Sustainable Development

American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act Could Create 400,000 Jobs

Senator Edward J. Markey, recently elected as the U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, has introduced new legislation which encourages clean energy generation and energy efficiency, and has the potential to create 400,000 new jobs.

Renewable energy

Renewable energy (photo – epa.gov)

The American Renewable Energy and Efficiency Act (S.1627), if passed into law, would require utilities to procure 25 percent of their electricity from renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydro, biomass, etc. by 2025.

S.1627 also requires both electric and natural gas utilities to improve energy efficiency by 2025. Electric utilities would need to improve energy efficiency equivalent to 15 percent of sales, while the natural gas utilities would have to improve their energy efficiency by 10 percent of sales.

Specifically, the bill seeks to amend title VI of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 to introduce a federal electricity standard for retail suppliers, and a federal energy efficiency standard for electricity and natural gas suppliers.

Many states have already implemented similar standards. A full 30 U.S. states and D.C. have laws that require utilities to maintain a healthy mix of energy from renewable sources. Energy efficiency requirements are mandatory in 24 states.

The proposed bill, if it became law, would quadruple renewable energy production by 2025. It would reduce CO2 emissions by an annual 480 million metric tons by 2025, equivalent to the combined output of 120 coal-fired power plants.

An economic impact analysis of this bill and a similar bill (H.R.5967) with the same name that was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives last year by then Rep. Markey came up with following findings:-

- Number of jobs created if the legislation becomes law – 400,000

- Average annual household savings from improved energy efficiency – $39

- Cumulative consumer savings through 2030 – Nearly $90 billion

- New capital investments in the renewable energy technology – $200 billion

Senator Markey said that it’s past time to scale up the nation’s clean energy deployment and innovation, and to get American workers building and exporting solar panels and wind turbines that say “Made in America,” instead of America importing millions of barrels of “Made in OPEC” oil every day.

The bill is supported by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Sierra Club and a long list of environmental and renewable energy organizations and companies.

S.1627 was introduced in the U.S. Senate on Oct 31, 2013, and has been referred to the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

British Columbia, California, WA, OR Sign Climate Change Action Plan

British Columbia, Canada is teaming up with the West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington to combat climate change on the North American Pacific Coast.

Pacific Coast Collaborative

Pacific Coast Collaborative (photo – pacificcoastcollaborative.org)

British Columbia’s Premier Christy Clark joined the Governors of the three states after a meeting of the Pacific Coast Collaborative (PCC) in San Francisco to sign the Pacific Coast Action Plan on Climate and Energy.

The action plan commits the four governments to a comprehensive strategic alignment for combating climate change and promoting the use of clean energy in a region which has 53 million people and has a combined GDP of $2.8 trillion – this makes it the world’s fifth largest economy.

As part of the agreement, Oregon and Washington will join BC and California as regions that have their own market-based carbon pricing mechanism. Where possible, all four will link their programs to maintain consistency and allow the regional low-carbon economy to expand.

They agreed to take action to expand the use of zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs), aiming for 10 percent of all new vehicles by 2016.

All four also agreed to transform the market for energy efficiency and lead the way to net-zero buildings. They agreed to harmonize GHG reduction targets for 2050, and develop mid-term targets required for supporting the long-term reduction target.

Another part of the agreement was that all four governments recognize the scientific consensus that climate change had human causes and had very real impacts. They agreed to cooperate with national governments around the world to press for a global agreement on climate change in 2015 at the Conference of Parties in Paris.

BC Environment Minister Mary Polak said climate change was a global issue, and added that by exporting natural gas, BC will be supplying growing markets with a clean burning fossil fuel.

Washington Governor Jay Inslee said the Action Plan represents the best of things that the Pacific Coast governments are already doing, and calls for each of them to do more to meet the moral obligation towards future generations and create jobs by leading in the clean energy economy.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. said California wasn’t waiting for the rest of the world before taking action on climate change, and they were now teaming up with British Columbia, Oregon and Washington to reduce greenhouse gases.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said that energy is “the” issue of our time, globally and in Oregon, and no other issue would have a great impact on the state’s quality of life, environment and economy in the coming decade.

Eight-State Coalition Announces Zero-Emission Vehicles Initiative

The Governors of eight U.S. states have signed an agreement for a joint initiative to put 3.3 million zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs) on the roads in their states by 2025.

