Author: WIN Staff Published: 12/30/2022 https://washingtonareafuelfund.org/
Author: WIN Staff Published: 12/30/2022 https://washingtonareafuelfund.org/
Author: WIN Staff published: 12/29/2022 Washington Informer News
Author: Kenya Nicholas Published: 12/29/2022 OPPE Equity Partners
Good day everyone!
USDA invites you to the Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers’ (ACMF) first in-person meeting on January 18-20, 2023, in Davis, California. I am attaching the Federal Register Notice (FRN) which may also be viewed at the following link: 87 FR 79854 – Advisory Committee on Minority Farmers – Content Details – 2022-28237 (govinfo.gov).
Would you support us by sharing this announcement with your networks, colleagues, and other stakeholders to invite them to this important public advisory committee meeting? OPPE has been keen on increasing participation and raising awareness of the ACMF throughout the country. I’m certain many will be interested in the issues being discussed concerning minority farmers – their challenges and how we (all of us) can be helpful. The FRN briefly describes the 3-day meeting, how to access to the proceedings, and includes instructions for participating in person or virtually. We do ask everyone to pre-register, but this is not a requirement to join the meeting.
Thanks in advance for helping us get the word out.
Deputy Director Office of Partnerships & Public Engagement
Office of the Secretary
Author: US MBDA Staff Published: 12/21/2022 Minority Business Development Agency
The Capital Readiness Program grant competition marks the largest investment to support minority entrepreneurs and businesses from the Commerce Department
WASHINGTON DC – Today, the U.S. Department of Commerce launched the Capital Readiness Program grant competition, which dedicates $93.5 million to help minority and other underserved entrepreneurs grow and scale their businesses. This program, administered by the Minority Business Development Agency, marks the largest program of its kind in the history of the Commerce Department.
The Capital Readiness Program will provide funding to incubators and accelerators across the country, with expertise to assist and train minority and other underserved entrepreneurs seeking resources, tools, and technical assistance to start or scale their businesses in high-growth industries such as healthcare, climate resilient technology, asset management, infrastructure, and more.
Businesses owned by women of color represent one of the fastest growing sectors in the economy. However, structural barriers persist, preventing many women from starting their own businesses and accessing capital, childcare solutions, and peer networks. The Capital Readiness Program will provide the curriculum, tools, and resources to minority entrepreneurs to access capital and funding, and connect them to subject matter experts, vendors and peer support to help start or scale their business.
“This new program reflects President Biden’s and the Commerce Department’s continued historic commitment to underserved business owners and entrepreneurs,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “During the pandemic, women and minority-owned businesses and entrepreneurs were among the hardest hit, often lacking the resources they needed to keep their doors open. We can’t let this happen again. That’s why the Capital Readiness Program prioritizes and encourages resources and tools, such as childcare services, that will ensure more people can launch and scale businesses.”
“In 2020, Black and Hispanic female founders accounted for less than half of a percent of total venture capital investments,” said U.S. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves. “Jumpstarting the next generation of entrepreneurs and ensuring diverse representation in these high-growth industries is essential, not only to spurring innovation, but also to building a more resilient economy that’s reflective of all Americans.”
MBDA’s Capital Readiness Program is funded by the Department of Treasury’s State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI), reauthorized under the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021. SSBCI provides $10 billion to states, the District of Columbia, territories, and Tribal governments to promote entrepreneurship, increase access to capital, and help businesses grow—especially in traditionally underserved communities. The Capital Readiness Program is intended to serve entrepreneurs and businesses that are applying, have applied, or plan to apply to SSBCI or other government programs that support small businesses.
“We know that entrepreneurs and small businesses in underserved communities have long lacked equal access to resources and capital to reach their full economic potential,” said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo. “Through the Capital Readiness Program, the Minority Business Development Agency—tasked with promoting growth and competitiveness of our nation’s minority-owned businesses—will help enable entrepreneurs and business owners to obtain the information they need to access funding through small business support programs. When entrepreneurs and small business owners in all communities have a chance to compete and thrive, it increases our country’s entire economic potential and growth.”
MBDA is the only federal government agency dedicated solely to supporting minority-owned businesses, enterprises, and entrepreneurs and helping them overcome the barriers to economic success that many women and minority communities face. The agency is uniquely situated to provide technical assistance and help these businesses be successful in applying to SSBCI capital programs and other government programs that support small businesses.
