Toyota Opens a ‘Megasite’ for EV Batteries in a Struggling N.C. Community, Fueled by Biden’s IRA

Author: Nicole Norman   Published: 6/1/2024    Inside Climate News

The auto giant has invested more than $1 billion outside Greensboro, where local officials hope their formerly dying region will become a boom town with over 5,000 new jobs and as many as 100,000 new residents.

Muhammud Abu-Kass demonstrates how to work the training equipment at Guilford Tech Community College. The equipment trains him to be ready to work at Toyota’s first and only battery manufacturing plant in the U.S. Credit: Nicole Norman/Medill News Service

Muhammud Abu-Kass demonstrates how to work the training equipment at Guilford Tech Community College. The equipment trains him to be ready to work at Toyota’s first and only battery manufacturing plant in the U.S. Credit: Nicole Norman/Medill News Service

Cranes can be seen in the distance from a gravel road in Liberty, indicating that construction is well underway on the plant that is scheduled to begin production in 2025. Credit: Nicole Norman/Medill News Service

Lawmakers stressed the investment was about creating opportunities for Americans.

“This is about American jobs and American production,” said Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.).

The megasite is just one of a few dozen battery plants springing up across the nation, particularly in the Southeast’s burgeoning “battery belt.” Companies have invested billions of dollars for battery plants in neighboring Georgia and South Carolina, but the projects don’t rival the $14 billion injected into the Liberty megasite.

The IRA Sparks an Investment Boom

Toyota was a leader in selling gas-electric hybrid vehicles, but has been slow compared to its peers in ramping up production of all-electric models. The Inflation Reduction Act has helped to entice the company to embrace the technology.

The IRA is the United States’ largest-ever investment to combat climate change, with a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 40 percent by 2030. The law has incentives for companies to make batteries and EVs in this country and tax credits for consumers buying EVs that meet requirements based on where they are built and the sources of their battery components.

The various tax credits add up to a huge advantage in the market for the companies that choose to build their batteries and vehicles in the United States.

Toyota currently offers one fully electric option, the bZ4X. The factory will produce batteries for this model as well as multiple hybrid options.

Change Comes to Liberty

Liberty has already started to feel the manifold local changes spurred by creating these batteries.

A large cement block now sits in front of the theater on West Swannanoa Avenue because big trucks headed to Toyota’s construction site kept bashing into it.

“That’s to keep the trucks from tearing the marquee down because they keep tearing it off because all the cars on the other side won’t back up and let the truck turn,” said York.

As large semi-trucks rumble and maneuver their way through the narrow streets and men in Toyota branded polos and caps roll into the Y’all Come Back Cafe, it is clear that change is already here.

Liberty Showcase now has a large concrete block sitting in front of it to stop trucks headed to Toyota’s plant from knocking down the Marquee. Credit: Nicole Norman/Medill News Service

Liberty Showcase now has a large concrete block sitting in front of it to stop trucks headed to Toyota’s plant from knocking down the Marquee. Credit: Nicole Norman/Medill News Service

“Back when I was a boy,” York reminisced, “this was a striving little town. It had everything anybody needed.” Since his childhood in the ’50s, he’s only left to go to college and to fight in the Vietnam War.

Though the connection to conflict with China is far from pressing in this sleepy town of 2,600, the Biden administration has made it clear that this investment in the EV supply chain and many others was motivated by the president’s determination to counter China’s dominance on electric vehicles and their components.

Sixty-one percent of announced EV investments have occurred in the last 18 months, since passage of the Inflation Reduction Act, according to the Environmental Defense Fund, creating new opportunities for communities to create jobs and generational wealth.

When York worked for the telephone industry after the war, he could never have imagined that his hometown would be at the forefront of U.S. technology, but he sees the Toyota plant as his legacy.

“We need to be the star, the pinnacle of North Carolina,” he said. “That’s my goal. I got to have a dream.”

Kelsey Baker contributed to this report.

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The shuttered power plant in Morro Bay, Calif., where Vistra Corp. has proposed a 600-megawatt battery storage project on a portion of the site. Credit: Vistra Corp.

On California’s Central Coast, Battery Storage Is on the Ballot

Joey Kabel (left) and Dan Stack, co-founders of Electrified Thermal Solutions in Medford, Mass., stand next to the company’s elevator-sized pilot system which contains electrically charged bricks that generate and store heat. Credit: Barry Chin/The Boston Globe

The Race to Decarbonize Heavy Industry Heats Up

Production line workers assemble EV parts at the Ford Rouge Electric Vehicle Center in Dearborn, Michigan. Credit: Jeff Kowalsky/AFP via Getty Images

Clean Energy Is Driving ‘a New Era in American Manufacturing’ Across the Midwest

$38M in New Funding to De-Risk Solar Energy Technologies

Author: US DOE Staff    Published: 6/6/2024    EERE

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

Solar Energy Technologies Office

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FY24 Incubator FOA_Final

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) announced the Fiscal Year 2024 Solar Energy Supply Chain Incubator funding opportunity, which will provide up to $38 million for research, development, and demonstration projects that de-risk solar hardware, manufacturing processes, and software products across a wide range of solar technology areas.

This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) aims to increase U.S. domestic manufacturing across the solar energy supply chain and expand private investment in the country’s solar manufacturing sector. These investments will help accelerate the growth of the solar industry, identify emerging opportunities, and drive down costs for our domestic energy market, positioning the United States on the leading edge of solar industry advances.

Technologies of interest include photovoltaics (PV), systems integration, and concentrating solar-thermal power (CSP) technologies, as well as those that connect solar with storage or electric vehicles and dual-use PV applications like agrivoltaics and vehicle-integrated PV. SETO encourages for-profit applicants to team with diverse organizations including academic institutions, non-profits, state and local governments, and Tribal governments.

The FOA also seeks projects that provide outreach, education, or technology development for software that delivers an automated permit review and approval process for rooftop solar PV with or without energy storage. Both for-profit and non-profit entities are eligible to apply under this topic.

SETO expects to make between 11 and 23 awards ranging from $1 million to $5 million under this FOA. Learn more about past Incubator funding program awardees.

Prior to submitting a full application for this opportunity, a mandatory concept paper is due July 19 at 5 p.m. ET.

SETO will host an informational webinar on June 13, 2024 at 4 p.m. ET to discuss the funding opportunity and the areas of focus. Register to attend the webinar.

Applicants can also access free Application Education Services through the American-Made Network and can engage with the following Power Connectors for more details:

Learn more about this funding opportunity and other open funding opportunities within DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

US data center electricity demand could double by 2030, driven by artificial intelligence: EPRI

Author:     Publisheed: 6/5/2024    Utility Dive

A data processing and storage center.

Internet queries utilizing artificial intelligence require about 10x the electricity of traditional internet searches, according to analysis by the Electric Power Research Institute.

Data centers could consume 9% of the United States’ electricity generation by 2030 — double the amount consumed today, according to a study released Wednesday by the Electric Power Research Institute.

The growth is being driven by increased computing power associated with artificial intelligence. AI queries “require approximately ten times the electricity of traditional internet searches and the generation of original music, photos, and videos requires much more,” EPRI said.

U.S. data center load is expected to grow to nearly 21 GW this year, up from 19 GW in 2023, according to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report this month. Data center electricity demand across the U.S. is expected to climb to 35 GW by the end of this decade, according to the FERC report.

