The U.S. Department of Energy announced the fourth round of the Solar District Cup—a collegiate competition designed to bring together multidisciplinary teams to design energy systems for a campus or urban district. Diverse students in engineering, urban planning, finance, and related majors will form teams to reimagine how energy is generated and used in a given district.
As students design their energy systems, they will present solutions to pressing solar deployment challenges while making professional contacts and gaining skills needed to enter the clean energy workforce.
Collegiate teams will compete in divisions and base their energy system designs around the needs of real-world district use cases. This year, students will have two options for their district use cases:
Assignment to a district use case defined by competition organizers (as in previous rounds of the Solar District Cup).
Self-selection of a district use case. All student teams choosing to bring their own district will compete in a division against other teams bringing their own districts.
The Solar District Cup Class of 2022-2023 will accept collegiate team registration on a rolling basis, which means students can begin work and access learning resources on a timeline that best aligns with their academic calendar.
Register to compete by Oct. 20, 2022. Registered student teams will receive their assigned district use case and access to modeling tools beginning Aug. 23.
In addition to rolling registration throughout the fall, the Solar District Cup Class of 2022-2023 will allow for one-semester or two-quarter participation in the winter/spring.
Please join us for our 2022 Q2 – Investor Webinar and learn more about what’s happening here at Energea as well as what’s coming to the platform. We look forward to seeing all of you on July 13th at 7 p.m. EST.
*Please note the later start time*
After registering you will receive a link to join the event as well as an option to add the event to your calendar. Please be sure to add this event to your calendar.
On Thursday, March 24th, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the DC Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force, which will advise on priority projects to be funded through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The $1.2 trillion, five-year infrastructure bill was signed into law on November 15, 2021 and seeks to rebuild American competitiveness through infrastructure by reauthorizing and increasing funding for existing and new programs (over half of the new funding is transportation focused.) The District is expected to receive more than $3 billion over the next five years and will be eligible to apply for competitive grants.
The DC Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force will be responsible for making recommendations on how to maximize this once-in-a-generation funding opportunity to bolster DC’s competitiveness and resiliency in the region, nationally and globally. The Task Force will also make recommendations on how to prioritize projects that can be funded through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including formula and competitive grants and solicit feedback from the public and external stakeholders.
The Task Force is made up of members from District agencies and external partners chosen for their expertise in each one of the 5 subcommittees:
Workforce Capacity Building
Environment and Resilience
Administration, Compliance and Procurement
An executive committee will review initial committee findings and guide the overall process.
When thinking about which projects should be prioritized, the Task Force will consider recommendations that will improve economic opportunities for underserved communities, create greater equity amongst DC neighborhoods and residents, withstand future shocks and stressors and accommodate growth throughout the District. Project recommendations must meet three core principles:
Transformational – big, creative ideas that do away with historical barriers and ensure systems and resources are combined to build back better
Equitable – cement racial equity into all stages of the projects
Sustainable – address the climate crisis and build resiliency while also being able to continue when BIL funding is no longer available
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS
While the DC Build Back Better Infrastructure Task Force meets and develops recommendations, we want to hear from residents across the District who want to have their say in how we prioritize funding projects. Please use the following form to share your thoughts with Task Force members. Remember to think big–this historic investment will be used to change the lives of District residents?
During the event, Mayor Bowser also highlighted how her Fiscal Year 2023 Fair Shot Budget invests in the District’s infrastructure, including $200 million for longer-term streetscape projects to redesign our most dangerous roads and intersections, $143 million to DC Water and the DC Department of Energy and Environment to support efforts to remove all lead pipes from DC, and $100 million to enable ubiquitous connectivity across the District.
From: The Office of the AABE Board Chairman, Richard Thigpen
Re: 2022-2024 Regional Director Appointments
As the new Chairman of the AABE Board of Directors, I’m eager to build on our effective leadership framework to support chapter operations and leadership development.
In accord with our National Bylaws, it is my distinguished honor to appoint the Regional Directors for May 2022 – May 2024 to align with my two-year term as Board Chair. The AABE Regional Directors serve as the interface to the Board of Directors, National Office Staff, and to the Chapter Presidents.
Please join me in congratulating the following AABE leaders as they assume the role of AABE Regional Director. Their demonstrated commitment to AABE, leadership, and service at the chapter and regional level have rendered them “ready” to advise and support the chapter leaders.
I would be remiss not to ask you to join me in thanking Amanda Downey, Laquisha Parks, Drexel Harris, and Siraj Mumin for their outstanding service as Regional Directors. While they have chosen to retire from their positions, they have all committed to continuing their support for AABE and our mission of representing the interests of African Americans.
American Association of Blacks in Energy | 1625 K St. NW, Suite 405, Washington, DC 20006
See below for more details on the upcoming Board of Directors Meeting.
June 22, 2022 Board of Directors Meeting
Date: June 22, 2022 Time: 8:00 – 9:00 am Location: 155 Gibbs Street, 4th Floor, Bethesda, MD 20850
The Montgomery County Green Bank will be holding a Board of Directors Meeting on Wednesday, June 22, 2022, at 1:30 PM. The public may attend. The meeting will be held in person at 155 Gibbs Street in Bethesda, MD. Please RSVP to email@example.com. View the meeting agenda.
We’re closing out fiscal year 2022 with a bang! See below for an end of year summary.
End of Year Summary for Fiscal Year 2022
Over the past year, the Green Bank has been committed to building a prospering, sustainable, and healthy Montgomery County where everyone participates in and benefits from clean energy and climate-resilient solutions. We are excited to move forward with significant momentum in investments and impact, strong alignment on energy and equity, and a proven platform to support County leadership on climate adaptation, green job creation, economic recovery, and quality of life. We thank all who have collaborated on our progress.
We’re expanding our business with partnerships, deals and programs. See below for updates.
The Green Bank Partners with Sunnova to Make Solar More Accessible
The Montgomery County Green Bank is proud to announce a new partnership with Sunnova Energy International Inc. to offer low- to moderate-income homeowners in Montgomery County access to exclusive solar financing. This program is available to Montgomery County households that earn up to $97,500 per year and want to enjoy the benefits of going solar without any upfront costs. Through an innovative structure of Green Bank resources in partnership with Sunnova, more options are being made available to qualifying households to either lock in a predictable solar energy rate for 25 years or select Sunnova’s new offering that allows customers to lock in a set discount from the utility.
Small Business Energy Savings Program reaches $1 million in Deals Green Bank and City First Enterprises Expand Partnership by $4 million
The Green Bank and City First Enterprises partnership has delivered substantial benefits achieving $1 million in financing for the Small Business Energy Savings Support Program! With this success, we have increased our partnership with City First Enterprises by $4 million.
Transactions for the Small Business Energy Savings Support program that have occurred so far include:
Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring Installs a 25 kW Solar Array
The Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring will use a Small Business Energy Savings Support (“SBESS”) interest-only bridge loan to sustain their community hall by making significant energy efficiency improvements and installing a 25 kW solar array. The bridge loan by the Green Bank and City First Enterprises will be paired with a C-PACE loan and equity for a total project of $2,200,000.This project presents an opportunity for substantially improving the community hall’s energy efficiency, resulting in the mitigation of 502 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually and 60% reduction in energy use.
The Green Bank Supports Affordable Housing in New Deal with Housing Unlimited
Housing Unlimited, an affordable housing non-profit organization, will install more than 20 kW of solar PV energy on three of their single-family properties to produce almost 25,000 kWh of clean, renewable energy throughout the first year of use. The total project cost of $57,960 will be financed through a 20-year power purchase agreement between Skyview Ventures and Housing Unlimited. The Green Bank’s Commercial Solar Power Purchase Agreement (CSPPA) program allowed Housing Unlimited to install solar and experience the benefits of solar with no out-of-pocket costs through a no-money down rental agreement with Skyview Ventures.
Epworth United Methodist Church Installs 117.9kW of Solar PV Energy
Epworth United Methodist Church of Gaithersburg, MD is installing 117.9kW of solar PV energy on the roof of their church to produce over 139,000 kWh of clean, renewable energy throughout the first twelve months of use. The total project cost of $293,538 will be financed through a 20-year power purchase agreement between Skyview Ventures and Epworth United Methodist Church.
Epworth is a multicultural and multilingual United Methodist Church made up of members that look to reduce the church’s environmental impact. This project was recently featured in a Washington Post article.
Solar Installer Selected for 2022 Capital Area Co-Op Access Solar Program Available for Low- and Moderate-Income Households
Congratulations to Sustainable Energy Systems to be the 2022 Capital Area Co-Op solar installer as selected by the 2022 Co-Op members!
The Green Bank’s Access Solar program launched with the 2022 Capital Area Solar Co-Op for households earning up to $97,500 in Montgomery County who are participating in the 2022 Capital Area Co-Op and for homeowners not using the co-op when using an Access Solar participating installer.
Access Solar offers two easy ways to finance energy projects – an ownership option and a rental option:
SREC pre-purchase – upfront funding to offset the purchase price by paying for 5 years of SRECs
Loan – credit score as low as 600 and 50 bps rate reduction
Power Purchase Agreement with several pricing options
The Green Bank is committed to working collaboratively with partner organizations. See below for more details on networking and outreach events.
In-Person Contractor Breakfast on Montgomery County BEPS
The Green Bank and Department of Environmental Protection hosted the first post-pandemic, in-person contractor breakfast discussion on Tuesday, June 7 at 8:30 AM at the Jewish Federation of Greater Washington. We discussed the newly passed Building Energy Performance Standards (BEPS) in Montgomery County, MD and potential opportunities for contractors through the new BEPS legislation. We will also reviewed case studies from Washington D.C., where the BEPS law has already been in effect for several months. Nearly 50 participants attended this event.
Online Resources and Events
Take advantage of these resources and webinars while staying-at-home:
Clean Energy Solutions Webinar Archive View the library of Clean Energy Solutions webinars for topics ranging from home appliance efficiency and benchmarking to breakthrough information on achieving energy savings.
ENERGY STAR Recorded Webinars and Online Contractor Trainings 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.