“The Capital Readiness Program will open doors for entrepreneurs,” said Donald Cravins, Jr., Under Secretary of the Minority Business Development Agency. “The greatest obstacle facing disadvantaged entrepreneurs, especially entrepreneurs of color, is access. MBDA can effectively launch the initiative to help entrepreneurs start and develop their business, access capital through the Department of Treasury’s SSBCI Capital Program, and access networks that understand and address the unique challenges minority entrepreneurs and other underserved entrepreneurs face.”
Entities that are eligible to apply include non-profit organizations, private sector entities, institutions of higher education, and a consortium of two or more of any of the above-mentioned eligible applicants. To address one of the largest barriers to women in the workplace, the competition incentivizes applicants to provide childcare solutions, such as on-site day care, as a strategic priority. The competition also incentivizes proposals from organizations that are working to break down economic barriers for underserved communities and support traditionally underrepresented, high-growth industries while growing America’s economy.
Starting in January, MBDA will host a series of informational pre-application webinars. The webinars will assist potential applicants in better understanding the Capital Readiness Program and the application requirements outlined in the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). The webinars are scheduled on January 10, 17, and 24th 2023 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time.
Author: OFCSO Staff Published: 12/20/2022 Office of the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer
On February 9, 2021, President Biden appointed Andrew Mayock to serve as the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer
As the Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, Andrew Mayock leads President Biden’s efforts to improve the sustainability of the Federal government, including by helping Federal agencies prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate change on their operations and services.
Andrew brings over 25 years of public and private sector experience to the Biden Administration, including service in the Obama and Clinton Administrations. In the Obama Administration, Andrew served as Deputy Director for Management and Associate Director for General Government Programs at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). At OMB, he led OMB’s management offices and the President’s Management Council with a focus on digital services, cybersecurity, acquisitions, financial management, personnel and performance management. As Associate Director for General Government Programs, he oversaw policy and budget for six cabinet agencies comprising $225 billion of the President’s budget and covering over one million federal employees.
Prior to his OMB roles, Andrew served as the Deputy Vice President for Compact Operations for East and Southern Africa at the Millennium Challenge Corporation. He served as Executive Secretary at the U.S. Treasury Department from 2009-2010.
In the Clinton Administration from 1995-2000, Andrew worked at the White House and the U.S. Treasury Department. Andrew was a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton from 2003-2009 and McKinsey & Company from 2017-2020, where he focused on public sector programs.
During 2019– 2020, Andrew served on the steering committee of the Climate 21 Project, which delivered advice for a coordinated, rapid-start, whole-of-government climate response.
Andrew received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, law degree from The George Washington University Law School, and a master in public administration from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.
He and his wife have two children and reside in Washington, D.C.
President Biden has charged the U.S. Federal Government to lead by example by sustainably managing its footprint of over 300,000 buildings, over 600,000 vehicles, and $650 billion spent annually on goods and services. He issued Executive Order 14008 during his first week of office, calling on the Federal Government to align its management of property and procurement to support robust climate action while creating new jobs and catalyzing the country’s clean energy industries.
On Dec. 8, 2021, President Biden signed Executive Order 14057 and issued his Federal Sustainability Plan, which directs the Federal Government to achieve net zero emissions by 2050 by transitioning Federal infrastructure to zero-emission vehicles and energy efficient buildings, powered by carbon pollution-free electricity.
The Office of Federal Chief Sustainability Officer, which is a part of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, is leading the implementation of Executive Order 14057 and issued his Federal Sustainability Plan.
Federal agencies appoint an Agency Chief Sustainability Officer to lead agency-wide implementation of sustainability and climate adaptation policy and meet the President’s goals and priorities. See the list of Agency Chief Sustainability Officers.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 20, 2022
Biden-Harris Administration Announces Historic Investment to Electrify U.S. Postal Service Fleet
Today, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) announced an historic, $9.6 billion investment over the next five years to electrify its delivery fleet. The USPS investment includes electrifying 75% of its new purpose-built Next Generation Delivery Vehicles (NGDV) and a commitment to acquire 100% electric NGDVs starting in 2026. This $9.6 billion investment – which includes $3 billion in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act – installs modern charging infrastructure at hundreds of USPS facilities, electrifies 66,000 delivery vehicles, and modernizes mail delivery by creating a smarter network to more efficiently reach its 163 million delivery locations across the country and further strengthen the sustainability of this critical public service.
