Army Mission & Installation Contracting Command
                                                               Director: Fort Lee MICC

                                                                         Alice Williams
                                                                       Department of Defense
                                      Associate Director: Office of Small Business Programs
Register to Attend the Noon:
                                                      “Small Business Procurement Luncheon”

                                                               featuring a keynote address from:
                                                                                  Anna Urman
                                                                        Defense Logistics Agency’s
Procurement Technical Assistance Program 

                                                                             Director: Virginia PTAP

                                                                                        Nancy Small
                                                                        U.S. Army Materiel Command
                                                                    Director: Small Business program

                                                                   —-2018 Conference Program—-
Breakfast with the DoD
Panel I – Contracting with 

                                                                 Small Business Procurement Luncheon

 Panel II – Contracting with Federal & State Agencies
Panel III – Associations, Organizations & 
Lecture Series & Workshops

Meet with procurement directors and contracting officers from federal & state agencies.
FREE government run seminars assist you to build your Biz to Gov opportunities.
Tour the trade-show and develop teaming agreements to advance your business
with the military, state and federal agencies and prime companies.

 

Tommy_Marks00

Tommy Marks
Director
U.S. Army Office of Small Business Programs – Pentagon

 

Fall 2018 White House Internship Program

THE WHITE HOUSE:  Office of the Press Secretary :FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE : March 20, 2018

The Fall 2018 White House Internship Program application is now open.

The application portal will remain open until 11:59PM EDT on Friday, May 4, 2018.

Any applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

The Fall 2018 White House Internship Program term runs from Wednesday, September 5 to Friday, December 7, 2018.  All applicants must be at least 18 years of age by the internship program start date, and must be able to commit to the full internship term to be eligible.  Additionally, applicants must be U.S. citizens and meet at least one of the following criteria to apply:

– Are currently enrolled in an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two-to-four year institution).

– Have graduated from an undergraduate or graduate degree program at a college, community college, or university (two-to-four year institution) no more than two years before the internship program start date.

– Are a veteran of the United States Armed Forces who possesses a high school diploma or its equivalent and has served on active duty—for any length of time—in the two years preceding the internship program start date.

The White House Internship Program is highly competitive.  Applicants are selected based on their demonstrated commitment to public service, leadership in the community, and commitment to the Trump Administration.  Questions about the White House Internship Program application can be directed to intern_application@who.eop.gov.  More information, including details about placements in the White House Internship Program and a list of frequently asked questions, can be found on the White House website:  https://www.whitehouse.gov/participate/internships.

 

Bowser Administration Shares Update on Opportunity Zones

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:CONTACT: Chanda Washington (DMPED) – (202) 727-6698; chanda.washington@dc.gov
March 22, 2018

Red Bar
DMPED

PRESS RELEASE


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 22, 2018

CONTACT:
Chanda Washington (DMPED) – (202) 727-6698; chanda.washington@dc.gov

Bowser Administration Shares Update on Opportunity Zones

Continues to Move Forward New Federal Program Which Aims to Spur Investments in Low-Income Areas

Washington, DC — Today, the Bowser Administration shared feedback received from a web-based survey regarding where to locate Opportunity Zones, a new designation that provides tax incentives to encourage investment in low-income areas. Additionally, the Administration announced it has formally submitted a request to the United States Treasury for a deadline extension in order to make the best decision possible.

The District may designate up to 25 Census Tracts as federal Opportunity Zones, which were created in the recent tax reform legislation and qualifies the area for tax-advantaged investments. Because of the short federal timelines for designation, the District sought the public’s input on three potential Opportunity Zone maps with the following themes: East of the River, Retail Corridors, and Creative Industries and Manufacturing. The survey, designed by The Lab @ DC, resulted in 385 respondents ranking the options, and 264 providing written feedback and comments. East of the River received the highest ranking with 202, followed by Retail Corridors at 103 and Creative Industries and Manufacturing at 87.

“The response we received to our survey demonstrates that residents recognize the benefit of this tool in order to help our most distressed neighborhoods,” said Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development Brian Kenner. “We are thankful for the thoughtful feedback and want to ensure we make the best choices possible for District residents.”

Given the amount of interest and the continued opportunity to learn more, the Bowser Administration is submitting a 30-day extension request to U.S. Treasury. The Administration expects to make nominations by the new April 20, 2018 deadline. The District welcomes additional written feedback from the Advisory Neighborhood Commissions by April 10, 2018.

Opportunity Zones are a new community development program established by Congress in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 to encourage long-term investments in low-income urban and rural communities nationwide. The Opportunity Zones program provides a tax incentive for investors to re-invest their unrealized capital gains into Opportunity Funds. The incentive could help to promote investments in new public infrastructure, affordable housing, businesses, or capital improvements.

The federal program allows states to choose up to 25 percent of eligible census tracts as Opportunity Zones. In the District, 97 census tracts meet the eligibility requirements and the District can designate up to 25 for the program.

The three options highlighted in the survey are described below.

OPTION 1 – East of the River
These census tracts contain a substantial amount of housing, lower than average amounts of commercial land, and multiple parks. They cover areas of the Kenilworth, Bellevue, Congress Heights, Washington Highlands, Anacostia, Woodlawn, and Eastlawn Gardens neighborhoods. 

OPTION 2 – Retail Corridors
These census tracts contain large amounts of commercial land and several mixed-use retail corridors. They cover areas in the Brightwood, LeDroit Park, Brentwood, Twining, Fairfax Village, and Naylor Gardens neighborhoods.

OPTION 3 – Creative Industries & Manufacturing
These census tracts contain a high percentage of commercial land, most of the District’s industrial land, two multi-use neighborhood centers, and a Main Street mixed-use corridor. They cover areas in the Brentwood, Eckington, Ivy City, and Trinidad neighborhoods.

For more information and to view map of the zones, follow this link.


