What kept Governor Rick Snyder (R-Mich.) up all night in December? According to Katie Trachsel, manager of the Michigan Renewable Energy Certification System (MIRECS) program, it was the passage of two pieces of legislation that transformed the state’s renewable-energy laws, encouraged energy efficiency, and reshaped utility regulation. Meanwhile, Illinois rolled out its new renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Brian Granahan, chief counsel at Illinois Power Agency, said the RPS was designed to resolve a confusing set of policies. The new goals are clearer and easier to follow than the previous ones.
Quietly, while the United States focused on its national election, a set of federal clean-energy incentives phased out at the end of 2016. Now that they have vanished, states may seek to create replacements to keep these markets alive and help them grow. For example, New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) is now strategically replacing the missing incentives for renewable heating and cooling.
What is the federal government doing to catalyze access to clean energy? Last year, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) launched two programs that work side by side: the Clean Energy Savings for All initiative and the Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator. These programs attempt to identify and promote models that work for low-to-moderate-income communities in urban and rural areas in every region of the country.
Now that Energy Star’s incentive for manufactured housing has reached its sunset date at the end of 2016, who will take the lead in advancing these goals? The federal political climate is not an encouraging one for Energy Star because it is a United States Environmental Protection Agency program.
Energy technology trends move fast. The market for digital solutions to advance energy efficiency and solar power is growing. Two buzzwords at the beginning of 2017 are ‘big data’ and ‘Internet of Things (IoT).’ Data, analytics and computing today have the muscle power to revolutionize global energy systems. So do smart-grid technologies, which are now becoming mainstream topics of discussion.
After continuously strengthening its ties since 2013, 100 Resilient Cities (100RC) is well on its way to facilitating a global practice of urban resilience. 100RC is a nonprofit supported by The Rockefeller Foundation.
As the solar industry grows and energy efficiency works to do the same, 2016 brought a significant expansion of breaking news for us to cover and curate. The articles below are our top stories showing the many new and surprising developments we saw last year.
Even without reliably supportive policies that help clean energy grow, Midwestern coal-producing states already have many more jobs from solar and wind power than from coal production. There is also a promising economic opportunity to repurpose assembly lines in Indiana, Michigan and Ohio to manufacture renewable-energy equipment.
Some of the largest battles at November’s United Nations climate conference, COP22, broke out over climate financing – who pays for it, who gets the money, and who meets the requirements. The stage for the financing challenges was set in 2009 when developed countries agreed to a target of raising $100 billion USD annually by 2020 in the Green Climate Fund (GCF).
The presidential election of Donald Trump complicates the potential of the United States Green Bank Act (H.R. 5802, S. 3382). The act, sponsored by Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Representative and Senator-Elect Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), is intended to offer additional financial structures to deploy clean energy and energy efficiency across the nation in the face of climate change.
Growing momentum for energy-efficiency financing in the United States has motivated State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network to conduct around 20 interviews with stakeholders in five states to explore what it takes to make utility-sponsored programs succeed. The research team produced a report that outlines the pitfalls and promises of a wide range of evaluation techniques.
While making strong motivational statements at the 2016 Investor Summit on Climate Risk in New York City on Jan. 27, speakers also laid forth an ambitious set of targeted goals to implement the Paris climate conference’s agenda. These goals included implementing climate disclosure requirements; advocating for stable, economically meaningful carbon pricing; ceasing investment in coal; leveraging pension funds; scaling up green banks; clarifying what constitutes a green bond; and analyzing risks on an industry-by-industry basis.
Habitat for Humanity (HFH) is leading the way in developing sustainable, high-efficiency housing for the low- and fixed-income communities. Its latest project, the River Falls Eco Village in Wisconsin, is the first development of its kind to demonstrate that net-zero homes can provide tangible economic and social benefits to low-to-middle-income (LMI) communities.
As the biggest public funder of projects related to climate change, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has played a crucial role in removing market barriers to investment in clean energy worldwide. Policy de-risking, investment aggregation mechanisms, and capacity building for banks and governments are key areas where the GEF has worked to increase the flow of financing.
What do leaders in the banking industry think about the potential of privately financing solar power, wind energy, and energy efficiency? In this interview, Michael Eckhart, managing director and global head of finance and sustainability at Citigroup, shares his optimism about the transition to clean energy and his observations about the persistent obstacles in the market – including the need to scale up financing for energy efficiency.