Earlier this year, President Biden signed the Inflation Reduction Act to help bring down everyday costs – including costs for energy. The Inflation Reduction Act’s once-in-a-generation investment in America’s infrastructure delivers the most significant action ever to tackle the climate crisis and strengthen U.S. energy security, including $3 billion to modernize the USPS delivery fleet. The USPS actions announced today sustain reliable mail service to Americans while modernizing the fleet, reducing operating costs, increasing clean air in our neighborhoods, creating jobs, and improving public health.
President Biden’s ambitious goal for 50% of new vehicles sold in 2030 to be electric has accelerated investments and jumpstarted the EV market in America. Since President Biden took office, U.S. electric vehicle sales tripled and are now higher than ever before. One year ago, through the President’s Executive Order on Catalyzing Clean Energy Industries and Jobs Through Federal Sustainability, the Biden-Harris Administration released the most ambitious sustainability plan ever, establishing a goal for 100% acquisition of zero emission light-duty vehicles by 2027 and medium- and heavy-duty vehicles by 2035.
With today’s announcement, USPS will exceed President Biden’s requirement for each agency to electrify its Federal fleet. Over the next five years, the Postal Service will purchase 45,000 specialized USPS NGDV electric vehicles and 21,000 commercial off-the-shelf electric vehicles.
“We commend the U.S. Postal Service,” said John Podesta, Senior Advisor to the President. “The USPS plan leverages the $3 billion provided by the Inflation Reduction Act to hit the target of 100% electric delivery vehicle purchases in 2026, sets the postal fleet on a course for electrification, significantly reduces vehicles miles traveled in the network, and places USPS at the forefront of the clean transportation revolution.”
The U.S. government operates the largest vehicle fleet in the world, and USPS is the largest vehicle fleet in the Federal government. Through today’s action, USPS sets the bar for the rest of the Federal government, and, importantly, the rest of the world.
In the bold modernization plan unveiled today, the USPS invests the full $3 billion in Inflation Reduction Act funds to increase ambition and pace in electrifying its fleet, including $1.3 billion for electric delivery vehicles and $1.7 billion for charging infrastructure. Coupled with $6.6 billion in USPS funds, the overall $9.6 billion, 100,000-vehicle modernization plan results in 66,000 electric delivery vehicles and tens of thousands of charging stations through 2028, and a target of acquiring only electric delivery vehicles after 2026.
“The U.S. Postal Service plan sets the pace for other leading public and private sector fleets. It is clear that the future of transportation is electric – and that future is here,” said Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory. “As electric mail trucks hit routes across the country, neighborhoods will see cleaner air, better health, and good-paying clean energy jobs.”
“Moving packages from point A to point B in a way that’s cleaner, more cost-effective, and accelerating toward an electric vehicle future stamped ‘Made in America,” said the President’s National Climate Adviser Ali Zaidi. “This is the Biden climate strategy on wheels, and the U.S. Postal Service delivering for the American people.”
With this announcement, USPS demonstrates how it is leading by example for the Federal Government in achieving President Biden’s charge to electrify the U.S. Government’s 650,000 vehicles.
Author: WINPublished: 12/15/2022 Washington Informer News
Wanda Durant, Bowie State President Amina Breaux, the Bowie State men’s and women’s basketball teams and a few cheerleaders line up for a celebratory photo. (Richard Elliott/The Washington Informer)
NBA champion and MVP Kevin Durant and his mother Wanda Durant, who he publicly proclaimed was “the real MVP,” are giving back to the basketball star’s hometown once again.
The Durant Family Foundation held a press conference to announce a $500,000 investment to Bowie State University’s Athletics Department, which will go towards installing a new basketball court, expanding seating capacity and improving the press box for the BSU basketball arena, located in the Leonidas S. James Physical Education Complex. Athletics VP Clyde Doughty Jr. believes that this donation will encourage even more students and community members to attend games and see the on-campus facilities.
