Author: WI Informer Staff Published: 1/15/2021 Washington Informer Newspaper
President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday said his proposed $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package will include more of stimulus checks, with the latest amount of $1,400 intended to offset the relatively small $600 payments that began going out this month.
The direct payments are part of Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which aims to assist those struggling to make ends meet since the global pandemic began nearly a year ago.
The plan, which has to meet congressional approval, is packed with proposals regarding health care, education, labor and cybersecurity.
In addition to an extra $400 per week for unemployed and affected workers, $416 billion has been earmarked for a national vaccination program covering 50 million people and reopening schools in Biden’s first 100 days in office, NBC News reported.
CBCF ANNOUNCES BOARD OF DIRECTORS CHAIR TRANSITION
Outgoing chairman and fellow CBC member transition to
WASHINGTON – January 15, 2021 – The Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Incorporated (CBCF) today announced that Rep. Cedric Richmond will resign his role as board of directors chairman. He will transition from the CBCF board on January 19 in preparation to serve as senior adviser to the president and director of the White House Office of Public Engagement for President-Elect Joe Biden. Under Richmond’s leadership since 2019, the CBCF advanced its mission to develop leaders, inform public policy and educate the public by expanding its social justice, research and policy analysis initiatives, and the programming of the Leadership Institute. The CBCF also recognizes the appointment of Congressional Black Caucus member Rep. Marcia Fudge to serve as secretary of housing and urban development as part of the forthcoming Biden Administration.
“It has been one of the great honors of my life to serve as CBCF board chairman over the past year and a half,” said Rep. Richmond. “Whether it was our fellowships, scholarships, internships, or our recently improved endowment, we have put a significant down payment on the development of tomorrow’s Black leaders. I am eternally grateful for the confidence bestowed on me as the board set out to navigate difficult challenges and fortify the Foundation’s long-term vision and infrastructure. Together, we have set the CBCF on a path of growth and prosperity that will only see its reach expand over the coming years.”
Lori George Billingsley, vice chairwoman of the CBCF board of directors, will assume the role of chairwoman, effective January 19. Billingsley is global chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer for The Coca-Cola Company.
“The Coca-Cola Company is a long-time supporter of the CBCF, including the Annual Legislative Conference (ALC) Prayer Breakfast and Day of Healing,” said Lori George Billingsley. “I am proud to lead this dedicated and accomplished board of directors at this pivotal time in our collective history.”
“The CBCF will continue to develop opportunities to advance the global Black community,” said president and CEO Tonya Veasey. “We congratulate Rep. Fudge and thank Rep. Richmond for his dedicated service to the CBCF and we are grateful for his leadership as board chairman. Moreover, it is a pleasure to continue our tradition of impactful work with Lori George Billingsley.”
To receive updates on CBCF news, research, programs and events, subscribe to receive the e-newsletter and follow @CBCFinc on Twitter and Instagram.
About the CBCF
Established in 1976, the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc. (CBCF) is a non-partisan, nonprofit, public policy, research and educational institute committed to advancing the global Black community by developing leaders, informing policy and educating the public. For more information, visit cbcfinc.org.
Author: Google News Initiative Published: Nov 19, 2020 The Keyword
Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr.
President and CEO, National Newspaper Publishers Association
Published Nov 19, 2020
Even before we were all hit with the devastation of COVID-19, the newspaper industry saw the writing on the wall: It’s crucial to embrace a “digital first” business priority to remain financially sustainable. The persistent global pandemic coupled with the preexisting conditions of poverty, social inequalities and racial injustice in America’s minority communities have now accelerated the digital business challenges that many Black- and Latino-owned newspapers across the U.S. and Canada already faced.
The widening digital divide and technology gap overwhelmingly affect our more than 200 Black-owned member publications in the U.S., many of which are multi-generational and family-owned. Advertising continues to be a lifeblood of both local and national newspapers. And digital advertising is irreversibly changing how news companies become profitable and sustainable, and publishers need the trained staffing and requisite technology infrastructure to compete.
It’s in this timely context that the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA), the National Association of Hispanic Publications (NAHP) and the Association of Alternative Newsmedia (AAN) have joined together with the Google News Initiative to launch the GNI Ad Transformation Lab. This much-needed program will directly support Black- and Latino-owned news organizations and publishers focused on serving underrepresented communities in the U.S. and Canada. Over the course of six months, we aim to help the participating publishers advance their digital maturity and build the digital advertising capabilities required to achieve business growth today.
Through extensive analytical and technical support, the lab will provide personalized coaching to address each organization’s digital business transformation. Participating publishers will develop and clarify their digital content and distribution strategy, optimize their websites, improve their digital advertising and programmatic capabilities, and act on these improvements to attract more advertisers and generate incremental revenue over time.
I am personally and professionally enthusiastic about the GNI Ad Transformation Lab because I have witnessed too many times how Black- and Latino-owned news publishers in particular are overlooked and undervalued by major advertisers. One of the reasons is because these publications often struggle to keep up with the technical demands and constantly evolving pace of digital advertising.