Author: DC DOEE Staff Published: 6/16/2022 DC DOEE
Photo Credit: Capitol Waterfront BID
Summer is finally here! Everything is all bright colors and intense sunshine. Sunshine sointense, you can see the humid haze in the air and the heat radiating from the sidewalks. A sure sign that the summer heat waves are here as well.
Extreme heat, often referred to as a “heat wave,” is an extended period of high temperature usually accompanied by high humidity. This past month DC saw one of the most extreme May temperatures in the last decade. Temperatures rose to the high 90s (highly unusual that early in the year) and we are set to experience even higher temperatures before the season ends.
Extreme heat can be, well, extremely dangerous. Temperatures in this range can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke. Heat can also decrease water and air quality, cause blackouts, and affect overall city infrastructure. In the District, the Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency’s (HSEMA) Heat Emergency Plan is available to address times of extreme heat. It is initiated whenever the heat index reaches 95 degrees, with “cooling centers” being activated across the city.
Cooling centers are places where residents can gain some relief during extreme heat periods. They range from air-conditioned facilities such as libraries and recreation centers to outdoor spaces such as swimming pools and spray parks. Once activated, these cooling centers are fully open to the public and available across all Wards.
DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities Panel Highlights Flood Resilience
On June 2, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities held a virtual discussion focused on photographers, filmmakers, and planners who address flood resilience in Washington, DC, New Orleans, and other locales with threatened shorelines. This was all to celebrate the Fragile Beauty exhibition that opened in May. Featured speakers were artists Alexandra Silverthorne and Bahar Yürükoğlu, New Orleans architectural designer and planner Jaime Ramiro (Rami) Diaz, and the Department of Energy and Environment’s (DOEE’s) Allyson Criner Brown. To view a recording of the discussion, visit this webpage.
Anacostia Environmental Youth Summit Draws Local Students to Learn About Their Environment
DOEE’s Watershed Protection Division welcomed 350 3rd through 8th graders from DC Public Schools at Anacostia Park for the 2022 Anacostia Environmental Youth Summit on May 20. DOEE partnered with the Friends of Anacostia Park for this fun day of learning about the ecological and human history of the Anacostia River. Students went on boat tours of the river with the Anacostia Watershed Society, Earth Conservation Corps, and Anacostia Riverkeeper. They enjoyed music and roller skating in the National Park Service’s Anacostia Skating Pavilion. And they participated in engaging activities with 15 education partners. The summit also included a zero-waste lunch, with compost and recycling as a central focus. Ultimately, it was great educational day out at Anacostia Park.
10th Annual DC Electric Vehicle Grand Prix Showcases Student Knowledge
On April 30, DOEE, along with partners Global Energy Education Environment (Global EEE), Pepco, and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC), hosted the 10th annual DC Electric Vehicle (EV) Grand Prix at the Bertie Backus-UDC Campus. The DC EV Grand Prix is a mini EV energy efficiency race amongst high school students. DOEE partners with Global EEE to teach high school students about energy efficiency concepts, the role EVs play in our environment, and how to construct vehicles to compete in the DC EV Grand Prix.
During the Grand Prix, over 20 teams participated, including teams from as far as Baltimore County. It was a very competitive race as all the teams put on display the concepts they learned during the education sessions. After three long heats, Perry Hall School from Maryland emerged as the 1st place winners, and Jackson-Reed High School (formerly known as Wilson High School), came in 2nd place. The event drew a crowd of over 100 people and was a huge draw for the community! For more information, visit this webpage.
GRANTS & FUNDING OPPORTUNITIES
Request for Applicants for the Chesapeake Bay Program Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Coordination Grant
DOEE seeks eligible entities to field a person(s) who will facilitate and coordinate the implementation of key elements of the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Justice Implementation Plan. The DOEE-CBP partnership seeks to advance a vision of clean water, abundant life, conserved lands, public access to water, a vibrant cultural heritage, and a diversity of engaged citizens and stakeholders. The deadline to apply is July 22 at 11:59 p.m.For more information and to apply, visit this webpage.
Request for Applicants for the Enhancing Green Infrastructure Community Benefits Grants
DOEE seeks eligible entities to increase the benefits that District Stormwater Retention Credit – generating green infrastructure provides to property owners, nearby residents, and other stakeholders, with a focus on historically marginalized communities and communities that face historical or current environmental injustices. These grants will fund projects that implement a participatory planning and design process to identify community-identified green infrastructure benefits, in addition to stormwater runoff reduction, and develop best practices for future engagement with communities towards identifying their desired green infrastructure benefits. The deadline to apply is August 5 at 11:59 p.m. For more information and to apply, visit this webpage.
The 2022-23 DC Futures Program
The DC Futures Program aims to help District college students complete their first associate or bachelor’s degree. The program offers last-dollar scholarships (tuition, fees, and cost of attendance) at three local universities in addition to college coaching, as well as personal and financial support services for all participants. One of the eligible majors is a B.A. in Urban Sustainability from the University of the District of Columbia. The application for the 2022-23 school year closes on August 19. Interested individuals are invited to review the student information and submit a DC Futures Program Application.
Request for Proposals for The Environmental Justice Data Fund
The Environmental Justice Data Fund aims to help frontline communities that have been historically underserved and disproportionately impacted by climate change and environmental injustice. The Fund will enable frontline communities in the United States to use data to unlock resources, increase their access to Justice40 benefits and federal infrastructure funding, and advocate for new policies that empower communities to address past environmental harm and pave the way to a more sustainable, climate-resilient future. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and will close on September 16. For more information and to apply, visit this webpage.
Department of Energy and Environment – Environmental Protection Specialist
This position is in the Watershed Protection Division (WPD) of the Natural Resources Administration of DOEE and will fill the role of Tree Planting and Policy Coordinator. The mission of the WPD is to conserve the soil and water resources of the District of Columbia and protect its watersheds from nonpoint source pollution. The incumbent will serve as the agency’s point person on tree planting and policy and will manage the District’s Urban Forestry Advisory Council. The deadline to apply is June 28. For more information, visit this webpage and search for the role using this Job ID: 17536.
Department of Energy and Environment – Climate Program Analyst
This position in the Urban Sustainability Administration will coordinate the implementation of plans to achieve the District’s ambitious goals to cut carbon pollution and prepare for climate change within the agency, across related District agencies (including HSEMA, The Office of Planning, DC Health, The District Department of Transportation), and with community partners. Responsibilities include developing new strategies to reduce carbon pollution and advance climate resilience, coordinating annual progress reports, developing and strengthening community partnerships, and engaging with residents on climate change (with a focus on black, indigenous, and people of color who are overburdened by climate change impacts). Strong facilitation, communications, project management, and analytical skills are required in addition to experience in, and knowledge of climate policy. The deadline to apply is June 30. For more information, visit this webpage and search for the role using this Job ID: 17670.
Department of Energy and Environment – Green Food Program Analyst
This position with the Urban Sustainability Administration will help launch the District’s new Green Food Purchasing Program, a next step in advancing the District’s commitment to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement. In supporting the District’s first assessment of greenhouse gas emissions associated with food procurement, and recommendations for reducing that impact, this individual will work closely with a diverse set of partners and stakeholders. This will include collaborating with a network of cities and institutions with shared goals, including signatories to the Cool Food Pledge, as well as with non-governmental organizations and District government agencies. Specific duties include establishing a methodology and collecting data in order to estimate the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food purchases, identifying and supporting strategies to reduce emissions from food and other government purchases, and reporting progress. This individual will support the broader work of the Urban Sustainability Administration to advance climate action and institutionalize environmentally preferable purchasing. The deadline to apply is June 30. For more information, visit this webpage and search for the role using this Job ID: 17671.
DC Greens – Produce Prescription (Rx) Coordinator
DC Greens is a nonprofit organization that advances health equity by building a just and resilient food system in the nation’s capital. It is currently seeking a Produce Rx Coordinator who will support the implementation of the DC Greens Produce Prescription (Produce Rx) program and coordination of a “Food as Medicine” campaign. The successful candidate will have an interest in community health and nutrition as well as building a just food system with the people of DC. This position involves communications with a diverse group of stakeholders and community members, event and meeting planning, as well as program coordination and data management. Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis. For more information and to apply, visit this webpage.
The Anacostia Watershed Society – Manager of Education
The Anacostia Watershed Society seeks a Manager of Education to engage watershed communities (youth and adults) in learning about, experiencing, and restoring the Anacostia River and its watershed through environmental education programs. This full-time, exempt position will teach watershed education in area classrooms, lead field studies on the Anacostia River, conduct teacher trainings, and engage students as well as other volunteers in service projects. For more information and to apply, visit this webpage.
Apply to Join the Green Building Advisory Council as a Private Sector Representative
The Green Building Advisory Council (GBAC) is a volunteer commission that makes recommendations on green building policies and monitors the District’s compliance with green building requirements. Made up of representatives from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, the GBAC continues to support the District as a leader in green building innovation. To view agendas for upcoming meetings and minutes from past meetings, visit the GBAC webpage. The next GBAC meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, August 3, 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. and is open to the public. The meeting agenda, including a link to join the virtual meeting, will be posted to the GBAC webpage at least 48 hours before the meeting. The GBAC is seeking applicants who live or work in the District to fill one vacancy for a private sector representative. For more information or to apply, visit theMayor’s Office of Talent and Appointments website.
Urban Farm Tours with DC Greens
Join DC Greens as they give tours of the newly opened Well at Oxon Run throughout June. This urban farm is a community and wellness space dedicated to serving the residents of Ward 8. Grab the chance to get down and dirty and find out more about urban farms in the District. Tours will take place in Oxon Run Park at 300 Valley Ave SE on the following dates:
During the third week of each June, DOEE (in conjunction with HSEMA; The Department of Insurance, Savings, and Banking; and the DC Silver Jackets) hosts the annual Flood Awareness Week to raise public knowledge of flood risk in the District, encourage the public to take actions to reduce their flood risk, and provide information on available resources. This year’s flood week programming, occurring from June 21 to June 24, will present flood related topics aligned with the needs of DC residents. Programs will allow residents to work with elected officials to create a more cohesive program that will leave a major impact on the community.
