Category Archives: NewsBlog

Is Your Company Ready for a Zero-Carbon Future?

By Nigel Topping, Contributor, Harvard Business Review

More than 900 global companies representing over $17.6 trillion in market cap are already ensuring that their business strategies are built for growth and emissions reductions through the We Mean Business Take Action campaign. (We Mean Business is a nonprofit coalition of which I am CEO.) This includes over 560 companies that have committed to set ambitious science-based emission reduction targets, and over 175 that have committed to switching to 100% renewable electricity. Beyond that, companies are beginning to use their influence to speed an economy-wide transition by supporting climate policies targeting net-zero emissions by 2050. Others are demanding climate action throughout their supply chains. Read more about the We Mean Business campaign and other initiatives here.

Nigel Topping serves as CEO of We Mean Business coalition, which harnesses business leadership to drive the innovations and policies that accelerate action on climate change. Previously, Nigel was executive director of CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) and he has 18 years of experience in the manufacturing sector.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

FEATURED RESOURCES

GLOBAL NEWS

US Green Bank Act of 2019 Introduced in House; Companion to Recent Senate Bill

Coalition for Green Capital News Release


US Representatives Jim Himes (D-CT) and 13 colleagues have introduced the US Green Bank Act of 2019, companion to a recent Senate bill of the same name introduced in May. The introduction builds momentum for the Green Bank proposal and demonstrates a broad base of support. Like the Senate bill, the new bill establishes a US Green Bank. Green Banks are institutions that seek to achieve the greatest possible greenhouse gas reduction impact while reducing consumer energy costs. They achieve this by investing public dollars in ways that mobilize additional private capital. Continue reading here. 

For more information on the US Green Bank Act of 2019, see Representative Himes’ StatementSenator Murphy’s Statement on the Senate bill, and CGC’s Bill Summary. For more information on existing US Green Banks, see the American Green Bank Consortium’s Annual Industry Report.

About  CGC
The Coalition for Green Capital (CGC) is a non-profit organization focused on accelerating the growth of clean energy through the creation of Green Banks. CGC offers a unique and proven capacity as the leading creator, advocate, and expert on Green Banks since 2009 and works directly to support the formation of Green Banks with governmental and civil society partners. CGC also provides on-going consulting and guidance to operating Green Banks.

Statement: Renewables Leader Says EPA Reprieve on Coal Does Not Stop the Rapid Growth of Clean Energy

Tri Global Energy News Release, PRNewswire

DALLAS, June 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — In a just-released announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air-quality restrictions were lessened on coal-fired power plants in an attempt to boost the coal industry’s decline in growth. “No amount of policy is going to reverse what is happening to coal now,” says John B. Billingsley, Chairman and CEO of Tri Global Energy (TGE), one of the nation’s top five wind developers, and Sunfinity, a residential and commercial solar provider and installer. “But what needs to be clear is that coal and renewable energy are not competing,” Billingsley said. “Turning to renewables for power generation is not only environmentally smart for our planet, it is economically smart as never before.” Continue reading here.

IN NEBRASKA

Tri Global Energy is planning to develop a 100–megawatt wind farm, which will be named the Sugar Loaf wind farm in Garden County. Source: Wind Energy Generation in Nebraska,
Nebraska Energy Office

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • Trump to toss lifeline to coal plants. Will it work?, E&E News
    Just 99 of the American Public Power Association’s roughly 2,000 member utilities have an ownership stake in a coal plant.
  • Misguided EPA Affordable Clean Energy rule is on the wrong side of history, opinion contributed by Howard Learner, The Hill. The Midwest is making great strides in shifting to renewable energy generation from solar energy and energy storage, along with wind power. The renewable energy supply chain businesses are rapidly growing. America’s Heartland is well positioned to lead us forward in delivering climate change solutions powered by renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. This energy sector transition is good for Midwest jobs, good for clean air and water, and good for economic growth. The new ACE Rule is misguided policy, moves our nation backward in solving climate change problems, and misses opportunities for economic growth and innovation in the global shift to renewable energy.

Howard Learner is the executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center of the Midwest. ELPC is the leading Midwest public interest environmental legal advocacy organization, and among the nation’s leaders, working to improve environmental quality, protect public health, and protect natural resources in ways that grow the regional economy. 

Commentary: Rural Power Co-Ops ‘Stranded In Coal’

By Erik Hatlestad and Liz Veazey, Daily Yonder

Rural electric cooperatives’ loyalty to coal is holding rural America back. That’s according to a new report authored by CURE (Clean Up the River Environment), We Own It, and the Center for Rural Affairs.

