Tag Archives: climate change

Biden Revives ‘Clean Energy’ Program With $1B Loan Guarantee

By Matthew Daly, Associated Press
U.S. News & World Report

The Energy Department said it would guarantee up to $1 billion in loans to help a Nebraska company scale up production of “clean” hydrogen to convert natural gas into commercial products used in manufacturing and agriculture.

The revived loan program is part of President Joe Biden’s efforts to slash planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, amid legislative gridlock that has stalled a $2 trillion package of social and environmental initiatives. It’s among the tools he can use without new legislation. Read more here.

Research paper Daly references in the article, published by Energy Science & Engineering:
How green is blue hydrogen?,
by Robert W. Howarth and Mark Z. Jacobson


Loan Programs Office (LPO)
LPO has more than $40 billion in loans and loan guarantees available to help deploy large-scale energy infrastructure projects in the United States. Over the past decade, LPO has closed more than $30 billion of deals across a variety of energy sectors.


Previously Posted

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY’S HYDROGEN SHOT

The Department of Energy’s first Energy Earthshot, launched June 7, 2021—Hydrogen Shot—seeks to reduce the cost of clean hydrogen by 80% to $1 per 1 kilogram in 1 decade.

The Hydrogen Shot establishes a framework and foundation for clean hydrogen deployment in the American Jobs Plan, which includes support for demonstration projects. Industries are beginning to implement clean hydrogen to reduce emissions, yet many hurdles remain to deploying it at scale.

Achieving the Hydrogen Shot’s 80% cost reduction goal can unlock new markets for hydrogen, including steel manufacturing, clean ammonia, energy storage, and heavy-duty trucks. This would create more clean energy jobs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and position America to compete in the clean energy market on a global scale. These efforts would ensure that environmental protection and benefits for local communities are a priority.

GREEN HYDROGEN NEWS

Here’s why one solar industry veteran is betting big on clean hydrogen, CNBC


Raffi Garabedian
 spent a dozen years developing solar panel technology at First Solar, a photovoltaics company that currently has a market value around $8 billion. The technologist then went on to co-found clean hydrogen start-up Electric Hydrogen, which he’s currently building out as its CEO.

USDA Launches Pilot Program to Deploy Renewable Energy Infrastructure to People in Rural Towns

USDA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C., Jan. 19, 2022 – U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack today announced that the Department is making up to $10 million available to help people living in rural towns develop community renewable energy projects that will help them cut their energy costs and contribute to the nationwide effort to reduce pollution that contributes to climate change. These funds will be targeted to help people who live in communities that have been historically underinvested and disinvested.

USDA is making the funds available through the new Rural Energy Pilot Program to help the people of rural America build back better, stronger and more equitably than ever before. Through this program, USDA is supporting the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to making environmental justice a part of every agency’s mission to address the disproportionate health, environmental, economic and climate impacts on disadvantaged communities. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack Highlights Key Work in 2021 to Combat Climate Change, USDA News Release, January 18, 2022

“Climate change threatens our food security, safety, and the environment we all depend on, but USDA is taking action to respond,” said Vilsack. “Working closely alongside our partners and those we serve, we are conserving precious natural resources, supporting climate smart forestry and agriculture, helping agricultural producers make their operations more climate friendly and resilient to climate change, and protecting communities from wildfire.”

USDA Resource: Climate Solutions

Omaha utility and environmentalists agree on the path to net-zero — but not the timeline

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The Omaha Public Power District and the Sierra Club, often at odds over energy issues, have found some important common ground: The utility can achieve its goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 at minimal additional cost — or even slightly reduced cost — to customers. 

The utility and environmental group both recently made public the results of computer modeling by consultants to determine how the utility could meet its net-zero goal while minimizing impacts on reliability, resiliency, and affordability. Continue reading here.

