Tag Archives: Environment America

Environment America releases 2020’s top solar cities

By Kelsey Misbrener, Solar Power World

Fifty top American cities have each more than doubled their total installed solar PV capacity since 2013, a new study released by Environment America Research & Policy Center found. The report, “Shining Cities 2020: The Top U.S. Cities for Solar Energy,” is the seventh annual edition of the most comprehensive survey of installed solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in major U.S. cities.

This year’s survey, which analyzed data through December 2019, found that cities are increasingly turning to solar to meet their energy needs. In 2013, the first year of the study, eight of the cities surveyed had enough solar PV per capita to qualify as “Solar Stars” — (cities with 50 or more watts of solar PV capacity installed per capita). In 2019, that number jumped to 26 cities. Read more here.

Environment America News Release: Environment America Research & Policy Center releases new comprehensive study on solar capacity in major U.S. cities

See Appendix A of the report for each of the 70 cities’ total solar PV rankings. Omaha, ranked 66th, is the only Nebraska city included in the survey.

Appendix B includes data sources:
Omaha Public Power District provided Environment America with the total capacity of solar PV systems tied to their grid within Omaha city limits as of December 31, 2019.

Additional Recommended Reading

OPPD Offers New And Improved Process And Resources For Customer-Owned Generation, OPPD News Release

More and more people are showing interest in generating their own electricity through solar panels, wind turbines, or other sources. Omaha Public Power District now has a new and improved process to help them get started. We’ve implemented a streamlined online application system, as well as resources for those considering Customer-Owned Generation, at www.oppd.com/COG. OPPD currently has 192 customers who generate their own solar energy and 22 customers who generate their own wind energy.

Nifty Fifty: Environmental activities kids can do at home

Environment America Resource

Environment America, a national network of environmental groups, has put together a collection of activities on the following topics that you and your kids can do at home:

  • Climate Change
  • Waste reduction
  • Plants
  • Waterways, parks and conservation
  • Protecting birds, bees and other wildlife
  • Healthier home and community

See the list here.

Download and save the “Nifty Fifty” here.

FREE ONLINE COURSE FOR HIGH SCHOOL STUDENTS & ADULTS

Solar Energy International offers the following free online course in English and Spanish:

RE100: Introduction To Renewable Energy
RE100 is a free course that covers the basics of renewable energy, and is a great introduction for those new to the field, those who are looking to make a career change, or those who just want to learn more about energy from the sun, wind, and water, energy efficiency, and the basics of electricity. Join the tens of thousands of individuals who have gotten their first taste of renewable energy in RE100. You won’t emerge as an expert, but you will learn a lot about the different technologies and trends, what situations are more appropriate for one type of renewable energy system versus another, and how to make a difference with your own energy consumption. This course also serves as a great introduction to SEI’s online campus.

Commentary: Virginia Clean Economy Act models a just clean energy transformation

Contributed by Maggie Clark and Rachel Smucker / Solar Energy
Industries Association, Energy News Network 

The Virginia Statehouse in Richmond.

Legislation just passed by the General Assembly, the Virginia Clean Economy Act, represents our best chance this year to ensure reliable and affordable electricity, create jobs and grow our economy, turn back the tide of climate change and put Virginia on a path toward an equitable transition to a clean energy economy.

This legislation would turn Gov. Ralph Northam’s clean energy goals into law, and chart the course for Virginia to get there. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), only about 1% of Virginia’s electricity comes from solar. This ambitious plan would require Virginia to become zero carbon by the middle of this century. The Clean Economy Act takes a major step forward on equity by directly empowering consumers with access to rooftop. It is a bold step, and it is needed now. Read more here.

Photo by Ron Cogswell / Flickr / Creative Commons

RELATED SEIA NEWS RELEASES

MORE ON VIRGINIA’S CLEAN ECONOMY ACT

  • Virginia passes historic commitment to 100 percent clean energy by 2045, Environment America News Release. Susan Rakov, Environment America’s Clean Energy Program chair, released the following statement: “In state after state and city after city, people are demanding a new approach to America’s energy future, and today Virginia’s General Assembly said, ‘We hear you!’ As a result of campaigns across the country, one out of three Americans now live in a city or state that has made a commitment to 100 percent clean and renewable energy. Environment America is proud to have played a part in those campaigns, and we look forward to the next wave. Congratulations to Virginia — it’s a great day to take a big step toward a better world.”
  • Virginia Mandates 100% Clean Power by 2045Greentech Media
    The Clean Economy Act will drive utility Dominion to procure gigawatts of solar, offshore wind and energy storage.

