Amazon’s Tight Grip on Cloud Computing Poses Multiple Threats

Author: Stacy Mitchell       Published: 6/30/2023      IRSL


Amazon’s Tight Grip on Cloud Computing Poses Multiple Threats

JUNE 29, 2023

Cloud computing services are the backbone of the modern economy. The world’s biggest companies, including banks, hospitals, media outlets, and more, and countless local and federal government agencies, all store troves of data in the cloud and rely on cloud services to operate.

In a letter to the Federal Trade Commission, ILSR warned that control over cloud computing is dangerously concentrated. Amazon Web Services (AWS), controls more than 40 percent of global cloud services. As ILSR details in the letter, AWS has leveraged its dominance in cloud computing to lock customers into its platform, preference its own cloud-based products and services, shut out rival software developers, and glean data and market insights that give it an unfair advantage in other industries.

The letter urges the FTC to use its authority to open the market to needed competition.

Read a summary of our concerns and the full comment letter here.


FTC Acts on Prime Lock-In

JUNE 21, 2023

Last week, the Federal Trade Commission sued Amazon for enrolling shoppers in its Prime program without their consent and making it hard to cancel. In a statement, Stacy Mitchell said, “The Amazon Prime lawsuit strikes at a key linchpin in Amazon’s monopolization strategy. Research shows Prime members default to shopping on Amazon. By duping people into signing up for Prime, and blocking the exits when they try to cancel, Amazon has sought to maintain its position as a gatekeeper for online shopping. We applaud the FTC for taking this step.” Read the statement here




  • Walmart has swindled another town. As part of a development deal, with subsidies, Walmart agreed to a $4.5M tax valuation of its store. It later appealed the valuation to a state tax board, which halved it. This forced the town to pay Walmart $1.2M.





Solar Snapshot: New Prize for PV System Owners; Technology Commercialization Fund Selections

Author: US EERE Staff     Published: 6/30/2023  EERE

U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Solar Energy Technologies OfficeDivider

What’s New?

New Prize Launched to Expand Solar Energy Systems Data

DOE launched the American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize, which will award a total of $1.4 million in prizes to photovoltaic (PV) system owners for their high-quality time-series datasets. Applications for Stage 1 are due on August 14. To learn more, register for the Solar Data Bounty Prize informational webinar on July 11 and read the Solar Bounty Prize rules.


Projects Selected to Help Transform Solar Energy Technologies

DOE selected four solar projects as part of the Technology Commercialization Fund, which is administered by the Office of Technology Transitions and designed to help commercialize promising federal energy technologies.

Upcoming Deadlines

Don’t forget to participate in these funding opportunities, prizes, and solicitations:

  • The 2023 Sunny Awards for Equitable Community Solar – Community solar projects and programs can apply by July 14.
  • ORISE Science and Technology Policy Fellowship – Students, researchers, and professionals can apply to join SETO as a fellow by July 15.
  • American-Made Heliostat Prize – Individuals, private companies, and nonfederal government entities, such as states, counties, tribes, municipalities, and academic institutions are encouraged to apply by August 31.
  • American-Made Solar Prize Round 7 – Entrepreneurial students, professors, small-business owners, company staffers, researchers at national laboratories, or anyone else based in the United States with a potentially marketable solar technology solution are encouraged to apply to the Ready! Contest by September 27.

Some Light 🌞 Reading

2023 U.S. Energy and Employment Report (USEER) Shows Solar Workforce on the Rise

Not only does solar energy employ the most workers out of all electric power generation technologies, but the new USEER found that solar energy gained the most jobs, adding 12,256 workers in 2022, a 3.7% increase from 2021. Learn more about the trends in and trajectory of the solar energy workforce.

Getting a Clearer Picture of U.S. Solar Power Performance

Understanding how PV systems age and perform in different environments is important to streamlining operations and deploying more projects across the country. Learn about the findings and achievements of the PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative, which is shedding light on many aspects of solar power productivity across the country.

Sandia Requests Information on Advanced Solar Energy System Deployment

Sandia National Laboratories seeks comments on the deployment of an advanced solar energy system. The deadline for responses has been extended to July 21. Introduced in 2021, the advanced solar energy for mission assurance and decarbonization concept seeks to provide Sandia’s Albuquerque operations and Kirtland Air Force Base with a carbon-free, resilient energy supply.

Input Requested on a New Pilot-Scale Clean Energy Program

Calling all small businesses, private investors, incubators and accelerators, and clean energy project developers: the DOE Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations wants your input on a program to support operational validation of pilot-scale clean energy technology components and subsystems. Submit feedback by July 31.

New Community Solar and Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) Guidance

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has issued new considerations to LIHEAP grant recipients about the basics of community solar, its benefits, and protocols for community solar adoption.

New Resources on Direct Pay Through the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA)

The White House released information and resources about the IRA’s direct pay provisions, which allow tax-exempt and governmental entities to receive a payment equal to the full value of tax credits for building qualifying clean energy projects.

Tech Talk on the Solar PV Supply Chain

The DOE Loan Programs Office published a webpage with resources and information on their efforts to support and strengthen domestic solar PV manufacturing and deployment.

New Guidance to Expand the Reach of Clean Energy Tax Credits

The U.S. Department of the Treasury released guidance on provisions to leverage the IRA to expand clean energy tax credit access across state, local, and Tribal governments, non-profits, U.S. territories, rural energy co-ops, and more.

Products & Publications

Upcoming Events

Webinar Series: Building with Benefits for Equitable Community Solar

July 5 & 12 | 2 p.m. ET
The National Community Solar Partnership is hosting a webinar series to highlight best practices in developing community solar projects and programs that deliver meaningful benefits to subscribers and their communities. Register for their upcoming webinars:

NCSP Meaningful Benefits Webinar Series

Interconnection Innovation e-Xchange (i2X) Meeting Series

July 6 & 12 | 2 p.m. ET
i2X is hosting a new meeting series, the Solution e-Xchange, to facilitate open dialogue across the U.S. electricity ecosystem on important interconnection issues. Join the upcoming sessions:

*NEW DATE* Informational Webinar: Upcoming DOE Funding for U.S. Thin-Film Solar

July 10 | 1 p.m. ET
SETO is hosting an informational webinar about thin-film technologies and expectations for applicants to their upcoming funding opportunity announcement.

Solar Prize Round 7 Informational Webinar

July 11 | 12 p.m. ET
Join DOE for an informational webinar about Round 7 of the American-Made Solar Prize.

Solar Data Bounty Prize Informational Webinar

July 11 | 2 p.m. ET
Learn about Stage 1 of the new American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize at this informational webinar.

Connect the Dots on Solar Energy

SETO is connecting the dots on the solar workforce. Learn about the vital role that the U.S. solar workforce plays in the transition to a clean energy grid and how SETO is working to support its development:

Follow along with our Connect the Dots content on social media and join the conversation using the hashtag #ConnectSolar

In Case You Missed It

Webinar Resources: i2x Solution e-Xchanges

Weekly Jolt 6/28/23⚡️ Essential News for Clean Energy Champions

Author:  ERE Staff    Published: 6/28/23    EERE

U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

EERE Weekly Jolt Essential News for Clean Energy Champions

In the News

2030 National Charging Network: Estimating U.S. Light-Duty Demand for Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

A new report by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory will serve as a strategic framework for the development of nationwide electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure designed to meet the needs of an anticipated 30–42 million light-duty EVs by 2030.

The report provides estimates of the number, type, and location of chargers needed to power a growing number of light-duty EVs nationwide. It also includes a never-before-seen level of detail in a nationwide EV charging infrastructure analysis, such as weather, travel behavior, housing type, and demographics.

DOE Hits the Road to Showcase Decarbonization of American Buildings and Plants

Watch the first season of the Better Climate Challenge Road Show, a video series highlighting the leadership of public and private organizations in decarbonizing buildings and industrial plants. The series follows DOE and national lab staff as they road trip across the country, and the first season offers a rare behind-the-scenes peek at what decarbonization looks like at Nissan North America, Chemours, and the Whirlpool Corporation in Nashville, Tennessee.

