More Growth, Consolidation, and M&A Expected for Hemp Industry in 2019

Author:  Chris Hudock                 Published     July 10, 2019

 

By William SumnerHemp Business Journal Contributor

From acquisitions to equity investments, the North American hemp industry has been awash in capital investment since the Farm Bill 2018 was federally passed in the United States last December. In the rush for first-mover advantages, entrepreneurs and investors have been scrambling for respective footholds in the nascent hemp market; even among those following the industry, it can be hard to keep up with all the activity.

The Hemp Business Journal has been closely monitoring such activity, and will soon publish more comprehensive data pertaining to the latest deals. By means of a thumbnail review, however, included here are the five biggest deals from the first half of the year.

Tilray Acquires Manitoba Harvest

Arguably the biggest deal in the hemp industry so far this year has been the acquisition of Manitoba Harvest by Tilray (NASDAQ: TLRY). With products in over 16,000 retail stores throughout North America, Manitoba Harvest is the world’s largest hemp food manufacturer. At a price of CAD $419 million (USD $320.3 million), the acquisition was made with a combination of cash payments and issuance of Tilray stock.

As a wholly owned subsidiary, Manitoba Harvest will continue its normal day-to-day operations while collaborating with Tilray in the development of new cannabidiol (CBD) wellness products and hemp-based food products. Using Manitoba Harvest’s expertise in CBD, and its existing distribution network, Tilray aims to accelerate its entry to the North American market.

SOL Global Purchases Majority Stake in Blühen Botanicals

Earlier this year, the international investment company SOL Global (SOL) announced its intentions to enter the hemp-CBD space with the formation of a subsidiary company called Heavenly Rx, Ltd. The overall goal of Heavenly Rx is to purchase controlling interests in hemp and CBD companies with proven track records of success, as well as to acquire brands proving more successful selling CBD-infused products.

To spur the growth of its new subsidiary, SOL purchased a 50.1% stake in Knoxville, Tenn.-based Blühen Botanicals, LLC (Blühen), for $30.6 million. Blühen is a hemp-biomass processing and extraction company offering a series of wellness boutique products including a full spectrum of hemp-extract tinctures, capsules, and creams. The company also owns a retail store in Knoxville, with plans to expand into Florida later this year. The proceeds of the deal will go towards expanding Blühen’s R&D team, and the company’s retail operations.

Mile High Labs Raises $65 Million

While some companies have been spending millions of dollars to acquire leading brands, other hemp companies are taking on significant debt to help expand operational capacities. In April, Mile High Labs managed to raise $65 million from MGG Capital in a five-year term loan leveraged to buy millions of pounds of hemp, making it one of the most substantial non-dilutive capital raises in the hemp industry.

Despite going the debt, Mile High Labs is not necessarily short on cash: Prior to the close of the fourth quarter of 2018, Mile High Labs raised $35 million in a Series-A funding round.

“Following the signing of the Farm Bill in late 2018, we started seeing speculators take out significant portions of the available hemp supply”, explained Mile High Labs CFO, Jon Hilley. “So, we acted decisively to secure the single largest source of high-quality biomass available,” he added. “It is quite literally a mountain of hemp – millions of pounds – and this funding guarantees we can continue to meet the increasing demand for CBD from our customers.”

Aurora Cannabis Acquires Hempco Food and Fiber Inc.

Much has been made about Aurora’s 2018 acquisition of the European company UAB Agropro. Yet, what slipped beneath the general industry’s radar was the company’s acquisition of Hempco Food and Fiber, Inc., for CAD $63.4 million (USD $48.5 million). One of the stated reasons behind the deal was Hempco’s solid track record for providing quality hemp-based foods with distribution channels through platforms like Amazon.com, Well.ca, and Metro, Inc. Of course, Aurora is uniquely positioned to help spur Hempco’s growth.

However, the most significant element was Hempco’s brand-new, 56,000-square-foot facility capable of processing 2.9 million kilograms of hemp annually. Aurora’s play looks to be using the facility to provide a steady supply of low-cost CBD as the company established itself in the hemp-CBD market.

Neptune Wellness Solutions Acquires SugarLeaf

Next to Tilray, Neptune Wellness Solutions’ acquisition of SugarLeaf Labs, LLC, and Forest Remedies, LLC (collectively, SugarLeaf), is the year’s biggest hemp deal yet. Under the agreement, Neptune pays SugarLeaf $18 million ($12 million in cash and $6 million in shares).

Provided that certain performance targets are met, Neptune will pay up to $132 million for SugarLeaf over the next three years, bringing the aggregate price to $150 million.

What will Neptune get out of the deal? In addition to SugarLeaf’s existing U.S.-based, hemp-extract supply chain, Neptune will gain a 24,000-square-foot processing facility capable of processing an annual 1.5 million kilograms of hemp. Projecting that the hemp-CBD market continues to heat up, the increased processing capacity will be vital to companies like Neptune that want to gain a leg up on the competition.

Retail Momentum Gathers for CBD Topicals While FDA Decides Its Direction

Author:  Chris Hudock     Published: July 17, 2019

By William SumnerHemp Business Journal Contributor

Hemp-derived CBD is all the rage right now, even as confusion and illegality abound. Prompted by the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp and hemp derivatives like CBD, investors and entrepreneurs have been scrambling to capitalize on the increasingly popular substance. The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has tried its regulatory best to pump the breaks on the phenomenon by asserting its authority and cracking down on illicit sales of CBD supplements.

