What “Living Under the Grid” Means

Author: Andrew Herscowitz   Published: May 14, 2019 Power Africa

In cities across Africa, the U.S. Government’s Power Africa program is undertaking efforts to bring electricity to homes, including those within the city limits. Many of the people living in these city neighborhoods do not just live near existing power lines — some of them literally live directly under the transmission lines.

Providing access to electricity for the first time is neither simple nor inexpensive. It costs between $500 and $190⁰¹ for each electrical connection to a home or business in sub-Saharan Africa. Most governments do not have the cash on hand to pay that expense in advance, particularly when it’s uncertain whether customers ultimately will be able to pay for the connection or even the electricity itself. Also, just because a big transmission line runs through a neighborhood does not mean that a wire can be connected to the transmission line to bring power to a home. Substations are needed to reduce the voltage of the power, which is then run through smaller capacity distribution lines that can be attached to homes and businesses.

To date, Power Africa, with its 160 public and private partners, has helped more than 120 power projects comprising more than 10,000 megawatts of new power generation reach financial close. Power Africa also has helped bring first-time electricity to more than 50 million people — but most of those new electrical connections are “off-the-grid.” That’s a wonderful result, but it’s not enough. We need to help connect more people and business to central grids, as well — and to make sure that those grids are functional and financially viable. A key challenge is that only two of the utilities in Africa are actually solvent. We have had some successes with utilities, though. In Nigeria, we helped four power distribution companies connect more than 540,000 new customers and generate more than $160 million in new revenues through improved operational efficiencies, which can be reinvested into the power sector.

Based on what we have learned from our successes and our challenges, in 2018, Power Africa launched its 2.0 strategy, which focuses more on helping power generation projects actually deliver power to homes and businesses, as well as enabling more productive uses of energy. There is no question that there will be demand for this electricity given that there still are 600 million people in sub-Saharan Africa who do not have access to electricity — as long as we build out the infrastructure needed to deliver it.

To understand what it’s like to live literally “under the grid,” the pictures below of an informal settlement tell many stories:

2. The first step to electrifying a community often involves installing a large community light. Many cities initially bring an extremely large street lamp into communities to bring light in the evenings. The light below is directly above the local market. In Nigeria, Power Africa is working with the Rural Electrification Agency to bring reliable electricity through solar mini-grids to local markets, which currently use a tremendous amount of diesel power from generators in an uncoordinated manner. Businesses will have more reliable and less expensive electricity as a result of this effort.

3. Even people who live under the grid still use solar home systems. In many countries in sub-Saharan Africa, where the sun often shines more than 300 days per year, it is never a bad idea to have a solar panel. After all, even if someone is connected to the grid, if there is a power cut, the solar panel can still power small appliances, charge mobile phones, and provide basic lighting, allowing daily home functions and businesses to continue.

4. (What you don’t see). People are reselling power to their neighbors at sometimes exorbitant prices. Not everyone in an informal settlement has an electrical connection — especially those who constructed their homesafter the city invested in electrical connections. Consequently, some entrepreneurial homeowners attach multiple connections, illegally, to their meters and then sell power to their neighbors at any price they wish.

What Power Africa is doing about it.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), which coordinates Power Africa’s efforts for the U.S. Government, is working with cities, national governments, and utilities to expand access to the grid and improve quality of service. In Ethiopia, for example, USAID helped improve cash collection at the Ethiopian Electric Utility (EEU), resulting in over $5 million in increased revenues and the connection of more than 10,000 customers. In Liberia, USAID and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) helped in procuring a new management services contract for the Liberia Electricity Corporation (LEC), which will reduce losses and connect an estimated 200,000 homes and businesses to the grid over five years. Power Africa, through USAID, has launched major new programs that will reduce the cost and time required for grid access across Africa and strengthen the utilities, adding millions of new electrical connections.

Power Africa has made a lot of progress since its launch in 2013, taking an all-of-the-above technology approach and leveraging more than $20 billion in investment to advance its goals. We have learned a lot from our partners and our experiences, so we know that if we keep rolling up our sleeves and working with governments, development partners, and the private sector, we can end energy poverty in sub-Saharan Africa.

Originally published at https://medium.com on May 14, 2019

Senators target 50% national renewable energy standard by 2035, zero-carbon by 2050

Author: Published: June 27, 2019 Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., on Wednesday introduced a bill that would establish a 50% renewable energy standard (RES) across the U.S. by 2035.
  • The bill would establish annual targets starting in 2020 requiring renewables generation for utilities based on their size. 17.6% of U.S. electricity was powered by renewables at the end of 2018, according to the Energy Information Association.
  • Currently, 35 states and the District of Columbia have renewable portfolio standards (RPS), but only 11 of those plans meet or exceed the proposed 50% federal standard. Any state with a renewable portfolio standard that meets or exceeds the federal RES could opt out of that standard.

OPINION Breaking through the hype – Neural networks and AI in the utility world

Author: By  June 28, 2019 Utility Dive

Transitioning US to 100% renewables by 2030 will cost rate payers $4.5T: WoodMac

 

Dive Brief:

  • Wood Mackenzie published a study Thursday estimating the cost of a 100% renewable energy transition by 2030 within the U.S., based on the more aggressive climate plans that have been proposed, including early versions of the House Green New Deal package.
  • According to the consultancy group, the transition could cost $4.5 trillion, or $35,000 per U.S. household.
  • The 2030 target would put the U.S. on an extremely accelerated installation path, with more annual capacity buildout over each of the next 11 years “than what has been installed collectively over the past two decades,” the report says.

Dive Insight:

WoodMac admits the timeline in their analysis may not be realistic. But it has been proposed in various plans to decarbonize the U.S. economy or move the country to 100% renewables, including Democratic presidential candidate and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal.

“We’re not saying that 2030 is even achievable, because of more social political issues,” Wade Schauer, director of WoodMac’s Americas power research, told Utility Dive.

The $4.5 trillion is also not realistic, at least by 2030 — and the amount doesn’t even include the stranded cost of the oil, gas and coal industries that would be disrupted by 100% renewables, or the costs to retrain employees.

But there are ways to trim the cost, according to WoodMac.

Prices could decrease substantially if the target date gets pushed back to 2045 or 2050, as technological advancements increase.

In addition, allowing existing nuclear plants to remain open would save about $500 billion, the report found. However, in the next decade, a lot of nuclear plants will exceed 60 years of age and start to retire. In addition, “when you get about 50% renewable energy, it’s going to put so much pricing pressure on the nuclear plants that it may very well end up forcing a lot of nuclear plants to retire [prematurely], because they can’t survive in a market where prices are ‘zero,'” Schauer said, referring to the falling energy prices of wind and solar.

This report also contributed to the many industry voices that have noted the importance of storage technology in a future with greater wind and solar penetration.

“The wild card in all of this is what happens with battery technology,” Jim Robb, president and CEO of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation, told reporters on Wednesday. “I’m not sure that lithium-ion batteries [are] the solution [for a clean energy transition]. I don’t know what the technology solution is, but I bet there is one … In my view, that’s the gatekeeper technology.”

Smaller, short-run lithium-ion storage facilities fail “to deliver the longer duration storage capability critical to balancing seasonal swings” in wind and solar production, WoodMac wrote. To backstop intermittency, the report assumed approximately 900 GW of storage investments would ensure reliability over the wind and solar resources needed to power the country, more than doubling the $1.5 trillion to build out wind and solar to $4 trillion.

Without ranking their importance, WoodMac identified several technologies that will play a large role in the renewables transition, including customer-facing grid edge technologies, demand response and next-generation storage (such as flow batteries, solid state and new anode chemistries).

While the price tag includes an estimated $700 billion in transmission buildout, Schauer pointed out that many will be opposed to the amount required, or to having “wind turbines in their backyard.”