Omnibus spending bill rejects Trump EPA, DOE cuts

AUTHOR: Gavin Bade@GavinBade PUBLISHED March 22, 2018

Dive Brief:
An omnibus spending bill released late Wednesday by Congressional leaders rejects President Trump’s proposals for federal energy agencies, keeping funds for the Environmental Protection Agency stable while increasing clean energy spending at the Department of Energy.
The omnibus includes an increase of nearly $1.5 billion in DOE clean energy funding, including a 14% increase to the renewable energy and efficiency office, and a 16% increase at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). Trump had sought to cut the renewables office by 65% and eliminate ARPA-E.

Congress must pass the omnibus by midnight Friday to avoid a partial government shutdown. Politico reports the White House supports the package despite higher funding for domestic agencies.
Domestic energy programs were targets for some of the steepest cuts in Trump’s budget proposal.

At DOE, the proposal would have slashed funding for renewable energy and late-stage technology commercialization efforts at ARPA-E and the loans office. Though funding for the Office of Fossil Energy would have increased, the plan would cut spending for carbon capture and storage (CCS), instead focusing on the development of new coal technologies, like small modular plants.

The omnibus spending bill would turn that proposal on its head, increasing funds for a number of offices Trump proposed to cut.

The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy would see a 14% increase over 2017 enacted funding levels, while funding at the Office of Fossil Energy would increase by 10%, the nuclear office by 19%, science office by 16%, and the energy office by 8%. The loan programs office would be preserved, as would funding for CCS.

If enacted, the omnibus would put the U.S. nearly on track to meet President Obama’s 2015 commitment to double clean energy R&D within a decade, noted Tarak Shah, a former Obama DOE official, in an email. That “Mission Innovation” goal was signed by 20 nations alongside the Paris climate accord, which President Trump announced the U.S. would withdraw from earlier this year.

The increased funding plan for DOE comes after senators from both parties questioned Secretary of Energy Rick Perry over the Trump administration’s budget request earlier this week. Perry promised that steep cuts to energy programs would not mean a “reduction in results,” but also pledged to operate any programs that Congress funds “in a way you will be most pleased with.”

Gov. Hogan greenlights dangerous Potomac Pipeline. Call him today.

Author: Chesapeake Climate Action Network March 22,2018

Governor Larry Hogan just gave formal approval to the Potomac Pipeline for fracked-gas. This dangerous pipeline would cross under the Potomac River and treasured C&O Canal, threatening the drinking water of millions of residents and accelerating climate change. After Marylanders took a historic step to ban fracking in their state, we should be moving forwards, not backwards, and fighting for a clean energy future.

Please phone Governor Hogan right now.

Follow these steps to call Governor Hogan now:

1. Dial this number: 800-811-8336.

2. Use this script— or paraphrase in your own words when Hogan’s staffer answers:

“Hi, my name is ________ and I am a resident of (name of town/city,Maryland). I am calling to say that I am very disappointed in Governor Hogan’s decision to permit the Potomac Pipeline and his plans to expand natural gas infrastructure throughout Maryland. Thousands of activists across Maryland worked to protect Maryland from fracking. These actions threaten our water and health and move Maryland backward on climate.”

Chesapeake Climate
Chesapeake Climate Action Network

Big MD Clean Energy Bill Fails

Author By:Mike Tidwell and Brooke Harper Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN Action Fund Mar 22, 2018

Ronald-

We’re not gonna sugar coat it: The Maryland General Assembly dropped the ball last week on a big climate bill. In an era of rising temperatures and Donald Trump, legislators failed to pass the urgently needed Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act. And then Governor Larry Hogan made things WORSE. He gave formal approval last Friday to a fracked-gas pipeline that would cut right across Maryland, endangering our drinking water and accelerating climate change.

So it was a bad week, last week. But never forget the words of Winston Churchill who once said: “Leadership is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm.”

We have sky-high enthusiasm right now. That’s because Maryland is a proven national leader on climate issues. So with your help, we WILL come back next year and pass the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act! We WILL — under this bill — double wind and solar power in our state and invest in job training for minority, veteran, and and women-owned businesses in the renewable energy industry.

And as for Governor Hogan: We may very well see him in court over his proposed Potomac Pipeline. We won’t let him turn Maryland into a massive hub for the transport of fracked gas. He wants to let notorious polluter TransCanada bring dirty gas down from Pennsylvania, through Maryland and under the Potomac River, for combustion in West Virginia. He also wants to spend $70 million of YOUR money to help other Canadian and U.S. companies build even MORE fracked-gas pipelines in coming years across the state. But again, with your help, we won’t let him.

Send an email to your state legislators right now and — if they supported the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act — say THANK YOU. After you’ve done that, take two minutes to call Governor Larry Hogan and tell him to stop trying to turn Maryland into a massive hub for fracked gas.

Here’s what happened with the Clean Energy Jobs Act:

With polar ice caps melting, Hogan has taken a polar opposite approach on big climate policies. The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act, which he has opposed in the past, is the strongest and most popular climate legislation every proposed in the state. It would mandate that half of our statewide grid come from renewable energy in the coming decade. It would invest $27 million in workforce development for veterans, women, and minority workers. It is supported by a record 650-plus groups statewide, including the Maryland League of Conservation Voters, the NAACP, the Maryland Ecumenical Leaders Group, and more.

But here’s the best part: House Bill 1453 and Senate Bill 732 got a record number of co-sponsors in the Maryland House and Senate as the 90-day legislative session kicked off in January. With Trump withdrawing from the Paris Climate Accord and imposing tariffs on solar power, a full 77 members co-sponsored our bill in the House of Delegates (a majority). And 24 Senators co-sponsored the bill (also a majority). But then, in a surprise move, a small subcommittee voted against the bill in the House. Then the Senate decided to table the bill until next year.

Click here to thank your state legislators who co-sponsored the Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act. With Donald Trump and extreme weather out of control, tell your leaders you look forward to working with them to advance this must-pass bill during the next session of the General Assembly in early 2019.

Governor Hogan approved the Potomac Pipeline — but that’s not all:

Now, the Maryland climate movement must turn its full attention to Larry Hogan and his rogue campaign to expand dangerous fracked gas combustion throughout the state. Despite signing an historic fracking ban in Maryland last year, Hogan has been quietly collaborating with Canadian gas companies to, in the words of his Administration, “kick-start a natural gas expansion . . . throughout Maryland.”

