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

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

Dive Brief:

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

Dive Insight:

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

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

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

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

Despite the mixed feelings, the group celebrated.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dive Brief:

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

Dive Insight:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Author: 

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

BLOOMBERG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEM4US! Calls on DC Public Schools Chancellor to Elevate not Eliminate the Post of STEM Education Director: ACT NOW!
STEM4US! has learned that DC Public Schools intends to eliminate the Position of Deputy Head of STEM Education. Currently, this is the position that leads all STEM education programming for both public school students and teachers in the district.

We believe this is a mistake.

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

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

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

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

Author:  Montgomery County Green Bank Published June 12, 2019

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

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

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

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

Dear Ronald,

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

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

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


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

Register and check out more information here!


Join or start a sister action!

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


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

Donate

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

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

In Solidarity,

The Zero Hour Team

Sent via ActionNetwork.org. To update your email address, change your name or address, or to stop receiving emails from Zero Hour, please click here.

Conversation with Lenwood Coleman VP of Groundswell

A Simple Spray. A Revolution for Farming

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

Dear Reader,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Don’t Fall for the Fads

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

Ironically, these changes might begin with cannabis itself.

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

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

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

The results have been nothing short of astounding.

grow

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

It Makes Things Grow Faster, Bigger, and Stronger

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

And it does all of this with zero environmental impact.

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

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

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

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

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

What’s the path forward for DC’s grid mod? After nearly a year of study, the city is still finding out

In considering how to modernize its electric grid, regulators in the District of Columbia turned to a collaborative process over the past year that included almost 100 stakeholders, six working groups and dozens of meetings, including two all-day marathons that brought together almost 250 participants.

What comes next in the process? Perhaps, more research.

The city had hoped the groups would reach consensus wherever possible, but the resulting 433-page document, published May 31, catalogs an array of support, opposition, conditional support and proposed changes, for the 32 recommendations. Some participants say additional analysis is required, and the Public Service Commission (PSC) says that option is on the table.

“There is a missing and essential next step,” said Larry Martin, the Sierra Club’s lead for the modernization proceeding

“The report reflects six different working groups that were not well integrated, and looked at different pieces of the grid mod puzzle,” Martin told Utility Dive. He was critical of the process and outcome, though he also said the city did the right thing when it took a working group approach.

“I don’t think the report really does a good job of characterizing what we’re really trying to accomplish,” Martin said.

Hope for consensus

“It was the Commission’s hope that the robust stakeholder engagement process would result in consensus on as many of the recommendations as possible,” the PSC said in a statement to Utility Dive. “However, this is one of the largest stakeholder engagements undertaken by the Commission, with over 100 unique participants from various backgrounds, so it is not surprising that consensus could not be reached on some of the recommendations.”

D.C. is “a very dense, urban populated area with very ambitious [renewable portfolio standard] goals that are serviced by one electric and one natural gas utility. Therefore, the way the District addresses grid modernization will differ compared to other jurisdictions.”

Office of People’s Counsel, Washington, D.C.

The stakeholder report, Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability (MEDSIS), completes the second phase of an initiative examining possible approaches Exelon subsidiary Potomac Electric Power (Pepco) could take in its D.C. territory. The work groups and report were facilitated by the Smart Electric Power Alliance, which said its work “involved taking diverse perspectives and managing interactions among the stakeholders to formulate cohesive policy and pilot recommendations.”

The MEDSIS report includes more than two dozen recommendations on data access, non-wires alternatives (NWA), rate design, microgrids, pilot projects and customer impacts. Some have broad consensus. For instance, a recommendation that the PSC “should explore the development of a metric for evaluating carbon footprint impact of distributed energy resource (DER) projects” has broad support, though it was also followed by pages of explanations of party positions.