The publication transformed from a “much longer report” to “more of a shorter thought piece,” Schauer said. “We plan to have follow up reports over the course of the next six months with more details about things like integration challenges and solutions that could help with those.”

Follow Iulia Gheorghiu on Twitter

 

 

Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy Financing

Author: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Published: Mar 8, 2019

Regulations.gov - Your Voice in Federal Decision Making

This Proposed Rule document was issued by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)

For related information, Open Docket Folder


Action

Advance notice of proposed rulemaking.

Summary

The Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection (Bureau) is issuing this Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) to solicit information relating to residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. The Bureau will consider the information it receives in response to this ANPR in implementing section 307 of the Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief, and Consumer Protection Act (EGRRCPA). In relevant part, EGRRCPA section 307 amends the Truth in Lending Act (TILA) to mandate that the Bureau prescribe certain regulations relating to PACE financing. Specifically, the regulations must carry out the purposes of TILA’s ability-to-repay (ATR) requirements, currently in place for residential mortgage loans, with respect to PACE financing, and apply TILA’s general civil liability provision for violations of the ATR requirements the Bureau will prescribe for PACE financing. The regulations must “account for the unique nature” of PACE financing. This ANPR solicits information to better understand the PACE financing market and the unique nature of PACE financing.

Dates

Comments must be received by May 7, 2019.

Addresses

You may submit responsive information and other comments, identified by Docket No. CFPB-2019-0011, by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments.
  • Email: PACEFinancingANPR@cfpb.gov. Include Docket No. CFPB-2019-0011 in the subject line of the message.
  • Mail: Comment Intake, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, 1700 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20552.
  • Hand Delivery/Courier: Comment Intake, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection, 1700 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20552.

Instructions: When responding to a particular question, please note the question number at the top of the response. Also, where applicable, please note whether any information provided is relevant to a PACE financing program that is specific to a particular jurisdiction or administrator.

You are not required to answer all questions to receive consideration of your comments. The Bureau encourages the early submission of comments. All submissions must include the document title and docket number.

Because paper mail in the Washington, DC area and at the Bureau is subject to delay, commenters are encouraged to submit comments electronically. In general, all comments received will be posted without change to http://www.regulations.gov. In addition, comments will be available for public inspection and copying at 1700 G Street NW, Washington, DC 20552, on official business days between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. eastern standard time. You can make an appointment to inspect the documents by telephoning 202-435-7275.

All submissions, including attachments and other supporting materials, will become part of the public record and subject to public disclosure. Sensitive personal information, such as account numbers or Social Security numbers, or names of other individuals, should not be included. Submissions will not be edited to remove any identifying or contact information.

For Further Information Contact

Rachel Ross, Attorney-Advisor; Joel Singerman, Counsel; or Nora Rigby, Senior Counsel; at (202)-435-7700. If you require this document in alternative electronic format, please contact CFPB_Accessibility.cfpb.gov.

Supplementary Information

The Bureau is issuing this ANPR to solicit information relating to residential PACE financing. (1) The Bureau will consider the information it receives in implementing EGRRCPA section 307, which was enacted by Congress on May 22, 2018, and signed into law on May 24, 2018.(2)

As defined in EGRRCPA, PACE financing is “financing to cover the costs of home improvements that results in a tax assessment on the real property of the consumer.”  (3) Section 307 amends TILA to direct regulatory action on PACE financing. It provides in relevant part that the Bureau shall prescribe regulations that (1) carry out the purposes of TILA section 129C(a), and (2) apply TILA section 130 with respect to violations under TILA section 129C(a) with respect to PACE financing, which shall account for the unique nature of PACE financing. (4)

This provision directs the Bureau to prescribe regulations that achieve two objectives and account for the unique nature of PACE financing. As to the first objective, the regulations must “carry out the purposes of” TILA’s existing ATR requirements. In general, the existing ATR requirements prohibit creditors from making a residential mortgage loan unless the creditor makes a reasonable and good faith determination based on verified and documented information that, at the time the loan is consummated, the consumer has a reasonable ability to repay the loan according to its terms, and all applicable taxes, insurance, and assessments. (5) In making that determination, a creditor is required to consider specific factors about the consumer’s finances, including, for example, the consumer’s income, assets, and debt obligations, and to verify the income or asset amounts it relied upon to determine the consumer’s repayment ability. (6) TILA states that the purpose of the ATR requirements is “to assure that consumers are offered and receive residential mortgage loans on terms that reasonably reflect their ability to repay the loans and that are understandable and not unfair, deceptive, or abusive.” (7)

As to the second objective, the regulations implementing EGRRCPA section 307 must apply TILA’s general civil liability provision for violations of the ATR rules that will apply to PACE financing. That provision sets forth damages for TILA violations generally, (8) as well as specific penalties for violations of the current ATR requirements. (9)

The Bureau is soliciting information through this ANPR that it believes will be helpful in developing a proposed rule that will meet these objectives and accounts for the unique nature of PACE financing. The Bureau is seeking five categories of information: (1) Written materials associated with PACE financing transactions; (2) descriptions of current standards and practices in the PACE financing origination process; (3) information relating to civil liability under TILA for violations of the ATR requirements in connection with PACE financing, as well as rescission and borrower delinquency and default; (4) information about what features of PACE financing make it unique and how the Bureau should address those unique features; and (5) views concerning the potential implications of regulating PACE financing under TILA. The Bureau anticipates that the information solicited will enable the Bureau to better understand the market and unique nature of PACE financing. This will help the Bureau formulate proposed regulations in a balanced manner, achieving the statutory objectives discussed above while avoiding the imposition of unnecessary or undue burden on industry.

The Bureau hopes to receive information reflecting the diversity of residential PACE financing transactions in the market. Where applicable, please specify whether any information provided applies to a PACE financing program that is specific to a particular jurisdiction or administrator. When responding to a particular question, please note the question number at the top of the response.

The Bureau invites comment on all aspects of the ANPR from all interested parties, including consumers, consumer advocacy groups, State and local governments, other PACE financing industry participants, or other members of the public. In the event that a respondent may have concerns about revealing proprietary or personal information, the Bureau welcomes comments from attorneys, consumer advocacy organizations, trade associations, or other representatives that do not identify their clients.

I. Written Materials Associated With PACE Financing Transactions

To better understand PACE financing transactions and potential areas of consumer risk, the Bureau is interested in receiving samples of any written materials used in PACE financing transactions. Please consider submitting samples of, for example, any contractual agreements, written materials provided to consumers before they sign a PACE financing agreement, and bills or statements that provide payment information to consumers. Please redact any personally identifiable information before submission.

II. Current Standards and Practices in the PACE Financing Origination Process

As described above, EGRRCPA section 307 requires the Bureau to prescribe regulations for PACE financing that carry out the purposes of TILA’s existing ATR requirements while accounting for the unique nature of PACE financing. In general, TILA’s existing ATR requirements prohibit creditors from making a residential mortgage loan unless the creditor makes a reasonable and good faith determination based on verified and documented information that, at the time the loan is consummated, the consumer has a reasonable ability to repay the loan according to its terms, and all applicable taxes, insurance, and assessments. (10) Developing an ATR rule for PACE financing that takes into account its unique nature will require a thorough understanding of origination and underwriting processes, including the roles and responsibilities of participating parties. Questions in this category solicit information to that end.

1. Please provide information about the process of obtaining a consumer’s application for PACE financing, including what documentation is required from consumers or third parties, what information is verified, and how any information is collected. What information gathered as part of the application process relates to the consumer’s ability to repay? Which parties collect the application information? How are policies and procedures relevant to the application process established?

2. Please describe current underwriting standards and how they are established. Does underwriting commonly include a determination of consumers’ ability to repay the financing? If so, which parties conduct that analysis, and what factors are considered in that determination?

3. Please provide information about the process for approving or denying PACE financing applications. For example, which parties determine consumer eligibility or make any offer to the consumer? Which parties are involved in determining the financing terms, and how do they do so for each consumer?