Commission of Arts and Humanities’ Exhibition on Fragile Beauty
With the Fragile Beauty exhibit, 33 DC artists seek to bring a sense of balance to an array of environmental injustices. Their art and their vision advocate awareness, mindfulness, consciousness, and stewardship, offering pathways towards personal partnership with our planet. They tell their stories with painting, sculpture, prints, photography, and installations. They inform us of both the joyful and the sorrowful, the woeful and the hopeful. Featured artists include Tammy Barnes, Jeffrey Berg, Monica Jahan Bose, Elizabeth Casqueiro, Gloria Chapa, and more. The exhibit is being held at 200 I Street SE from Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. The exhibit is open until July 1. For more information, visit this webpage.
Come to the Next Fix-It DC Event
Let’s celebrate repair! Come and learn to disassemble and troubleshoot all your broken objects at the next Fix-It DC event. Fix-It DC is a program which includes all-ages community events where people bring their broken household items and learn how to assess, disassemble, and repair them instead of sending them to the landfill.
Attend the upcoming Fix-It events at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library Labs on:
Wednesday, June 22,5:30 p.m.
Saturday, July 16,2:30 p.m.
If you would like to learn more about Fix-It DC program, visit the Fix-It DC website.
The Department of Energy and Environment’s Pollinator Week Event on Kingman Island
DOEE will be holding an event for Pollinator Week on June 25 on Kingman Island from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. DOEE and partners will have information about pollinators and how residents can support them in the District. There will be activities for kids, a nature walk with a botanist, and a seed giveaway at the end of the day. Attendees are encouraged to take public transportation to the event. The nearest streetcar stop is Benning Road and Oklahoma Avenue NE on the H/Benning line and the nearest bus stop is Benning Road and Anacostia Avenue NE. For more information, visit this webpage.
eCYCLE Collection Events
By recycling used electronics, individuals can help recover valuable resources and properly manage potentially hazardous materials. eCYCLE DC, through manufacturers’ collection and recycling plans, is bringing District residents more options for recycling their electronics.
The following items are banned from the trash and are collected at the eCYCLE DC collection events: computers and monitors, tablet, e-readers, mice, keyboards, DVD or VCR players, printers, televisions, game consoles, and portable music players. For more information, check out this fact sheet.
Saturday, June 18, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. 1400 41st St SE (Ward 7, near Fort Davis Recreation Center)
Saturday, June 25, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. 1230 Sumner Rd SE (Ward 8, near Barry Farm Recreation Center)
Saturday, July 9, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Near corner of Champlain St NW & Columbia Rd NW (Ward 1, near Unity Park)
Saturday, July 9, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. 1350 49th St NE (Ward 7, near Deanwood Library)
Saturday, July 16, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. Near 403 7th St SE (Ward 6, near Southeast Library)
Saturday, July 16, 10:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m. 1555 34th St NW (Ward 2, Near Volta Park Recreation Center)
Please visit the eCYCLE DC website to check for any updates closer to the event date.
The Capital Pride Guide: Here’s your guide to celebrating Pride Month all over the District. Check out the many events planned for June and go out and show your pride!
Summer Road Trip to Assateague & Shenandoah: Have nothing planned for the summer? Take on the Assateague & Shenandoah Road Trip! Leave from Washington DC and drive through the Assateague Island National Seashore, Shenandoah National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway and more. Click here to find the nearest EV charging stations on the route.
DOE announced $10 million in funding for tools that help decision-makers evaluate energy systems that produce and use local energy. The Energyshed: Place-Based Energy Generation funding opportunity is designed to enable more reliable, resilient, efficient, and affordable grids that address long-standing inequities in the distribution of cost and benefits across energy systems. Utilities, local governments, and community-based organizations are encouraged to form teams and apply by Aug. 1 at 5 p.m. ET.
DOE selected 19 projects to receive a total of $6 million in funding to pursue innovative, targeted, early-stage ideas in solar energy research and development through the Small Innovative Projects in Solar program. Projects in photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) research areas will focus on novel, high-risk, or high-impact ideas that can produce significant results within the first year of performance.
Full applications are due by June 21 at 5 p.m. ET for the Deploying Solar with Wildlife and Ecosystem Services Benefits (SolWEB) funding opportunity. DOE is seeking innovative solutions that maximize benefits and minimize impacts to wildlife and ecosystems from solar energy infrastructure. Applicants must have already submitted a concept paper.
The countdown is on for entrepreneurs to accelerate the development and manufacturing of perovskite solar cells. Competitors who advance to the next stage of the American-Made Perovskite Startup Prize will receive $200,000. Assemble your team and apply by July 28.
DOE announced an initiative aimed at helping clean energy connect to the grid. The Interconnection Innovation e-Xchange (i2X) brings together grid operators, utilities, state and tribal governments, clean energy developers, energy justice organizations, and other stakeholders to develop solutions for faster, simpler, and fairer interconnection of clean energy resources through better data, roadmap development, and technical assistance. Join i2X today!
President Biden authorized DOE to use the Defense Production Act to boost the domestic solar supply chain. This action will lower energy prices, create good-paying jobs, and strengthen national security.
Are you a student, researcher, or professional scientist interested in solar? Work with SETO to advance solar technologies and deployment through the Science and Technology Policy Fellowship! Selected participants will play an integral role in designing and implementing new initiatives. They will support office-wide research, demonstration, and development efforts in PV, CSP, and grid integration technologies, as well as solar manufacturing, behavioral science, data analysis, environmental justice, and communications. Apply by July 15.
Perovskite solar cells have shown great potential in the lab, yet several challenges stand in the way of their commercialization. SETO is working to overcome hurdles and spur innovation toward the deployment of this promising solar technology.
DOE is hosting the 2022 Global Clean Energy Action Forum on Sept. 21-23 in Pittsburgh. Clean energy innovators are invited to apply for the Technology Showcase that will take place alongside the Forum. Only engaging exhibits with interactive and experimental elements will be accepted. DOE is accepting proposals until June 30.
DOE’s Office of Electricity issued a Request for Information seeking public input on the structure of a $505 million long-duration energy storage initiative. This initiative will increase the availability of clean electricity whenever and wherever needed, and will support the ramp-up of affordable and reliable clean energy solutions. Responses are due June 16 by 5 p.m. ET.
CSP researchers can apply for recognition at the Solar Power & Chemical Energy Systems (SolarPACES) conference. Applications for the Technology Innovation Award and Lifetime Achievement Award are due July 31.
June 24 | 1 p.m. ET In conjunction with the Perovskite Startup Prize, industry experts with experience commercializing thin-film solar technologies will share their tech-to-market strategies, especially around developing and validating commercialization plans for early-stage solar startups.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm visited a community solar site in Fort Washington, Maryland and highlighted the Administration’s commitment to deploying more solar energy to achieve a decarbonized grid by 2035.
Researchers at NREL have learned how to ensure the grid is protected if there is a fault, such as a short circuit. A new guidebook and video explain how to solve this challenge and maintain power systems protection with higher levels of renewables in the future grid.
A Pacific Northwest National Laboratory research team recently developed a new model of a grid-forming inverter that will benefit a grid with increasing amounts of renewable power. The inverter plays a critical role in converting direct current (DC) electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity while maintaining the stability of power grids.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) selected 19 projects, with a total funding of $6 million, that will pursue innovative, targeted, early-stage ideas in solar energy research and development. These projects, representing 13 different U.S. states, will support President Biden’s goal of addressing the climate crisis by driving innovation and speeding clean energy deployment to achieve a carbon-free electricity sector by 2035 and net-zero emissions energy sector by 2050.
The projects were selected through the Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) Small Innovative Projects in Solar (SIPS) 2022 Funding Program. SIPS projects focus on novel, high-risk, or high-impact ideas that can produce significant results within the first year of performance, quickly validating new concepts and laying the foundation for continued research. SIPS is an ongoing SETO program that has funded more than 100 projects since it began in 2015.
The SIPS program is also designed to increase the diversity of clean energy researchers by streamlining the application process and encouraging applications from researchers who have never applied or been selected for a SETO award. Of the 19 recipients, 15 are first-time lead researchers on a SETO-funded project.
“Bringing new researchers into the DOE ecosystem with their bold, innovative ideas is an incredibly fruitful way to advance our work in clean energy, and break through incremental improvements,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “I can’t wait to see the knowledge and technological advances that will grow out of these new solar projects.”
Applicants also submitted plans to support team members from groups traditionally underrepresented in engineering and science as part of their projects. Four lead or partner members on the selected projects come from minority-serving institutions.
Projects were awarded in two solar energy research areas: photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP). CSP projects innovate across all aspects of CSP plants, including thermal energy storage, solar-thermal fuel systems, and solar-thermal process heat for industrial decarbonization. The following organizations were selected to receive CSP SIPS awards:
Advanced Materials Scientia (Bothell, WA)
Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ)
Flowserve (Irving, TX)
Heliogen (Pasadena, CA)
Sandia National Laboratories (Albuquerque, NM)
University of Arizona (Tucson, AZ)
University of Maine (Orono, ME)
University of Tulsa (Tulsa, OK)
PV projects will improve power conversion efficiency, energy output, reuse and recycling processes, service lifetime, and manufacturability of PV technologies. The following organizations were selected to receive PV SIPS awards:
Author:Eric Singular, Director Published: 6/12/2022 Hemp Business Journal
The U.S. hemp industry is in a period of correction after initially overheated production since passage of the 2018 Farm Bill. Over the past three years, there has been a significant decline in U.S. hemp acreage, but rather than perceived as a negative with fear that the crop has fizzled, it should be welcomed as a much-needed reset for an imperative balance between supply and market demand.
In 2019, the U.S. saw 511,442 acres registered for hemp production. That moon shot in acreage was driven by the CBD boom, and proved to be massively out of balance with the cannabinoid’s true market size. For instance, PanXchange’s Julie Lerner demonstrated how top brand Charlotte’s Web could have achieved its $95 million in 2019 production revenue from the biomass of 57 acres; that year, the manufacturer grew a reported 862 acres, more than 15x the demand.
