PJM, states clash over market jurisdiction at NARUC conference

PJM CEO Andy Ott said some states in his market had entered a “compact” to allow generation decisions to be determined by competitive markets, sparking spirited responses from state regulators.

ORLANDO, Fla. — The PJM Interconnection and its state members clashed at a regulatory conference Tuesday over who holds the ultimate jurisdictional authority to site power plants in the mid-Atlantic electricity market.

PJM CEO Andy Ott told a panel audience on Tuesday that some states in his market had entered a “compact” to allow power generation decisions to be determined by competitive markets, rather than state resource planning.

“The compact … was we opened up resource adequacy to competition, so investment was now driven by competition in parts of our states,” Ott said at the annual meeting of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC). “Other states have remained with integrated resource planning. It was a balance between them.”

Ott blamed current upheavals in federal electricity markets on a retreat from this compact caused by state policies supporting clean energy resources like nuclear plants and renewables. That sparked a spirited response from some state regulators, who said states still retain ultimate authority over generation siting and retirements.

“Where can I get a copy of the original compact?” Maryland Public Service Commissioner Anthony O’Donnell asked Ott rhetorically during a question and answer session at the panel discussion. “I was told recently at an event that states agreed to give up some of their policymaking ability and sovereignty as a compromise of joining that compact. So I wanted to see the original.”

“I agree with the commissioner from Maryland,” Illinois Commerce Commissioner John Rosales told Utility Dive after the panel. “We did not agree to give that up. I don’t think that was the intention of states that we would give up that right, give up that sovereignty where they would have the authority to make decisions on our behalf.”

The clash illustrates the conflicts behind ongoing market reform cases at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which pit state clean energy policies against fossil fuel generators who want to limit their impact on the market. Ott said failure to find a way to adjust market outcomes for these policies could lead states to revert to centralized utility generation planning.

“The big debate is when you start to have competitive states take action to preserve competitive generation or favor certain generation, the crowd on the other side says ‘Hey I’m putting my money at risk, it’s unfair,'” Ott said. “If we can’t have a viable market then Plan B is to flip back to something like competitive procurement where it’s almost like a synthetic reregulation at a regional level. We cannot have open competition where there’s no confidence in the market.”

The debate at the NARUC annual meeting comes weeks after PJM and stakeholders filed their latest comments on capacity market reform at FERC, with the grid operator framing its market reform proposal as a necessary compromise between states and generators. It’s a narrative Ott revisited in comments before state regulators.

Last month, Illinois Commerce Commission Chairman Brien Sheeahan warned states may leave PJM’s voluntary electricity market if it or FERC moves to curtail state policymaking power. It’s a message reiterated by his colleague Rosales.

“If we continue to have these types of disagreements where it always ends up that we agree to disagree, at some point you have to cut the cord,” he said. “I’ll be honest with you, that’s not the solution I’m looking for, but it is a solution. I’d rather go through every other avenue before that occurs.”

Rosales proposed a resolution at the NARUC meeting that would have directed the organization to release an official statement urging FERC to “respect and protect the right of states to adopt laws or policies consistent with their individual energy goals … without forfeiting their access to wholesale capacity markets.”

The resolution was tabled by members of NARUC’s electricity committee on Monday before coming up to a full vote, a turn of events Rosales blamed on insufficient time at the conference to discuss the issue.

“There were a number of questions that came up that couldn’t get answered at that point so they felt more comfortable to table it rather than to vote because there were votes on both sides … and there was a happy medium to table this because there wasn’t enough time,” Rosales said.

“If states would rather have a stronger say, we can take that part, make an adjustment and it will be fine.”

Andy Ott CEO, PJM Interconnection

The Illinois regulator said he may bring the resolution back up at NARUC’s winter policy meeting in February, depending on whether FERC issues a decision in the PJM docket by that time. “All we have as states is the sovereignty of what we want to do with our states in terms of consumer preferences and I’m passionate about this,” he said. “That’s the responsibility of NARUC in representing us as a group.”

While defending PJM’s capacity market reform plan, Ott also left the door open for more fundamental reforms to the market model if states want to exert more control over power generation. “If states would rather have a stronger say, we can take that part, make an adjustment and it will be fine,” Ott said.

Trump to nominate acting EPA head Wheeler for permanent top spot

Dive Brief:

  • Andrew Wheeler, the acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, will be nominated for the top job on a permanent basis, President Trump announced on Friday.
  • Wheeler has directed multiple efforts to roll back environmental regulations on the utility and transportation sectors, including rules on carbon emissions from coal plants and tailpipe pollution from automobiles. He will need to be confirmed by the Senate.
  • Wheeler took over for embattled former administrator Scott Pruitt in July. He previously worked as a lobbyist for coal mining companies, including Murray Energy, pushing their deregulatory agenda with the Trump administration.

Dive Insight:

Wheeler’s confirmation as permanent head of the EPA would likely mean the agency’s multiple deregulatory actions for industry will continue uninterrupted.

While his predecessor was dogged by multiple ethics scandals, Wheeler has kept his name out of the headlines as he directs efforts to dismantle environmental regulations put in place by the Obama White House.

Those include vehicle emissions standards that were set to accelerate under the previous administration. In August, Wheeler announced plans to freeze those standards and revoke California’s authority to set stronger rules for car engines and electric vehicles.

Also in August, Wheeler announced plans to roll back the Clean Power Plan, a sweeping rule that would have required coal plant owners to shift to lower-emitting forms of power generation. EPA now plans to replace it with a less stringent rule that would only require modest efficiency upgrades at coal plants.

Wheeler has also pushed other coal sector priorities, including rollbacks of mercury pollution regulations and the nation’s first federal rules for the disposal of coal ash, a hazardous byproduct of power generation. Wheeler’s first move as acting administrator was to announce a new, less stringent ash rule for plant owners.

Environmentalists and public health groups say Wheeler’s recent work for industry represents a conflict of interest with the EPA’s regulatory mission. Until August 2017, Wheeler was registered as a lobbyist in Washington where he represented companies regulated by the EPA.

One of those clients was Murray Energy, the largest privately owned coal mining company in the U.S. In March 2017, Wheeler was present at a meeting between CEO Bob Murray and Secretary of Energy Rick Perry during which Murray gave the secretary an “Action Plan” to save the domestic coal sector.

The plan and others submitted to the White House included a number of actions EPA has since undertaken, including rollbacks of the Clean Power Plan and coal ash rule, as well as an ill-fated power plant bailout that the White House submitted to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last year.

Wheeler defended his record as a lobbyist when he took the helm at EPA in July, touting his work on health benefits for miners, as well as his previous experience as a career staffer at EPA. Environmentalists, however, say his actions show a clear connection to the sector he used to represent.

“[P]roposals like the forthcoming rule to weaken or eliminate protections against mercury emissions make it clear Andrew Wheeler plans to continue … with rollbacks of vital environmental protections,” Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, said in a statement. “In the confirmation process to come, I look forward to delving deeper into Mr. Wheeler’s ties to regulated industries, and how those ties have informed his decision making on issues that directly benefit those industries’ bottom lines.”

Hearings have not been set yet for Wheeler’s confirmation, but are likely early next year. Despite likely opposition from Whitehouse and other Democrats, Republican control of the U.S. Senate makes confirmation likely.