4. Please provide information about any written information provided to consumers before they sign a PACE financing agreement, including relevant contracts or written disclosures. Who delivers these materials, in what format, and when during the origination process?

5. Please describe any information provided to consumers orally before they sign a PACE financing agreement. Who provides the information and at what point during the origination process?

6. TILA’s existing ATR requirements apply to “creditors,” defined in part as the parties to whom debt obligations are “initially payable on the face” of the agreements. (11) In PACE financing transactions, to which parties may the obligations be made “initially payable on the face” of the financing agreements? Please describe any requirements in State or local law governing to which parties PACE financing obligations may be made initially payable on the face of the financing agreements.

7. To the extent not addressed above, please describe the role of State or local governments in the origination and underwriting of PACE financing.

8. Please describe any relationship between the PACE financing agreement and the home improvement agreement. For example, do they involve separate contracts? Do consumers sign them concurrently? If a consumer is denied for the PACE financing, what is the effect on the consumer’s obligations under the home improvement contract?

9. To the extent not already addressed, please provide any information that may help the Bureau understand the origination process or any risks or benefits it produces for consumers.

III. Civil Liability Under TILA for Violations of ATR Requirements in Connection With PACE Financing, as Well as Rescission and Borrower Delinquency and Default

As noted above, EGRRCPA section 307 requires that the Bureau prescribe regulations that apply TILA section 130 to violations of the ATR rules that will apply to PACE financing, and that account for the unique nature of PACE financing. Section 130 sets forth TILA’s general civil liability requirements; and, with respect to violations of the existing ATR requirements, it allows for recovery of an amount equal to the sum of all finance charges and fees paid by the consumer and provides borrowers a foreclosure defense. In conjunction with questions elsewhere in this ANPR, the information solicited in this category is intended to help the Bureau identify the parties in a PACE financing transaction to whom TILA section 130 might apply and which parties would in fact bear the risk of any such liability. Additionally, this category of questions solicits information about any rescission rights available to consumers and what occurs when a homeowner becomes delinquent on a PACE financing obligation.

10. Please provide any information about the assignment or sale, including securitization, of PACE financing agreements or the rights and obligations therein, and the circumstances surrounding any assignment or sale.

11. Please describe any indemnification agreements that are commonly part of PACE financing transactions, whether involving local governments, private parties administering PACE financing programs, secondary market participants, home improvement companies, or others.

12. Please describe any rescission rights available to consumers with respect to PACE financing agreements or home improvement contracts, whether by virtue of the agreements or applicable State or local law.

13. Please provide information about what happens to PACE financing obligations when a consumer becomes delinquent or defaults. For example, please provide information about any loss mitigation programs available to consumers, any pre-foreclosure collection attempts, or foreclosure processes when applicable. Which parties are involved, and what are their roles?

IV. Features of PACE Financing That Make It Unique and How the Bureau Should Address Those Unique Features

As noted above, the regulations implementing EGRRCPA section 307 must account for the “unique nature” of PACE financing. Questions in this category solicit information that may be relevant to understanding the unique nature of PACE financing. They include questions about the structure, funding, and repayment of PACE financing transactions, and the relationship to local property tax systems.

14. EGRRCPA section 307 defines PACE financing as “financing to cover the costs of home improvements that results in a tax assessment on the real property of the consumer.” Please identify any public or private financing options that may satisfy this definition, whether or not commonly understood to be PACE financing.

15. Please provide information about the source of funding for PACE financing transactions. For example, are the transactions funded with public or private capital? Which parties supply the capital used to pay the contractors installing the home improvement projects?

16. Please describe the role of public bonds in PACE financing transactions. Please identify the bond-issuing authorities. What is the timing of bond issuance? Who purchases the bonds, and what effect does the purchase have? Where public bonds are not involved in PACE financing transactions, please describe the role of any other public financing mechanisms.

17. Please provide information about consumer repayment. For example:

i. When does repayment begin after the financing agreement is signed?

ii. How frequently are payments made?

iii. Are payments roughly equal throughout a consumer’s full financing term, or can payments change? Are interest rates fixed or variable? Are balloon payments required? If so, in what circumstances? Do PACE financing agreements always provide for full amortization?

iv. To which parties do consumers make payments? Does the party to which consumers make payments ever change over the life of the financing agreement? If so, in what circumstances does this occur and why?

v. After a consumer remits a payment, how is the payment distributed, and by whom?

vi. Please describe any changes to payments or payment processes when a consumer becomes delinquent or defaults.

vii. Please describe any differences to payments or payment processes when a consumer has a mortgage loan with an escrow account for taxes.

18. Please describe how PACE financing is integrated with local property tax systems and how specific information about the PACE financing obligation is distinguished from other real property tax obligations in the tax system. Who monitors repayment of the PACE financing?

19. To the extent not addressed above, please describe the role of State and local governments in PACE financing programs or individual PACE financing transactions following origination. Please identify any State or local government entities with regulatory or oversight authority over PACE financing or industry participants.

20. Please describe any financial costs to consumers that may be associated with PACE financing transactions, including, for example, costs resulting from interest, points, fees, or penalties. How do costs for home improvement projects financed using PACE financing compare to costs for comparable projects financed through other means?

21. Please describe any cost savings associated with home improvement projects funded with PACE financing, including, for example, utility savings or tax credits authorized under State or Federal law for PACE-eligible projects. Are projected savings calculated before PACE financing contracts are executed? If so, how, and over what period of time? Are actual savings tracked, and, if so, how do they compare with the projections?

22. In general, does the addition of PACE financing affect consumers’ ability to meet their financial obligations? Please describe any such effects and why they may occur.

23. Please provide information about the liens associated with PACE financing. How do they differ from liens securing other property tax obligations that may encumber residential real property? Do PACE financing liens arise by operation of law or contract?

24. Please provide information about the treatment of PACE financing obligations by servicers of mortgage loans responsible for servicing mortgages that were placed on the property before the PACE financing encumbrance. For example, do mortgage servicers typically administer PACE financing obligations through escrow accounts? Please describe the relevant processes and any effects on the mortgage servicer or the consumer. How quickly after PACE assessments are added do mortgage servicers learn about the increase to the consumer’s property tax bill? How quickly do mortgage servicers adjust consumers’ escrow payments, where applicable, to reflect the change?

25. To the extent not already addressed, please provide any additional information about the unique nature of PACE financing, how the Bureau’s regulations should account for the unique nature, and any risks or benefits to consumers or industry participants attributable to the unique nature.

V. Potential Implications of Regulating PACE Financing Under TILA

As described above, EGRRCPA section 307 requires the Bureau to issue regulations applying TILA’s ATR and general civil liability provisions (as implemented through Regulation Z) to PACE financing, accounting for the unique nature of PACE financing. In this category of questions, the Bureau solicits information relating to how the existing TILA and Regulation Z provisions could be applied to PACE financing to implement EGRRCPA section 307. This information will assist the Bureau in developing a proposed rule adapting existing TILA and Regulation Z standards in light of potential impacts on consumers and industry and any implementation challenges specific to PACE financing.

26. If existing ATR requirements in TILA and Regulation Z were to apply to PACE financing transactions, please describe any likely effects on State and local governments or bond-issuing authorities.

27. Please describe any likely effects of such application on consumers or PACE financing industry participants.

28. If applied to PACE financing transactions, which specific ATR provisions under TILA and Regulation Z, if any, would conflict with existing State or local legal requirements, and how? What steps could the Bureau take to mitigate those conflicts?

29. Which specific ATR provisions under TILA and Regulation Z would be difficult for market participants to apply to current PACE financing origination practices, bond processes, or laws and practices implicating real property tax systems, and why would they be difficult to apply?

30. Which specific ATR provisions under TILA and Regulation Z, if any, would be beneficial for consumers, and how? Which, if any, would not provide consumer benefits, and why not?