Correcting the Hype
Rumors of hemp farmers making between $10,000-$50,000 per acre of cannabinoid-rich hemp for extraction fueled overproduction. At the time, the U.S. was still recovering from a trade war with China, and passage of the 2018 Farm Bill stirred a perfect storm as American farmers were dizzied by the promise of a new cash crop. In the four years since, commodity prices for staple crops like corn, wheat, and soy headed toward historic lows. Meanwhile, the per-bushel price of corn has increased 101% (from $3.70 to $7.43), 82% for soybeans (from $9.35 to $16.98), and 109% for wheat (from $4.98 to $10.41).
New Frontier Data documented the following hemp production licensing and acreage data for 2022 with 62% of State Departments of Agriculture reporting (84% of the top-25 producing states):
5,381 licenses issued (down 35% from 8,298 in 2021), and
51,016 acres licensed (down 53% from 107,702 in 2021).
Over the past three years, the average decrease in licensed versus planted acreage is 63%, with a 41% decrease from planted versus harvested acreage. While 51,016 acres is a conservative estimate (with all states reporting, it may be closer to 75,000 acres), U.S. hemp acreage has declined for the third-straight year.
By example, Colorado saw a 75% reduction in acreage from 2021 (from 18,715 acres), down to 4,727 in 2022. Minnesota meanwhile decreased its acreage by more than two-thirds, from 6,191 in 2021 to 2,005 this year.
PanXchange, a marketplace for ESG-Inclusive commodities, estimates the following breakdown by type:
Floral: 26,266 acres
Fiber: 15,000 acres
Grain: 7,000 acres
Seed: 2,750 acres
For the past two years, the acreage dedicated to cannabinoid extraction — what the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) classifies as “floral” — has decreased dramatically. When tens of thousands of farmers jumped into hemp production in 2019, they produced a glut of biomass that was tenuously compliant with federal THC standards and often failed to meet the specifications of CBD product manufacturers. We can say with confidence that a balance has finally been struck between supply and demand for hemp-derived cannabinoids.
Demand and Court Decision Drive Delta-8… for Now
While the hype around CBD has cooled, the market for delta-8 THC has exploded. In fact, the delta-8 THC market provided an outlet for the glut of speculative, low-quality, CBD-rich biomass that had sat unsold on farms since 2019 (partially due to the presence of contaminants like pesticides or heavy materials). This is because delta-8 THC is commonly synthesized from CBD isolate.
Last month, the U.S. Ninth Circuit ruled that delta-8 THC and other cannabinoids derived from hemp are legal under the 2018 Farm Bill, regardless whether the substances have psychoactive properties. The legal decision will only continue to spur growth in that market, raising the possibility for an undersupply of hemp biomass for extraction come this fall.
PanXchange estimates that the demand for Delta-8 THC alone may require 25,000 acres of production. This may swing the pendulum of CBD pricing back in an upward direction, after faltering sharply over the last few years.
While the acreage dedicated to floral hemp has declined sharply since 2019, fiber and grain acreage has steadily increased. In the past 12 months, regional processors nationwide have become operational. While 2021 was a key year for processors in trialing varieties, undertaking research and development, and optimizing machinery and processing capabilities, 2022 marked a significant shift toward a larger scale. That is a critical progression as processors have invested millions of dollars to get operational, and their financial projections depend on being able to secure a certain amount of acreage to keep processing lines and shifts running year-round.
However, 2022 has proved challenging to get acreage contracted for U.S. fiber and grain processors. Amid volatility and global food supply fears, the price of staple agricultural commodities has skyrocketed. This is being driven by a confluence of the war in Ukraine, persistent drought, and insatiable demand.
Later this summer, the Farm Service Agency (FSA) will release its 2022 acreage report, which will provide a gauge of attrition from licensed to planted hemp acres. Farmers are required to self-report all crop acreage to FSA annually, so that the agency may determine payment eligibility and its calculations for various disaster programs. Yet, hemp producers face additional regulatory hurdles, including background checks, obtaining their state hemp licenses, coordinating with state agriculture regulators for THC testing of their crops, and timing their harvests to respectively remain within a 30-day period of a state regulatory official’s collecting a pre-harvest sample.
Currently, 44 states, and most tribes, manage their own USDA-approved hemp programs, and thus issue state-level production licenses. However, farmers in each Hawaii, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Wisconsin, North Carolina, and Utah file production applications directly from the USDA.
Regulatory Respites Available
With agriculture policy reform on the table given the upcoming Farm Bill, there are two industry-led initiatives seeking to mitigate the regulatory burdens on hemp producers. One is a blanket fiber and grain exemption to regulate a hemp crop by end-use; the other is a Certified Seed exemption similar to the regulatory scheme for Canada’s hemp production.
Solar projects are making it easier for Americans to choose solar energy to power their homes.
Department of Energy
Since 2008, hundreds of thousands of solar panels have popped up across the country as an increasing number of Americans choose to power their daily lives with the sun’s energy. Thanks in part to the Solar Energy Technologies Office’s investments, the cost of going solar goes down every year. You may be considering the option of adding a solar energy system to your home’s roof or finding another way to harness the sun’s energy. While there’s no one-size-fits-all solar solution, here are some resources that can help you figure out what’s best for you. Consider these questions before you go solar.
The U.S. electricity sector is evolving toward a clean, decentralized system at an ever-accelerating pace. In 2021, developers installed a record 18.2 gigawatts of solar generation capacity. Out of that total, 5.4 gigawatts came from distributed solar, including a record 500,000 homeowners who installed residential solar systems. Distributed solar, which can be owned by individuals, businesses, and public entities, is turning the electricity industry upside down as individuals choose to generate their own solar power.
Many who could not go solar in 2021 subscribed to a community solar garden. These gardens offer the same electric bill stability and savings as rooftop solar, but operate remotely under a subscription model. The state of New Mexico set up its community solar program last year, joining the 19 states (and the District of Columbia) that offer community solar. Delaware, Oregon, and Virginia all set or improved their rules for community solar in 2021.
The map below illustrates the saturation of each state’s distributed (non-utility-scale) solar market, relative to population, at the end of 2021. For the purposes of the map, community solar in Colorado, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York is included as distributed solar. We added our own figures on state community solar capacity to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s figures on small-scale photovoltaic capacity by state. This sum was divided by state population estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, resulting in a figure for distributed solar per capita (watts per person). The U.S. EIA does not collect data for Alabama or Georgia.
Seventeen states and the District of Columbia have a distributed solar saturation of more than 100 watts per capita.
20 watts per capita is equivalent to rooftop solar on 1 out of every 125 households; 40 watts per capita is equivalent to 2 out of every 125 households; 100 watts per capita is equivalent to 1 out of every 25 households; 200 watts per capita is equivalent to 2 out of every 25 households; 300 watts per capita is equivalent to 3 out of every 25 households; and Hawaii has the equivalent of rooftop solar on 1 out of every 5 households (given the national average of 2.6 persons per household and 6.5 kilowatt rooftop solar systems).
Here are the top states in order from most distributed solar per capita to least:
Hawaii: 521 watts per capita (750 megawatts of distributed solar)
Massachusetts 363 watts per capita (2,532 megawatts of distributed solar)
California: 311 watts per capita (12,200 megawatts of distributed solar)
Arizona: 269 watts per capita (1,956 megawatts of distributed solar)
Rhode Island: 249 watts per capita (272 megawatts of distributed solar)
Vermont: 228 watts per capita (147 megawatts of distributed solar)
New Jersey: 222 watts per capita (2,057 megawatts of distributed solar)
Nevada: 203 watts per capita (637 megawatts of distributed solar)
Connecticut: 196 watts per capita (708 megawatts of distributed solar)
Minnesota: 169 watts per capita (966 megawatts of distributed solar)
New York: 151 watts per capita (3,005 megawatts of distributed solar)
Washington D.C.: 150 watts per capita (101 megawatts of distributed solar)
Maryland: 145 watts per capita (897 megawatts of distributed solar)
Colorado: 140 watts per capita (814 megawatts of distributed solar)
New Mexico: 125 watts per capita (264 megawatts of distributed solar)
Utah: 116 watts per capita (387 megawatts of distributed solar)
New Hampshire: 108 watts per capita (150 megawatts of distributed solar)
Delaware: 100 watts per capita (101 megawatts of distributed solar)
Although California, Texas, Florida, and North Carolina have the largest overall solar markets (see below), Hawaii, Massachusetts, California, and Arizona have the greatest distributed solar saturation, as measured in installed distributed solar capacity per capita. California, Arizona, Nevada, Massachusetts, and New Jersey all land in the top ten for both distributed solar saturation and total solar generation capacity.
These state solar markets changed the most since our 2020 update:
Installed solar capacity in Texas, California, and Florida all grew by more than a gigawatt in 2021 (4.3, 3.0, and 1.5 gigawatts, respectively). Virginia’s installed solar capacity grew by just under one gigawatt (955 megawatts).
Maine, Ohio, Illinois, and Wisconsin doubled or more than doubled their installed solar capacity with growth from 2021.
Indiana, Iowa, Colorado, and Michigan also saw rapid solar generation capacity expansion in 2021 (91%, 80%, 55%, and 53%, respectively).
Eighteen states can now claim more than 1,000 megawatts of total solar capacity and 40 have more than 100 megawatts.
Community solar, enabled in 20 states and the District of Columbia, brings many of the benefits of power to those who have traditionally been left out. Community solar gardens — which are larger than residential solar installations, but smaller than utility-owned solar fields — are the most cost-effective size for solar and reduce electric bills for members of the community.
Total installed community solar capacity at the end of 202:
Minnesota (826 megawatts)
New York (799 megawatts)
Massachusetts (641 megawatts)
Colorado (96 megawatts)
State policies like community solar are crucial in support of local decision-making and promoting the adoption of distributed solar. Additional essential policies include net metering, simplified interconnection rules, property assessed clean energy, a renewable portfolio standard carve-out for solar or distributed energy, and solar or solar-ready mandates for buildings. We track these policies and others in our Community Power Map.