In partnering with the NAHP, whose members span the country, with a concentration in areas of large Latino populations, we’ve seen a need to bring this type of support to our communities. And they say it’s crucial to provide professional development that focuses on adopting new advertising technology. “Increased digital revenue will help expand audiences, build capacity and further the recognition and usage of Latino publications,” says Fanny Miller, NAHP’s president.
It is not a question of competence. It is an issue of the pace and process of migration and transformation from solely print advertising to “digital first” businesses that produce viable profits. That’s why this program is committed to helping publishers create sustainable digital advertising revenue streams and business practices.
Applications for the GNI Ad Transformation Lab open today and will close on December 7th at 11:59 PM EST. We encourage Black- and Latino-owned news organizations and publishers focused on serving underrepresented communities in North America to apply.
As the program progresses, we will share lessons learned with the broader minority community of publishers. The GNI will also compile the best practices into playbooks, interactive exercises and virtual workshops and incorporate the resources into the company’s ongoing Digital Growth Program, available to all publishers for free online.
We look forward to supporting Black- and Latino-owned news publishers to navigate the challenges of digital transformation, and evolve their advertising offerings for national brands and agencies. These publishers can then strategically reinvest these additional revenue streams to keep them at the cutting edge of industry innovations and market advances in the growing digital advertising space.
It’s imperative that we sustain the trusted newspapers embedded and connected in Black and Latino communities. If we don’t tell our story, who will?
Read these stories and more in this edition of the SETO newsletter.
Grid-Forming Inverters to the Rescue
What happens after a blackout? Grid operators use a conventional energy source like coal or natural gas to restart the grid. But with the rapid and increasing addition of renewable energy sources like solar, it’s critical that new technologies help maintain the grid’s stability and resilience. In a new blog post, we explain how next-generation inverters can restart the grid on their own and how a new roadmap about the technology can help operators now and into the future.
Apply to Work at SETO
We have two opportunities to join the solar office. January 15 is the last day to submit applications for the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education Science and Technology Policy opportunity at SETO. This fellowship is open to recent graduates with a bachelor’s, master’s, or Ph.D. degree in a quantitative field and other applicants with relevant post-degree experience. Selected participants will support the solar office’s mission to advance cutting-edge solar energy technologies, improve grid reliability, support solar adoption, and reduce the cost of solar nationwide. Learn more and apply.
SETO is also seeking a program manager for our manufacturing and competitiveness team, which supports groundbreaking, early-stage solar technology concepts to move them toward greater private-sector investment and commercialization. The program manager will be responsible for planning, budgeting, implementing, managing, and evaluating initiatives, and communicating their objectives to industry stakeholders. Learn more and apply.
Two Funding Opportunities—Deadlines and Assistance
New Education Projects Announced to Help Professionals Working with Solar
On December 22, DOE announced it will award nearly $6 million to five project teams to develop training resources and programs for emergency responders, safety officials, building owners and operators, and others who interact with distributed energy resources like solar and storage systems. Learn more about how these awardees plan to protect and serve these professionals with support from the Education Materials for Professional Organizations Working on Efficiency and Renewable Energy Developments (EMPOWERED) funding program.
Improve Energy Resilience in Vulnerable Communities
The Energy Transitions Initiative Partnership Project—a network of DOE offices, National Labs, and local organizations—will provide technical assistance to 8-12 remote and islanded communities that need to better withstand power disruptions and quickly recover after they occur. The program is seeking community partners to provide on-the-ground support and resources to address energy and infrastructure challenges. Register for the webinar on January 26, and apply by February 15.
Wanted: National Lab Solar Project Proposals
In December, SETO issued a $90 million FY2022–2024 Lab Call (open this link in Google Chrome) soliciting projects from National Laboratory researchers that will help increase solar integration on the grid and boost U.S. manufacturing. This program will also support a five-year consortium focused on concentrating solar-thermal power heliostat research. Concept papers are due January 26 by 5 p.m. ET.
Let’s Build: Connected Communities Deadline
Through DOE’s $65 million funding opportunity to expand its network of energy-efficient “smart” buildings, SETO has joined forces with the buildings, vehicles, and electricity offices to transform U.S. communities. SETO will award up to $7 million to projects that interact with solar and other distributed energy resources. Submit your concept papers by February 17 at 5 p.m. ET.
Get Your Stats Fix Here: Quarterly Solar Industry Report
Did you know that in the first nine months of 2020, the United States installed 9 gigawatts (GW) of photovoltaics (PV)—its largest first-nine-month total ever? That’s just one of the highlights from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) latest quarterly solar industry report. In it, you’ll learn that the United States installed about 497 megawatt-hours of energy storage onto the electric grid in the first half of 2020, a year-over-year increase of 3%. And, 80% of the 49 GW of new U.S. electric generating capacity expected to come online in 2020 comes from solar and wind. Read more.
Shedding Light: High-Flux Solar Furnace
In honor of NREL’s 10-kilowatt High-Flux Solar Furnace’s 30th anniversary, the lab has shared a look back at how it has grown and advanced research across multiple industries. The furnace harnesses solar energy and amplifies it to the power of 2,500 suns. It’s used to test materials and components that use a lot of heat and light, such as glazings for solar collectors, as well as to study thermochemical energy storage, and much more. The furnace is open to all, including universities and businesses. Learn more about how the furnace works by watching this short video.
