Biden says U.S., Canada to work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050

By Reuters Staff

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden said on Tuesday that he and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau agreed to work toward achieving net zero emissions by 2050. “We’re launching a high-level, climate-ambition ministerial and to align our policies and our goals to achieve net zero emissions by 2050,” Biden said in a speech following a bilateral meeting with the Canadian leader. Read more here. 

Roadmap for a Renewed U.S.-Canada Partnership, The White House Briefing Room

Rolling blackouts show need for climate action plan

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Specifically, the Legislature should pass Omaha Sen. John Cavanaugh’s LB483, which would direct the University of Nebraska to develop “an evidence-based, data-driven strategic plan to provide methods for adapting to and mitigating the impacts of extreme weather events or climate” that could be considered by the Legislature. Nebraska must develop a plan to seriously address climate change. And it needs to do so as quickly as possible, after several efforts similar to Cavanaugh’s failed to advance in recent years. Read more here.

LB483 – Provide for a climate change study and action plan

Wikimedia Commons Photo: George W. Norris Legislative Chamber, Nebraska State Legislature

POWER A CLEAN FUTURE OHIO COALITION

Ohio refinery city joins coalition to support local clean energy transitions, by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

Ohio’s clean energy policy has moved backward at the state level over the past decade. Various lawmakers have fought against the state’s clean energy standards and have been hostile toward renewable energyespecially wind energy. Allegations of corruption also surfaced last summer around House Bill 6, which gutted the clean energy standards and codified subsidies for certain nuclear and coal plants.

Against that backdrop, various cities and communities in Ohio have taken steps to increase their use of clean energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions. Power a Clean Future Ohio formed last year to expand that progress. Power A Clean Future Ohio 

SECURITIZATION

XCEL ENERGY INITIATIVE

Xcel plans to double its renewable energy generation by 2030. It’ll cost consumers $8 billion to do it, The Colorado Sun

Xcel Energy will spend $8 billion to double its renewable energy generation and storage and add new transmission lines, while closing all of its coal-fired power plants in Colorado by 2040. The initiative, unveiled Wednesday, would reduce Xcel’s carbon emissions in Colorado 85% from 2005 levels by 2030.

NEVADA & OTHER STATES LEADING ON ENERGY STORAGE

Grid-scale batteries, a key player in the future of renewable energy in Nevada, Sierra Nevada Ally
Nevada is one of seven states to adopt an energy storage mandate.

RIDE SHARE PROGRAMS 

Minnesota car-share program seeks to boost EV access in diverse neighborhoods

NEW BRATTLE GROUP REPORT

Grid-Enhancing Technologies’ Could Save $5B per Year by Boosting US Renewables Capacity, by Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

The U.S. could double its capacity for new wind and solar power, save billions of dollars and cut millions of tons of carbon-dioxide emissions from its generation fleets if federal incentives can be aligned to deploy a suite of technologies to unlock the full capacity of transmission grids.  So says a new report from The Brattle Group, modeling the benefits of a set ofgrid-enhancing technologies” across the wind-power-rich grids of Kansas and Oklahoma.

According to its analysis, spending about $90 million to implement these technologies could yield a payback in less than a year, with annual power cost savings of about $175 million delivering ongoing benefits for years to come. That’s because the technologies in question can drastically increase the renewable energy capacity of the grid operated by Southwest Power Pool.

BIDEN’S SUPPLY CHAIN EXECUTIVE ORDER 

American Clean Power Association Statement on Supply Chain Executive Order

SUSTAINABLE AVIATION FUELS

Exclusive: U.S. airline CEOs to meet with White House on cutting carbon footprint, Reuters
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The chief executives of major U.S. airlines are set to meet virtually with two key White House advisers on Friday about efforts to reduce carbon emissions and use renewable fuels, five people briefed on the matter told Reuters.