A traditional Google search uses about 0.3 Wh while a query using ChatGPT — the chatbot developed by OpenAI — requires about 2.9 Wh, according to EPRI’s “Powering Intelligence: Analyzing Artificial Intelligence and Data Center Energy Consumption” report.

EPRI’s study examines four scenarios of potential data center electricity consumption growth, with varying estimates of public uptake of AI and data center energy efficiency gains. Under the scenarios, U.S. data center power consumption ranges from 4.6% to 9.1% of the country’s generation by 2030.

“The data center boom requires closer collaboration between large data center owners and developers, utilities, government, and other stakeholders to ensure that we can power the needs of AI while maintaining reliable, affordable power to all customers,” EPRI Vice President of Electrification and Sustainable Energy Strategy David Porter said in a statement.

EPRI’s analysis also looked at data center load impacts regionally. About 80% of U.S. data center load last year was concentrated in 15 states, led by Virginia and Texas.

The size of new data centers is growing, leading to challenges, EPRI noted.

“Connection lead times of one to two years, demands for highly reliable power, and requests for power from new, non-emitting generation sources can create local and regional electric supply challenges,” the report found.

However, those challenges can be mitigated through improved energy efficiency and flexibility, improvements to demand modeling tools and close coordination between utilities and data centers, EPRI said.

 

 

Energy Security Matters

Author: SAFE Staff     Published: 6/5/2024   SAFE

Expect this newsletter to provide policy updates ranging from new ideas to finalized rulemakings, important upcoming events, a synthesis of SAFE’s recent activities, and our perspective on the trends impacting global energy supply chains, from the first mineral to the last mile. Stay tuned to find out what’s next in our work to advance transportationenergy, and supply chain policies that support the economic competitiveness and national security of the United States and allied countries.

  • TODAY: June 5, 2024 from 1 to 2 p.m. ET we will kick off episode one of our webinar series, China/Competition/Power: How Beijing’s Policies Threaten Markets, Innovation, and a Rules-Based World Order.

The panel discussion will provide a deeper understanding of the evolution of the Chinese economy from a centrally planned system to one that integrated market-based mechanisms and global trade to clear inefficiencies and benchmark China’s competitiveness. RSVP and get details here.

  • On Thursday, June 6 Abigail Hunter, the Executive Director of SAFE’s Minerals Center, will join a panel on critical minerals and global cooperation at the Export-Import Bank of the United States’ annual conference. Register today. SAFE is a proud stakeholder partner of the conference; reply to this email if you need a discount code.

Questions about this newsletter? Reach us at info@secureenergy.org with questions or comments.

What we’re watching

The DC energy space has seen a blitz of final rulemakings and announcements as the Administration is racing to crystallize decisions ahead of the Congressional Review Act (CRA) deadline.

We’ve commented on new trade barriers, the now-finalized FEOC definitions, grants for pioneering decarbonization programs, and on the Commerce Department’s ongoing investigation into foreign components of connected vehicles (see below for links and resources) as historic advancements in domestic battery manufacturing and mineral processing continue.

On those investments—a new report from Rhodium Group forecasts that by 2030 EV sales will range from 4.6 to 9 million vehicles, which would require between 360 and 838 GWh of batteries.

The report finds there are an estimated 100 facilities manufacturing battery cells and/or modules that are either operating, under construction, or have been announced. Since 2018, companies have announced $166 billion in investment in these facilities, with $128 billion in battery cell/module manufacturing and $38 billion in EV manufacturing.

But what about the much-hyped slowdown in EV demand growth? More recent data clarifies what many analysts have been noting all year—that the reduction in sales volume is almost entirely Tesla, and essentially all other automakers are seeing robust year-over-year growth in sales of their plug-in models, prompting Bloomberg to assess the sales shift as more of a “blip” than a trend.

If all EV facilities meet their currently estimated construction timelines they will have the capacity to produce between 3.5 to 4.4 million vehicles by 2030. If all of these battery facilities meet construction timelines, by 2030 they will have capacity of 1,062 to 1,288 GWh of cells and modules.

These numbers reflect profound investments in our domestic manufacturing capacity and energy security, but not all the progress in downstream battery and vehicle manufacturing is matched by new upstream supplies.

The Biden administration is taking some positive steps, such as clarifying that DOE’s Loan Programs Office can support direct mineral development projects. But not every decision is consistent with long-term needs: killing the Ambler Road project in Alaska is a setback. The 211-mile road would have increased access to important domestic stores of copper and zinc, two essential building blocks of a secure energy future.

Other decisions reflect the challenges that remain in breaking China’s grip on the minerals market: The 2-year grace period on Chinese graphite for the EV tax credit is a reflection of how far we must go to catch up.

There’s also the important matter of finding the energy to make energy. Finally, we saw the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) take an important first step to removing barriers to increasing transmission throughout the power grid. With an estimated backlog of nearly 12,000 power generators waiting to be hooked up to the grid, and demand for energy growing at historic rates due in part to increased need for computing power and economic growth, this move is long overdue. But it’s still only the first step—we’re waiting on Congress to take further action on this, and much-needed (though likely stalled) permitting reform.

Balancing Security with Deployment on Connected Vehicle Tech

Newly announced tariffs have grabbed national headlines, but we’re staying focused on the U.S. Commerce Department’s investigation into the security risks presented by Chinese dominance of certain key components of the automotive supply chain.

SAFE’s Coalition for Reimagined Mobility—ReMo for short—welcomed the Biden Administration taking concrete action to understand and address the national security risks of connected vehicle technology designed, sold, and controlled by companies beholden to the People’s Republic of China, and in April, filed a detailed comment.

While SAFE and ReMo anticipate that this investigation will uncover significant risks, it is imperative that strategic decoupling from foreign adversaries for vehicle components and technologies be done in a way that allows U.S. industry to be a global leader in deploying innovative new technologies and products. The comments detail processes and opportunities for Commerce to navigate these challenging dynamics in a way that strengthens the nation’s long-term economic and national security.

“The scope, scale, and urgency of this national security risk comes at the same time the automotive industry is experiencing a transformational shift,” said ReMo’s Executive Director Avery Ash. “The focus should be on expediting the integration of these technologies to ensure their integrity while safeguarding them from vulnerabilities and disruptions from foreign adversaries.”

Topics addressed in ReMo’s comments include:

  • Current prevalence of sophisticated Chinese components in the automotive supply chain
  • Overlap between connected vehicle and military defense technologies
  • Data collection, access, and national security risks
  • Cybersecurity vulnerabilities to foreign adversaries
  • Benefits of localization and diversification of the ICTS supply chain
  • Trade implications for potential vehicles and components built in Mexico, that might otherwise circumvent trade policies or tariffs.

Earlier this year, SAFE’s Coalition for Reimagined Mobility also published Unlocking 21st Century Mobility System: How to Rethink the Future of Mobility and Restore Leadership in Transportation Innovation. The report highlighted these security risks and documented the extent of catchup needed from the U.S. government and industry.

Op-Ed: Germany Needs a Clear-Eyed China Policy

It’s past time for a Zeitwende—a turning point—in Berlin’s relationship with Beijing; the days of “win-win” are over, write Ambassador Joachim Bitterlich—member of the European Initiative for Energy Security’s Leadership Council and former foreign policy advisor to Chancellor Helmut Kohl—and Peter Flory, Senior Fellow at SAFE/EIES, in an op-ed for Handelsblatt.

