Tag Archives: Illinois’ Clean Energy Jobs Act (CEJA)

Illinois energy bill proposes ‘green bank’ as national movement builds

By Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

Illinois would get a “green bank” to finance equity-focused clean energy investments under the latest version of the Clean Energy Jobs Act pending in the state legislature. If the proposal passes, Illinois would join more than a dozen states including Florida, New York and Connecticut that use publicly funded green banks to leverage private investment for renewables, energy efficiency and other projects, especially in communities that have been underrepresented in the clean energy economy.  The state-level proposal comes as a federal bill with bipartisan support would create a national green bank — dubbed the Clean Energy Accelerator —  that would work in tandem with state banks. Continue reading here.

Photo by Jim Bowen / Creative Commons

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FEATURED STUDY

Recognition of and response to energy poverty in the United States, Nature Energy

Abstract
A household is energy poor when they cannot meet energy needs. Despite its prevalence, the US has not formally recognized energy poverty as a problem distinct from general poverty at the federal level, which limits effective responses. In this review, the authors examine the measurement and evaluative metrics used by the two federally-funded energy programs focused on reducing high energy bills to understand how program eligibility requirements and congressional funding appropriations have shaped the national understanding and implementation of energy poverty assistance. We find that current measurement and evaluative metrics hinge on the distribution of government resources and the number of vulnerable households assisted, rather than improving household well-being and reducing overall energy poverty.

SOLAR+STORAGE GUIDE

Understanding Solar+Storage: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Solar PV and Battery Storage, Clean Energy Group Publication

The guide is informed by more than six years of experience through Clean Energy Group’s work with property owners, developers, nonprofits, and communities to advance solar+storage in underserved communities. The questions and topic areas addressed in the guide are based on feedback from nearly one hundred stakeholders who submitted questions about solar+storage.

The information presented in the guide focuses primarily on customer-sited, behind-the-meter solar+storage installations, though much of the information is relevant to other types of projects as well, including storage-only projects and front-of-the-meter solar+storage projects. It is meant to serve as a starting point to establish a foundation of knowledge and understanding for individuals and organizations beginning to explore solar+storage options for their homes, businesses, or community facilities.

A Spanish-language version of this guide is available here.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

NYC installing solar at nearly 50 public schools, other facilities, PV Magazine
The 22 MW of solar projects are expected to include some energy storage systems and help New York City and the state meet sustainability goals.

ELECTRIC MACHINES & VEHICLES

AFFORDABLE ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES 

Report: Accelerating The Transition To Electric School Buses: How schools, lawmakers, and utilities can work together to speed the transition to zero emission buses. Released by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

The vast majority of school buses in the United States run on diesel, a fossil fuel that has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and cancer. Diesel exhaust is also a greenhouse gas, which contributes to climate change.

However, there is an alternative: zero-emission battery electric school buses. The technology is here, and electric school buses are ready to roll, but the question remains: how do schools pay for them? While electric buses can save schools money over the lifespan of the bus, the initial price tag of a new electric bus can turn many schools off to the idea of electrification.

Particularly promising options are vehicle-to-grid technology and Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS) programs. By pairing them, “each electric bus could save school districts up to $130,000 per electric bus.”

Download the Report.

FEATURED LEGAL ACTION

Midwest Renewable Energy Association Files Lawsuit to Open Solar and Other Clean Energy Opportunities for Wisconsinites, Earthjustice News Release

STEVENS POINT, WI — The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin Circuit Court to remove barriers preventing Wisconsinites from accessing the benefits of local clean energy development. MREA’s filing asks the court to ensure that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) sticks to regulating monopoly utility companies and does not illegally interfere with competitive clean energy alternatives for Wisconsin families and businesses.

MREA’s lawsuit specifically challenges two unlawful policies that stifle Wisconsin’s clean energy economy. First, MREA challenges guidance documents from the PSCW that preclude financing options available in most other states where solar energy is more affordable. MREA also challenges a PSCW order that unlawfully prohibits Wisconsin homes and businesses from utilizing market incentives to reduce their power consumption during peak hours and thereby reduce power costs for everyone.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.