ENHANCED GEOTHERMAL SYSTEMS

DOE Awards $46 Million for Geothermal Initiative Projects with Potential to Power Millions of U.S. Homes, Department of Energy News Release

“There is enormous untapped potential for enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) to provide clean and reliable electricity to power tens of millions of homes across the country,” said Kathleen Hogan, Acting Under Secretary for Science and Energy. “These investments in EGS research support President Biden’s mission to take on the climate crisis by pushing the frontiers of science and engineering and creating jobs in cutting-edge clean energy fields.”

Enhanced Geothermal Systems (EGS) are different from conventional geothermal resources that occur naturally in the U.S. and are geographically limited due to the need for underground heat and fluids. EGS are manmade geothermal reservoirs and can be engineered in most parts of the country, potentially expanding geothermal energy production and transforming the domestic energy portfolio.
Utah FORGE website.

WELLS FARGO NEWS RELEASE

Wells Fargo Surpasses $10 Billion in Renewable Energy Tax-Equity Investments
SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Wells Fargo Renewable Energy & Environmental Finance (REEF) today announced it recently surpassed $10 billion in tax-equity investments in the wind, solar, and fuel cell industries. Wells Fargo has invested in more than 500 projects [in 32 states], helping to finance 12% of all wind and solar energy capacity in the U.S. over the past 10 years.

Vilsack Brings To-Do List As He Starts New Stint As Agriculture Secretary

By Chuck Abbott, Successful Farming


Boosted by a landslide confirmation vote in the Senate, Tom Vilsack will begin his second stint as agriculture secretary on Wednesday facing problems from the pandemic and climate change to rising hunger rates in America. His own list of goals is much longer and each item on it is a blockbuster.

“We’re going to be a USDA that represents and serves all Americans,” said Vilsack soon after the Senate confirmed his nomination, 92-7, on Tuesday.

 Continue reading here.

Opening Statement of Thomas J. Vilsack Before the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry – Remarks as Prepared

Also written by Chuck Abbot: Agriculture may be ‘first and best’ place for climate gains, says Vilsack

Additional Recommended Reading

Midlands Voices: Renewables provide a sound energy path for Nebraska

By Chuck Hassebrook, Omaha World-Herald

Gov. Ricketts’ statement blaming wind energy for electric outages was misleading and his proposed solution of reliance on coal profoundly misguided. It would ultimately worsen the problem. We all agree that electric outages are unacceptable. But to prevent them, we need to understand what caused them.

Continue reading here. Requires a digital subscription.

Chuck Hassebrook, of Lincoln, works in solar power development and is a former regent of the University of Nebraska.

 

NEW FERC PROCEEDING

FERC to examine threat of climate change, extreme weather to reliability, American Public Power Association

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Feb. 22 said that it will open a new proceeding to examine the threat that climate change and extreme weather events pose to electric reliability.

THE GREEN ACT

New Green Act Could Extend and Create New Credits for Renewable Energy, Energy Storage, Carbon Capture, and Electric Vehicles, National Law Review

On 5 February, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures announced the reintroduction of theGrowing Renewable Energy Efficiency Now (GREEN)Act. The bill was previously introduced in June 2020. If passed, the legislation would provide for a host of incentives across the renewable energy, energy storage, carbon capture, and electric vehicle industries. Some notable provisions include:

BROOKINGS INSTITUTION REPORT

How renewable energy jobs can uplift fossil fuel communities and remake climate politics, Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, by Adie TomerJoseph W. Kane, and Caroline George

The U.S. transition to a low-carbon economy is already underway, and some of the most striking progress is within the energy-generation sector. As the cost of solar, wind, and other renewable sources continues to fall, market forces will continue to encourage renewable energy generation and lead to the closure of fossil fuel extraction and generation activities. 

MICHIGAN TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY STUDY

Study shows homeowners with PV are subsidizing their neighbors, Renewable Energy World

For years some utility companies have worried that solar panels drive up electric costs for people without panels. Joshua Pearce, Richard Witte Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Technological University, has shown the opposite is true — grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) owners are actually subsidizing their non-PV neighbors.