Standing on the sidelines are large-scale national retailers, many of which understand the potential profits but prefer not to pique the ire of federal authorities. While some retailers are staying out of the CBD craze completely, others are splitting the difference by offering topical CBD products, which are less likely to draw the legal wrath of the FDA.

In March, CVS and Walgreens became the first national retailers to announce that they were peddling CBD creams, patches, and sprays in their stores. CVS was selling them in eight states (Alabama, California, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, and Tennessee), while Walgreens marketed them in nine (Colorado, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, New Mexico, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Vermont).

Following suit, Kroger — the nation’s largest grocery chain — announced last month its plans to sell CBD products in 945 stores in 17 U.S. states (Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming).

Both chains were deliberate in noting that their offerings would be limited to topicals, while stopping short of any foods, beverages, or dietary supplements as the FDA determines its policies for oversight and quality assurances.

For now, corporate retailers’ selling CBD-infused beauty and skin-care products brings far less legal jeopardy and exposure to liability, which explains their choices in stocking such types of products first. The FDA is tolerating topicals and oils containing CBD, so long as marketers refrain from making exaggerated health claims. Meantime, the FDA is considering any avenues by which companies could add CBD to food and dietary supplements. The agency closed its period for public comment this week, and Dr. Amy Abernethy, FDA’s principal deputy commissioner and acting CIO, pledged to provide guidance by the early fall.

Meantime, pharmacies and grocery stores are not the only retail players in the market. Last year, the cosmetics chain Sephora began involving itself with CBD topicals when it started selling a high-CBD body lotion made by the luxury brand Lord Jones through its online shop. Now the company is offering a variety of CBD lotions and body oils in 171 of its retail stores nationwide. Not to be left out, the luxury retailer Neiman Marcus is also offering CBD topicals as well.

The cannabis company Green Growth Brands has likewise made some major in-roads with national retailers. Recently, the company signed with Brookfield Properties and Simon Property Group, two of the largest mall owners in the U.S., to sell branded topical CBD products. The company signed similar deals with Designer Shoe Warehouse and American Eagle.

Perhaps the biggest adopter of CBD topicals yet is the organic grocery chain Whole Foods: With little fanfare, the company has begun selling CBD products throughout its stores, a practice made all the more significant given that Whole Foods isowned by Amazon.

Should the retail momentum behind such large national retailers be aided by favorable treatment from the FDA, CBD products will truly have made a game-changing impact beyond the countertop of the local gas station.


 

Metro’s Solar Plan Would Bring Power to 1,500 DC Homes

Author: UrbanTurf Staff         July 17, 2019

A proposed solar array for ward 8

The Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA) has some solar plans in the works.

Metro announced on Wednesday a proposal to install solar panels at four Metro-owned facilities in the DC area. The energy created by the panels would be enough to power 1,500 homes.

“Metro is offering a 15-year solar ground lease to develop and operate solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems on surface and rooftop parking lots at Anacostia, Cheverly, Naylor Road and Southern Avenue stations,” a statement read.

The panels will be owned, operated and maintained by a third-party solar energy provider.

Similar Posts:

ClearBlu Capital Group

Author: info@clearblugroup.com                   Published: July 15, 2019                                                                                          WEEKLY NEWSLETTER                             Week of July 15th, 2019

ClearBlu Capital Group is delighted to share our weekly newsletter providing articles on current housing and economic market conditions, business development, commercial real estate and key products offered to our wide variety of customers. Please enjoy and feel free to click here to schedule a meeting with our team if we can assist in expanding your business or real estate investment endeavors.
Trump Signs New Law To Protect Innocent Small Business Owners From IRS Seizures – Nick Sibilla
3 Fintech Innovations That Could End Financial Hurdles For Small Businesses – Brock Blake
Small businesses flourish with SBIC-backed loans – Kevin Robinson-Avila
Uncertainty Climbs Among America’s Small-Business Owners – Nancy Moran and Ryan Haar
Copyright © 2019 ClearBlu Capital Group, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you opted in via our website.Our mailing address is:

ClearBlu Capital Group

15803 Bear Creek Pkwy
Suite E539

Redmond, WA 98052

Add us to your address book

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp

SOLAR BUSINESS TIPS How to Get HOA Solar Approval: Tips for Success

Author: Sara Carbone Published:  June 19th, 2019 blog.aurorasolar.com

HOA Approval Cover Image-1

In some areas, Homeowners Associations (HOAs) can present significant barriers to homeowners’ ability to install solar.

Before Texas enacted protective solar access laws that limited what restrictions HOAs could place on solar installations in their neighborhoods, HOAs meant a lot of frustration. Speaking to the New York Times in 2009 when he was chief executive of Houston-based residential solar company Standard Renewable Energy,John Berger (now CEO of Sunnova Corporation), said HOA prohibitions had cost SRE over $1 million in business.

In Missouri, a state without policies protecting from HOA solar restrictions, there are a number of cases in court where HOAs are butting heads with homeowners that install solar.

