Category Archives: NewsBlog

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.

Kennedy’s role involves exploring energy solutions

By Laura King-Homan, The Wire, OPPD Blog

Courtney Kennedy doesn’t just tour wind farms. Kennedy, OPPD’s manager for alternative energy programs, and her team also research new alternative energy technologies, explore partnerships with large customers and work with system planning groups on how to best meet OPPD’s future load needs with alternative energy solutions. In short, Kennedy and her team are where the utility, and customers, can turn to get answers about renewable energy. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Omaha Public Power District

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

Kelly calls for public power to address three critical issues

By Susan Partain, American Public Power Association Blog

In her keynote at the American Public Power Association’s 2019 National Conference on June 10, Association President and CEO Sue Kelly urged public power utility executives to focus on what she called the industry’s three greatest challenges: customers’ increasing use of technology, cyber and physical security, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Kelly cautioned that if public power utilities do not face these challenges head on, “we could lose our customers’ business and risk being disrupted—indeed, we could be left behind.”  Conversely, Kelly said tackling these challenges can help public power “become shining examples of nimble, customer-focused and respected twenty-first century utilities.” For each challenge, Kelly laid out the landscape and offered advice on how utilities can take them on. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading
A Vision for Midwest Zero-Carbon Power Starts to Takes Shape, Natural Resources Defense Council 

AWEA Fact Check: Wind power remains affordable despite flawed study

By Michael Goggin, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog

The phrase “garbage in, garbage out” explains that analysis based on flawed input assumptions will result in flawed results and conclusions. A recent textbook example of that comes from the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity (ACCE) and the special interest group Institute for Energy Research (IER). IER has been down this road before, and once again their analysis isn’t grounded in reality. Renewable energy increasingly saves consumers money even without the federal incentives, which are currently being phased out. The following table uses real-world performance data to calculate the unsubsidized levelized cost for newly installed generation.

Read more here.

Top Image: Interactive map created by researchers at the University of Texas Austin’s Energy Institute. “Check out all the green—that’s where wind is cheapest.” – Michael Goggin

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

RESIDENTIAL SOLAR

How regenerative land and livestock management practices can sequester carbon

Contributed article by Shauna Sadowski, GreenBiz

Shauna Sadowski is head of sustainability for the Natural & Organic Operating Unit at General Mills.

General Mills is elevating the importance of farmers and regenerative agricultural practices with several initiatives underway, including:

  • Providing more than $4 million to organizations who are advancing soil health.
  • Supporting education and one-on-one farmer coaching through a $650,000 grant that will conduct soil health workshops and three-year regenerative management programs with farmers.
  • Collaborating with farmers in our supply chains to support regenerative practices: Annie’s partners with a community of farmers in Montana for its products, highlighting farmers’ regenerative practices on the box to connect eaters to farmers. EPIC is collaborating with the Savory Institute to build the market for regenerative meat through the Ecological Outcomes Verification program. Cascadian Farm supports the development of Kernza, a perennial wheat strain whose roots show great promise in sequestering more carbon.

Developing a holistic, inclusive and outcomes-based approach to regenerative agriculture means inviting all types of farmers to the conversation and prioritizing impact measurements at the farm-level. We recognize that farmers are critical to advancing this work, and we want to do what we can to support them and advance their regenerative practices. Read the entire article here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Soil matters more than you think, by Shauna Sadowski

Image Credit: Annie’s

Previously Posted

Nebraska Regenerative Agriculture Resources

 

 

 

 

RegeNErate Nebraska Website
RegeNErate Nebraska Facebook
Guide to Regenerative Agriculture in Nebraska (PDF)

Nebraska Legislation
LB 243, to create a Healthy Soils Task Force, was passed by the Nebraska Legislature on April 11, 2019 by a vote of 43 to 0 and signed by Governor Ricketts on April 18th.

Starbucks Buys Aggregated Wind and Solar Portfolio With Help From LevelTen

By Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

Starbucks announced another large-scale renewables deal Wednesday, with enough power to supply 3,000 of its U.S. stores. The portfolio, encompassing 146 megawatts of wind and solar, draws from three different plants located in three states. LevelTen Energy, the renewable energy marketplace that brokered the deal, said the transaction’s portfolio approach is a first in the industry.

“Starbucks is setting an important precedent in the corporate energy procurement space by demonstrating how a single offtaker can safely and easily procure shares of renewable energy from a variety of new wind and solar projects,” said Bryce Smith, LevelTen’s CEO, in a statement. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Enel Green Power

Previously Posted
Bloomberg, Gap, Salesforce Join Others to Spearhead Novel Small-Scale Solar Deal, Greentech Media. Small-capacity renewable energy aggregation deals should open the market to more corporate offtakers.

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