About The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration.Together with partners around the Midwest, we work to expand renewable energy adoption through innovative programs, renewable energy training, and educational events. MREA is a nonprofit organization.

Power from the Prairie aims to link West Coast sun with Midwest wind

By Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The missing link between California solar power and Midwest wind energy may be a 600-mile stretch from southwestern Wyoming to northwestern Iowa. A pair of energy consultants with Upper Midwest roots are promoting a $9.5 billion vision for an interstate transmission-plus-storage project aimed at connecting two long-separated regional electricity grids.

Rob Schulte and Fred Fletcher believe their Power from the Prairie concept would produce massive benefits for utilities, customers and the country’s clean energy transition, enabling variable wind and solar resources from multiple regions to backfill and balance each other out on the grid. Continue reading here.

About the Interconnection Seams Study Karen Uhlenhuth references: How a Plan to Save the Power System Disappeared, The Atlantic and Investigate West

Photo Credit: Dori / Wikimedia Commons

Also published today by Energy News Network:
‘Dark money’ group raises fears in Illinois energy negotiations, by Kari Lydersen
A mysterious group has spent more than a quarter million dollars promoting a vague agenda that’s critical of Illinois utilities’ clean energy transitions.

Illinois legislation promises a renewable energy revolution. But who would pay?

By Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

The competing bills come from different constituencies. The Clean Energy Jobs Act, or CEJA, is largely backed by environmental and community groups, while Path to 100 is supported by the renewables industry. Both aim to get the state to 100% renewable energy by 2030 by tapping money collected on customers’ utility bills.

Currently, Illinois utility customers pay a monthly charge that is capped at 2% of what customers paid per kilowatt-hour in 2007. CEJA would raise the cap to 2.67% this year and 4.88% by 2023. These changes would allow the collection of up to $700 million a year by 2023, according to CEJA supporters. Currently, about $235 million a year is collected for renewables through customer bills. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Keith Ewing / Flickr / Creative Commons

SEIA NEWS RELEASE

The Solar+ Decade Will Usher in Widespread Clean Energy and Massive Economic Growth, by Abigail Ross Hopper, SEIA President & CEO

We already know that public support for solar is higher than any other fuel, with wind as a close second. Storage can help expand both. Poll after poll shows that the public wants more renewable energy, and fast. Some want it because it will directly address climate change; others because the economic benefits are too good to pass up. Now it’s on us to mobilize our grassroots support to make this goal possible.

GRID DATA MANAGEMENT

Utilities vs. grid edge upstarts: Turf battles in an increasingly DER-centric world, Utility Dive article contributed by Dan Goldman, Managing Director & Co-founder, Clean Energy Ventures

As a result of the need for new data access, analytics and management, the grid edge is hosting a turf war between utilities and private sector upstarts racing to capture data and create avenues for acting on it. On one side, utilities believe they will be in the best position to manage the grid if they own and control the data directly, without intermediaries. On the other side, grid edge upstarts — Tesla, Vivant, SunRun and many other technology-enabled start-ups — want to collect and manage the data directly for their own platform benefits, and see an opportunity to provide it to utilities for a fee. New technology solutions to gather and manage the data are emerging rapidly as a result.

REGENERATIVE AGRICULTURE

RECYCLING WIND TURBINES

Commentary: For retired wind turbines, we can find alternatives to landfills, contributed opinion by Scott Coenen / Wisconsin Conservative Energy Forum, Energy News Network
Many have probably now seen the picture, shared widely on social media, of wind turbine blades being buried in a landfill in Wyoming. The picture highlights a legitimate challenge to wind energy, especially as costs continue to fall and deployment of wind increases across the country. Importantly those challenges, one of them highlighted here, are not a reason to walk away from the table. We can find solutions.

