Author Archives: Helen Deffenbacher

State of the planet a worrying concern for future generations

By Kathryn Borrell, Project Manager,
GlobeScan, GreenBiz

Keen to understand how we meet the demands of next generations and to develop business towards a future where people and planet can thrive, IKEA and GlobeScan conducted research in August and September involving over 30,000 consumers across 30 countries. The research shows that globally, climate change is a concern for the majority, with 73 percent of people worrying a lot or a fair amount about it.

Among the 14 markets previously surveyed in 2017, we found that anxiety around climate change was growing. A multitude of climate-related impacts rightly cause concern, but our study highlighted that the main thing worrying people across the world is the state of the planet for future generations. Read more here.

About the Author
Kathryn Borrell joined GlobeScan’s London office in 2018 after beginning her market research career at Ipsos MORI’s Reputation Centre. Her several years of experience running reputation and stakeholder engagement research benefits clients by helping them to build long-term trust and communicate messages effectively. Kathryn has worked across a wide range of sectors including oil and gas, tech, utilities, finance and education.

Capital Dynamics Enters into New Strategic Relationship with Tenaska

Capital Dynamics & Tenaska News Release, PRNewswire 

Capital Dynamics, an independent global private asset management firm, today announced that its Clean Energy Infrastructure business has signed an agreement with Tenaska to enter into a new strategic relationship, increasing its greenfield solar footprint in both the Midwest and Southeast United States.

The transaction comprises 24 solar projects located in the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) and Southeast Reliability Council (SERC) markets, totaling 4,800 megawatts (MW). The portfolio represents a large share of solar projects currently in the MISO and SERC interconnection pipelines and further diversifies Capital Dynamics’ growing utility-scale solar power portfolio across seven new states. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Capital Dynamics and Tenaska Partner on 4.8 Gigawatts of Solar Development, Greentech Media
For Tenaska, the 4.8-gigawatt deal follows another large-scale sale to Spain’s Acciona last year, with Acciona buying 3 gigawatts of solar and 1 gigawatt of solar-plus-storage from Tenaska in the U.S.

MORE NEWS & COMMENTARY 

COMMUNITY SOLAR

Why Associated plugged in to community solar energy, American Banker
Associated Banc-Corp. in Green Bay, Wis., recently subscribed to five solar gardens currently in development across Minnesota and Illinois. The subscription doesn’t cost the company anything, and its commitment to using a certain proportion of the energy produced is expected to slash about 20%, or $57,000, off its annual electricity bill.

SOLID-STATE BATTERIES

Investors Still Betting on Next Big Energy Storage Technology: Solid-State Batteries, Greentech Media. Solid-state batteries could be safer and more energy-dense than lithium-ion products are today. The improved technology could hit the market by the mid-2020s, analysts say. Companies including Ionic MaterialsQuantumScapeSila NanotechnologiesSion Power and Solid Power are developing all-solid-state batteries (ASSBs) that are expected to be safer and more energy-dense than the lithium-ion products used in today’s electric vehicles and battery systems. “Lithium-ion today, with a metal-oxide cathode and carbon-based anode, is starting to approach its theoretical limits,” said Solid Power CEO Doug Campbell in an interview.

NEW U.S. CHARGING STATION MANUFACTURER

Dutch charging station company looks to plug in to U.S. electric vehicle growth, by Audrey Henderson, Energy News Network. EVBox manufactures charging stations and the software to manage them. The company is expanding its presence in the U.S. to take advantage of a growing electric vehicle market. Electric transportation advocates note the move is particularly timely given recent advancement of electric vehicle policy in Illinois.

CLEAN ENERGY CAREERS

  • What’s It Like to Be a Renewable Energy Project Developer?, Greentech Media
    We’re asking people with cleantech jobs to tell us what they do all day. Next up: K. Harley McDonald, senior business developer at Avangrid Renewables.
  • An Anxious Accountant’s Journey to the Top, Greentech Media
    In this special podcast, we discuss how one finance expert overcame his anxieties and flourished in renewable energy. Today, he leads CohnReznick’s renewable energy industry practice and helps utilities and other energy companies execute all kinds of transactions, from long-term contracts to hedging strategies to tax structures.

TESLA  

Tesla Solar Panels and Roof: Pricing and how to buy, by Fred Lambert, Electrek

Tesla solar roof tiles are not available in as many markets as Tesla’s solar panels. The company is still hiring and training roofers in many markets and it is expanding fast. Tesla’s regular solar panel installations are more easily available.

