Tag Archives: Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI)

2022 will be a record year for wind and solar, new report finds

By Pippa Stevens, CNBC

U.S. solar and wind deployments are on track to hit new records in 2022 as momentum behind the energy transition grows, according to a new report from S&P Global Market Intelligence. The firm expects as much as 44 gigawatts of utility-scale solar, and 27 gigawatts of wind to come online next year. For solar, the forecast is nearly double 2021′s estimated 23 gigawatts of new capacity. For wind, 2022′s projected additions easily surpass the current annual record of 16 gigawatts, set in 2020. By way of comparison, the U.S. has a total generating capability of about 1,200 gigawatts, according to the Public Power Association. Continue reading here.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE 

A new RMI analysis shows that the clean energy tax credits and low-cost financing provisions in the Build Back Better framework would help customers save on electricity costs. A related op-ed in the Morning Consult explains how the clean energy provisions could help the United States reach its clean electricity goals by 2030, while saving utility customers $9 billion annually by the end of the decade.

Another RMI analysis shows how a simple change in the tax rules for stand-alone battery storage and transmission would make the proposed legislation even more transformative for the climate and for household energy bills. Source: RMI Newsletter

See Also: Build Back Better Framework

FROM SOLAR POWER WORLD: VETERANS IN THE CLEAN ENERGY WORKFORCE

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Statement: Massive oil spill off Southern California coast harming wildlife

Environment America News Release

ORANGE COUNTY, Calif. — A broken pipeline has spewed more than one hundred thousand gallons of oil into the ocean near Huntington Beach, California, closing the beach and forcing the cancellation of the final day of the Pacific Air Show. The spill, discovered Saturday morning, is coming from an oil drilling operation eight miles off the coast, operated by Houston-based Amplify Energy. The pipeline, formerly operated by Shell oil, has been in place since the 1980s. The Coast Guard has been called in for emergency clean-up, since the oil has rendered the coastline too dangerous for humans and marine wildlife. Read more here.

Related

NEW STUDY SHOWS AIR POLLUTION’S HARM TO HUMAN HEALTH

New report: More than one in six Americans experienced greater than 100 days of polluted air in 2020, Environment America

‘Trouble in the Air’ study shows where particulate matter and ozone pollution are harming human health in the U.S. “Air pollution can be just as dangerous for our health as smoking,” said Wendy Wendlandt, President of Environment America Research & Policy Center. “We learned in the 1960s that cigarettes were bad for us and we started to do something about it. Today, air pollution causes hundreds of thousands of people who never took up smoking to die too early each year. It’s past time to do something about that.” 

Download Trouble In The Air 

CARBON POLLUTION & LOCAL DECARBONIZATION LIMITS / LONGTERM INITIATIVES

South Sioux City’s Solar Park

Previously posted article discusses specific decarbonization limits for Nebraska communities and South Sioux City’s independent path to 100% renewable energy:

  • Nebraska solar farm highlights tension between cities, electricity wholesaler, Energy News Network. The city of Norfolk, Nebraska, soon will celebrate its first solar farm — and the last one allowed under a contract with its electricity wholesaler.The 8.5-megawatt community solar project is being developed in partnership with the Nebraska Public Power District, which supplies power to most of the state outside of Omaha and Lincoln. The hitch for Norfolk is that the public utility’s contracts prevent municipal customers from generating more than 10% of their peak load from alternative sources, a threshold the city expects to reach with this project. “Northeast Nebraska is the renewable energy hotbed of the state,” said Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning. “I’d much rather use clean energy that’s made in our backyard than haul it in on a coal train from Wyoming, which is the status quo in Nebraska.
  • NPPD’s Wholesale Power Contracts
    Wholesale energy sales are made to 60 entities under wholesale power contracts that terminate on Jan. 1, 2036 and to 10 other entities with wholesale power contracts that terminate on Dec. 31, 2021. The 10 wholesale customers that did not sign the 2016 contract provided the notice required under their existing 2002 contracts, and began in 2017 to reduce their purchases to 0% over a five-year period.  Source: Fitch Rates Nebraska Public Power District’s General Revs ‘A+’; Outlook Stable

Additional Resources

Banding Together: How Aggregation Helps Cities Buy Renewables At Scale

By Yuning Liu and Mia Reback, Rocky Mountain Institute

Aggregation can be a powerful way for cities to rapidly increase their renewable energy and help decarbonize local economies at the necessary speed and scale. Yet most cities have not pursued aggregation due to an inadequate understanding of its novel deal structure and a lack of tools and resources to help streamline the process. Read more here.