On the other hand, a recommendation for the PSC to establish certain NWA classifications, such as “Behind-the-meter: Private, public and utility ownership structures,” has Pepco’s support but is opposed by the D.C. Department of Energy and the Environment. Solar company Sunrun supports the recommendation — with the caveat that utilities should not own behind-the-meter assets, which it says would chill private sector investment and innovation.

“The report does represent a lot of good work, and a lot of good ideas are represented,” said Martin. But “it is not a consensus report.”

In some ways, that is good, he said. The stakeholder comments and objections for each recommendation and learning means “their perspective is carried forward.”

But it also “takes the report from 20 pages to 400 pages,” Martin said.

A ‘utility unicorn’

The broad recommendations may not raise too many eyebrows, as most states are already engaged in some form of grid modernization proceeding. But the District of Columbia is unique — a “utility unicorn,” according to the Office of the People’s Counsel (OPC), which advocates for the city’s residents.

D.C. is “a very dense, urban populated area with very ambitious [renewable portfolio standard] goals that are serviced by one electric and one natural gas utility. Therefore, the way the District addresses grid modernization will differ compared to other jurisdictions,” OPC said.

The city council last year passed a 100% renewable portfolio standard mandate by 2032.

The report calls for the PSC to direct Pepco to move forward with a stakeholder-informed distribution system planning and NWA consideration process, “with the understanding that the process will be iterative and evolving.”

“We don’t think it’s necessary to move forward with additional studies.”

Melissa Lavinson

Senior vice president of governmental and external affairs, Pepco Holdings

“There are definitely opportunities for non-wires in the District,” Melissa Lavinson, senior vice president of governmental and external affairs for Pepco Holdings, told Utility Dive. “They are a really important solution that can help us meet the demand of the District in a way that doesn’t require investments where we traditionally have made them.”

“We hope focus on areas where we have a lot of consensus,” Lavinson said.

Areas of disagreement

That’s not to say the utility agrees with everything, but Lavinson said of the more-than-two dozen recommendations in the report, “90% we are ready to go on.”

In total, Pepco opposes three of the report’s recommendations, including for the D.C. PSC to initiate a Value of DER and Value of Grid Study, to address uncertainty in how the location of distributed resources impacts their value. Pepco maintains that a competitive market for non-wires alternatives could address the issue.

“We don’t think it’s necessary to move forward with additional studies,” Lavinson said.

The utility also has issues with recommendations that it says could relax reliability standards for microgrids.

The report recommends the PSC “define and establish a new regulated entity” of microgrid operator, to include any entity that operates a microgrid serving multiple customers. Pepco officials balk at this idea, saying that such an entity would be essentially the same as an electric distribution company.

“We think that falls into the realm of a utility,” said Lavinson.

Conflicting views on report, process

Pepco is excited for regulators to act on the report, Lavinson said. She stressed that there was far more agreement than not and called the MEDSIS strategy “a great process.”

The Edison Electric Institute, which represents investor-owned utilities, agreed and called the process “expansive.”

“As the issues faced by both electric companies and commissions get more complex, the success of the MEDSIS process — and broad commission-driven grid modernization initiatives like it across the country — highlights the importance of stakeholder engagement, as well as stakeholder education,” EEI Executive Director of Regulatory Affairs Adam Benshoff said in a statement to Utility Dive.

​Not everyone was so enthusiastic, however.

The OPC said the stakeholder process “was effective for the most part.”

“As any stakeholder process goes, there are always lessons learned in hindsight and room for improvement,” OPC said, noting there were “many opinions and recommendations” throughout the dozens of working group meetings.

The Sierra Club’s Martin said the sheer volume of meetings worked as “something of a filter for public participation,” and created a “bias towards people who were institutionally-affiliated.”

“Without clear articulation of what the grid should do, it is difficult to evaluate the suitability of the MEDSIS recommendations.”

Larry Martin

MEDSIS Lead, Sierra Club

Martin also lamented what he sees as a lack of specificity in the report describing the desired outcomes, in terms of how the grid should operate.