“We are dedicated to providing resources and possibilities to students for higher education, especially in Prince George’s County,” said Wanda Durant, the basketball star’s mother, who runs the Durant Family Foundation. “Bowie State was the perfect place to have meaningful impact.”
State dollars can’t go to athletic programs. Students are often charged athletic fees in addition to tuition to maintain athletic programs, a prohibitive cost for students. By funding this donation, Bowie State will not have the same need for raising athletic fees that other Maryland universities have implemented over the past decade.
“This gift is important because we rely on private dollars to support the operation we have here,” said Bowie State President Amina Breaux.
Durant also took the moment to offer support for Deion Sanders’ decision to leave Jackson State and go to University of Colorado. She expressed optimism that HBCUs will continue to attract star athletes.
Athletics VP Clyde Doughty Jr. and Breaux both agreed that this donation will enhance the visibility of the university and improve the student experience.
“Athletics is a way to improve the student experience, build student success and bring greater awareness to the excellence of Bowie State University” President Breaux said in a post-conference interview. “This generosity of this investment will enhance our athletic program by improving the athletic facilities and seating, providing financial support to student athletes, and spreading awareness of our school’s excellence.”
Author: Steve Cleamson Published: 12/19/2022 The Bottom Line
Author: ILSR Staff Published: 12/19/2022 ILSR
Last week, ILSR updated its national community solar tracker. New York has clearly oustripped Minnesota in installed capacity (although not per capita!) and Massachusetts is also gaining. See our quarterly report for every state with a robust, 3rd party program!
If you like our coverage of community solar, our podcast series on public power, our work exposing the challenges of solar projects connecting to the grid, or our focus on collective action for renewable heating, you can help. A donation of any size provides us with flexible funds we can use to address pressing issues of energy democracy, corporate power, and local solar. We’ve got some big plans for the coming year, from a report on utility platform monopoly to a bootcamp to advance community-owned solar. Could you give us a leg up for 2023 with a donation? Either way, we’re grateful for your interest and support of ILSR’s mission to build local power and fight corporate control.
Keep your energy local,
The Latest News in Energy Self
Author: MCGB Staff Published: 12/19/2022 Montgomery County Green Bank
Green Bank News | December 2022
Here’s The Latest News
We’re expanding our business with new staff, partnerships, and projects. See below for updates.
Olney Professional Building Uses Tailored Financing for Energy Efficiency Renovations
Olney Professional Building will undergo energy efficiency renovations using tailored financing from the Green Bank and Sandy Spring Bank. The energy efficiency upgrades include HVAC, building envelope, roof, insulation, and windows (including design and contingency). These energy conservation measures will result in 29,328 kWh in energy savings and $7,000 in annual savings for the building.
|Read the Case Study|
Seneca Village Apartments Take Part in The Green Bank’s Electric Vehicle Charger Infrastructure Program
The Affordable Multi-Family Housing Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Program (EV-CIP) uses the General Motors Climate Equity Philanthropic Grant to create a no out-of-pocket, no cost program for affordable, multi-family housing properties to install up to 2 dual charger electric vehicle charging stations.
Gaithersburg’s Seneca Village Apartments are taking part in this program by putting in two dual EV charging stations. There will be a total of 4 places designated for charging EVs.
|Learn More About EV-CIP|
Held on Dec. 15: Montgomery County Green Bank Partner Appreciation Event
View the library of Clean Energy Solutions webinars for topics ranging from home appliance efficiency and benchmarking to breakthrough information on achieving energy savings.
View NBI’s archive of on-demand webinar recordings on topics including codes and policies to advance net zero to zero net carbon schools.
Learn about the latest ENERGY STAR residential programs about advanced energy efficiency in homes, or revisit your contractor trainings for Home Performance with ENERGY STAR to refresh requirements, objectives, and strategies.
Contact us with any questions or project needs.
Author: US EERE Staff Published: 12/19/2022 EERE
December 15, 2022
Today, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) announced a notice of intent to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) entitled “Fiscal Year 2023 Vehicle Technologies Office Program Wide Funding Opportunity Announcement.” The potential FOA will advance research, development, demonstration, and deployment (RDD&D) in several areas critical to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, including:
The RDD&D activities to be funded under this potential funding will support the government-wide approach to the climate crisis by driving innovation that can lead to the deployment of clean energy technologies. DOE anticipates including topics of interest that will support VTO’s RDD&D of new, efficient, and clean mobility options that are affordable for all Americans. As part of this approach, this prospective funding will encourage the participation of underserved communities and underrepresented groups.