Funding Updates

DOE Awards $3.9 Million to Advance High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation

Thirteen newly selected projects will gain access to the DOE National Laboratories’ world-class high-performance computing resources to improve manufacturing efficiency and explore new materials for clean energy applications. This effort is part of DOE’s High Performance Computing for Energy Innovation Initiative, a program that connects industry with high-performance computing resources to help drive economy-wide decarbonization.

Equity in Energy

DOE Collaborative to Establish a Biomanufacturing Hub in Historically Underserved California Region

People who live in the Northern San Joaquin Valley in California face ongoing environmental justice and public health challenges and lack access to quality job opportunities. A partnership with Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit will capitalize on the region’s large-scale food and agricultural activity, manufacturing capacity, and proximity to biotechnology innovation hubs to help organizations focused on biomanufacturing.

Sustainable Transportation and Fuels

DOE Requests Information About Progression of Clean Fuels in the Shipping Industry

The international shipping industry relies on the availability of and access to cheap, energy-intensive fuels to transport heavy freight over long distances. To advance the decarbonization of worldwide shipping, EERE’s Bioenergy Technologies Office released a request for information to better understand the maritime industry’s current alternative fuels trajectory, the driving forces behind it, and key barriers to achieving the transition to zero-emission fuels. Responses are due July 14.

Renewable News

American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize

DOE announced the American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize, a competition designed to increase the accessibility of high-quality, time-series datasets for photovoltaic (PV) systems. These types of datasets can be used to build, train, and optimize models designed for PV system simulation, which can provide more accurate performance estimates and better system designs.

Success Story—A Clearer Picture of U.S. Solar Power Performance

Over the last three years, 2,200 solar sites (about 10% of all non-residential photovoltaic systems) have had their performance recorded through the Photovoltaic Fleet Performance Data Initiative, a $5.25 million project led by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. The data shows that the annual degradation rate—the rate at which systems lose the ability to generate power—is 0.75%. Now, system owners can use this information to compare their performance against the industry average to improve the efficiency of their operations.

EERE Workforce Development Conference Los Angeles

Clean Energy in Action

Meet Clean Energy Champion Andre King

Andre King’s career trajectory proves that it’s never too late to start over. After working as a grocery store manager, stockbroker, and lieutenant in the Indianapolis Fire Department, King went back to school to pursue his dream of becoming an architect, spending almost two years designing and constructing a zero-energy home as part of the Solar Decathlon Build Challenge. That class opened his eyes to the importance of designing houses that are good for the environment.

Events and Webinars 

Building with Benefits: Equitable Workforce Development

July 5 | 2 p.m. ET

This webinar will explore best practices for community solar projects that support more equitable opportunities for women-owned or minority-owned businesses, training programs and recruitment, and key resources and partnerships that support the development of an equitable workforce.

Solar Data Bounty Prize Informational Webinar

July 11 | 2 p.m. ET

Join us to learn about the key dates and important details regarding the American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize.

Climate Change Considerations: Energy and Water Resilience Planning

July 11 | 2:30 p.m. ET

Learn how the Federal Energy Management Program is helping agencies understand how to incorporate climate change considerations within their resilience planning efforts.

Briefing Invitation: Proposed Guidance on Elective Pay and Transferability

Author: WHCEQ Staff   Published: 6/29/2023   WHCEQ


This month the Biden-Harris Administration issued proposed guidance on elective pay and transferability mechanisms established under the Inflation Reduction Act that will help states, local governments, non-profits, and other eligible entities access clean energy tax credits.

Treasury and the White House will host a stakeholder briefing tomorrow on the proposed guidance. This virtual briefing is open to all stakeholders – please share with your networks. In addition, please see resources including English and Spanish fact sheets below.

Register in advance for this briefing on Thursday, June 29th at 3 pm ET/12 noon PT:

The proposed elective pay regulations can be found here and transferability here. In addition to the Treasury press release, you can find FAQs and fact sheets that outline key information contained in the proposed guidance. You can also find helpful information on See full list of fact sheets below.

Fact Sheets – English

Fact Sheets – Spanish

Here’s what’s new at Green The Church the week of June 26, 2023.

Author: GTC Staff:        Published:  6/27/2023  Green The Church

Green The Church Weekly News

Green The Church Empowers Black Churches to Close the Clean Energy Gap

Green The Church features prominently in a recent article in Faithfully Magazine‘s Growing a GREEN Church series, focused on churches’ efforts to steward their buildings and land effectively in the context of a changing climate. Can Money-Making Microgrids Empower Black Churches to Close the Clean Energy Gap? highlights the work of Gemini Energy SolutionsGreen The Church, and the amazing progress at Glad Tidings International Church of God in Christ, in Hayward, California.

Under the leadership of Bishop Jerry W. Macklin, Glad Tidings—which had previously created more than 120 affordable housing units and offers various services to the public, including employment and mental health resources—has recently worked to retrofit their worship, administrative, and community outreach facilities. The plan is to make the campus carbon-free by replacing its HVAC systems and gas stoves and installing 500 LED lights, among other renovations.

A centerpiece of its transition is an income-generating, solar-powered microgrid which is projected to generate millions in the years to come. The revenue will support the development a new community center, which will host classes about energy efficiency. The church sees this venture as a way to extend services to the community and do its part to fight climate change. Read the full article here.

Please Take Action to #CutClimatePollution TODAY

Can you please take a few moments TODAY to support efforts to cut climate pollution from existing coal, existing gas, and new gas power plants? It takes only a few seconds to submit a comment to the EPA.

Tell the EPA to Cut Soot Pollution (Link to Take Action)

Get Back to Nature with Green The Church this August

Everyone is invited to join Green The Church for the GETTING BACK TO NATURE camping trip that will take place August 11 through 13.
Click here for information and to register.

Green The Church Membership

Green The Church Membership

Conversation with Kimberly Bullock CEO of USB Solar Solutions

Author: USB Solar Solutions Staff     Published: 6/27/2023  USB Solar Solutions


USB Solar Solutions

USB Solar Solutions was formed in 2019, after careful consideration of the effects of climate change.

With 30+ years of combined experience in Customer Relations/Sales, Corey and Kimberly Bullock sought out to offer alternative energy solutions, with a focus on underserved communities. It means a great deal to the Bullocks who are from the inner cities of Baltimore, MD and Paterson, NJ, to align with innovative products that can bring forth positive change in disadvantaged areas.

A connection was made between the overwhelming need for alternative workspaces equipped with wifi/mobile charging capabilities due to the new norm after Covid-19. This always required some electricity. Why not Solar? Solar power is the conversion of energy from sunlight into electricity, either directly using photovoltaics (PV) or indirectly using concentrated solar power. Much more low carbon power, such as solar, is urgently needed to limit climate change. Continue the discussion with us on our podcast Green Table Talk “A Clean Conversation” focused on environmental responsibility and green awareness.

They’ve since partnered with a few dynamic manufacturers to help with their mission of supplying clean green solar powered products to both their residential and commercial clients. Learn more about the Off-Grid Charging Stations, EV Charging Stations, and newly added Marketing Signs available.


DOE Launches New Solar Data Bounty Prize

Author: US EERE   Staff     Published:   6/27/2023   EERE

U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy


Today, the U.S. Department of Energy announced the American-Made Solar Data Bounty Prize, a new competition designed to increase the accessibility of high-quality time-series datasets for photovoltaic (PV) systems. These types of datasets can be used to build, train, and optimize models designed for PV system simulation, which can in turn provide more accurate performance estimates and better system designs. Improving the accuracy of PV system modeling lowers the risk of developing and operating those assets, which can attract more capital for deployment of PV power plants.

The Solar Data Bounty Prize shares a common goal with the PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative, incentivizing PV system owners to share their datasets so researchers can continue to develop and fine-tune modeling tools for solar applications.

Owners of PV systems are invited to submit at least five years of historical time-series data at a minimum of 15-minute time resolution for one or two of their systems. Submissions will be scored using a rubric to reflect data quality and quantity. Datasets collected through this prize are meant to assist commercial and academic research and development efforts seeking to improve the accuracy of PV system modeling, and thus lower the risk associated with developing and operating those assets.