As a solar contractor, the extent to which HOAs impact your business is dependent on your state’s laws and the HOA bylaws in the neighborhoods you target. However, there are a number of strategies you can employ to help ensure HOA approval for your customers’ PV solar systems, regardless of where you do business.

In this article, we discuss techniques compiled from interviews with solar contractors with extensive experience working with HOAs and online research to help ensure successful outcomes on projects in HOA communities—and guide your prospective customer through the process as well.

See how Aurora Solar software can help you close more sales in a free consultation.

How an HOA Can Impact Your Solar Business

HOAs are neighborhood organizations that create and enforce rules for houses or condominiums in established communities. Solar Power World states that “a major directive of the HOA is neighborhood uniformity and/or a high standard of appearance for each property.” HOAs’ concerns, and resulting rules, about solar installations tend to relate to how PV panels will affect the look of neighborhoods or property values.

These rules can impact a homeowner’s efforts to go solar. A significant proportion of American homeowners interact with an HOA: over 351,000 HOAs in the U.S.regulate about 40 million households or 53% of owner-occupied households. Therefore, there is a good chance that your prospect needs to work with one. However, about half of U.S.states have laws preventing HOAs from denying solar for aesthetic reasons, so the impact on your business is partially dependent on where you operate.

Getting Approval from an HOA: The Steps

It is helpful to understand the typical process for getting approval for a solar installation from an HOA so that you are better able to guide your customer through it. Usually, a customer requests an application from their HOA or gives the contractor permission to do so. While there are some customers who choose to fill out the application and send it in themselves, others prefer that the contractor do this.

Mike Busby, Co-Founder & President of Victory Solar, a leading residential and commercial installer in Texas, spoke with Aurora about his company’s extensive experience working with HOAs. He states that his company does all the HOA paperwork on the homeowner’s behalf, only getting the homeowner involved if they have to.

Bobby Custard, Solar Consultant for Pur Solar & Electrical, an Arizona-based contractor with over 40 years of electrical contracting experience, also shared his insights about interacting with HOAs. He says that after Pur Solar has given the customer everything they need to review and sign, the company notifies the HOA when they begin the permitting process. They send the HOA a copy of the plans, the proposal, and images of what the project will look like.

If the application is approved by the HOA, you can move forward with the installation. If not, you should understand the applicable laws in your state in case you are able to help your customer appeal the decision.

See how Aurora helps solar companies around the world grow their business

Strategies That Can Expedite the HOA Application Process

There are a number of best practices to keep in mind that may help make the process of getting HOA solar approval as easy as possible and increase the likelihood of a successful outcome.

Know Your State’s Laws

“Solar access” laws have been adopted by many states including California, Utah, and Florida that protect homeowners’ rights during the HOA solar approval process. Given that you may be the one educating your customers about their rights in this respect, it is important to know your state’s existing laws, whether provide protections from HOA solar restrictions, and what forms they take.

Solar access laws prevent HOAs from prohibiting solar panel installations or having contracts that restrict homeowners from installing them. However, HOAs can usually make certain requests about a system, as long as they don’t make the proposed solar system less effective or more expensive. Often HOAs are allowed to place certain restrictions on systems, like retaining the right to influence design elements of a rooftop solar array, such as requiring that all electrical wiring be placed out of sight.

California has had The Solar Rights Act since 1978, which has helped encourage the growth of solar in the state and is the basis for many other states’ protective laws. It includes protections that limit HOA ability to pass prohibitive laws but allows an HOA to impose “reasonable restrictions” on solar energy systems. These restrictions are currently limited to ones that don’t increase the cost of a proposed system by more than $1,000 or decrease its potential performance by more than 10%.

Under this law, a homeowner does have some responsibility to their neighborswhen they seek to go solar. For example, in multifamily dwellings with common roof areas an applicant must notify each owner in the building about a proposal. Additionally, they might also be required to have homeowner liability coverage and provide proof of this to their HOA annually.

Arizona has solar access laws that are similar to those of California but with less stringency and specificity about what an HOA can and cannot do. For example, the “reasonableness” of HOA solar installation restrictions is decided on a case-by-case in the courts.

However, Custard explains that protective Arizona laws have made the HOA approval process very easy for Pur Solar & Electrical. 60-80% of Pur Solar’s installations involve HOAs, and they have never been rejected. He states that even when his company installed several systems near upscale private golf courses, they were able to install the panels facing the fairway for one and facing the putting green for another.

The actual provisions of solar access laws vary widely by state and comprehensive information about state and local rules is available at the Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency (DSIRE).

Be Your Customer’s Guide Through the HOA Approval Process

Functioning as your prospect’s expert on how to navigate their HOA’s solar stipulations and state laws from the beginning of the sales process can go a long way towards winning the deal. Find out the HOA’s rules about PV panel installation early, particularly any rules they may have regarding design and placement. These can impact aspects of the installation process, such as system price, even if your state has solar access laws.

Gauge your prospect’s level of familiarity with this topic and make sure they are aware of their HOA’s rules as well as their state’s laws. “Many homeowners are not aware of their rights,” says Custard.

He states that a homeowner may have just bought their house or might be new to the area; “they may have just gotten their HOA rule book, and they’re trying to figure out what direction they can put their car or what their yard has to look like. So they’re a little bit overwhelmed and gun shy.” Victory Solar’s Busby adds that while some people know how the approval process works or are even on their HOA board, others are completely unaware of how it works.