ILSR’s State(s) of Distributed Solar analysis is updated annually. For a historical snapshot, explore our archived analyses of distributed solar by state in 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, and 2016.
Author: US DOE SETO Staff Published: 6/6/2022 SETO
DPA Invocation Will Boost American Production of the Critical Technologies Necessary to Lower Energy Costs, Support the Clean Energy Economy, and Strengthen National Security
WASHINGTON, D.C.— President Biden today issued presidential determinations providing the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) with the authority to utilize the Defense Production Act (DPA) to accelerate domestic production of five key energy technologies: (1) solar; (2) transformers and electric grid components; (3) heat pumps; (4) insulation; and (5) electrolyzers, fuel cells, and platinum group metals. The DPA determinations are part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s plan to lower energy costs for families, strengthen national security, and achieve lasting American energy independence that reduces demand for fossil fuels and bolsters our clean energy economy.
“President Biden has invoked the Defense Production Act so that the U.S. can take ownership of its clean energy independence,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “For too long the nation’s clean energy supply chain has been over-reliant on foreign sources and adversarial nations. With the new DPA authority, DOE can help strengthen domestic solar, heat pump and grid manufacturing industries while fortifying America’s economic security and creating good-paying jobs, and lowering utility costs along the way.”
“Reducing America’s dependence on gas and oil is critical to U.S. national security,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks. “In conflict, fossil fuel supply lines are especially vulnerable. The actions President Biden announced today will help strengthen our supply chains and ensure that the United States is a leader in producing the energy technologies that are essential to our future success. They will also help accelerate DoD’s transition toward clean energy technologies that can help strengthen military capability while creating good jobs for American workers.”
Demand for clean energy technologies such as solar panels, heat pumps, and electrolyzers for hydrogen has increased significantly as the costs of these technologies have plummeted over the last decade. As the world transitions to a clean energy economy, global demand for these essential products and components is set to skyrocket by 400-600% over the next several decades. Unless the U.S. expands new manufacturing, processing, and installation capacity, we will be forced to continue to rely on clean energy imports—exposing the nation to supply chain vulnerabilities, while simultaneously missing out on the enormous job opportunities associated with the energy transition.
Defense Production Act Authority
We must harness the United States’s untapped potential to support greater domestic production for domestic use and export. With today’s DPA actions, the Biden-Harris Administration is taking bold action to support U.S. clean energy manufacturing and supply chains. This will strengthen U.S. national and climate security while reducing energy costs for American families. These technologies, products, and component materials will be made in America, creating more good-paying union jobs. In using the DPA to support clean energy manufacturing, the Department will encourage recipients of federal support to use strong labor standards, including project labor agreements and community benefits agreements that include local hire provisions. In addition, the Department encourages use of the tools unlocked by the DPA to support low-income communities who have been hard-hit with pollution.
Technologies Included in the President’s DPA Announcement
DPA authority, with the necessary funding appropriated by Congress, will allow the federal government to invest in companies that can build clean energy facilities, expand clean energy manufacturing, process clean energy components, and install clean energy technologies for consumers.
Solar — Solar photovoltaic (PV) energy is the largest source of new U.S. electricity generation capacity and the cheapest new electricity source in many regions of the country. However, domestic solar PV production does not meet current demand. By supporting a secure, stable, diversified, and competitive domestic solar supply chain, President Biden’s actions will increase national security, promote energy independence, help to address the urgent threat of climate change, and drive down energy costs for American consumers.
Transformers and Grid Components — The U.S. is highly reliant on foreign-sourced critical electric grid components. Traditional industrial efforts are insufficient to meet the unprecedented growth in electrification necessary to support U.S. decarbonization, defense against cyber-security attacks, and critical infrastructure maintenance, and are not positioned to respond to the demands of U.S. electricity needs in the near-term. By expanding the domestic production of transformers and critical grid components to enable the reliable and increased use of the electric power system, the U.S. would immediately enhance its domestic energy security, decrease vulnerability of U.S. infrastructure, and ultimately support climate security and stability worldwide. Supply chain delays are leading to wait times in rural and urban parts of the U.S. of up to two years for crucial grid components. Independent estimates indicate that we need to expand electricity transmission systems by 60% by 2030 and may need to triple it by 2050 to meet the country’s increase in renewable generation and expanding electrification needs. President Biden’s invocation of the DPA will support a robust domestic supply of modern grid components, which is necessary to strengthen and modernize the nation’s grid and will accelerate customers’ ability to get electricity from clean sources.
Heat Pumps — Our nation’s buildings, homes, offices, schools, hospitals, military bases, and other critical facilities drive more than 40% of all U.S. energy consumption. To reduce the amount of energy needed in our buildings, leading to less reliance by the U.S. and allies on adversaries such as Russia for oil and gas, heat pumps are an important solution. Their use by the U.S. and allies can shrink Russian revenue for war and reduce climate instability. However, currently, U.S. HVAC manufacturers are not producing heat pumps at the rate needed. The Biden-Harris Administration can help American manufacturing expand and expedite the installation of heat pumps in homes and residential buildings by qualified building professionals.
Insulation — About half of all homes in the U.S. were built before modern-day building energy codes, meaning they lack contemporary insulation, causing energy to seep out. At a time when conserving energy means limiting the reliance by the U.S. and allies on adversaries such as Russia for oil and gas, building retrofits can reduce energy use by 50% or more. In addition to lowering energy costs for families and increasing the domestic clean energy workforce, well-insulated buildings also provide “passive survivability,” meaning that they can retain a safe indoor temperature for longer in the event of energy disruptions, reducing casualties from extreme weather. While U.S. insulation production is currently sufficient to cover new construction and some retrofits, we must also rapidly insulate older buildings to further reduce energy demand. President Biden’s actions will help expand insulation manufacturing to meet this need.
Electrolyzers, Fuel Cells, and Platinum Group Metals — Electrolyzers, fuel cells, and platinum group metal (PGM) catalysts are vital for increasing domestic production and utilization of clean hydrogen, a versatile energy carrier. Clean hydrogen produced through electrolysis is projected to contribute significantly to achieving U.S. decarbonization goals. President Biden’s actions supporting domestic supply chains for electrolyzers, fuel cells, and PGM catalysts will enhance national and energy security by reducing U.S. reliance on imported fossil fuels, particularly Russia (the world’s second-largest producer of PGMs) and China. Consumers will benefit from clean hydrogen’s price stability relative to fossil fuels, cost reductions as the hydrogen economy scales up, and resilient domestic supply chains.
DOE’s Continued Commitment to Bolstering a Domestic Clean Energy Supply Chain
In February, DOE launched the new Office of Manufacturing and Energy Supply Chains to secure energy supply chains needed to modernize America’s energy infrastructure and support the full transition to clean energy. DOE will also partner with the energy and utility industry, labor unions, and community groups to explore a variety of options on supply chain issues, including through the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council. DOE recently released a major set of reports on the energy supply chain laying out the nation’s first comprehensive strategy for the energy industrial base with a focus on securing the transition to clean energy.
Following this announcement, DOE and the White House will continue to convene relevant industry, labor, and community stakeholders as we maximize the impact of the DPA tools made available by President Biden’s actions and strengthen domestic clean energy manufacturing.
Author’s note: In a recent Twitter survey I conducted, nearly 90% of people rated their trust in mainstream media as either “very low” or “low.” And is it any surprise?
Ever-mounting media consolidation has narrowed the perspectives the public is privy to, ownership and funding of these corporations are riddled with conflicts of interest, crucial stories keep suspiciously getting buried and big tech companies are outright censoring and demonetizing independent outlets trying to break through the noise.
The media is supposed to function as a power check — and a means of arming us with vital information for shaping the society we want to live in. It’s never been a more important industry.
And it’s never been more at risk.
In this series, which I kicked off with a piece about the problematic history of media consolidation and followed up with a piece about billionaires buying legacy newspapers, I tackle each factor threatening the media’s ability to serve our democracy — with input from journalists, media critics and professors and other experts.
“The media, like anything else, can be bought. Everything, it seems, has its price. Even the ‘free’ press.” ― Lance Morcan
In 2020, while writing for a popular online news platform geared toward millennials, I proposed what I thought was a timely and non-controversial story.
As marijuana legalization was spreading to more and more states, lots of my peers were looking to cut back on their drinking — which had gotten out of control during the pandemic — and turning to cannabis as an anxiety-reducing replacement.
So, I pitched my editor on an experiential piece: For a few weeks, I’d swap my nightly glass of wine with a popular new celeb-backed cannabis beverage and share the effects. She didn’t go for it, but not because she didn’t find the idea interesting or relevant to our audience.
“Unfortunately, our advertisers won’t like it,” she said. “We just can’t do any cannabis stories, period.” Her feedback left me wondering which of our sponsors wouldn’t approve the topic due to conflicting interests.
Was it oh-so-wholesome Disney? An alcohol brand that saw cannabis as a threat to business?
I’ll never know. But regardless of the specifics, the experience left a sour taste in my mouth.
I hadn’t realized until that moment that the advertisers had so much control over what we did and didn’t cover.
As it turns out, research has repeatedly shown this to be a common problem:
In response to a survey I conducted back in April, 50% of journalists said they’d been told to avoid certain topics that might conflict with advertisers’ interests.
In a 1992 survey of editors at daily newspapers, a staggering 90% reported that advertisers tried to influence stories and applied economic pressure in response to reporting — and 37% of editors had given in to that advertiser pressure.
A 2000 Pew Research and Columbia Journalism Review survey found that 30% of journalists admit to purposely avoiding newsworthy stories or “softening the tone” of stories that could adversely affect advertisers.
A 2013 study of U.S. daily newspapers showed that conflicts between the business and journalism sides of these operations are rampant. Advertising directors at chain-owned newspapers and small newspapers were more likely to support compromising editorial integrity in order to please or avoid riling advertisers.
A 2009 study revealed that whether due to overt pressures or a subconscious desire to please advertisers, publishers tend to give their sponsors special treatment.