During the 1970s, most rural electric cooperatives made significant investments to build coal-burning power plants. At the time, the coal investment strategy made in the interest of providing low-cost electricity to their member-owners. Co-ops took on massive amounts of debt, mostly from the federal government. One year a loan to Basin Electric (a consortium of cooperatives that serves much of the Northern Great Plains) for a coal plant took up almost the entire annual budget for loans from the USDA’s Rural Utility Service. Continue reading here.

Report’s Authors
Erik Hatlestad is director of the Energy Democracy Program at CURE (Clean Up the River Environment), Liz Veazey is network director of We Own It, and Katie Rock is a policy associate at the Center for Rural Affairs.

Upcoming Webinar
Erik Hatlestad and Liz Veazey will host a webinar about their report on Monday, June 24, at noon Central. Register here.

Additional Recommended Reading

  • NM co-op started something big in electricity markets, Albuquerque Journal, guest column by Greg Brophy, Colorado Director, The Western Way
    According to Standard & Poor’s, Tri-State’s debt load has risen sharply over the past decade from $1.7 billion to more than $3 billion. SEC filings show the largest of those loans is a $2.8 billion “master indenture,” which imposes conditions on how much Tri-State charges for wholesale electricity. In short, Tri-State must keep rates high enough to cover payments on billions of dollars of debt. This is critically important. Tri-State was created in the 1950s by rural cooperatives to provide cheaper sources of wholesale electricity, not more expensive sources. But even Tri-State concedes that “cheaper prices are now available elsewhere.”
  • Co-op elections show strengthening interest in electrical transition, by Allen Best, Mountain Town News
  • Previously Posted: ‘Stranded costs’ mount as coal vanishes from the grid

SUNDA RESOURCES FOR RURAL ELECTRIC COOPERATIVES
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s innovative SUNDA Project helps rural electric cooperatives nationwide to accelerate utility solar. SUNDA stands for “Solar Utility Network Deployment Acceleration.”

The global transition to clean energy, explained in 12 charts

By David Roberts, Vox

Renewable energy is starting to make a dent in electricity – Fifth Chart:
All the growth and investments in renewable electricity are starting to add up. Renewables represent more than a third of the world’s installed capacity and, as the graphic below shows, more than 26 percent of global electricity produced.

That said, hydropower, at almost 16 percent, makes up more than half the renewables total. What people tend to think of as renewables, wind and solar, make up only a combined 8 percent. Even in electricity, renewables have a long way to go. Read more here.

FEATURED GLOBAL INITIATIVE: CLIMATE ACTION 100+

To date, more than 300 investors with more than $33 trillion in assets under management have signed on to this initiative. Climate Action 100+ is coordinated by five partner organizations: Asia Investor Group on Climate Change, Ceres, Investor Group on Climate Change, Institutional Investors Group on Climate Change, and Principles for Responsible Investment.

MORE NEWS & RESOURCES

U.S. Solar Market Sees Best Q1 in History

SEIA News Release

BOSTON, Mass. AND WASHINGTON D.C., (June 18, 2019) – In the first three months of the year, the U.S. installed 2.7 gigawatts of solar photovoltaics (PV), making it the most solar ever installed in the first quarter of a year. With the strong first quarter, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables forecasts 25% growth in 2019 compared to 2018, and it expects more than 13 GWdc of installations this year.

This data comes from the new U.S. Solar Market Insight Report from Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), whom together announced in May that the U.S. hit the 2 million solar installation milestone during the first quarter of 2019. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
The Sunshine State finally delivers on its name, by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine 

Investing with a Conscience: The Rise of ESG and What Really Matters to Investors

By Kelly LaVigne, J.D., Allianz Life, Contributor, Kiplinger

Socially responsible investing has really blossomed in the past few years. What used to be viewed as a niche investment philosophy is now firmly planted in the mainstream, with everyday consumers using their dollars to support companies that align with their personal values around sustainability and social progressiveness.

But beyond the day-to-day choices, like what stores to frequent and what products to purchase, consumers are turning to environmental, social and governance (ESG) standards to help inform their investment decisions. In a recent study by Allianz Life, nearly 80% of people said they “love the idea of investing in companies that care about the same issues” they do, and 73% feel it’s a way to reward a company’s good behavior. On the flip side, 71% said they would stop investing in a company if it behaved in ways they consider unethical. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading

US clean energy investors keenest on PV, storage in trillion dollar race, by José Rojo Martin, PV-Tech

Polled US financiers have ranked PV and storage as the most attractive renewable investment targets but warned that policy gaps could hinder long-term financing flows. Surveyed in recent months, banks, asset managers, private equity firms and other institutional investors placed utility-scale PV and energy storage as their top priorities between 2019 and 2022.

In the survey, held in May by the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), the technology duo was followed by residential and commercial solar, onshore wind, bioenergy and offshore wind.  The respondents – a majority of which deploy some US$500 million a year in US renewables – mostly planned to maintain or increase clean energy allocations, with no decreases foreseen. 