Despite Beijing’s support for Russia’s brutal war in Ukraine and its existential competitive threat to German and European industry, Berlin’s policy toward China remains largely unchanged. Beijing’s commanding position in clean energy technology like EVs also challenges Europe’s energy transition.

Berlin needs to align more closely with Germany’s EU partners, assert more leadership against the Putin-Xi axis, and take a firmer hand in de-risking German industry to protect German and European values, competitiveness, and prosperity.

Chinese Graphite: Why Can’t I Quit You?

Responding to the U.S. Department of the Treasury releasing the final rule on Foreign Entity of Concern (FEOC) provisions for the Section 30D clean vehicle tax credit, SAFE called for an “exit strategy” for dependence on Chinese graphite supply.

Read the full statement from Abigail Hunter, Executive Director of SAFE’s Mineral Center.

In May, Hunter also testified at the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) on policy mechanisms to support secure and reliable access to global critical mineral supplies, calling for “a comprehensive, proactive approach to trade policy” that looks at the entire supply chain from “mine to market.”

Revitalizing the Domestic Aluminum Industry

Aluminum is used in everything from fighter jets and missiles to solar arrays and powerlines but the U.S. and allies have rapidly been losing the capacity to produce it while China corners the market. However, the U.S. could see the construction of its first new aluminum smelter in 45 years, thanks to a grant from the DOE’s Office of Clean Energy Demonstrations.

Given aluminum’s central importance to American industry and national defense, Executive Director of SAFE’s Center for Strategic Industrial Materials (C-SIM) Joe Quinn applauded the move.

“A new domestic smelter puts the U.S. back in the game and reverses our dangerous, decades-long decline in primary aluminum production,” he said.

Leading / Pioneering / Optimizing: How LPO Drives American Competitiveness

In April, the Minerals Center hosted The Department of Energy  Loan Programs Office (LPO) Director Jigar Shah for a conversation with Lithium Americas President and CEO Jonathan Evans and Vice President of Operations for Ultium Cells Thomas Gallagher about how the LPO works with private industry to drive an energy transition and reindustrialization strategy that serves the long-term economic and security needs of the U.S.

Convening the Decision Makers

SAFE Summit 2024 was a huge success, and we’ve already begun planning for SAFE Summit 2025. Make plans to join us April 1 & 2 in Washington, D.C.

SAFE Summit 2024 gathered 80 speakers and 700 attendees from across the political spectrum to tackle the challenges facing the U.S. and its allies during the energy transition. Next year, we will build on that success.

Solar United Neighbors: How does a co-op work?

Author: SUN Staff     Published: 6/4/2024 Solar United Neighbors

https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/

Can’t make our info session?

How much does solar cost?

Example Pricing only; Actual system size will vary; *2% electricity price increase per year, 13.80 cents/kWh electricity rate, -0.5% panel degradation per year, 1,217 yearly kWh production per 1kW of solar. SREC prices are market-based and therefore subject to change.

Example Pricing only. Actual cost depends on system size, interest rate, credit score, & other factors.** Reflects year one average savings. Savings will grow each year as avoided utility electricity costs increase.

Can I finance my solar?

Not sure if you can avoid the upfront cost of solar? Check out our financing page to learn about the loans that may be available to you, including some that are exclusive to solar co-op members.

Upcoming Webinar: Screening Tool for Equitable Adoption and Deployment of Solar (STEADy Solar)

Aurthor: US DOE Staff    5/23/2024    NREL 

A new NREL tool helps states, cities, community organizations, and solar developers identify equitable solar energy deployment opportunities.

Identify where to focus resources and deploy solar more equitably with NREL’s STEADy Solar tool. 

New NREL webinar for equitable solar development: Register to join and please share with your networks!  

Join NREL researchers Isa Ferrall-Wolf and Joyce McLaren in an upcoming webinar about a new dataset developed through the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN). Originating from a need identified by SEIN multi-stakeholder teams, the Screening Tool for Equitable Adoption and Deployment of Solar (STEADy Solar) helps identify specific locations where distributed-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) projects may be economical, allowing stakeholders to focus resources and deploy solar more equitably.

The STEADy Solar dataset and User Guide can help decision-makers at all levels by:

  • Overlaying the eligibility maps for multiple solar tax credit bonuses available for projects located within energy justice communities
  • Indicating the prevalence of building and land use types (e.g. government buildings, multi-family affordable housing, brown fields) for each census tract
  • Identifying census tracts with favorable solar economics, based on NREL modeling.

STEADy Solar is a spreadsheet tool that combines:

  • Publicly available information about eligibility for the Federal investment tax credit (ITC) bonus adders
  • Modeled residential and commercial solar economics
  • Demographic data
  • Building count information – at the census tract level for the entire country.

Access the STEADy Solar User Guide, which provides details about the dataset and contains static state-level maps that visualize the dataset.

Register to join the webinar held on Wednesday, June 5, at 11–12 p.m./1–2 p.m. (MDT/EDT).  

And stay tuned for more SEIN updates!

Please contact Isa Ferrell-Wolf and Joyce McLaren with any questions about STEADy Solar

This work was authored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), operated by Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) under Contract No. DE-AC36-08GO28308. Funding provided by U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, Solar Energy Technologies Office. The views expressed in herein do not necessarily represent the views of the DOE or the U.S. Government.
NREL.gov

U.S. Department of Energy’s Faculty-Applied Clean Energy Sciences Program Announces First-Ever Cohort

Author: US DOE Staff      Published: 5/1/2024    Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy

Minority-Serving Institutions’ Faculty Play a Pivotal Role in Advancing STEM Education

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced the selection of the first faculty cohort for the groundbreaking Faculty-Applied Clean Energy Sciences (FACES) Program. This program aims to bridge the gap between DOE laboratories and the academic community, enhance science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education, and promote clean energy responsibility in social and environmental sciences. The FACES program, with a focus on providing real-world clean energy research opportunities, has made its final selections from minority-serving institutions (MSI) across the country, including Tribal colleges and universities (TCUs), Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs), historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian-serving institutions (ANNHSIs), and Asian American and Native American Pacific Islander-serving institution (AANAPISIs).

Over the course of a 10-week summer program, MSI faculty will collaborate with scientists at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. Their objective is to develop scalable education modules on various clean energy-related topics. These modules will be integrated into course curricula at the faculty’s home educational institutions and shared across MSIs, supporting teachers’ resource development to help students pursue careers in clean energy.

“We’re thrilled to offer MSI faculty the opportunity to engage directly with DOE and its national laboratories through FACES, which will expand their research networks and empower them to educate their students on cutting-edge topics in clean energy science. Through robust STEM education and diverse representation in the scientific workforce, America will be better equipped to build a lasting sustainable future,” said Terrence Mosley, senior advisor for diversity and STEM in DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

 The MSIs represented in this FACES Program cohort include:

  • Alabama State University (HBCU)
  • City University of New York, Brooklyn College (AANAPISI)
  • Florida International University (HSI)
  • Hawaii Pacific University (ANNHSI and AANAPISI)
  • Howard University (HBCU)
  • Metropolitan State University of Denver (HSI)
  • Northern Arizona University (HSI)
  • North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University (HBCU)
  • Northwest Indian College (TCU)
  • University of Hawaii at Hilo (ANNHSI and AANAPISI)
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa (ANNHSI and AANAPISI)
  • University of Houston (HSI and AANAPISI)
  • University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus (HSI)
  • University of New Mexico (HSI)
  • University of Texas at Arlington (HSI and AANAPISI)
  • University of Texas at El Paso (HSI)

“We are excited to partner with EERE and NREL to improve the future of STEM, not only through the faculty of minority-serving institutions but also through the students who will benefit from their knowledge and understanding, both in the classroom and as they enter the workforce of the future,” said Christy Jackiewicz, chief of the Minority Educational Institutions Division for DOE’s Office of Energy Justice and Equity.