The competition is comprised of two stages:

  • Stage 1: Each competitor will submit time-series metadata on their system of choice along with at least one month of solar irradiance data from that system, which will be made publicly available. The top 25 competitors will win $5,000 and an invitation to compete in Stage 2.
  • Stage 2: The 25 winners from Stage 1 will upload their time-series datasets, which will be analyzed by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and scored on data quality and quantity according to a pre-defined rubric. Grand prizes for 15 winning datasets will range from $80,000 to $130,000. All Stage 2 participants will also be invited to participate in the PV Fleet Performance Data Initiative.

The winning datasets and respective metadata will be shared on a publicly accessible database, so that researchers and other solar stakeholders can use it for model development, validation, and evaluation. Bonus prizes totaling up to $200,000 will be given to four prize winners who agree to update their datasets with new data on an annual basis for the next six years.

The Prize is open to U.S.-based PV system owners and entities authorized to share data from PV systems. Application materials for Stage 1 are due August 14Read the prize rules, register to compete, and register for a webinar about the prize on July 11.

EEOC Starts Accepting Charges Under New Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

Author: EEOC Staff  Published: 6/27/2023 U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

eeoc banner

WASHINGTON – Today, the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA) will take effect, expanding long-overdue protections to ensure that workers experiencing pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions have the right to reasonable accommodations in the workplace. The law was signed by President Joe Biden last year, and as it goes into effect today, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) will begin accepting charges of discrimination under this new statute for incidents that occurred on or after June 27, 2023.

The PWFA requires covered employers to provide reasonable accommodations to a worker’s known limitations related to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, unless the accommodation will cause the employer an undue hardship. This law builds upon existing protections against pregnancy discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.

“I am honored to lead the EEOC as we enforce a new civil rights law. For workers and job applicants, the PWFA will help ensure economic security at a critical time in their lives,” said EEOC Chair Charlotte A. Burrows. “The EEOC stands ready to support employers as they carry out the PWFA’s directives and to support workers in receiving the accommodations they are entitled to under the PWFA.”

In addition to accepting charges, the agency released new additional educational resources, including tips for workers to request accommodations, a “Know Your Rights” video series, and a revised “Know Your Rights” poster required to be posted in most workplaces. Previously released resources include a Q&A on “What You Should Know about the Pregnant Workers Fairness Act,” an infographic for employers, and an informational poster about the PWFA for healthcare providers’ offices.

The EEOC is the federal agency designated by Congress with implementing and enforcing the PWFA. If an applicant or employee believes they have been denied a reasonable accommodation for pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, they can contact the agency at 800-669-4000 (ASL videophone 844-234-5122), or visit the website for more information on how to file a charge of discrimination.

The EEOC advances opportunity in the workplace by enforcing federal laws prohibiting employment discrimination. More information is available at Stay connected with the latest EEOC news by subscribing to our email updates.

Reports On Police Misconduct Show Kristen Clarke Is Leading The U.S. Justice Department Into A New Age On Civil Rights

Author:  Marc H. Morial    6/24/2023     NUL


Marc H. Morial
President and CEO
National Urban League

“I want to ensure that the doors of justice remain open so all the people can feel that they are seen and heard, especially when we are talking about the most vulnerable among us. I am very hopeful that we will see the Justice Department truly be an engine of reform when it comes to enforcement of our nation’s federal civil rights laws.”— Kristen Clarke, United States Assistant Attorney General for Civil Rights

The National Urban League advocated passionately and emphatically for Kristen Clarke’s nomination and confirmation to head the U.S. Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division.  The Department’s first reports on policing show exactly why.

Weeks before her confirmation in 2021, we unveiled 21 Pillars for Redefining Public Safety and Restoring Community Trust, a comprehensive framework for criminal justice advocacy that takes a holistic approach to public safety, the restoration of trust between communities and law enforcement, and a path forward for meaningful change.

Last week’s Justice Department report on Minneapolis policing, like its report on policing in Louisville issued in March, reaffirms the themes of 21 Pillars:  collaborating with communities to build a restorative system, holding law enforcement personnel and agencies accountable for their actions, reforming divisive policies, requiring transparency, reporting, and data collection, and improving hiring standards and training.  In fact, most of the recommendations in the reports correspond directly to one of our pillars.

The racism, violent abuse, and habitual misconduct that pervades the Minneapolis and Louisville police departments, as outlined in the reports, were not a revelation. People of color across the country, in communities large and small, have borne this brutality for generations.

What the reports did reveal is an enlightened approach by the Justice Department to achieving police reform and racial justice.

The Justice Department’s recommendation that the Louisville Police “improve community engagement in violent crime reduction” reflects a growing trend toward community-led violence intervention systems that the National Urban League documented in the recently-released Toward a New Age of Community Safety, a framework for violence prevention that we unveiled as part of the Safe & Just Communities Summit we convened with John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

The investigations of the Minneapolis and Louisville police were two of eight investigations into law enforcement agencies opened during the Biden Administration by the Civil Rights Division. The Department also has ongoing investigations into the Phoenix Police Department; the Mount Vernon Police Department; the Louisiana State Police; the New York City Police Department’s Special Victims Division; the Worcester Police Department; and the Oklahoma City Police Department.

Speaking in Minneapolis last week, Clarke noted that the protests that unfolded there and around the country after George Floyd’s murder in 2020 were “a call for constitutional, fair and non-discriminatory policing and respect for people’s civil rights.”

President Biden took the first of several steps toward answering that call when he nominated Clarke to head what he called the “moral center” of the Justice Department.  She was confirmed by the Senate as first woman to hold the position on the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s murder.

As her work to enforce the principles of the 21 Pillars demonstrates, she is living up to her promise to make the Justice Department an engine of reform so the doors of justice remain open to all.

25TBE 6/22/23 ▪ 80 Pine Street ▪ New York, NY 10005 ▪ (212) 558-5300

Connect with the National Urban League

Ford receives massive $9.2B loan to boost US EV battery capacity

Author:  Peter Johnson        Published: 6/22/2023   Electrack


Ford Motor is set to receive the single largest loan in the history of the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Loan Program Office. The whopping $9.2 billion will be used to build three EV battery factories as Ford looks to boost domestic capacity.

The loan is also the largest (by far) since the US auto bailout sparked by the global financial crisis in 2009, according to Bloomberg.

Ford will use the funds to build three new battery factories. The automaker revealed plans to develop its “largest, most advanced and efficient auto complex” in 2021, called BlueOval City.

The new project consists of three battery factories in collaboration with SK Innovation. One will be at its nearly 6-square-mile site in West Tennessee alongside an assembly plant, while the other two are being built at its new BlueOvalSK Battery Park in Central Kentucky.

Altogether, Ford expects the three factories to generate 129 GWh of battery cells annually to support the automaker’s planned EV production ramp.

Construction at BlueOval SK Battery Park (Source: Ford)
Ford expects to build around two million EVs per year by 2026 compared to about 132,000 it made in 2022. Once the factories are complete, Ford’s EV models, including a new electric truck codenamed “Project T3,” will be eligible for billions in incentives from the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA).

Currently, the Ford F-150 Lightning is the only EV model that qualifies for the full $7,500 tax credit. The Mustang Mach-E and E-Transit are eligible for $3,750.


Ford gets a $9.2 billion loan for EV battery production

Ford’s $9.2 billion loan is designed to expand EV battery production in the US, building out a domestic supply chain while reducing the nation’s reliance on China.

BlueOval CEO Robert Rhee said in a statement Ford “will use this loan to its fullest as we create 7,500 good American jobs.” The IRA is enabling US automakers to compete globally as the industry moves to a fully electric future while putting the US on a path to slash GHG emissions in half by 2030.


Glad to hear about the loans and new battery factories. This is something that should have been implemented ten years ago. China has been massively subsidizing their car manufacturers, mining, chip, and key EV suppliers since the 1980s. Plus they waive pollution standards and have a lock on low salaries. Hard to impossible to compete and sadly, tariffs will play a big part in the future.