Access the Report: Procuring Large-Scale Renewables through Aggregation: A Guide for Local Governments

Example of aggregating small-scale solar projects into one Request for Proposals to save costs:


MEAN issues RFP For Participant Community Solar PV Installation Project

MEAN’s Renewable Energy Portfolio

STATE RPS UPDATES

State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, National Conference of State Legislatures

Renewable energy policies help drive the nation’s $64 billion market for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources. These policies can play an integral role in state efforts to diversify their energy mix, promote economic development and reduce emissions. Roughly half of the growth in U.S. renewable energy generation since the beginning of the 2000s can be attributed to state renewable energy requirements.  

Previously Posted: Why the United States Needs A Clean Electricity Standard, Center for Climate And Energy Solutions

OPPD NEWS

Popular EV rebates back for another round, The Wire

If you’re in the market for an electric vehicle, here’s some good news: OPPD’s popular EV rebates program is back. Rebates are available toward the purchase of both a residential EV and charger, as well as for fleet vehicle replacement. The rebate program has proven popular and has sold out each year. Rebate funding was made available to OPPD as of July 1, 2021, and customers who purchase a new EV and charger after July 1 may be eligible.

OPPD’s New Guide to Electric Vehicles (EVs)

New bill could make solar roof installations more affordable for homes, businesses

By Zach Hester, WHNT

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new bill introduced last week is aiming to make it cheaper for homeowners and businesses to install solar power roofs. The Raise the Roof Act, introduced by Georgia Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.), would expand solar tax credits to cover a “cutting-edge integrated solar roofing system” as well as roof replacements and repairs. Read more here, including the full text of the Raise the Roof Act.

Related Reading – With Resources

Replacing Your Roof? It’s a Great Time to Add Solar, by Becca Jones-Albertus, Director of the Solar Energy Technologies Office within the Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Office.

A report from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory found that solar panels are viewed as upgrades and home buyers across the country have been willing to pay a premium of about $15,000 for a home with an average-sized solar array. Additionally, there is evidence homes with solar panels sell faster than those without.

Previously Posted

RECOMMENDED WEBINAR

Recording of the Clean Energy Group / Clean Energy States Alliance Webinar: Expanding Grid Capacity with Energy Storage in Decorah, Iowa

At present, one circuit on Decorah’s grid does not have sufficient capacity to allow for the addition of many new solar projects in development. Upgrading the grid through traditional poles-and-wires and substation expansions would be twice as expensive as this battery project, according to Alliant Energy. Thus, the battery project is expected not only to allow for increased solar integration, but also to produce distribution system investment savings. Additional potential benefits, such as peak demand shaving and other storage applications, will be tested as additional means to reduce customer cost.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY

WIND ENERGY GUIDE

Land-Based Wind Energy Economic Development Guide, Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, WINDExchange

A comprehensive resource for community decision makers to better understand the economic development potential during the development, construction, and operation of wind energy projects.

Blumenauer, Levin Introduce Legislation to Bolster Renewable Energy Projects with Direct Payment Option

Press Release, Office of Congressman Blumenauer, May 13, 2021

Today, U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee, and Mike Levin (D-CA) introduced legislation to give taxpayers the option to take clean energy credits as a direct payment rather than a tax credit. The Renewable Energy Investment Act provides much-needed relief for renewable energy projects that have dealt with sluggish tax equity markets that are slowing project financing and deployment.

The legislation also allows taxpayers with little or no tax liability to take advantage of these tax incentives, thereby expanding the pool of eligible investors and supporting the deployment of renewable energy across the country. Addressing this issue has the support of President Biden, who included reference to a direct payment option for the Production and Investment Tax Credits in his American Jobs Plan overviewRead the entire release here.

CYBERSECURITY

FACT SHEET: President Signs Executive Order Charting New Course to Improve the Nation’s Cybersecurity and Protect Federal Government Networks, The White House 

Recent cybersecurity incidents such as SolarWinds, Microsoft Exchange, and the Colonial Pipeline incident are a sobering reminder that U.S. public and private sector entities increasingly face sophisticated malicious cyber activity from both nation-state actors and cyber criminals. These incidents share commonalities, including insufficient cybersecurity defenses that leave public and private sector entities more vulnerable to incidents. 