The FACES Program is a collaborative effort between DOE’s NREL, Office of Energy Justice and Equity, and EERE. For more information, please visit the program website.

FACES Logo

Faculty Applied Clean Energy Sciences (FACES) Program

The Faculty-Applied Clean Energy Sciences (FACES) Program provides clean energy research opportunities to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) faculty from Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), and Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). FACES is a new collaborative effort between the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Justice and Equity (EJE) and Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE).

The program’s goals are to promote diversity and inclusion in the energy sector and help teachers inspire STEM students to pursue careers in clean energy. This is achieved by:

  • Bridging the gap between the research happening between DOE laboratories and the broader academic community.
  • Facilitating learning and comprehension of key concepts, providing structured content that can be seamlessly incorporated into existing lessons.

Over the course of the 10-week program, participating faculty will work at NREL facilities and develop scalable education modules on topics like community engagement, human behavior, energy and environmental science, and artificial intelligence. Faculty will receive a weekly stipend for the duration of the program, along with travel reimbursement.

Census Bureau Releases Nonemployer Business Data by Demographic Characteristics of Owners

Author: US Census Bureau  Staff    Published:  Feb 8, 2024     Press Release Number CB24-TPS.14 

Need or want help with application process click on link: https://partners.fileforms.io/l/93151244/

Women owned 41.1% (11.2 million) and minorities owned 36.7% (10 million) of the nation’s nonemployer businesses (those without paid employees) and had $307.9 billion and $345.1 billion, respectively, in receipts in 2020, according to the new Nonemployer Statistics by Demographics (NES-D) released today by the U.S. Census Bureau. There were a total of 27.2 million nonemployer businesses with $1.3 trillion in receipts in 2020.

Hill Rises and Hill Sides

In addition to demographic characteristics of nonemployer business owners, this release also includes data by urban and rural classification, receipt size of firm, and legal form of organization (e.g., sole proprietorships and partnerships).

The NES-D is an annual statistical series that uses existing administrative records and census data to link demographic characteristics of owners to the universe of nonemployer businesses. Nonemployer businesses are those without paid employees and are subject to federal income tax, with receipts of $1,000 or more. The NES-D statistics are the accompanying dataset to the Annual Business Survey (ABS) data on employer businesses (those with paid employees) and when combined with the ABS, provide a complete picture of business owner demographics, such as sex, race, ethnicity and veteran status.

Highlights for nonemployer businesses in 2020:

  • Hispanic-owned firms accounted for 16.4% (4.5 million) of nonemployer businesses and had $164.0 billion in receipts.
  • Veteran-owned firms made up about 4.8% (1.3 million) of nonemployer businesses with $57.0 billion in receipts.
  • Asian-owned firms accounted for 8.6% (2.3 million) of nonemployer businesses, with receipts of $106.1 billion, the most receipts among businesses owned by minority race groups.
  • Black or African American-owned firms made up 13.2% (3.6 million) of nonemployer businesses, with receipts of $85.8 billion.
  • American Indian or Alaska Native-owned firms accounted for 1.2% (329.0 thousand) of nonemployer businesses, with $10.7 billion in receipts.
  • Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander-owned firms accounted for 0.3% (83.5 thousand) of nonemployer businesses, with $2.8 billion in receipts.

This release also includes demographic statistics of all businesses, those with and without employees, combining results from the previously released 2021 ABS (data year 2020) and the 2020 NES-D (data year 2020).

Highlights from these combined statistics (total employer and nonemployer businesses):

  • There were 32.9 million employer and nonemployer businesses, with $40.2 trillion in receipts.
  • Minorities owned 11.1 million businesses, with $1.9 trillion in receipts.
  • Women owned 12.4 million businesses, with $2.2 trillion in receipts.
  • Hispanics owned 4.8 million businesses, with $636.2 billion in receipts.
  • Veterans owned 1.6 million businesses, with $983.7 billion in receipts.

For more information on the methods used to assign demographic characteristics to nonemployer businesses, refer to the NES-D methodology.

News from Green The Church April 2024

Author: Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll   Published: 4/26/2024  Green The Church

Green The Church Weekly News

Solutions For Pollution—Power Plant Standards

New EPA Power Plant Standards

New EPA power plant standards announced today will slash dangerous climate pollution, mercury and air toxics, coal ash, and toxic wastewater – safeguarding our climate, protecting our health, cleaning up our air and water. These standards and the Inflation Reduction Act are projected to lead to a 75% reduction in carbon pollution by 2035. Mercury and air toxics standards will create $300 million in health benefits, wastewater standards will cut 660 million pounds of toxic wastewater pollution, and coal ash standards will protect communities by requiring the cleanup of at least 389 sites that have either legacy coal ash ponds or old, unregulated landfills. #SolutionsForPollution

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC)

National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC)

This week, Green The Church founder, Rev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll, is attending the EPA’s National Environmental Justice Advisory Council (NEJAC) meeting in Houston, Texas. This Council provides advice and recommendations on issues related to environmental justice from stakeholders involved in the EJ space and provides a forum for discussions about integrating environmental justice with other EPA priorities and initiatives.

The R.A.C.E. Podcast

Green The Church The RACE Podcast Episode 16

In Episode 16 of THE R.A.C.E. (Resilience, Aboriginal, Courageous, Empowered) podcastEnvironmental Justice and Community ResilienceRev. Dr. Ambrose Carroll speaks with Dr. Sacoby Wilson, distinguished Professor at the University of Maryland, College Park School of Public Health where directs the Center for Community Engagement, Environmental Justice and Health. Together, they delve into pressing environmental justice issues affecting African American communities, particularly in the DMV region. Listen and watch here!

Become a Member

Green The Church Membership

Not Yet a Member?

We offer two types of memberships: Individual and Congregational. Learn more about our membership levels including the Associate Congregation Membership.

Consider becoming an Ally, Ambassador, or Advocate member today! Together we can make a difference for our common home, and future generations.

We look forward to partnering with you to make our world and our community better.

2024 Q1 – Energea Webinar

Author: Tyler Hurlburt     Published: 4/24/2024     Energea 

energea-global-white-green

Q1

WATCH THE REPLAY

Energea’s Director of Investor Relations, Tyler Hurlburt, will be joined by our Managing Partner, Mike Silvestrini, to discuss the platform and provide updates to our investment portfolios in Brazil, Africa, and the U.S. We will also hear from our CTO, Gray Reinhard regarding how we monitor and maintain solar projects on an ongoing basis.

As always, we will be sure to leave time for Q&A at the end of our session.