31. How could TILA’s existing ATR requirements be tailored to account for the unique nature of PACE financing? Are there unique aspects of PACE financing that are relevant to whether and how the existing ATR requirements should apply, including the documentation and verification requirements or the specific information required as part of the analysis?

32. As described above, EGRRCPA section 307 requires the Bureau to apply TILA section 130 to violations of the ATR requirements that the Bureau will prescribe for PACE financing. Please provide your views on any likely impacts on consumers or PACE financing market participants of applying TILA section 130. Please describe any other concerns associated with applying TILA liability to PACE financing, including but not limited to TILA section 130.

33. Please share your views on whether the Bureau should address the application of TILA and Regulation Z provisions other than the ATR requirements to PACE financing, including any potential impacts on consumers, industry, or other stakeholders that may result from any such application.

34. Please share any other comments or concerns about implementing EGRRCPA section 307 under TILA and Regulation Z.

Dated: March 4, 2019.
Kathleen L. Kraninger,
Director, Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection.
[FR Doc. 2019-04177 Filed 3-7-19; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4810-AM-P

Footnotes

(1) Although some jurisdictions may make PACE financing available for commercial projects, this ANPR solicits information relating only to residential PACE financing, in accord with EGRRCPA section 307, which defines PACE financing as available for home improvements. The Bureau is not soliciting information about commercial PACE financing.

(2) Public Law 115-174, 132 Stat. 1296 (2018).

(3) EGRRCPA section 307, amending TILA section 129C(b)(3)(C)(i), 15 U.S.C. 1639c(b)(3)(C)(i).

(4) EGRRCPA section 307, amending TILA section 129C(b)(3)(C)(ii), 15 U.S.C. 1639c(b)(3)(C)(ii). EGRRCPA section 307 also includes amendments authorizing the Bureau to “collect such information and data that the Bureau determines is necessary” in prescribing the regulations and requiring the Bureau to “consult with State and local governments and bond-issuing authorities.”

(5) The ATR requirements are set forth in TILA section 129C(a), 15 U.S.C. 1639c(a). The Bureau has issued regulations implementing TILA’s ATR requirements. See 12 CFR 1026.43.

(6) See TILA section 129C(a), 15 U.S.C. 1639c(a).

(7) TILA section 129B(a)(2), 15 U.S.C. 1639b(a)(2).

(8) See generally TILA section 130, 15 U.S.C. 1640.

(9) See TILA section 130(a)(4), 15 U.S.C. 1640(a)(4) (providing liability for failure to comply with requirements in the ATR provisions in “an amount equal to the sum of all finance charges and fees paid by the consumer, unless the creditor demonstrates that the failure to comply is not material.”); see also TILA section 130(k), 15 U.S.C. 1640(k) (generally providing that consumers facing foreclosure may assert a violation of the ATR provisions, among other provisions, as a defense by recoupment or setoff).

(10) See TILA section 129C(a), 15 U.S.C. 1639c(a).

(11) See 15 U.S.C. 1602(g).

North Carolina removes anti-wind provision from bill

Author:   2019, Utility Dive

UPDATE: June 26, 2019: State lawmakers removed the wind ban provision from Senate Bill 377 on Tuesday, The Charlotte Observer reported, instead adding a permitting step that requires wind developers to seek additional information from military commanders before gaining site approval. The amended bill passed the House Committee on Energy and Public Utilities and awaits the approval of the full House. If approved, it will return to the state Senate for a concurrence vote.

Dive Brief:

  • The North Carolina Senate on June 12 passed Senate Bill 377 which would prohibit wind energy development in designated areas along North Carolina’s eastern coast for at least three years starting on July 1.
  • State lawmakers have tried to block the construction of wind farms near military bases, as well as in corridors used for pilot training, due to perceived risk of high structures. But military leaders say the bill is unnecessary.
  • If passed, S.B. 377 would present a devastating blow to the wind industry in North Carolina, Katharine Kollins, president of the Southeastern Wind Coalition, told Utility Dive.

Dive Insight:

North Carolina’s beleaguered wind industry is heading for collapse should S.B. 377 become law.

A similar moratorium was put in place under former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, R, and though it was lifted a year later, renewable energy advocates said development in the state was noticeably stalled. North Carolina would be the first state legislature to impose such a ban.

“North Carolina would cease to have a wind industry, if the bill passed as is,” Kollins said.

The wind industry has been kicked around for some time in North Carolina, she said. State Sen. Harry Brown, R, who sponsors S.B. 377, previously also sponsored an 18-month moratorium on wind projects.

“Because of the regulatory uncertainty that has been propagated by the state’s General Assembly, most developers have already left North Carolina,” Kollins said. “At this point, there is one developer left and that is Apex Clean Energy. They are looking at building a wind farm in Chowan County, which is blanketed by this wind ban area. If the three-year moratorium were to go into effect, I would be surprised if they continue to try to develop the project.”

The bill as stands would also remove one of the largest opportunities for economic development that rural counties along the state’s eastern coast have available to them, the Southeastern Wind Coalition said.

“There’s no doubt that this continued uncertainty is very bad for business,” Kollins said. “Tyrell County is one of the most economically distressed counties in all of North Carolina, and they stood to more than double their tax base with the wind farm that was potentially locating there, and now they got no option.”

The bill’s intention, according to its sponsors, is to protect flight paths around military bases from high structure interference. But that need is taken care of by the Department of Defense Siting Clearinghouse and the Federal Aviation Administration, rendering state-level enforcement unnecessary, say opponents of the bill.

The one large-scale wind farm operating in northeastern North Carolina was evaluated by that federal department, and necessary adjustments were made, including turbine reductions. That project is evidence the current federal evaluation process works Democratic state Sen. Floyd McKissick​ told The State.

Former Navy test pilot, Ret. Vice Adm. Dennis McGinn called Sen. Brown’s bill misguided in an opinion piece for Raleigh-based TV station WRAL.

“It has little to do with protecting military bases. Rather, the legislation really is just a ban on wind energy development along North Carolina’s coast,” McGinn wrote. “The fact is that the military already has the power to stop a project.”

The Southeastern Wind Coalition is hopeful that the state House will not pass the bill as is.

“The North Carolina’s House has been fairly well educated on wind energy, and understands the economic development benefits that come with wind,” Kollins said.

North Carolina-based Duke Energy did not reply to a request for comment on the bill.

Find out how much you can save with solar! Get quotes from trusted local installers

Author: solarpowerrocks.com     Published: June 26,2019

Question

Here at Solar Power Rocks, we pride ourselves on bringing you the most current, informative, accurate, and entertaining information on the web about solar. Unfortunately, we’re just a small group of solar-loving dudes, and there’s a whole big country out there.

Each state has different laws and rules, and each electric company has their own way of doing business. That means we sometimes miss a legislative achievement or change in net metering rules until we get around to our yearly update of state information.

For states we haven’t updated recently, the best way to get the latest rebate and policy info is to get a free solar quote from a local installer.Seriously. They’re on the ground, they work with the electric companies every day, and they know all the latest ways to save money on solar.

That said, we have spent a lot of time learning, thinking, and writing about solar policy in these here United States, and we have a lot of answers that will help anyone interested in solar. In fact, we’ve written a book about it: Get our Ultimate Guide to Powering your Home with Solar. The book contains the best knowledge we’ve collected about going solar since the site began in 2007, and it’s awesome.

If you’d just like the answer to one or two questions, here are the Top Solar Questions, our pithy answers, and links to relevant posts to read and cherish and share on Facebook and Twitter with your friends and admirers:

FAQ Table of Contents:

How Does Solar Power Work?

See Solar 101- How Sunlight converts into electricity. This space isn’t big enough for all the information you’ll find there.

How much does solar cost on my home?

For you? 2 bucks. Ha! Just joshin’. Here’s the truth: It depends.