Solar and Energy Storage Webinar Series
February 25–26 | 12–2 p.m. ET
Join SETO for a webinar series to learn about our work to develop and demonstrate technologies that enable solar plus energy storage.
Approximately 20 kilowatts of PV systems for a ranger station and biological research station in the Mona Passage, midway between Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. Photo by Dennis Schroeder. Click to download.
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Author: Madison Dipbove Published: Nov 30, 2020 Guides
First established in 1974, by the Warren-Alquist Act, the California Energy Commission (CEC) was formed as the state’s primary energy policy and planning agency, committed to reducing energy costs and the environmental impacts of energy use. And, they continue this mission today. Through legislation like Title 20 and Title 24, the CEC mandates that businesses maintain specific efficiency standards. And, this isn’t just good for the environment. Using energy-efficient appliances and lighting helps you save money on electrical costs as well.
If you’re a facility manager or electrician working in California, it’s essential that you’re familiar with both Title 20 and Title 24 regulations. Below, you’ll find a comprehensive guide on both pieces of legislation so that you can ensure that you’re lighting is up to code and save some money while you’re at it.
What is Title 20?
California introduced Title 20 requirements in two phases.
Tier I went into effect January 1, 2018.
Tier II went into effect July 1, 2019.
Tier II performance is significantly higher because it requires a higher efficacy (more light with less energy use) and CRI.
The commission has also made additional changes to Title 20 regulations, effective January 1, 2020. The CEC added a regulation that requires general service lamps (GSLs) to have a minimum efficacy of 45 lumens per watt.
Title 20 applies more than just lighting, but since lighting is our area of expertise, that’s what we’ll be looking at.
The Appliance Efficiency Program, or Title 20, includes standards for lighting appliances. the Voluntary California Quality LED Lamp Specification is aligned with the standards of Title 20. The objective of this specification is to promote lighting products that perform better than current mandatory requirements and to prepare the market for upcoming mandatory efficiency regulations. It states the minimum level of quality and performance from LED lamps needed to avoid consumer dissatisfaction and facilitate the market transition to more efficient LED technology.
Title 20 is not only a requirement to sell in California, but item(s) must also be registered with the CEC prior to entering the market.
However, if a product meets Title 20 requirements, that does not mean it will also meet Title 24 (JA8) requirements.
In order to be Title 20 eligible, lamps must have an American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standard E12, E17, E26 or GU24 base, including LED lamps designed for retrofit within existing recessed can housing that contains one of the preceding bases. Also, the lamp must be capable of producing a quantity of light suitable for general illumination, meaning a brightness less than or equal to 2,600 lumens and greater than or equal to 150 lumens (for candelabra bases) or 200 lumens (for other bases).
The lamp must also be capable of producing white light, meaning light with a correlated color temperature (CCT) between 2200K and 7000K. Lamps of any shape are eligible that meet these criteria, including LED downlight retrofit kits and candelabra LEDs with one of the specified bases.
Title 20 Compliance
In order to be in compliance with Title 20, lighting products must meet the energy-efficency standards as set by the California Energy Commission.
This impacts three main categories of lighting: state-regulated LED lamps, state-regulated small diameter directional lamps, and state-regulated general service lamps. To be legally sold in the state, these products must be listed in California’s MAEDBS (Modernized Appliance Efficiency Database System).
There are also certain testing and marking requirements for every product. But no matter what kind of testing a light bulb passes, if it’s not listed in the MAEDBS, it’s illegal to sell in California. Who’s responsible for making sure light bulbs are legally sold in California? Everyone in the supply chain. The California Energy Commission says lighting manufacturers, distributors, retailers, contractors, importers, and installers should all check products.
Title 20 Requirements
State-regulated LED lamps (SLED)
Defined as lamp with a base that is E12, E17, E26, or GU-24
Includes retrofit kits
80 lpw (lumens per watt)
Minimum compliance score
Minimum rated life
State-regulated small diameter directional lamps (SDDL)
Defined as non-tubular directional lamp with a 2.25 inch or less diameter; can operate at 12 volts, 24 volts, or 120 volts
80 lpw (lumens per watt)
or a minimum efficacy of 70 lpw and a minimum compliance score of 165
Minimum rated life
State-regulated general service lamps (GSL)
Can be incandescent, halogen, CFL, or LED
Defined as omni-directional lamp with an E26 base
What Is Title 24?
Title 24 (JA8), California Building Standards Code is a broad set of requirements for “energy conservation, green design, construction and maintenance, fire and life safety, and accessibility” that apply to the “structural, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing systems” in a building. Title 24 was published by the California Building Standards Commission and applies to all buildings in California, not just state-owned buildings.
And although this piece of legislation is not lighting specific, it does have an effect on lighting decisions. As one of the largest power draws in the majority of commercial and industrial facilities, lighting is certainly responsible for large energy inefficiencies, if not carefully monitored. Here, the CEC outlines required lighting controls and the style of lighting required in all buildings, both commercial and residential.