A 1992 study examined this potential influence and found dozens of examples where news organizations buried stories out of fear of offending advertisers. Some of them didn’t even attempt to deny or hide it. The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette had outright told a columnist not to criticize advertisers, and at the time, the managing editor said: “We do not hire opinion writers to trash advertisers … No newspaper would do that.”
And by the way, this has been going on for decades. When The Daily Iowan began publishing anti-Vietnam war content in 1970-1971, corporate sponsors withdrew a ton of funding, triggering internal pressures to adjust the reporting.
“Just anecdotally, I’ve heard from journalists there’s a sneaking suspicion that sometimes when a corporation funds a news outlet and that news outlet does coverage they don’t like, they have the resources to build a campaign that puts pressure on editors to talk to the journalists,” says Nolan Higdon, a media studies and history lecturer at Merrill College at the University of California, Santa Cruz and co-author of “Let’s Agree to Disagree.”
“So, sometimes a journalist is getting flak from their editor that’s actually coming from the sponsor — but the journalist doesn’t know that.”
“The most important transaction in the media marketplace … does not involve media companies selling content to audiences, but rather media companies selling audiences to sponsors. This gives corporate sponsors a disproportionate influence over what people get to see or read.
“Most obviously, they don’t want to support media that regularly criticize their products or discuss corporate wrongdoing. More generally, they would rather support media that puts audiences in a passive, non-critical state of mind-making them easier to sell things to.”
Roberta Baskin is living proof that the news organizations’ relationships with corporate sponsors can, and do, sometimes get in the way of big stories. Her groundbreaking investigative piece about Nike’s Vietnam sweatshops was never aired again after the sportswear company inked a deal with her employer, CBS News.
Baskin’s journalism career speaks for itself: she’s served as the senior Washington correspondent for NOW with Bill Moyers, senior investigative producer for ABC’s 20/20 and chief investigative correspondent for CBS’ “48 Hours.”
She also maintained the positions of director of the investigative team at WJLA-TV in Washington, D.C., executive director for the Center for Public Integrity and the director of media communications for the Office of the Inspector General at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Over the years, she won numerous awards for her hard-hitting stories. Her specialty? Exposing corporate corruption. As Baskin puts it:
“I just couldn’t wait to tell you about a company that’s doing a bad thing.”
Over the course of her 35 years in newsrooms, she exposed the NFL’s faulty drug testing policies, a baby food company’s deceptive marketing tactics, cancer-causing agents in beer, unreported adverse reactions to pesticides, a Ford Motor Company scandal that led to massive car recalls, child labor in Pakistan factories making soccer balls for Reebok and Adidas, and hidden toxins in cosmetics, just to name a few investigations.
In 2008, she won an Emmy for her corporate greed exposé on a pediatric dental chain that preyed on children to perform unnecessary root canals for profit.
In 1996, Baskin broke a massive story about Nike’s labor practices in Vietnam on CBS News’ “48 Hours.”
During her investigations, Baskin had discovered that women were being forced to kneel on the ground with their hands in the air for poor sewing, and having their mouths taped shut for talking on the assembly line, among other forms of mistreatment.
“For me, it was really a story about the exploitation of these women, who were getting less than $40 a month for a six-day workweek — a violation, even in Vietnam, of their minimum wage,” Baskin told me in an interview.
“And the physical abuse they were suffering. And then exploitation of the Americans who were paying $135 for these shoes.”
The report struck a chord with Americans, triggering nationwide protests and boycotts. Nike’s stock even went down. But when it came time to re-air Baskin’s investigation, as was customary with expensive stories, she was told it had been taken off the schedule by the president of CBS News. Why?
Because Nike had struck a deal with CBS News to sponsor their coverage of the upcoming Nagano Winter Olympics. All of Baskin’s attempts to do a follow-up report on Nike’s labor practices were blocked.
Even after an Ernst & Young report that leaked to Baskin and The New York Times corroborated everything she had found — plus some additional disturbing details about the factory conditions — she was repeatedly told to move on.
The resistance was disheartening — after all, Baskin says, “corporate misconduct stories are what I was hired to do.”
But it all came into focus for Baskin on the night before the opening of the Winter Olympics. While watching “48 Hours,” she spotted four of her colleagues sporting CBS jackets with prominent Nike logos.
Apparently, part of that deal entailed outfitting roughly 1,500 CBS employees in head-to-toe Nike gear, including ski pants, vests, jackets, parkas, coats, gloves, boots, hats, headbands, turtlenecks, scarves and more.
Repping the brand wasn’t exactly optional, either: CBS correspondents were told that whenever they appeared on-air, they had to wear a Nike jacket.
Outraged, Baskin stayed up all night writing a two-page memo to the president and executive producers at CBS.
“I told them it was a violation of CBS News policy — and the first time a network turned its correspondents into billboards for a sponsor,” she told me.
“How could the public trust us covering these stories? The jackets were popping up everywhere. ’60 Minutes.’ ‘CBS Morning News.’ ‘CBS Evening News.’ ’48 Hours.’ ‘PrimeTime Live.’ They were swooshed from head to toe. And it was a more complex arrangement than I had even realized — because all of their sizes had to be known.”
In response, then CBS president Andrew Heyward put out a press release saying that Baskin’s memo was “a violation of professional etiquette.” He insisted that the decision not to re-run Baskin’s story had “nothing to do with Nike’s relationship with CBS.”
“There is no connection whatsoever — none — between Nike’s sponsorship of the Olympic Games or any other CBS program it might sponsor and CBS News coverage of the Nike story,” he said at the time.
After Baskin was demoted following the memo, she decided to resign before her contract ended, and went across the street to work for ABC.
Producers often wrote to her and expressed reluctance to pursue a particular story they were interested in — for example, on AOL parental controls — because CBS had a relationship with the company being covered. According to Higdon, this kind of self-censorship is not uncommon.
“You don’t necessarily need to have some representative from the corporation looking at your draft and using a black marker to draw lines through it,” explains Higdon.
“Journalists know what advertisers fund their news outlets — so the question usually runs through their minds: Is it worth it to publish this story? To bite the hand that feeds them? And that in itself has a chilling effect.”
Baskin is not the only one to experience this kind of resistance. In 2015, chief political commentator Peter Oborne resigned from the Telegraph, accusing his editors of burying stories merely because they made advertisers (HSBC Bank and Tesco supermarkets) look bad.
Oborne wrote that from 2013 onwards, “stories critical of HSBC were discouraged,” because of how valuable the account was — in fact, one exec told him that it was “the advertiser you literally cannot afford to offend.”
When BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith deleted an article criticizing a Dove Personal Care ad in 2015, the move swiftly garnered backlash. Many questioned whether Smith took it down because Dove was one of BuzzFeed’s corporate sponsors.
Smith eventually republished the post and apologized for his mistake, and in his email to BuzzFeed staff, insisted that he did not remove the article due to advertiser pressure. But then again, this was not the first time that Smith had hastily deleted an article that shed a negative light on a sponsor.
That same year, a piece titled “Why Monopoly Is The Worst Game In The World, And What You Should Play Instead,” was taken down. Hasbro, the maker of Monopoly, was another one of BuzzFeed’s advertisers at the time.
Jeff Cohen, media critic and founder of FAIR and RootsAction, is another journalist who knows firsthand how powerful advertisers’ influence can be. Cohen frequently appeared in on-air debates in the months and weeks leading up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq.
“When I was being tested for a co-hosting job on CNN’s ‘Crossfire,’ I was told of management’s concern that I would be critical of the nightly sponsor of the program,” Cohen told me in an interview.
Opponents of the war, like Cohen, were chronically underrepresented in the media. In fact, while Cohen was working as a senior producer of ‘The Phil Donahue Show’ on MSNBC, he had to book two pro-war guests for every one anti-war guest.
“The defense industry funds the media,” explains Higdon.
“For them, the more you can ramp up war, the more justification you can have in the next budget for spending on the military. So, if I’m an anti-war voice who comes onto the floor of Congress and says ‘we need to put food on people’s tables and make sure they have a roof over their heads before we spend money on the military budget,’ they’ll have a ton of senators pushing back, saying ‘Did you see what just happened in Ukraine? We need to be prepared, we need to protect the American people.’ This is why the defense industry likes to play up these events.”
If you’ve ever spotted advertisements for major military defense contractors like Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing on CNN, NBC or Fox News, you may have wondered why a company would promote products to consumers that they obviously don’t have access to.
The average citizen can’t go out and buy fighter jets and missiles at a local retailer, after all. But that doesn’t matter, because that’s not the objective: it’s to win viewers’ support in the push for the next war.
And they accomplish that by pushing messaging that encourages news watchers to associate these weapons makers with freedom, safety, innovation and a better future.
Lockheed Martin had long been a sponsor of Politico’s Morning Defense newsletter when the news site suddenly began scrubbing its archives of any reference to the company.
In it, the author describes her visit to Lockheed Martin’s super secretive Skunk Works research and development facility — and to her credit, she admits that companies like Lockheed plan these types of events “to kick up support for more Pentagon business amid flat defense budgets.”
If you weren’t deliberately looking for it, it would be very easy to miss the discreetly placed “sponsored content” disclaimer in the lower-left corner.
Raytheon, the third-largest defense contractor in the world, has placed sponsored content in The Washington Post. One particular article presents the company’s latest technologies and innovations as tools to support “our country’s efforts to protect and defend what’s most important.”
“The links between the media and the military-industrial complex (MIC) have only become stronger, more frequent and more financially lucrative over time,” writes Vassar College political science scholar Helen Johnson in a research report.
“When the news media wields such power over our political landscape and their sponsors influence the news, the advertisers in major news outlets, in turn, influence the discourse surrounding issues that can be of major political importance.”
Another industry that’s been increasingly leveraging the power of native ads is Big Oil. Recently, The New York Times’ T Brand Studio produced an ad campaign for Chevron asking consumers to test their knowledge of “clean energy” via an interactive quiz.
Chevron is a big investor in natural gas, so, naturally, the questions and answers overplay the benefits while underplaying the risks. In fact, “natural gas” is marked as the correct answer to the question “What was the biggest factor in keeping U.S. emissions down for the past decade?”