Zero Emission Vehicles

Zero Emission Vehicles (photo – oregon.gov)

The eight states that are signatories to the MOU are California, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island and Vermont.

The MOU signed by the Governors commits them to pursue the following actions:-

- Alignment of building codes in order to make it easier to build EV charging stations;

- Lead-by-example to include ZEVs in public fleets, and set targets for governmental ZEV purchases;

- Evaluate and consider providing incentives, financial or otherwise, for promoting ZEVs;

- Consider setting up favorable electricity tariffs for home EV charging systems;

- Development of common standards for charging networks and roadway signs;

- Encourage ZEV market growth by establishing public-private partnerships with automobile manufacturers, corporate fleet owners, electricity and hydrogen providers, and other stakeholders;

- Share research and coordinate education and outreach campaigns to highlight the benefits of ZEVs and promote their use; and

- Pursue assessment and development of infrastructure and other requirements for commercialization of hydrogen fuel cell vehicles.

States with ZEV programs together account for 27 percent of the U.S. automobile market, and by working together they can help create more consumer demand and lower ZEV costs through economies of scale and expanding the choices available to consumers.

There are currently 16 ZEV models available in the U.S., produced by eight automobile manufacturers.

Nine of them are electric vehicles that run on batteries, while five are hybrids that can run on both gasoline as well as batteries. The remaining two are powered by hydrogen fuel cells.

By 2015, every major automaker is expected to have ZEVs on sale or lease. Electric car sales in the U.S. jumped to 52,000 in 2012, more than thrice the sales in 2011. This year, more than 40,000 plug-in cars have already been sold in the first two quarters.

California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. said this was not just an agreement, but a serious and profoundly important commitment.

Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley said they were excited to be collaborating with other states to ensure the success of Zev programs.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber said this initiative will helps states reduce transportation-related air pollution and GHG, enhance energy diversity, save money for consumers, and promote economic growth.

Report – State Clean Energy Actions Update

A report released by the National Governors Association (NGA) provides a categorized update on 348 actions taken by states to support clean energy generation and use.

State Clean Energy Actions

State Clean Energy Actions (photo – nga.org)

The “State Clean Energy Actions” report lists clean energy actions across seven categories from Nov 2012 to June 2013, and also provides cumulative data for the same from 2008-2013.

The categories into which the state-level activity has been divided are clean energy economic development; lead-by-example initiatives; clean electricity; energy efficiency; alternative fuels and vehicles; clean energy research, development and demonstration; and greenhouse gas emissions.

A lot of the activity and initiatives were focused around financial incentives, improving state building efficiency, renewable portfolio standards (RPS), building codes and shale gas development.

In the period from Nov 2012-June 2013, a total of 41 states and territories took action supporting electricity generation from renewable and clean sources. During the same period, 29 states took actions to improve energy efficiency, resulting in lower demand for electricity.

A total of 29 states took action during this period to expand their supply and distribution networks for alternative fuel, and support increased use of vehicles using these fuels.

California leads the way in financial incentives, having approved Proposition 39 to generate $1.1 billion annually in new tax revenues for the next five years to support clean energy and energy efficiency.

Hawaii approved legislation to establish the Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) financing program to help consumers make energy-cost saving improvements. GEMS is funded through a $100 million green infrastructure bond program.

A total of ten states took clean energy economic development actions during this eight-month period, including New York’s expansion of the NY-Sun solar jobs, and Indiana allowing counties to establish infrastructure development zones where property tax is exempt for natural gas infrastructure.

Oregon’s efforts are highlighted in the report in the lead-by-initiative category. Oregon released a 10-Year Energy Action Plan that includes establishing a State Building Innovation Lab to help understand how public sector energy efficiency retrofits must be pursued.

Oregon also created an Alternative Fuel Vehicle Revolving Fund that allows the Oregon Dept. of Energy to offer loans to public entities for purchasing new alternative fuel vehicles or converting existing vehicles.

Earlier this year, the NGA also set up a database of all these clean energy actions that is searchable by category, state and the policy lever used (executive order, legislation, utility ruling, etc.).

Read the full NGA State Clean Energy Actions report – Download (pdf)

Shedd Aquarium Unveils Solar Installation With 913 Panels

The Shedd Aquarium in Chicago, Illinois unveiled a large solar panel installation with 913 photovoltaic solar panels on the roof of the aquarium’s marine mammal pavilion.