Below, you’ll find some Title 24, lighting specific regulations that CA requires of every business, regardless of industry. Many of these regulations expand on practices that are already in place, so don’t assume that because you updated your lighting a few years ago, that it will still be Title 24 compliant.
Photo controls are required in parking garages with at least 36 sq ft of opening and at least 60W of installed lighting power in daylight areas
Lights must be turned OFF during daylight hours via a photocontrol and an automatic time switch OR astronomical time switch control
If luminaires mounted <24 ft above ground, motion sensors or other occupancy-based controls must be used; not required >24 ft above ground
Maximum dimming permitted as part of a motion-controlled lighting system increased to 90%
Outdoor lighting no longer must be separately circuited from other lighting, but it must remain independently controlled via automatic scheduling
If lighting is dimmable, controls must be on a dimmer with dimming and manual-ON/OFF capabilities
The following areas may 000000000use manual-ON/ OFF control not accessible to unauthorized personnel:
Public restrooms with 2 or more stalls
What’s the difference between Title 20 and Title 24?
To put it simply, Title 20 is product- specific and Title 24 outlines the way a new building should be designed and maintained. In fact, just because a product meets Title 20 standards does not necessarily mean it will help in meeting Title 24 regulations. Think about it this way: a product does not have to be Title 24 certified to be sold in California. New construction projects or major retrofits, however, do have to be inspected and approved as meeting Title 24 standards.
Author: WI Staff Writer Published: 1/13/2021 Washington Informer News
Pepco customers struggling to pay their bills due to the coronavirus pandemic are reminded of programs and assistance the company has made available to them.
The utility company said it recognizes the ongoing financial burden for many and is committed to working with customers individually via payment arrangements and enrollment in energy-saving programs to help get accounts back on track.
The most important step for customers who are behind on their bill is to call 202-833-7500 or go to pepco.com/help as soon as possible, Pepco said.
Meanwhile, millions of dollars in energy assistance remains available for customers, such as grants in varying amounts — based on a household’s income size, type of fuel and type of dwelling — that are not required to be paid back.
Maryland residents can call the state Department of Human Services’ Office of Home Energy Programs at 1-800-332-6347, while those in D.C. can apply for assistance through the Department of Energy and the Environment website or by calling 311.
Author: Ben Delman Published: January 5, 2021 Solar United Neighbors
Last year ended with great news for solar!
The federal government provides a tax credit to homeowners who buy solar systems. Homeowners who installed solar in 2020 were eligible for a 26% tax credit. If you installed a solar system that cost $10,000, you would receive a $2,600 credit against your tax liability.
This credit was set to lower to 22% for systems installed in 2021. It was set to expire in 2022.
But Congress stepped in and included an extension of this tax credit as part of the federal budget bill.
What this means for prospective solar owners
If you buy a solar system in 2021 or 2022, you will still be able to take the tax credit at 26%. If you go solar in 2023, you will be eligible for a 22% tax credit. The credit expires after 2023.
This extension means you could earn several hundred dollars more in tax credits.
What solar supporters can do next
Tax credits are only one way to help more Americans go solar. Congress needs to do more.
Congress should set a goal of creating30 million new solar homes (one in four U.S. households). This will help American families save money, create jobs, fight climate change, and address energy injustice.
For over 30 years, Infocast has produced deal-making events that enable organizations to innovate, design and build a better future. Infocast events ignite business transformation in each of the industries they serve, through extensive market research for the most relevant content and in-demand speakers, attracting highly-targeted audiences there to network with and learn from key industry leaders.
ABOUT THE CONFERENCE
Now in its 13th year, Projects & Money is going virtual! After an eventful 2020, it’s more critical than ever to bring together the country’s leading energy project developers and the financial community for the perennial “one-stop meeting central” for project professionals.
For over a decade, Projects & Money has established itself as the most powerful venue for the project finance community to network, share information about upcoming opportunities, get the latest market intelligence and outlook on trends, and hear the most valuable perspectives on financing and deal-making in the gas, power, and renewables markets.
However, during this time of COVID-19, Infocast believes it is more important than ever to provide a safe, alternative platform for professionals to connect with the leaders and movers in project finance — without the expense and risk of traveling.
Re-engineered for 2021, Projects & Money will take place live on Infocast’s cutting-edge virtual platform, designed to provide attendees with an engaging and interactive conference experience. Attendees will also receive 30 days of unlimited post-event access to continue their conversations, review valuable industry insights on-demand, and get deals done.
Projects & Money is the best opportunity for professionals to connect with key players to share their plans for the upcoming year and discuss available opportunities in today’s business environment that will lead to successful deals.
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Author: Caitlin Marquis 1/6/2021 Smart Energy Decisions
The year 2020 was certainly one for the history books, and for many of us, the cycle of bad news throwing wrenches into our lives and our livelihoods could not have ended soon enough. In terms of energy policy, however, the year brought some good along with the bad. As companies lay out their energy plans for 2021, it’s worth reflecting on the trends that dominated energy policy in 2020 and will be shaping the debate for the year ahead.