Custard explains that prospects are often concerned about what their HOA will say regarding installing solar. Therefore, his team makes sure to show the homeowner information about Arizona’s HOA solar laws via emails or printed articles. As a result “the prospect feels much more comfortable moving forward knowing that if they put down a deposit and get the ball rolling with solar, the HOA isn’t going to be throwing speed bumps in the path.”

Have a Streamlined HOA Application Process

It helps to show your prospects that you and your team are aware of how to achieve an expedited approval process. For example, there are ways you canreassure a prospect’s HOA and address their concerns. This can be done by demonstrating how PV panels can increase property values and providing examples of successful installations you have done for similar neighborhoods and home types.

Busby notes that Victory Solar has a streamlined process in place to ensure HOA solar approval given that they deal with HOAs on about 90% of their projects. He told us, “we probably submit too much paperwork but have a 100% approval rate. The paperwork has got to be very detailed and ironclad. An HOA can rarely oppose that.”

Busby also asserts that an important part of a smooth HOA solar approval process is having an operations team that gets paperwork together efficiently. He states, “you have to make the right hires within the operations group of your organization because they’re just as important as your roof crew. If they’re fast on the paperwork approval it flows down through every part of the operations side. As a result, we’re very quick. We install systems within 30 to 40 days while the industry average is 150 days.”

Be Prepared to be Creative and Flexible

HOA rules may require that you adjust your approach and think outside the box, even in a state with solar access laws. Victory Solar was able to secure approval for a client with a Spanish tile roof whose HOA had already rejected ground mount system proposals from three different contractors. They did this by suggesting a ballasted ground mount system with a black mesh fence screen to obscure the system from view. It included removing the grass and putting in white rock for a flat roof commercial system on the ground and ensuring the system was below the fence line.

Busby also describes one customer in an affluent neighborhood where the HOA wanted the solar system to be installed out of view. Noticing that the customer had an old unused concrete tennis court and, Victory suggested the customer repurpose the court as a solar pad for a ballasted ground mount solar system.

You may also consider adjusting the equipment you use. Custard talks about the benefits of using solid black panels: “HOAs very much prefer a solid black panel with a black screen instead of a white paper backing with a silver frame. When we use these kinds of panels they are more receptive to the installation and are less likely to come back with any questions, even in places that have really specific, stringent rules.”

Educate Solar Prospects and HOAs

In an effort to improve the HOA approval process and help ensure solar’s growth, you may look for opportunities to provide educational information to both prospects and HOAs. Laura Ann Arnold of the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, a state that currently has a host of solar related HOA challenges, says that “the solar industry as a whole needs to stay vigilant on HOA solar issues and work to educate the public as more people want to go solar.”

This may mean providing homeowners with information about HOA prohibitions and restrictions regarding solar in order to encourage them to ask questions before they buy a home. It may also mean seeking ways to educate HOA boards about removing outdated strictures or easing overly prohibitive rules. Arnold describes how some boards don’t understand the impact of certain rules like limiting solar to the back of the house or away from the street when it faces north. “There is a lack of understanding about the technology and the economics,” she declares.

Employing best practices when working with a customer and their Homeowner’s Association can help you offer the best customer service and increase the likelihood of closing the sale. A key part of this can be coming from a position of cooperation and consensus, which can lead to an expedited approval process. As Custard explains, “as long as you’re civil with an HOA so that you don’t end up on their radar as a ‘problem person,’ they’re much more likely to help instead of hinder the process.”

Sanders and Ocasio-Cortez move to declare climate crisis official emergency

Exclusive: Democrats to introduce resolution in House on Tuesday in recognition of extreme threat from global heating

Sanders with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal. Data shows nations are not on track to limit the dangerous heating of the planet significantly enough.

Sanders with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar and Pramila Jayapal. Data shows nations are not on track to limit the dangerous heating of the planet significantly enough. Photograph: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

A group of US lawmakers including the 2020 Democratic presidential contender Bernie Sanders are proposing to declare the climate crisis an official emergency – a significant recognition of the threat taken after considerable pressure from environment groups.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the Democratic congresswoman from New York, and Earl Blumenauer, a Democratic congressman from Oregon, plan to introduce the same resolution in the House on Tuesday, their offices confirmed.

A Sanders spokesperson said: “President Trump has routinely declared phoney national emergencies to advance his deeply unpopular agenda, like selling Saudi Arabia bombs that Congress had blocked.

“On the existential threat of climate change, Trump insists on calling it a hoax. Senator Sanders is proud to partner with his House colleagues to challenge this absurdity and have Congress declare what we all know: we are facing a climate emergency that requires a massive and immediate federal mobilization.”

Climate activists have been calling for the declaration, as data shows nations are not on track to limit the dangerous heating of the planet significantly enough. The UN has warned the world is experiencing one climate disaster every week. A new analysis from the economic firm Rhodium Group today finds the US might achieve less than half of the percentage of pollution reductions it promised other countries in an international agreement.