Tesla’s website:
“We are hiring roofers, installers and electricians who will work together to deploy Solar Roof in Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Utah and Virginia.”

MORE CORPORATE NEWS

NEW CERES REPORT

Coal retirements spur 8% drop in 2019 power sector carbon pollution after Duke, Vistra top 2018 emitters: Ceres, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive. Progress in 2019 is a cause for optimism, report author and Senior Director of Electric Power at Ceres, Dan Bakal, told Utility Dive, though the sector will need to move even faster in order to offset the worst impacts of climate change.

About Ceres
Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy. Through powerful networks and advocacy, Ceres tackles the world’s biggest sustainability challenges, including climate change, water scarcity and pollution, and inequitable workplaces. Mission: Ceres is transforming the economy to build a sustainable future for people and the planet.
Resources include: Proxy Voting Guidebook 2020

Ceres Initiatives

MORE ON RECENTLY-RELEASED ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS’ REPORT 

How to replace 187 GW of coal with renewables, and save customers money, by William Driscoll, PV Magazine. Promptly retiring 79% of the nation’s 236 GW of coal units, and replacing them with renewables and storage, would yield savings of $10 billion per year, says a report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, Carbon Tracker and Sierra Club. Retiring all of them now, including units that are not yet uneconomic, would still save $9 billion per year. The authors recommend federal involvement in financing this transition, and using the savings not only to lower customers’ electric bills but to fund transition assistance for affected workers and communities.

NEWS FROM CANADA

Massive 340,000-panel solar farm to take flight at Edmonton International Airport, Edmonton Journal. A massive renewable energy project roughly the size of 313 CFL football fields could be arriving in Edmonton by the end of 2022. Edmonton International Airport announced Tuesday plans to build a 627-acre, 120-megawatt solar farm — enough energy to power 27,000 or 28,000 homes — on the west side of its lands as part of an agreement with European-based renewable energy company Alpin Sun. Solar power from the farm would feed into Fortis Alberta and the airport.

As Fossil Fuel Pipelines Fall to Opposition, Utilities See Renewable Energy as Safe Bet

By Jeff St. John, Senior Editor, Greentech Media

Legal challenges halted several major pipeline projects across the U.S. in recent days, underscoring a seismic shift facing the U.S. utility industry: the rise of renewables as a potentially less costly and risky alternative to fossil fuels. Over the weekend Dominion Energy and Duke Energy, two of the country’s biggest utilities, canceled their Atlantic Coast Pipeline project, citing costs that have ballooned to as much as $8 billion and ongoing legal challenges from landowners and environmental groups. The pipeline’s legal challenges include an April federal court decision overturning Nationwide Permit 12, a federal permit authority allowing pipelines to cross waterways and wetlands, which threatens the viability of projects including the massive Keystone XL oil pipeline. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted
In A Post-Pandemic World, Renewable Energy Is The Only Way Forward, by Senior Contributor Enrique Dans, Forbes. A post-pandemic economic reconstruction based on restructuring the energy map makes sense. We know we have to do it, and we know the reason we haven’t done it so far is because it challenges the interests of a powerful few.

MORE ON FOSSIL FUEL PIPELINES

  • Judge orders Dakota Access pipeline shut down pending review, Omaha World-Herald
    FARGO, N.D. — A federal judge on Monday ordered the Dakota Access pipeline shut down pending a more thorough environmental review, handing a victory to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe three years after the pipeline first began carrying oil following months of protests.
  • US Supreme Court deals blow to Keystone oil pipeline project, Omaha World-Herald
    BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — The U.S. Supreme Court handed another setback to the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline from Canada on Monday by keeping in place a lower court ruling that blocked a key environmental permit for the project. Canadian company TC Energy needs the permit to continue building the long-disputed pipeline across U.S. rivers and streams.

TESLA

Tesla’s Success Is Good News For Everyone, by Senior Contributor Enrique Dans, Forbes
The company is now the gold standard for an industry that for too long has innovated reluctantly and at a snail’s pace. 

ACQUISITION NEWS

Sunrun to acquire Vivint Solar for $3.2 billion in all-stock transaction, PV Magazine
The new, bigger Sunrun will have 500,000 customers and more than 3 GW of solar power assets. Is there value in scale in residential solar?