North Carolina Utilities South Carolina North Carolina commission latest to approve utility merger

November 19, 2018
The North Carolina Utilities Commission has approved the proposed merger of troubled South Carolina utility SCANA with Dominion Energy.
The utilities announced the commission’s approval in a news release Monday. The merger remains contingent upon approval from the Public Service Commission of South Carolina. Previously, the merger had received approval from a number of agencies, including the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which approved the indirect transfer of the operating license for the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station from SCANA subsidiary South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. to the Virginia-based company. SCANA needed a buyer after spending $5 billion on a pair of reactors abandoned a year ago at V.C. Summer, costing thousands of jobs. The move spawned more than a dozen lawsuits and followed the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.

29 Renewable Energy Markets You Need to Watch Out For in 2019

We detail the most interesting markets to watch in 2019.

Next year will see wind, solar and energy storage flourishing globally.

You won’t have to look far to find a renewable energy market worth tracking next year. As more countries establish gigawatt-scale markets for renewables and storage, the global picture is getting much more diverse. Experts helped GTM identify at least 29 countries where wind, solar and energy storage prospects will be worth keeping an eye on in 2019.

Argentina: Wind and solar

Despite recent currency problems, Wood Mackenzie Americas Power & Renewables Analyst Manan Parikh believes new national net metering policies could stimulate the growth of distributed solar systems of up to 300 kilowatts across Argentina. The country has also been identified by Dana Younger, chief renewable energy specialist at the International Finance Corporation, as a wind market to watch.

Australia: Solar

Australia is hardly a new market for solar, but that won’t make it any less interesting in 2019, said Wood Mackenzie solar analyst Rishab Shrestha. “Australia’s utility-scale solar [market] is picking up pace rapidly from this year onward through 2020,” he said. Australia has a solar pipeline of more than 30 gigawatts, he said, as a result of the country’s Large-Scale Renewable Energy Target, corporate power-purchase agreements (PPAs), state auctions and merchant projects.

Belgium: Energy storage

Europe’s largest behind-the-meter storage system, with 4.3 megawatts of power, has been installed in Belgium, said Alex Eller, senior research analyst for energy at Navigant Research. Recently announced projects in the country include flow battery demonstration projects totaling roughly 5.5 megawatt-hours of capacity and an 18-megawatt Tesla system in Terhills, eastern Belgium, providing reserve and frequency control on electricity trading markets.

Brazil: Solar

Brazil historically has had a strong wind market. Now solar is picking up. “Projects sized above 5 megawatts are taking advantage of a mix of bilateral PPAs and spot prices, depending on where they are located,” said Parikh at Wood Mackenzie. “With auction prices falling and a desire for more market-driven solutions when it comes to renewables, many offtakers, developers and suppliers see this as the largest area for growth,” he said. “Rates of return are not as razor-thin as competitive procurement rounds

China: Energy storage

China is top of the list for just about any renewables watcher. But it has historically lagged behind expectations on energy storage growth, said Eller of Navigant. This changed in 2018, with more than 2.2 gigawatts of new electrochemical storage projects either planned or under construction, according to the China Energy Storage Alliance. “I predict 2019 will be a huge year for the country’s industry,” Eller said.

Colombia: Solar

Wood Mackenzie’s Parikh said there is still a significant amount of enthusiasm for solar in Colombia despite auctions being pushed back from January to March next year. The announcement of utility-scale projects by Enel and Celsia shows there are ways that plants above 20 megawatts can skip an extensive approval process, although the commercial and industrial segment remains the main market opportunity in Colombia.

Egypt: Wind and solar

The financial close of a 250-megawatt project from a consortium led by Engie in the Gulf of Suez has added to hopes for a growing wind industry in Egypt, with 1.2 gigawatts of capacity potentially being developed by companies such as ACWA Power and Marubeni. The country, home to the world’s biggest PV complex, is also highlighted as a solar market to watch by Josefin Berg, research and analysis manager for the solar and energy storage research group at IHS Markit.

Estonia: Wind

The small European Republic of Estonia is attracting wind industry interest over plans for offshore installations in the Baltic Sea, said Richard Heap, editor-in-chief at specialist analyst group A Word About Wind. Stephen Bull, senior vice president of the wind and carbon capture and storage business at Equinor, the oil, gas and floating wind foundation firm, has also cited the Baltic Sea as a potential hotspot for offshore installations.

Ethiopia: Wind

The International Finance Corporation is expecting to see an uptick in wind development in Ethiopia beginning next year, when the country will be the first in Africa to benefit from extension of the IFC’s Scaling Solar program. The program has traditionally helped African governments, apart from South Africa, to support privately funded solar projects. But in Ethiopia it will be extended to cover wind, too. The country is aiming to install 5.2 gigawatts of wind by 2020, from 324 megawatts today.

Ireland: Energy storage

Alex Eller at Navigant said demand for storage in Ireland is rising on the back of high electricity prices, increasing renewable generation and the island’s inherently restricted grid. A total of 373 megawatts of new energy storage capacity is being processed in the country. Regulators are planning to launch the first auction under the country’s Renewable Energy Support Scheme, which is expected to procure 140 megawatts of fast-responding capacity for grid stability services.

Italy: Solar

Italy is one of a couple of southern European solar markets that once had strong growth. The country will be worth a second look next year. The Italian government is targeting 72 terawatt-hours of solar generation a year by 2030, up from around 25 terawatt-hours today, said Tom Heggarty, senior analyst for global solar PV at Wood Mackenzie. It is planning seven joint wind-and-solar auctions between 2019 and 2021.

Japan: Wind

Companies such as Equinor are keeping an eye on Japan’s plans for offshore wind, which came a step closer to reality this year when Tokyo Electric Power Company, Japan’s largest utility, signaled major investments in the technology. Given Japan’s historic hesitancy to bet fully on offshore wind, adding it to the list of markets to watch in 2019 may turn out to be optimistic. But the potential size of the market means few will want to miss the business opportunity when it finally occurs.

Lithuania: Wind

Along with Estonia, Lithuania is one of several Eastern European markets that experts are watching for action next year. The country got more than 33 percent of its electricity from wind in 2017, and in June this year approved a new national strategy to meet 80 percent of its total energy demand through renewables by 2050.

Mongolia: Energy storage

Although hardly set to become a galloping energy storage market anytime soon, the landlocked Asian nation of Mongolia deserves a place on the 2019 watch list after signing a groundbreaking finance package for 41 megawatts of distributed energy with batteries. The $66.2 million package, from the Asian Development Bank, the Strategic Climate Fund, the Japan Fund for the Joint Crediting Mechanism and the Mongolian government, will be used to deliver clean energy to 260,000 people in the remote west of the country.

Morocco: Wind

The IFC is hoping 2019 will see a renewal of wind project activity in Morocco after four years of scant progress. Some of the projects on the drawing board are rather speculative, such as Soluna’s plan to build a 900-megawatt off-grid wind farm in the desert.

But project developers are eager. Soluna’s CEO John Belizaire, for example, told GTM he is confident in getting a grid connection to the project within a year of commissioning, and the risks are low. “Morocco has established legal frameworks where the rule of law is sound,” he said.

Nigeria: Solar

Bill Lenihan, co-CEO at Off Grid Electric, sees Nigeria as one of Africa’s most promising distributed solar markets in 2019. “Nigeria is Africa’s largest economy and biggest oil producer, and its population growth is expected to surpass the U.S. by 2050,” he said.“Despite this, Nigerians are significantly underserved when it comes to clean, affordable energy. Overall only 45 percent of the population has energy access. As a result, we are observing a significant demand for distributed energy alternatives that don’t rely on the grid.”

Pakistan: Wind

Dana Younger at the IFC has cited Pakistan as a promising upcoming market for wind. The country is looking to double the share of wind and solar in its energy mix by 2022. And in November it is set to host the seventh World Wind Energy Conference. The country is heavily dependent on imported oil and gas, so there is an incentive to invest in wind. However, wind projects may have to compete with extensive coal deposits uncovered in 1992 and now being exploited for power generation.