Senate Legislative CounselDraft Copy of KAT19097
1
7/8/20192:38 PM
Title: Expressing the sense of Congress that there is a climate emergency which demands a
1
massive-scale mobilization to halt, reverse, and address its consequences and causes.
234
Whereas 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2018 were the four hottest years on record and the 20 warmest
5
years on record have occurred within the past 22 years;
6
Whereas global atmospheric concentrations of the primary heat-trapping gas, or greenhouse gas,
7
carbon dioxide—
8
(1) have increased by 40 percent since preindustrial times, from 280
9
 parts per million to 415 parts per million, primarily due to human
10
activities, including burning fossil fuels and deforestation;
11
(2) are rising at a rate of 2 to 3 parts per million annually; and
12
(3) must be reduced to no more than 350 parts per million, and likely
13
lower, “if humanity wishes to preserve a planet similar to that on which
14
civilization developed and to which life on Earth is adapted,” according to
15
former National Aeronautics and Space Administration climatologist, Dr.
16
James Hansen;
17
Whereas global atmospheric concentrations of other greenhouse gases, including methane,
18
nitrous oxide, and hydrofluorocarbons, have also increased substantially since preindustrial
19
times, primarily due to human activities, including burning fossil fuels;
20
Whereas current climate science and real-world observations of climate change impacts, ocean
21
warming and acidification, floods, droughts, wildfires, and extreme weather demonstrate
22
that a global rise in temperatures of 1 degree Celsius above preindustrial levels is already
23
having dangerous impacts on human populations and the environment;
24
Whereas the 2018 National Climate Assessment found that climate change due to global
25
warming has caused, and is expected to cause additional, substantial interference with and
26
growing losses to infrastructure, property, industry, recreation, natural resources,
27
agricultural systems, human health and safety, and quality of life in the United States;
28
Whereas the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has determined that climate
29
change is already increasing the frequency of extreme weather and other climate-related
30
disasters, including drought, wildfire, and storms that include precipitation;
31
Whereas climate-related natural disasters have increased exponentially over the past decade,
32
costing the United States more than double the long-term average during the period of 2014
33
through 2018, with total costs of natural disasters during that period of approximately $100
34
 billion per year;
35
Whereas the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have found wide-ranging, acute, and
36
fatal public health consequences from climate change that impact communities across the
37
United States;
38
Whereas the National Climate and Health Assessment of the United States Global Change
39
Research Program identified climate change as a significant threat to the health of the
40
 people of the United States, leading to increased—
41
Sixteen countries and hundreds of local governments, including New York City last month, have declared a climate emergency already, according to the advocacy group the Climate Mobilization. The activist group Extinction Rebellion has said the declaration is a crucial first step in addressing the crisis.

Blumenauer’s office said he decided to draft the resolution after Donald Trump declared an emergency at the US border with Mexico so he could pursue building a wall between the two countries.

In Congress, Democrats in control of the House might have enough support for the resolution, but Republicans in the majority in the Senate are not likely to approve.

The resolution says: “The global warming caused by human activities, which increase emissions of greenhouse gases, has resulted in a climate emergency” that “severely and urgently impacts the economic and social well-being, health and safety, and national security of the United States”.

It then goes on to say that Congress “demands a national, social, industrial, and economic mobilization of the resources and labor of the United States at a massive-scale.”

Trump and his administration have questioned the science showing that humans are causing the climate crisis. They have downplayed the risks of rising temperatures and gutted government efforts to limit the heat-trapping pollution from power plants, cars and other sources.

Despite that record, Trump touted the US as an environmental leader in aspeech on Monday at the White House.

Even if the resolution passed and was signed by the president, it would not force any action on climate change. But advocates say similar efforts in Canada and the United Kingdom have served as a leverage point, highlighting the hypocrisy between the government position that the situation is an emergency and individual decisions that would exacerbate the problem.

Several of the Democrats running for president have rolled out partial or full blueprints for cutting emissions. Nearly all have said it is a top issue. Sanders has a history of prioritizing the climate crisis, and has previously suggested specific policy options, but he has yet to release his own proposal.

As the crisis escalates…

… in our natural world, we refuse to turn away from the climate catastrophe and species extinction. For The Guardian, reporting on the environment is a priority. We give reporting on climate, nature and pollution the prominence it deserves, stories which often go unreported by others in the media. At this pivotal time for our species and our planet, we are determined to inform readers about threats, consequences and solutions based on scientific facts, not political prejudice or business interests.

More people are reading and supporting The Guardian’s independent, investigative journalism than ever before. And unlike many news organisations, we have chosen an approach that allows us to keep our journalism accessible to all, regardless of where they live or what they can afford. But we need your ongoing support to keep working as we do.

The Guardian will engage with the most critical issues of our time – from the escalating climate catastrophe to widespread inequality to the influence of big tech on our lives. At a time when factual information is a necessity, we believe that each of us, around the world, deserves access to accurate reporting with integrity at its heart.

Our editorial independence means we set our own agenda and voice our own opinions. Guardian journalism is free from commercial and political bias and not influenced by billionaire owners or shareholders. This means we can give a voice to those less heard, explore where others turn away, and rigorously challenge those in power.

We need your support to keep delivering quality journalism, to maintain our openness and to protect our precious independence. Every reader contribution, big or small, is so valuable.