Shedd Aquarium solar array launch

Shedd Aquarium solar array launch (photo – sheddaquarium.org)

The 265-kilowatt project will save Shedd more than $100,000 annually in energy costs, and help them maintain power during blackouts.

It is the biggest such solar array project by any cultural institution in Illinois that is funded through a public-private partnership.

The opening of the solar array, attended by Illinois Gov. pat Quinn, kicks off the first phase of Shedd’s Master Energy Roadmap to cut the 83-year old building’s energy consumption in half by 2020.

The roadmap, launched in Jan 2013, was created by Shedd in partnership with the City of Chicago, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Development, Citizens Utility Board, and the Illinois Science and Technology Coalition.

Karen Weigert, Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Chicago, worked with the Civic Consulting Alliance and West Monroe Partners to come up a plan.

The experts tasked with creating the roadmap designed a smart building prototype that will make Shedd one of the first clean-powered cultural institutions. Once implemented, the plan will save almost 10 million kilowatt hours annually – equivalent to the power consumption needs of 750 households.

Apart from on-site renewable energy generation, other plan elements in the roadmap include:-

- Advanced intelligence with new sub-meters that will provide real-time information about Shedd’s energy use;

- Reducing energy consumption and improving efficiency by replacing 75 percent of the lights with LEDs;

- Reducing utility bills through automation and control to reduce energy usage during peak periods and take advantage of real-time pricing to use electricity when the price is low; and

- Integrating new energy storage technology.

The total project cost is around $1.1 million, with $250,000 being provided by the State of Illinois.

Governor Quinn said the Shedd Aquarium’s green energy efforts demonstrate how Illinois is paving the way for advancing sustainable energy and next-generation clean technology.

Shedd President and CEO Ted A. Beattie said that preserving and protecting the living world is at the heart of Shedd, and added that they know sustainability and conservation begins at home in the aquarium.

Chris Curtis, president and CEO of Schneider Electric North America which helped Shedd build the photovoltaic panels, said this was an exciting project for them, and also for the City of Chicago and the State of Illinois.

Chicago CSO Karen Weigert said they were thrilled to see Shedd take on significant changes to move towards a complete transition to renewable energy.

Go-Biz, Auto Makers Team Up to Support ZEV Infrastructure in California

The California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development (GO-Biz) announced an initiative to facilitate and accelerate the permitting and establishment of hydrogen fueling and electric vehicle charging infrastructure.

California ZEV roadmap

California ZEV roadmap (photo – opr.ca.gov)

The initiative came about after automotive companies including GM, Nissan, Toyota, Honda, Mercedes-Benz and Hyundai approached Go-Biz earlier this year and pointed out the need for more hydrogen and EV charging stations to support their plans for increasing zero emission vehicle (ZEV) fleets.

California accounts for almost 40 percent of the U.S. market for plug-in electric vehicles, and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles are slated for launch in the 2015-17 timeframe.

Jim Pisz, North American business strategy corporate manager for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., said that when Toyota’s hydrogen fuel cell vehicle comes to the market in 2015, a reliable and convenient fueling infrastructure must be ready for customers.

Pisz said they were excited to be partnering with Go-Biz for ensuring the necessary hydrogen infrastructure is in place for successfully launching fuel cell technology in California.

Under this new initiative, Go-Biz will work not only with the auto makers, but also with federal, state and local agencies, hydrogen station developers and hosts, EV regional planners, installers and station hosts, and other interested parties.

The effort will be spearheaded by a new position created at Go-Biz that is being funded with $300,000 provided by the California Energy Commission.

This new position will engage local and state partners for identifying and eliminating barriers to development. The project manager will report directly to the Deputy Director of Permitting at GO-Biz.

Go-Biz Director Kish Rajan said California is a world leader in zero emission technology, and the state’s infrastructure needs to reflect that dynamism.

Earlier this year, California came up with an action plan that provides a roadmap for achieving the state’s goal of having 1.5 million ZEVs on California roadways by 2025.

Director Rajan said Go-Biz was partnering with automotive companies to ensure that California has the necessary infrastructure for meeting the goal of delivering more hydrogen and electric vehicles to market.

 

Google Invests $103M In California Solar Power Project

Silver Ridge Power, LLC and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG) announced that Google is investing $103 million in the Mount Signal Solar project in Imperial County, California.

Mount Signal Solar project

Mount Signal Solar project (photo – google.com)

The 265.7 MW, also known as Imperial Valley Solar 1, is a giant utility-scale solar power generation project that is currently under construction on a 1,963-acre site.