A uthor: US EERE Staff Published: 12/19/2022 EERE
December 15, 2022
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Bioenergy Technologies Office (BETO) announced its intent to issue two funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) in early 2023.
These potential FOAs, “Reducing Agricultural Carbon Intensity and Protecting Algal Crops (RACIPAC)” and the “2023 Conversion R&D” will enable the sustainable use of domestic biomass and waste resources to produce biofuels and bioproducts, and to advance the Biden Administration’s goal of delivering an equitable, clean energy future that puts the United States on a path to achieve net-zero emissions, economy-wide, no later than 2050.
The prospective RACIPAC FOA would support high-impact research and development (R&D) focusing on reducing the carbon intensity of agricultural feedstocks, improving soil carbon levels, and protecting cultivated algae from pests under two areas of interest:
The prospective 2023 Conversion R&D FOA would support the development of technologies that convert domestic lignocellulosic biomass and waste resources—including industrial syngas—into affordable biofuels and bioproducts that significantly reduce carbon emissions under two main areas of interest:
Both potential FOAs will help to meet the goals of the Sustainable Aviation Fuel Grand Challenge, which are to reduce aviation emissions by 20% by 2030, and to produce sufficient sustainable aviation fuel to meet 100% of domestic aviation demand by 2050.
View the full NOI here.
Author: ECC Staff Public: 12/19/2022 Emerald Cities Collaborative
I . The Justice40 Initiative: A Two Year Look Back
This January marks two years since President Biden signed Executive Order 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad establishing the Justice40 Initiative. Through this Initiative, the Biden-Harris Administration has committed to ensuring that at least 40% of key federal investments–investments in climate change, clean energy and energy efficiency, clean transit, affordable and sustainable housing, training and workforce development, remediation and reduction of legacy pollution, and the development of critical clean water infrastructure–benefit disadvantaged communities.
Since the Administration announced the Justice40 Initiative, Emerald Cities has been tracking the Administration’s efforts to embed equity throughout the way its agencies implement their programs and funding opportunities. While we are still waiting for several key Justice40 related deliverables from the White House–such as final Justice40 Implementation Guidance and the first iteration of the federal Environmental Justice Scorecard–here’s an overview of what we’ve seen thus far:
II. The Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool Version 1.0
Last month, the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released version 1.0 of the Climate and Economic Justice Screening Tool (CEJST). Up until this point, while available for public use, CEJST was still in its testing phase. Now that version 1.0 of CEJST has been released, federal agencies will be expected to use the interactive mapping tool to ensure Justice40 program benefits are reaching disadvantaged communities.
The creation of CEJST was first announced within Executive Order 14008: Tackling the Climate Crisis at Home and Abroad–the same Executive Order that established the Justice40 Initiative–as a means to help federal agencies identify communities that are underserved and overburdened by the impacts of climate change and historical environmental harms. However, after CEQ released the beta version of CEJST, the Tool’s accuracy was immediately called into question due its failure to consider race as an indicator to identify disadvantaged communities despite race being one of the strongest indicators of proximity to heavy pollution.
Since version 1.0 of CEJST was released, CEQ announced several updates in an attempt to alleviate the concerns expressed during the Tool’s testing phase. Some of the more prominent updates include the following:
While these updates are a step in the right direction, CEJST still doesn’t use race as an indicator to identify
underserved communities and, while CEQ is working on a framework, the Tool doesn’t have the capacity to calculate the cumulative impacts of environmental and economic harms in order to accurately identify disadvantaged communities.
If you’d like more information on the updates to CEJST, you can watch an overview of the updates here. CEQ has also indicated that they will be hosting additional opportunities for public engagement around the Tool. While CEQ has not announced any upcoming dates for public engagement sessions, you can sign up to receive updates from CEQ here.
The White House released their Guidebook to the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). This Guidebook provides a breakdown of each of the programs funded through the IRA with a high level overview of how much funding is available, the type of funding, who’s eligible for funding, how the funding can be used, and links to any relevant announcements, such as request for information or funding opportunity announcements.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has created a webpage for their environmental justice related grants, funding and technical assistance opportunities. You can find that webpage here.