Poland: Wind

“Poland is trying to rebuild investor confidence after the government that took power in 2015 did major damage to onshore wind support mechanisms,” said A Word About Wind’s Richard Heap. The nation also looks promising for offshore wind — as long as investors can be persuaded that the government’s new wind-friendly stance is for real.

Portugal: Solar

The Iberian Peninsula, where Spanish legislation hampered solar development for the best part of a decade, is now once more looking up for PV. Portugal, which has long had a more favorable stance toward renewables than Spain, looks set to benefit from its proximity to the once-more growing Spanish market. Fun fact: Portugal is also looking to get into the battery game, with lithium exploration licenses up for grabs this year.

Russia: Wind

Russia appeared to signal growing support for wind power last year when it unveiled a $1.7 billion development fund targeting the sector. The market hasn’t exactly raced ahead since then, but increasing levels of development earned it a spot in A Word About Wind’s latest Emerging Markets Attractiveness Index, ahead of other potential wind hotspots such as Argentina and Pakistan.

Saudi Arabia: Solar

Despite regulatory uncertainty caused by the headline-grabbing SoftBank affair, the Saudi Arabian market is still poised to lead the Middle East in PV demand in the next five years, said Benjamin Attia, a research analyst in the Power & Renewables practice at Wood Mackenzie. Planned tenders could see up to around 4 gigawatts of PV being developed by the end of 2019. A new renewables strategy, set to be released in the coming weeks, may change this outlook, but Attia said he is “confident the Saudi market will see market-shifting activity in 2019.”

South Africa: Solar and energy storage

After a few years of high uncertainty, the South African solar market is ready to re-emerge with the signing of PPAs from round 4.5 of the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, plus a fifth bid window set for November, Attia said. Navigant’s Alex Eller also identified South Africa as a market to watch for energy storage. The national utility Eskom has announced a two-phase plan for 1.4 gigawatt-hours of energy storage at its sites throughout the country, he said.

Spain: Solar

Tom Heggarty of Wood Mackenzie said upward of 20 gigawatts of solar projects are currently looking for grid connection permits across the Iberian Peninsula.

Around 4 gigawatts of capacity got awarded through Spanish government auctions in 2017, but some developers see more potential in signing utility or corporate PPAs. With prices as low as €40 ($46) per megawatt-hour, Spain is “all about unsubsidized solar,” Heggarty said.

Taiwan: Solar and wind

Taiwan’s solar market will hit gigawatt-scale levels next year, said Wood Mackenzie’s Rishab Shrestha. The country is targeting 20 gigawatts of capacity by 2025, supported by auctions and feed-in tariffs. Richard Heap of A Word About Wind, meanwhile, is watching the development of Taiwan’s offshore wind market. “It’s a promising market,” he said. “The government has backed enough projects to make it look like a supply chain can grow.”

Thailand: Energy storage

Although still a small market, Thailand’s energy storage sector is “gaining momentum quickly,” said Eller at Navigant. Regulators are looking to use energy storage to help increase the level of renewables on and off the grid, with one 3-megawatt system already in operation and more planned.

Turkey: Wind

The IFC sees potential growth in Turkey’s wind market despite President Tayyip Erdogan’s ultranationalist and protectionist leadership representing a relatively high-risk bet for developers. Turkey is looking to add 16 gigawatts of wind capacity by 2030 and is planning 1.2 gigawatts offshore. “There is plenty for investors to get stuck into,” according to A Word About Wind’s Emerging Markets Attractiveness Index.

United States: Energy storage

The U.S. leads the world in energy storage, and its 2019 market won’t disappoint. Behind the meter, watch out for Massachusetts, New England and New York, as well as California and Hawaii, said Wood Mackenzie Senior Energy Storage Analyst Brett Simon. For front-of-meter action, “keep a close eye on the Carolinas,” said Daniel Finn-Foley, another senior energy storage analyst at Wood Mackenzie. “Duke’s heavy investment in storage there could spark interest across the Southeast,” he said.

Ukraine: Wind

Nuclear-and-fossil-fuel-heavy Ukraine is quietly emerging as an interesting market for wind developers. Ukraine commissioned 50.35 megawatts in the first half of 2018, bringing cumulative capacity to 515.5 megawatts, said the Ukrainian Wind Energy Association. In August, Turkish construction and engineering firm Guris Insaat ve Muhendislik started building a 32.4-megawatt wind farm. And in September, the Norwegian wind developer NTB announced a 250-megawatt project in the south of the country.

Vietnam: Solar

IHS Markit’s Josefin Berg and Wood Mackenzie’s Rishab Shrestha both cite Vietnam as an Asian solar market to watch. “Cumulative solar capacity is less than 20 megawatts, but the current feed-in tariff is attracting a massive development pipeline of more than 10 gigawatts,” Shrestha said. “We expect around 900 megawatts to be installed in 2019.”

Big tech companies are becoming the top buyers of green energy to meet data needs: BNEF

Dive Brief:

Dive Insight:

As more tech companies commit to renewable energy, they are increasingly driving green power adoption. Google, in particular, is leading through its efforts to run all of its data centers with renewable energy, according to BNEF.

Google has now purchased over 3 GW of renewable energy, followed by Facebook (2 GW), and Microsoft, Amazon and Apple (1 GW each), BNEF told Bloomberg. The firm’s data showed the tech sector leading the year with renewable energy corporate procurements.

Companies were already on pace to lead clean energy development: an earlier BNEF report found corporate purchases by August had already topped the 2017 amount by almost 2 GW, with 7.2 GW of clean energy.

And with the IoT expected to continue growing, experts see the renewable purchasing trend continuing.

There are 25 billion devices connected now, “and the numbers are expanding exponentially,” Richard Mroz, senior advisor of state and government relations for Protect Our Power, said. And IHS Markit expects estimates data centers account for between 2% and 3% of electricity demand in developed nations, primarily for cooling.

“Onsite generation is the ideal way to implement renewable energy in data centers,” the firm said. But it added that offsite renewable energy sources like utility companies and renewable projects “are typically the easiest way for data centers to obtain renewable energy. Offsite generation removes the large upfront capital expenses to produce onsite renewable energy and the geographical limitations of renewable energy production methods.”

While Google hit a milestone last year, purchasing sufficient renewable energy to power its global operations, the search engine giant is now trying to attune the timing and location — a much tougher task. Last month, the company published an analysis that showed none of its data centers in 2017 were matched 24-hours-a-day, every day with 100% carbon-free energy.

The answer may be batteries, which tech companies have been purchasing. Amazon has recently been purchasing batteries from Tesla, to help power its U.K. distribution centers.

“The deployment of cost-effective, large-scale energy storage could conceivably help create better matching of renewable energy supply with data center electric demand, particularly over the course of a day,” Google wrote in its renewable energy analysis. But it added, “storage may not necessarily be able to overcome major seasonal variations in renewable supply.”

DC advances bill to mandate elimination of fossil fuels by 2032

Washington, D.C., on Tuesday took another step toward adopting the nation’s first 100 percent renewable energy bill, which would require the district source all of its electricity from wind and solar by 2032 and set tough new energy efficiency standards for buildings.

The district has a current goal of obtaining 50 percent of its power from renewables by 2032, and the change reflected in the bill represents the most aggressive, fastest-acting climate change legislation in the country. It would also allow the district to enact regional agreements with neighboring Virginia and Maryland to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Two committees of the D.C. Council separately and unanimously approved the bill Tuesday and moved it to a vote before the full council.