The report provides principles of grid modernization, but “they do not actually characterize how the grid should perform in terms of capacity for DER penetration, nor incorporation of demand-side management and DER system management,” he told Utility Dive in an email. “Without clear articulation of what the grid should do, it is difficult to evaluate the suitability of the MEDSIS recommendations. ”

Next steps

What happens next is up to the PSC. The commission will host a town hall to take public comment on June 13, and must issue an order on the report’s findings by the end of July.

“As the Commission does with all proposals that come before it, we are reviewing the recommendations to determine if they should be adopted, modified or rejected,” a spokerson told Utility Dive. “Some of the recommendations may require additional information gathering and stakeholder engagement.”

That could include a comment period or the establishment of a new working group “to flesh out the details needed to support the approval or modification of the recommendation,” the PSC said.

Pepco officials say they expect the commission to adopt some of the recommendations, issue directives, and possibly order some working groups. Ultimately, the MEDSIS reports is the result of “an incredibly successful process,” company officials said.

“We think a lot of positive will come out of this, and we’re really looking forward to the commission ruling,” Lavinson said. “There is no doubt the District will be a leader on grid modernization.”

MEET ENDEA THIBODEAUX Licensed Real Estate/ Solar Energy Professional

Meet Endea Thibodeaux

Serving DC, MD, PA 202-573-9033

Licensed Real Estate/ Solar Energy Professional

With over 21 years of experience in the real estate business Endea Thibodeaux has focused her business on helping people achieve their buying, selling and investing goals.

In 2005 she received the Certified Luxury Home Marking Specialist designation (CLHMS) and has sold luxury homes for her affluent clientele.

In 2008 Endea received the Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE) designation in order to help her clients who were losing their homes to short sales and foreclosure.

In 2014 she was introduced to solar energy with Solarcity/Tesla. She recognized the value of clean energy and the savings her clients would receive would add value to her services. Currently she has a partnership with SunRun and is able to build a solar consultant team.

Throughout the years even though the housing market has changed her focus has been on excellent client service, marketing management and continuous knowledge of the market.

 

 

MEDSIS Town Hall Thursday, June 13, 2019, starting at 6 p.m.

Author:  Kris Randolph  PSC Consumer Outreach Specialist         Published: June 11, 2019

The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (Commission) invites all ANC Commissioners, residents and solar business owner of the District to participate in our upcoming Town Hall Meeting to be held on Thursday, June 13th.  The Commission will hold a Town Hall Meeting regarding the Final Report and recommendations from the MEDSIS (Modernizing the Energy Delivery System for Increased Sustainability) Stakeholder Working Groups (Formal Case No 1130).

Place:  Public Service Commission of District of Columbia

1325 G Street N.W. Suite 800- Hearing Room Washington, D.C. 20005.

Those wishing to provide oral comments should submit their name and corresponding organization, if applicable, via email with “MEDSIS – June 13th Town Hall” in the subject line, to the Office of the   Commission   Secretary   (psc-commissionsecretary@dc.gov) For more details click here.

The MEDSIS Report provides recommendations on how the District should move forward with building an improved, more sustainable, reliable, and better energy delivery system in the District of Columbia.  The Commission is continuing its efforts to build upon the MEDSIS  stakeholder-driven process by conducting this Town Hall Meeting. We look forward to your input in your role as an  Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner and from the community-at large.

Mayor Bowser Signs Historic Clean Energy Bill, Calling for 100% Renewable Electricity by 2032

Friday, January 18, 2019

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Bowser signed the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018, codifying the District as the nation’s preeminent leader in clean energy and climate action by setting a mandate of 100% renewable electricity by the year 2032.

This historic piece of legislation will bolster Mayor Bowser’s Clean Energy DC plan, which includes 57 action items for how the District will reach this ambitious target. Additionally, the bill provides a roadmap to achieving our goals including, but not limited to:

  • Mandating 100 percent of the electricity sold in the District come from renewable sources.
  • Doubling the required amount of solar energy deployed in the District.
  • Making significant improvements to the energy efficiency of existing buildings in the District.
  • Providing energy bill assistance to support low- and moderate-income residents.
  • Requiring all public transportation and privately owned fleet vehicles to become emissions-free by the year 2045.
  • Funding the DC Green Bank to attract private investment in clean energy projects.