Photo: Omaha Public Power District’s Nebraska City Station. Credit: Ammodramus / Creative Commons

Additional Recommended Reading

American Public Power Association: The Need for Direct Payment Of Refundable Tax Credits for Public Power 

Tax-exempt entities, including public power utilities, cannot directly benefit from either the ITC or PTC for a facility that they own. Some entities with little to no tax liability do jointly own qualifying facilities with a “tax equity” partner whose sole role is to monetize an ITC or PTC. However, a public power utility cannot feasibly enter this sort of “partnership flip” transaction.  Public power utilities can indirectly benefit from such credits by entering long-term power-purchase agreements with taxable entities that can claim these credits. However, the transactional costs of such agreements can be high. Additionally, only a portion of the value of the tax credit is generally considered to be passed on to the purchaser, thus muting the incentive effect.

These costs and limitations are problematic in that tax-exempt entities serve a substantial percentage of the nation’s retail electric customers (14.4 percent by public power and 13.0 percent by rural electric cooperatives). Additionally, omitting tax-exempt entities from energy-related tax incentives makes it more costly for public power utilities to make investments in renewable and other non-emitting resources and clean energy technologies that will be needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to address climate change. This is a significant shortcoming if Congress is seeking market-wide changes in energy-related investment and production decisions.

Omaha metro area will draft climate action plan

By Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

When the plan is in place, Omaha will join several hundred other cities in the U.S. with strategies for confronting climate change. Lincoln, the Kansas City metropolitan area and the Twin Cities already have plans. Des Moines is developing one. The Nebraska Legislature has rejected calls for a statewide plan. Asked “why now?” Mayor Jean Stothert said in an email to The World-Herald that the time is right to take advantage of local efforts. “Omaha has been implementing sustainability measures for some time now without the need for a formal plan,” she wrote. Read more here.

Bees, sheep, crops: Solar developers tout multiple benefits

By John Flesher and Tammy Webber, Associated Press, ABC News

MONTICELLO, Minnesota — Silflower was among native plants that blanketed the vast North American prairie until settlers developed farms and cities. Nowadays confined largely to roadsides and ditches, the long-stemmed cousin of the sunflower may be poised for a comeback, thanks to solar energy.

Researchers are growing silflower at nine solar installations in the Minneapolis area, testing its potential as an oilseed crop. The deep-rooted perennial also offers forage for livestock and desperately needed habitat for bees, butterflies and hummingbirds. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Fresh Energy

MORE MIDWEST NEWS & COMMENTARY

AMERICAN PUBLIC POWER ASSOCIATION POSTS

PV MAGAZINE

CLIMATE CHANGE IN WYOMING & THE STATE’S ECONOMY

Wyoming climate data holds ominous clues about life, economy, by Dustin Bleizeffer, Energy News Network

This story is part of a WyoFile series examining climate change and what it means for the quality of life in Wyoming. It is supported by the MIT Environmental Solutions Initiative’s journalism fellowship program. Read about Wyoming climate trends here, and read about a Wyoming coal community in transition here.

WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.

IN NEBRASKA

Do you know how many tons of coal Nebraska imports from Wyoming annually? See Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) 2019 Data / February 1, 2021 Update here.

 FROM FARM PROGRESS

According to a fact sheet released by the House Agriculture Committee, the Build Back Better Budget Reconciliation bill will make timely investments that will “provide resources to mitigate climate change, improve quality of life in rural communities and commit millions of dollars to agricultural education across the country.”

On June 24, the U.S. Senate adopted S. 1251, the Growing Climate Solutions Act. Co-sponsored by 54 senators, including Nebraska’s Sen. Deb Fischer, S. 1251 seeks to make it easier for farmers and ranchers to participate in voluntary carbon credit markets, and to get a fair share of the carbon credit revenue they generate. If adopted by the U.S. House of Representatives and signed by the president, S. 1251 would go a long way in facilitating effective producer participation in U.S. carbon markets. 