This Executive Order makes a significant contribution toward modernizing cybersecurity defenses by protecting federal networks, improving information-sharing between the U.S. government and the private sector on cyber issues, and strengthening the United States’ ability to respond to incidents when they occur. It is the first of many ambitious steps the Administration is taking to modernize national cyber defenses. However, the Colonial Pipeline incident is a reminder that federal action alone is not enough.

NEW DOE-FUNDED EDUCATION & TRAINING PROJECT

New Project Will Provide Training on Distributed Energy Technologies for Building, Safety Officials,
Interstate Renewable Energy Council, May 11, 2021

IREC and partners today announced the launch of a three-year, $2.1 million project, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE), to reduce barriers to widespread adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs) by providing education and resources to expand the knowledge of 30,000 safety professionals.

The project will create one of the most widely-accessed DER information clearinghouse websites to house expert information on clean energy codes, standards, permitting, and inspection. Educational content and resources will be regularly added to this clearinghouse website designed to engage a diverse audience. Concurrently, IREC will develop modular online training for the plan review and inspection of solar PV systems, energy storage systems, and EV charging infrastructure.

SIERRA CLUB PROPOSAL FOR COOPERATIVES & COAL COMMUNITIES

Generation and transformation: Bringing cooperative G&Ts into the clean energy future. Contributed by Jeremy Fisher, Utility Dive

If the energy and capacity services provided by the coal plants to America’s G&Ts were replaced by clean energy, our proposed program could drive 60 GW of solar and wind, and nearly 20 GW of storage build in rural communities — a cost-effective investment of nearly $80 billion. That investment in clean provides lower cost energy than the all-in forward going cost for many of these coal plants. The availability of lower cost clean energy not only supports today’s customers, but attracts corporate buyers who are increasingly interested in clean energy. It reduces the risk of future stranded costs, allows utilities to avoid expensive future environmental compliance obligations for plants that still need pollution controls, and positions G&Ts competitively in today’s energy market. Photo Credit: Catherine Motehouse, Utility Dive

Jeremy Fisher is Senior Advisor for Strategic Research and Development, Environmental Law Program, The Sierra Club.

OFFSHORE WIND

A huge moment’: U.S. gives go-ahead for its first major offshore wind farm, CNBC

In March, the Departments of Energy, Interior and Commerce said they wanted offshore wind capacity to hit 30 gigawatts (GW) by 2030, a move the Biden administration hopes will generate thousands of jobs and unlock billions of dollars in investment over the coming years. If this target is realized it would represent a significant expansion for the U.S. While America is home to a well-developed onshore wind industry, the country’s first offshore wind facility, the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm, only started commercial operations in late 2016.

Photo by Ørsted: Tugboat passing by a Block Island Wind Farm turbine.

Michigan solar supporters make new push to eliminate rooftop solar caps

By Tom Perkins, Energy News Network

A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers has introduced legislation to eliminate a 1% cap on distributed energy in the state’s investor-owned utility territories. It’s the third time in recent years that such legislation has been introduced. Though utilities and their political allies have successfully blocked it to date, advocates see an opportunity with a change in state Republican caucus leadership and Michigan’s burgeoning solar industry approaching the cap in some utility territories. The bill also has support from a broad swath of legislators for reasons having to do with job creation, energy freedom and the environment. Read more here.

Photo Credit: David Marvin / Creative Commons. The Michigan Statehouse in Lansing.

Additional Recommended Reading
Commentary: To build energy resilience in Michigan, we must challenge DTE, Energy News Network

NPPD’S CURRENT RENEWABLE ENERGY LIMIT & TWO RECENT STUDIES

Kearney’s Solar Farm

Previously posted articles by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network:

  • Nebraska solar farm highlights tension between cities, electricity wholesaler
    The city of Norfolk, Nebraska, soon will celebrate its first solar farm — and the last one allowed under a contract with its electricity wholesaler. The 8.5-megawatt community solar project is being developed in partnership with the Nebraska Public Power District, which supplies power to most of the state outside of Omaha and Lincoln. The hitch for Norfolk is that the public utility’s contracts prevent municipal customers from generating more than 10% of their peak load from alternative sources, a threshold the city expects to reach with this project. “Northeast Nebraska is the renewable energy hotbed of the state,” said Norfolk Mayor Josh Moenning. “I’d much rather use clean energy that’s made in our backyard than haul it in on a coal train from Wyoming, which is the status quo in Nebraska.”
  • Nebraska utility could slash emissions at little or no added cost, studies show
    A pair of reports by independent consultants both conclude that the Nebraska Public Power District could eliminate most of its carbon emissions without having to spend significantly more than it would otherwise for power.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA REPORT

Electrifying America’s buildings by 2050 could be like taking 65 million cars off the road
Entitled Electric Buildings: Repowering Homes and Businesses for Our Health and Environment, the study documents the benefits of electrifying the majority of buildings in America for consumers and the environment. In addition, the report ranks states by their capacity to decrease greenhouse gas emissions through building electrification.

ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE (RMI) REPORT

Build Back Better Homes: How to Unlock America’s Single-Family Green Mortgage Market

Residential energy efficiency reduces emissions and delivers a wealth of other societal benefits, but homeowners often lack access to low-cost financing to improve the performance of their homes. The mortgage industry is well positioned to fill this gapA new RMI report proposes practical solutions to reduce friction in originating and securitizing single-family green mortgage products. This untapped opportunity can create a new market with a total potential value of $2.2 trillion over 10 years.

RMI EVENTS

  • Decarbonizing America’s Buildings: Preparing for a Carbon-Neutral Future
    April 13: In this webinar, RMI’s Michael Gartman joins Brad Liljequist and Heath Mackay from the construction engineering firm McKinstry for a discussion on decarbonizing the buildings sector. The speakers will outline proven strategies for transitioning buildings to zero carbon in terms of both operational emissions and embodied emissions in the building’s materials.
  • Advanced Building Construction Summit
    April 28: The inaugural ABC Summit convenes experts from the public and private sectors to share insights and experiences around high-performing, decarbonized, affordable construction.

CANARY MEDIA

The Rocky Mountain Institute has launched Canary Media, independent energy journalism powered by former Greentech Media staff and David Roberts. 

Canary Media will cover the global effort to combat climate change from business, technology, and policy perspectives. Editors include Eric Wesoff, Jeff St. John, and David Roberts.

EV INFRASTRUCTURE

UNITED PARCEL SERVICE (UPS)

UPS Orders 10 Electric Vertical Takeoff & Landing Aircraft, CleanTechnica
10 BETA aircraft will be delivered in 2024, if all goes according to plan, and UPS has an option to buy up to 150 at the agreed-upon terms. Last year, UPS ordered 10,000 electric vehicles from EV startup Arrival as well.

Local governments set record for new renewable energy procurement in 2020, groups report

By Chris Teale, Smart Cities Dive

Ninety-five local governments across 33 states procured 3,683 megawatts (MW) of new renewable energy generation capacity in 2020 through 143 deals, the largest amount of capacity ever added in one year, according to the latest update from the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) and World Resources Institute (WRI) in their Local Government Renewables Action Tracker.

The 143 transactions, a 23% increase over 2019’s levels, could generate enough electricity to power approximately 812,000 households annually, the organizations reported. Solar was the most popular renewable energy to be procured, at 79% of all deals, followed by wind at 17% and geothermal at 4%. Read more here.

Photo Credit: First Solar

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

SOLAR INSTALLER SURVEY

2020 EnergySage installer survey finds one in five solar installations nationwide included a battery, Solar Power World

EnergySage and NABCEP released the results of the sixth annual Solar Installer Survey, the largest and most comprehensive business survey of solar companies nationwide. Over 650 residential and commercial installers across the country participated in this year’s survey, which was fielded and authored by EnergySage in partnership with the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).

NELNET SOLAR TAX EQUITY INVESTMENT

Nelnet Renewable Energy Partners with Three Co-Investors to Complete $9.9 Million Solar Tax Equity Investment in the Northeast, Nelnet Renewable Energy, PR Newswire. Nelnet’s co-investors include Adams Bank & Trust and West Gate Bank, both of Nebraska.

OMAHA RANKS #7 AMONG GREENEST U.S. CITIES FOR RENTERS

The Greenest Cities in the U.S. for Renters, Apartment Guide

In the heart of the Great Plains, many view Omaha as a far-flung place known for quality steak, college baseball, 311 and Warren Buffett. But the diverse Nebraska city of half a million residents is a heartland oasis filled with culture, education, upscale shopping and trendy dining. And with nearly 22 percent of properties reporting green amenities, it’s the greenest city in the Midwest for renters.