BRIEF US renewable energy transition to move faster than anticipated by 2022: FERC report

Dive Brief:

  • By June 2022, the pace of U.S. renewables growth is going to surpass fossil fuel growth by a significantly greater margin than what FERC had anticipated as recently as April, according to the commission’s May 2019 Energy Infrastructure Update, released Friday.
  • The renewable energy-focused SUN DAY Campaign said new renewable energy capacity would grow more than 10% by 2022 while fossil fuel capacity would only increase about 1%, compared to the April forecast of a 5% net increase. The fossil fuel dip will be largely driven by the more than 4.6 GW of coal forecast for retirement, according to FERC’s May update.
  • While SUN DAY’s analysis asserts that FERC “drastically revised” its 3-year forecast, “the generation additions/retirements section of the monthly report is NOT a forecast or prediction of Commission expectations,” FERC media relations director Mary O’Driscoll told Utility Dive via email. The estimates come from outside sources: Velocity Suite, ABB Inc. and The C Three Group.

Dive Insight:

Looking between FERC’s April and May infrastructure updates, renewables appear to be displacing fossil fuel and nuclear capacity at a faster pace. The May Energy Infrastructure Update included an additional 3 GW of coal capacity expected for retirement.

“The revisions in FERC’s latest three-year projections underscore the dramatic changes taking place in the nation’s electrical generating mix,” Ken Bossong, executive director of the SUN DAY Campaign, said in a statement.

“The FERC 3-year forecast of U.S. electrical generating mix is an affirmation that the clean energy transition is underway,” World Resources Institute (WRI) Senior Associate Devashree Saha told Utility Dive via email.

Based on the data aggregated from independent analysts, “there will be effectively no growth in the generating capacity of fossil fuels while renewables will see significant growth in capacity,” Saha said.

While natural gas has become more economic and is expected to grow, more than 10 GW of natural gas generation are expected to be retired in the next three years. Groups like WRI are tracking regional trends to install more natural gas or to pass on gas projects based on state and local support for clean energy.

In a web post published on Monday, Saha highlighted the growing number of state rejections of utility plans to replace coal generation with natural gas amid falling renewable energy prices and climate concerns.

Credit: FERC

The SUN DAY Campaign’s analysis calculated net generation capacity changes by looking at unit retirements and “highly probable” additions. The net new renewable generation capacity will be nearly 27 GW for wind and more than 16 GW for utility-scale solar by June 2022,  according to the May 2019 Energy Infrastructure Update.

“These are fairly conservative numbers with groups like Wood Mackenzie estimating more renewable energy growth,” Saha said.

Follow Iulia Gheorghiu on Twitter

Solar + wind + storage developers ‘gearing up’ as hybrid projects edge to market

A “wave” of new projects is coming to use wind, solar, and battery storage in ways that will stabilize grids, increase efficiencies and lower power costs.

Renewables are shedding their individual identities as wind and solar become clean energy MWhs.

Though no full-scale hybrid projects co-locating both resources and energy storage have been built in the U.S. and few are online around the world, the U.S. renewables industries are taking on barriers such as interconnection, dispatch and compensation challenges, according to speakers at the 2019 American Wind Energy Association’s Windpower conference.

“It’s like the storm is brewing. It hasn’t coalesced yet, but hybrid projects are absolutely the future.”

Rhonda Peters

Consulting Principal, InterTran Energy

For the first time, the conference featured multiple sessions on the trials and opportunities of these hybrid renewables projects. In line with the ambitious resource partnerships among renewable energy groups, next year’s conference will be rebranded Cleanpower 2020.

Developers of hybrid projects “are gearing up,” InterTran Energy Consulting Principal Rhonda Peters, who has long worked on regulatory obstacles to hybrid projects, told Utility Dive. “It’s like the storm is brewing. It hasn’t coalesced yet, but hybrid projects are absolutely the future.”

California Senate passes $21B wildfire fund legislation, as Newsom pushes for final vote Friday

Author: July 9, 2019

Dive Brief:

  • The California Senate on Monday passed AB 1054, legislation Gov. Gavin Newsom, D, is rapidly pushing to help utilities cover wildfire damage liabilities through a new $21 billion liquidity fund.
  • The legislation was advanced by the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee, before being approved 31-7 by the full chamber. Newsom is pressing for a final vote in the Assemby on Friday.
  • Some customer advocates say they have concerns that the legislation weakens the standards to hold utilities accountable. On the other side, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) declared bankruptcy earlier this year in part due to wildfire liabilities, and the utility’s creditors have supported the legislation as a much-needed solution.

Dive Insight:

PG&E’s creditors are pressing for quick passage of AB 1054, while advocacy group Consumer Watchdog has warned that an accelerated schedule leaves utility customers vulnerable.

A Friday vote would leave no time for amendments to what is “very complex legislation where details have a lot of devils,” Consumer Watchdog President and Chairman of the Board Jamie Court wrote in a Monday blog post.

The proposal calls for utility ratepayers to contribute $10.5 billion, with shareholders contributing the same amount. Customers would pay into the fund through a $2.50 monthly charge on bills that has been in place since the state’s energy crisis, and had been slated to roll off.

But Consumer Watchdog warned the legislation’s details give the state’s Public Utilities Commission “power to bond endlessly” without approval from lawmaker, if customers are forced to bear “recoverable” costs.

“The problem is the legislature is weakening the standard by which ratepayers can hold utilities accountable for not being prudent managers and starting fires,” Court wrote. “So ratepayers will pay in more instances than the past.”