It depends on a lot of things, including your state, your roof, and how you finance it, how much electricity you use. See our page all about the cost of going solar. Bottom line, all solar is local. You might also read about why you should get multiple solar quotes and some of the ways your solar installation can get more expensive. After you read those, get a free custom, local solar quote and you’ll know for sure. Have we said that already? Alzheimer’s.

How am I going to pay for solar?

In the beforetimes, there was only cash, but that was before solar was proven long-term to perform as promised, save you money, and increase your home’s value. In the past 15 years or so, there have been many big changes in solar financing. You can still pay cash of course, or take one of a number of kids of loans for solar. On top of that, you can lease the panels or sign a Power-Purchase Agreementand get the energy for $0 down.

How do I negotiate with a solar installer?

The best way to enter any negotiation is with lots of information, and the way to have that is to get multiple quotes, read the special solar state page for your state, and read through our Ultimate Guide to Going Solar. For more tips, check out our blog about negotiating with a solar installer.

Will solar panels add value to my home?

The verdict is in: solar panels add value to your home. We actually made a really nice infographic about it. But if you don’t like super-informative images, you can also read about the research that’s been done regarding the price premiums paid for solar homes.

Am I right for solar?

I’d like to lie and say that every person, home, business and doghouse is right for solar. But that’s not how we roll here at SolarPowerRocks. So, we’re going to direct you to this handy post. If that doesn’t help, you know what we’re going to say. It’s a phrase that has the word “free” in it. For the really clueless, the answer lies here.

How many square feet do I need for solar panels on my roof?

As with many questions in life, the answer is “it depends.” It’s a hard lesson to learn, but we’re here to break it to you easy. In fact, the answer to this question is actually less straightforward than you might think. That why we’ve dedicated a whole page of our website to it.. We also cover a few more questions like “how much energy will my panels produce?” and “how much money can I save?”

What Should I Look for in an Installer?

We’ve written two posts about this with slightly different perspectives. Read both. Basically, it’s all about experience and a little homework on your part. Check out the first: Nine Crucial Installer Considerations and the second: 10 key tips to finding a great installer.

How do they Keep those Damn Solar Panels from Sliding Off my Roof?

Two words: Duct … Tape. Kidding! There is certainly a science to installing roof top solar panels and making sure there are no leaks. Check out Mr. Dave’s most excellent post, entitled, “How are Solar Panels Attached to My Roof.” There are more new and simpler ways to tack those suckers down since the writing of this post. So expect even better results.

Should I Get Thin Film Panels? Silicon? What’s the difference?

Excellent question. The answer is that, for right now, stick with silicon panels for your home, especially if you don’t have a lot roof space. That may change as thin film gets better. But why not read this lovely post about thin film and silicon panel differences.

What’s an inverter and why should I care?

You really should care about an inverter because it’s going to conk out in 10 to 15 years and you’ll have to replace it. A necessary evil, however, because inverters convert solar panel “DC” energy into Microwave Popcorn “AC” energy. Dave also wrote another post devoted to what’s called micro-inverters. You may be seeing a lot more of these little guys in the coming years. They’re so cute and easy to install, but …they ain’t cheap. Do they pay for themselves? Eventually.

What kind of maintenance do solar panels need?

You’ll be pleased to know that solar panels need almost no regular maintenance, outside a quick cleaning every now and again. Read our solar panel maintenance blog for more.

How long do solar panels last?

Back of the envelope? 30-40 years. But the truth is, nobody knows for sure, because some of the earliest commercially-available solar panels are hitting that age now, and still kicking out the kilowatts. Read our full post about solar panel lifespan, and if you’re curious about disasters, both man-made and natural, read about solar panels in a hurricane and solar panels after a nuclear EMP.

What the Hell is the Difference Between a Kilowatt (kW) and a Kilowatt-hour (kWh) ?

Dave answers this simply in his colorful and informative post of the same name. He says, “A kilowatt-hour is the amount of energy equivalent to a power of 1 kilowatt running for 1 hour. If you leave a 100 Watt light bulb on for 1 hour, you’ve done gone and used up 100 watt-hours, and PG&E is going to bill you accordingly.” Still confused? Bummer. Try reading the full post.

Should my Solar Quote be in AC Watts? DC Watts? Watt’s the deal?

Get it? “Watt’s” the deal? Solar Power pun. Hee-hee. You’ll hear that one a lot from solar installers. In any case, the answer is, generally, DC STC. Huh? It would do thee well to read The Difference Between DC and AC (and PTC/STC).

What’s Net Metering?

Net Metering is your virtual solar battery. Without net metering, you might as well not go solar unless you’ve got a really great Feed-in-Tariff. See next question, but check out our net metering explanation first. Enjoy!

Do I Need Batteries?

Not unless you’ve got a pacemaker or you’re augmented with the latest bionic technologies. Your solar system doesn’t need batteries either. In fact, it’s much “more affordable” (code word for “lots cheaper”) when you DON’T have batteries. So stay on the grid if you can.

But batteries, like the Tesla Powerwall, are getting cheaper all the time, and it’s worth looking into if you’re setting up solar in a remote area or a place with super-high electric prices. Read more about adding batteries, and even keeping the lights on through power outages without them.

What’s a Feed-in-Tariff (FiT)?

It’s a type of incentive program that worked well in Europe. There aren’t that many FiT programs in the States right now, and quite honestly, net metering with a rebate and Time of Use is a pretty good deal. Read some basics here, but appreciate and use net metering for now. It really is a good deal, which is why utilities hate it.

What is Time of Use and Why Should I Give a Twinkie?

Time of Use (TOU) is a type of special solar electric rate that your utility may or may not offer. Not surprisingly, the rate depends on your…wait for it….time of use. In other words, when you use electricity in your home. Generally, TOU rates are better for solar people, but they’re not always offered by every utility or State.

What are Tiered Rates and Why Should I Be Grateful for them if I go Solar?

Tiered rates (instead of flat electric rates)is the utility’s way of punishing energy hogs for using so much damn energy with their old light bulbs and their old refrigerators. The more you use, the higher your rate. The good news? Solar can make it seem like you’re in the cheapest rate tier, hee-hee, ha-ha, it is to laugh. Read all about tiered rates here.

What’s a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) and Why Should I Demand My State Have One?

An RPS is a law, state or national, that says that a utility must get some percentage of its power from renewable resources like solar and wind. More info and you win a prize if you read all about the RPS here. (Not really about the prize.)

What are SRECS, RECS, and Green Tags and Why Do They Make Us Drink Heavily?

Oy, vey. This post was a pain in our tuchus and probably won’t help you because every state has a different system. So don’t feel you have to read it. We only slaved over it, trying to make it simple for you, and what do we get? Perhaps it would make us feel better if you got a free solar quote in your local area. But don’t push yourself, honey. We’ll manage somehow. Here’s the SREC/Green Tag explanation. Enjoy it if you can. No guilt here.

Have you ever heard of CitzenRe. Is it a scam?

Not quite a scam. Not really in business either. Their own website says not to wait for them. So don’t. But read this post if you want to be truly convinced that CitzenRe is not in business.

Have you heard of Earth-4-Energy DIY Kits? Is it a scam?

This multi-level-marketing (MLM) truly is a waste of time and money in our opinion. We don’t even want to waste your time reading why we think that, but go ahead and judge the Earth4Energy post for yourself.

Tell me all about Solar Leases and Solar PPAs (Power Purchase Agreements)

Well, there are lot of innovative ways to finance solar these days. Solar Leasing and Solar PPAs are one of them. They all have their advantages….and disadvantages. We’ll tell you no lies: Low money down, good. But…in the long run, you’re financially better off buying through a home equity loan or line of credit or municipal financing. Learn about the difference between a solar lease and a solar ppa here.

What’s all this that I hear about BerkelyFirst and Municipal Solar Financing for Residents?

