Tag Archives: Climate Action 100+

MISO: majority of coal is self-committed, 12% was uneconomic over 3 year period

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive 

The majority of coal-fired power in the ​Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) was self-scheduled and 12% was dispatched uneconomically from 2017 to 2019, according to an April analysis from the grid operator. MISO’s numbers largely support assertions made by the Union of Concerned Scientists and other advocacy groups, which have found that “bad actors” are running their coal plants uneconomically, and costing ratepayers billions of dollars, Joe Daniel, senior energy analyst at UCS told Utility Dive. Read more here.

Previously Posted

MORE UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS BLOG POSTS 

ESG LEADERSHIP

  • COVID-19, climate and the front line, by Shana Rappaport, GreenBiz
    This is a pivotal moment for corporate leaders as much as it is for political ones: to recognize frontline workers as “essential” and also to invest in them. Indeed, the health and resilience of your company’s workforce, and the broader communities you serve, are inextricably linked with the health and resilience of your business and the economy overall. Wall Street is beginning to get this. Look for major investment firms increasingly factoring pandemic preparedness and worker well-being into their ESG calculations. Of the numerous systemic failures the pandemic has laid bare, perhaps the most immoral are the interrelated crises of wealth inequality, racism and environmental degradation.
  • Public Interest Groups Unite To Form Duke Energy Watchdog, Environmental Working Group

Previously Posted

In a March article, After the age of contagion, what’s the ‘new normal’?Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor of the GreenBiz Group, spells out the massive benefits of America’s transition to a green economy, with clean and renewable energy, regenerative farming, climate action, carbon reduction and other opportunities at its core:

We at GreenBiz have reported on a spate of studies and plans that similarly align sustainability with large-scale economic development: the circular economy (a $2 trillion opportunity), carbon tech (a trillion-dollar opportunity), sustainable food and land systems ($4.5 trillion) low-carbon cities ($24 trillion), climate action ($26 trillion) and more. As I noted last fall, trillion is the new billion. And then there’s the Green New Deal, a concept that seems to have been rekindled in the age of contagion. 

BIG OIL & GAS COMPANIES IN THE NEWS

Legislation aims to block fossil fuel companies from receiving coronavirus aid, The Hill
A group of more than 40 lawmakers is backing legislation to prevent fossil fuel companies from receiving coronavirus-related aid. The sweeping Resources for Workforce Investments, Not Drilling (ReWIND) Act aims to prevent fossil fuel companies from receiving loans provided for under previous coronavirus aid packages and prevent the Trump administration from helping the companies in other ways. 

Previously PostedUnited States Spend Ten Times More On Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Education, Forbes

ASES VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

The American Solar Energy Society announces virtual conference June 24-25, Solar Power World
Originally set in Washington D.C., participants will now be joining virtually and engaging in important discussions on policy, technological advances, finance, storage, grid interconnectivity, community solar, education and more. Learn more and register by May 29 for the Early Bird discount at ases.org/conference. The full conference schedule with speakers, sessions and moderators can be found online at ases.org/conference/schedule.

FEATURED BOOK FOR D0-IT-YOURSELFERS

DIY Solar Power: How To Power Everything From The Sun
By Micah Toll

This book teaches you everything you need to know about custom solar powered systems and creations. Learn about topics from small scale solar powered projects like portable phone chargers all the way up to large off-grid and grid-tied home solar power systems, and even mobile solar power for RVs and other vehicles and boats. – Amazon

ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES

Southern Illinois school district awaiting electric buses: ‘We’re really ready’, by Audrey Henderson, Energy News Network. The Triad school district, just outside the St. Louis suburbs, hopes to replace half of its diesel fleet over 15 years. 

As Xcel moves toward coal-free, will natural gas remain part of energy mix?

By Kirsti Marohn, Minnesota Public Radio

“We’re concerned that natural gas plants that are being built today are very likely to be too expensive to make sense to operate before they’re even paid off,” said Annie Levenson-Falk, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board of Minnesota, which advocates on behalf of electric ratepayers. Levenson-Falk pointed to a recent report from the nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute that found that 90 percent of the gas plants being built today will be uneconomical by 2035 — around the time Xcel’s proposed Becker plant would likely be in operation. The company’s plans say it would build the new natural gas plant in the mid-2020s. Read more here.