“We can’t be walking or strolling toward solutions, we need to run,” council member Charles Allen, a Democrat, said before voting to approve the bill on the Transportation and Environment Committee. “The damage being done at the federal level can’t be reversed in a year or two.”The full council is slated on Nov. 27 to conduct the first of two votes on the 100 percent renewable energy bill.

To help pay for the transition to renewables, the bill would impose a fee on electricity and natural gas consumption that the legislation’s authors say would add $2.10 to D.C. residents’ average monthly gas bills and less than $1 to their average monthly electricity bills. About 20 percent of the money raised from those fees would be used to provide financial help to low-income D.C. ratepayers. The rest would go to local “sustainability” projects.

The district, under Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat, is already among the furthest along in transitioning away from fossil fuels and conserving energy. About 74 percent of D.C.’s greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings. The Democratic-dominated states of California and Hawaii also have laws mandating 100 percent electricity from carbon-free sources, but those set a later target date than D.C. is proposing — 2045.

GE, Juhl partner for first commercial solar-wind hybrid generation project

Dive Brief:

  • GE Renewable Energy will supply a wind turbine and solar equipment for a unique renewable generation project in Minnesota, which developer Juhl Energy says will be the first commercial integrated solar-wind hybrid power generation facility in the country.
  • The 2 MW project will provide locally-generated energy to the Lake Region Electric Cooperative of Pelican Rapids, Minnesota, while Bank of America will purchase the Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) it generates.
  • Bank of America’s purchase of the RECs follows a trend of corporate renewable energy purchases, stemming from an increased focus on environmental stewardship. The Minnesota project is expected to cover the bank’s electricity consumption in the state, helping to meet a 2020 environmental operations goal of purchasing 100% renewable electricity.

Dive Insight:

Juhl’s hybrid renewable project is small, but significant in a few ways. By combining solar and wind, the company says it will gain efficiencies — a tactic that could be used to broadly grow affordable renewable resources.

“The hybrid design gives these type of projects the ability to produce power when it is most needed, with the solar essentially providing summer peak energy, and the wind providing winter peak energy,” Juhl said in its announcement.

GE Renewable Energy will supply a single 2 MW wind turbine for the project, which will be supported by 500 kW of solar.

The project will use GE’s Wind Integrated Solar Energy technology platform to “directly integrate the solar panels through the wind turbine’s converter so both wind and solar share the same balance of plant, increasing system net capacity,” the companies said. The efficiencies will add 3% to 4% in net capacity and annual energy production could increase 10%.

Bank of America wants to move quickly on sustainability, and that “starts with creative thinking and projects that can help drive more low-carbon energy solutions in our communities,” said Alex Liftman, the bank’s global environmental executive.

According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, corporate buyers are helping boost clean energy development with record purchases. By August, corporate purchases had reached 7.2 GW, already topping the 2017 record by 1.8 GW, according to a BNEF report.

New York announces $250M electric vehicle corridor, DC fast charger rollout

Dive Brief:

  • New York has developed a set of statewide, broad-scale initiatives aimed at boosting the adoption of electric vehicles, including the development of 200 150 kW DC Fast Chargers (DCFC) in more than two dozen locations along major traffic corridors and at JFK Airport.
  • The New York Power Authority said it has identified the first 32 locations for DCFC infrastructure as part of its EVolve NY program. The state has committed $250 million through 2025 for the initial rollout of the program.
  • New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to see at least 10,000 charging stations in the state by the end of 2021, as part of the state’s Charge NY 2.0 initiative to encourage electric car adoption.

New York, like a growing number of states, sees electrified transportation as a key strategy in meeting broader emissions and environmental goals. And that approach is showing up in millions of dollars spent on infrastructure, in an effort to boost widespread adoption.

Along with the expansion of public fast charger networks across the state, New York says it has also approved regulatory actions to lower residential charging rates, and issued more than 11,000 rebates to consumers for purchasing electric vehicles.

Cuomo’s long-term clean energy goals call for reducing carbon emissions 40% by 2030 from 1990 levels. NYPA President and CEO Gil Quiniones said the plan is to “aggressively accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles” throughout the state.

“Addressing infrastructure barriers is key if we want people to step into EV ownership with confidence,” Quiniones said in a statement.

NYPA said that EVolve NY is planning for four 150 kW chargers per location, on average less than 75 miles apart. The first DCFC chargers planned through the EVolve NY program are expected to be under construction by spring 2019, and NYPA said they will be rolled out “along priority travel corridors with high traffic volumes from Buffalo to Montauk, and from Long Island to Canada.”

Other agencies are also involved in the state’s efforts. The New York Public Service Commission approved time-of-use rates that lower charging costs during off-peak hours. And utilizing the state’s “Drive Clean Rebate,” the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has approved more than $15 million for more than 11,000 rebates.

In September, Cuomo also announced the availability of $5 million for charging installations at apartment buildings, workplaces, malls and other locations under Charge Ready NY.

New York is not the only state pouring money into electric vehicles. This summer, the California Public Utilities Commission approved $738 million in transportation electrification projects for the state’s investor-owned utilities. And New Jersey utility PSEG plans to spend $300 million on EV infrastructure as part of a multi-billion dollar clean energy and grid investment plan.

Recommended Reading:

Green Banks

Published: NREL  Transforming Energy 11/21/18

Green Banks help secure low-cost capital for clean energy projects including solar at favorable rates and terms to both traditional and otherwise challenging market segments.

The availability of low-cost financing is a critical factor for achieving cost-competitive solar energy. Reduced interest rates, extended term lengths, and low or no money down finance offerings can help ensure that solar adopters achieve energy bill savings, provide pricing certainty, and enable investors to achieve attractive investment returns. Green Banks are one mechanism used to deploy low-cost capital for solar energy projects by offering favorable rates and terms to both traditional and underserved markets. According to the Coalition for Green Capital (CGC)—a non-profit Green Bank advisory organization—a Green Bank is fundamentally “a focused institution, created to maximize clean energy adoption.” Green Banks are often established to complement existing financing institutions by attracting and leveraging private capital that otherwise might be unavailable to a particular market or segment.

U.S. Green Bank Institutions

As of 2017, several Green Banks in the United States have been established by enabling legislation at the state and local level, with several more under development. Examples of existing Green Banks in the United States include:

Based on the early successes of these leading clean energy finance institutions, there are a number of other jurisdictions in the United States exploring the formation of a Green Bank as well as several international development efforts underway.

Green Bank Products

There are a variety of financial products that may be offered by a Green Bank. These products can be targeted to end users such as a home or business owner as well as other finance providers such as retail and investment banks. Connecticut Green Bank, for example, has driven growth in its residential and commercial segments through a residential solar loan and lease program, credit support mechanisms (e.g. credit enhancements) for energy efficiency and solar , and a commercial property assessed clean energy (PACE) product for a variety of different energy conservation measures. The New York Green Bank offers a similar product list which includes credit enhancements, a multi-developer aggregation service (bundling of multiple smaller solar investments), traditional loans, and combination product of the above. A generalized representation of the types of products offered by Green Banks is shown below (image courtesy of Connecticut Green Bank). Through these products, Green Banks can help to help secure private capital by a number of different means including lowering risks or reducing transactional costs.