1. COVID diverted attention from energy legislation—but advanced energy stands ready to contribute to a rapid recovery. As many state legislatures transitioned to remote work and focused intensely on COVID relief and closing budget gaps, clean energy legislation took a backseat in places like Illinois, where momentum for comprehensive energy legislation had been building prior to the onset of the pandemic. As the country looks toward recovery, however, the hard-hit advanced energy industry is an obvious choice for policymakers considering how to spend stimulus dollars: In eight states analyzed by Analysis Group on behalf of Advanced Energy Economy and the Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance, investments in advanced energy were shown to deliver a strong return on investment for the overall economy of each state (measured by Gross State Product, or GSP), ranging from a four-fold impact to as high as 14 times the public investment. The analysis projects that public investment in advanced energy would draw roughly two-and-a-half times as much in private capital, with both then rippling through the economy and producing millions of jobs. Companies interested in both a speedy economic recovery and a speedy transition to a cleaner energy system can advance both goals at once by calling for strong consideration of advanced energy in state and federal recovery efforts.
2. States continued to lead on clean energy, and are likely to remain central. This theme could be copied and pasted from annual clean energy policy trend reports over the last several years, but if it’s a broken record, it’s a welcome one. Virginia came out of the gates with a bang in 2020, passing the Virginia Clean Economy Act and setting the state on a path to 100% clean energy by 2050. The new law includes an “Accelerated Renewable Energy Buyers” provision allowing companies with corporate sustainability targets that have already made investments in Virginia or PJM to meet the renewable energy targets through their own purchases. More recently, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved rules requiring regulated utilities in the Grand Canyon state to transition to 100% clean energy by 2050. Across the country, more than one quarter of states now have a 100% clean energy policy or goal in place. Companies with an interest in clean energy should focus their attention on states like Illinois and Minnesota, where there are likely to be opportunities for progress, as well as in states where momentum will be building over the next year to enable action in 2022 and beyond.
3. Green tariffs continue to be a vital tool for companies to meet renewable energy targets in vertically integrated markets. Utility renewable energy programs, or green tariffs, have come a long way since the first handful of programs were approved in 2013, but they are utility-specific and subject to lengthy regulatory review, so these programs grow slowly despite their popularity. In 2020, new or expanded programs were approved in several states, including Florida (Florida Power & Light), Michigan (Consumers Energy), Kentucky (East Kentucky Power Cooperative), and Georgia (Georgia Power). Programs awaiting regulatory approval include Duke Energy Florida’s Clean Energy Connection and Detroit Edison’s Rider 19 in Michigan. With corporate engagement and support, additional utilities could move forward with proposals in 2021.
4. Some states started questioning their participation in competitive wholesale markets. Following FERC’s decision late last year to direct PJM Interconnection (PJM), the nation’s largest regional grid operator, to expand the minimum offer price rule (MOPR), which has been seen as undermining state clean energy policies, states in PJM and elsewhere have begun to consider taking back certain responsibilities currently served by competitive wholesale markets (for more on MOPR, see an earlier AEE post in Smart Energy Decisions). Large energy buyers have been vocal proponents of competitive, organized wholesale markets due to cost and reliability benefits, as well as the flexibility these markets afford for companies to procure advanced energy directly. Devolving certain aspects of these markets back to individual states threatens to diminish these benefits. The tension between state policies and federal regulations is certain to continue into 2021, and companies can engage in reform efforts at the Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (RTOs/ISOs) as well as discussions in states like New Jersey, Maryland, and New York, where regulators are considering taking matters into their own hands.
5. Wholesale market expansion efforts moved forward in two new regions, but not quickly or smoothly. In the West, discussions about potential RTO expansion or creation advanced slowly. One step forward came in Nevada, where legislative leaders called on the Governor, the state’s utility regulators, and its largest utility to pursue an integrated regional power market. In the Southeast, a joint utility proposal for a “Southeast Energy Exchange Market” (SEEM) was met with skepticism and criticism when it leaked earlier this year. The proposal falls far short of creating a fully competitive RTO/ISO in the region, which a study released earlier this year found would produce $384 billion in savings by 2040. Regardless of whether FERC approves SEEM, much work remains to achieve the potential cost and clean energy benefits of an RTO/ISO in both the West and Southeast.
6. Meanwhile, FERC moved forward two key policies that should benefit advanced energy resources. In September, FERC issued Order No. 2222, a long-awaited final rule directing RTOs/ISOs to enable aggregated distributed energy resources (DERs) to participate in wholesale markets. Such participation could provide new revenue streams for owners of onsite solar and other DERs. Development of these market rules will be a key focus for RTO/ISO stakeholders in 2021, and interested companies can engage in that process. FERC also issued a draft policy statement that, if finalized, would confirm its authority to review and approve RTO/ISO tariffs that reflect a state-set carbon price, and encouraging RTOs/ISOs to work with states to adopt such rules. While still a draft and currently limited to carbon pricing, this policy opens the door for the broader RTO/ISO reform discussions mentioned above, efforts that companies can engage in and support.