LIBRARIES’ CLIMATE LITERACY PROGRAMS


How libraries are improving climate literacy in their communities,
Yale Climate Connections


The Racine Public Library is one of 25 libraries with funding from the American Library Association to offer programming about climate change.

CESA Directory of State Low- and Moderate-Income Clean Energy Programs Now Available Online


Since 2015, the Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) has maintained a directory of state low- and moderate-income (LMI) clean energy programs. This directory, previously published as a pdf, is now available as an interactive online database.
The online format will allow for frequent updates. Users can now more easily access information and quickly compare different LMI clean energy programs.

Because many states have launched additional LMI clean energy programs over the past two years, there are now many more entries in the directory. The directory lists and describes state programs for LMI residents and communities. It focuses primarily on clean energy generation, but also covers some energy-efficiency initiatives. It does not include low-income weatherization programs. Browse the directory here.

CESA’s Commitment to 100% Clean Energy 

  • CESA Promotes Federal-State Partnership to Achieve 100% Clean Energy
    In an article in Utility Dive, CESA Executive Director Warren Leon and Board Member Bentham Paulos argued that “cleaning up the power grid requires a federal-state partnership.” They described elements and policies that could be part of such a partnership.
  • CESA Resource: Publications About 100% Clean Energy

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

The National Community Solar Partnership (NCSP) is a coalition of community solar stakeholders working to expand access to affordable community solar to every American household by 2025. Partners leverage peer networks and technical assistance resources to set goals and work to overcome persistent barriers to expanding community solar access to underserved communities. DOE announced the program on Wednesday, September 25, 2019.

The three goals of the partnership are:

  • Make community solar accessible to every U.S. household
  • Ensure community solar is affordable for every U.S. household
  • Enable communities to realize supplementary benefits and other value streams from community solar installation

To join the partnershipregister by visiting the community platform.
If you have questions, please send an email to Community.Solar@ee.doe.gov.

American Public Power Association Blog: Public power representatives invited to apply for community solar working group

ROCKY MOUNTAIN INSTITUTE REPORT & WEBINAR

Seeds of Opportunity: Released last month, the report provides an economic analysis and set of case studies to highlight the once-in-a-generation economic opportunity that onshore wind and utility-scale solar projects present to rural communities. Download the full report, read RMI’s blog post, or view a recording of their live discussion with the report’s authors and community leaders from its three case studies.

About the Webinar
Learn more about the benefits of renewable energy projects for the rural communities studied in the report. The “Seeds of Opportunity” webinar featured Judge Dusty Kilgore of Upton County, Texas, and Troy McCue of Lincoln County, Colorado, speaking with RMI’s Katie Siegner about their experiences with the wind and solar projects in their communities. The webinar presentation slides are available here.

Renewables Offer Rural America the Economic Development Opportunity of a Generation

By Katie Siegner, Rocky Mountain Institute

The prospect of a deeply decarbonized electricity system raises important considerations and questions. What does the industry’s growth mean for rural America, where most onshore wind and utility-scale solar projects will be sited? How will the US electric grid maintain reliability with high percentages of variable renewable generation? How can we plan new clean energy projects to minimize consumer costs? RMI’s newest report, Seeds of Opportunity, addresses the first question, with subsequent reports planned for those that follow.

As the endpoint of a zero-carbon America becomes more clearly defined, the intent of this report series is to provide a playbook for those who will lead the United States in that direction, from the Biden administration, to grid operators, to county commissioners making renewables siting decisions. Read more here.

Download Seeds of Opportunity: How Rural America Is Reaping Economic Development Benefits from the Growth of Renewables

At the same link, directly above, register for a webinar on February 10 from 11 am to 12 pm with the authors of the Seeds of Opportunity report and community leaders from its three case studies, who will discuss how to effectively foster wind and solar project developments locally. The event will take place via Zoom. An email confirmation will be sent containing the Zoom link to join. 

2021 Outlook: 10 power sector trends to watch

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Utility Dive spoke to over half a dozen power sector experts who tentatively predict big changes on the horizon in 2021. A new administration under a new party is one of many signs that 2021 will look different for policymakers, regulators, utilities and other stakeholders, but the continuation of some older trends is expected as well: Utilities will continue to invest aggressively in renewable energy resources, and the power sector will continue to evolve toward a less centralized model. Here are 10 stories to watch in 2021: Read more here.

Also Published by Utility Dive
New transmission approaches can cut billions in decarbonization costs: MIT, clean energy coalition, by Robert Walton