“By signing the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 into law, we solidify Washington, DC’s place as the national leader in the fight against climate change and proudly communicate to the world that ‘we are still in,’” said Mayor Bowser. “If we are going to make progress on addressing climate change and global warming in our country, it’s going to be cities and states leading the way. With this groundbreaking clean energy law, we have created a model for jurisdictions across the nation to follow.”

The bill was signed into law at the newly renovated headquarters of the American Geophysical Union, the first net-zero renovation of a building in the District which will serve as a national model of sustainability and green building design. Additionally, the bill will lead to a boost in clean energy investment in the District with the mandated increases in funding mechanisms such as the Renewable Energy Trust Fund (RETF) and Alternative Compliance Payment (ACP).

“Make no mistake about it, this is by far the most aggressive and impactful clean energy goal passed by any state to-date” said Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) Director Tommy Wells. “As great as the commitments are from states leading the fight against climate change, our goal as the nation’s capital is to reach 100% renewable electricity despite Federal inaction in our own backyard.”

Storage system costs could rise 15% with escalation in US-China trade dispute: Report

Author: Published: June 11, 2019 Dive Brief

Dive Brief:

  • If the Trump administration follows through on its threats and raises tariffs on Chinese imports of lithium-ion batteries and inverters to 25%, the installed price for a four-hour duration battery would increase by about 15%, according to an analysis by S&P Global Platts Analytics.
  • The Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) included lithium-ion batteries and static converters, which are both used in storage systems, on its May 13 list of items earmarked for a tariff increase.
  • According to the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC), the U.S. imported more than $1 billion worth of lithium-ion batteries from China in 2017.

Dive Insight:

The stalled trade negotiations between the United States and China could put a strain on America’s burgeoning energy storage market. President Donald Trump has used the threat of additional tariffs to get Beijing to the negotiating table. But the tactic has yet to produce the desired results.

On May 10, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer announced the administration’s decision to increase tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods — including lithium-ion batteries and inverters — from 10% to 25%. While the latest tariff hike is not expected to stop the growth of the U.S. energy storage market, it’s expected to notably increase installation costs.

“The impact of the tariff would vary project by project, but we estimate a 25% tariff on both lithium-ion batteries and inverters could increase the installed prices for a four-hour duration battery by about 15%,” Felix Maire, clean energy and storage senior analyst at S&P Global Platts Analytics, said in a June 6 release.

It’s a significant price increase considering that lithium-ion batteries account for 40% to 60% of the total installed cost of a standalone battery storage system in the U.S., Maire added.

A recent USTR notice delayed the start date of the 25% tariff from June 1 to June 15, giving U.S. importers a further two weeks to get their goods into the country under the current tariff level of 10%. After the latest round of trade negations between the world’s two largest economies broke down in late May, Trump announced that tariffs on China could be raised by another $300 billion if necessary.​

China, South Korea and Japan are the biggest exporters of lithium-ion batteries to the U.S., according to figures from the USITC. Total global lithium cell manufacturing is expected to reach 316 GWh in 2019, S&P Global Platts reported, citing Yayoi Sekine, energy storage analyst at BloombergNEF. The majority of that manufacturing capacity, 73%, is located in China, followed by the U.S. (12%), South Korea (7%) and Europe (4%).

In 2017, the U.S. imported $987 million worth of lithium-ion batteries from China, according to the USITC. The figure excludes batteries used in electric cars, which amounted to $54 million in the same year. South Korea and Japan followed with $519 million and $440 million, respectively.