Tyler Hurlburt
Director of Investor Relations
Director of Investor Relations at Energea. Licensed Financial Advisor and Wealth Manager at Fortune 500 firms including Ameriprise, Prudential, Wells Fargo and TIAA. Over 20 years’ experience within the financial service industry. Extensive experience in portfolio management, risk mitigation, tax and estate planning. BS Marketing from The University of Connecticut. MBA Organizational Leadership and Sustainability from Saint Joseph’s University.
Mike Silvestrini
Managing Partner
Co-Founder and Managing Partner at Energea. Former President, CEO and Co-Founder of Greenskies Renewable Energy, a leading U.S. C&I solar developer and asset manager. Built business from the ground up to become the largest C&I solar installer in 2016. Marquis customers included Walmart, Amazon and Target. Sourced and closed over $600M of project financing to support the development of over 500 solar projects across 23 states and 3 continents.
Gray Reinhard
Chief Technology Officer
Gray has instilled a culture of efficiency and data driven processes at Energea resulting in streamlined operations and increased employee productivity. Since joining Energea from the beginning, Gray has been involved in just about every aspect of the company, including front end user experience, share pricing logic, investor relations and project monitoring.

 

Three Ways to Green the Grid Without New Transmission

Author:       Published: 4/22/2024    ILSR

The climate advocacy and clean energy community are far too focused on new power lines, whereas we have faster, cheaper, and more efficient tools to meet many of our collective goals. In a recent Twitter thread, I shared an inflammatory meme to suggest we don’t need new high-voltage transmission lines. I’d describe my position as this: I’m a grid capacity believer, but a transmission skeptic.

Transmission lines are slow and expensive to build. New high-voltage power lines in the Midwest have been averaging 10 to 12 years from concept to completion in recent years. The lines that add the most power also cost the most. A double-circuit 345 kilovolt line costs over $3 million per mile. This 345 kV power line could connect up to 800 megawatts of new power generation and carry it 110 miles. A 765 kV single-circuit transmission line could carry over 2,200 megawatts a distance of 550 miles, but at a price of $5 million per mile.

Most of the goals we want transmission to achieve can be met by alternatives. Building new transmission lines is one of the least efficient ways to fulfill needs like adding capacity to a congested area or shoring up grid reliability. It is often slower or more costly than alternatives to add capacity for new renewable energy. The planning process for transmission doesn’t usually evaluate those alternatives. For example, we can get a lot more transmission capacity by using existing wires more efficiently or upgrading existing infrastructure –– here are three opportunities:

  1. Grid enhancing technologies

Grid enhancing technologies such as dynamic line ratings and topology control software can expand grid capacity significantly (40%!) in a timeframe and payback period of months. U.S. utilities rarely use them.

  1. Reconductoring

Transmission lines can also be upgraded – or “re-conductored” in the industry lingo – by putting new, higher capacity wires on the same tower. As discussed in a recent Volts podcast, reconductoring can expand the capacity of existing wires by two to three times, and at a fraction of the cost of building entirely new ones. We don’t hear much about reconductoring because our grid capacity studies for reducing carbon emissions do not model this cost-effective strategy, but rather assume most new capacity comes from new towers and power lines.

  1. Distributed energy generation

We can also reclaim transmission capacity by building generation that serves local needs. Wind-solar hybrids and distributed clean energy resources can serve the low-voltage side of substations and free up existing transmission capacity. Virtual power plants can serve local load and reduce peak demand, reducing transmission import capacity to cities and other load centers. Saul Griffith, inventor and renewable energy advocates, says local solar can serve 50%+ of needs in an electrified economy. The Local Solar for All study famously found that optimizing our use of distribution energy would lower the cost of achieving a low-carbon electricity system by nearly half a trillion dollars. Most of these distributed energy solutions deploy faster and as cost-effectively as any large clean energy projects.

It’s important to note that the distributed energy solutions to a clean grid also offer much more in terms of local economic benefits and equitable distribution of those benefits. There aren’t community-owned transmission lines, but there are lots of rooftop and community solar projects delivering substantial financial benefits to communities, including those who have been historically subject to the worst pollution and highest energy burdens of the fossil fuel economy.

Given how slow and expensive it is to deploy new transmission, we need to focus on using it in the places that other faster and cheaper technology cannot serve. All of the alternatives –– grid-enhancing technologies, reconductoring, distributed energy –– deploy at a fraction of the cost and in a fraction of the time required to build new power lines. Being a grid capacity believer means I want us to rapidly invest in the grid to make it capable of delivering clean, local power equitably – and building new transmission is often not the most effective way to do it.

While I’m very clear that we undervalue transmission alternatives due to the interests of incumbent utilities, I’m still very open-minded about some caveats raised by Simon Mahan, Executive Director of Southern Renewable Energy Association, in response to my Twitter thread:

  • Regional interconnection –– imagine Minnesota in 2040, hopefully a state where heat pumps have overwhelmingly been adopted making the state very reliant on winter electricity production. Winter solar output in Minnesota is very low (I have solar; I’ve seen it). What happens on a windless, icy cold night when electric demand is high? In this case, it seems like regional transmission may be the best tool (and certainly as likely as massive, long duration storage) to get Minnesotans through the cold.
  • Windy places –– Simon notes that the sites of existing fossil fuel power plants may not be the best places for new renewable energy projects. That’s probably not true for solar, unless these power plant sites are heavily wooded, but it may be true for wind power or geothermal where the resource quality is more site specific.
  • Cost and benefit –– Simon notes that evaluations of power line projects may show strong cost-benefits balances, based on reducing grid electricity prices. Compared to what, however? Most transmission cost-benefit studies do not examine non-transmission alternatives.

In an honest desire to address climate change quickly, we have too great a focus on power lines at the expense of many approaches to expanding grid capacity. If you are pro-transmission without also supporting serious structural reform of our transmission planning and building process, without prioritizing upgrades to existing wires and distributed energy, then you aren’t serious enough about unlocking the fastest and most affordable solutions to climate change.

EPA to unleash $7B for low-income solar projects

Author: Jean Chemnick      Published: 4/18/2024  E&E News Climate Wire

A worker installs solar panels in Pomona, California.

The Solar for All program is meant to reduce energy costs and lower pollution in poor areas across the U.S.

EPA is expected to announce the recipients of a $7 billion climate program on Monday that aims to lower energy costs and reduce pollution in poor communities across the country by installing solar power systems on homes.

Three people with firsthand knowledge of the Biden administration’s plans told E&E News that EPA will release details about the states, cities and tribes that have been selected to receive funding through the so-called Solar for All grant competition. All three spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to talk about the administration’s plans.

The announcement, scheduled for Earth Day, comes as the administration races to advance President Joe Biden’s first-term climate agenda ahead of the November elections. The White House is also planning to release landmark regulations next week governing pollution from power plants, the second-largest source of U.S. greenhouse gases.

Recent polling shows that Biden stands to lose support among key groups of voters who helped propel him to the White House in 2020, including young people and Black people. Both groups view climate change as an important issue.

The infusion of solar funding for poor communities is part of a $27 billion program under the Inflation Reduction Act called the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund — which offers a huge tranche of money to historically polluted communities of color and low-income areas that often faced discriminatory policies related to siting industrial facilities.

“Low-income households have been disproportionately left out of our country’s clean energy transition,” said Adam Kent, a green finance expert with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

EPA did not respond to requests for comment.

The agency is expected to outline the monetary awards that it’s giving to individual states, cities and tribes through the solar program. Those entities are expected to distribute the money to residential projects and to programs to support access to distributed generation.

