Top legal advisors for New York, California, Virginia, Vermont and New Mexico are among those warning they will go to court if Trump uses his presidential powers to cancel the plan.
“Following such a course would be ill-conceived and contrary to law,” they write, arguing he has received “misguided advice” on the impacts of the Clean Power Plan (CPP).
“Our states and local governments are on the front lines of climate change,” the attorneys general add, citing a range of impacts from sea level rise to drought and storm surges.
The CPP aims to cut US greenhouse gas emissions from coal and gas plants 30% compared to 2005 levels by 2030, and mandates all states to work out individual strategies to meet its goals.
The incoming president made frequent threats to scrap the CPP through 2016, promising he would end restrictions on the use of coal and boost the use and extraction of fossil fuels.
But while some lawmakers are supportive of carbon-cutting measures – others are not. On 16 December 24 states called on Trump to kill the proposals, which are not yet law and are under legal review.
“The order (to withdraw the plan) should explain that it is the administration’s view that the (Clean Power Plan) is unlawful and that EPA lacks authority to enforce it,” said West Virginia attorney general Patrick Morrisey.
Read more (Climate Home)
Since Donald Trump’s victory in last month’s presidential election, there has been much speculation about the future of the United States’ progress toward its Paris climate commitments. Many voices have highlighted the expected leadership role of private-sector investment in the continued growth of clean technology markets.
One such opportunity for the private sector is energy-efficiency investments in and by the nation’s small businesses. According to a 2013 report by the Preservation Green Lab, the energy efficiency potential of the 7 million small businesses in U.S. small commercial buildings is enormous: savings of 1.07 quadrillion Btu (British thermal units) of site energy, or more than $30 billion annually. Some small-business types, such as food service providers, have among the highest energy intensities of any building type, and could realize significant increases in their profit margins even with modest increases in their energy efficiency.
Despite the massive potential to both strengthen our small-business community and progress toward our climate commitments, there are significant challenges, both for small-business owners and for efficiency-as-a-service providers, to realize this market opportunity.
Barriers for small-business owners
Small-business owners often do not have the expertise, time, or capital to invest in efficiency measures for their business. Although energy use can account for up to 20 percent of the expenditures of a small business, many business owners do not have the expertise themselves or within their staff to identify and manage energy savings projects. The staff of a small business is typically focused on the core service of the business, and energy efficiency is rarely a priority among competing demands for their time. Finally, small businesses can have slim profit margins and poor cash flow, which makes it difficult to invest in — or finance — costly efficiency upgrades.
Several organizations are working with small businesses to address the knowledge and time barriers.
Read more (Greentech Media)
The newest building energy code, which will govern how much energy and money is saved by new home and commercial building owners, was recently approved by code officials—and by and large, they voted to uphold the great efficiency gains made in past code cycles.
The International Energy Conservation Code (IECC) is the model building energy code recognized by the Department of Energy (DOE) and cited in federal law. It is updated every three years through a stakeholder process involving code officials, builders, efficiency advocates, and other interested parties. The process for developing the newest code has been underway for more than a year: proposals for the 2018 IECC went through multiple rounds of hearings and public comments before building code officials from around the country got the final vote. Once the model code is developed, it’s then up to state and local jurisdictions to adopt and enforce the codes. The IECC is used by more than 40 states.
What are energy codes, anyway?
Building energy codes set specific requirements for the energy use of a building at the time of construction or during a major renovation. Codes are important because it’s much easier and less expensive to make energy efficient improvements while a home is under construction. Once something like insulation or windows is installed in a home, it’s likely to be a decade or more before they are replaced, and codes help make sure that efficient choices are made from the start. Codes have proven to be an incredibly effective tool to reduce energy use in homes and businesses, saving Americans money and reducing harmful pollution. A home built to the 2012 code uses about half of the energy as a standard home constructed in 1975—but there’s still room for improved efficiency.
Read more (NRDC)
It’s too soon to say the utility industry has evolved, or reached some kind of 2.0 status in 2016. There’s still much work ahead and most states have yet to forge ahead with new business utility models and aggressive grid reform. But the vision became clearer this year, outlined by favorable policies and strong research, and enabled by cheaper technologies and more robust infrastructure.
While coal and natural gas may continue their commodities war for some time, new battle lines are being drawn. The next resource tensions will be between the value of storage and demand flexibility, and between the brute force of clean resources and developers’ ability to isolate their locational value.
In New York, utilities have made significant progress using distributed resources to defer costly investments, and are experimenting with new business models. In California, demand response and storage are now competing in wholesale markets. Several states, notably Hawaii, have shown how to bring intermittent resources online quickly.
Regionally, PJM has strengthened its capacity product while working to enable demand response as a competitive resource. In the Northeast, voluntary carbon markets are saving (literal) tons of pollution, while in the West, a voluntary energy balancing market is saving millions of dollars and optimizing use of renewable energy.
Read more (Utility Dive)
The Virginia Department of Corrections (VADOC) is a premiere recipient of an efficiency award from the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC).
The department was awarded in the government category. VADOC established the first energy services contract (ESCO) in the state. The story says that VADOC has completed four ESCO projects, has two in progress and one more in development. In total, the projects are worth about $100 million.