7. Electric vehicles continued to gain traction with policymakers, large companies, and consumers. As Smart Energy Decision has reported, companies like Amazon, Uber, and IKEA North America have all ramped up plans to electrify their fleets. State policymakers have also made significant commitments to electrification, with California taking multiple notable actions this year. In June, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) approved the world’s first zero-emission commercial truck requirement, the Advanced Clean Trucks (ACT) rule, which requires manufacturers of trucks to sell an increasing percentage of zero-emission trucks in the state. Then, in July, the state signed onto an Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), along with 15 other states and the District of Columbia, which calls for 100% of new truck and bus sales in the state to be zero-emission by 2050. Finally in September, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order requiring that 100% of light-duty vehicles sold in the state be zero emission by 2035 as well as 100% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2045. New York approved over $700 million in EV infrastructure spending, and regulators and legislators in Florida, New Jersey, and North Carolina all moved forward with EV policies this year. With consumers also choosing EVs at a growing rate, the focus on electrification will continue to spread, creating opportunities for companies looking to electrify their fleets in states across the country in 2021 and beyond.
8. Policymakers and companies worked to better integrate environmental justice and equity into their clean energy policy priorities. As the nation’s attention turned to issues of racial justice, and as the pandemic shone a spotlight on social and economic inequities, efforts to incorporate justice, equity, and inclusion in their sustainability policies ramped up. Announcements about procurements that prioritize community benefits, investments in environmental and social justice efforts, and new ways of evaluating and amplifying the equity and environmental justice impact of clean energy efforts by companies like Microsoft, Google, and Salesforce were mirrored by policy efforts in states like Illinois and New Jersey. This trend is one that will only become more prominent moving forward, and companies would be well served by taking a close look at how their policy engagement and clean energy procurement efforts align with the goals of equity and environmental justice advocates.
This is hardly an exhaustive list from an exhausting year, but as we look forward to 2021, these trends from 2020 should inform how and where companies choose to spend their time and resources in pursuit of the clean energy they want to power their operations.
Caitlin Marquis serves as a technical and strategic expert across multiple initiatives at AEE. She leads the regulatory and legislative engagement of the Advanced Energy Buyers Group, a coalition of leading companies that are working to expand their use of advanced energy. Caitlin also supports AEE’s engagement on wholesale markets, with a particular focus on ISO-New England, as well as AEE’s efforts on federal carbon regulation and policy. Before joining AEE, Caitlin worked at Altenex, LLC (now Edison Energy), helping companies with renewable energy procurement.
Author: Claire Alford 1/6/2021 Advance Energy Perspectives
Over the summer, headlines proclaimed the news that Tesla, the global leader in electric vehicles (EVs), had decided to locate its next U.S. factory in Austin. Recently, Tesla’s famed founder, Elon Musk, even announced that he would be moving to Texas himself. None of this should come as a surprise. Texas has long been a leader in energy of all sorts, including advanced energy technologies like wind and solar power, so it’s only natural to add EVs to the mix. “Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes Tesla,” said Gov. Greg Abbott in a video interview posted to Twitter. “Tesla is moving here because of the free market principles that allow it to come here and be an innovator without government dictates… Texas will be number one in energy, including clean energy.” By welcoming Tesla, Texas has earned a place at the forefront of the forthcoming electric transportation revolution – and a new analysis shows Tesla could be just the start.
This electric transportation (ET) revolution is coming due to the intrinsic benefits that EVs provide to consumers, including proven cost savings over the vehicle’s lifetime and better performance, making these vehicles an attractive option for more drivers. Traditionally many consumers have faced either sticker shock or frustration with a lack of available models. But as EVs become more affordable due to lower battery prices (battery costs have dropped nearly 90% in the last decade, from $1,100 per kilowatt-hour in 2010 to $137 in 2020), and more models arrive in showrooms, with announcements ranging from the Jaguar XJ Electric to the Ford F-150 Electric, consumers are starting to make the switch. Just in Texas, passenger EV sales – including Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) and Plug-in Hybrid Electric vehicles (PHEVs) – more than doubled from 2017 to 2018, when EV sales surpassed 11,700 units.
As not only consumers but municipalities, public school districts, and private-sector companies turn to EVs as fleet vehicles, there will be opportunities for new companies and new workers to join the automaking industry. A new study released by Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance (TAEBA) assesses the business and employment potential from the supply chain for electric transportation in Texas. This study, prepared by BW Research Partnership, found that Texas is well-positioned to benefit from the growth of ET, which could give the state’s economy a serious boost. Already in 2019, the ET sector contributed nearly $690 million to Texas Gross State Product (GSP), more than twice the economic contribution of the state’s established Guided Missile and Space Vehicle Manufacturing sector.
The analysis found that over 1,200 companies currently employ more than 7,100 workers in ET-related businesses spread across 203 Texas counties. ET jobs are expected to nearly double to upwards of 13,000 workers by 2024, including those in the Tesla factory currently under construction outside of Austin. Other companies involved in ET have already taken root in the state. Peterbilt, an American truck manufacturer, began the development of zero-emission electric trucks in 2016, and now manufactures three trucks for a variety of uses. In its Denton manufacturing facility, the company has over 1,000 assembly specialists and a team of engineers building Peterbilt trucks. Just south of Dallas, Orange EV, a Missouri-based electric truck company, has plans to expand both its footprint in Texas. The company hopes to have 25 to 35 electric trucks at shipping yards and terminals in the state by the end of 2021, expanding its employee base in the state as well.