The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released Federal Guidance on incorporating Indigenous Knowledge in federal research, policy, and decision making.
Harvard’s Environmental and Energy Law Program provided a Status Update on the Biden Administration’s climate and environmental justice initiatives.
Interested in how the Administration’s Agencies have been implementing Justice40 and incorporating Equity and Environmental Justice concerns into their Agency missions? Check out ECC’s quick reference guide here.
IV. On the Horizon
ECC Presents: The Justice40 Initiative and Opportunities for Community Benefits
In January, Emerald Cities Collaborative will be hosting the first of a three part webinar series on building community benefits. In this first webinar, participants will gain an understanding of the Administration’s Justice40 Initiative, highlight the impacts of Justice40 on federal spending bills,– such as the Inflation Reduction Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, –and identify what tools exist to support communities’ engagement with these resources. A save the date with registration information will be coming soon!
We want to know your thoughts! Have you heard about the Justice40 Initiative and how did you hear about it? What do you know about Justice40 and do you want to know more? You can answer these questions and more in our short survey linked below.
We want to know your thoughts! Have you heard about the Justice40 Initiative and how did you hear about it? What do you know about Justice40 and do you want to know more? You can answer these questions and more in our short survey linked below.
Author: Sam P.K. Collins Published: 12/14/2022 Washington Informer News
Okey Oramah (right), president and chairman of the African Export-Import Bank’s board of directors, signs an MOU supporting diasporic engagement in the areas of transportation, climate projects and manufacturing. (Courtesy of U.S. State Department)
The U.S.-Africa Business Forum, which took place on the second day of the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, focused mostly on how the U.S. could help African leaders leverage their countries’ natural resources to spur economic development.
Throughout much of Wednesday morning, African heads of state, along with public and private sector partners, announced deals intended to strengthen what many described as non-exploitative economic relations between the U.S. and African countries.
One such deal involves the upcoming launch of a manufacturing facility in the District.
This building, scheduled to open in Ward 7 in 2023, will facilitate a supply chain connecting the world with neem, moringa and other ingredients commonly found in plant-based products. This arrangement also opens up marketpeople in Ghana and other parts of Africa to a customer base extending well beyond their towns and villages.
Rahama Wright, former Peace Corps volunteer and CEO of Shea Yeleen Enterprises, forged this deal with the D.C. Office of the Deputy Mayor for Planning and Economic Development. This arrangement stands to benefit many Ghanaians, including Gladys Petey, a shea butter merchant from a rural community in Northern Ghana.
“We are hard-working women but many can’t go to school so we learn to make shea butter,” Petey said. “I’m happy that America can support hard-working African women to make our lives happier.”
Several African heads of state and mavens of industry gathered in the “Deal Room” of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Northwest, where, for several hours, they announced deals that had been solidified during the summit.
Author: WHIA Staff Published: 12/15/2022 White House Intergovernmental Affairs
Author: EERE Staff Published: 12/15/2022 EERE
Author: WIN Staff Publish: 12/15/2022 The Washington Informer
Author: Maxine Joselow Published: Updated February 23, 2022 – 24, 2022 updated Washington Post
A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that all sides agreed that Pepco has the legal right to charge potential solar customers upgrade fees. Some solar customers and installers do not believe this is the case. The article has been corrected.
Alex Hillbrand and Clémentine Stip have long dreamed of installing solar panels on the roof of their rowhouse in Mount Pleasant, where sunshine shoots through the leafy canopies of Rock Creek Park, providing an abundant and sustainable source of energy that could heat their home and power their appliances.
“It was just really strange,” Hillbrand recalled. “I was not planning — and am not planning — to pay nearly $20,000.”
The Washington Post interviewed six Pepco customers in D.C., including Hillbrand, who say that significant electrical upgrade costs from Pepco are thwarting their plans to go solar — even as the District tries to combat climate change through promoting solar energy.
Under climate legislation signed by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) in 2019, 100 percent of the District’s electricity must come from renewable sources by 2032. And by 2041, 10 percent of that energy must come from solar power.