“This is not in line with the campaign they are putting out … when they will turn around with another hand and take money from an advertiser to run an ad about fracking not being bad,” Tracy Doyle, a former Times creative director, told Columbia Journalism Review.
“We know that this is not the truth. This is what happens when you have glorified salespeople running The New York Times — their take-money-from-anyone mindset ultimately jeopardizes the journalistic integrity of the newspaper.”
For instance, Gizmodo found that 100% of Politico’s Morning Energy newsletters, 63% of Punchbowl newsletters and 62% of Axios Generate newsletters were sponsored by fossil fuel interests from Oct. 1-22, 2021 — not-so-coincidentally, the weeks leading up to a congressional hearing on whether those Big Oil companies’ ad campaigns were misleading the public about climate change.
Gizmodo discovered that many of these newsletters were packed with misinformation, greenwashing and intentionally vague promises.
When asked how the WaPo is able to prevent advertisers from influencing the reporting, the company’s director of communications, Shani George, told The Nation that all sponsored content contains the name of the advertiser and is clearly labeled as advertising.
She also insisted the Post newsroom is not involved in the content creation (that’s done by a separate dedicated team). The New York Times’ paid posts include a similar disclaimer in fine print at the bottom.
But when The Washington Post or The New York Times is reporting on climate change, how can readers trust that they aren’t getting fossil fuel propaganda? And how are readers supposed to rectify a news article that contradicts an advertisement in the same publication?
“There is a strong firewall between Politico’s newsroom and business teams … Advertisements are plainly visible and demarcated in our newsletters and across our platforms.”
“Whatever firewall may have once existed between advertising and news content has largely collapsed in recent years as news organizations chase after ever-diminishing revenues and blend advertising with their reporting,” says Victor Pickard, a media studies scholar, UPenn professor and author of “Democracy Without Journalism?”.
“These practices are often referred to as ‘native advertising’ and ‘sponsored content.’ The entire phenomenon of clickbait essentially is a symptom of these values where the news is really just serving as bait to capture people’s attention and information to then sell to advertisers.”
In an interview with Columbia Journalism Review, a number of salespeople from legacy news publishers admitted there were always “avenues for advertisers to collaborate with the newsroom.” As in, they often looped popular journalists into sales meetings. So much for that firewall.
Sponsored content is the holy grail for advertisers: it allows them to borrow all the prestige, purported objectivity and trustworthiness of news, while still ever so subtly pushing their agenda. Very often, these native ads don’t focus specifically on the brand’s products or services, and sometimes they don’t even mention them.
Add in catchy SEO-optimized headlines, polished storytelling and formatting intended to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the conventional reporting, and it can be very difficult to tell the difference. That means if you aren’t paying close attention, you may just be tricked into thinking that these paid posts are real news.
And they can fool even the most discerning of readers because in many cases, the writers of this branded content used to be journalists. For example, editors at The New York Times’ rapidly growing T Brand Studio, which launched in 2014, all have “journalism roots.”
Even if the editorial staff isn’t involved in the creation of these posts whatsoever, publishing content that’s antithetical to the organization’s mission and values can undermine the newsroom’s credibility.
Not to mention, a 2017 MediaRadar study, which reviewed more than 12,000 pieces of native content across a variety of news sites, found that 37% of these ads don’t comply with the Federal Trade Commission’s guidelines.
Research has repeatedly shown that this approach is deceptive:
When there’s a prominent company name to confirm that a post is sponsored, 15% of readers misinterpreted that logo as a stand-alone advertisement and failed to recognize that the article in itself is an ad. A vast majority of people who viewed native ads believed they had seen no advertisements whatsoever.
In a Stanford History Education Group study conducted between 2015-2016, researchers presented high school students with screenshots of two different articles on global climate change: one was a traditional news story and the other was a sponsored post funded by an oil company.
Despite the fact that the latter was labeled as sponsored content with the company’s logo, nearly 70% said the sponsored content seemed more reliable mainly because it contained a pie chart (even though there was no evidence that the data was accurate). Only 15% of students said they thought the news article was the more trustworthy source.
In some cases, “product marketing” teams serve as intermediaries between the newsroom and these studios to guide the process, and in others, journalists may write for both the content studio and the newsroom.
In an article about his experience as a sponsored content writer for The Atlantic, freelance journalist Jacob Silverman noted that while the pay for this kind of work is appealing, it can create some awkward conundrums for a reporter.
“I was a month away from the release of my first book, a critical treatment of the big tech companies and the world they’ve made for us, and here I was sweating over an assignment glorifying some of those same companies,” Silverman wrote.
“The notion that a publication could sell access to its editorial style without also changing the terms of journalistic access itself is laughable.”
Sometimes, the messaging in these sponsored posts can directly conflict with the rest of the editorial coverage on a particular topic, creating a pretty confusing experience for regular readers.
For instance, The Guardian has published articles in partnership with big oil companies while also running a campaign to divest from them. A since-deleted puff piece told the story of a working mom — a Shell engineer, who praised the company’s flexible policies for allowing her to balance work and home life.
Pharma is one industry that’s been bankrolling the news in a big way — and at no time was this more apparent than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to a 2018 report in the peer-reviewed Journal of General Internal Medicine, the average TV viewer in the U.S. watches as many as nine drug advertisements per day, and around 16 hours of drug ads per year — significantly more time than they spend with their primary care physician.
These days, you can’t watch TV for an hour without being exposed to at least one pharmaceutical commercial — at least in America and New Zealand. Every other country in the world has banned the direct marketing of prescription drugs.
“American advertising makes me feel like I’m in a post-apocalyptic world,” wrote one Twitter user. “American medical ads are real dystopian shit, how you’re telling me I might die,” wrote another.
At one point in time, it was illegal for pharma to advertise prescription medications directly to consumers — up until 1985, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) only allowed these companies to promote those products to doctors and pharmacists.
In the mid-’90s, the government relaxed these regulations even further, enabling broadcast ads. In 2020, as the pandemic kicked into full swing, pharma’s digital ad spending surged by 43%, reaching a total of $6.58 billion that year.
A 2021 study found that seven out of the 10 drug manufacturers examined spent more on marketing and selling in 2020 than they did on research and development.
For example, Johnson & Johnson spent $22 billion on sales and marketing during the first year of the pandemic, which is nearly twice what the company spent on research and development ($12 billion).
The vast majority of these ads appear on TV — according to Nielsen, at a rate of 80 ads per hour of programming. And they’re effective, too:
Not only that, but these ads can lead to the over-prescribing of medications — in one study, patients who requested drugs from their doctors after seeing ads for them were far more likely to get prescriptions than those who didn’t make those requests.
Starting in 1957, The New York Times worked very closely with Pfizer, including a supplement in the Sunday paper with the pharmaceutical company’s annual financial report.
A precursor to today’s native advertising, the report was intended to blend in with the rest of the editorial reporting. Soon, these same Pfizer reports appeared in Sunday issues of The Los Angeles Times and The Chicago Tribune.
And advertising on these networks during the news hour is a smart strategy: A 2020 study revealed that consumers trust brands more when they run adjacent to news, especially breaking news.
This “news trust halo,” as researchers call it, also makes viewers more likely to visit the brand’s website, pay more attention to that brand, consider trying one of the brand’s products and recommend the brand to others.
As for print media, a 2021 Johnson & Johnson ad about its vaccine development efforts ran on a number of lifestyle and health sites including Good Housekeeping, Prevention, Country Living and Delish.
“When you have Pfizer funding news outlets that are talking about the vaccine — I’m not necessarily saying those outlets are outright lying, but there’s a very clear conflict of interest there,” says Higdon.
The concern? Whether or not news outlets that are pulling in millions from these pharmaceutical giants can be relied on for any critical coverage of their products.
Not to mention, what many don’t realize is that the FDA does not oversee any advertising for over-the-counter drugs, and federal law bans requiring pharma companies to submit their ads for FDA review and approval before airing them.
Maybe that’s why a 2014 review in the Journal of General Internal Medicine, which analyzed 168 drug ads, found that 57% of claims in these ads were potentially misleading and 10% were entirely false.
The question is: if pharmaceutical companies aren’t fully honest and transparent in how they portray their drugs in advertisements, what’s to say those firms aren’t using their financial clout to squash negative news reports about their products?
Pharma execs know that consumer trust in their industry is abysmally low. One factor that deters people from buying their medications is the laundry list of potential side effects rattled off at warp speed toward the end of every ad.
So, they found a sneaky way around that: “unbranded” ads. Unsurprisingly, pharma spending on these ads has been ramping up in recent years. When no specific drug is mentioned by name within an ad, the company is not required to provide a list of risks, side effects and contraindications.
Rather than being tied to one specific drug, these unbranded ads are usually designed to spread awareness about a disease or medical condition. Unbranded content helps to build trust with consumers because it feels less like a sales push, and more like the company is merely providing vital information.
In an interview with StatNews, epidemiologist Ameet Sarpatwari expressed concerns that consumers may not be aware that this info is coming from a company with a profit-driven motive.
For example, Pfizer’s recent commercial for COVID-fighting pills encourages viewers to “ask your healthcare provider if a new oral treatment could be right for you.”
While the ad doesn’t mention Pfizer’s new oral treatment Paxlovid (which still doesn’t have FDA approval yet), the drugmaker includes a link back to its COVID-19 website at the end of the spot. The commercial, for which Pfizer spent $2.8 million, aired nearly 270 times in just 10 days.
Knowing full well that consumers are automatically skeptical of information when they know they’re being sold to, companies have been getting creative with their advertising efforts, experimenting with less overt approaches.
For example, Moderna paid for Jimmy Kimmel’s skit about COVID-19 vaccines, in which the late-night TV host plays a doctor answering questions about mRNA science. Beyond sponsoring news segments on CBS, ABC, CNN and NBC, Pfizer has also paid for tweets posted by some of these news outlets.
In 2017, The Boston Globe’s brand lab introduced a new content campaign sponsored by Pfizer: “Dear Scientist.”
In the first installment, Pfizer’s senior director of neuroscience research reads a letter from a woman whose mother had Parkinson’s disease — one might assume, to demonstrate that scientists are compassionate beings driven by the mission to save and change lives.