Last Friday, despite months of protest from citizens across the region, Hogan issued a highly flawed state permit, clearing the way for construction once regulators in the Trump Administration give their approval. This was his chance to reject the dangerous proposal and protect Marylanders from TransCanada. The company, of course, is a proven international polluter in a class all its own (remember Keystone XL?!) It’s absurd. CCAN and our partners will continue to do all we can to stop this proposed pipeline from running from Pennsylvania, through Maryland, and under the Potomac River for combustion in West Virginia.

Hogan also wants to give $70 million of ratepayer money to large gas companies as part of a deal with Calgary-based AltaGas. Alta wants to merge with local utility Washington Gas and Light. Hogan has proposed a “settlement” that would require AltaGas and ratepayers like you to fund a major buildout of more and more gas pipelines all across the state. More insanity. CCAN and dozens of other groups and businesses have submitted comments to the Maryland Public Service Commission asking the regulatory body to reject Hogan’s fracked-gas agenda.

Now you can join the fracked-gas protest effort. Take two minutes to call Governor Larry Hogan and tell him to stop trying to turn Maryland into a massive hub for fracked gas.

In closing, we want to give a shout out to some climate champions who’ve stood out in Annapolis in recent weeks. One is Maryland Senator Brian Feldman, (D-15) of Montgomery County. Senator Feldman was lead sponsor of the Clean Energy Jobs Act and advocated with exceptional passion, savvy, and intelligence for the bill. And although we didn’t win, Senator Feldman distinguished himself yet again as that rare legislator who combines true-blue belief with legislative talent to represent every activist’s dream lawmaker. Many thanks Senator Feldman!

Finally, we want to thank two mothers and three grandmothers from Maryland and West Virginia. These women were peacefully arrested last week outside Hogan’s Annapolis office as they protested against the Potomac Pipeline. “Mothers protecting Mother Earth” is what they called themselves. Now we want to thank them by name. So to you – Jean Cushman, Pam Dehmer, Elizabeth Freeman, Liz Feighner, and Lynn Yellot – we offer the highest salute and pledge that we will never stop fighting with you to keep fossil fuels in the ground for the sake of your kids and grandkids.

Sincerely,

Mike Tidwell and Brooke Harper
Chesapeake Climate Action Network and CCAN Action Fund

Pepco not crediting production properly

Author By :Neil Froemming
Wed, Mar 21, 2018 2:14 pm
We have a new solar array at our Quaker meetinghouse near Dupont Circle.

We just got our electric bill for Feb-Mar — the first month of solar panel usage.
Perhaps it will help you to understand Pepco billing to see the before and after record for our March bills.
If you look at the comparison below, you see that in our bill for March 2016, we used 6589 KWh and paid about 11.4 cents for each kWh. Almost the entire bill was based on charges for the energy we used.

In June of 2016, Pepco came and changed our meter to a “smart meter” that could track our usage. Then, they changed us from a residential rate to a non-residential rate. You can see that our March 2017 bill was higher, even though we used less power. That’s because the rate went up a bit, but mostly because there’s a new “Maximum Demand Charge” that is not based on usage, but on how fast we used energy during a particular peak period. So $186.57 of the bill would not be affected by our solar panels.

When you look at the March 2018 bill, you see that we used less power from Pepco, because our new solar panels generated some power. But the Maximum Demand rate had increased, so now $328.29 of the bill is not based on usage.

Pepco can’t see the power our panels generate (unless they generate more than we use). They just see the difference between what we use and what we produce, which is the amount we draw from them (or give to them).

You can see below those Pepco numbers that our solar panel production metering reported that the panels produced 1,738 KWh during the billing period. We can add that to the 3,760 KWh that Pepco says they sold us and find our total usage — 5,498 KWh. That’s close enough to the prior year to be plausible.

2016 2017 2018
Billed Usage (KWh) 6589 5200 3760
Rate – cents per KWh 11.4 12.3 11.5
Usage Charge 753.92 638.58 430.86
Customer Charge 23.39 27.11 31.07
Maximum Demand Charge 159.46 297.22
Total $ 777.31 825.15 759.15
Solar Production (KWh) 1738
Total Usage 6589 5200 5498
Solar Production($) 199.16

We can multiply the 1,738 of production by the billing rate that Pepco charged us in March and calculate that we saved about $199 on our March Pepco bill.

Someday, we imagine, we will get SRECs for the reported generation, and will have saved another $700 or so.

If you ask how you can check to see whether Pepco is telling the truth about your usage and production on your electric bill, the short answer is — You can’t, unless you buy your own electric meter and stick it next to the Pepco meter.

But that’s nothing new. Before you got solar panels, you had to trust that Pepco meters were accurate. That hasn’t changed.

What has changed is that Pepco (Exelon) is proposing to charge mximum demand charge to residential customers. I see that some folks are very upset about that, but solar panel owner’s in DC are getting such a ridiculously good deal on SREC’s that I find it hard to be outraged. We stand to pay for our panels in 5 years and then continue to make a very large profit.

And we do continue to expect Pepco to stand by to provide us electricity on cold January mornings, when our demand is highest and our solar production is neglible.

In our case, our Meeting is being billed on a nonrsidential-demand tariff, and they calculate the “maximum demand” as the highest ½-hour demand during the month. That doesn’t make a lot of sense, in terms of energy policy. They should be calculating our demand during Pepco’s highest demand period, because that’s what drives their need for stand-by capacity. Our biggest peaks aren’t even in the summer.

Better yet, they should just charge us more for power we use during Pepco peak periods. Then we help find ways to improve the situation.

I would urge Solar United Neighbors not to just protest against maximum demand charges, but to protest in favor of a sensible alternative.