THERMAL ENERGY STORAGE

Storing Heat Energy Offers $300bn Opportunity To Cut Carbon Emissions, by Mike Scott, Forbes. Thermal energy storage allows polluting industries to clean up and reduce emissions.

Taking Charge: Wisconsin’s newest utility commissioner on the state’s ‘utility-scale changeover’

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Wisconsin’s historical reliance on coal-generated power has shifted toward renewable energy and natural gas in recent years. Though the state is not yet able to compete with Minnesota on solar or Iowa on its abundant wind resources, the political and economic tides are turning the markets in favor of a more dramatic clean energy buildout, according to advocates in the state.

Democratic Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, who took office after the 2018 midterm elections, has been working on a suite of clean energy and climate policies. In August, he signed an executive order putting Wisconsin on a path to 100% clean energy by 2050, and his 2019 budget directed $10 million in Volkswagen settlement funds toward electric vehicle charging stations. Continue reading here.

Photo: Wisconsin Public Service Commissioner Tyler Huebner

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

  • Iowa cities and towns invest in renewable energy, Yale Climate Connections
    Many cities and towns are investing in renewable energy, and climate change is not the only motivation. 
  • Wind energy brings jobs to ND, Minot Daily News
    Powering North Dakota, an initiative of the American Wind Energy Association, has thrown its support behind the Lake Region training program and its partnership with Neset. Powering North Dakota is a growing coalition of developers, manufacturers, business, agriculture and community members with a focus on the economic benefits of wind power. The coalition’s goal is to share research, talk about the local benefits and tell the story of wind and its impact on different areas of the economy.
  • Wind farm expansion begins, The Kansan
    Enel Green Power operates six wind farms in Kansas, and the company’s overall investment in Kansas amounts to more than $2.1 billion and 210 full-time employees working in the state and with its’ acquisition of Tradewind Energy Inc. last year, makes them the largest wind operator with more than 1.4 GW of operational wind capacity.
  • North Carolina pursues faster interconnection for utility-scale solar, PV Magazine
    Under Duke Energy’s current review process, interconnection queues grew to 14 GW in North and South Carolina last year. A new process should speed interconnection reviews, and enable projects located near each other to share the costs of transmission upgrades.
  • Dominion Sells Gas Business and Cancels Atlantic Coast Pipeline, Greentech Media.
    Dominion and Duke Energy will walk away from controversial pipeline project as U.S. utilities grapple with future role of natural gas. Company-wide, Dominion plans to retire more than 4 gigawatts of coal- and oil-fired electric generation by 2025. “Over the next 15 years we plan to invest up to $55 billion in emissions reduction technologies including zero-carbon generation and energy storage, gas distribution line replacement, and renewable natural gas,” CEO Thomas Farrell II said in a statement Sunday.
  • SCC approves voluntary 100% renewable energy offering by Dominion Energy Virginia, Augusta Free Press. Virginia law permits Dominion to design a rate that participating customers may choose to pay to receive all their power from renewable resources. As designed, the rate would charge a premium of $3.98 a month above the standard rate of an average residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt hours of electricity, subject to annual adjustments.
  • TVA launches virtual home energy audits for customers, American Public Power Association
    The Tennessee Valley Authority on July 1 said it has launched virtual home energy evaluations, enabling residents across its seven-state region to benefit from money-saving energy advice, even during pandemic conditions.

WORLD’S FIRST ZERO-CARBON ARENA

Climate Pledge Arena’ Will Be The Name Of Amazon’s New Seattle Sports Center, by Senior Contributor Ken Silverstein, Forbes. The company has secured the naming rights to an arena in Seattle that is now under construction — one that will ultimately measure its carbon emissions and sustainability performance and it will make that data public. It’s part of the company’s overall climate initiative to have net-zero carbon releases by 2040, which is a decade ahead of the Paris agreement. The future arena is financed by Amazon and the Oak View Group and it is expected to be the world’s first zero-carbon arena when it is completed in the summer of 2021. 

RENEWABLES VERSUS NATURAL GAS

  • The Next Energy Battle: Renewables vs. Natural Gas, New York Times
    Proponents of renewable energy note that solar panels are increasingly the cheapest source of electricity. Solar panels can deliver power to 650 homes for one hour — one megawatt-hour in industry jargon — at $31 to $111 a megawatt-hour, according to Lazard, the investment firm. By comparison, natural gas peaking plants, which utilities can turn on and off quickly to meet surging demand, deliver power at $122 to $162 a megawatt-hour.
  • Natural Gas As A Bridge Fuel To The Future? Not Anymore, CleanTechnica
    For a while that was true, but once again a funny thing happened on the way to the renewable energy revolution. The costs of solar and wind farms plummeted along with the cost of battery storage. Now, according to PV Magazine, several US utilities are saying “no thank you” to new gas-fired generation. Here’s the latest news.