EPA said previously it expects to make 60 awards under Solar for All, with priority going to state programs that bring distributed generation to low- and moderate-income communities. Other government entities and even nonprofits are also eligible to apply.

Low-income consumers spend a higher percentage of their earnings on energy and are less able to afford the upfront costs of solar power, said Kent of NRDC. Nonwhite neighborhoods are also more likely to be sited near polluting infrastructure, including fossil fuels power plants.

“If you look at majority Black and Hispanic neighborhoods, it’s significantly less rooftop solar installed compared to majority white neighborhoods,” he added. “So, this is a program … about delivering the benefits of distributed solar to all communities throughout the country.”

EPA’s website shows it received applications from 44 states; Washington, D.C.; and all U.S. territories. Other applicants included tribes, cities and nonprofits.

Awardees can use the grants to defray the cost of rooftop solar for low-income consumers or to make investments that facilitate solar installation, such as roof repairs or upgrades to electric panels.

Money can also go to improve community access to rooftop solar through support for things like workforce development and project planning.

The IRA, Biden’s signature 2022 climate law, required EPA to transfer almost all of the funds to awardees by the end of fiscal 2024. So after September it will be up to the states and cities that receive those grants to distribute them through grant and loan programs of their own design.

“It’ll be interesting to see who gets the funding, but at the end of the day it’s going to come down to implementation,” said Brady Watson, a senior campaign coordinator with the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Once they get the funding, how they actually design the program — and outreach — are key.”

Harry Godfrey, managing director at Advanced Energy United, called the program “the starting gun for [distributed generation] and community solar deployment across the country.”

It is expected to help communities overcome financial barriers to solar deployment, he said. But he said policy and regulatory changes — like adjustments to the way households get credit for solar power they add to the grid — would still be needed.

How electric vehicles are lowering electricity bills for everyone

Author: Jordan Brinn    Published: 4/16/2024    Utility Dive

Electric vehicle drivers are saving everyone billions of dollars on their monthly electricity bills, a recent study by Synapse Energy Economics found

The right rear corner of a white car is parked on a street plugged in to an electric vehicle charging post.

Jordan Brinn is a clean vehicles and infrastructure advocate at NRDC.

Electric vehicle drivers are saving everyone billions of dollars on their monthly electricity bills, a recent study found. The analysis from Synapse Energy Economics compared how much EV owners paid for electricity with the cost for utilities to build, generate and distribute that power. In aggregate, EV drivers provided more than $3 billion in net revenue to the grid between 2011 and 2021.

The net effect is that the cost of electricity for all consumers is lower largely because many EV drivers are charging at home overnight when demand for electricity is far below the electric grid’s capacity. Customer savings will only increase in the coming years as there are more EVs and more renewable energy production.

Total revenue and costs, including utility EV programs, for all states and years of the study

Many future-looking studies have predicted that vehicle electrification would have this downward pressure effect on rates. This study uses real-world data to show that this effect isn’t just a future theory — it’s been happening for over a decade across the U.S.

And EV drivers are saving money too. They pay less to charge their car than to fill up their gas tank, while generating revenue for their electric utility instead of oil companies which is then returned to all customers in the form of lower rates and bills.

More than 1 million EVs were sold in the U.S. last year alone. This is good news for consumers, public health and our planet. Transportation is the largest source of climate-warming pollution and dangerous local air pollution. Reducing this pollution requires widespread adoption of electric cars, trucks, bikes and buses charged by electricity generated from clean resources like wind and solar. And luckily, electric cars are quickly becoming a cheaper option compared to their gas-powered equivalents.

One common misconception about EVs is that charging them will crash the electric grid or require massive new upgrades to the grid that will drive up the cost of electricity. In recent weeks there have been a spate of news stories highlighting the change in forecasts from power companies and the resulting scramble to build new electricity generation and a predicted increase in customer bills. While much of the focus has been on data centers, one other factor cited has been the growth in electric vehicle sales and use.

The Synapse analysis, which was sponsored by NRDC, found that EVs can help keep the grid in balance because so much of the charging is done during lulls in overall power demand — at night.

How exactly do EVs put downward pressure on electricity rates for everyone?

Utilities get a new source of revenue from EV drivers paying for the electricity to charge their car. As the number of EVs on the road increases, so does this new source of revenue for utilities. However, it costs utilities money to make this electricity and get it to home and public chargers, i.e., electricity generation, transmission and distribution costs. The net revenue, or rate impact, is how the revenue from EVs charging compares to the cost of providing the electricity.

Some utility customers are on time-of-use rates, so they are charged different amounts for electricity depending on what time of day they charge their car. These rates are structured to encourage charging during off-peak hours when total demand for electricity is lowest — it’s easier and cheaper for utilities to provide electricity during times such as overnight periods of low demand or when there is lots of solar power in the mid-afternoon. A separate report by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Pacific Gas & Electric and the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that charging EVs at off-peak times could accommodate all homes having EVs with very minimal upgrades to the electricity distribution system.

However, since these types of rates are not widely available across the U.S., the study assumed people in many states charge their cars in the early evening at the end of the workday. Even with some charging taking place on-peak, utilities are making money on EV charging. But as the study concludes, to continue this trend, more customers need to charge at off-peak times, like overnight, and time-of-use rates are an effective way to incentivize this shift while reducing costs for utilities and customers alike.

National distribution of peak grid demand hours with the national distribution of EV charging demand vs. the California charging demand
National distribution of peak grid demand hours with the national distribution of EV charging demand vs. the California charging demand
Permission granted by Synapse Energy Economics

A few utilities spend additional money on EV programs that are designed to deploy charging stations and make owning EVs more accessible. This leads to more upfront costs that should help accelerate EV adoption and charging, resulting in more revenue a few years down the road. Even when these additional costs are included, utility revenue has still outpaced cost by $2.44 billion.

 

Total revenue and costs for all states and years of the study
Total revenue and costs for all states and years of the study
Permission granted by Synapse Energy Economics

Utility shareholders do not get to keep all that extra revenue because utilities have different accounting mechanisms. Many states require “revenue decoupling” that mandates additional revenue is returned to utility customers in the form of lower rates and bills. Even in states that haven’t adopted revenue decoupling yet, utilities still have to report revenue through rate case proceedings and rates and bills are adjusted accordingly, meaning that there may be some lag between rate cases, but EV charging should still put downward pressure on rates to the benefit of all customers, not just EV owners.

Further, this study shows that there is a correlation between the net rate impact, or revenue, and the number of EVs on the road in a given state. The more EVs there are on the road, the higher the net revenue is for utilities, and the lower utility bills are for all customers.

EV charging currently is resulting in savings for EV owners and non-EV owners alike. Implementing time-of-use rates and targeted charging infrastructure program investments will further encourage the EV adoption needed to slow climate change and improve public health while saving everyone money on their electric bills.

Community Power Wins and Losses in 2023

Author: Maria Mc Coy        Published: 4/15/2024   ILSR

A room in the Maryland Governor's mansion with a patterned blue carpet, a small audience of journalists with notebooks and cameras, and staffers in suits backing up the Maryland governor as he speaks at a podium with the office seal on it

With mounting pressure from both utilities and energy democracy advocates, state legislative decisions on community power were a mixed bag in 2023. These policy-making decisions underwrite local autonomy, clean energy access, and utility accountability. They also determine who will see the most benefit from the clean energy transition. Will monopoly utilities get total control and reward their shareholders? Or will communities take charge and create resilient energy systems that strengthen local economies?