Top comment by PeterO

Glad to hear about the loans and new battery factories. This is something that should have been implemented ten years ago. China has been massively subsidizing their car manufacturers, mining, chip, and key EV suppliers since the 1980s. Plus they waive pollution standards and have a lock on low salaries. Hard to impossible to compete and sadly, tariffs will play a big part in the future.
View all comments

The Loan Programs Office (LPO), created in 2005 to advance clean energy projects, dished out nearly $33 billion over the past 14 years. Notably, in 2010, a $465 million loan helped Tesla ramp production at its first factory in Fremont, California.


Three states just barred utilities from charging customers for lobbying

Author: Maxine   Joselow       Published:  6/21/2023      Washington Post

That’s about to change in three states — Colorado, Connecticut and Maine — that recently passed laws to prohibit this practice.

Proponents of the measures, which garnered bipartisan support, say they will prevent customers from footing the bill for political activities they might oppose, including lobbying against climate policies. They acknowledge the measures

“What we’ve seen in the last few months is a real turning point, where public officials have become aware and alarmed — appropriately — that utilities are forcing their customers to pay for their political operations,” said David Pomerantz, executive director of the Energy and Policy Institute, a utility watchdog group.

While federal and state regulations already bar utilities from spending ratepayer funds on lobbying, they often use a very narrow definition of lobbying and are full of “loopholes,” Pomerantz said.

Big money in Maine

Some utilities spend millions of dollars annually to influence legislation, ballot initiatives and other policies. Maine offers a prime example.

In November, Maine voters will weigh a ballot initiative aimed at buying out the assets of Central Maine Power and Versant, which distribute 97 percent of the state’s electricity, and replacing them with a new not-for-profit utility. Already, the parent companies of Central Maine Power and Versant have spent $18.4 million fighting the initiativeFloodlight News and the Portland Press Herald reported.

Maine state Sen. Mike Tipping (D), who sponsored the new legislation, said he understands why it passed last week on a bipartisan basis, with three Republican lawmakers in each chamber voting yes.

“I think folks on both sides of the aisle have seen some of the problems here,” Tipping said. “I mean, Maine is not a big state, and when these monopoly utilities spend tens of millions of dollars, it’s pretty obvious.”

Central Maine Power testified in February that it was “neither for nor against” the legislation. Spokesman Jon Breed said in an email that the utility already complies with regulations preventing the use of ratepayer money for political spending, despite advocates’ concerns about loopholes.

Trade groups

Many utilities pay dues to trade groups that also spend big on political activities.

In fact, the Edison Electric Institute, the main trade group for investor-owned utilities, paid for Facebook ads urging people to oppose the legislation in Connecticut and Colorado.

Steve Fenberg, president of the Colorado state Senate, said he thinks it’s “ironic” that the ads claimed the bills would raise costs for customers, even though the cost of the ads was potentially passed on to customers.

Brian Reil, a spokesman for the Edison Electric Institute, said EEI’s political ads can’t come from consumer dollars and said the trade group has provided a “careful accounting breakdown” in its annual lobbying and advocacy report. He also defended the ads and EEI’s broader engagement with policymakers.

“These misguided state policies are driving up costs for customers at a time when electric companies are hard at work trying to keep costs down,” Reil said in an email.

“Increasingly, we are seeing environmental groups and dark money groups masquerading as environmental ‘watch dogs’ that believe they are the only ones that policymakers should be allowed to speak with, which is absurd,” he added.

Karen Harbert, president and chief executive of the American Gas Association, which has lobbied state lawmakers across the country to prohibit local governments from banning natural gas in new buildings, also criticized the legislation.

“Efforts to silence the voice of the American Gas Association … could undercut the industry’s ability to access the very services that directly benefit their customers and communities,” Harbert said in an email.

The impact

So just how much money can residents of Maine, Colorado and Connecticut expect to save on their energy bills in the coming months? The bills’ backers acknowledge that the financial impact might be small — but they say the impact on transparency might be greater.

In addition to barring utilities from spending ratepayer money on political activities, the bills require utilities to better disclose these activities in the first place. In Connecticut, for instance, utilities will be forced to file annual disclosures to the state Public Utility Regulatory Authority with itemized lists of expenses starting next year.

Meanwhile, the bills’ backers hope the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission takes similar action at the national level. In 2021, the commission said it would consider preventing utilities from charging customers for trade association dues in response to a petition from the Center for Biological Diversity.

“The states have the power to do this themselves, but the good thing about FERC acting would be a uniform standard across all states,” said Howard Crystal, legal director of the center’s Energy Justice Program.

Update: This story has been updated with EEI’s response to Fenberg’s quote.

Climate in the courts
The EPA’s power to tackle coolant smuggling was just cut down
Customers shop in the frozen foods section of a Costco store in Louisville. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)

A federal court yesterday limited the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to phase out hydrofluorocarbons, or coolants that significantly contribute to climate change and are typically used in air conditioners or refrigerators, Bloomberg’s Jennifer Hijazi reports.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the EPA can continue to set strict limits on HFCs, but the agency can’t require refillable, coded containers that make those limits easier to enforce. The decision, which was written by Trump appointee Justin Walker, comes after Congress last fall ratified the Kigali Amendment to the 1987 Montreal Protocol, a treaty aimed at slashing the global use of HFCs.

On the Hill
House Republicans probe League of Conservation Voters
President Biden speaks during the League of Conservation Voters’ annual dinner on June 14. (Bonnie Cash/UPI/Bloomberg News)

Republicans on the House Natural Resources Committee yesterday sent a letter to the League of Conservation Voters expressing concern that the environmental group potentially violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

The lawmakers wrote that they are concerned about LCV’s “potential funding by foreign nationals.” They noted that since 2016, the Swiss billionaire Hansjörg Wyss has donated $245 million to the Sixteen Thirty Fund and the New Venture Fund, which in turn have contributed to LCV. The Wyss Foundation also issued a grant of $210,000 to the League of Conservation Voters Education Fund in 2020.

Under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, foreign nationals such as Wyss are prohibited from contributing either directly or indirectly to domestic political campaigns. The Republican lawmakers asked LCV to provide a tranche of documents, including communications between its employees and representatives of the Wyss Foundation, by July 15.

Asked for comment on the letter, LCV spokesman David Willett said in an email: “LCV & related entities comply fully with the law. We will review the letter to determine our appropriate response.”

Pressure points
Buying renewable energy doesn’t mean what you think
Illustration by Hailey Haymond/The Washington Post. (Illustration by Hailey Haymond/The Washington Post)

Thousands of households, companies and cities purchase renewable electricity credits to meet their climate goals and bolster sustainability claims. But buying those credits doesn’t actually mean they’re running on clean energy, The Post’s Shannon Osaka and Hailey Haymond report.

In theory, a company in West Virginia might use 25 megawatt-hours of electricity a year that’s primarily coming from coal. But the company could buy renewable credits from a wind farm in Texas — which supplies the local power grid there — and claim that its electricity is entirely pollution-free.

That company “could report publicly that its emissions have gone to zero,” said Michael Macrae, a senior manager at the World Resources Institute. “But does the Earth see less emissions?”

When the renewable energy sector was just getting started, such credits were meant to help get fledgling wind and solar farms off the ground. But now, as renewables become cheaper and more accessible, the credits seem more like a way for companies to claim to be green without doing much.

One possible solution, experts said, is realigning renewable credits with the needs of the electricity grid by requiring companies to buy credits for each hour that they operate and on their own state’s grid.

In the atmosphere

FY23 Community Solar RFP Deadline Extended to this 06/30!

Author: DCSEU Staff      Published: 6/16/2023     DCSEU


SOLAR FOR ALL RFP   |   June 2023

community solar canopy with an aerial view

Solar for All CREF RFP Response Deadline Extended to June 30th!

The DCSEU recently reissued the FY 2023 Solar for All Community Renewable Energy Facilities (CREF or community solar) program Request for Proposals (RFP).  The CREF RFP response deadline has been extended to June 30th, 2023, by 5:00 pm. All responses must be complete with both proposals and financials by that time. All proposals must be submitted via the DCSEU Contractor Web Portal and financials emailed to

The CREF RFP has been updated to reflect the  extended timeline but you can see the relevant part of the updated timeline below.