Getting San Diego Ready for 100% Renewable Energy — Episode 52 of Local Energy Rules Podcast

DATE: 14 MAR 2018 |

More than 50 U.S. cities have made commitments to reach 100% renewable electricity, many inspired by Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign and the cost-effectiveness of solar and wind power. But how do communities build the political will to adopt such goals, and how do they plan to meet them?

In San Diego, the answer to both is the exercise of local authority. In particular, the city is taking advantage of the state’s community choice energy law to take over selecting where the city’s residents and businesses get their electricity.

Nicole Capretz is the executive director of the Climate Action Campaign and former staffer to the San Diego mayor during the creation of the city’s climate action plan. Capretz recently spoke with ILSR’s director of Energy Democracy, John Farrell, about the city’s adoption of a 100% renewable electricity goal, and the struggle against the incumbent electric utility company for control of the journey toward that goal.

Hear our full conversation on ILSR’s Local Energy Rules Podcast here:

What’s the Motivation?

Unlike cities in most other states, San Diego has a legal obligation under California state law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But the obligation notwithstanding, the city’s abundant solar resource has made residents interested in solar for years. “We should not be able to turn our heads in San Diego and not see rooftop or parking lot solar,” said Nicole in our February interview.

San Diego would join over 100 cities, and 13-14 counties that have already executed or are moving to offer community choice energy. Local control and local economic development are key principles for many of these other communities. For San Diego, Nicole suggested, community choice means “millions of dollars to reinvest in the community” to incentivize rooftop solar, electric vehicle ownership.

In particular, Nicole notes that under the current system, with San Diego Gas & Electric as the city’s monopoly electric company, the city and its residents have no real power in the energy system. “The city of San Diego has no control or jurisdiction over our utility. They are completely regulated by the state…San Diego is really far away from our regulatory agency in San Francisco…it’s an eight-hour car ride” Creating a community choice program that’s locally managed “let’s have a transparent public process so we can have local accountability and…have local residents participate in that process.”

What’s the Barrier?

When San Diego first began discussing community choice as a route to 100% renewable energy, the utility (San Diego Gas & Electric) was adamant that it was technically impossible. “You have to have natural gas. Point of fact. And they’re the experts,” said Nicole of the utility’s point of view.

But when it became clear that the city wasn’t dissuaded, the utility changed its message. They’ve now released a concept paper about how they could offer the city and its customers 100% renewable energy by 2035.

SDG&E is the first utility to use shareholder dollars to spend unlimited amounts of money to oppose community choice. “Pretty much embroiled in the same fight that Marin was in with PG&E.”

What’s the Difference Between Community Choice and Utility Visions?

The key difference between the community choice and utility vision is choice. Under community choice, “If people love their utility, if people think SDG&E is the cat’s meow…you can stay with SDG&E,” said Nicole. With the incumbent utility model, customers no choice of provider. There are also competing visions of how the energy is produced and delivered.

San Diego residents “want to be energy independent, we want to be energy resilient…the pathway for that–taking advantage of this natural sun resource–is small-scale, decentralized rooftop and parking lot solar, community solar. Flipping the script on our energy production and allowing consumers to be in control and in charge,” said Nicole.

The utility has a competing vision, Nicole outlined:

“They still prefer the large-scale solar, the large transmission lines. Regardless of whether it’s clean electricity or natural gas electricity that’s centralized and shipped in, that model they prefer. It’s the model they make the most money off of.”

What’s the Next Step?

The city is at the tail end of the evaluation process and the Mayor has committed to taking a vote this year (2018) to establish a community choice program. The feasibility study results were very positive, projecting the city’s “utility” would be financially solvent, meet state greenhouse gas emissions goals, and reach 100% renewable energy supply. The study also found it feasible that the savings could allow for much higher investments in local distributed energy (like solar), energy efficiency, and programs to reduce energy demand during periods of peak use.

In anticipation of the vote, the city is finalizing its business plan, which will include the decision making structure of the choice program and the power supply portfolio for the initial program.

With over 50 cities similarly committed to 100% renewable electricity, San Diego provides its peers with a pathway: community control.


For more on community choice energy, read our summaries and listen to podcast interviews with Lane Sharman about the early efforts in San Diego, with Marin Clean Energy CEO Dawn Wiesz about their pioneering effort to establish the first community choice program in California, and with Glenn Weinberg, who helped launch the Westchester Power choice program in New York.

For more on city tools to meet ambitious local energy goals, see ILSR’s Community Power Toolkit


This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter or get ILSR’s Energy Democracy weekly update.

Looking to the future while celebrating community solar in D.C.

Shiela Credel (middle) and other recipients of electricity bill credits from the first community solar project in D.C. enjoyed seeing some of the panels that make up the solar system.

Shiela Credel (middle) and other recipients of electricity bill credits from the first community solar project in D.C. enjoyed seeing some of the panels that make up the solar system.

On a crisp March morning, Sheila Credel looked over the solar panels soaking up sunlight on the roof of an office building in downtown D.C. “They’re beautiful,” she said with a smile. The panels produce enough electricity to cover more than $20 per month on her electricity bill. Credel lives in one of about 100 units of affordable housing in the District that benefit from the city’s firstcommunity solar project. “I’m sure grateful for that energy and what comes off my bill each month,” she said.

Credel was one of a few dozen attendees, beneficiary residents, project developers, government officials, and solar supporters, who showed up to celebrate the first anniversary of the community solar project coming online. The event was held March 10, at the downtown offices of law firm Nixon Peabody, one of three office buildings where the 180 kW of solar generates $25,000 of electricity each year. All of this electricity is credited to D.C. residents like Sheila Credel.

The event included remarks from Department of Energy & Environment Director Tommy Wells, residents of Copeland Manor and Trinity Plaza, the two affordable housing properties benefiting from this project, as well as Herb Stevens and Jeff Lesk. Stevens and Lesk are Nixon Peabody Partners and co-founders of New Partners Community Solar, a nonprofit setup to manage and expand community solar ventures in the District. In addition to looking back on the successful implementation of this initial community solar project, the program looked forward to the next phase of community solar development.