Read on for a breakdown of how state policies passed in 2023 will impact community power, or more specifically, how they impacted ILSR’s 2024 Community Power Scorecard — a review of 18 state policies that help or hinder local clean energy action.

Six States Pass Poor Policies, Sinking Their Scores

Let’s start with the bad news; in 2023, six state legislatures handed policy wins to monopoly utilities at the expense of communities.

Despite the benefits of local ownership and evidence that building more distributed energy generation capacity reduces costs across the electricity system, monopoly utilities are still trying to squash distributed solar. Utilities see customer-owned solar as a threat, so they misdirect the public with inflated solar cost estimates that serve their own shareholder interests. This anti-solar messaging worked in IndianaCalifornia, and now Arkansas, where legislators have dismantled the state’s net metering policy. The new Arkansas policy dramatically reduces residential solar compensation and makes it harder for households — particularly low- and middle-income households — to go solar. It will go into effect in 2025.

The Maine legislature passed a measure that limits net energy billing, the only community solar offering in the state. Under the new policy, community solar projects generating between one and two megawatts can only participate in kilowatt-hour crediting if they reach commercial operation by the end of 2024. Kilowatt-hour crediting is how residential customers subscribe to community solar. In other words, at year’s end, there will be no opportunity to build community solar projects for residential subscribers.


Learn more about Why Utility Execs Hate Distributed Solar.


Since 2020, fossil gas interests have successfully lobbied legislators in 24 states to pass bills that preempt local decision making over gas network expansion. IdahoMontanaNorth Dakota, and South Dakota passed their gas ban preemption bills in 2023 and lost points in our 2024 scorecard.

Seven States Improve their Community Power Scores

Legislators in several states increased access to distributed solar by improving their community solar programs, despite resistance from utilities. Community solar provides a way for people who cannot install solar on their rooftop to share in the benefits of renewable energy — but it must be enabled by state policy.

  • Maryland made its community solar pilot permanent in 2023. Maryland House Bill 908 made two key changes: there is no cap on overall program capacity, and 40 percent of each project’s energy generation must serve low- to moderate-income subscribers.
  • Minnesota capped its previously uncapped community solar program, but also added key provisions for equity. The state now has a 30 percent low- to moderate-income subscriber carveout and prohibits developers from using credit scores to qualify new subscribers.
  • New Jersey increased the cap on its community solar program, added provisions for consolidated billing, and will allow low- and moderate-income residential subscribers to self-attest their incomes — a good policy for promoting equity.

Legislators in Colorado, Connecticut, and Maine each stepped up last year to protect consumers from paying for political activities through their utility bills. This new attention on how utilities recover costs from their customers has become a promising trend, with many state legislatures considering similar bills this year. Solar United Neighbors and the Energy and Policy Institute have developed a model bill for these utility accountability measures.

In an amendment to its existing program, Minnesota expanded its intervenor compensation to proceedings other than rate cases. This will make it easier for community representatives to participate in proceedings at the Public Utilities Commission and make arguments in the public interest.

Lastly, an Iowa court struck down the state’s right-of-first-refusal law in 2023, restoring the state’s points for that policy and the competitive process for building new power transmission lines.


To compare state policy environments, explore our interactive Community Power Map.


Several states, including MaineMarylandRhode Island, and Vermont, made slight amendments to their net metering rules with no effect on their community power scores. The Rhode Island and Vermont measures were passed to discourage deforestation and will also apply to community solar.

Michigan’s 100% Clean Energy Standard increased the state’s cap on distributed generation from one to ten percent, yet failed to restore net metering or allow community solar, resulting in no impact on the state’s community power score.

Three Consequential Governor Vetoes

Wisconsin nearly became the 25th state to preempt cities from passing gas bans, but Governor Evers vetoed the legislature’s preemption bill.

The Illinois General Assembly passed a measure that would have given utilities right-of-first-refusal — the exclusive right to build transmission lines through their own territory. Governor Pritzker vetoed the bill to protect consumers and require that transmission line construction happens through a competitive, least-cost process.

Finally, in a blow to those trying to represent New Yorkers at utility regulatory proceedings, Governor Hochul vetoed a bill that would have allowed intervenors to apply for reimbursement. Intervenor compensation helps to level the playing field and bring more voices before decision makers.


This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter, our energy work on Facebook, or sign up to get the Energy Democracy weekly update.

South Carolina tackles EV issues, including questions around utility investment in charging

Author:     Published: 4/13/2024 Utility Dive

South Carolina State House

Listen to the article6 min

FERC approves PJM’s $5.1B cost-share plan for transmission to be built by Dominion, others

Author: Ethan Howland     Published: 4/10/2024       Utility Dive 

Transmission lines in the woods.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Monday approved the PJM Interconnection’s plan to allocate the costs from about $5.1 billion in planned transmission projects set to be built by Dominion Energy, FirstEnergy, Exelon, PPL, NextEra Energy, Transource and PSEG Renewable Transmission.

FERC rejected calls from the

The transmission projects related to Virginia’s incentives for data centers should be paid for by Virginia ratepayers under PJM’s “multi-driver” cost allocation formula, according to the Maryland Office of People’s Counsel.

FERC disagreed, saying PJM followed its cost allocation rules for its regional transmission expansion plan process. Challenges to those provisions should be made as complaints, not through protests to PJM’s cost allocation reports, the agency said.

However, even if complaints had been filed, FERC said it would have rejected them. To qualify as a multi-driver project with a state public policy requirement component, a project must fall under PJM’s “state agreement approach,” such as New Jersey’s offshore wind-related transmission projects, according to the agency. But the data center-related power line projects aren’t covered by the state agreement approach.

“Thus, these projects do not qualify as multi-driver projects with a state public policy requirement component under the PJM operating agreement,” FERC said.

The dispute over who should pay for the transmission lines shows the dangers of taking a “myopic” approach to allocating transmission costs in a multi-state regional transmission organization, according to FERC Commissioner Allison Clements, who noted that ratepayers in Northern Virginia will pay about half the costs of the transmission project portfolio.

“Seeking to isolate any infrastructure affected by state public policy and require the state enacting such policy to shoulder the infrastructure’s costs absent voluntary agreement to do so, as Maryland People’s Counsel appears to suggest, ignores the regional nature of PJM’s transmission system and the full distribution of benefits of regional infrastructure,” Clements said in a concurring statement.

Maryland ratepayer advocate and individual citizens to allocate Virginia a larger share of the costs, which they argued are driven in large part by that state’s policy to encourage data center growth.

Also, making transmission upgrades contingent on a state’s assumption of their costs would allow a state, such as Maryland, “to free ride, receiving reliability benefits of new infrastructure without paying for them,” Clements said.

But FERC Commissioner Mark Christie said arguments made by Maryland’s ratepayer advocate and others deserve “serious consideration.” The cost allocation issues they raised affects all multi-state RTOs, and FERC should launch a proceeding to help resolve how projects driven by state policies should be paid for, he said.

“The states themselves need to be at the forefront of deciding these questions, as it is their own state policies that are largely making these questions unavoidable,” he said.

 

EPA’s new $20B ​‘green bank’ will benefit disadvantaged communities most

Author:  Jeff St. John      Published: 4/8/2024  Canary Media

The program will not only fund billions of dollars worth of climate projects in these communities, but try and convince private investors to join in, too.