Municipal financing is the nectar of the solar financing gods. Period. It allows you to get your solar through your city. No home equity worries.Decent interest rate. 20 year loan through a special tax assessment on your house. You sell the house, the new owner pays the rest of the solar loan/assessment. So, it’s sort of solar financing as you go, and you get all of the net metering and other benefits besides. We love this so much, we wrote two posts about it. Hell yes, do we love municipal financing.

I’ve learned so much here that I want to get into the Solar Biz. Tips?

We get a lot of these types of questions. This is why we Dan wrote a solid post called How do I get started in the solar industry. Read that for some tips. You might also want to sign up for some courses at The Solar Living Institute and/or Solar Energy International. These are the two best places to get hands on experience with solar, as well as some sales and marketing classes.

Now that you know all the basics, click below if you’re ready to get a free q

Solar 101: how does solar energy work?

Author: Energysage.com          Published: June 26, 2019

solar 101

Solar 101: how does solar energy work?

Last updated 6/4/2019

Solar panel systems can be complicated, but going solar doesn’t have to be difficult. Learn all about solar panel technology, maintenance, and installation in Solar 101.

net metering explained

Net metering for solar power, explained

You know that net metering plays a major role in your solar savings, but how exactly does it work? EnergySage explains the basics of net metering and what it means for you.

About Net Metering for Solar Power

All about inverters and power optimizers

Inverters convert your solar electricity into a format that is usable in your home. They are the second most important piece of equipment in your solar panel system, so review and compare all of your inverter options.

String Inverters vs. Microinverters & Power Optimizers

Comparing Microinverters vs. Power Optimizers

Advantages & Disadvantages of Microinverters & Power Optimizers

Manufacturers of Microinverters & Power Optimizers

Installing and maintaining your solar panels

Finding a professional solar installer will help you to get the most out of your solar panel system. Solar panels require little to no maintenance once your system is up and running.

Where to Install Your Solar Panel System

What’s the Best Angle For My Solar Panels?

Impact of Roof Orientation on Solar Savings

Do Trees Impact Solar Panel Performance?

Wiring Solar Panels in Series vs. Parallel

Maintaining Your Solar Panel System is Easy

Community solar power

Community solar power is an alternative way for homes and businesses without roof access to get involved in the clean energy economy.

Community Solar Power Explained

Community Solar vs. Rooftop Solar: Which is right for you?

Key Considerations When Choosing Community Solar

Community Solar Pricing Models

What to Look For in a Community Solar Offer

In lobbying battle for electric vehicle tax credit, it’s car makers vs. the oil and gas industry

Author: Dino Grandoni Steven Mufson Publishe :  June 25, 2019 Washington Post

Climate and Environment

General Motors chief executive Mary Barra meets with lawmakers on Capitol Hill in June. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

When the chief executive of General Motors came to Washington earlier this month, she huddled with a handful of her best allies in Congress: the Michigan delegation.

That state’s senior senator, Debbie Stabenow (D), says Mary Barra asked her to bring together members from both parties in part to stress the company’s commitment to building electric cars. In 2019 alone, the company said it will add 400 jobs to its Orion, Mich., plant to build a new electric Chevrolet and previewed its first electric Cadillac.

But to sell these cars — and keep these jobs — Barra wanted their help.

GM, like a fleet of other car manufacturers, is seeking the extension of a tax break that has for a decade helped sustain the sale of cars that need little to no gasoline to run.

This has triggered an intense lobbying battle with oil and natural gas companies, which supply the fuel that runs the internal-combustion engines that dominate American roadways.

It’s not just about the money: Electric vehicle sales could also help determine whether the United States can curtail the buildup of climate-warming gases from tailpipes and the rest of the transportation sector, which recently surpassed power plants as the country’s top source of carbon dioxide emissions.

Oil and gas companies, said electric car proponent Rep. Daniel Kildee (D-Mich.), “prefer a world where every vehicle spews greenhouse gases, and this is not the world that I’m trying to encourage.”

Kildee, along with Stabenow, sponsored legislation to expand the quota of tax credits so companies would be able to sell three times as many electric vehicles before the tax credits, originally offered as a lifeline after the 2008 financial crisis, start to run out.

But oil and gas interests say extending the tax credit would be unfair to middle- and lower-class consumers who are unable to afford electric cars. And they’re making inroads with their own Republican allies.

“Regardless of whether you support the tax credit for electric vehicles or not, there is no denying taxpayers are overwhelmingly subsidizing Americans that can afford to buy their own car,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee who has proposed legislation to wipe out the tax credit. “If you want an electric car you can buy one — there are more available now than ever before.”

Here’s how the program now works: The federal government provides a tax credit of $7,500 to buyers for the first 200,000 electric vehicles sold by each company. After a manufacturer sells that first tranche, the tax credit drops by half for cars sold over the next six months — then by half again for another six months before disappearing entirely.

The loss of the credits will hurt those companies at the forefront of electric vehicle development, erasing their advantage over gasoline-powered cars and putting them at a disadvantage to other makers of electric vehicles.

Electric-vehicle advocates are petitioning Congress to allow consumers to earn a tax credit of at least $7,000 for 600,000 vehicles from a single carmaker before the credits start to phase out. Though more than 1 million electric vehicles are on the road in the United States, that represents a tiny sliver of the more than 270 million registered cars.

Two major auto companies, Tesla and GM, have already crashed into the 200,000-car threshold. Two more, Nissan and Toyota, probably will run into the same problem by 2021.

Tesla’s tax credit could be trimmed to $1,875 per vehicle as early as next month. And the company said in its recent annual report that the credits will expire altogether by the end of the year. That, it said, “could have some negative impact on demand for our vehicles, and we and our customers may have to adjust to them.

Stabenow and Kildee crafted their bill for months in consultation with major automakers. Three of them — Tesla, GM and Nissan — helped form the EV Drive Coalition late last year to press for passage of an extension.

Not only does the legislation have the backing of the powerful Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, which represents a dozen automakers including GM, it also has the support of several major environmental and public health groups. They include the Sierra Club and the American Lung Association, as well as the Edison Electric Institute, which represents the investor-owned electric utilities that would help power the plug-in cars.

It also, crucially, has the support of two Senate Republicans, Susan Collins of Maine and Lamar Alexander of Tennessee.

Yet opponents, in their own blitz of studies, op-eds and meetings with lawmakers, are emphasizing what they see as the economic downsides of the tax credit.

Derrick Morgan, senior vice president of the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers, said he has “met with dozens and dozens” of lawmakers to highlight the high cost of the tax break. The trade association, which represents refiners, worked with Ernst & Young to calculate that lawmakers’ plan to extend the tax break bill could cost the federal government $15.7 billion over 10 years. By comparison, the Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the government will spend $7.5 billion on the current credit between fiscal years 2018 and 2022.

“We have nothing against electric vehicles,” Morgan said. “Our thing is that we would like to have an even playing field.”

Similarly, the lobbying arm of the Institute for Energy Research, which is supported by the oil industry and the Charles Koch-backed group Freedom Partners, delivered in December copies of another study to congressional offices suggesting that eliminating the quota on the tax credit would cost U.S. households $95 billion by 2035. That study was commissioned by Flint Hills Resources, a refining subsidiary of Koch Industries.

Leading the charge is the president of the Institute for Energy Research, Thomas J. Pyle, a former Koch Industries lobbyist who organized a coalition of groups opposed to the tax credit and sent a letter to members of Congress explaining their position.

“It was never meant to be a permanent tax incentive giving a permanent advantage over other forms of technology,” Pyle said of the credit.

Pyle and other opponents, including the American Petroleum Institute, also note that the credit benefits individuals wealthy enough to buy electric vehicles, which tend to be expensive.

They cite a study by the right-wing Pacific Research Institute that found that 79 percent of the tax credits were claimed by households with an adjusted gross income of more than $100,000.