During Q1 of this year, the U.S. energy storage market set a growth record, deploying 148.8 MW, a 232% increase from Q1 2018, and a 6% jump from Q4 2018, according to the latest Wood Mackenzie U.S. Energy Storage Monitor.

GE: Hydrogen trumps CCS in preserving gas turbines in a carbon-free grid

Author: Published: June 11, 2019 Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • General Electric sees hydrogen as the key to natural gas’ participation in a 100% carbon-free electric grid, Brian Gutknecht, chief marketing officer of GE Power said on a panel Monday at the 2019 Edison Electric Institute conference,
  • “The gas turbines that we utilize today to burn normal natural gas are capable of, and have demonstrated, burning higher and higher percentages of hydrogen mixed in with natural gas,” Gutknecht told Utility Dive after the panel. “As you do that, the carbon impact, it becomes less and less.”
  • Carbon capture and sequestration has been central to the discussion over whether or how to include fossil fuel plants in a carbon-free future, but Gutknecht said GE is more focused on clean, efficient extraction and use of the resource than carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies, which remain too expensive.

Dive Insight:

GE was accused of “badly” misjudging the clean energy transition by underestimating how quickly the transition to clean energy would come, costing investors an “almost unprecedented” $193 billion from 2015 to 2018 by investing aggressively in natural gas, according to a report released last week.

But what if the company’s gas turbines, which it’s invested so much in, could burn something other than gas that would contribute to the clean energy future?

And although “the economics of producing affordable hydrogen” are still not there, it’s more of a focus for the company than CCS, according toGutknecht.

“At this point, it’s not economically viable to use carbon capture and sequestration at scale,” he said. “But we do believe it could be, whether through a carbon tax or just recognizing that the cost of doing nothing on decarbonization comes with a very high price tag as well.”

Hydrogen has been a tricky fuel for the energy sector to pin down. While the electricity it generates is carbon-free, the amount of power needed to split hydrogen from water often exceeds the amount of power it actually generates. But extraction technologies may be improving. New Brunswick Power and Hydrogen Energy company Joi Scientific said in March it is on the way to building the first hydrogen-powered grid in the world.

GE says its gas turbine technology, which has faced hurdles over the past year, may be key to hydrogen’s future as it scales to market, and could exclusively run on hydrogen as the technologies and economics surrounding the resource mature.

“The same technologies that we offer in our gas turbines today could reach a point where they could burn 100% hydrogen in the future,” said Gutknecht. “So at a point … where the economics of producing affordable hydrogen are compelling, then the assets that our customers are buying today … could be dual-purposed to basically provide zero carbon power.”

But some on the panel said waiting for that economic maturity may be too late and there are more immediately viable options for transitioning to a cleaner grid.

“2050 may seem far away, but it’s really not,” said Environmental Defense Fund Senior Vice President​ Mark Brownstein, adding that he hopes to be on the beach by then, but “hopefully that beach isn’t in Ohio.”

Natural gas is viewed by many as a cleaner baseload alternative to coal, as more intermittent renewable resources continue to integrate onto the grid. But as battery storage technologies mature, they are becoming a stronger, zero emission competitor against natural gas, noted Brownstein.

But the problem with battery storage, noted Gutknecht, is that development has been focused on shorter duration, unlike natural gas, which can handle longer duration intermittencies.

But GE has been working to expand into the renewable energy and storage sectors as well: In January, the company announced it would restructure its business to merge its renewable energy assets, including solar, storage, wind and hydro. And GE officials now says its investment in natural gas does not take away from its focus on renewable energy.

“I think [gas and storage are] really complementary,” Robert Morgan, CEO of Energy Storage at GE Renewable Energy told Utility Dive after a separate panel on storage. “We’re hybridizing batteries with wind, with solar, with gas turbines. … So the system actually is huge. And so there’s a lot of room for growth and we’re all about making that system operate more efficiently … So I don’t think it’s an ‘either, or,’ it’s definitely a ‘both, and.'”