Connecticut Green Banks Innovative Financing Tools

Green Bank Formation

State and local governments have established Green Banks under a variety of different structures, legislative directives, and funding sources. For example, Connecticut Green Bank is capitalized by a $.001/kilowatt-hour (kWh) surcharge to households in their electricity rates (resulting in a surcharge of about $10 per year per household), while the Montgomery County Green Bank received an approximate $14 million grant from the county that was part of a local utility merger process. As another example, the State of Nevada recently enacted the Nevada Clean Energy Fund (another term for a Green Bank) that established the authority and charter for the institution, but requires the Fund’s Board of Directors to be responsible for securing the necessary startup and capitalization dollars to launch the fund. Under the Nevada Clean Energy Fund model, a number of different sources can be targeted for startup and capitalization of the fund, including federal, state and private grants and bonds, and foundational support and high net worth individuals among others. In general, the implementation of a Green Bank typically follows a process of an early startup phase in which the institutional processes are put in place followed by a launch of the initial product to eventually expansion into multiple products and sectors.

In July of 2017, NREL, CGC, and the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy co-hosted a one-day workshop with a number of Nevada stakeholders that was a key first step in implementing the Nevada Clean Energy Fund. The discussions centered around the Clean Energy Fund’s organization structure, governance, board members and the desired knowledge base, long term funding options, and consideration of the different potential products to be offered. The workshop materials can be found herePDF.

Green Bank Investment Statistics

Despite a comparatively short track record, Green Banks have proven to be an effective mechanism for deploying capital. As of 2016, the most mature Green Banks in the country, in Connecticut and New York, have collectively invested nearly $575 billion in total clean energy investment. These investments also mobilize private sector investment into a project by reportedly three to six times the amount of public sector dollars at work. The ability to attract and leverage a greater amount of private dollars is often one of the hallmarks and typical motivations for establishing a Green Bank.

Kenyan McDuffie Chair, Committee on Business and Economic Development October 29, 2018 Oversight Hearing on the Bill 22-904, the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Act of 2018.

published:  Nov 8, 2018

Introduction Date
Jul 10, 2018
Councilmembers Cheh, Allen, T. White, Nadeau, and Chairman Mendelson
Councilmembers Gray, R. White, and Grosso
Committee Referral
Committee on Transportation and the Environment and Committee on Business and Economic Development
Additional Information
BILL SUMMARY – As introduced, this bill increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard to 100% by 2032, establishes a solar energy standard post 2032, and establishes standards electricity suppliers must meet regarding purchasing a percentage of their energy from long-term purchase agreements with renewable generators. It removes restrictions on energy efficiency measures. It expands the uses of the Sustainable Energy Trust Fund and also establishes an energy performance standard program for buildings at the Department of Energy and Environment. Among other things, it authorizes the Mayor to commit the District to participation in regional programs with the purpose of limiting greenhouse gas emissions and requires the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue regulations tying the vehicle excise tax to fuel efficiency.

You can now Watch both videos on  the D.C. Council held the two public hearings on a historic bill to power the District with 100% renewable energy sources by 2032, including 5% from local solar.

You can watch October 9, 2018  video from the hearing

The October 29, 2018 hearing can be found here: http://video.oct.dc.gov/VOD/DCC/2018_10/10_29_18_Biz.html





Montgomery County Green Bank

Published By :  Montgomery County Green Bank : Nov 08, 2018

Green Notes, November 2018

Here’s our the latest news:

  • Our first annual report is ready! Want to know what we’ve been up to in the last fiscal year? All the details are in our newly-released report.
  • We’ve created a short video to help everyone understand how we work to accelerate clean energy and energy efficiency in the County. See the link below!
  • We are hiring! We’re looking for a Product Marketing Representative to support our marketing and outreach activities for our financial products. More information is below.
  • Calling all energy contractors serving Montgomery County! Are you helping your business customers plan their capital projects for next year? Are they considering energy improvements? Attend our webinar on November 15th and learn your options to make these projects more affordable!
  • Check out our Commercial Loan for Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CLEER). It makes clean energy projects more affordable. Offers no money out and no cash flow impact.
  • Want to learn more about our Authorized Contractors? Take a closer look.
  • A Regular Board Meeting will be held in November. Details are below!

Our Annual Report is Ready!

In 2018, we did so many exciting things with our partners to help expand financing options for energy improvement projects in Montgomery County.We launched our first loan product, met with many stakeholders across the region, attended conferences and festivals and held a workshop to spread the word on the green bank model.

All the details are in our annual report!

Watch our New Video! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdJnRwdFkEE&feature=youtu.be

Follow Sally, a local commercial property owner, and Derrick, her employee, as they explore options for clean energy and energy efficiency. Click on the image above or visit our homepage!

This video is meant to help everyone understand our role in driving the adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency in Montgomery County. If you’d like to let us know what you think, feel free to send us an email at info@mcgreenbank.org.

We’re hiring!

Interested in helping the Montgomery County Green Bank? We’re looking for a full-time Product Marketing Representative to work in our Rockville office!

This person will be knowledgeable about energy efficiency and renewable energy contracting work and will support outreach and education activities for commercial and residential contractors, businesses and property owners in the County. If you know a savvy marketing communications person who would be great for this role, please share our job description and send him/her our way.

Calling All Energy Contractors Serving Montgomery County!It’s Budget Season!
Thinking of Financing Options for Your Customers?
Learn more about what’s locally available! 

We’re holding a webinar to help you understand all the options out there for your commercial and industrial customers as they go through capital improvement budgeting and decision-making for next year.Our panel will include Tom Deyo from the Montgomery County Green Bank and Lindsey Shaw from Montgomery County. They will walk through current financing options regarding the Commercial Loan for Energy Efficiency and Renewables (CLEER) and the Commercial PACE program available to your commercial and industrial customers. Bring your questions and offer your thoughts. These options can help your customers move forward if they were not able to get budget funding to cover their projects, or help them finance larger projects than they could afford on their own.


C-PACE and CLEER: Customer Financing Solutions in Budget Season for C&I Energy Efficiency and Renewable Projects

When: Thursday, November 15th at noon to 1 pm EST

Add to your calendar »

You may also join by phone:
‪+1 (413) 251-4856‬
PIN: ‪680 694 655‬#

If you’re interested but can’t attend the live event, please register and we will make sure you receive a recording.

Considering an energy savings retrofit
for your commercial property?Our Commercial Loan for Energy Efficiency
and Renewables (CLEER) may be for you!

If you are commercial property owner in Montgomery County, consider the many benefits of this loan. Terms vary by CLEER Participating Lender, but generally:

  • Loans may be from $15,000 to $250,000
  • 100% financing is available
  • Terms of up to 12 years
  • Loan is unsecured
  • Up to 30% of the loan amount can go to non-energy improvements
  • Ability to align payments with energy savings over time.

Loan proceeds can be used for a variety of energy efficiency measures – including all Pepco Energy Savings for Business Eligible Measures PLUS solar PV, energy storage, gas furnaces and combined heat and power.

To discuss your project or address any questions, you can also contact:

Horacio Chacon
Revere Bank
(301) 841-9583

Josh Patton
Ascentium Capital
(281) 902-1969

If you are a contractor who would like to work with us, click here.

Our List of Authorized Contractors
Keeps Growing!

We’re proud to be working with some of the best energy contractors in the County to bring you affordable and accessible financing that will save your business cash. Our contractors are well-versed in the benefits of CLEER, our financing product for commercial and industrial property owners.
Wondering who is on our list? Take a closer look!
You may see someone you know!

Upcoming Board Meeting

Regular Board Meeting

Date: Wednesday, November 14, 2018, 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
The agenda is available here.Location: Montgomery County Green Bank, 155 Gibbs Street, 4th Floor Conference Room, Rockville, MD 20850The public may attend these meetings. If you wish to attend, please RSVP in advance to info@mcgreenbank.org.