SUSTAINABLE BUSINESSES

SOLSMART

SolSmart program helps turn around solar permits in one day, Solar Power World
“SolSmart is mainly a solar soft cost reduction program, and it’s important, because about 64% of all solar costs come from soft costs. And these are costs associated with all the non-hardware parts of going solar. So, permitting fees, labor, zoning issues, things like that,” said Zach Greene, program director and SolSmart leader at The Solar Foundation. “By working with these local governments, by educating them, by providing them with consulting-type resources, we’re really able to help them reduce those costs at the local level and to really try to expand a local solar market.”

Previously Posted

100% BIODEGRADABLE & REGENERATIVE TIRES FOR ELECTRIC CARS

Goodyear develops self-regenerating ‘spider-silk’ tires for electric cars, BusinessGreen
Goodyear has unveiled designs for new ultra-durable tires made from biodegradable materials, which it claims can both “self-regenerate” and adapt to changing road conditions, in a move aimed at helping electric car drivers cut down on maintenance costs and waste.

Commentary: With battery technology ready, regulatory framework must catch up

By Rafael Esteban, CEO of Acciona’s energy division in the
United States and Canada, Energy News Network

The energy sector sits on the cusp of a truly transformative change: Utility-scale ready battery storage technology has arrived. As is with the case with many disruptive technologies, before reaping the benefits of energy storage — which are many — we need modernization of the regulatory framework. This work is well underway. In 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued Order 841, requiring regional energy agencies to adopt rules for energy storage.

According to the order, rules must allow energy storage to participate in the wholesale, retail and capacity markets. Then came FERC order 845, which asked for interconnection standards and clarity on how storage would participate in capacity markets. Across the nation, regional transmission organizations and independent system operators are developing plans to come into compliance with this order. Interestingly, the pitched battles at FERC around policies for fossil fuels and renewable energy have been absent from discussions about storage. Read more here.

Previously Posted 

  • ACCIONA acquires 3,000 MW in photovoltaic projects being developed in the USA, Acciona News Release, October 21, 2019. ACCIONA today announced the signature of an agreement with the [Nebraska-based] company Tenaska to acquire a portfolio of photovoltaic projects in seven states across the country.
  • ACCIONA buys solar + storage on a national scale, PV Magazine
    The Spanish company has purchased 3 GW of solar projects and 1 GW of solar + storage from developer Tenaska, with all of the projects concentrated in non-traditional solar markets.
  • The Midwest’s solar future will be unlike anything seen before, PV Magazine
    Fitch Solutions Marco Research has boldly predicted the region will be a main driver towards the 100 GW of solar power capacity expected to hit the U.S. over the next 10 years. The procurement will be led by city and utility commitments to renewable energy, the falling costs of solar and the continued expansion of popular community solar programs.

Acciona & Tenaska Job Opportunities

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

GREEN CAMPUSES

These Pa. colleges are going all in on renewable energy — with a little help from a Texas solar farm, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Four Pennsylvania schools have teamed up to support a Texas solar farm that will supply them with “virtual” renewable energy, joining a trend among institutions of higher education to address climate change. Lehigh University, Lafayette College, Muhlenberg College and Dickinson College announced the partnership Monday to collectively purchase solar power. They signed a virtual power-purchase agreement to support production from a 45.9-megawatt share of a new 200-acre solar farm that will be built at an undisclosed location [in] Texas. The schools announced the agreement at Second Nature’s 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Atlanta.

NEW INITIATIVE ADDRESSES CLIMATE CHANGE

Inside Bill Weihl’s quest to give employees and job seekers a ‘ClimateVoice’, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

ClimateVoice, launched this weekend at the ClimateCAP conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the brainchild of Bill Weihl, who led Facebook’s sustainability team until leaving the company in 2018. Prior to that, he served as Google’s “energy czar” during the early days of that company’s ambitious clean-energy push. Weihl’s new initiative is aimed at activating college students and rank-and-file employees to persuade their current or would-be employers to take a public stand on federal, state and local initiatives that address the climate crisis.