NextEra loses bankruptcy court jurisdiction fight with PG&E over renewables contracts

Author:  Published: June 11, 2019 Dive Brief

Dive Brief:

  • A bankruptcy judge ruled the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission does not have “concurrent jurisdiction” over Pacific Gas & Electric’s power contracts, possibly clearing the way for the utility to have above-market power purchase agreements (PPAs) discharged in its Chapter 11 proceeding.
  • Judge Dennis Montali on June 7 said FERC “has chosen to interfere with bankruptcy courts’ decisions,” and called out the commission for “undermining the function of the bankruptcy court.”
  • NextEra Energy, which has subsidiaries selling renewable power to PG&E, asked FERC​ in January to stop the utility from amending or rejecting PPAs in bankruptcy court. PG&E responded by asking the court to block the commission from issuing rulings that would impact rejection of the contracts.

Dive Insight:

PG&E still has not made a decision regarding PPAs and whether it will seek to have them discharged, but also says it appreciates stakeholder concerns regarding the impact its bankruptcy filing could have on California’s clean energy progress.

“As we assess our contracts, the input provided by the bankruptcy court, policy makers, regulators and relevant stakeholders will be critical to helping form a solution that provides for the reliable and safe delivery of natural gas and electric service for the long-term in an environment that continues to be challenged by climate change,” the company said in a statement to Utility Dive.

Officials at NextEra Energy had no comment.

In a May 1 order, FERC affirmed its jurisdiction over contracts by saying “wholesale power contracts are not simple run-of-the-mill contracts between two private parties, rather, these contracts, while privately negotiated, implicate the public’s interest in the orderly production of plentiful supplies of electricity at just and reasonable rates.”

The commission also said it “neither presumes to sit in judgment of rejection motions nor seeks to arrogate the role of adjudicating bankruptcy proceedings​.”

Montali was blunt in his June 7 order, and pointed to both of those statements.

“FERC’s decision was not only unauthorized, but has and continues to have the effect of undermining the function of the bankruptcy court in its role of ensuring that the goals and purposes of bankruptcy law and policy are properly served and properly executed,” he wrote. “Despite FERC’s lip service to what it describes as ‘concurrent jurisdiction’ to carry out differing and perhaps competing policies, the effect of its decision guts and renders meaningless the bankruptcy court’s responsibilities in this area of the law.”

“The court declares FERC’s decision announcing its concurrent jurisdiction unenforceable in bankruptcy and of no force and effect on the parties before it,” Montali concluded. “If necessary in the future it will enjoin FERC from perpetuating its attempt to exercise power it wholly lacks.”

FERC does not comment on pending litigation.

Securitization fever: Renewables advocates seize Wall Street’s innovative way to end coal

New laws passed across the country allow customer-backed bonds to pay off stranded coal assets in favor of renewables, but utilities are hesitant.

With the cost of building new renewables now lower than the costof operating most existing coal plants, the major remaining obstacle to this energy transition is resolving the financial burden of stranded coal assets.

State legislation — like bills recently passed in Montana, Colorado and New Mexico — can give coal-owning utilities the option to issue bonds secured bythe certainty of customers paying their bills. This financial strategy, called securitization, has attracted over $50 billion from investors to resolve other utility obligations, and can be used to pay off stranded coal assets.

Bloomberg to fund ‘America’s Pledge’ report on US climate progress

Author: Published: May 28, 2019  Dive Brief

Mike Bloomberg Delivers 2019 Commencement Address at University of Maryland – Mike Bloomberg

On May 24, 2019, Michael R. Bloomberg served as Commencement Speaker at the University Maryland commencement ceremony. These are his remarks as delivered. “There’s something from this campus that

 To meet the challenges of our time, we must be willing to take risks in defiance of long odds. My message for @UofMaryland’s Class of 2019 (and all of us): We will all encounter points of failure, but to change the world, you must refuse to give up. https://www.mikebloomberg.com/news/mike-bloomberg-delivers-2019-commencement-address-university-maryland/ 