That future is bright. New Partners plans to develop 1 MW of solar over 12 – 15 rooftops and aims to add another 300 low- and moderate-income beneficiaries throughout the District in the coming years. This work will be in addition to expanding its focus to include funding job training for Washingtonians looking to benefit from the growing renewable energy economy.

The interest in expanding community solar extends beyond the efforts of New Partners. The National Housing Trust, which manages the Copeland Manor and Trinity Plaza properties, also expressed an interest in expanding the benefits of community solar beyond the initial 100 units to all of their residents in nearly 1,000 units of affordable housing across the District in the next three years.

Bringing community solar to D.C. was a long and hard-fought battle that Solar United Neighbors is proud to have helped lead. Now that the program is on stable footing and will continue to grow, we’re excited to see how it will help to ensure that the District stays a place that’s inclusive and enjoyable by everyone—not just those who are fortunate enough to have resources. Combined with D.C.’s innovative Solar for All program, which provides grant funding for low- and moderate-income residents who want to go solar and includes our ongoing 51st State Solar Co-op, D.C. is well on its way to having the most inclusive solar market in the nation.

We will continue the fight for inclusion, equity, and energy democracy in D.C., so that more residents like Sheila Credel can let the sun pay their electric bills!

How D.C. advocates made community solar a reality

In D.C., we passed the Community Renewables Energy Act of 2013. The bill authorizes virtual net-metering and allows D.C. residents to virtually “subscribe” …

Sylvester Bush – Washington, D.C.

The installation took a day. Overall the process was efficient, organized and seamless from start to finish.

Sylvester Bush, Solar homeowner – Washington, D.C.
West Solar with the East of the River Solar Co-op in 2016
System size: 5.89 kW, 18 solar panels

Why did you decide to go solar?

I went solar to reduce my electric bill.

Why did you opt to go solar with a co-op?

[Going solar with the co-op provided] economies of scale/strategic sourcing, a mnimal learning curve—the institutional knowledge of the co-op facilitators reduces the learning curve. [It also] minimized risks and uncertainties. The co-op submits an RFP to prospective qualified Solar Vendors and they submit proposal (technical and cost) and they are evaluated and a selection is made and the price per killowatt is known upfront.

What advice would you give to someone considering going solar?

Do it and own your system if you can because you realize three benefits.  They are as follows:

  • 30% tax credit of the system cost in the year that the system is installed
  • Savings on electric bill—you only pay for electricity that you use that is not generated by your solar panels
  • Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs)—for every 1000 kWh your system generates you receive one SREC, which you get to sell.

What surprised you most about the process?

The installation took a day. Overall the process was efficient, organized and seamless from start to finish.

Ruling clarifies solar tax credit’s scope for batteries

By on March 10, 2018

The federal government offers a non-refundable 30% tax credit based on your solar system’s purchased cost. As with much of tax law, what is included in “system” is complicated. One particularly murky area had been the extent to which battery systems could be included in the definition of “system” and therefore eligible for the tax credit. Earlier this month, the Internal Revenue Service released a private letter ruling (PDF) that indicated battery systems tied to solar are eligible for the 30% federal tax credit.

The ruling said that batteries are eligible for the credit as long as they only store electricity directly from the solar system. That is to say, you can’t use the battery to store grid-sourced electricity for later use and still receive the credit.

It is important to note that private letter rulings do not carry the effect of precedent. They are intended only to apply to a specific taxpayer’s request for clarification. That being said, the ruling is indicative of how the agency will assess these systems going forward.

“While the letter is not able to be used by others as a foundation for their deduction, there is little question in my mind that the battery issue is in full compliance with current law when the facts at hand are similar to those stated in the IRS letter,” said tax advisor Larry Fischel.

For this tax season, this credit can be recovered for systems placed in service before the end of 2017. This credit is covered under section 25D of the IRS code. The relevant sections are 25D(d)(2), 25D(e)(2), and 25D(d)8. The Federal Tax Credit for homeowners is scheduled to lower to 26% in 2020 and 22% in 2021. It is set to expire at the end of 2023.

Pairing solar with storage provides several benefits for homeowners. Solar + storage enables homeowners to have back-up power. This provides piece of mind should service from the electric grid go out. When the grid goes down, grid-connected solar systems automatically shut off. This is a safety mechanism to protect utility line workers who could be injured by solar-generated electricity while working to restore power.

But this back-up power can come at a steep premium. The cost of storage is prohibitively high for most consumers. The IRS clarification on the availability to use the solar tax credit for battery back up could help more homeowners add storage. For more information about battery storage click here.

Pennsylvania proposal could bolster EV charging infrastructure

AUTHOR:Robert Walton@TeamWetDog PUBLISHED March 16, 2018

Dive Brief:

After nearly a year of study, Pennsylvania regulators have proposed new rules governing third party electric vehicle charging that are meant to bring certainty and clarity to the burgeoning industry.
The draft policy clarifies that third-party electric vehicle charging is not considered resale/redistribution, and directs electric distribution companies to add EV charging tariff provisions.
Last May, the Public Utilities Commission launched an investigation into issues surrounding third-party operation of electric vehicle charging stations. The resulting new rules will be published in the Pennsylvania Bulletin and followed by a 45-day comment period.

Regulatory certainty is essential to any industry, and Pennsylvania regulators are proposing to clear up a major issue. Under the proposed rules, which advanced Thursday on a 5-0 vote, third-party charging would not be considered resale or redistribution under Section 1313 of the Public Utility Code, which could have restricted charging station operators’ ability to earn a profit.

The rule requires that entities reselling power cannot charge more than what the utility “would bill its own residential consumers for the same quantity of service.” That was among the issues the PUC wanted to address last June when it issued a letter launching the inquiry.

“Elimination of any regulatory uncertainty is an important first step in supporting the build-out of electric vehicle infrastructure,” Chairman Gladys Brown said in the PUC’s motion. “The existing panoply of different tariffs indeed results in a lack of clarity and consistency throughout the state regarding resale/redistribution of electricity for EV charging.”

Brown said the solution is to make tariff provisions for EV charging ubiquitous among electric distribution companies.