SOLAR TARIFFS

America’s Clean Energy Leaders Urge President Biden to Repeal Trump Solar Tariff Proclamation, SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Seventeen leading renewable energy CEOs are calling on President Biden to rescind the Trump Administration’s October 2020 solar proclamation, which improperly increased tariffs on solar panels and rescinds the exclusion for bifacial solar panels. Led by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and supported by the American Clean Power Associationthe letter calls attention to the proclamation’s impact to existing solar contracts and discusses how harmful the Section 201 tariffs are to the U.S. economy and the industry’s ability to address climate change. Importantly, the CEOs are asking the President to return the tariffs to status quo and restore business certainty.

SEPA MICROGRIDS REPORT

Smart Electric Power Alliance: Voices of Experience / Microgrids for Resiliency

Despite increasing customer demand, microgrids are sometimes challenging to justify economically, especially with regards to resiliency. SEPA partnered with NREL and DOE to bring you a guide to help you navigate the opportunities and challenges of microgrids.


Key takeaways from the report include:

  • What is a Microgrid? How you define it matters.​​​​​
  • Accounting for the value of resiliency.​​​​
  • The role of utilities in microgrid development.
  • Insights from utilities on siting a microgrid.
  • The challenges and opportunities around the economics of microgrids.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

Student leads effort to get solar panels at Athens Drive Magnet High School, WRAL
RALEIGH, N.C. — What started as a student project has now turned into one school’s journey to reduce the use of fossil fuels through solar energy. Athens Drive Magnet High School is the first school in Wake County to have a solar array system, consisting of 12 solar panels, through NC GreenPower Solar+ Schools, a non-profit grant. Rocco Nociti, a former student, transformed his homework into a real-life application of renewable energy. Determined to get his high school using renewable energy, he applied for the grant.

GREENBIZ INTERVIEW

Bill McDonough at 70: A look back … and ahead, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

Architect, designer and author William McDonough is well-known to many in sustainability — as a pioneer in green building; as the erstwhile “green dean” of architecture; as co-author of the seminal 2002 book “Cradle to Cradle”; as a designer of breakthrough buildings and materials; as a deep thinker about how design relates to a healthy and abundant future; and as an enthusiastic framer of the concepts and language that have become part of the sustainability lexicon.

On the occasion of his 70th birthday this month, I caught up with McDonough to discuss his journey and some seminal moments in his life and career, and how they influenced his work. And to take a peek into where he may be headed next.

Cradle to Cradle Institute

Public hearing on Legislative Bill 424 scheduled for this Friday

LB424 – Provide and change zoning requirements for wind energy generation projects

The Legislature’s Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee will hold a public hearing on LB 424 this Friday, February 26th at 1:30 pm in Room 1507 of the State Capitol. Introduced by Senator Tom Brewer of Gordon, the measure would limit wind farms to counties that have passed zoning regulations to govern them. 

Introducer’s Statement of Intent (PDF)
The intent of LB 424 is to increase the voice local citizens have in the process counties use to authorize the construction of industrial wind energy projects in their county. Requiring counties to have zoning that addresses the three big concerns citizens have about wind energy creates a number of opportunities for citizen concerns to be heard in a public hearing. The aim of this is to help reduce the growing citizen anger over being forced to be neighbors to these massive facilities. 

Find a link to submit comments onlline on LB 424 here.

Nebraska Legislature’s Resources for Testifiers

The Nebraska Legislature’s Written Position Letter Policy for Public Hearings
If you are not testifying in person on a bill and would like to submit a written position letter to be included in the official hearing record as an exhibit, the letter must be delivered to the office of the committee chair (or emailed to the committee chair) of the committee conducting the hearing on the bill by 5:00 p.m. on the last work day prior to the public hearing.

Additionally, the letter must include your name and address, state a position of for, against, or neutral on the bill in question and include a request for the letter to be included as part of the public hearing record. 

Government, Military and Veterans Affairs Committee Members

Sen. Tom Brewer, Chairperson tbrewer@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Carol Blood  cblood@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Steve Halloran shalloran@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Matt Hansen mhansen@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Megan Hunt mhunt@leg.ne.gov
Sen. John Lowe jlowe@leg.ne.gov
Sen. John McCollister jmccollister@leg.ne.gov
Sen. Rita Sanders rsanders@leg.ne.gov

‘The Grid’ Author On How Texas Crisis Highlights A Fragile U.S. Infrastructure

NPR’s Michel Martin Interviews Professor Gretchen Bakke.