NON-WIRES ALTERNATIVES

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

GLOBAL DIVESTMENT / REINVESTMENT 

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Photo Credit: Xcel Energy

Opinion: Investment in Missouri lowers electricity bills and creates jobs for residents

Contributed by Lee Barker, The Missouri Times

Missourians do not like living paycheck to paycheck paying high utility bills and soon many won’t have to. The Grain Belt Express Transmission Line will lower the cost of utility bills to dozens of communities throughout the state. When built, the Grain Belt Express will deliver low-cost wind and solar power from Kansas to Missouri, Illinois, and Indiana. In Missouri, the line will span eight counties delivering at least 500 megawatts of low-cost energy (and probably much more). Read more here.

Lee Barker is the former city administrator for Higginsville, Missouri.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

In an American Wind Energy Association session moderated by Dave Price, political director of WHO-TV and carried live by Politico, the panelists said they hope to see Iowa’s already strong wind industry — one of the largest in the nation — double or triple its size in the next couple of decades.

SOLAR WITH JUSTICE REPORT

The sun shines for all: Community solar for low-income populations, by Meena Dayak, American Public Power Association. The Solar with Justice report from the Clean Energy States Alliance notes that participation in the solar economy can help ease the disproportionate social and economic burdens that low- to moderate-income households bear by helping to reduce electricity bills, provide jobs, and build sustainable communities. “Solar can also make decision-making more democratic by giving residents of under-resourced communities more control over their energy choices,” the report states.

ENERGY STORAGE

LOCAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

Look Locally For Solutions to Climate Crisis, Guest Column, Hibbing Daily Tribune
Recently we had the chance to visit a factory producing solar panels, and to hear about grassroots clean energy projects popping up all over northeastern Minnesota. The “we” was a group of about two dozen people from Duluth and the Iron Range. We were participating in an event on January 7 called Let There Be Light: Solar Initiatives Close to Home. 

WISCONSIN’S SOLAR SCHOOLS PROGRAM

Wisconsin Schools Asked To Plan For Solar Projects, Wisconsin Public Radio
The Solar on Schools program is asking K-12 schools in Wisconsin to consider installing solar panels as part of their energy mix. The program wants to attract 100 schools in the next four years to install the renewable energy source. The program is a joint venture between the Coulliard Solar Foundation in Deerfield and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association based in Custer. 

CARBON-NEUTRAL CAMPUS CELEBRATES ACHIEVEMENT

Colorado College achieves decade-long goal of carbon neutrality, The Gazette
In 2007, Colorado College sophomore David Amster-Olszewski circulated a petition that 70% of the school’s 2,000 students signed in 10 days, calling for the campus to commit to reaching carbon neutrality. Two years later, the campus set 2020 as the date to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from certain campus operations and use renewable energy sources. On Jan. 24, the college celebrated the realization of that goal.

SAVING ENERGY & MONEY

Alliant Energy study uses artificial intelligence to hunt down phantom power, target waste, Wisconsin State Journal. A 2015 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) estimated nearly a quarter of all household electricity use in the United States is consumed by appliances and other equipment in standby mode. Over the course of a year, that can add up to more than $300 worth of electricity for the average Wisconsin household and the equivalent output of 50 large power plants. Using off-the-shelf Sense home monitoring devices powered by artificial intelligence, the Madison-based utility and the consulting firm Cadmus determined most customers can cut their overall use by 9% just by tracking down and eliminating some of this phantom load.

ELECTRIC & SELF-DRIVING CARS

GM commits to $2.2 billion investment and 2,200 jobs at Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly, Detroit Free Press. The automaker said Monday the plant will provide 2,200 jobs as it shifts to become the company’s first all-electric vehicle plant. Detroit-Hamtramck will start production of an all-electric pickup in late 2021, then build the Cruise Origin, an all-electric self-driving car.

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PROCUREMENT

EIA projects US solar power market to install 24 GW in 2020, blowing away prior records

By John Weaver, PV Magazine

The US Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) is projecting that 13.4 GWac of utility scale solar power, and 5.1 GWac of small solar power will be installed in the U.S. in 2020 — a 95% increase over 2019. The massive growth projected isn’t limited to just utility-scale. The EIA projections see small-scale solar growing from 3.6 GWac deployed in 2019 by 38% to just over 5 GWac installed. This growth is mostly driven by the residential market, but also by the commercial market, which is expected to grow again after contracting in 2019. Read more here.