This could resonate in swing states. “You’re basically asking Iowa voters to subsidize wealthy Californians,” said Pyle, who along with other tax credit opponents plans to zero in on members of Congress who represent those too poor to buy electric vehicles.

Buyers of new cars, regardless of whether they are electric, tend to be high earners. But the Pacific study is consistent with one done in 2015 by the Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley, which said that the top income quintile of taxpayers received about 90 percent of all the credits.

Not all research swirling around the lobbying ecosystem is as solid, though: The Institute for Energy Research also published surveys that suggests voters don’t support electric-car subsidies. But outside polling experts such as Michael Traugott, a professor and polling expert at the University of Michigan, say that polling appears biased. It focuses on mostly Southern and Midwestern states and “frames the whole interview in terms of trust in the federal government.”

Proponents of the credit argue that the oil industry has received similarly sized tax breaks. “I find it ironic when the industry that has had the longest-running tax credits in the code somehow objects,” Stabenow said.

Right now, she is trying to figure out how to get the tax credit extension into a must-pass piece of legislation — possibly one introduced earlier this year by Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the ranking Democrat on the committee, that extended a variety of tax provisions.

Stabenow, who sits on that committee’s task force for examining energy tax credits, wants to persuade him to include the EV credits. His spokesman would not comment on the credits.

All tax legislation, however, must originate in the House. The fact that a majority of Democrats on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee has sponsored Kildee’s electric-vehicle bill bodes well for the measure.

But opposition is coalescing. No House Republican has yet endorsed the bill, despite outreach from its sponsors. The tea party group FreedomWorks is circulating a draft letter from Rep. Alex Mooney (R-W.Va.) that opposes the extension and amplifies the polling and studies done by the right-wing institutes.

And maybe the biggest obstacle: The White House’s Office of Management and Budget, run by fiscal hawk Mick Mulvaney, called in March for ending the tax credit altogether

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New York passes 100% clean energy bill, but advocate calls it a ‘partial victory’

UPDATE: June 20, 2019: The New York Assembly passed on Wednesday a climate bill, which now awaits the governor’s signature. The bill is a three-way agreement among the state Senate, Assembly and Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The latest version includes changes made earlier this week to cut some pro-labor provisions and give less funding toward social justice efforts.

Dive Brief:

  • New York lawmakers are expected to vote today on a climate bill that would set the state on a path towards carbon neutrality, slashing emissions by 2050 while also focusing energy investments towards disadvantaged communities.
  • Lawmakers reached a deal on the Climate and Communities Protection Act over the weekend, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D, said Monday, according to WAMC Northeast Radio. The state’s legislature is expected to approve the bill.
  • While the CCPA would go further than the Green New Deal that Cuomo proposed in January, activists say the legislation remains a “partial victory,” as some social justice provisions and worker protections have been removed.

Dive Insight:

The legislation includes dramatic cuts to greenhouse gas emissions and requires the utility sector generate only clean energy by 2040, putting the state in rarified company. But advocates say it does not go as far as they’d hoped, on other issues.

NY Renews, a nonpartisan coalition and major advocate for the legislation, called it “a partial victory for New Yorkers. The fight for true climate justice demands transformative change, and we will bring that fight until our communities win.”

The group says a final version of the bill weakens the original intent, “to directly invest resources in vulnerable communities.” And while there are requirements for state-financed energy projects to pay union wages, the group said the bill removed “mandates to secure specific worker protections, job growth and training included in previous editions of the Climate and Community Protection Act, which are essential to a just transition off of fossil fuels.”

Cuomo is expected to sign the bill soon, as he has signed other three-way agreements with the state’s legislative chamber within a week of their approval, Liz Moran, Environmental Policy Director at New York Public Interest Research Group told Utility Dive, adding that “his name is on it.”

Despite the mixed feelings, the group celebrated.

“We won the strongest emissions reduction standards in the country,” NY Renews said in a statement.

If passed, New York would join a list of states and other jurisdictions to institute a 100% clean energy requirement, including: California, Nevada, Hawaii, Washington, New Mexico, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico.

In a blog post, the Natural Resources Defense Council hailed the “agreement on historic, nation-leading climate legislation.

“By adopting a bill that aggressively fights climate change while also prioritizing equity, New York is raising the bar for states in the face of federal backsliding on climate,” the group said.

The law sets an economy-wide target of 85% emissions reductions from 1990 levels by 2050, while also looking to offset the remaining through carbon sinks. Utilities would need to supply 70% renewable energy by 2030, and 100% carbon-free by 2040.

The law also requires 35% of the state’s clean energy program benefits go to “disadvantaged communities.” The program originally allocated 40% of funds to go toward environmental justice organizations, according to Moran.

New York, like other states, is looking towards decarbonization as a potential boost for the state’s economy — even as clean energy displaces some workers.

US sees record solar installations at 2.7 GW in Q1, but challenges remain: report

Dive Brief:

  • Following a strong first quarter of solar photovolatic installations, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables is forecasting 25% growth in 2019compared with 2018, and it expects more than 13 GW of DC installations this year.
  • The 2.7 GW of solar PV installed in the first quarter was the most ever installed in a Q1, according to the analysis. The United States also notched another milestone, hitting a total of 2 million solar installations in the first thee months.
  • The largest share of installations came from the utility segment, which installed 1.6 GW to make up 61% of new capacity. With 4.7 GW of large-scale projects under construction this year, the report concludes utility PV additions will grow 46% over 2018.

Dive Insight:

The United States’ solar market had its most successful first quarter ever, but analysts at Wood Mackenzie say there are challenges ahead.

Despite “steady installations” in the first quarter, Wood Mackenzie Solar Analyst Austin Perea in a statement said the residential market “is still highly reliant on legacy state markets, such as California and the Northeast, which have seen only modest to flat growth over the past several quarters.”

Looking ahead, Perea said that as those legacy state markets continue to grow past early-adopter consumers, “higher costs of customer acquisition will challenge the industry to innovate product offerings and diversify geographically.”

However, the residential market still saw 6% growth compared to the first quarter of 2018, with 603 MW installed in Q1. And the report showed 29% of those residential capacity installations came from markets outside the top 10 solar states, “the highest share for emerging markets in industry history.”

There was a decline in the non-residential segment, according to the report, which includes commercial, industrial and public sector distributed solar. The 438 MW installed in Q1 2019 was down compared to the previous and year-ago quarters, analysts concluded. This was largely due to state-level policy reforms and interconnection delays in historically strong markets, including California, Massachusetts and Minnesota that “continue to hamper growth.”

Non-residential installations were down 28% compared to the fourth quarter of 2018 and 18% compared to Q1 2018. However, analysts also said community solar mandates in New York, Maryland, Illinois and New Jersey “will help reinvigorate the segment beginning in 2020.”

New York’s Value of Distributed Energy Resources docket has “bolstered our long-term forecasts for both commercial and community solar,” the report concluded, adding that a boost to the renewable portfolio standard in Maryland will grow the solar renewable energy credit market there, “to the benefit of the entire non-residential segment.”

Wood Mackenzie and SEIA project that total installed photovoltaic capacity in the United States will more than double over the next five years. The firms expect annual installations will grow to 16.4 GW in 2021.

Here’s How a Bird Started a Fire at a California Solar Farm

Author: 

The Silicon Ranch Corp. And Dominion Energy Inc. Solar Farms As Oil Giants Invest In Renewables

BLOOMBERG

It may be safe for a bird to land on a wire, but not on two of them at once. The June 5 blaze at a California solar farm that scorched 1,127 acres started when a bird flew into a pair of wires, creating a electric circuit and a shower of sparks, an official with California’s state fire department said. It didn’t end well for the power plant — or the bird.