The story says that VADOC “tied energy efficiency to its public safety mission by creating an inmate training program in energy sector skills.”
Prisons and jails can be fruitful venues for energy upgrades and updates. In September, Ameresco announced that it has entered into an Energy Savings Performance Contract (ESPC) with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Prisons. Under terms of the contract, Ameresco will install energy and water conservation technology at the 776-acre Federal Correctional Complex in Butner, N.C. The contract is valued at $53.1 million.
Read more (Energy Manager Today)
What is covered under these standards?
The standards cover desktop computers, notebooks (also referred to as laptops), small-scale servers, workstations and monitors.
How much energy can be saved?
Combined, the standards are estimated to save 2,332 gigawatt hours per year, potentially reducing utility bills by more than $370 million annually after inefficient computers and monitors are replaced with those meeting the standards. This is enough energy to power about 350,000 average California homes for one year. On addition, the proposed standards would reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Read more (California Energy Commission)
As the Obama administration prepares to leave office, it is seeking to underscore just how much has changed in the last eight years in the way we get energy — and to take some credit for it.
Since 2008, costs for wind and solar have plunged by 40 and 60 percent, respectively, according to an analysis provided by the Energy Department. That’s even as the United States has installed 100 gigawatts, or billion watts, of generating capacity in the two technologies combined (75 gigawatts of wind, 25 of solar).
Meanwhile, we now have 500,000 electric vehicles on the road, thanks largely to a 70 percent drop in battery costs. The federal government can’t take credit for all of this (industry invested too, states also promoted renewable energy, and so on), but it helped drive much of it through research investments over decades, said David Friedman, the Energy Department’s acting assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.
“The Department of Energy has really changed the world when it comes to energy, and that’s part of a global competition that’s underway,” said Friedman. He spoke to the Post to preview remarks he planned to deliver Monday in Chicago at an event being put on by the Clean Energy Trust, the Chicago Council of Global Affairs, and Business Forward.
Read more (The Washington Post)
Maryland counties are increasingly signing on to an unorthodox program that makes it easier for owners of large office buildings and warehouses to pay for green energy projects.
Under recently enacted ordinances, companies in Baltimore, Harford, Howard counties and Baltimore City can agree to pay more in property taxes to finance solar panels, for example, or energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. The governments would pass the payments along to lenders that front the costs for the improvements.
Known as PACE — which stands for Property-Assessed Clean Energy financing — such programs have spurred $280 million in clean and efficient energy improvement projects around the country. Anne Arundel County was among the first of what are now 11 Maryland jurisdictions that have authorized PACE, and Maryland is among 19 states and the District of Columbia that have active PACE lending programs.
The arrangement aims to encourage energy-saving investments that otherwise wouldn’t happen because the loans are considered too risky by lenders or charge interest rates too high for borrowers to handle. Folding project costs into property tax bills gives lenders much stronger legal footing to go after delinquent borrowers, and that security allows them to charge lower interest rates over longer periods — about 6 percent over 20 years, for example.
Read more (The Baltimore Sun)
The Obama administration’s energy efficiency efforts are saving billions of dollars each year and could save trillions by 2040. The projected savings by then are far more than what consumers now spend on phones and the Internet, combined.
Even as President Barack Obama has made energy efficiency a top priority, it’s remarkable that federal agencies have achieved these savings over the last eight years by implementing bipartisan laws passed before he entered the Oval Office. Our new analysis reveals how much the United States has saved and still can in the future. If President-elect Donald Trump does not want to shut off a huge moneymaker for the US economy, he should continue these policies.
As shown in the graph below, a few recent energy efficiency policies are helping Americans save about 2 quadrillion Btu (quads) of energy this year, or about 2% of all US energy use. These energy savings are worth about $30 billion this year. But that is just a small advance.
The real benefits should arrive long after Obama, and even after Trump, leaves the Oval Office. In the years to come, as people buy new cars and equipment and we hope as states implement more programs, the savings from policies already put in place will blossom. By 2030, we project these actions will save 10-14 quads of energy a year (10-14% of all energy use), worth $250-290 billion a year. By 2040, the savings continue to increase to 13-17 quads and $370-410 billion a year. They could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by as much as a billion tons a year. We estimate the present value of the energy savings through 2040 at $2.5-2.9 trillion. (This does not count the investment needed, but that will be much smaller).
Read more (ACEEE)
Somewhere long ago and far away, someone decided that the value proposition for energy efficiency was saving money. “Everybody loves to save money,” these energy efficiency marketers likely thought, “and since efficient products use less energy than conventional ones, we should lead with it!”
You all know the drill, though. Most Americans don’t actually see the savings. Utility rates go up sometimes and negate the savings, bad behavior happens (they use the efficient products as a reason to behave in inefficient ways) and/or extreme weather happens and utility bills appear higher, not lower, than they did before the efficient products were purchased. And, in truth, for most folks to see significant savings, they’d have to really spend some money for a deep retrofit. Although the monthly utility bill savings may be noticeable, the cash outlay upfront would be so high that it would take years for the savings to offset the investment.
Read more (Shelton Grp)