Outside of the expected boost in employment from the Tesla factory and other workers already involved in this space, the Lone Star State has a strong industrial and workforce base in segments poised to grow with ET — more than 5,000 companies and over 400,000 Texans total are currently part of industries that could readily jump into the growing ET supply chain.
To capitalize on ET and start putting Texans to work, Texas needs to be a place where consumers feel comfortable buying an EV and companies – out-of-towners like Tesla, but also homegrown Texas companies that might join this growing industry – feel confident in investing.
What would that mean? Here’s one thing not to do: HB427, filed by State Representative Ken King in November, would slap an extra registration fee of $200 and an additional renewal fee annually on Texas EV owners. This would be far more costly to an EV owner than the gas tax they would avoid, which the fees are ostensibly intended to compensate for, and it would hobble a market just starting to grow. A recent survey of current EV owners concluded that just a $100 annual registration fee on EVs would reduce sales by over 10%. A better approach would be a fee formula that takes into account the greater efficiency of EVs and is more comparable to what drivers of these vehicles would be charged if they paid the state’s gas tax.
Other legislative and regulatory actions would signal to the rest of the United States that the Lone Star State is open for EV business. Examples would be ensuring continued funding for programs, such as the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) Program, which provides financial incentives for the purchase of EVs, and extending Chapter 313 tax incentives that help bring manufacturing and other economic development projects to Texas.
And on the regulatory front, the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) has included in its biennial report to the Legislature a recommendation that the Legislature clarify that an EV charging station is not an electric utility or retail electricity provider. Such a clarification would reduce the risk of inappropriate and unnecessary regulations impeding the growth of EV charging companies.
By pursuing these and other pro-growth EV policies, the Lone Star State can tap the growing demand for ET for a Texas-sized boost to its economy.
For a copy of TAEBA’s “Electric Transportation Supply Chain in Texas” report, click on the button below.
Author: Jim Stinson Published: 1/6/2021 Utility Dive
Special purpose acquisition companies, or SPACs, are trendy, and they have been helping green truck companies go public.
Courtesy of Lion Electric
First published on
Lion Electric is one of the latest companies in the trucking space to hook up with a specialized purpose acquisition company, known on Wall Street as a SPAC, to assist with its public financing.
On Nov. 30, Northern Genesis Acquisition said it would acquire Lion Electric in a reverse merger, which means Lion Electric will be able to trade on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol “LEV.” The deal is expected to close later this quarter.
Northern Genesis “shares our vision to build the best all-electric medium and heavy-duty urban vehicles in the market,” said Brian Alexander, Lion Electric director of public relations, in an email. “Their management team has extensive expertise in M&A, renewable energy, and sustainable utility that will benefit Lion beyond the initial business combination by further accelerating the electrification of commercial vehicles globally.”
The young Canadian OEM has received orders for 300 electric commercial vehicles, including a recent order from CN for 50 Class 8 trucks, and 10 Class 6 trucks for Amazon. Lion has more than 300 buses on the road in the United States and Canada, with more than 6 million miles driven, Alexander said.
With the reverse merger, Lion Electric now plans to offer three more Class 8 models in 2021. It has seven electric bus and truck models.
Lion Electric’s move is the latest SPAC activity on the front of green trucking. The combination of SPACs with a green trucking OEM appears to be an attractive one for many investors, even after the troubles run into by Nikola, which merged with a SPAC last winter.
What is a SPAC?
SPACs help companies such as Lion Electric get listed on stock exchanges faster than an initial public offering. SPACs are usually set up for a stock exchange listing for the sole purpose of acquiring up-and-coming companies that want to offer stock. Companies such as Lion Electric and Nikola keep their names, and little changes in terms of the business.
The use of a SPAC is sometimes called a reverse merger, because an existing publicly traded company acquires a private company for the purposes of taking the private company to a stock exchange. With SPACs, often the targets, such as Lion Electric or Nikola, are eyed from the get-go. The shell company is thus designed with the target in mind.
The incoming investment is attractive. Just by joining with Northern Genesis, Lion Electric hopes to raise more than $500 million in cash.
SPACs and green trucking OEMs
Before Lion Electric, the best example in trucking of a SPAC in transport was Nikola, which faced dual problems of investor disinterest and a pandemic. The pandemic put off plans for an IPO, known as Plan B to Nikola officials, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Nikola decided on a SPAC and found a willing suitor in VectoIQ. On March 3, Nikola agreed to merge with VectoIQ. The new company remained NASDAQ-listed under a new ticker symbol “NKLA” and began trading as on June 4.
Nikola’s subsequent problems raised questions about SPACs, and how maybe many of the green-tech companies have not been vetted by the SPACs in the vigorous manner customary of IPOs. But SPACs continue to influence the transport industry.