FACT SHEET: Biden Administration Roadmap to Build an Economy Resilient to Climate Change Impacts

The White House, October 15, 2021

Agency Actions Will Protect Retirement Plans, Homeowners, Consumers, Businesses and Supply Chains, Workers, and the Federal Government from Financial Risks of Climate Change

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration released a comprehensive, government-wide strategy to measure, disclose, manage and mitigate the systemic risks climate change poses to American families, businesses, and the economy – building on actions already taken by the Biden-Harris Administration including just this week: a redesigned National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate.gov site to better connect Americans to climate explainers, data dashboards, and classroom-ready teaching resources; the Department of Labor’s new proposed rule to safeguard life savings and pensions from climate risk; as well as the Federal Acquisition Council’s advanced notice of proposed rulemaking to consider greenhouse gas emissions when making procurement decisions. This year alone, extreme weather has upended the U.S. economy and affected one in three Americans. Continue reading here.

NATIONAL COMMUNITY SOLAR PARTNERSHIP PROGRAM 

DOE Targets Five Million Households Powered by Community Solar By 2025, by Peter Maloney, American Public Power Association

The Department of Energy (DOE) recently set a new target for its National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) program. The program’s new goal is to have community solar systems that can power the equivalent of five million households by 2025 and create $1 billion in energy bill savings on the way to reaching the White House’s goals of achieving 100 percent clean electricity by 2035 and ensuring that all Americans can benefit from renewable energy. The new target represents more than a 700 percent increase in community solar installations, DOE said.

To achieve its new targets, the DOE is offering free, on-demand technical assistance to NCSP partnership members. NCSP has distributed $1 million for technical assistance and said it aims to provide $2 million in the next year.

About the National Community Solar Partnership, Department of Energy

CONNECTED COMMUNITIES OF GRID-INTERACTIVE EFFICIENT BUILDINGS

DOE Invests $61 Million for Smart Buildings that Accelerate Renewable Energy Adoption and Grid Resilience, Department of Energy News Release

Ten “Connected Communities” Will Equip More than 7,000 Buildings with Smart Controls, Sensors, and Analytics to Reduce Energy Use, Costs, and Emissions

 A recent DOE study estimated that by 2030, GEBs could save up to $18 billion per year in power system costs and cut 80 million tons of carbon emissions each year. That is more than the annual emissions of 50 medium-sized coal plants or 17 million cars. DOE’s first two connected communities in Alabama and Georgia have already demonstrated this potential by using approximately 42-44% less energy than today’s average all-electric home.

PacifiCorp, owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy, is among DOE selectees:
PacifiCorp (UT) will establish a program to manage solar photovoltaic, batteries, electric vehicle charging in a diverse community of all-electric buildings and a mass transit transportation center, equipped with the latest market-leading efficient technologies to optimize their collective energy use and provide grid services at scale. (Award amount: $6.42M)

Learn more here: Connected Communities

MISSOURI’S PAY AS YOU SAVE PROGRAM

In Missouri, your utility might pay for your next big energy efficiency project, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Missouri’s largest gas and electric utilities are all forging ahead with new programs that will finance customers’ energy efficiency upgrades and in many cases even decrease their monthly bills. Evergy is the state’s latest utility to launch a Pay As You Save (PAYS) program, in which the full upfront cost of energy efficiency projects — along with their savings — are rolled into the customer’s monthly bill.

GOOGLE’S CARBON-FREE PLAN

Google’s CEO: ‘We’re Losing Time’ in the Climate Fight, Bloomberg Green

Sundar Pichai discusses the opportunities and hurdles in Google’s plan to go carbon-free, and how sustainability is on the agenda of every CEO he meets.

FERC weighs grid plan that could revolutionize clean energy

By Miranda Willson, E&E Reporter, Energywire

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is weighing an overhaul of a major rule that critics say impedes the transition to a low-carbon grid while raising electricity bills. The agency has received comments from dozens of state regulators, electric utilities, clean energy groups and private companies on whether it should remove a policy allowing states to block demand response resources from wholesale power markets. Since the rule was established in 2009, an estimated 18 states have taken advantage of the “opt-out” provision.

Supporters of opening wholesale markets nationwide to demand response say it would go a long way in boosting all types of zero-carbon resources. In general, demand response constitutes a range of energy conservation programs — including “smart” thermostats and water heaters — that reduce or shift electric load to balance the power system. That in turn can allow grid operators to rely less on carbon-spewing power plants. Read more hereScroll down to read NPPD’s comments.