The storm in Texas highlights just how fragile U.S. infrastructure can be, and so you might wonder if this problem extends beyond Texas. It does. In their most recent report card, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the U.S. energy infrastructure a D-plus, stating, quote, “without greater attention to aging equipment, capacity bottlenecks and increased demand, as well as increasing storm and climate impacts, Americans will likely experience longer and more frequent power interruptions,” unquote.

We wanted to learn more about this, so we called Gretchen Bakke. She is the author of “The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans And Our Energy Future,” which examines the history of electrical power and its current challenges. When we spoke earlier today, she explained the problems in Texas are partly due to its independence from the U.S. power grid.

Read the text of this “All Things Considered” interview or listen to it here.

 


The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future

 

 

Additional Recommended Reading 

About Americans for a Clean Energy Grid
Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG) is the only non-profit broad-based public interest advocacy coalition focused on the need to expand, integrate, and modernize the North American high-voltage grid. Sponsors and supporters of the Americans for a Clean Energy Grid coalition are broadly supportive of ACEG’s mission and vision. 

Included in The Biden Plan: Rebuild Our Infrastructure for a Sustainable Economy
The order catalyzes the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, engineering and the skilled-trades by directing steps to ensure that every federal infrastructure investment reduces climate pollution and that steps are taken to accelerate clean energy and transmission projects under federal siting and permitting processes in an environmentally sustainable manner.

GEOTHERMAL NEWS

Dandelion Raises $30M to Scale Up Home Geothermal Energy, Greentech Media
There’s a lot of energy underneath homes — if reasonably priced technology can be scaled up to tap its potential. A U.S. Department of Energy study indicates that geothermal heat pumps, which capture the steady temperatures of underground air to heat homes in winter and cool them in summer, could cost-effectively replace fossil-fuel- and electric-powered heating and air conditioning in up to 28 million homes.

Geothermal Technologies Office, U.S. Department of Energy

ENVIRONMENTAL ENTREPRENEURS REGENERATIVE AG REPORT

Healthy Soils and the Climate Connection: A Path to Economic Recovery on America’s Farms
 provides a roadmap for how climate-smart agriculture policies could provide profit boosts for farmers and climate wins for advocates.

Most initiatives to fight climate change today focus on reducing fossil fuel emissions from electricity generation, transportation, and buildings. But to avoid the worst impacts of climate change we must also significantly reduce the atmospheric carbon that has already been emitted. While efforts are underway to develop new and high tech mechanisms to accomplish this, there is an immediately available and economically viable pathway for atmospheric carbon removal—one that provides a compelling new value proposition for farmers to revitalize their soils and get paid for doing it.


E2 (Environmental Entrepreneurs) is a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors, and professionals from every sector of the economy who advocate for smart policies that are good for the economy and good for the environment. Our members have founded or funded more than 2,500 companies, created more than 600,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.

Ag Leaders Unite Around Racial Equity and Climate Progress

By David Wallinga, MD and Allison Johnson,
Natural Resources Defense Council

Leaders in the Senate and House Agriculture Committees sent a clear message last week: they are committed to righting racist policies that have denied farmers of color their lands and a farming livelihood, and to ensuring as well that small, diversified farms have the tools they need to survive, now and into the future. Continue reading here.

Previously Posted: Biden to Engage Farmers & Build Climate Resilience, by Allison Johnson and Claire O’Connor, NRDC

NRDC’s Regenerative Agriculture Series

Regenerative Agriculture Part 4: The Benefits, by Arohi Sharma, Lara Bryant, Ellen Lee, Claire O’Connor

This is the last installment of our regenerative agriculture blog series. The first blog introduced the philosophy of regenerative agriculture, the second blog covered its principles, the third blog delved into regenerative practices, and this one describes the benefits of regenerative agriculture.