The upgrade fees from Pepco — which the utility says it has a legal right to charge — have affected about 15 percent of District residents who apply for a permit to install rooftop solar panels, according to a study commissioned by the Chesapeake Solar and Storage Association, which advocates for solar energy in D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
The study, which was conducted by the consultancy CleanGrid Advisors, looked at hundreds of solar systems in the District proposed by five different installers. It found that Pepco imposed upgrade costs on 45 of the projects, with an average fee of $9,560 per project. The utility company also required 36 of the projects to downsize, meaning they would provide less solar energy to homeowners and the electric grid.
“Charging individuals these ludicrous upgrade fees, which appears to be pervasive in the District of Columbia, disincentivizes solar adoption,” said Sean Gallagher, vice president of state and regulatory affairs at the Solar Energy Industries Association, a national trade group. “That diminishes the District’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, hurts grid reliability and adds air pollution.”
Jamie Caswell, a spokeswoman for Exelon, the parent company of Pepco, said the fees for solar customers are permitted under regulations set forth by the D.C. Public Service Commission, adding that the upgrades are necessary for safety reasons.
“In some cases, the solar installation could place too much electricity … onto Pepco’s system, which could cause damage to the system or other Pepco customer appliances and devices,” Caswell said in an email. “In these cases, work is necessary to upgrade the local distribution system to safely connect the solar system to the grid.”
In an interview, David Schatz, Pepco’s director of strategy, said that the utility company is “actively participating in conversations with stakeholders” about policies to speed up the deployment of solar energy across the District.
Schatz added that Pepco’s five-year climate action plan proposes 62 programs aimed at reducing planet-warming emissions and boosting clean energy in D.C., including two programs that would streamline the approval process for residential solar projects.
Frustrated by the fees, some D.C. residents, such as Hillbrand, are pushing back. On Jan. 3, Hillbrand filed a formal complaint with the D.C. Public Service Commission to compel Pepco to lower the upgrade cost it was charging. The Office of the People’s Counsel, which advocates on behalf of D.C. customers in disputes with the commission, is representing him in the proceedings.
Cary Hinton, a spokesman for the Public Service Commission, declined to comment on Hillbrand’s complaint. But he noted that the commission on Jan. 28 issued a notice of proposed rulemaking to consider whether to require that utility companies pay 50 percent of the costs, up to $5,000 per project.
Caswell said Pepco is “engaged in open, public discussion with DCPSC Staff and solar developers to help advance interconnection processes and reduce costs for customers when system upgrades are required. We support the current move toward cost sharing.”
For JD Elkurd, the chief executive of Solar Solution, the largest solar installer in the District, the proposed rulemaking is a good start — but it’s not enough. He estimated that about half of customers who are informed of upgrade fees decide not to move forward with their installations.
“This is really hurting our business substantially,” Elkurd said. “As a solar company, we have to spend about $1,000 to $1,200 on a project before it even gets to the Pepco application part. And if the project is canceled, we’re never getting that back.”
In California, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has faced pressure to gut the program from utilities including Pacific Gas and Electric. The state Public Utilities Commission in December proposed major changes to the program that critics said would halt the growth of solar statewide.
After pushback from solar advocates and celebrities, including former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), the commission postponed a vote on the proposal. A new date has not been set.
Today, however, even fees from Pepco on the lower end of the spectrum can stifle solar adoption.
Kendra Kinnaird, 40, an attorney who lives in a rowhouse in Crestwood, said that Pepco told her and her husband it would impose a fee of about $5,300 — an amount that she called “significant and cost-prohibitive.” The couple have paused their plans to go solar for the time being.
“Solar energy and other types of sustainable energy are important for the environment. We want to support that,” Kinnaird said. “So it’s been very frustrating, and I hope that there’s a positive resolution.”
The IMF and World Bank do not seek to fix poverty, but only to enrich creditor nations. Could Bitcoin create a better global economic system for the developing world?
“Everything is gone.”
Fifty-two years ago, Cyclone Bhola killed an estimated 1 million people in coastal Bangladesh. It is, to this day, the deadliest tropical cyclone in recorded history. Local and international authorities knew well the catastrophic risks of such storms: in the 1960s, regional officials had built a massive array of dikes to protect the coastline and open up more territory for farming. But in the 1980s after the assassination of independence leader Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, foreign influence pushed a new autocratic Bangladeshi regime to change course. Concern for human life was dismissed and the public’s protection against storms was weakened, all in order to boost exports to repay debt.