See Also:

VIRTUAL POWER PLANTS

Rocky Mountain Power’s distributed battery grid management system puts Utah ‘years ahead’ of California, by Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) seeks to turn distributed solar into solar-plus-storage grid assets in Utah, announcing on Thursday a partnership between battery manufacturer sonnen and Utah contractor ES Solar to retrofit thousands of solar homes. Distributed resource planning proceedings around the country are looking to solar-plus-storage as a “really good option to replacing other types of necessary grid upgrades,” from upgrading transformers to transmission line sizes, according to Rick Gilliam, Vote Solar’s senior regional director of DER regulatory policy. 

Rocky Mountain Power is a part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s PacifiCorp.

Previously Posted: DOE teams with Xcel, Berkshire Hathaway Energy on cybersecurity program to protect clean energy, Utility Dive

CARBON DIOXIDE PIPELINES

Proposed carbon dioxide pipeline draws opposition from Iowa farmers and environmentalists alike, by Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio

At a virtual public meeting Tuesday, speakers railed against the proposal by Summit Carbon Solutions to build a sprawling 2,000 mile long pipeline, more than 700 miles of which would pass through 30 of Iowa’s 99 counties. The Iowa Chapter of the Sierra Club is gathering signatures for a petition opposing the Summit project and another pipeline proposed by Navigator CO2 Ventures. The activist group is blasting the approach of CCS as a “false solution” to climate change. The organization, like other progressive-leaning climate advocates, sees CCS [carbon capture and sequestration] as extending a lifeline to carbon-based industries, at a time when the world needs to be ending its dependence on fossil fuels in order to stave off the worst impacts of climate change.

Previously Posted: Nebraska is likely headed for another pipeline controversy — this time over carbon dioxide, by Paul Hammel, Omaha World-Herald

HEATING BILLS

Expect scorching heating bills this winter, by Carolyn Conte,  News Channel Nebraska
“Utility investments used to be the same for 10 or 20 years, but that’s not the case anymore,” [former Nebraska Director of Energy David Bracht], said, noting the creation of natural renewables energy [using energy from animal waste], solar energy; wind energy; and even battery storage. “And that’s why I’m excited about energy in Nebraska because I think we actually have opportunities in all of those areas.”

NEBRASKA LIHEAP

The LIHEAP Program provides heating assistance, cooling assistance, year round crisis assistance, emergency furnace repair and replacement, fan program and weatherization services for eligible Nebraska citizens/households. LIHEAP in Nebraska is solely funded through a federal grant (no general fund authority for aid).

Yes, 40 Percent Solar Energy for the U.S Grid by 2035 is Doable

By Tina Casey, TriplePundit

All in all, the opportunities for rapid decarbonization are falling into place. The only missing piece is political will, and that is an area in which corporate leaders can exercise a powerful influence, if they choose.

The Joe Biden administration made waves earlier this week when it indicated that solar energy could cover 40 percent of the nation’s electric power grid by 2035. It is easy to meet news like that with disbelief, considering the minuscule toehold currently enjoyed by solar energy. However, a significant new factor is now in play.

The catastrophic impacts of climate change hit the U.S. with full force this year, providing corporate leaders with a powerful incentive to lobby for a swift, aggressive transition to clean power. Settling for incremental change is not an option when floods, fires, habitat destruction, and water scarcity destroy communities and disrupt business. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Biden’s proposed tenfold increase in solar power would remake the US electricity system, by Joshua D. Rhodes, Research Associate, University of Texas at Austin. Published by The Conversation.  

Additional Recommended Reading

An Urgent Call To High-Emitting Sectors: It’s Time For Climate Action

Contributed by Mindy Lubber, Forbes 

If we want to avert the most catastrophic impacts of the climate crisis, we will need bold, broad, and immediate action. We must act now and we will need everyone to do their part — countries, policymakers and regulators, each investor, every company.