In June, Hyliion, an electrified powertrain company that specializes in upgrading Class 8 trucks, became a publicly traded company by merging with Tortoise Acquisition. Hyliion also makes diesel hybrid configurations.
SPAC financing appears to be a trend throughout all industries. According to Transport Dive sister publication CFO Dive, using numbers from SPACInsider.com, 172 SPAC transactions raised about $63 billion in capital as of Nov. 10, 2020, with an average deal size of $367 million. That’s up from 20 deals raising $3.9 billion in 2015, averaging $195 million.
Lion Electric has more than 450 employees in the United States and Canada and plans to build additional plants in the United States, Alexander said.
Its current production facility is in Saint-Jérôme, Québec, with capacity to produce up to 2,500 vehicles per year. Lion Electric has a network of service centers where its vehicles are serviced and distributed. Locations are in California, New York, Washington, Florida and Arizona, with more in development, Alexander said.
The electric vehicles are capable of reaching up to 250 miles on a single charge, Alexander said, making them ideal for last-mile and short hauls.
“We trace our success to our single-minded focus on being a leader in designing, developing and building purpose built urban electric vehicles, vehicles which are specifically designed as delivery trucks, refuse trucks, bucket trucks, moving trucks, school buses and shuttle buses,” Alexander said.
The EV market heats up
The market is suddenly hot for such possibilities. New York City and other municipalities have been buying electric garbage trucks, and a new presidential administration led by President-elect Joe Biden (with his pick for Transportation secretary, Pete Buttigieg, if confirmed by the Senate) is likely to push OEMs toward battery-electric and fuel-cell electric vehicles.
Five years ago, selling battery-electric trucks would have been tough to do, according to Mike Roeth, executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency. Trucks are heavy, and batteries would require too much weight, Roeth said.
“The future is bright for electrics.”
Executive director of the North American Council for Freight Efficiency
Now, Roeth is a believer, as he watches the industry improve BEV technology. Still, makers of BEVs and FCEVs will continue to have competition from diesel OEMs as well as innovators. Roeth said companies such as Hyliion are trying to improve efficiency for trucks by making hybrid diesel-electric models.
Hyliion also makes a model that uses natural gas to generate electricity as a fuel source for the truck. Nevertheless, Roeth said he believes electric models will be competitive in the industry.
“Diesel truck [OEMs] are not standing still,” said Roeth. “But the future is bright for electrics.”
Ballast system at Mama’s Cookies, a small factory in Pennsylvania.
$15,000 grant ($60,000 project) secured through Lightshed’s Grant Writing Service.
USDA has announced their next deadline for rural commercial REAP grant applications: March 31, 2021.
Some key changes have been made to how the program will run and how projects will be scored this year. You’re invited to a short Zoom webinar that will discuss these changes.
The webinar will also cover the basics of what the USDA-REAP grant is and how it can help fund renewable energy projects for any eligible rural small business (not just farms). We’ll discuss eligibility, how the application process fits into your project schedule, and how Lightshed Consulting helps their applicants achieve the maximum score on an application. You’ll come away with a clear, simplified understanding of how to make use of the program.
REAP Grants Quick Webinar
Thursday, January 7th, 2021 2:00pm EST
20-30 minutes, with Q&A to follow
A new high school in the Montbello neighborhood in Denver, Colorado is the creation of Denver-native and East High School graduate, Robert F. Smith. The Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy will embrace science, technology, engineering, arts and math. It’s founded on the principles of historically Black colleges and universities.
“When I think about what it took to create the STEAM academy, it occurs to me it wasn’t actually about starting a school. It was about building a village,” said Smith.
The school’s principal and HBCU graduate, Shakira Abney-Wisdom, hopes students will experience the same sense of community that she felt at Florida A&M University.
“From the time I was in pre-K through graduate school I went to predominantly white institutions. Just stepping on the campus at A&M, it felt like I belonged, just seeing students who looked like me, professors who looked like me. It’s something that’s difficult to articulate if you haven’t experienced it, but it’s just that sense of community and family,” said Abney-Wisdom.
According to Denver Public School, the STEAM Academy is grounded in three central components; Blackness, inclusion and interdisciplinary focus.
This high school experience will honor students’ history, individuality and cultural experiences.
“We get excited about the places where we belong. When we feel that me matter in space and what we bring is valuable, we show up as our full selves. That’s the piece for me that’s so important. It shows up in engagement and course performance,” said Abney-Wisdom.
She says that sense of community and belonging can make all the difference in a student’s school experience. HBCUs offer all
students, regardless of race, a chance to develop their skills. According to DPS, students of color feel more at home and perform better in schools where they feel supported and safe. Black representation is missing from many classrooms and many workplaces.
“The demographics of people who make up the majority of the STEM professions are not people of color. HBCUs are the number one producers of black professionals in STEM fields. The hope is that the access piece would give students the opportunity to test out and see if they want to be an engineer, or researcher or scientist,” said Abney-Wisdom.
The Robert F. Smith STEAM Academy will begin enrolling its founding class during the 2020-21 school year. Rising 9th graders can enroll during SchoolChoice Round 1, which will begin in January 2021.
The founding class will start in August 2021 for the 2021-22 school year.
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