  • Deadline for Proposals and Financials – 06/30/23 at 5:00 pm
  • Notices of Award issued – 07/07/23
  • Certificate of Insurance (COI) and copies of insurance policies – 07/11/23
  • Subcontracts Issued and Signed – 07/18/23
  • Milestone #1 – 07/31/23
  • Milestone #2 – 07/31/23
  • Milestone #3 – 08/31/23
  • Milestone #4 – 09/22/23

Build Community Solar for the Benefit of DC Residents

The DCSEU is soliciting bids from contractors and development teams to install CREFs that will enable the DCSEU and the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) to extend the benefits of solar power to income-qualified District residents. Selected bidders will receive incentives and be able to take advantage of this additional $1.1 million+ in funding to install solar at community solar host sites with all output designated to income-qualified residents.


Respond to the CREF RFP before 06/30 →

Inexpensive Solar Panels Are Essential for the Energy Transition. Here’s What’s Happening With Prices Right Now

Author: Dan Gearino     Published: 6/15/2023    Inside Climate News

An aerial view of solar panels installed on the roof of buildings at a machinery equipment manufacturing industrial park in Yongzhou, Hunan Province of China, on June 7, 2023. Credit: VCG via Getty Images

One of the keys to feasibility of the energy transition is that the new sources of electricity cost less than the old ones—hopefully a lot less.

For years, it was reasonable to expect a reduction in costs because key components, like solar panels, kept getting cheaper.

But as the global economy recovered from the coronavirus pandemic, things got weird. Certain materials, like silicon for solar panels, had supply bottlenecks that led to a spike in prices. The global average price for solar panels had a clear upward trend for the first time in about five years.

The question I asked in 2022 was, “How long is this going to last?”

Now, the answer is becoming clear: Global panel prices have peaked and are now falling. This is good for people buying solar panels and good for the transition to clean energy, although—as I’ll explain—the price drop hasn’t yet reached the United States.

“The solar industry is undergoing a price correction, as undersupply of key components and materials ends and it becomes a buyer’s market for panels,” said Jenny Chase, a solar analyst for BloombergNEF, in a note to clients.

The global average price was 19.9 cents per watt as of June 7, down from 23.7 cents per watt at the beginning of this year, and down from a high during this price spike of 27.8 cents per watt in late 2021, according to BloombergNEF and PV InfoLink.

One of the reasons for the drop in prices is that the supply of silicon—the material that absorbs solar energy on the surface of a panel—has rebounded and its prices have fallen.

“2021 and 2022 were characterized by polysilicon demand exceeding supply,” Johannes Bernreuter, a market analyst based in Germany, said in an email. “The high prices have induced (too) strong build-up of new production capacity, leading to oversupply.”

Most of the silicon in the world comes from factories in China, but the United States and others are working to broaden the base of supply.

So far, I’ve been talking about global prices. Prices are higher in the United States, largely because of tariffs and other trade barriers that apply to solar components from China.

At the same time, the Inflation Reduction Act offers incentives for companies to build clean energy manufacturing plants in this country. Panel manufacturers have responded with announcements that they will build new factories here, but it will take time for them to get up and running.

The average price for a solar panel delivered in the United States was 38 cents per watt as of June 7, which is double the global average, according to BloombergNEF and PV InfoLink. The U.S. price has been about the same, going up or down just a penny or two, since last fall.

So, the drop in global prices has yet to translate into a drop in U.S. prices.

I asked Chase what the IRA will mean for prices in the near future.

“The IRA subsidizes both supply and demand for modules, while various trade barriers make the U.S. a uniquely high-priced market,” she said. “The domestic supply, however, will ramp only in a year or two even for modules assembled in the U.S. from cells from abroad.”

A solar cell is a squarish sheet, about the size of your hand, covered with silicon. A solar panel, or module, is a bunch of solar cells arranged next to each other within a glass casing and a metal frame.

Even if a solar panel is assembled in the United States, it is likely getting its cells from factories in Asia, at least for now. The Biden administration would like to see a clean energy economy in which all parts can be obtained from sources within this country.

It’s important to specify that the cost of solar panels is just one part of the cost of building a solar array, and the costs of all of those components are shifting.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory said last year that the cost of panels was roughly one-third of the price tag for a utility-scale solar project, the largest component. The rest was a variety of costs for other parts, labor and land, and some of those costs were rising.

LevelTen Energy, a firm that runs a marketplace for buying and selling contracts for renewable energy, has reported rising prices for about the last two years. These are all-in prices that reflect the costs of panels and everything else.

It will take time for the drop in global panel prices to affect the United States, and it will take time for the IRA to affect the costs of projects.

But it looks like the period of rising panel prices has ended. And that matters a lot considering how much solar is being built.

The International Energy Agency said in December that the world is set to add as much renewable power in the next five years as it did in the previous 20, which would include a tripling of the amount of installed solar power.

At that scale, with a forecast of more than 100 gigawatts being added each year, small shifts in prices have big ramifications.




Juneteenth: Not A Moment Of Liberation, But An Ongoing Journey Of Persistence And Hope

Author:  Marc H. Morial  Published: 6/16/23   National Urban League


“The slave went free; stood a brief moment in the sun; then moved back again toward slavery.” — W.E.B. Du Bois 

Just a dozen years after Major General Gordon Granger’s Order Number 3 declared “an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves,” the last federal troops withdrew from former Confederate states. Their withdrawal ushered in a near-century of legally-enforced racial segregation, white supremacist terrorism, and second-class citizenship for Black Americans.

Still, the celebration of Granger’s order, the holiday we celebrate on Monday as Juneteenth, endured.

The Great Migrations spread the celebration of Juneteenth from Texas to the rest of the nation.  The June 19, 1968, Solidarity Day celebration – organized by Greater Washington Urban League Executive Director Sterling Tucker — during the Poor People’s March on Washington may have played a role in popularizing Juneteenth.

“My theory is that these delegates for the summer took that idea of the celebration back to their respective communities,“ the late African American folklorist William Wiggins Jr. said. “Because it was used to close the Poor Peoples Campaign, the idea was taken back by different participants in that march, and it took root around the country. It has taken on a life of its own.”

Given this history, Juneteenth represents not a moment of liberation, but an ongoing journey of persistence and hope.

As President Biden said when he signed the bill designating Juneteenth as a federal holiday, “Emancipation of enslaved Black Americans didn’t mark the end of America’s work to deliver on the promise of equality; it only marked the beginning.”

The white supremacists who rejected the promise of equality during the Reconstruction era called their movement “Redemption” and referred to themselves as “Redeemers.” They undermined their political opponents and suppressed Black voters through a campaign of violence and intimidation.

The white supremacists who reject the promise of equality today are banning books, distorting history, and clamping down on the mere suggestion of systemic racism and inequities.

Among the nearly 700 measures that state, local and federal policy makers have introduced over the last two years was a little-discussed provision that would ban Illinois schools from “promoting the concept” that “meritocracy” and “a hard work ethic” are tools of oppression. In effect, the provision would stifle any suggestion that racial gaps in wealth or income, educational attainment, home ownership, civic engagement, or political representation are the result of anything other than merit and hard work.

Distortion of history is a familiar tool of white supremacy, from the “Lost Cause” mythology that Black Americans had been content – even fortunate — to live under a system of oppression, to the “anti-woke” mythology that the system of oppression doesn’t exist.

Historian Elizabeth Hayes Turner described the earliest celebrations of Juneteenth as “a joyful retort” to “displays of Confederate glorification” and “valorization of the Lost Cause.”

Today, Juneteenth is our own “joyful retort” to the modern-day Lost Causers seeking to distort history and deny the presence of systemic and institutional racism.

24TBE 6/15/23 ▪ 80 Pine Street ▪ New York, NY 10005 ▪ (212) 558-5300

Connect with the National Urban League

Consumer Alert: DC Electricity Rates to Increase Effective June 1,2023

Author: PC-DC Staff     Published: 6/16/2023      PC-DC

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Consumer Alert  June 15, 2023

Be Prepared for Costly Electric Rate

 Increase With the June Billing Cycle

People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye alerts DC residential and small business customers who take Pepco’s Standard Offer Service (SOS) that effective June 1, a 14 percent increase in the cost of generated electricity will raise the monthly bill for the average residential consumer using 631 kWh per month by approximately $12.18. The average small business customer will see an increase of $30.06 per month due to a rate increase of 13.2 percent.