PG&E’s official creditors committee, however, warned that taking too much time could be costly.

“Delays in legislation to address California’s wildfire liability crises will result in damaging consequences for wildfire victims, ratepayers, and businesses across California,” the group said in a statement. “Furthermore, these delays will affect the bankruptcy process, and likely result in delayed payments to victims, service and energy providers, and lenders.”

Several trade associations representing California’s wind, solar, geothermal, and bioenergy industries, have also said the legislation is necessary to “stabilize and hold accountable the state’s largest utilities.

“California’s energy future is dependent upon getting to a financially stable market, as AB 1054 intends,” Independent Energy Producers CEO Jan Smutny-Jones said in a statement.

A Talk With Christopher Gay CEO Of Renewable Energy Corporation

Author: Ronald Bethea                   Published 4,2019

 Renewable Energy Corporation

The renewable energy industry may be one of the biggest vertical markets in the world today with revenues reaching the billions each year. Christopher Gay is the founder and chief executive officer of Renewable Energy Corporation whose extensive high-tech experience encompasses over two decades. A veteran of technology, with resume entries with companies like America Online- during its infancy and NASA, he served as part of a team which was elemental to the success of Toyota North America in conjunction with IBM regarding advanced projects with the goal of reducing the production time of a manufactured vehicle.   His experience also includes advanced video conferencing and data communications for corporate facilities and infrastructures.

In order to venture further into the renewable energy industries and help propel the state of Kentucky to the forefront, Renewable Energy  Corporation as a premier private entity has the ability to take the reins in a capital intensive industry, and still flourish and maintain a high success rating of single-handedly accommodating the 25% goal of the 25/25 initiative.  This helps the state research and utilize its resources in other technologies and future solutions.

 

HBCU Green Fund

Author: HBCU Green Fund  Published July 2, 2019

Atlanta, GA – Sustainability leader and cofounder of the HBCU Green Fund, Felicia Davis, was one of three metro area women named “Atlanta Power Women” by award-winning actor Mark Ruffalo’s (Incredible Hulk) ATL100 campaign. Today the women were surprised with billboards honoring their leadership in advancing 100% clean energy. Chef Malissa “Mali” Hunter and Rev. Kate McGregor Mosley were also surprised with billboards.

The billboards underscore the leading role that women are playing in making clean energy more accessible and affordable for all people, regardless of income, zip code or race.

“In communities across the country women are leading the way to a 100% clean energy future, and today’s honorees are part of that powerful trend,” said Sarah Shanley Hope, executive director of the ATL100 campaign. “We celebrate these ‘Atlanta Power Women’ and leaders like them across America for making our nation cleaner, healthier, and more equitable.”

As director of the Building Green Initiative at Clark Atlanta University, Davis helps historically black, Hispanic-serving and tribal colleges and universities reduce their environmental footprints. She also serves as sustainability coordinator for Clark Atlanta University which is part of the Atlanta University Center, the largest consortium of historically black colleges and universities in the country.

Davis comments, “As a Black woman working on Energy, Climate and Equity issues I believed my community could make a quantum leap. The billboard moment is surreal. For me it’s a huge sign that HBCUs will play a powerful role in creating a sustainable future and renewable energy is the driver.”

Chef Hunter is a celebrity chef and partner in Tree Sound Studios. She uses her influential platform to promote healthy eating and environmental sustainability, including adopting clean, efficient energy. Powered by on-site solar energy, Tree Sound Studios boasts top talent such as Toni Braxton, Justin Bieber, Drake and Lenny Kravitz on its client list.

Rev. McGregor Mosley is executive director of Georgia Interfaith Power & Light, which unites the state’s diverse faith community around the moral case for action on clean energy. She oversees a successful program to help religious institutions across Georgia become more energy efficient in order to reduce operating costs and promote environmental stewardship.

The public can see Davis’s billboard at 920 Northside Drive NW. Ms. Hunter’s is located at 98 Ted Turner Drive, NW. and Rev. Mosley’s is at 348 Marietta Street NW. The billboards will be on view for one month.

ATL100 is a sub-campaign of the national 100% campaign, which was launched by Mark Ruffalo and actor/director Leonardo DiCaprio in 2015 to promote 100% clean energy for 100% of the people. Today’s surprises are part of the 100% campaign’s ONE100 Awards program. The program surprises individuals across the country, honoring them for their leadership in the transition to 100% clean energy for all. Other ONE100 Awards events have celebrated clean energy leaders from Buffalo, New York; Highland Park, Michigan; and Oakland, California.

“The ONE100 Awards highlight the fact that people from all backgrounds and walks of life are giving their 100% to support clean energy,” said ATL100 and 100% campaign co-founder Mark Ruffalo. “Through the ONE100 Awards, we hope to shine a spotlight on the diverse range of Americans who are spearheading innovative approaches to clean energy in community after community, all across America. They are doing important work, and deserve to be celebrated.”

HBCU Green Fund Leads the Way to Energy Efficiency on Campus

With an emphasis on cutting-edge technology and community activism, historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) can lead the way for American higher education institutions providing a sustainable, Earth-friendly education for their students. Relying mainly on grassroots support and crowdfunding for resources, the HBCU Green Fund will finance campus projects that cut energy and water usage—and thus, energy costs–on HBCU campuses. The Fund will, in turn, reinvest the savings it gains back into its sustainability program to finance additional projects. Our three-pronged approach will help sustain the HBCU legacy for generations to come.