This project is credited with creating 900 construction jobs in a part of the state that has high unemployment.

Once operational in 2014, the project will produce enough clean renewable energy to power more than 80,000 homes in California.

The renewable energy produced by Mount Signal Solar will be sold to the San Diego Gas & Electric Company, which has signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with Silver Ridge Power.

This $103 million is Google’s 13th renewable energy investment. One of the other projects is a $178 million investment in BrightSource Energy’s 377 MW utility-scale solar project called Ivanpah located in the Mojave Desert in California.

Another $157 million was pumped by Google into two projects adding up to a combined 270 MW at the Alta Wind Energy Center (AWEC) in the Tehachapi Mountains in Kern County, CA.

Four Recurrent Energy solar photovoltaic (PV) projects near Sacramento, CA also got $94 million from Google. These four projects together have a capacity of 88 MW, enough to power more than 13,000 homes.

All put together, Google has invested more than $1 billion on renewable energy projects in California, Texas, Iowa, Oregon, Germany and South Africa that together represent a power generation capacity of more than 2GW – enough power for more than 500,000 homes.

Kojo Ako-Asare, Head of Corporate Finance, Google, said the Mount Signal Solar investment is a reflection of Google’s commitment towards the renewable energy sector, and their strong belief that renewable energy investments make business sense.

He added that this was the first time Silver Ridge Power had partnered with a tech company, and said they appreciate Silver Ridge Power’s innovative approach and hoped for more such partnerships in future.

Silver Ridge Power is a joint venture between Riverstone Holdings, LLC and The AES Corporation (NYSE:AES). It was formed specifically to develop, own and operate a portfolio of utility-scale solar power plants.

The Imperial Valley Solar 1 project, developed by 8minutenergy Renewables and taken up for construction by AES, accounts for more than half of Silver Ridge Power’s total capacity of 522 MW in the U.S. and six other countries.

Silver Ridge Power CEO Robert Hemphill said they were pleased to have a world-class partner such as Google for their flagship Mount Signal Solar project.

Siemens Canada To Supply Turbines for Grand Renewable Wind Project

Siemens Canada announced that it has received an order for 67 wind turbines for the Grand Renewable Wind Project in the County of Haldimand in southern Ontario.

Siemens wind turbines

Siemens wind turbines (photo – siemens.com)

The Grand Renewable Wind Project is part of the Grand Renewable Energy Park, a joint venture between Samsung Renewable Energy, Inc. and Pattern Energy Group LP to produce 100 MW of solar power and 150 MW of wind power.

The 161-foot blades for the 67 SWT-2.3-101 turbines that Siemens has to deliver and commission will be manufactured at a Siemens facility in Tillsonburg, Ontario.

This facility has 275 employees and is already producing at near full capacity. As part of a commitment to Ontario’s green energy economy, Siemens will source steel and towers for the turbines from Essar in Sault Ste. Marie and from CS Wind in Windsor.

Ontario Minister of Energy Bob Chiarelli said this project was part of their commitment towards building a modern, reliable and clean electricity system while supporting good renewable energy sector jobs.

Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Development, said they were proud to be using turbines that were made in Ontario by Siemens. He said this was one of four wind projects they are building with locally-made turbines. He said these projects were bringing many benefits to the Province, including tax revenue, new jobs, clean power and economic stimulus.

Ki-Jung Kim, executive vice president for Samsung C&T, said the company believes that renewable energy was an important part of protecting the air we breathe and eliminating dependence on dirty coal production. He added they were pleased with investments made so far that are helping create more than 9,000 jobs across Ontario in communities that were hit hard by the recession.

This project comes under the Green Energy Investment Agreement (GEIA) between the Government of Ontario and Samsung C&T.

As per the agreement, Samsung and its partners have committed to investing $5 billion CAD for developing 1,369 megawatts of renewable energy capacity in Ontario by 2016.

If successfully implemented, GEIA will create the world’s largest wind and solar power cluster.¬†Projects undertaken under GEIA are already adding enough renewable energy capacity each year to power 260,000 homes.

Samsung’s partnerships under this agreement with Siemens, CS Wind, SMA and Canadian Solar are expected to create 900 new jobs at these providers’ facilities, and the projects undertaken are expected to create 9,000 high-skilled jobs overall in Ontario.