That’s why we’re launching the Ceres Ambition 2030 initiative, designed to meet the urgency of this moment. We now know that the most ambitious actions of a few companies, or even a few hundred, aren’t enough. With Ambition 2030, we are working to decarbonize entire sectors, starting with six of the highest-polluting: electric power, oil and gas, steel, food, banking and transportation. Read more here.

Mindy Lubber is CEO and president of the sustainability nonprofit Ceres and a founding member of the global steering committee for Climate Action 100+. She was the recipient of the Champions of the Earth award —the United Nations highest environmental honor — for her leadership on climate change and sustainability. Lubber was also named Barron’s 100 most influential women in U.S. finance.

Ceres Initiatives Also Include

About Ceres
Ceres is a nonprofit organization working with the most influential capital market leaders to solve the world’s greatest sustainability challenges. Through our powerful networks and global collaborations of investors, companies and nonprofits, we drive action and inspire equitable market-based and policy solutions throughout the economy to build a just and sustainable future. For more information, visit ceres.org.

MORE CLIMATE ACTION RESOURCES

As You Sow: Our mission is to promote environmental and social corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, coalition building, and innovative legal strategies.

CDP is a not-for-profit charity that runs the global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities, states and regions to manage their environmental impacts. Over the past 20 years we have created a system that has resulted in unparalleled engagement on environmental issues worldwide. Find out more about how we work.

Coalition For Green Capital (CGC) is a nonprofit with a mission to halt climate change by accelerating investment in clean energy technologies. CGC achieves this by advocating for, creating and implementing Green Bank finance institutions. Green Banks are a proven finance model that uses public and philanthropic funds to mobilize private investment in renewable energy, energy efficiency and other decarbonization technologies. For over a decade, CGC has led the Green Bank movement, working at the federal, state and local level in the U.S. and in countries around the world. By increasing investment and accelerating the construction of clean power, CGC is helping deliver a cleaner, better future.

Environmental Protection Agency: Climate Change
EPA’s climate change website is back, with more content to come. Please return as we add new information and features. Learn more about the objectives of the EPA Climate Change website. Understanding and addressing climate change is critical to EPA’s mission of protecting human health and the environment. EPA tracks and reports greenhouse gas emissions, leverages sound science, and works to reduce emissions to combat climate change.

Interfaith Center On Corporate Responsibility is a coalition of faith- and values-based investors who view shareholder engagement with corporations as a powerful catalyst for change. Our mission statement, “inspired by faith, committed to action” sets forth our pledge to be active owners, and to engage meaningfully with the companies in our portfolios through the process of shareholder engagement that we pioneered nearly 50 years ago. 

Our guiding principle as shareholders is that sustainable corporations must look beyond the next earnings report to account for the full impact of their business on society and must view the well-being of all of their stakeholders―including their workers and the communities where they operate — as integral to their long-term value.

Proxy Preview is a collaboration between three organizations: As You Sow, Sustainable Investments 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 Proxy Preview reports and watch a webinar at the website link above.

RESOURCES FOR GOVERNORS & MAYORS 

The U.S. Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The alliance represents:

  •  61% of the U.S. economy.
  •  57% of the U.S. population.
  •  43% of U.S. emissions.

Climate Mayors, founded in 2014, is a bipartisan, peer-to-peer network of more than 470 U.S. mayors demonstrating climate leadership through meaningful actions in their communities. Representing 48 states and 74 million Americans, the Climate Mayors coalition reflects U.S. cities’ commitment to climate progress. 

Iowa City awards $60K in climate action grants

By Erin Jordan, The Gazette

IOWA CITY — So many worthy causes, not enough money. That’s how Briana Hoffman, of West Branch, felt when she thought about supporting both local social service agencies and groups that fight climate change.

“I’ve always been passionate about our community, but at the same time I want to help the climate because I think our planet is in trouble,” Hoffman said. “I realized you can do both. By helping nonprofits be more energy efficient, you can actually help the planet and the nonprofit. The money they don’t spend on electricity is going back into their purpose.” Continue reading here.

MORE CLIMATE NEWS, ACTIONS & RESOURCES