Pennsylvania last year had an estimated 725 charging stations and 3,600 electric vehicles on its roads. The PUC’s motion notes that vehicles and charging stations continue to grow, and planning and notification of their location are essential.

In the New South, customer demand is showing utilities the dollars and sense in solar

AUTHOR: Herman K. Trabish PUBLISHED March 15, 2018

The remarkable transition that utilities in the Southeast are undergoing is a powerful indicator of the profound changes happening in the nation’s power sector.

The Southeast had 200 MW of solar capacity in 2012, but led by North Carolina’s Duke Energy utilities and Georgia Power, it had 6 GW at the end of 2017, according to Solar in the Southeast, released in February by the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy (SACE). Even utilities not aggressively building solar now realize customers want solar — it is affordable, and there are ways it can serve utility purposes.
Utilities in the Southeast are responding to rising customer demand for renewables by capturing the economic opportunity in a solar resource second only to sun in the desert Southwest in the United States. Existing contracts and commitments promise over 10 GW of solar capacity in the Southeast by 2019 and as much as 15 GW by 2021, according to SACE. The growth has been and will continue to be almost entirely in utility-scale solar.

Utilities in the conservative Southeast have taken little notice of solar beyond its ability to meet growing residential and commercial customer demand at increasingly attractive prices. A third factor, which has emerged only recently in the wake of climate change-driven extreme storms and power outages, is solar’s potential resilience value. While the overall national trend for solar installations is upward, there have been some hiccups recently.

Total solar installations across the U.S. fell from 15 GW in 2016 to 10.6 GW in 2017, driven partly by uncertainty over tariffs on solar cells and modules that were eventually imposed in January by the Trump Administration. Other factors impacting solar growth include changes in state incentives and net metering policies, according to a new report from GTM and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Due to the tariffs and recent tax changes, GTM has lowered its forecast for total photovoltaic installations in the U.S. from 2018 to 2022 by 13%.

2017 installations across the U.S. were still about 40% higher than the number in 2015, but the biggest obstacles to growth are the absence of supportive policy and diminishing utility load. They are reasons only about an eighth of today’s 6 GW is distributed solar, according to SACE Solar Program Director and report lead author Bryan Jacob. Many of the region’s utilities, facing flat or declining load growth, oppose strong supports for customer-sited solar.

But new laws and policies, put forward by lawmakers responding to popular demand, are laying the groundwork across the region for more changes.

Solar watts per customer

The report’s key metric is watts of installed solar per customer (W/C), SACE’s Jacob told Utility Dive. It allows a fair comparison between large utilities like the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) or Florida Power and Light (FPL) and small municipal utilities and cooperatives (co-ops).

At the end of 2017, Duke Energy Progress was the W/C leader with 1,117 W/C. Duke Energy Carolinas (474 W/C) and Georgia Power (364 W/C) were second and third among larger Southeast utilities, SACE reports. Some smaller utilities also ranked high. Cobb EMC, a small Georgia co-op, had 635 W/C and Mississippi Power had 455 W/C. Many of the region’s very small utilities remain in single digits.

“Strong public policy direction” in the Carolinas and Georgia has been determinative, SACE reports. But Tennessee and Alabama “lack supportive public policies, leaving those states with projections at less than half of the region average through 2021.”

North Carolina’s HB 589, passed in 2017, will grow the state’s solar to almost 6,000 MW by 2021. As a result, Duke Progress will likely reach 2,315 W/C and Duke Carolinas will reach 821 W/C.

South Carolina’s Act 236, passed in 2014, is expected to move South Carolina Electric and Gas from 2017’s 182 W/C to 1,216 W/C in 2021. The Georgia Public Service Commission’s new rules governing solar procurement and contracting is expected to help Georgia Power grow from 364 W/C to 794 W/C by 2021.

The Georgia commission’s leadership also “catalyzed” growth in Southern Company subsidiaries Alabama Power, Mississippi Power and Florida’s Gulf Power, SACE reports.

Ballot initiatives in Florida created new laws and led to regulatory settlements that, combined, are expected to grow FPL from 109 W/C to 389 W/C and Duke Energy Florida from 65 W/C to 679 W/C. Tampa Electric is projected to go from 37 W/C to 818 W/C. Seminole Electric Cooperative is projected to almost triple from 17 W/C to 50 W/C, all by 2021.

The projected growth to 15 GW in 2021 would make solar only 3% of total Southeastern retail electricity sales, “considerably below levels that could trigger changes in grid operation practices,” SACE reports. Penetrations in North and South Carolina will, however, “offer real-world opportunities to observe how solar power contributes to system reliability,” the report adds.

Utility-scale projects, with the advantage of economies of scale, made up 87% of 2017’s installed capacity in the Southeast and could be 90% by 2021, SACE’s Jacob said.

The momentum seems to be away from rooftop solar. “In several states, utilities can and do impose inefficient or unnecessary constraints on distributed generation,” SACE reports.

Only Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina will have “appreciable” growth in distributed solar, it adds. There is almost no retail rate net energy metering (NEM) and other compensation, like the TVA Green Power Providers program, which has provided an above-retail per-kWh compensation to solar owners, is being reduced.

​A new demand factor beginning to capture utilities’ attention is the opportunity for economic development in helping corporate off-takers meet renewables and climate goals, according to Jacob.

Battery energy storage and community solar are also emerging in the region. “If storage prices continue their current decline, solar-plus-storage will soon be cost-competitive with what the utilities call baseload resources,” he said. Community solar appeals to utilities because it gives them control and allows them to offer solar to residential customers without solar suitable roofs.

Credit: From SACE’s report on solar in the Southeast

Duke and Georgia Power build big numbers

North Carolina’s 2007 renewables mandate was the first in the Southeast. With it, and subsequent policies and laws, the state has built the second biggest solar installed capacity in the U.S., SACE reports.

The Duke Energy utilities supplied 83% of North Carolina’s solar in 2017. Spokesperson Randy Wheeless said the Carolinas’ policies, including the mandate and generous state tax credits, created “motivated utilities.”