Dive Brief:

  • Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced he will grant $2.3 million to the University of Maryland’s (UMD) Center for Global Sustainability and the Rocky Mountain Institute to study U.S. greenhouse gas emissions reductions. The report will be submitted to the United Nations at a December meeting in Santiago, Chile in place of the submission that would have come from the U.S. State Department.
  • The grant, which Bloomberg formally announced in a commencement speech at UMD, is the third he has funded through the America’s Pledge initiative. That initiative seeks to quantify the actions of American states, cities and businesses are taking to fight climate change.
  • “Bottom-up climate leadership from states, cities, businesses, and universities is where the action is today,” Robert Orr, Dean of the UMD School of Public Policy, said in a statement. “Fusing strong data and analytics with political and economic leadership from below has proven to be a powerful and necessary tool to address the climate crisis we face

Dive Insight:

Since the Trump administration announced its intention to pull the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement, cities and states have taken the lead on climate action. By setting their own clean energy and emissions reduction goals, non-national actors say that they can uphold the country’s commitment to the climate pact, which was to cut emissions by 26-28% of 2005 levels by 2025. Many have banded together in groups like the “We Are Still In” coalition.

America’s Pledge, founded by Bloomberg and former California Gov. Jerry Brown, seeks to aggregate and quantify those pledges, and help advance climate research. According to America’s Pledge, the more than 3,000 sub-national partners it is tracking represent more than half of the U.S. population and would collectively be the third-largest economy in the world. A 2018 report found that, with those partners, the U.S. was almost halfway to meeting its Paris commitment, and that current policies would deliver a 17% emissions reduction of 2005 levels by 2025, even with population growth.

“Broader engagement” from states and cities, could put the country “within striking distance” of the Paris pledge, the report found.

Bloomberg, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for Climate Action, has also directed funding to cities through Bloomberg Philanthropies’ American Cities Climate Challenge; a recent report from the group found that the 25 cities involved would cut 40 million metric tons of carbon emissions by 2025.

 

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mikebloomberg.com

GM, Bechtel plan thousands of fast charging stations across US

Author: Published: May 29, 2019

Dive Brief:

  • General Motors (GM) and Bechtel will partner to install thousands of electric vehicle fast charging stations across the United States, with construction on the first installations expected to begin later this year, the automaker confirmed to Utility Dive.
  • First reported by CNN on Tuesday, GM officials say details on the partnership are sparse because the arrangement remains in a Memorandum of Understanding phase. The stations are expected to be located in dense urban environments rather than along major transportation corridors, according to CNN.
  • GM and Bechtel are planning to form a separate company to develop the charging network, and will seek investment from other entities. The plan could be a boon to GM, which expects to roll out 20 EV models by 2023.

Dive Insight:

GM officials say the partnership aims to address customer concerns when considering the purchase of an electric vehicle.

“This collaboration and future build-out will help alleviate issues with customers’ range anxiety by leveraging GM and Bechtel’s scale, flexibility and proprietary data to provide chargers in locations convenient to EV customers,” the automaker told Utility Dive in a statement.

Bechtel will provide permitting and engineering expertise to the partnership, while GM will tap data from its OnStar system to determine where new fast charging stations should be installed.

The partnership joins a number of other investments in fast charger network development.

Greenlots has been selected by Electrify America to support a $2 billion investment in charging infrastructure across the United States, funded by the Volkswagen emissions scandal settlement. That network will include hundreds of stations in major cities across the country. Tesla is also developing its global Supercharger network.

Public charging infrastructure is widely considered a necessary stop in the long-term adoption of electrified transportation. Bloomberg New Energy Finance projects EVs will represent 28% of global light-duty vehicle sales sometime shortly after 2025.

While there are a little more than 1 million emissions-free vehicles on U.S. roads today, the Edison Electric Institute projects 7 million zero-emission vehicles on U.S. roads by 2025.