MORE ON HOUSE CLIMATE ACTION PLAN

Three Key Takeaways from House Climate Crisis Action Plan, by Roland Hwang, Managing Director, Climate and Clean Energy Program, Natural Resources Defense Council. The House of Representatives’ Special Select Committee on the Climate Crisis has finally released its long-awaited plan to tackle the climate crisis. It’s a 547-page roadmap for an “all hands-on deck” approach to putting the U.S. on a path to net-zero carbon pollution by midcentury, which is what the world’s leading climate scientists tell us is necessary to avert a climate catastrophe. Importantly, the House Plan puts justice and equity at the core of its recommendations for a comprehensive climate policy package.

For more on NRDC’s perspective on the House Plan:

ESG & LONGTERM SUSTAINABILITY

What role does ESG play in the ‘new normal’?, GreenBiz article contributed by Janine Guillot, CEO of the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board. In recent years, the rise of ESG, responsible investing, corporate sustainability — different people use different terms — has focused on evolving “business as usual” by recognizing that effectively managing environmental and social issues is key to the long-term sustainability of both business and society. The COVID-19 crisis is likely to accelerate this trend. The key questions that have arisen from the crisis are essentially ESG questions, such as:

FREE SEPA RESEARCH

Utility Best Practices for EV Infrastructure Deployment

  • How to develop an EV strategic plan and build a transportation electrification team 
  • Results from two surveys and six utility case studies and SEPA Electric Vehicle Working Group contributions
  • Best practices for utility-led EV infrastructure programs and third-party charging infrastructure interconnection

Affected customers urged to reach out for help with bills

By Jodi Baker, OPPD The Wire

OPPD has closely watched how the coronavirus has impacted the communities it serves. Since early spring, the utility responded by offering solutions for customers facing financial hardship during this time, including suspending disconnections for non-payment. Now, as society begins to adapt to its new normal, OPPD will adjust these options and continue to help customers in need. Continue reading here.

The following are among the helpful resources Jodi Baker provides in her article: 

LES Electric Vehicle Webinar Series

By Marc J. Shkolnick, Manager/Energy Services, Lincoln Electric System

Electric vehicle enthusiasts are invited to participate in one or more noon-hour webinars presented by Lincoln Electric System beginning Wednesday, July 15. The virtual workshops will cover a wide array of topics ranging from home and public charging trends and technologies, results of LES’ residential charging study, considerations for buying or leasing a new or used electric vehicle and innovations in electric transportation.

We’ve booked experts from the Electric Power Research Institute (ERPI) and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to present and engage in question and answers for each webinar.

RSVP today by visiting www.les.com/ev

Plot Brewing To Blanket US In Solar Panels + Pollinator-Friendly Plants

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

It started as a trickle and now the floodgates are open. Solar arrays that once sat on barren ground are now festooned with plants that attract bees, birds, and butterflies. Even the US Energy Department is getting into the act. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four newly minted solar power plants that have built-in benefits for pollinators, too. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Power, plants: Seed mixes and ag innovation for PV solar, Solar Builder article by Rob DavisDirector of the Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) forecasts farmers and other landowners will lease 2-3 million acres of land for ground-mounted solar arrays by 2030, a 10-fold increase from 2020. This rapid bloom in leasing land to produce solar energy isn’t just a lifeline for farmers looking to stabilize on-farm income, it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create habitat at scale to help species critical to agriculture and ecosystem health. Climate change and loss of habitat pose significant threats to honey bees, bumblebees, monarch butterflies and a wide variety of pollinators. A recent global analysis found that 40 percent of pollinator species may be at risk of extinction in the coming years. 

MULTI-GIGAWATT PARTNERSHIP

Engie and Hannon Armstrong Form Multi-Gigawatt US Renewables Partnership, Greentech Media The portfolio will stretch across five states and encompass both wind and solar projects. Most of the power the Engie-Hannon portfolio produces will be sold to companies looking to increase their renewable electricity, such as T-Mobile and Amazon. 