NEW ENVIRONMENT AMERICA REPORT

New report provides roadmap to achieve carbon-free transportation, Environment America News Release

A new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group describes how we can build a zero-carbon transportation future – all while cleaning our air and creating safer, healthier communities. Entitled Destination: Zero Carbon: Three strategies to transform transportation in America, the report looks at the factors underlying high transportation emissions, and proposes new policy solutions. Americans drive more than 10,000 miles a year on average, often in inefficient gas-burning vehicles. Poor public transit and unsafe conditions for walking or biking leave many Americans with few good low-carbon transportation options.

EV NEWS

Inside Clean Energy: Tesla Gets Ever So Close to 400 Miles of Range, Inside Climate News
The increased range is a step toward bringing EVs—and their contribution to combating climate change—into the mainstream.

Iowa Farmers Union takes aim at climate change

By Perry Beeman, Times-Republican

The Iowa Farmers Union has launched a farm by farm attack on climate change, hoping to persuade its members to plant crops that can help sweep heat-trapping carbon from the air. IFU President Aaron Heley Lehman said the federal government’s failure to set up a system that would allow farmers to sell pollution-fighting credits to large companies and others that emit greenhouse gases have forced the group to turn to its independent farmer-members to see if they can fight the problem at home. “Farmer policy has been to recognize climate change and to look for farmer solutions,” Lehman said. Read more here.

NATURAL CLIMATE SOLUTIONS

Trend: Companies warm to nature-based solutions, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Director, GreenBiz Group. A study led by Ohio State University found that in 75 percent of the countries assessed, it was cheaper to use plants to mitigate air pollution than using technological inventions such as smokestack scrubbers.

ENERGY STORAGE

HOME ENERGY STORAGE 

Creating Energy Independence With Solar Panels And Storage Battery Systems In The Home, contributed Forbes article by Sheri Koones, real estate expert and author of Downsize: Living Large in a Small House and six other books.

GREEN HYDROGEN

SOLAR SCHOOLS

New WI Program Aims to Boost Solar Power in Schools, WXPR
The Midwest Renewable Energy Association has announced a plan to provide grants of $20,000 each to up to 100 schools to install a solar [system] on their campus. Amanda Schienebeck, the association’s solar-program coordinator, said they hope to join the small but growing wave of states embracing this type of energy for academic structures.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA 

Statement: Vanderbilt University announces first step in transitioning its campus to 100 percent renewable energy, Environment America News Release

Renewable Energy 101: Tools to Move Your Campus to 100% Clean Energy

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Rhode Island Gov. steers state toward 100% renewable electricity by 2030

Environment America News Release

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The rapidly growing group of states looking to thwart climate change by adopting 100% renewable energy policies has a new member. Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo signed an executive order establishing the goal of meeting all of the state’s electricity needs with renewable energy by 2030. The state’s Office of Energy Resources is now tasked with creating a plan to meet the governor’s goal, and a complete analysis is expected by the end of the year. Continue reading here.

Environment America’s Goal: Convince 10 states, 50 college campuses and key cities to go 100% renewable. Learn more here.

 ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

ENERGY STORAGE

EV NEWS

ANNOUNCING NEW SMART PHONE GAME

The Expert Take: Katherine Hamilton on our energy transition

Generation 180 Interview

At Generation180, we’re working to inspire and equip individuals to get involved in the energy transition. It’s complex and it’s big. So to provide a better sense of where we’re headed, we’re providing a deeper dive into what’s happening with this transition—where are we right now, how far we’ve come, and, most importantly, where we need to go.

As part of our online Boot Camp project, we recently spoke with Katherine Hamilton, an energy expert with over 30 years of industry experience. Katherine has worked with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and is currently the chair of 38 North Solutions and former co-chair of a World Economic Forum council on advanced energy technology. Here [is] what’s on Katherine’s mind and what she sees as the role of “everyday energy leaders.” Read more here.

LINKS TO MORE INFORMATION ABOUT GENERATION 180

SUSTAINABILITY JOBS

Jobs You Can Do With a Sustainability Degree, Earth911

GREEN SCHOOLS

Iowa City schools anticipate cutting carbon emissions in half in five years, Iowa City Press-Citizen. Iowa City schools appear on track to reduce carbon emissions by more than 45% by 2030, the goalpost student climate activists have pushed for in Iowa City, according to a consultant’s report.  But the report indicated that reducing carbon emissions to a net-zero by 2050, another goal pushed for by climate activists, will require the district to take action.