DC People’s Counsel Mattavous-Frye Named Government Champion for Solar Education Efforts

Author: Doxie McCoy  Office of People’s  Wed, Nov 07, 2018

Government Champion — Sandra Mattavous-Frye, District of Columbia Office of the People’s Counsel, with Rick Peters, Board President of the MDV-Solar Energy Industries Association


MDV-SEIA Presents 7 Solar Industry Leadership Awards at Solar Focus 2018

On October 31st, MDV-SEIA hosted the annual Solar Focus Awards Luncheon, an event recognizing outstanding leadership in the solar industry…The Association was proud to recognize seven award recipients this year. See:https://mdvseia.org/mdv-seia-presents-7-solar-industry-leadership-awards-at-solar-focus-2018/?platform=hootsuite

The Maryland-DC-Delaware-Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association says“Our Government Champion is the public official who best recognizes the economic and social value of solar power, but seeks to guide the industry’s growth through innovation and equity. The DC Office of the People’s Counsel has been a leading voice among consumer advocates for solar consumer education, expanded solar access and the benefits of distributed energy resources for the larger grid.

“This is unquestionably due to the leadership of Ms. Sandra Mattavous-Frye; she and her staff have coordinated countless consumer education workshops, in all eight wards of the city, to equip DC residents with the information they need to go solar.

“Ms. Frye has been a national leader in engaging the solar industry in conversations around consumer protection, soft costs, diversity and access. In 2017, she released a Value of Solar study for the District of Columbia which highlighted the extensive benefits of solar for the city and in 2018, she released a DC Consumer’s Guide to Going Solar. Additionally, in the most recent Pepco rate case, DC OPC took a stand against residential demand charges which were eliminated from the utility’s petition in a joint settlement approved by the DC Public Service Commission. For Ms. Frye and her team, information is power for consumers. Her office has been a model of consistent consumer engagement and expert advocacy on solar issues.”

PJM’s capacity market proposal: Bad for customers, states, and the fight against climate change


While FERC expressed concern about the impact of clean energy policies among different states in the region, it did not ask for a plan that would prop up generators at the expense of customers.

In the absence of federal climate leadership, state and local governments have shown up with strong commitments to decarbonize the energy sector. PJM’s proposed redesign of its regional electricity “capacity” market would hamstring state clean energy initiatives throughout the largest electricity market in the United States, cumulatively about one-fifth of the U.S. power supply.

Of the 13 Mid-Atlantic states, plus the District of Columbia, in the PJM electricity market, 12 have a renewable portfolio standard or serious renewable energy goal. In the wake of increasingly alarming concerns about the pace of climate change, states throughout PJM are developing more aggressive clean energy goals. There’s a lot at stake.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recognizes the importance of allowing states to meet these goals without overburdening customers. When FERC ordered PJM to reshape its capacity market (in which electricity is contracted for three years into the future to secure long-term grid reliability), FERC also ordered PJM to explore ways to accommodate state clean energy programs and protect customers from unnecessary costs.

Unfortunately, PJM’s proposal released this month goes in the opposite direction: punishing clean energy and charging customers. We have until November 6 to raise concerns to FERC and prevent PJM’s proposal from becoming a market rule.

PJM’s plan is akin to a billion-dollar giveaway at consumers’ expense to a few lucky fossil fuel generators. While we previously raised alarms about PJM’s plans, this proposal is worse than expected. It may be better for many future clean energy resources to exit the PJM capacity market than take the extended resource carveout option, in which they must literally make payouts to dirtier plants.

The proposal targets low-carbon energy sources because PJM views financial support in the form of state renewable energy or zero-emissions credits as “distorting” the market.

PJM proposes three ways that low-carbon generators receiving state support would be able to participate in its capacity market:

  • Operate as usual under state programs, but be subject to a minimum offer price rule (MOPR) in the capacity market;
  • Commit to foregoing any payment from state programs, but not be subject to the MOPR; or
  • Opt out of the capacity market through the “resource carveout option,” or potentially the even more punishing “extended” carveout.

PJM’s proposed options for clean energy resources represent body blows to state climate policy and customer wallets in the following ways.

A misguided default option

Under PJM’s plan, generators receiving a state subsidy of more than 1 percent of their expected revenue would automatically have their bid prices increased through the MOPR, which is essentially a resource-specific price floor for bids in the capacity auction. The way the MOPR works is complicated, but the effect is that it sets a higher minimum price in an attempt to estimate what the price might have been without any state support — in other words, canceling out state clean energy policy.

PJM and other MOPR proponents argue that state clean energy support allows generators to bid at a lower-than-actual cost, distorting the market. This view ignores the fact that state policies like renewable energy credits (RECs) compensate resources for their environmental attributes.

The chart below depicts PJM’s rationale. Each blue bar represents a supplier bidding in the capacity auction (forming a supply curve), and the downward-sloping line represents capacity demand. Generators submitting prices lower than the “clearing price,” marked by the star where supply meets demand, are selected to sell capacity. The green bars represent revenue a low-carbon resource might receive from a state program. The MOPR forces resources to include this revenue in their bid price.

Credit: Ada Statler | NRDC

As demonstrated in the next chart, the consequence of the MOPR is that the subsidized units often no longer clear in the auction. As a result, capacity prices increase and excess capacity is procured because the subsidized resources still provide electricity according to state mandates.

Credit: Ada Statler | NRDC

The FERC order explains why this option is bad for customers: state policy mandates clean energy as part of the electricity mix, so the plants already exist and are able to provide capacity. But if the MOPR prevents this clean energy from clearing in the capacity market, customers must then pay for more — and unnecessary — capacity to meet PJM’s capacity requirement.

PJM suggests that if state-supported energy sources want to avoid the MOPR, they can commit to not taking any subsidy revenue. Telling generators to forego state clean energy programs isn’t exactly “accommodating” such policies.

Billion-dollar handouts under the guise of accommodation

Instead of facing the MOPR, subsidized resources could opt out of the capacity market competition and instead select PJM’s resource carveout option. Again, the resource carveout is supposed to be PJM’s answer to the excess-capacity problem FERC recognized with an extended MOPR. Unfortunately, the conditions of the carveout are so unfavorable to clean energy options, it is unclear why a supplier would choose it over not participating altogether. Even if renewable generators do choose this course, it will be at a high cost to customers.

PJM’s Independent Market Monitor found that capacity costs would nearly double in a single year, from $9.3 billion to $17.7 billion, under PJM’s carveout plan. This near-doubling of costs would occur in a potentially realistic scenario assuming just under 15 percent of the total market resources would be affected by PJM’s plan.

An irony can be found in the distribution of costs. PJM claims that state clean energy policies are unfair because policies in one state can affect customers in another PJM state without such policies, yet PJM’s proposal would result in wide-ranging impacts by geography, with some zones seeing price increases as high as 214 percent while others experience only a 20 percent change.

Under the proposal, when a resource chooses the carveout, the capacity it will provide according to state mandates (and likely bilateral purchase agreements) is counted toward PJM’s overall capacity goal. In other words, the renewable energy is credited to the system so that less capacity must be bought from other sources. However, the carved-out resources aren’t compensated by PJM, per the first step of PJM’s two-stage proposal shown in the graph below.

Credit: Ada Statler | NRDC

In the first round of the capacity auction, the carved-out resources are still considered when capacity obligations are selected. In this case, the carved-out resources are from Suppliers A and B. Note that Suppliers F and G are not assigned any capacity obligations.

The second stage of the auction is what PJM calls an extended resource carveout. While typical market designs would determine capacity obligations and clearing price (in broader economic terms, equilibrium supply and demand) together, PJM determines the capacity obligations in the first stage of the auction, and then runs a second stage without the carved-out resources to determine price (ignoring already-built renewable energy).