The new rates were approved by the Public Service Commission (PSC) on April 21, and the additional costs should begin to be reflected on bills at the close of the June billing cycle. Pepco does not generate electricity. The company participates in a bidding process that is overseen by the PSC and OPC to select purchase agreements to buy electricity for DC customers.

In its decision to allow the new rates, the PSC expressed its concern for the consumers in the District who will feel the impact of the increase. OPC shares this concern and is working to limit the impact of the increased rates on already struggling households. In a letter to Pepco management, People’s Counsel Sandra Mattavous-Frye said, “The absence of electric service in the home has a direct impact on the health, safety, and overall quality of life of financially vulnerable consumers.” Before this rate increase, consumer disconnection complaints received by OPC were already soaring, in many cases, among consumers who had not overcome the effects of the pandemic.

Natural gas is commonly used by electricity generators, particularly as coal and oil are being phased out. However, many factors including the Ukraine war have significantly increased the cost of natural gas, and these costs, affecting electric generation, are being passed on to consumers.

OPC is calling upon Pepco to use all lines of communication to prepare consumers for higher bills as we enter what is predicted to be a hotter-than-usual cooling season. OPC is particularly concerned with at-risk and senior populations as the hotter weather often means poorer air quality and much heavier use of air conditioning.

What Can You Do?

Read your bill to determine just how much the increase may affect your budget. If you need help in understanding your bill, an OPC consumer services specialist can help you.

Keep up to date with your payments. If you cannot make a payment on time, contact Pepco immediately.

Learn if taking advantage of energy efficiency measures can help reduce your electricity usage. Just like keeping cold air out of your home in winter, it is important to keep warm air from entering your home in summer.

You may be eligible for one or more free energy efficiency programs available from the Department of Energy & Environment (DOEE) and the DC Sustainable Energy Utility.

And, at all times—OPC Can Help!

Contact 202.727.3071 or

Contact OPC @ (202) 727-3071

Office of the People’s Counsel for the District of Columbia | Website


DOE Announces Intent to Fund Up to $36 Million for Industrial Thin-Film Photovoltaic Research, Development, and Demonstration

Author: US DOE Staff     Published: 6/14/2023       EERE

U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

EERE Funding OpportunityDivider

DOE Announces Intent to Fund Up to $36 Million for Industrial Thin-Film Photovoltaic Research, Development, and Demonstration

Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) issued a notice of intent (NOI) to release a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) of up to $36 million for research, development, and demonstration projects on two major thin-film photovoltaic (PV) technologies: metal halide perovskites and cadmium telluride (CdTe).  

Perovskites are a promising new PV technology that have the potential for high efficiencies and quicker, cheaper production. CdTe is a commercial PV technology that makes up more than a third of U.S. solar installations with opportunities for innovation and growth across its supply chain. Advancing perovskite and CdTe technologies will help scale domestic solar manufacturing capacity, strengthen the solar supply chain, and speed solar deployment. 

The FOA is expected to be released in September 2023 and is expected to be restricted to for-profit lead applicants.  

$20 million of this opportunity will fund projects on industrial perovskite PV research and development to enable future commercialization by reaching specific thresholds of efficiency, long-term reliability, manufacturability, and economic viability. Quantitative guidelines within the NOI describe what a competitive application is expected to include for a given funding level.

$16 million of this opportunity will fund projects to advance cadmium telluride (CdTe) PV research, development, demonstration, and commercialization across the materials, equipment, installation, and performance monitoring supply chain to improve the competitiveness of the domestic CdTe PV industry.   

Attend the informational webinar on June 26 at 1pm ET and read the notice of intent for more information, including technologies of interest and expectations for applicants. Interested applicants can also sign up to join the Teaming Partner List. For updates on the status of the announcement, check SETO’s funding opportunities webpage.

DOE Launches New Round of American-Made Solar Prize

Author:  US DOE     Published: 6/12/2023    EERE

U.S. Department of Energy - Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy

Solar Energy Technologies Office


New Contest Offers Cash Prizes and Business Development Support for New and Diverse Innovators 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced the launch of the American-Made Solar Prize Round 7—a $4 million prize program designed to spur innovations in U.S. solar hardware and software technologies. The seventh round of the prize includes a new contest that offers additional cash prizes and business development support for new and diverse teams. This initiative helps advance a just and inclusive innovation ecosystem that will enable rapid deployment of solar energy and achieve the Biden-Harris administration’s decarbonization and Justice40 goals.

“The American-Made Solar Prize is building a network of diverse solar innovators and entrepreneurs and helping them bring their ideas to life,” said Alejandro Moreno, Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “To achieve our climate goals, we need to see solar energy expand across America. I look forward to seeing the Round 7 teams’ proposed solutions to address the solar industry’s biggest challenges.”

Since launching in 2018 as the first American-Made Challenge, the Solar Prize has awarded $19.6 million in cash prizes and other support to 140 teams, including 13 grand prize winners, over the course of six rounds. Many in this group have gone on to receive additional investments and advance transformative solutions like a platform that connects consumers who purchase voluntary carbon offsets with rooftop solar projects in high-impact communities and a hybrid inverter that enables interconnection between renewable energy resources.

Solar Prize competitors advance through three escalating challenges as they develop their concept from idea to product. Individually, each competitor can win up to $700,000 in cash and $150,000 in technical support vouchers over the course of the three main Contests. Throughout the competition, teams can leverage the American-Made Network, a group comprised of incubators, investors, seasoned industry mentors, and DOE’s national labs that support entrepreneurs by providing technical services, access to manufacturing, and support for private fundraising.

Competitors also have the option to participate in a Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest, designed to recognize solutions that enable underserved communities to share in the societal benefits of solar deployment. Should they opt in, at each stage, the competitors will describe how their solution addresses solar market barriers faced by underserved communities and work to substantially advance their approach to JEDI goals for the chance to win additional cash prizes from a pool of $200,000.

New this year is the Power-Up Contest, which is designed to support and advance new and diverse teams that have compelling applications but are not selected as Ready! Contest winners. These teams will represent individuals with diverse expertise, perspectives, and experiences. DOE expects to select up to 10 teams based on their initial submission package to split a prize pool of $100,000 and receive tailored business development support to boost their viability for future competitions.

Entrepreneurs, students, professors, small business owners, researchers at national laboratories, and other solar innovators based in the United States can apply to compete by September 27, 2023.

The Solar Prize is administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on behalf of DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office.





Training and Employment Notice No. 28-22: Partnering with Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) Agencies to Support Able-bodied Adults as the Public Health Emergency Ends

Author: US DOL Staff      Published: 6/9/2023   DOL


United States Department of Labor

Training and Employment Notice No. 28-22


To encourage state, local, and community workforce development grantees to partner with agencies that administer SNAP to provide access to work and job training for individuals whose SNAP benefits are time-limited.




Acting Assistant Secretary


Please direct inquiries to the appropriate Regional Office.

To preserve the formatting of this document, it has been converted to PDF (Portable Document Format) to retain its original layout.
There are no rescissions or cancelations for this advisory.

The US clean energy manufacturing boom has begun. Now what?

Author: JULIAN SPECTOR         Published: 6/5/2023  Canary  Media

Large metal cylinders sit on train flatcars outside a large blue factory in an industrial yard

The remnants of the Weirton Steel facility put the finishing touches on steel now made elsewhere. 

WEIRTON, West Virginia — On a recent May day, some 235 people gathered from across the country in a vacant lot on the banks of the Ohio River. Behind the tent where they mingled under radiant blue skies, excavators crunched into the earth, gnawing at the remains of a demolished steel plant that had sat quiet since 2005.

This was the groundbreaking ceremony for Form Energy, a cleantech startup based in Berkeley, California and Somerville, Massachusetts, whose leaders chose this historic steel town in the far northern panhandle of West Virginia for their first commercial-scale factory. A century ago, townspeople here took iron ore shipped along the Ohio River and threw it in furnaces with West Virginia coal to forge steel. The molten slag made the night sky glow red.

Now Form Energy is building an 800,000-square-foot factory to manufacture iron-air batteries that can store energy for days on end, turning wind and solar power into reliable baseload energy sources, a potential breakthrough in the quest for a carbon-free grid.