A less often mentioned policy was North Carolina’s interpretation of the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA), he told Utility Dive. It guaranteed the success of much of the state’s smaller utility-scale solar by requiring the state’s major utilities to buy project output if offered at a competitive price.

In South Carolina, “solar was pretty nonexistent” until the 2014 law was implemented, Wheeless said. “In 2014, we had 700,000 customers and less than 100 net metering customers in South Carolina. Today, we have around 5,000 net metering customers.”

In both the Carolinas and Florida, Duke participated in collaborative, stakeholder-led processes that resulted in policies that are “good for the utility, its customers, the solar industry, and customers who want solar,” Wheeless said. “That is the best way to go.”

Those processes led to the laws in South Carolina and North Carolina and the agreement in Florida that all promise important new solar growth.

Subsidy limits

Renewable growth will continue in the Southeast because “there does not appear to be anything that will stop the momentum and customers want solar,” Wheeless said. “But is it sustainable to keep subsidies in place forever? And, if not, when do they sunset?”

Georgia Power has built its renewables portfolio without a state renewables mandate, spokesperson John Kraft emailed Utility Dive.

The utility’s 970 MW of operating solar capacity is “the largest voluntary renewable portfolio in the country,” Kraft said. And there could be as much as 1,600 MW of new renewable capacity by 2021.

The utility’s success with solar is based on two key factors, Kraft said. The first is a “constructive regulatory environment” without legislative or regulatory mandates. It allows the utility “flexibility to design, implement and improve programs at a rapid but thoughtful pace.”

The second is solar’s “improving efficiency and declining technology costs,” he said. That made it possible for the utility to take advantage of the state’s rich solar resource and grow its installed solar capacity “without putting upward pressure on rates.”

Duke and Georgia Power have found solar to be affordable, but other utilities are not sure.

Credit: From SACE’s report on solar in the Southeast

Are TVA and Santee Cooper sunblockers?

Both TVA and Santee Cooper, though public utilities, should find current solar economics as appealing as the investor-owned utilities (IOUs) have, Jacob said. But they are among the utilities SACE calls “Sunblockers” for “sticking with outdated plans.”

TVA, with 4.7 million customers, recently solicited offers for 200 MW of solar at the same time that Jacksonville Electric Authority, with 454,000, solicited bids for 250 MW of solar, Jacob said. FPL, the same size as TVA, plans to have 2 GW of solar by 2023, he added. “TVA is an order of magnitude too low and needs to get in the game.”

TVA Vice President for Distributed Energy Resources Jay Stowe responded that TVA’s plans are not “outdated” and it will add solar “at a significant pace,” contrary to the SACE report’s assertions. But the utility must balance “flat or declining load growth with customer demand,” he told Utility Dive.

TVA’s recently commissioned 2 MW Music City Solar community solar project is an indication of where the utility is headed, he said. “Over the next 20 years, we plan to invest approximately $8 billion into our renewable energy portfolio.”

TVA does not “operate in a public policy vacuum, as SACE asserts, Stowe said. But its focus goes beyond solar. “54% of our current generating sources are carbon free but, because electricity sales are not growing, we have to be cautious about stranding assets.”

Of TVA’s 7,400 MW of installed renewables capacity, about 500 MW are solar and about 100 MW of those are distributed solar, according to Stowe. The remaining 6.9 GW are hydropower, biomass, biogass and wind.

SACE argues that TVA has “failed to respond to customer demand” and is “restricting solar choice” in its territory. It is doing this by “aggressively using a self-regulated rate design process to undercut solar penetration and dis-incentivize distributed solar.” The disincentive is a reduction of compensation for its Green Power Providers program, SACE adds.

Stowe acknolwedged that the Green Power Providers program compensation rate has been lowered progressively over the last several years. “As the cost of solar has decreased, we’ve decreased the incentive,” he added. “A retail rate compensation would be higher than the value of solar to the TVA system.”

SACE reports that TVA’s 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) includes “a very low solar ambition.” Stowe responded that the 2015 IRP is not an accurate representation of TVA’s current intent. “The utility world is very different than it was just a few years ago,” he said. “The IRP to be released in 2019 will call for more solar over the next few years.”

Santee Cooper is also “not planning to add significant generation of any kind for the foreseeable future,” spokesperson Mollie Gore emailed Utility Dive. If current load growth projections are accurate, its current capacity is adequate through the mid-2030s.

But it will add both “utility-owned and customer-owned” solar capacity, she said.

Santee Cooper will go from 2017’s 14 W/C to 34 W/C in 2021, according to SACE. But SACE calculates a customer base for Santee Cooper of almost 950,000. That includes the customers of the member co-ops to which Santee Cooper provides generation,” Gore said. For its own customer count of “about 180,000,” Santee Copper has an installed utility-scale solar capacity of almost 6 MW, she added.

In 2017, Santee Cooper added the 1.56 MW Bell Bay project to its 33 solar sites and added 245 distributed solar customers, Gore said. It plans to add 150 distributed solar customers per year from 2018 to 2020, she said. “We are looking at cost-effective solar opportunities on an ongoing basis.”

Credit: From SACE’s report on solar in the Southeast

Two perspectives

Jacob said the Southeastern utilities slowest to grow solar seem to be using outdated economic assessments. “They argue solar costs are too high, but the utilities going gangbusters on solar wouldn’t be building it if they couldn’t make a profit,” he said. “Solar is competitive in the Southeast and should have a bigger portion of the generation portfolio.”

Southern Company VP for Energy Policy Bruce Edelston said solar is growing at all four Southern Company IOU subsidiaries. “As the cost of solar has declined, we have begun taking advantage of it,” he told Utility Dive. “But there is less interest in distributed solar because it is still not cost-competitive.”

And, like other utilities in the region, “we have enough capacity for probably the next decade of load growth in most of our states,” Edelston said. “We are not building anything other than our nuclear plant and renewables right now. But if we can buy solar and use it to replace more expensive coal or gas, we will.”