Organic Transit Opens Vehicle Production Facility in San Jose, CA

Durham, North Carolina-based Organic Transit announced that it is expanding its operations in Durham to a bigger facility, and also opening a new production facility to assemble their ELF pedal plus electric vehicle in San Jose, California.

Organic Transit's ELF at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, CA

Organic Transit’s ELF at Good Karma Bikes in San Jose, CA (photo – organictransit.com)

Organic Transit was launched in 2011, and got its initial boost using a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign through which it got $225,789 and 51 orders to start producing the ELF.

The company has since sold more than 200 vehicles through their website.

The three-wheel ELF is technically and legally a bicycle which can be driven on bike paths and sidewalks, and does not need a driving license.

You may use the pedals to generate electricity, but it also has solar panels for charging the battery, which has a 30-mile range. The vehicle is currently priced at $5,000.

Every ELF vehicle is made of recycled and recyclable material, gives the equivalent of 1,800 mpg, and reduces Co2 emissions by as much as six tons per year.

Their old headquarters in Durham is located in a retail furniture store which the company has now outgrown.

The new location they are moving into in downtown Durham is bigger at 7,500 square feet, and Organic Transit is planning to make use of sustainable design for the building renovations.

Rob Cotter, founder and CEO of Organic Transit, said they were planning to use recycled and upcycled material for the buildout, and the building was being renovated to include LED lighting and skylights, green walls, bee hives and edible gardens.

The second part of the announcement is that Organic Transit has opened a new manufacturing facility in San Jose, CA in partnership with non-profit Good Karma Bikes (GKB).

GKB provides low-income and homeless people with bicycles so that they get the freedom and benefits of being able to travel and move around easily. GKB also provides those interested with training on how to be a bicycle mechanic. It’s actually a proper course with certification that helps those trained in getting jobs.

Organic Transit is leasing space from GKB in San Jose. The company hopes to produce more vehicles per day with the establishment of the new production space in San Jose.

Cotter says interest in the ELF has been huge on the West Coast, and their partnership with GKB will help the company service customers in California and other western states.

Duke Energy Announces Two Wind Power Projects in South Texas

Duke Energy Renewables announced that it is undertaking two new large-scale wind power projects – Los Vientos III and Los Vientos IV, in South Texas.

Vestas wind turbines

Vestas wind turbines (photo – vestas.com)

Each of these projects will be capable of producing 200 megawatts of clean electricity with no emissions. Together, they can provide power for around 120,000 homes.

The company is planning to build, own and operate these two projects, which are to be located near Rio Grande City, about 100 miles due west of Brownsville.

Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf said they were pleased to be bringing economic development, jobs and affordable clean electricity to Texas.

Austin Energy, the Texas capital’s municipally owned electric utility, will buy the output from both projects, and has entered into two 25-year power purchase agreements with Duke Energy Renewables.

The utility already gets renewable power from Duke Energy’s earlier Los Vientos II Windpower Project. Power from Los Vientos I goes to CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipally owned utility.

Austin Energy General Manager Larry Weis said these new projects with Duke Energy will help Austin Energy meet its goal of 35 percent renewable energy a full four years ahead of schedule.

The turbines for these projects will be supplied by Vestas. The order for 200 2.0MW turbines that Duke Energy Renewables has placed with Vestas is the largest order for turbines the company has received since 2010.

The turbine blades, towers and nacelles for the Duke Energy turbines will be produced by Vestas manufacturing facilities in Colorado.

Chris Brown, president of Vestas’ sales and service division in the United States and Canada, said they won this deal through a very competitive process. He said the order would keep their U.S. factories busy, and would create jobs for Vistas service technicians.

The V110-2.0 MW turbines that Duke Energy has ordered from Vestas are capable of producing 13 percent more energy as compared to the company’s previous V100-1.8 MW turbine.

Vestas will begin delivering the new turbines in mid-2014, with commissioning slated to begin in 2015 and continue through 2016.

Once both wind farms are fully operational, Duke Energy Renewable’s overall wind power capacity will be in excess of 2,000MW, which puts the company among the top 10 wind energy producers in the U.S.

Apart from the two existing and two planned Los Vientos projects, Duke Energy has five other renewable power projects in Texas. All put together, they have 15 wind farms and 15 solar farms already operational in 12 states.

Duke Energy Renewables is a commercial business unit of Charlotte, North Carolina-based Duke Energy.

 

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