REGENERATIVE FARMING & CLIMATE RESILIENCY

Black farmers embrace and implement solutions for climate resiliency, by Leah Penniman, Co-Director Soul Fire Farm, GreenBiz

Leah Penniman is a farmer, educator, soil steward and food justice activist. She is co-director and program manager of Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York, and the author of Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land.


RURAL ENERGY FOR AMERICA PROGRAM (REAP)

The Rural Energy for America Program provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

Program Status: Open
Program Information
Program Fact Sheet
Hoja Informativa del Programa en Español

NEW REPORT

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Environment America releases 2020 state legislative agenda priorities, News Release
State affiliates of Environment America, a national nonpartisan advocacy group, delivered meaningful progress on several environmental and public health issues in 2019. But given the obstacles that still exist at the federal level on those issues and more, states will have to continue to lead in 2020. Here is a roundup of the top issues and bills that Environment America’s 29 state affiliates will be working on across the country this coming year:

ELECTRIC VEHICLES

2020 will be a key year (and decade) for electric vehicles, GreenBiz
This article is adapted from GreenBiz’s weekly newsletter, Transport Weekly, running Tuesdays. Subscribe here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Amazon employees say they won’t stop pushing the company on climate change, despite fears of being fired

By Julie Bort, Business Insider

The group, which calls itself Amazon Employees for Climate Justice, issued a press release on Thursday and took to Twitter, shortly after a Washington Post report that human resources at Amazon had emailed warnings to two leaders in the group. The Washington Post is owned by Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos. Read more here.

Previously Posted: Jeff Bezos unveils sweeping plan to tackle climate change, CNBC

FEATURED OPINION

MGM Resorts CEO: What Happens in Vegas No Longer Stays in Vegas, contributed opinion by Jim Murren, Chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, Fortune. Large, successful companies have a significant impact on the lives of their employees, communities, and the world—and they have a duty to do right by each. 

MORE ON CLIMATE CHANGE RISKS & CLIMATE ACTION

NATIONAL CLIMATE BANK 

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

FEATURED CLIMATE ACTION INITIATIVES

U.S. Climate Alliance
The U.S. Climate Alliance represents 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy – an economy larger than all countries but the United States and China. The climate and clean energy policies in Alliance states have attracted billions of dollars of new investment and helped create more than 1.7 million clean energy jobs, over half the U.S. total. The Alliance is demonstrating that climate leadership and economic growth go hand-in-hand.

We Are Still In
Mayors, governors, and business leaders first began signing the We Are Still In declaration in June 2017 as a promise to world leaders that Americans would not retreat from the global pact to reduce emissions and stem the causes of climate change. The bipartisan coalition has since doubled in size, expanding to include over 3,500 representatives from all 50 states, spanning large and small businesses, mayors and governors, university presidents, faith leaders, tribal leaders, and cultural institutions. We Are Still In signatories represent a constituency of more than half of all Americans, and taken together, they represent $6.2 trillion, a bigger economy than any nation other than the U.S. or China.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Year in review: Environmental victories in states highlight 2019, Environment America News Release
Environment America and affiliates think global, act local to protect and improve the environment.

COAL ASH CLEANUP NEWS

New money: Green banks and green bonds are bringing billions to utilities for the energy transition

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Hundreds of billions of dollars in untapped new money can finance the U.S. power system’s transition away from legacy fossil assets to renewables and distributed generation. Utilities like Duke Energy and Xcel Energy have issued billions in green bonds to fund renewables development. Green banks in New York, Connecticut and other states are backing investments in distributed resources and energy efficiency. It appears much more institutional money wants in on the green opportunity. Congress is considering proposals for a National green bank, which can help propel the energy transition if it can win the acceptance that major utilities told Utility Dive it deserves. Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

MIDWEST SOLAR ADVOCACY STORIES

From green-minded business owners to political activists: an industry shift in the Midwest, Solar Power World. For many Midwest solar companies, taking on advocacy roles in an industry just getting off the ground has been a necessary responsibility. Here is a look at solar policy in three Midwest states and how local solar installers have taken matters into their own hands.