A Game-changing Shift in the Way Power is Provided

By Carlos Koeneke, Vice President Project Engineering, MHPS, Inc. Published: February 13, 2018

As the utilities industry enters its second decade of deregulation, the power market has changed considerably, and is still in flux. But great change brings great opportunity. Looking at the evolving shape of the industry today, I’m excited by the opportunities emerging in various sectors.

The most impactful change that deregulation has spurred is, naturally, rapid privatization of formerly state-owned utility companies. This, combined with increasing tech innovation, has opened the playing field for all kinds of actors, from private companies known as independent power producers, to even households themselves, selling power back to the grid.

Flush with cash, these firms are eager for new markets to invest in. Since the 2008 financial crisis, private equity firms have gone from managing $1 trillion to $4.3 trillion, according to the advisory firm Triago. The deregulated utilities industry is incredibly attractive. Over the past decade, private equity companies have been pouring money into the utilities market as they see myriad opportunities for significant returns.

Columbus, Ohio-based American Electric Power recently agreed to sell four plants generating 5,200 MW to a joint venture of Blackstone and ArcLight Capital Partners for $2.17 billion. This is just one such sale – the Blackstone Group set up a fund of $40 billion to invest mainly in infrastructure projects.

It’s easy to see why utilities markets would be an attractive investment for private equity firms. Power is a non-negotiable fact of life. Everyone needs it, from the average consumer cooking dinner every night, to large companies running data centers, to cities lighting up urban power grids.

But the last thing firms entering the utilities market can afford to be is complacent. The new competition in the business of providing power has afforded consumers an array of options to choose from. If they don’t like their provider, they now have options for new power providers they didn’t use to have. Indeed, the ability to generate power has never been more democratic.

Utilities today are engaged in a variety of ways of attracting customers, from offering competitive rates and incentives for buying energy-efficient appliances, to appealing to consumer ethics with reduced carbon emission rates. One big plus for natural gas is that emits about half as much carbon dioxide as coal, and the shale gas boom has pushed the price of gas to well below that of coal. Cleaner and cheaper will win out every time.

Above all, though, utilities are seeking to offer consumers efficiency and reliability.

At Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems (MHPS), combining maximum power with maximum reliability is how we approach our power generation. The MHPS J-Series gas turbines deliver the best project financials and net present value because of best-in-class reliability, output and efficiency resulting in high-capacity factors. The M501JAC combined cycle plant will have the lowest CAPEX available today with an expected capital cost payback in 4 years.

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The financial value of this reliability cannot be overstated. Choosing an unreliable and unproven technology will negatively impact plant profitability – and in a worst-case scenario, outages could bankrupt a plant. Nothing will sink a utility quicker than disruptions in the production and delivery of electric power to the grid. MHPS estimates that if a 1,000 MW power plant went down for just one day it could lead to $63 million in losses.

Firms investing in utilities need to be certain their power generation won’t fail in the field and lead to expensive down time and maintenance. Understandably, clients are wary of using their own utilities to test out equipment.

Our solution to this constraint was to construct a full-scale verification power plant known as T-Point turbine facility. The facility has been in operation since 1997 and is used to verify the design and operation of their gas turbine fleet during its development. But it also dispatches electric power to a local utility under contractual expectations on high reliability and availability.

The T-Point facility is unique in the gas turbine world in that it allows both single components and whole gas turbines to be verified for extended periods of time under operational conditions on their own power plant attached to the manufacturing plant, an ability that other manufacturers do not have. Thanks to this unique facility, we put our turbines through about 8,000 hours of testing before they go into commercial use. This is about 40 times more testing time than major rivals.

It’s innovations like these that have enabled MHPS to oversee the world’s most reliable fleet of gas turbines. Because if you’re investing in a utility, and you let the lights go out, you will pay a steep price and may find your customer isn’t there when they come back on.

Koeneke is Vice President Project Engineering, Mitsubishi Hitachi Power Systems Americas, Inc.

STEM4US : Infrastructure Workforce Summit

February 27, 2018
hosted by NASDAQ at its DC offices in partnership with the Washington Teachers Union and Lincoln University.

Held on Tuesday, February 27, 2018, during Black History Month, the Summit attracted over 60 registrants and special guests. Our speakers included:

Dr. Michael Wooten, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Community Colleges, Department of Education
Betty Ann Kane, Chair, DC Public Service Commission
Elizabeth Davis, Washington Teachers Union President
Jameel Johnson, Associate Vice President, NASDAQ
Maureen A. Lewis, Director, Minority Telecommunications Development, U.S.Dept. of Commerce
Dr. Charles Sutton, STEM Education Advisor to Lincoln University President & Director, Office of Research and Sponsored Programs
Gavin Logan, Fellow, National Urban League
The moderator for the Summit was Dr. Ivory Toldson, CEO of the QEM Network, Howard University Professor, Editor-in-chief of The Journal of Negro Education, and Former Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities.

Click below to check out a video of the event on the STEM4US! YouTube Channel.

NASDAQ Exec Jameel Johnson Speaks about Investments Needed to Prepare Workers to Modernize our Nation’s Crumbling Bridges, Airports, Train Systems and Other Infrastructure
Bipartisan HBCU Caucus & STEAM Caucus
Day of Legislative Action

You are invited to participate in this unique day of legislative action. The activities bring together key industry executives, HBCU leaders and Members of Congress to advocate for greater resources and opportunity for HBCUs and their students.

Throughout the day, supporters of STEM/STEAM at HBCUs are encouraged to meet with Members of Congress and key staffers. See below for a list of events.

What: HBCU Caucus & STEAM Caucus Day of Legislative Action

When: March 20, 2018, 9am-6pm

Events:
lyft + HBCUs: The New Wave of Transportation Steam Day of Action Welcome Breakfast (9:00AM-10:00AM 188 Russell)
HBCUs + Industry Luncheon Powered by Intel (12:30-2:00PM Hart 902)
HBCU West: The Future of HBCU Engagement with Google (6:00PM-7:30PM 25 Massachusetts Ave 9TH Floor NW, Washington DC.)