The most outrageous part of PJM’s proposal is that the carved-out low-carbon energy resources are required to pay a consolation prize of sorts to the dirtier fossil plants that cleared in the second auction but aren’t actually necessary for system reliability because of the presence of the subsidized units in the first auction.

PJM says these payments represent the “deadweight loss cost” to the power plants whose capacity is not necessary for the system, called inframarginal units. These units don’t have to provide capacity services, but the subsidized resources would be forced to pay them their hypothetical profits from the capacity market anyway. PJM justifies this unwarranted cash giveaway as necessary to preserve the competitiveness of the market.

All of this is demonstrated in the graph below, where the subsidized generators A and B are carved out of the market, and price is set in an imaginary scenario where existing low-carbon generation is ignored. Generators F and G appear to clear, but aren’t actually assigned capacity — just payments from A and B.

Credit: Ada Statler | NRDC

To emphasize: carved-out clean energy sources that provide capacity unpaid by the market will have to pay made-up profit margins to dirtier energy sources that do not provide capacity services. A supplier could submit a bid for capacity from a power plant to be built three years in advance, be categorized as an inframarginal unit, choose to never even build the plant and still receive the payment three years into the future.

The final graph illustrates that in addition to the arbitrary payments, carved-out resources must pay inframarginal units, the resource carveout design has market-wide impacts of higher costs.

Credit: Ada Statler | NRDC

PJM seems to assume that all subsidized resources will pick one of the three options. But what if the resource opts out of PJM’s capacity market altogether, an option that could likely be in a renewable generator’s best financial interest? This possibility is significant because low-carbon energy can also face penalties for not performing when needed under existing rules for capacity performance — meaning that renewable energy would need to be paid enough other revenue for its capacity to make the risk of incurring these market penalties worthwhile.

This opt out scenario would also take the market back to the same unacceptable situation as having an expanded MOPR with no “options” at all: more capacity being purchased than customers need, resulting in higher costs and more high-polluting power plants.

More honest design alternatives

While FERC expressed concern about the impact of patchwork clean energy policies among different states in the region, it did not ask for a plan that would prop up generators at the expense of customers. PJM’s proposal would penalize clean generation owners, the majority of states in the region with clean energy policies, and anyone with an energy bill in these areas.

Luckily, FERC has other options, including a proposal from clean energy and consumer advocates that designs a mechanism for accommodating an opt-out of the capacity auction that doesn’t result in unnecessary handouts to uncompetitive generators or in excess capacity procurement. A set of shared principles from an even broader group of stakeholders gives FERC another way of looking at these issues.

Reply comments, where stakeholders can respond to the PJM plan, other comments and proposals submitted to FERC in early October, are due to FERC on November 6. Until then — and until FERC makes its decision, let’s increase awareness about what PJM’s resource carveout option would mean for America’s biggest energy market. State governments should submit comments in strong support of their right to clean energy and climate policy, and anyone paying bills in PJM or with concern about climate change should urge them to do so, too.


Through The Eyes of Community Activist Kymone Freeman on Bill 22-904

By Marsha Coleman-Adebayo,  www.blackagandareport.com : 
#DCFerguson, Poet, Playwright And Guerilla Artist

Papi Kymone Freeman (guerrilla artist) is one of the leaders of #DC Ferguson, an organization devoted to exposing police terror in the Washington, DC area. Kymone, alone with Eugene Puryear, Salim Adafo and Kenny Nero have led non-violent demonstrations that have shut down major economic arteries in the nation’s capitol. Kymone is the director of the National Black LUV Festival that has since become the largest annual AIDS mobilization in Washington, DC. He has authored a collection of poetry entitled Blood.Sweat.Tears.

Kymone is in the process of completing a one-man show called “Whites Only,” a show where, according to Kymone “white folks can witness an angry Black man in therapy from the sanctuary of their seat.” He is also the subject of a chapter in the book entitled: Beat of a Different Drum: The Untold Stories of African Americans Forging Their Own Paths in Work and Life.

Kymone’s dedication to art and activism led him to accept the position of New York City spokesperson and official poet of the anti-war independent presidential candidate Ralph Nader during his campaign in ’04. A scholarship received from the American Friends Service Committee allowed him to spend the summer in Nairobi, Kenya for an international leadership conference. He used his time in Kenya to hone his skills as a playwright. He received the 22nd Annual Larry Neal Award for Drama for the successful play Prison Poetry that has appeared at the Historic Lincoln Theatre and Source Theatre during the Hip Hop Theatre Festival, THEARC Theatre, Oak Hill Juvenile Detention Facility and several college campuses where his work has been included in the Black History curriculum of Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He has conducted production workshops at the National Black Theatre Festival and Institute of Policy Studies.

He is currently Program Director of We ACT Radio 1480 AM DC’s new progressive radio station.

Who is Kymone Freeman? Where were you born and where did you go to school?

I am the eldest grandson of Lily Ann Lewis who climbed the steps of the Washington Monument just to show me the highest point in the city to tell me I can do anything. I am an angry Black man in therapy, an autodidact, a guerilla artist, an activist and currently this country’s poorest media mogul. I have produced poetry, theatre, festivals, TV, film, and radio.

I am one of the few indigenous natives of DC. I was born in DC General Hospital and initially raised in my maternal grandmother’s house at 624 Kentucky Ave SE. I grew up during the soulful 70’s but the crack epidemic and violence of the 80’s, along with the death of my grandmother, forced me to attend school in North Carolina and in Alexandria, Virginia.

When did you decide to get involved in political struggle?

I am a product of the Million Man March that gave us the charge to go back to our communities to #dosomething. The fact that no crime was committed in DC for over 48 hours because of the brotherhood and unity that was displayed there is a lost footnote in history but a month later I witnessed the murder of my cousin at a cabaret that I hosted. It was then that I decided to dedicate my life to begin to synthesize my reality with the greater possibilities.

How has your involvement in politics changed your life?

My involvement with politics first began with the case of Mumia Abu Jamal. After reading Death Blossoms I learned more about his case and realized he was innocent and attended my first marches and rallies. I marched in DC, Philly and to the prison he was originally being held at while he was on death row. That activism lead me to the precursor of the explosion of the prison industrial complex which is the War on Drugs.

This enabled me to draw immediate conclusions from my experiences and why I was seeing the devastation of drugs and violence in my community in the 80s with the materialism that drove my generation to early graves and massive incarceration in the 90’s.

During this period I discovered poetry and found my voice to articulate the rage and passion I had regarding these issues. I say this because art is political. My pursuit as an artist also began to open another dimension in my thinking and expanded my circle of friends who didn’t think like the hustlers and government employees I was surrounded by. They were independent thinkers who lived life on their own terms which provided me a reference point to one day escape the plantation confines of a 9 to 5.

With my two passions Art and Politics I decided to combine them with a festival to address the pandemic of AIDS in DC that had claimed the lives of both my Aunt and Uncle. The Black L.U.V. Festival (love.unity.vision) was launched in 1997 and I have since produced 12 festivals. This independent festival was the foundation that introduced me to all the contacts that I would later need to break free from a 9 to 5 to speak truth to power full time. It was through those efforts to organize the festival that I met Kevin Zeese, then the Executive Director of Common Sense for Drug Policy, who mentored me, opened his home to me, and gave me the necessary support for me to make the transition. He sponsored me to attend several People of Color and the War on Drugs Conferences held in various cities across the country produced by the Drug Policy Alliance and Deborah Peterson Small.