Wind + solar expected to add 61 GW over next two years: EIA, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

How Much Power is 1 Gigawatt?, U.S. Department of Energy

SUSTAINABLE INVESTING

BlackRock Sends Huge Warning Shot at Companies Ignoring Climate Risk, Greentech Media
In a move that will resound across the world of energy investing, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, this week warned of a “fundamental reshaping of finance” as the impacts of climate change become better understood. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said in an open letter that his company will end support for thermal coal, screen fossil fuel investments more closely, and redesign its own investment approach to put sustainability at its core. 

BlackRock joins Climate Action 100+ to ensure largest corporate emitters act on climate crisis, Climate Action 100+ News Release. With the addition of the world’s largest asset manager, with more than $6.8 trillion USD in assets under management, Climate Action 100+ continues to grow in size and influence. BlackRock joins more than 370 global investors already participating in the initiative. The addition of funds it manages, brings total assets under management represented by investors participating in Climate Action 100+ to more than $41 trillion.

TRIBAL SOLAR

Tribal Leaders Hope Large South Dakota Solar Project Becomes Model for Others, Native News Online
On the western edge of the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, tribal officials hope a major solar energy project will help tap into the vast potential of renewable energy projects on tribal land across the U.S. The planned Lookout Solar Park project — which could exceed $200 million and add up to 140 megawatts to the state’s paltry solar energy portfolio — would be the largest of its kind in the state.

Previously Posted: Nebraska tribe becomes a solar power leader on the Plainsby Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

TRI-STATE

Westminster-based utility Tri-State says it will be 50% renewable by 2024, Denver Post
Calling it transformative, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association released a plan Wednesday to boost its renewable energy sources to 50% by 2024 and cut greenhouse-gas emissions by 90% by 2030 from Colorado facilities it owns or operates. The announcement of the utility’s “Responsible Energy Plan” follows news last week that it will close its coal plants and a coal mine in New Mexico and Colorado earlier than anticipated.

Tri-State Association members are located in four states: Colorado, Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nebraska.

SOLAR FAQ

How Well Do Solar Panels Work In The Snow?, WCCO / CBS Minnesota
According to Dan Thiede with the UMN Extension’s Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships, panels can produce a little power with a light coating of snow because some light is able to come through. But, when the snow is thick and heavy, the panels cannot produce. Once the snow is removed, they will produce again

WILDLIFE & WIND ENERGY

Migratory birds and wind energy: Looking at reality, by Michael Speerschneider, Into the Wind, AWEA Blog. Last week, several House lawmakers introduced a bill that would reform the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). The ensuing debate sure to arise provides an excellent opportunity to lay some facts on the table about wind energy’s wholistic impact on birds.

EV INDUSTRY NEWS

Creighton University president rejects student recommendation to divest from fossil fuels

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Creighton University will not divest from fossil fuels, as the Jesuit school’s administration declined to act on a non-binding referendum supported by 86% of the student body. While declining to divest, [President Daniel] Hendrickson announced he has asked the investment subcommittee of the university’s board of trustees to evaluate and consider investments in companies developing alternative energy sources and technologies aimed at reducing carbon emissions. He added Creighton will continue to use its shareholder position to push for carbon-reduction resolutions, and will seek out partnerships with groups like the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility and the national Jesuit Committee on Investment Responsibility.
Read more here.

Links

Photo by Creighton University student Emily Burke: Hundreds of Creighton University students demonstrate outside St. John’s Church on the Omaha, Nebraska campus in April pressing the Jesuit school to take increased action on climate change, including divesting its endowment from fossil fuels.

Additional Resources

As You Sow
Our mission is to promote 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.
Resources Include: 

As You Sow has six Invest Your Values online tools, including Fossil Free Funds, which provide a searchable database for each value.
Resources on Climate Change

Billion Dollar Green Challenge
The Billion Dollar Green Challenge (The Challenge) encourages colleges, universities, and other nonprofit institutions to invest a combined total of one billion dollars in self-managed revolving funds that finance energy efficiency improvements. Participating institutions will achieve reductions in operating expenses and greenhouse gas emissions, while creating regenerating funds for future projects. In 2011, The Sustainable Endowments Institute launched The Challenge in collaboration with 16 partner organizations to help nonprofit institutions achieve sizable energy savings through the use of green revolving funds. Green Revolving Funds: A Guide to Implementation & Management

CDP
Formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project, CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions. We believe that improving corporate awareness through measurement and disclosure is essential to the effective management of carbon and climate change risk. We request information on climate risks and low carbon opportunities from the world’s largest companies on behalf of over 525 institutional investor signatories with a combined US$96 trillion in assets. 