Just several of the many nonprofits focusing on ESG standards in investing:

As You Sow
Founded in 1992, As You Sow promotes environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies. Our vision is a safe, just, and sustainable world in which protecting the environment and human rights is central to corporate decision making. Corporations are responsible for most of the pressing social and environmental problems we face today — we believe corporations must be a willing part of the solutions. We make that happen.

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 human rights abuses.

Green America
Our mission is to harness economic power—the strength of consumers, investors, businesses, and the marketplace—to create a socially just and environmentally sustainable society. We focus on four areas for system transformation, insisting on social justice and environmental health across all sectors. We believe if we can get these right, the rest of the economy will follow: 1. Climate and clean energy, 2. Sustainable food and agriculture, 3. Responsible investing and 4. Fair labor.

Green Faith
Green Faith’s mission is to inspire, educate and mobilize people of diverse religious backgrounds for environmental leadership. Our work is based on beliefs shared by the world’s great religions – we believe that protecting the earth is a religious value, and that environmental stewardship is a moral responsibility.

Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility

Currently celebrating our 49th year, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) pioneered the use of shareholder advocacy to press companies on environmental, social, and governance issues. Our coalition of over 300 global institutional investors currently represents more than $400 billion in managed assets. Leveraging our equity ownership in some of the world’s largest and most powerful companies, ICCR members regularly engage management to identify and mitigate social and environmental risks resulting from corporate operations and policies.

Proxy Preview
Proxy Preview is a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investment Institute, and Proxy Impact to help investors align their values with their investments. Publishes Annual Guide: Proxy Preview 2019 is the 15th annual edition of the insider’s guide to social and environmental shareholder proposals. This free publication is the #1 resource for shareholders looking to align their values and investments. “Bible for socially progressive foundations, religious groups, pension funds, and tax-exempt organizations” – Chicago Tribune

Tri-State power wholesaler requests new solar projects as United Power, other members seek flexibility

By Sam Lounsberry, Longmont Times-Call

As Westminster-based regional power wholesaler Tri-State Generation and Transmission on Thursday announced it is seeking proposals to build a number of solar projects between 10 and 200 megawatts, its largest member United Power continues asking its parent for policy changes to allow more renewable energy development at the local level.

Tri-State’s pursuit of more solar power comes after announcements earlier this year of two projects — one wind farm and another solar farm being built by Boulder-based Juwi — totaling 204 megawatts, and the power wholesaler for 43 electric cooperatives and power districts serving rural communities across Colorado, Wyoming, Nebraska and New Mexico claims its pursuit of a new solar project this year represents its increasing interest in owning solar. Continue reading here.

Photo: United Power’s recently-installed Tesla battery. United Power has said it has lost out on large commercial customers to nearby Xcel Energy’s service territory because the local utility can only offer so much renewable power on its grid under current Tri-State rules limiting its members from generating more than 5% of their demand loads themselves through renewables or other means.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

GLOBAL NEWS

Off-Grid Solar Energy Use Is About to Explode Thanks to These Key Regions: Employment could triple by 2020, Inverse

EV NEWS

Corporate World Weighs Up Trillions Of Dollars Of Climate Risks – And Opportunities

Mike Scott, Contributor, Forbes

Some of the world’s biggest companies, representing $17 trillion in market capitalization, have said that climate change could cost them almost $1 trillion, much of it within the next five years, with a potential $250 billion write-off of stranded assets.

However, they also said that there are climate opportunities of $2.1 trillion, “nearly all of which are highly likely or certain”. Financial companies alone saw potential revenue of $1.2 trillion from low emissions products and services but they also face almost 80% of the total financial impacts, increasing the urgency for them to shift their investments into lower-carbon projects. Read more here.

Previously Posted

ALSO IN THE NEWS

USDA Helps Farmers, Businesses and Ag Producers Cut Energy Costs

USDA News Release

Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (PDF, 146 KB) to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

USDA is providing the grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. Under today’s announcement, USDA is investing $1 million in renewable energy projects. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. Read the entire news release here.

INDUSTRY NEWS

SELF-COMMITTING IN POWER MARKETS

Are old Midwest coal plants pushing renewables offline?, E&E News
The utility process of self-committing or self-scheduling power plants to run even when there’s cheaper energy available on the grid is a complex issue and opaque to outsiders. Increasingly, there are questions about whether it’s slowing a transition to cleaner energy. 

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets, 
Union of Concerned Scientists. Markets are supposed to ensure that all power plants are operated from lowest cost to most expensive. Self-committing allows expensive coal plants to cut in line, pushing out less expensive power generators such as wind, depriving those units from operating and generating revenue.