COAL-ASH CLEANUPS

Cap coal ash in place? Duke and others have learned better, contributed Utility Dive article by Frank Holleman, senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center. In South Carolina, all three utilities — Duke Energy, SCE&G (now owned by Dominion) and Santee Cooper — are cleaning up every one of their unlined riverfront lagoons. 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Solar Power Just Miles from the Arctic Circle? In Icy Nordic Climes, It’s Become the Norm, Inside Climate News. As solar prices fall and efficiency increases, countries like Finland are discovering the benefits of summertime solar. 

Solar for All: Illinois incentive program aims to make solar more accessible

By Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Solar incentives in Illinois’ 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act helped Josh Lutton grow his Chicago solar company to 30 employees in the span of just a few years. Now, Lutton is hoping for even more growth with the rollout of one of the law’s marquee programs aimed at making solar accessible to more people. Illinois Solar for All is designed to serve people traditionally left out of the solar market: low-income households, including rural homeowners and renters in urban apartment buildings; people of color; and residents of environmental justice communities most impacted by pollution from fossil fuels . . . The Clean Energy Jobs Act and another bill that would expand solar incentives in Illinois, Path to 100, are before the Illinois Legislature, which closes its session at the end of the month. Read more here.

HAPPENING IN OTHER STATES

VW SETTLEMENT NEWS

Report: States missing opportunities to electrify transportation with VW money, by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network. The U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund and the Environment America Research & Policy Center created a scorecard to grade states on how they are allocating money from the settlement. Most states earned D or F grades for allowing money to be spent on diesel and other fossil fuel vehicles. The program’s second phase could offer bigger, if fewer, grants to pay for electric vehicle purchases.

Middle America’s Low-Hanging Carbon: The Search for Greenhouse Gas Cuts from the Grid, Agriculture and Transportation

Reporters in 14 newsrooms across the Midwest teamed up with InsideClimate News to explore local solutions to climate change.

By John H. Cushman Jr., InsideClimate News

The American Midwest is at a turning point as it confronts the global climate crisis. It’s a landscape of opportunity, where investment is starting to pour into renewable energy, farmers are turning to climate-friendly practices, and automakers are introducing new electric vehicles. But its path forward is still cluttered with obstacles.

The region is already feeling the environmental and economic tremors of climate change. It’s still a rare day when Chicago’s thermometers hit 100—hot enough to be deadly. But the latest science predicts that by mid-century heat waves will routinely strike the region with temperatures much hotter than was common just a few decades ago. Summers will warm faster in the Midwest than in any other American region, according to the National Climate Assessment. Continue reading here.

To read the stories in this series, click here.

 ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Commentary: Now is the time to pass the next Illinois clean energy bill, by Andrew Barbeau and Christie Hicks, Environmental Defense Fund. It has been just over two years since Illinois enacted the groundbreaking Future Energy Jobs Act (FEJA), which set bold new goals for solar, wind and energy efficiency. Already, substantial gains from FEJA are being seen across the state. But, a just-completed lottery for renewable energy credits demonstrates that there is a voracious demand for solar and wind energy in Illinois that far exceeds current capacity. 

Missouri solar installer making strides recruiting and hiring military veterans, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network. Missouri Sun Solar far exceeds the industry average for veteran employment — and its founder isn’t done hiring.

Indiana utilities are in midst of identity crisis as customers take power into own hands, Indianapolis Star. Until recently, virtually all residents in Indiana, and many states across the country, had little say in where their electricity came from or how it was produced. Bills arrived in the mail — whether from one of the big, investor-owned utilities or a smaller municipal or rural cooperative — and customers paid them. But Indiana utilities no longer hold a monopoly on energy generation in the state.

Ohio regulator approves two solar-powered facilities, Kallinish Energy
The Ohio Power Siting Board has approved construction on two solar-powered electric-generating facilities: one in Hardin County and one in Highland County, Kallansh Energy reports. Hardin Solar Energy Center II in northwest Ohio will be capable of generating up to 170 megawatts. It will include a lithium-ion battery storage system with a capacity of up to 60 MW. It would be one of the first such storage systems in the Midwest.