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. Our mission: Ceres is transforming the economy to build a sustainable future for people and the planet.
Initiatives include: Commit to Climate, We Are Still In, Climate Action 100+ and Clean Trillion
Global Initiative: 
Ceres Investor Network on Climate Risk and Sustainability

Coalition for Green Capital 
The Coalition for Green Capital’s mission is to drive greater clean energy investment into existing and new markets, in the United States and in developing countries with the goal of creating a 100% clean energy platform. To realize this opportunity, CGC incubates local clean energy finance organizations – often called Green Banks – and structures public, private and mission-driven capital for investment through those organizations. A large network of local clean energy finance organizations can access hard-to-reach projects, expand clean energy equity, and provide a scalable model for a thriving network for clean energy investment.

Proxy Preview
The annual Proxy Preview report is the #1 resource for shareholders looking to align their values with their investments. Proxy Preview is a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investment Institute, and Proxy Impact. Proxy Preview provides the most comprehensive data on hundreds of shareholder resolutions – including environmental, corporate political spending, human rights, diversity, sustainable governance issues, and much more. Shareholder resolutions are a key form of engagement for U.S. investors interested in changing the environmental and social impacts of companies. Register for a free account to view the 2019 Proxy Preview report and watch a webinar at the website link above.
Shareholder Resources
Proxy Voting 101

Responsible Endowments Coalition
The Responsible Endowments Coalition works to build and unify the college and university-based responsible investment movement, both by educating and empowering a diverse network of individuals to act on their campuses, and by fostering a national network for collective action. We empower people to defend human rights and the environment while making both corporations and universities accountable to global stakeholders. Our goal is to foster social and environmental change by making responsible investment common practice amongst colleges and universities, and to support the next generation of activists for the endowment movement. Resources are available for: Students / Alumni / Committees, Administrators and Trustees. 

Second Nature
Since 1993, Second Nature has worked with over 4,000 faculty and administrators at hundreds of colleges and universities to help make the principles of sustainability fundamental to every aspect of higher education. In late 2006, twelve visionary college and university presidents initiated the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment (ACUPCC). They were motivated by their conviction that higher education had the capacity and responsibility to lead on climate and sustainability action for the sake of their students and society.
See: The Presidents’ Climate Leadership Commitments
Additional Initiatives Include:
Carbon Offset Resources for Colleges and Universities
University Climate Change Coalition (UC3)
Resource Library

Sustainable Endowments Institute
The Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI) conducts research, education, and outreach to advance resilient institutional responses to climate change. Initiatives Include:

  • The Billion Dollar Green Challenge (See above).
  • GRITS, an online platform designed to streamline the tracking and calculation of project-level energy, financial, and carbon savings data for all sustainability projects and efficiency improvements.
  • The Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign: Since June of 2011, SEI has acted as a campus and endowment consultant for the Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign, working with student groups and partner organizations to advocate for colleges and universities to divest their endowment funds from fossil fuel companies. For more information on the campaign, visit: Power Shift Network and GoFossilFree.org.

Additional Recommended Reading

Morgan Stanley Institute For Sustainable Investing’s Recent Study & Survey
Sustainable Reality: Analyzing Risk and Returns of Sustainable Funds
Morgan Stanley Survey Finds Investor Enthusiasm for Sustainable Investing at an All-Time High

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

Pace and Scale: Investor leadership at the Global Climate Action Summit and beyond

Written by Mindy Lubber, Forbes

Mindy Lubber is CEO and president of Ceres. Ceres is a sustainability nonprofit organization working with the most influential investors and companies to build leadership and drive solutions throughout the economy.

This week at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco, we, along with our partners across the globe, are showcasing one of the largest-ever displays of investor action, with nearly 400 investors with $32 trillion in collective assets under management taking action in line with what we call the The Investor Agenda. Read more here. 

SEE ALSO: Climate Action 100+

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Declining Costs and Technology Are Powering Renewable Energy Demand According to New Deloitte Report, PR Newswire