  1. Growing the Green Fund
  • The HBCU Green Fund is launching a nationwide fundraising campaign. The goal is to raise $1 million to finance upgrades on HBCUs all across the country.
  • We’re drawing expertise from Green Revolving Loan Fund (GRF) models to serve black colleges.
  • We’re reaching out to HBCU supporters, alumni and students to donate at least $10.00 to the HBCU Green Fund on an annual basis.
  • Grassroots support should, in turn, pique the interest and inspire support from well-heeled institutions, private companies, foundations, and university endowments.
  1. Finding Projects that Pay

The HBCU Green Fund will look for projects that will reduce energy, cut down on water usage, and minimize the carbon footprint of historically black colleges and universities. With older buildings and millions in deferred maintenance there are lots of excellent cost-saving opportunities. The Fund will evaluate how much each project will improve the sustainability of the campus and save for reinvestment.

To be eligible for consideration, a project must show that it can generate utility savings of 20 percent or more. Independent engineering consultants will review each application for its cost, its savings, its impact on the environment and the time frame needed to pay back any loans incurred.

  1. Students Lead Campus Sustainability

Perhaps the most important part of the HBCU Green Fund’s mission is to engage students. As sustainability projects on campus go forward, the HCBU Sustainability Fellows Training Program will give eager students the knowledge, support, incentives, and technical ability to find, promote, and support green initiatives on their campus. To help students promote the program, the HBCU Green Fund will provide a promotional toolkit that contains materials, signs, inflatable props, and other marketing tools.

Sustainability Fellows will work with their peers and campus leadership to reinforce the need to take an active part in green initiatives to ensure that their institution continues to provide a quality education for generations to come.

HBCU GREEN FUND

Thomas W. Cole Research Center Rm 1026
223 James P Brawley Dr., SW
Atlanta, GA 30314
info@hbcugreenfund.org

 

 

 

D.C. Council gives final approval to tight limits on Airbnb and other home-sharing companies

Author: Robert McCartney Peter Jamison  November 13, 2018 Washington Post

Washington, D.C.The D.C. Council voted unanimously Tuesday to impose some of the tightest limits in the nation on Airbnb and other short-term rental companies.

If signed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D), the measure would prevent D.C. property owners from renting out second homes on a short-term basis and bar them from renting spare rooms or basements in their primary residences for more than 90 days per year when the host is away.

Bowser has said she thinks the bill is too restrictive but has not threatened to veto it — partly because it passed with enough votes to override a veto.

Airbnb swiftly denounced the council’s action.

“The D.C. Council’s reckless vote today is the latest example of the misleading tactics used to pass fiscally irresponsible home sharing policy,” Airbnb spokeswoman Crystal Davis said in a statement. “This Council managed to accomplish the seemingly impossible today, simultaneously depriving D.C. residents of $64 million in supplemental income annually and then sending D.C. taxpayers a bill for $104 million.”

Davis said Airbnb would “remain committed to ensuring home sharing is protected in our nation’s capital,” but did not specify what actions the company may take. The company had previously warned it might take its case directly to voters with a 2020 ballot initiative.

On Tuesday, Airbnb also filed a lawsuit against the city of Boston over a law that contained some provisions similar to D.C.’s legislation.

Supporters of the crackdown said it was necessary in a city where short-term rentals are making an overheated real estate market even more difficult for would-be home buyers and renters.

“District residents looking to purchase a home will no longer be competing with investors who seek to list them on lucrative short-term rental platforms,” D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), who authored the bill, said in a statement after the vote.

The bill passed after a flurry of last-minute debate among lawmakers over whether it was too strict. Council members proposed amendments that would have softened some of the legislation’s tougher provisions.

Only one of those changes was adopted: a measure allowing homeowners to apply for an exemption from the bill’s annual cap on the amount of time a unit can be rented for.

D.C. Council member Charles Allen (D-Ward 6), who introduced the amendment, said it was written to accommodate District residents serving in the military or diplomatic corps, who could be called away for long periods unexpectedly.

The measure passed by the council would take effect Oct. 1, 2019. That would give the city time to create an enforcement and licensing agency and to resolve inconsistencies under which most short-term rentals are technically in violation of zoning regulations.

The bill would affect thousands of D.C. property owners who have turned to home sharing to earn income, as well as the tourists and business travelers who use the service to find lodging in the nation’s capital.

The legislation has been pushed by the hotel industry and its unions, affordable-housing activists and community groups that argue short-term rentals are destroying the character of residential neighborhoods.

Airbnb and similar companies have lobbied hard against the plan, saying it would cost property owners tens of millions of dollars in lost income.

Both sides have run television ads and social-media campaigns to try to sway lawmakers and win public support.

The council unanimously gave preliminary approval to the bill on Oct. 2. On Oct. 16, however, it unexpectedly delayed the final vote because of concerns over an estimate from D.C. Chief Financial Officer Jeffrey S. DeWitt that the legislation would cost the city $104 million over four years.

DeWitt contended that passage of the bill would lead the city government to begin enforcing existing prohibitions on short-term rentals in residential areas, where between 80 and 90 percent of such rentals take place.