“One wing touches each of the conductors, and they turn into a light bulb,” said Zach Nichols, a battalion chief for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “Happens all the time.” The company that owns the solar farm, Clearway Energy Inc., had blamed the fire on an “avian incident” without saying what exactly happened at the remote facility in the arid grass lands between Los Angeles and San Francisco. The blaze damaged power poles and wires at the plant, knocked out 84% of its generating capacity, causing an estimated $8 million to $9 million in losses, the company said.

California is home to a different solar plant that’s notorious for burning birds. But that facility — the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System — uses a another technology altogether. At Ivanpah, fields of mirrors concentrate sunlight onto centralized towers, posing a hazard to birds flying into the beams. Last week’s fire, in contrast, occurred at a solar farm that uses photovoltaic panels, just like the ones on rooftops.

Boost Cybersecurity to Protect Power Grid, Urges STEM4US! at Recent Hearing + Call DCPS Chancellor to Elevate not Eliminate STEM Director Post

Author: Talib I. Karim       Published June 24, 2019 Stem4us.org

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X47

STEM4US! recently testified on the value of boosting cybersecurity training to protect the local power grid. The comments were made at a Town Hall meeting convened by the District of Columbia Public Service Commission.  STEM4USoffered its recommendations on the Modernization of the District’s Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability (MEDSIS).

In addition, STEM4US!’s CEO Talib Karim urged the Commission to act boldly to protect historically disadvantaged communities in the District of Columbia. Specifically, STEM4USproposed the adoption of the “Marion Barry Rule for Energy Modernization.” This initiative would guarantee that  DC low-income residents, currently being threatened by gentrification, are given 50% of jobs and contracts from all grid modernization projects.

STEM4US! Calls on DC Public Schools Chancellor to Elevate not Eliminate the Post of STEM Education Director: ACT NOW!

STEM4US! has learned that DC Public Schools intends to eliminate the Position of Deputy Head of STEM Education. Currently, this is the position that leads all STEM education programming for both public school students and teachers in the district.

We believe this is a mistake.

Many school districts around the nation, such as Baltimore Public Schools, are expanding their investments in STEM. This move by DCPS appears to be a step in the wrong direction.

The current head of DCPS STEM education is Kim Cherry, who also serves on the STEM4US! Board of Directors. Over the past years, Kim has ensured that teachers and students have benefitted from our annual STEM festival and other programs. In addition, she and her team have produced stellar professional development training for local STEM educators. Kim is an exceptional educator and administrator and a strong ally for expanding STEM education opportunities to people of color and women.

Contact DCPS Chancellor Lewis Ferebee and urge that the Director of STEM Education be elevated to an assistant Chancellor or Superintendent level position. Further, recommend that he retain Kim Cherry, an exceptional STEM educator and adminstrator, in this post. You can reach Chancellor Ferebee at (202) 442-5885, tweet @dcpublicschools and/or email lewis.ferebee@dc.gov.

Lawmakers Pass Maryland Clean Energy Jobs bill and Extend Community Solar Pilot Until 2024

Author:  Montgomery County Green Bank Published June 12, 2019

In our March 2019 edition, we reported—with excitement—on the then-pending Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB0516/HB1158). We’re thrilled to report that State General Assembly passed this important legislation and it has gone into law! The Maryland Clean Energy Jobs Act updates the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), which currently requires 25% renewable energy by 2020, to require that half of Maryland’s energy come from clean resources by 2030. The bill will mean a boost for solar, wind, and other renewables, but may also affect rates and energy costs. Read the analysis at WAMU.

In addition, the General Assembly extended the Community Solar Pilot program until 2024, which will provide more time to design and implement projects.

We expect these combined actions to significantly increase both demand for renewable energy and the overall supply of clean energy available to meet Maryland’s needs, as well as boost interest and demand in Montgomery County. Great news!

Zero Hour -The Youth Climate Summit down in Miami, Florida!

Dear Ronald,

Don Cheadle, Mark Ruffalo, and the Solutions Project have donated $5,000 to help frontline climate activists to speak at The Youth Climate Summit!

We are so grateful for their contribution, and with their helpful support we can do more to spread awareness such as are funding frontline youth from Standing Rock, Manhattan, Flint, and Northern Cheyenne Nation in order to make their trips to the Miami summit possible. Their presence at the summit is crucial to uplifting their stories and voices, but also to give them the skills and the resources that the summit has to offer in order to better their climate justice advocacy. Their donation will also be used for stipends for indigenous people of the Seminole and Miccosukee tribes in Florida.

We will be holding The Youth Climate Summit down in Miami, Florida! The summit will include workshops, panels, and more to give youth the skills to go out and organize climate action in their local communities. Attendees will dive deep into climate justice, advocacy, science, organizing and more!


The Summit will be held from July 12th to 14th at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Miami Airport & Convention Center, 711 NW 72nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33126.

Register and check out more information here!


Join or start a sister action!

Sister actions can be anything from a rally, a march, to a mini workshop!


Interested in donating? Your monetary support will ensure that youth activists can participate in events and continue organizing to make sure that youth voices are heard loud and clear! Become a monthly donor here! Anything helps support our youth led climate action.

Donate

We would also love to accept in-kind donations of resources you or your organization may be able to give. For instance—houses in Miami to host young activists for week of action, cars and other means of transportation, resources and supplies for training and workshops we host. We promise we’ll put every dollar to good use! Please reach out to us at info@thisiszerohour.org if you want to donate any of the above items or other resources.

Hope to see you in Miami! Stay tuned to our social media and our website for more updates. We have been working hard on this exciting upcoming project and revolutionary action. You don’t want to miss This Is Zero Hour: The Youth Climate Summit!

In Solidarity,

The Zero Hour Team

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Conversation with Lenwood Coleman VP of Groundswell

A Simple Spray. A Revolution for Farming

Author: Alex Koyfman  Published: June 6, 2019 Wealth Daily

Dear Reader,

These days, it seems you can’t go very far without getting bombarded with optimistic statements and claims about cannabis.

It’s a miracle plant, with the potential to cure everything from Alzheimer’s to insomnia.

It’s the greatest investment of all time, with years of double-digit growth ahead of it.

It’s a social movement that’s undoing decades of prejudicial prosecution and bringing together members of three generations.

While all of this may be true to a certain extent, at the end of the day, cannabis is still nothing more than a plant with both beneficial and harmful properties that will take years of research to fully understand.

One of the unfortunate sides to this supposed scientific, industrial, and cultural revolution is that it also tends to overshadow some potentially truly world-changing innovations that are taking place at the same time.

Don’t Fall for the Fads

Maybe the most important such innovation, which I learned about just a few weeks ago, is so groundbreaking that it might forever change the way humanity produces some of its most important agricultural staples.

Ironically, these changes might begin with cannabis itself.

The technology I’m talking about is a foliar spray — a liquid that’s applied directly to the leaves of a plant as opposed to the soil from which it grows.

The concept is pretty simple, really. Every plant in existence needs CO2 to grow and thrive, but since that CO2 comes primarily from the air, there are limitations to how much of it a plant can absorb in any given environment.

One Canadian company recently perfected a method for delivering CO2 that’s dissolved in a liquid and then applied directly to the plant’s leaves to optimize absorption.

The results have been nothing short of astounding.

grow

The spray has proven to increase plant mass and leaf size, while decreasing the vegetation time in a number of plants, including cannabis itself.

It Makes Things Grow Faster, Bigger, and Stronger

It also increases bud size and THC content (potency), while miraculously decreasing the incidence rate of certain plant-borne diseases and parasites.

And it does all of this with zero environmental impact.

So basic. So simple. Yet so transformative. And it goes far beyond cannabis itself.

This spray has proven effective on a number of staple crops, including lettuce, peppers, and a variety of microgreens.

And testing is still far from over, with more benefits discovered through new case studies on a regular basis.

What we’re looking at here today isn’t just a step forward but a true technological leap in one of humanity’s most important endeavors: food production.

At a time of swelling population and shrinking available farmland, something so simple and so versatile is precisely what is needed to allow us to take the next step.