Instead of reinforcing the local mangrove forests which naturally protected the one-third of the population that lived near the coast, and instead of investing in growing food to feed the quickly growing nation, the government took out loans from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund in order to expand shrimp farming. The aquaculture process — controlled by a network of wealthy elites linked to the regime — involved pushing farmers to take out loans to “upgrade” their operations by drilling holes in the dikes that protected their land from the ocean, filling their once-fertile fields with saltwater. Then, they would work back-breaking hours to hand-harvest young shrimp from the ocean, drag them back to their stagnant ponds, and sell the mature ones to the local shrimp lords.
With financing from the World Bank and IMF, countless farms and their surrounding wetlands and mangrove forests were engineered into shrimp ponds known as ghers. The area’s Ganges river delta is an incredibly fertile place, home to the Sundarbans, the world’s biggest stretch of mangrove forest. But as a result of commercial shrimp farming becoming the region’s main economic activity, 45% of the mangroves have been cut away, leaving millions of people exposed to the 10-meter waves that can crash against the coast during major cyclones. Arable land and river life has been slowly destroyed by excess salinity leaking in from the sea. Entire forests have vanished as shrimp farming has killed much of the area’s vegetation, “rendering this once bountiful land into a watery desert,” according to Coastal Development Partnership.
Author: US WHIA Public: 12/12/2022 WHIA
Africa’s integration into global markets, demographic boom, and continent-wide spirit of entrepreneurship and innovation present an extraordinary opportunity for the United States to invest in Africa’s future. The United States will support and facilitate mobilizing private capital to fuel economic growth, job creation, and greater U.S. participation in Africa’s future. Together, business and government leaders will strengthen trade- and investment-enabling environments, including fostering the development and implementation of effective policies and practices across all sectors, and identify and promote new opportunities for Africans and Americans. Through initiatives such as the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII) and Prosper Africa, the United States will provide timely, coordinated support that meets the needs of businesses and investors, including micro-, small- and medium-sized enterprises and diaspora- and women-owned businesses, to advance infrastructure priorities and boost two-way trade and investment.
Since 2021, the U.S. Government has helped close more than 800 two-way trade and investment deals across 47 African countries for a total estimated value of over $18 billion, and the U.S. private sector has closed investment deals in Africa valued at $8.6 billion. U.S. goods and services traded with Africa totaled $83.6 billion in 2021. These investments and programs are in support of the umbrella initiatives PGII, Prosper Africa, and Power Africa.
At today’s U.S.-Africa Business Forum, President Biden announced over $15 billion in two-way trade and investment commitments, deals, and partnerships that advance key priorities, including sustainable energy, health systems, agribusiness, digital connectivity, infrastructure, and finance. Since January 2021, the Biden-Harris Administration has invested and plans to invest more than $1 billion in trade, investment, and economic development in Africa.
Departments and Agencies across the U.S. Government announced new initiatives and investments to promote two-way trade and investment:
Author: Articistic rendering of the U.S. – Africa Leaders Summit Published: 12/14/2022
The United States will commit $55 billion to Africa over the next three years as President Joe Biden prepares to host the U.S.-Africa summit this week and discuss 2023 elections and democracy in the continent with a small group of leaders.
WASHINGTON — White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan said the U.S. commitment to invest in the African continent compares favorably to other countries.
Biden will also appoint a special representative for implementing ideas discussed at the summit, and the U.S. State Department plans to appoint Ambassador Johnnie Carson for this role, Sullivan said. Over 300 U.S. and African companies will meet with heads of different delegations to discuss investments in critical sectors, he said.
Sullivan also added the United States will not be “imposing conditionality” at the Africa summit to support the Ukraine war.
Part of Biden’s diplomatic efforts so far have focused on promoting Western democracies as a counterweight to China, but U.S. officials have insisted the Africa summit was not all about discussing Beijing’s influence in Africa.
Sullivan also said Biden will host a dinner on Wednesday night for about 50 African leaders and announce U.S. support for the African Union to join the Group of 20 (G20) major economies.
Biden will also push for a permanent member from the African continent on the United Nations Security Council.
Separately, U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai said her agency is preparing to sign a memorandum of understanding with African Continental Free Trade Area countries to explore work on the next phases of the U.S.-African trade relationshIP.