If you’d have come here 3040 years ago, you wouldn’t have seen a vacant lot — everything was filled with manufacturing of some sort,” said Senator Joe Manchin, Democrat of West Virginia, in a speech to the crowd. ​Steel was being made at the rate nothing has ever seen.”

West Virginia mined the coal that made the steel that built the guns and ships for the American war effort in World War II, Manchin told the audience. But that legacy couldn’t preserve the steel mill — once the state’s largest employer and taxpayer — when deindustrialization kicked in and America shipped its manufacturing jobs overseas. In a lot adjacent to the field where the ceremony was held, train flatcars still carry shiny spools of steel made elsewhere; Weirton’s remaining steel operation just puts the finishing touches on those products.

We did everything the country asked us to do,” Manchin said. ​And I guarantee it: We felt like we were left behind.”

But now that great ebbing of American manufacturing is reversing, and new factories are springing up in Weirton and communities like it across the country, many of them building clean energy products that have never been made in America at this scale.

A crisis precipitated this sea change: The Covid pandemic stymied supply chains and issued a stark wake-up call for manufacturers and developers. Then last August, Manchin and his fellow Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act, allocating hundreds of billions of dollars for both manufacturing at home and deploying domestic products.

Startups like Form Energy are producing never-before-seen batteries to make renewable power available around the clock. Billion-dollar battery and electric vehicle factories have clustered in the Rust Belt states of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio, down through Kentucky into a new Southeastern Battery Belt spanning Tennessee, Georgia and the Carolinas. Major solar panel factories are popping up in Georgia, Alabama, Texas and, as of a few weeks ago, Oklahoma; companies are taking early steps to build more of the components here, too. A sputtering onshore-wind supply chain is finding a new lease on life, and a brand new offshore-wind manufacturing sector is gearing up.

The scale and speed of the shift has been stunning. Clean energy is no niche industry anymore; it’s become a pillar of the national economy. And now that climate-friendly technologies are bringing eye-popping job and investment packages, the states most resistant to climate policy have proven themselves the most enthusiastic adopters of the factories.

These political complexities hummed throughout Form’s groundbreaking ceremony, like the drone of the nearby excavators.

Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm took to the stage to connect Weirton’s changing fortunes to President Biden’s climate and jobs policies: ​One of the things that we’ve got to be clear about,” she told the crowd, ​is that the revitalization in communities like Weirton and across the country is happening because of the Inflation Reduction Act.”

Senator Manchin emphasized that he supported the law for the sake of energy security after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine upended global energy markets. He also reminded the crowd that one-third of the law’s total allocation of $689 billion went to debt reduction — ​No one wants to talk about that!”

Clean energy is no niche industry anymore; it’s become a pillar of the national economy.

Mitch Carmichael, who leads West Virginia’s Department of Economic Development, hailed Form Factory 1 for its local benefits in his speech.

Jobs mean everything to a community,” said Carmichael, whose boss, Trump-aligned Republican Governor Jim Justice, is running for Manchin’s Senate seat in 2024. ​And this is the groundbreaking for the largest announcement that we’ve done in West Virginia in many, many, many years — 750 direct jobs, [from] which the economic impact will be thousands.”

As the speakers made clear, everyone gets something they want out of the clean energy factory ramp-up, which is why this grand national experiment just might work.

At the ceremony’s conclusion, Form’s co-founders stepped up to sign a steel beam that will form part of the new factory. But first, Senator Manchin had a song request.

Where’s our guitar player?” he asked.

A hometown crooner emerged, and Manchin and Granholm led the crowd in a rousing rendition of ​Take Me Home, Country Roads,” since 2014 one of West Virginia’s four official state songs, as the party inked the hunk of steel.

A group of men and one woman in business attire sing and clap under a tent at an outdoor groundbreaking ceremony
Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin (D) lead the crowd in a chorus of “Take Me Home, Country Roads.” From left, West Virginia Secretary of Economic Development Mitch Carmichael and Form co-founder Mateo Jaramillo join in. (Julian Spector/Canary Media)

The did-that-just-happen level of bonhomie signaled a promising start to the new era of U.S. clean energy manufacturing. But after the groundbreaking, the heavy construction begins. An industry that grew up on the sidelines of the economy must step into its newfound leadership role.

If the U.S. regains its former manufacturing powerhouse status, it can speed its pace toward the decarbonization deadlines necessary to stave off the worst impacts of climate change. But the shift from familiar, import-based industry to a homegrown one with more domestic control is still a gamble. To succeed, this industrial project needs to go beyond superficial reshoring to fully realized supply chains employing people across the breadth of America.

D.C. beckons, clean energy responds 

The sudden turn to domestic clean energy has been enabled by a broader transformation in American notions governing trade and industry. After decades of offshoring jobs and industries in the name of corporate-friendly, least-cost-seeking neoliberal principles, trade leaders on the left and right have changed their minds, as recently chronicled by Politico trade correspondent Gavin Bade. Both parties say they want a more worker-centric trade regime that brings jobs and critical industries back home.

The clean energy industry has been rocked by these seismic shifts. In the mid-20th century, the U.S. dominated lithium mining; government-funded scientists invented solar panels and later made key strides on lithium-ion battery technology. But in the late ​80s and ​90s, policymakers pulled back from supporting those industries and let the all-knowing market carry those activities to wherever in the world they could be done cheapest and with the least environmental scrutiny.

Today, China handles nearly all of the upstream materials that end up in solar panels, which are the largest source of new U.S. power plant construction. China similarly dominates lithium refining and battery production, which are now essential to the future of both the automotive and utility industries.

But supply-chain disruptions during Covid threw clean energy projects way off their timelines; the pennies saved by buying cheap imports suddenly risked millions of dollars of penalties for breaking contracted deadlines. And Congress blocked products made in China under forced-labor conditions by the Uyghur minority, forcing solar companies to scramble to figure out whether or not their supply chains were tainted.

Everyone gets something they want out of the clean energy factory ramp-up, which is why this grand national experiment just might work.

Last August, Democrats passed the Inflation Reduction Act and instituted direct support for domestic manufacturing of clean energy supply chains, as well as tax credits for developers who install domestically sourced equipment at their clean power plants.

The industry responded like a lightning bolt. Solar panel factories are opening and expanding across the nation. Lithium-ion battery production is set to grow tenfold by 2027, according to data from Clean Energy Associates consultancy. Form broke ground in Weirton less than a year after the passage of the incentives.

We’ve seen, in the last six months, more investment in clean energy manufacturing than we have in the last 20 years,” said Scott Moskowitz, senior director of market strategy and public affairs for Qcells, which recently said it would spend another $2.5 billion to expand its solar manufacturing base in Georgia.

Speeding up the clean energy transition

The Biden administration is betting that the U.S. will decarbonize faster if it builds more of the necessary equipment at home. That’s the ultimate metric by which the return to domestic manufacturing should be judged, Granholm told me after the last chorus of ​Take Me Home, Country Roads.”

The big goal, right, is 100% clean electricity by 2035,” she said.

There’s risk in taking the familiar, if flawed, global supply chain that made clean energy the largest source of new power plant construction in the U.S., and substituting it with an American supply chain that’s still emerging.

But during the Covid years, renewables developers learned the hard way that the cheaper Asian imports came with unanticipated costs. China-based goods are now under increasing political scrutiny from both parties.

If we want to continue to deploy the amount of clean energy that is necessary to decarbonize the grid, then we also need to look at all the bottlenecks,” said MJ Shiao, vice president for supply chain and manufacturing at American Clean Power industry group.

Customers buying U.S.-made products, on the other hand, ​are never going to see a module detained at the port,” said David Reasenberg, VP of sales and business development at Heliene, one of the few North American solar manufacturers to survive the last decade.

Now, tax credits in the IRA address the higher costs of domestic production, putting local factories on a competitive footing for the U.S. market. Large renewables developers are asking for homegrown product — like when the U.S. Solar Buyer Consortium formed by AESClearway and others said last June it would collectively purchase 6 gigawatts of U.S.-made solar panels.