What is the mission of We Act Radio?

It was also through the organizing of the Black L.U.V. Festival that I met my business partner Alex Lawson with whom I co-founded We Act Radio, DC’s only independent radio station. Alex was with DC Fights Back, an AIDS advocacy, group that helped me assemble several AIDS Mobile Units to turn the festival into the largest annual AIDS testing event in DC for six years. On November the 11th, 2011 at 11am we launched We Act Radio on MLK Ave SE Washington, DC.

Our mission is dedicated to raising up the stories and voices of those historically excluded from the media.

How does WeAct Radio contribute to educating the community regarding political events?

We Act Radio is an independent radio station that produces original content and provides broadcast media outlet services to the progressive community of Washington, DC and beyond. Everyone comes to DC to protest, march, rally, or hold press conferences. We offer live streaming services at cost to ensure that the content provider is not solely relying upon what other media outlets chooses to broadcast but rather distributing their content in its entirety amongst our platform.

In addition, We Act Radio functions as a community anchor institution in one of the most underserved areas of the nation’s capital by partnering with the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities as well as the DC Summer Youth Employment Program to offer Media Arts training classes to at-risk youth every summer for the past three years we have been in operation to effectively contribute to the political education of our young people.

The Anacostia studios of We Act Radio are also large enough to host community events whether produced ourselves are by other individuals or organizations. We host open mics, debates, live productions, film screenings, political education classes and, most recently, have partnered with the National Black United Front to host the N’Joya Weusi Saturday School for extracurricular S.T.E.M. activities for children.

Please share a story of resistance in your work that embodies hope for you.

Spending a week in Ferguson and St. Louis as an independent media outlet after the non-indictment of Darren Wilson I was impressed with the level of commitment from the young people there responding on the ground by beginning to organize their community and politicizing themselves with no fear of an overwhelming show of force by the military industrial complex. This was even a bigger inspiration for me and the hope for the future of our youth than that of the launch of the Occupy Movement in Zuccotti Park that spread around the country and around the world because, finally, young Black people were involved and taking leadership.

But the greatest single story of resistance for me is from Mo Costello, the owner of MoKaBe Coffeehouse that received death threats in St. Louis and was tear-gassed twice just for providing a “Safe Space” for protestors.

In the spirit of John Brown, she risked her livelihood and the safety of not only herself but that of her three children that helped run the family-owned business. I personally saw the police intimidation she and her family faced and despite all that they still chose to support the community and the #BlackLivesMatter cause by operating as an oasis surrounded by a desert of injustice.

What role do you play at WeAct Radio? How has this changed your life and influenced your political activities?

I am the Program Director, the General Manager, and sometimes janitor. I have a paid staff of two and a volunteer staff of two. My life has changed from working for others to working for myself. This alone will greatly alter the thinking of any individual. I remember when I was still picking cotton at the Postal plantation, my manager told me that I don’t get paid to think. Well, now I do.

As an independent media outlet, we don’t just cover stories, we produce content. I am free to break stories I find relevant like the Public Duty Doctrine that states that the government has no duty to provide emergency services including 911 to the general public, but rather it is a “courtesy” it extends. Only fires are excluded from this admission of civic immunity simply to avoid the potential of civil lawsuits against the city for damages in wrongful death cases due to neglect or malpractice. Most people are unaware of this and no major media outlet will ever cover this aspect even in the case of Cedric Mills who had a heart attack and was refused medical attention by emergency personnel and left to die on the street.

Most people don’t know that courts have ruled that the police can legally lie to you and that the media has no legal obligation to tell the truth. They assume the validity of a police report and whatever version they see on the 6 o’clock news.

In your opinion, how is the struggle for justice in Ferguson and the struggle around police terror in Washington, DC interrelated?

First of all, “An injustice anywhere; is a threat to justice everywhere” so I never categorize or compartmentalize various aspects of the struggle separately. I view them all as pieces in one big chess game. There are of course some favorite pieces that I choose to use more than others, but I must pay attention to them all.

In a specific response to #DCFerguson, which is the hashtag we have chose to use locally, we obviously feel very strongly about the interrelatedness of all the cases of police terror and their intersection on the national level that falls at the doorsteps of the DOJ and the White House. DC is the perfect collage of local, national and international affairs.

While all of our problems are either local or national, we now see that Malcolm X was right in his assessment that our only hope for justice is on the world stage.

How can we connect these issues?

We must begin by controlling the narrative and the branding. We should avoid ever repeating talking points from the establishment who effectively sets the limits of the agenda by defining the narrative and deciding the brand words to be used.

For example, by calling a protest against police brutality an “anti-police protest” the establishment has effectively minimized the amount of support you can expect to receive from the public.

If the #BlackLivesMatter movement began referring openly to their cause as the “New Anti-Apartheid” movement they would have effectively conjured up all the aspects that joined the various levels of oppression that manifested itself during the Apartheid regime in South Africa and the tools used to eliminate it. This alone would put the system itself on trial and elevate the debate beyond the realm of good cop vs bad cop to investigate a system that refuses to distinguish between the two and rewards bad behavior when applied to communities of color in general and poor people in particular.

You testified during the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Please summarize what you said.

I basically amplified the demands for community control over the police. I accused them of dancing all around the mulberry bush exchanging pleasantries with talks of new training or stating dwindling crime statistics being offered as proof that what they are doing is working instead of directly addressing the issue at hand of an out of control police force and a corrupt grand jury system that refuses to put a leash on killer cops as long as the victims are Black or Latino.

If the Commission had allowed you additional time, what would you have added to your statement?

I wish I had time to read all the names of unarmed Black people killed by White police officers and all the names of unarmed White people killed by Black police officers.

Is the Commission a hoax? If so, do you think Black folks should participate in it?

Carmen Perez, Executive Director of the Gathering for Justice, said “There is a crisis between police and communities of color.” However, the majority of those on the Commission and particularly those in leadership are not treating it as such. Whether or not the purpose of the President’s Task Force is to continue a policy of “Benign Neglect” by circling the wagons to prevent any true radical police reforms while providing lip service to a decades old issue remains to be seen, but yes we should participate because this is where the current debate is being held.

How can we leverage the Commission process to the advantage of the Black Community?

I was very disappointed that there were no protestors present during the townhall. They purposefully minimized the likelihood of this by hosting it as a 9-5 event rather than (2) evening events which would have resulted in greater community involvement. There are allies to be made whether on the Task Force or in attendance and enemies to be identified. We are in need of intel and data collection just like our adversaries.

Therefore, there should absolutely be a more concerted effort to take these proceedings over and if necessary bumrush the mics like they did at Rev. Al Sharpton’s national demonstration in DC if they continue to avoid the discussion of community control over the police.

What are the challenges facing #DCFerguson and the overall police terror movement?

How do we enforce demands? How do we escalate the calls for justice? How do we protect ourselves? Who are our allies? How do we force the police to share power with the community? How do we fund an organization truly committed to these values?

All these questions must begin to be addressed.

What is the basis of your hope that WeAct Radio or #DCFerguson can move the struggle for black liberation forward?

Hope is a drug and was also the name of a slave ship. But hope got a bi-racial president elected and as the “People’s Pastor” the Reverend Herbert Daughtry of the House of the Lord in Brooklyn, NYC told me, “I am addicted to hope.”

Our hope is echoed in the last words of the late great Dr. Vincent Harding, the author of MLK’s Beyond Vietnam Speech, when I interviewed him last year on April 4th the 47th anniversary of that speech and shortly before his death later that same month when he said, “Don’t be overwhelmed for too long, because we have work to do. Stay strong.”