TRI-STATE NEWS 

  • A power switch in Colorado, by Allen Best, Mountain Town News
    At the stroke of midnight, Colorado’s Delta-Montrose Electric Association officially became independent of Tri-State Generation and Transmission. The electrical cooperative in west-central Colorado is at least $26 million poorer. That was the cost of getting out of its all-requirements for wholesale supplies from Tri-State 20 years early. But Delta-Montrose expects to be richer in coming years as local resources, particularly photovoltaic solar, get developed with the assistance of the new wholesale provider Guzman Energy.
  • Tri-State: Moving a cooperative power provider from coal to clean energy, by Joe Smyth, Clean Cooperative. This article summarizes the key developments over the last few years that led Tri-State to begin a transition away from its reliance on coal, and was first published as a contribution to Energy-Democracy.net

BANK OF AMERICA  

Duke Energy, Bank of America partner on Triad solar farm, Winston Salem Journal
Monday’s joint announcement marks a step toward achieving Bank of America’s goal of “being carbon neutral and utilizing 100% renewable electricity,” bank executive Andrew Plepler said in a written statement. 

MORE ON WHO’S BEHIND ANTI-NET-METERING FERC PETITION

AUSTRALIA

Digging Deeper Into Federal Lands’ Renewable Promise

Clean Energy Finance Forum – Yale Center for Business and the Environment

To herald “Key Economic Benefits of Renewable Energy on Public Lands,” a report years in the making, Clean Energy Finance Forum invited Nikki Springer to expand on the themes and challenges in the work she’s co-written.

In this internal discussion, Nikki highlights the mix of skills the Yale Center for Business and the Environment aims to cultivate and shows how those skills can foster employment, fossil-free resources, and environmental flourishing in America’s most biologically tricky places.
Read more here.


IN NEBRASKA

Nebraska’s public lands encompass nearly 800,000 acres on about 300 state and federal areas. Most of the land is owned by the federal government. Of the state-owned lands, about 47,000 acres have been purchased with proceeds from the sale of Nebraska Habitat Stamps.
Source: Nebraska Map.Gov, 2018

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

ENERGY NEWS NETWORK SERIES

Clean energy programs can help address some racial disparities, advocates say, by Kathiann M. Kowalski. This is Part Three of a series on racial disparities and energy issues. Part One looked at systemic problems that contribute to racial disparities. Part Two explored issues of energy poverty and utility disconnections.

GTM’S “POLITICAL CLIMATE”

The Path to a Net-Zero Economy: Where Do We Stand?
On this week’s Political Climate, we discuss where we stand on the trajectory to net-zero emissions by 2050. Plus, we ask: Is the path to zero as inclusive as it should be?

Environment America’s “Greener Together” Resources – Plus a Free Solar Energy International Course for Older Learners

Environment America.Org

“Right now, people across the country are turning to the outdoors and nature as a refuge. Nature can calm us and reconnect us with ourselves, with other people and with the world around us. As people are practicing social distancing, with and without kids at home, we want to provide opportunities to connect with the natural world and other like-minded people through engaging events, fun activities and helpful guides to help foster this connection.”

“Greener Together” Activities
Contributed by Environment America Members

Click here to view Environment America’s  “Tips & Guides” and “Green Events.”

FREE Solar Energy International Online Course
Geared Toward High School Students & Adults


RE100: Introduction To Renewable Energy
RE100 is a free course that covers the basics of renewable energy, and is a great introduction for those new to the field, those who are looking to make a career change, or those who just want to learn more about energy from the sun, wind, and water, energy efficiency, and the basics of electricity. Join the tens of thousands of individuals who have gotten their first taste of renewable energy in RE100. You won’t emerge as an expert, but you will learn a lot about the different technologies and trends, what situations are more appropriate for one type of renewable energy system versus another, and how to make a difference with your own energy consumption. This course also serves as a great introduction to SEI’s online campus.

House Passes Infrastructure Package with Key Clean Energy Provisions

Solar Energy Industry Association News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, on the passage of the Moving Forward Act in the U.S. House of Representatives:

“This is an important legislative step, and we thank our champions and leaders in the House for their work to move pro-solar provisions forward in the Moving Forward Act. There is more work to be done to get a bipartisan package to the president’s desk.”
Continue reading here.

The Moving Forward Act Fact Sheet

Additional Recommended Reading
National Climate Bank amendment added to House’s pro-solar infrastructure bill, PV Magazine