(It’s worth noting that at the time, Pfizer had just finished Phase II trials for a new Parkinson’s drug — a medication which later resulted in a class-action lawsuit when patients complained of developing addictions after taking it.)
The explicit goals of these posts, according to the BG Brand Lab’s website, are to “encourage brand loyalty” and “communicate a brand’s ideals without using hard sells or explicit messaging.”
The question is, would the average Globe reader be able to discern the difference between a sponsored “Dear Scientist” post and a standard feature? I sent the piece to 15 contacts and only two of them noticed the disclaimer at the bottom.
“This is a blatant violation of accepted journalistic tenets,” said Kennedy at the time.
“Your viewers will undoubtedly be deceived into believing this content is a product of the normal newsgathering process, which is supposed to be objective … If you use this content, you not only will be doing a disservice to your viewers, but you will be actively participating in the purveying of propaganda and, more seriously, the erosion of journalistic standards that distinguish a free and open democracy. The line between editorial content and advertising should be clear and bright. As you blur this line with products such as this, you will undermine your credibility as well as that of American journalism in general.”
The bottom line is, with so many factors at play, it’s nearly impossible to measure how much advertisers’ money impacts reporting. Baskin acknowledges that not all media executives will bend to corporations — ultimately, she says it depends on the personalities of the people you’re working with.
“Some news directors have the stomach for this kind of reporting and some don’t,” she told me. “It all comes down to the courage, or lack thereof, of the managers.”
What is clear is that an over-reliance on advertising revenue can sometimes put news outlets in a chokehold when covering certain topics.
“Why is there one narrative on fossil fuel? Because of the oil industry. Do the math, right? Even the greenwashing of Tesla and electric cars — if you do any research at all on it you realize how much coal and fossil fuel resource is necessary to mine for things like lithium.”
Remember: when it comes to big, complex events like war, climate change, political campaigns and pandemics, there are always companies that stand to gain or lose something depending on how they’re reported.
So, as media companies continue depending largely on advertisers’ money, and the lines between advertising and news keep getting blurrier, it’s never been more important to pay attention to which companies are sponsoring your go-to outlets.
These days, it’s all too easy to mistake a sales push for a legitimate report. But if you can tell the difference, you’re one step closer to sussing out the truth.
Rebecca Strong is a freelance health, wellness and lifestyle writer based in Boston.
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Author: US DOE SETO Staff Published: 5/31/2022 SETO
The Interconnection Innovation e-Xchange Engages Utilities, Clean Energy Developers, Regulators, and Others to Enable More Clean, Affordable Electricity While Ensuring Grid Reliability, and Resilience
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today launched the Interconnection Innovation e-Xchange — a new partnership funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that brings together grid operators, utilities, state and tribal governments, clean energy developers, energy justice organizations, and other stakeholders to help solve challenges to deploying clean energy resources to the electricity grid. As the Biden Administration ramps up expansion of new renewable energy to reach the nation’s goal of a net-zero economy by 2050, i2X partners will develop solutions for faster, simpler, and fairer interconnection of clean energy resources through better data, roadmap development, and technical assistance.
“We need to eliminate the gridlock that’s slowing down clean energy deployment so that we can give more Americans access to cheaper electricity,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “Thanks to funding from the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the new Interconnection Innovation e-Xchange will help build a coalition of problem solvers that are leveraging expertise from utility and community stakeholders along with DOE’s national laboratories to tackle interconnection issues, ensure grid reliability\and develop equitable solutions for all communities.”
DOE’s recent Solar Futures Study shows that both solar and wind energy resources will need to dramatically expand to meet the Administration’s goals. However, current rules, costs, and procedures for connecting to the grid cannot handle the rapid increase in clean energy projects and require more efficient processes to bring the projects online.
Furthermore, the interconnection queue waiting times for the number of clean energy generation and storage projects slated to be added on to the grid is growing, as demand for renewable electricity accelerates faster than ever. And with the clean energy investments in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, even more clean energy sources will join the queue for grid integration.
The i2X program aims to solve these challenges by addressing the core issues surrounding grid interconnection, such as a lack of data, shortage of human resources, and more complicated grid impact assessments. The i2X program will provide technical assistance to partners to develop solutions to specific regional, state, and local interconnection issues. i2X partners will also address the inequities caused by burdensome interconnection processes in alignment with the Administration’s Justice40 initiative.
Collaborating with participating i2X organizations, experts from DOE’s Solar Energy and Wind Energy Technologies Offices and the national labs will develop a 5-year roadmap that sets goals and identifies research gaps and benchmarks for success.
DOE will kick off the partnership on June 7 at avirtual eventwith Secretary Granholm.
If you are employed by a U.S. federal, state, local, or tribal government or not-for-profit organization, you might be eligible for the Public Service Local Forgiveness Program. Keep reading to see whether you might qualify.
All EDA American Rescue Plan Programs Now Closed to Applications
Tremendous Demand for Full Spectrum of EDA Program Assistance Indicates Critical Local Need
As the United States continues to recover from the coronavirus pandemic, the $3 billion allocated to the Economic Development Administration (EDA) under President Biden’s American Recue Plan is allowing the bureau to make once-in-a-generation investments to dramatically transform America’s communities during this critical moment in our history.
Since launching its six American Rescue Plan programs in July 2021, EDA has been working expeditiously to equitably move this critical funding into our communities. Today, EDA is celebrating the more than 2,500 communities that designed economic development strategies and submitted projects for this special funding. EDA has officially closed all of its American Rescue Plan programs for applications. The $3 billion program funding will be awarded on a rolling basis through September 30, 2022.
The demand and participation for these programs are impressive and reflect the tremendous interest in building upon other American Rescue Plan support, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and further competitiveness legislation that is already benefiting every corner of the United States. Applications reflect hundreds of new participants in EDA programs, an emphasis on an inclusive, equitable recovery, and bolder regional collaborations that will increase America’s global economic competitiveness.
As of May 11, EDA had received approximately $15.8 billion in proposals for the $3 billion available for grant funding through the American Rescue Plan.
The Build Back Better Regional Challenge received 529 total applications for the first phase of the competition, of which it selected 60 finalists to apply for Phase 2 funding. These finalists requested $4.3 billion in total implementation investments, or more than four times the available funding.
The Good Jobs Challenge received over 509 applications requesting more than $6.5 billion in funding, or about 13 times more than the available funding.
EDA’s other American Rescue Plan programs — Economic Adjustment Assistance; Travel, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation; and Indigenous Communities — were also more than four times oversubscribed and received nearly 1,500 applications requesting $3.7 billion.
While the opportunity to apply for EDA’s American Rescue Plan funding has passed, prospective grantees are encouraged to explore several other EDA programs open with funding available to support a wide spectrum of local economic development needs. EDA encourages prospective grantees to reach out to their local Economic Development Representatives to explore opportunities, as well as the Economic Development Integration team who can help guide interested parties to other Federal resources that may help meet needs.
Applications for EDA’s traditional, non-supplemental funding are accepted on an ongoing, rolling basis. Please note that EDA is also significantly oversubscribed across the Economic Development Assistance Program (EDAP) for work underway in fiscal year 2022. Under EDAP, EDA is administering $220.5 million in funding for fiscal year 2022. As of May 11, EDA has received 266 proposals requesting more than $588 million under these programs, or more than two times the available funding.
The EDA team remains committed to working with communities across the country to fund competitive, locally driven economic development projects and strategies to support equitable economic prosperity.
For the latest news and funding opportunities, prospective grantees should keep an eye on EDA.gov and EDA’s social media channels.
STAY CONNECTED WITH THE U.S. ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT ADMINISTRATION
Author: Solar Stewards Staff Published: 5/26/2022 Solar Stewards
Solar Stewards Chosen in 40 Semifinalists To Compete in American-Made Solar Prize Round 5 Dec. 7, 2021
What are Social Renewable Energy Credits?
Social RECs™ connect corporate renewable energy procurement with historically excluded communities.
Renewable Energy Credits or Certificates, create the pathway for individuals and organizations to green their power. Since the late 1990s, RECs have transformed markets for renewable energy by allowing renewable energy generators to connect with clean energy buyers, regardless of where the energy is generated or used.
Social Renewable Energy Credits, or Social RECs™, take this one step further by creating the opportunity for purchasers of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) to procure renewable energy from sites that provide tangible community benefit.
Solar Stewards engages, recruits, and aggregates these sites into portfolios of scale to attract Social REC buyers, our Climate Stewards, who value both environmental and social benefits within their business and climate strategy
Solar Stewards Internship
Solar Stewards is committed to the advancement of distributed energy resources and the fundamental shift to new business models supporting renewable energy. Embracing an inter-generational approach to this work is critical for the long-term advancement of the industry. As such, in 2020, Solar Stewards launched the Solar Stewards Internship, open to all post-secondary students looking to help shape the future of energy and social enterprise. Special thanks to Brown University, Dartmouth College, and Brown Connect for their support.
BOSS is the largest community of African American professionals working in the solar photovoltaic (PV) space. We are entrepreneurs, financiers, veterans, attorneys, engineers, contractors, developers and other peer partners. We possess deep knowledge, experience and strategic access to the multi-trillion dollar, emerging solar and clean energy technology marketplace that is fast reshaping sustainability, infrastructure resilience and livelihoods in our country and across the globe. We have established roots and relationships in all communities, and particularly those disproportionately impacted by climate change —in the United States and abroad. Our collective efforts are making communities more resilient, sustainable and economically powerful.
The mission of BOSS is to combine and leverage our collective power to lead actionable solutions for sustained access to equitable opportunities in clean energy production, distribution and storage for Black-owned businesses. BOSS was launched in the Fall of 2020 after an inaugural Solar Equity Summit (SES) on September 29, 2020. A common theme throughout the SES was the importance of policy in shaping markets to enable accessibility for Black-owned businesses to thrive in the clean energy sector. Energy equity is a key policy enabler to manifesting the mission of BOSS and plays a critical role in our endeavor to highlight unfair practices and provide recommendations for common actions to address them.