Additional Recommended Reading 

What Biden’s Climate Plan Means For Regenerative Ag, Rodale Institute

Buyer’s Guides

Books 

Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, by Leah Penniman

In 1920, 14 percent of all land-owning US farmers were black. Today less than 2 percent of farms are controlled by black people—a loss of over 14 million acres and the result of discrimination and dispossession. While farm management is among the whitest of professions, farm labor is predominantly brown and exploited, and people of color disproportionately live in “food apartheid” neighborhoods and suffer from diet-related illness. The system is built on stolen land and stolen labor and needs a redesign.

Farming While Black is the first comprehensive “how to” guide for aspiring African-heritage growers to reclaim their dignity as agriculturists and for all farmers to understand the distinct, technical contributions of African-heritage people to sustainable agriculture. At Soul Fire Farm, author Leah Penniman co-created the Black and Latinx Farmers Immersion (BLFI) program as a container for new farmers to share growing skills in a culturally relevant and supportive environment led by people of color. Farming While Black organizes and expands upon the curriculum of the BLFI to provide readers with a concise guide to all aspects of small-scale farming, from business planning to preserving the harvest. – Chelsea Green Publishing

Dirt to Soil: One Family’s Journey into Regenerative Farming, by Gabe Brown

Gabe Brown didn’t set out to change the world when he first started working alongside his father-in-law on the family farm in North Dakota. But as a series of weather-related crop disasters put Brown and his wife, Shelly, in desperate financial straits, they started making bold changes to their farm. Brown—in an effort to simply survive—began experimenting with new practices he’d learned about from reading and talking with innovative researchers and ranchers. As he and his family struggled to keep the farm viable, they found themselves on an amazing journey into a new type of farming: regenerative agriculture. – Chelsea Green Publishing.

See Gabe Brown in the documentary, Kiss the Ground. 

The Truth About Texas: Thermal Power Plant Failures are the Blackout Culprits

By Heather Zichal, Chief Executive Officer,
American Clean Power Association

Texas has suffered this week, but crisis reveals character. Record cold weather brought this state to the brink, but never brought Texas to its knees. Neighbors have come together to help neighbors, and everyone from front line responders to the engineers and experts who manage electricity production have worked around the clock to restore power. That’s the real Texas.

But even amid an all-hands-on-deck crisis, some seized the political opportunity to deceive and distort. The critics of clean power – those who attack it in rain, snow, or sun – started spinning a dangerous fiction to promote an agenda that has nothing to do with restoring power to Texas communities. The facts of how Texas got here are not in dispute. Continue reading here.

World leaders applaud US formal return to Paris climate pact

By Seth Borenstein, Associated Press

The United States is back in the Paris climate accord, just 107 days after it left. While Friday’s return is heavily symbolic, world leaders say they expect America to prove its seriousness after four years of being pretty much absent. They are especially anticipating an announcement from the U.S. in coming months on its goal for cutting emissions of heat-trapping gases by 2030.

The U.S. return to the Paris agreement became official Friday, almost a month after President Joe Biden told the United Nations that America wants back in. “A cry for survival comes from the planet itself,” Biden said in his inaugural address. “A cry that can’t be any more desperate or any more clear now.” Continue reading here.

Recent Releases & Statements From The White House Briefing Room

Texas Power Crisis: No Energy Source Alone Is to Blame and There Is No One Answer

By Sean Gallagher, Vice President of State & Regulatory Affairs,
Solar Energy Industries Association

A lot is being said, written and tweeted about the power outages in Texas. Much of it is not constructive and some is fundamentally dishonest. The hot takes and political analysis that are divorced from reality do nothing to help the millions of people who are without power in freezing conditions, nor are they constructive ways of stopping future outages.

While regulators are trying to restore power, and are making initial assessments of what happened, it is clear that solar plus storage can bring needed power to homes and businesses, emergency facilities such as hospitals and fire departments, and whole communities. Here is one example: Continue reading here.

Explore SEIA’s Initiatives & Advocacy Here.