CLIMATE ACTION GOALS & PROGRESS

MORE EV NEWS

MORE INDUSTRY NEWS

  • Secretive energy startup backed by Bill Gates achieves solar breakthrough, CNN
    Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius. The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution.
  • Old dog solar panel manufacturer, Panasonic, learning new home storage tricks, PV Magazine
    Panasonic recently launched their EverVolt home energy storage system, with an AC and DC coupled unit that easily can scale up to 34 kWh and, when coupled with their HIT solar modules, can power your home indefinitely if the grid goes down.
  • Target in energy milestone — ahead of schedule, Chain Store Age
    During the past five years, Target has installed more solar systems than any other company, according to data from SEIA’s Solar Means Business report. The chain is also a four-time Energy Star Partner of the Year. 
  • Wind output to jump 37% because of climate shift — study, E&E News

FEATURED GREEN CAMPUS

Award spotlights UI’s energy efforts, Champaign/Urbana News- Gazette
Five years after it opened, the $98 million Electrical and Computer Engineering Building at the University of Illinois has been awarded “platinum” certification under the LEED environmental rating system. Designed to someday be a “net zero” energy user, the building has a $3 million rooftop solar array with 950 panels that generate renewable electricity for the building and, on sunny days, contribute to the campus-wide power grid. The building also uses power from campus solar farms.

TRACKING THE SUN REPORT

US Solar Panel Prices Continue Dropping, Solar+Storage Increasing — Tracking The Sun Report, CleanTechnica. Tracking the Sun (PDF) is an annual report from Berkeley Lab on installed solar panel prices and other trends among grid-connected, distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in the United States.

SOLINATOR VIDEO

The Midwest’s solar future will be unlike anything seen before

By Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine    

Fitch Solutions Marco Research has released a report, Midwest US Set To Experience Strong Growth In Solar Sector, which makes some very bold predictions about the future of the solar industry in America’s heartland. Chief among those bold predictions, Fitch states that it expects the region to add 100 GW of solar power capacity over the next 10 years. This astronomical, gargantuan, whichever word of scope you use to describe, prediction is supported mainly by the region’s large proposed solar project pipeline, with a total potential added capacity of a smidge under 79 GWac that are registered within the MISO, SPP and PJM generation interconnection queues – the grid operators that cover the region. Read more here.

Regional Transmission Organizations

Photo Credit: Ideal Energy in Iowa

NATIONAL NEWS

  • Decentralization is more than a dream, by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine
    The idea that rooftop solar and other distributed resources could avoid the need for new power lines isn’t theory. In its 2017-2018 transmission plan, California’s grid operator cancelled 20 new transmission projects and revised 21 more due to energy efficiency and residential solar power altering load forecasts, with a projected savings of $2.6 billion.
  • Federal policy could unlock new value from rooftop solar and home batteries, by David Thill, Energy News Network. The report describes how policy guidance from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees the wholesale markets, could open the door for more participation of aggregated distributed energy resources in the markets. Right now, customer-managed storage, and storage paired with generation like solar, are the resources developers seem most interested in aggregating for wholesale participation, said Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel at Advanced Energy Economy.
  • US Wind Industry Seeks Same Tax Incentives as Solar, by Karl-Erik Stromsta, Greentech Media
    In a strategic shift, the American wind industry has begun pressing lawmakers to extend solar’s ITC to onshore wind projects. Regardless of what happens in the battle for tax-credit extensions, the wind market is in the midst of its all-time biggest boom years. Wood Mackenzie expects the U.S. to add nearly 40 gigawatts of capacity in 2019-2021 as developers race to beat the PTC deadline.

EV NEWS

  • 6 US regions leading the way on electric buses, by contributor Jason Plautz, Smart Cities Dive
    Although electric buses can present technological and logistical hurdles for cities and school districts, advanced planning and dedicated resources can make them fit into any environment. That’s the message of a new report from the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and Environment America, which examined six U.S. cities and regions that have taken the lead on phasing out diesel buses. 
  • Electric bus fleets are the latest tool for improving air quality, contributed article by William Drier, Research Analyst, Transportation Innovations, Navigant Research. Published by GreenBiz.
    Concerns about air quality and vehicle emissions are rising globally. According to the Health Effects Institute (PDF), air pollution is one of the top-ranking risk factors for death and disability, with vehicle emissions the main contributor of outdoor pollution. Local and regional governments are increasingly focused on improving their ambient air quality.