Washington no longer wants to rely on the homogenized global marketplace to hand us the tools for a clean energy economy. For instance, the batteries mass-produced in Asia can’t do the job of economically storing renewable power for long stretches without wind or solar. But the U.S. grid needs to make ​renewable energy as dispatchable as possible,” Granholm said. ​That’s what Form Energy…is all about.” By taking charge on manufacturing, the U.S. is expanding the climate solution toolkit.

Onshoring entire supply chains, not just products 

But the early wins in new solar and battery production mask tougher challenges ahead: actually closing the ever-widening gap between U.S. supply and demand, and sourcing all the raw materials that the new factories depend on.

The White House wants to see ​as much of this manufacturing in the United States as possible” and will even push toward exporting clean energy around the world, Granholm said.

That means doing the hard work of building out entire supply chains locally, because, as Manchin told me with dismay, ​We’ve allowed the building blocks of America to leave us, and we’ve got to bring it back.” (For the record, when in the same conversation, I referred to the IRA as a clean energy investment law, he interrupted me to say that it was primarily an energy security law.)

A secure, homegrown, ​soup-to-nuts” supply chain, per Granholm’s tabulation, would include: ​sustainable extraction,” processing critical minerals, battery assembly, electric vehicle manufacturing, solar panel fabrication (“including perovskites,” a next-generation technology), solar racks and tracker production, and making components for onshore and offshore wind farms.

So far, the U.S. has made swift progress on building clean energy products (downstream) while remaining largely dependent on foreign sources for the raw materials inside them (upstream).

When it comes to full self-sufficiency, ​We’re talking about running an ultramarathon when we’re still sitting on the couch,” said Shiao. ​The most important win right now is to take these [factory] announcements and make them reality.”

Gigawatts’ worth of new solar panel production lines have been announced since the IRA passed; that’s desperately needed because the U.S. only produces about one-third of the panels it installs in a year. Battery cell production is picking up. EV factories are proliferating.

By taking charge on manufacturing, the U.S. is expanding the climate solution toolkit.

But demand for all these products is skyrocketing as the energy transition advances, so rising to meet 2023 demand is not nearly enough. And critical earlier steps in the supply chain haven’t caught up.

Take, for example, one of the first new solar plants to come to the U.S.: South Korean company Qcells opened a factory in northern Georgia in 2019 that can crank out 1.7 gigawatts’ worth of solar modules annually. But the factory takes photovoltaic cells made overseas and turns them into finished products. That leaves the earlier manufacturing steps offshore: cell production, silicon wafers, and the polysilicon that wafers are made from.

Since the Inflation Reduction Act, though, Qcells committed to expanding its facility to 5.1 gigawatts of module production annually. It invested in REC Silicon to restart its idled polysilicon plant in Washington state by the end of the year, then signed a 10-year supply agreement for that material. Now Qcells is building a factory in Cartersville, Georgia to make ingots, wafers, cells and modules; it will deliver 3.3 gigawatts of fully onshore production.

It’s all part of this very comprehensive supply-chain push in which we are looking to ensure long-term reliability and availability of all the major pieces of the supply chain and do it here in the United States,” Moskowitz said.

Similar to solar, the U.S. is finally building meaningful lithium-ion battery cell production, much of it clustered in the Southeastern Battery Belt and in the historic Rust Belt states. But no new lithium mines have gotten permits, even though the U.S. once led the global lithium mining industry with hard-rock extraction from the Carolina Tin-Spodumene Belt west of Charlotte, North Carolina.

Progress has been better with expanding domestic refining of metals. Lithium giant Albemarle is adding a $1.3 billion operation in South Carolina to process lithium into battery precursors. A crop of battery recycling startups now recover good-as-new materials from used batteries.

The U.S. is still a long way from true self-sufficiency, then. But there’s logic to starting with the end products and building out the domestic supply chain from there, said Suzanne Swink, vice president of government relations at Kore Power, which is constructing a battery gigafactory outside of Phoenix.

Mines need a place to send their material to be processed; processors need offtakers for their product,” she said. ​Providing the upstream with a partner and customer will pull in that demand and help foster a robust U.S. supply chain.”

Filling jobs, sharing the benefits

The hundreds of new factories not only revitalize local communities, but also offer reasons to believe in a clean energy transition that may otherwise seem removed from people’s lives. The trick, though, will be actually preparing workers to fill the jobs all those new factories bring. That’s the top concern for every executive I spoke with who’s opening a U.S. factory. Granholm agreed: ​The big challenge is going to be workforce.”

Two female factory workers on an assembly line manuver the partially completed chassis of a vehicle
Two workers on the F-150 Lightning assembly line at a Ford factory in Dearborn, Michigan (Ford)

Representative Sean Casten (D-Illinois), whom I spoke with at the Midwest Solar Expo near Chicago in May, linked that challenge to other looming unsolved policy disputes.

We are creating more jobs than we’re creating workers in this country,” he said. Congress could address this through immigration reform, criminal-justice reform or better federal child-care benefits, he said, but added, with an air of understatement, that none of those ​feel very bipartisan right now.”

In the meantime, the jobs are going to the states and communities that pitch the best existing workforce or offer to train newcomers.

Counterintuitively, that’s often the places that don’t particularly like the Inflation Reduction Act, or even climate policy generally. In coal-producing West Virginia, for instance, Manchin’s approval numbers dipped after he went from blocking Biden’s agenda to passing the Inflation Reduction Act, per Morning Consult. But Republican state officials joined Form’s groundbreaking ceremony to celebrate the clean manufacturing advance.

West Virginia’s Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito, who called the Inflation Reduction Act ​indefensible” prior to its passage, has worked to ensure road upgrades for trucks to smoothly bring supplies into the factory and ship finished goods out.

This pattern holds across the country. The growing Qcells complex sits in the district represented by MAGA conservative Republican Marjorie Taylor Green. Major EV investments are heading to Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina. In the White House’s tally, billion-dollar factories are notably sparse or nonexistent in the bastions of progressive climate policy on the West Coast and Northeast.

This spread of clean manufacturing jobs in business-friendly states with relatively amenable permitting systems could have a knock-on effect of strengthening the political coalition in favor of the energy transition. That, in turn, makes it more likely the supporting policies of the IRA stay in place.

The President is the president for all Americans, and he wants red states to succeed in the same way he wants blue states to succeed — he wants America to succeed,” Granholm said. ​The factories are just being built. But it might cause a turn of opinion about the importance of clean energy and our clean energy future, especially as the incentives help to bring down the cost of clean energy.”

This reflects a political lesson that’s both obvious and often overlooked: The best way to win people over to a cause is to demonstrate how it materially improves their lives.

First Historically Black University Joins Board at National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Howard University and NREL Join Forces to Increase Diversity in Clean Energy Workforce

Howard University, one of the nation’s leading historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU), became the first HBCU to join the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) governing alliance board of directors, which consists of leaders from universities with top-tier science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) programs. This partnership will help ensure that more students from historically disadvantaged communities can enjoy fulfilling careers that shape the future of renewable energy.

Howard University, in Washington, D.C., produces more African American Ph.D. students than any other higher-education institution. Joining NREL’s governing alliance board enables Howard to offer more education and training opportunities to its students; provide expertise, guidance, support, and perspective to NREL.

“The NREL professional network will provide untold opportunities for our students and graduates to pursue and secure careers in energy,” said Bruce Jones, vice president for research at Howard University.

Black and Indigenous people, people of color, and women remain underrepresented in the clean energy workforce. NREL, one of the U.S. Department of Energy’s 17 national laboratories, is committed to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion in clean energy innovation. Creative partnerships that summon diversity of thought from various communities are essential to solving our national energy and climate challenges.

“Having an HBCU on the board will give us better insights and allow us to do a better job of inclusion across the laboratory,” says NREL Director Martin Keller.

DOE has several longstanding partnerships with HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions, and was recently recognized in the top 5 of government agencies supporting HBCUs in 2023. These successful working relationships will help DOE achieve the energy-equity goals stated in President Biden’s Justice40 initiative while preparing the next generation of STEM professionals to support the clean energy transition.

Howard’s presence on NREL’s governing alliance board is a crucial step toward ensuring the future clean energy workforce is diverse, inclusive, and looks like America.