Workers install solar panels on a rooftop

How can $20 billion in federal funding unleash hundreds of billions of dollars in private-sector financing for clean energy, transportation and housing — and expand access to all of those things for disadvantaged communities across the country?

Jessie Buendia, vice president of sustainability for nonprofit Dream.org, has spent the past year and a half working with environmental justice groups and clean investment experts to come up with ideas for how to accomplish that. This week, as part of the Inflation Reduction Act’s green bank program, the coalition Buendia works with got the money to start putting those ideas into practice.

On Thursday, the Biden administration named eight groups that will receive a total of $20 billion in funding from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, the official name for the green bank program. The structure is largely modeled after the green banks that now operate in 17 states — government-backed and nonprofit entities that offer low-cost loans and other financial support for rooftop solar, efficiency retrofits, electric heat pumps, EV charging and other carbon and pollution-reducing projects, with a focus on low-income and disadvantaged communities.

The biggest winners of the federal green bank program may be the residents of low-income and disadvantaged communities, who people like Buendia can now more easily help access clean energy and other climate-focused upgrades. The Environmental Protection Agency, which administers the program, has set requirements for green bank fund administrators to dedicate 70 percent of the capital, or more than $14 billion, toward these communities.

These requirements have been built into the agreements between the EPA and the groups receiving the funding, Buendia noted. ​It’s a win for democracy and oversight for government watchdogs like us,” she said. ​We’ll be able to hold the EPA accountable to delivering the projects and jobs we want to see.”

Of the $20 billion awarded Thursday, $5 billion will go to the entity Buendia is working with — the Coalition for Green Capital. The coalition is made up of state and local green banks and environmental advocacy groups like the one Buendia is national director of, called Green For All.

The Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund represents ​a historic opportunity to create an inclusive green economy,” Buendia said — ​one built around the principles of greenlining rather than redlining.”

Redlining is the discriminatory practice of refusing to lend to residents of non-white communities — a practice that has been baked into government policy and private-sector practice since the New Deal. Greenlining refers to reversing that discrimination by offering loans with more forgiving terms in historically excluded communities.

Today that task is taken on by the more than 1,200 nonprofit community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that have been certified by the U.S. Treasury Department to work in underserved communities, as well as other ​local trusted lending partners in communities that are the most impoverished and most polluted,” Buendia said. But ​community development lenders who have expertise in working with disadvantaged communities lack expertise in green lending,” she said.

That’s where green banks can come in, partnering with communities to provide not only much-needed capital to build crucial climate and clean energy infrastructure, but the expertise and experience needed to make those investments pay off.

The green bank multiplier effect

Green banks focus on clean energy and climate projects that they see as promising targets for private-sector lending, but which lack the track record to convince conventional lenders to invest.

Since the first green bank opened in Connecticut in 2011, that process of making loans, getting them paid back, and then using those success stories to draw in private-sector lenders has successfully enabled $21.8 billion in public-private investment to date, according to data shared by Coalition for Green Capital in January — the majority of it from private-sector lenders.

The EPA has set a goal of achieving a ​private capital mobilization ratio” of seven-to-one for the $20 billion in public funds, equating to a total of $150 billion of public and private investment. In an April 2023 analysis, consultancy McKinsey forecasted that the program could ​mobilize more than 12 times the GHGRF’s public investment over ten years,” or up to $250 billion in private-sector investment.

That would be a welcome outcome: Demand for climate and clean energy financing well exceeds the $20 billion available from the EPA program, said Reed Hundt, co-founder and CEO of the Coalition for Green Capital. Hundt, the former U.S. Federal Communications Commission chair under the Clinton administration, was one of the earliest champions of the green bank concept.

Green banks in the coalition currently have ​a $30 billion pipeline” of projects they’ve vetted and would like to finance, Hundt told Canary Media. The $5 billion the coalition received ​isn’t going to make a big dent in the pipeline. But we’ll be able to skim the cream in that pipeline and get this money to work.”

Who is in charge of the green bank funds?

The EPA picked groups to manage two separate sets of funds that fall under the new federal green bank umbrella. The first is the National Clean Investment Fund (NCIF), a $14 billion program that requires the funds to adhere to the Biden administration’s Justice40 Initiative, its pledge to direct 40 percent of federal climate-related funds to historically disadvantaged communities.

All three of the awardees for this program have pledged to exceed the Justice40 requirement in their lending. Besides the Coalition for Green Capital-led group that was awarded $5 billion, the EPA picked two other consortiums out of at least five competing for the funding.

The largest amount — $7 billion — was awarded to Climate United, a partnership between investment firm Calvert Impact, multifamily affordable housing financier Community Preservation Corp. and community development financial institution Self-Help.

Climate United stated in a Thursday press release that it has committed to deploy at least 60 percent of funds in low-income and disadvantaged communities, at least 20 percent in rural communities and at least 10 percent in Native communities.

The third award of $2 billion was won by Power Forward Communities, a partnership led by pro-electrification nonprofit Rewiring America, community development financial institution Enterprise Community Partners, Habitat for Humanity, the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), and United Way. The partners plan to provide financing to homeowners and apartment building owners to upgrade appliances, weatherize homes, and make them more energy efficient and less expensive to operate.

EPA also announced awards for the $6 billion Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA), a fund structured to supply community lenders such as CDFIs and credit unions with funding and technical support for sustainable infrastructure projects. This fund is meant to be directed entirely to low-income and disadvantaged communities, and was organized by the EPA to meet demands from community financing institutions that green bank funds be more widely disbursed, rather than given to a handful of nationwide organizations.

New Power Generation Quarterly: 2023 Q3

Author:      Published:  12.15, 2023      ILSR

7.2 gigawatts of new power generation capacity came online in the third quarter of 2023. Half of that capacity (3.6 gigawatts) was large-scale solar alone, while small-scale solar contributed nearly a third with a record-setting 2.1 gigawatts. Wind power development stalled at only 88 megawatts. 1.5 gigawatts of fossil gas generation capacity came online this quarter, a significant drop from the previous quarter, but comparable to the third quarter of 2022.

In the chart below, we illustrate the past two years of new electric power capacity in the U.S., disaggregated by energy source on a quarterly basis.

Key takeaways:

  • 79 percent of all generation capacity installed in the third quarter of 2023 was solar; 50 percent from utility-scale solar farms and 29 percent from small solar installations (residential, commercial, and community solar).
  • Small-scale solar set a new quarterly record with 2.1 gigawatts AC installed — marking the first time this figure has climbed over two gigawatts. As Californians rush to take advantage of NEM 2.0, a new quarterly record is likely coming in the fourth quarter of 2023. Wood Mackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association report, however, that high interest rates will contract the market for small solar next year.
  • 2.5 gigawatts of utility-scale storage came online in the second quarter of 2023.

For more on the advancement of clean, distributed energy, see these recent ILSR resources:

Interested in earlier trends and analysis of new power plant capacity? Check out our archive, illustrating how electricity generation has changed in previous quarters and years.

March 5, 2024: Second Chance Hiring in Energy

Author : US DOE       Published: 3/29/2024     DOE Office of Energy Justice and Equity

 

The Second Chance Hiring in Energy is an ongoing online series from the Office of Energy Justice and Equity at the U.S. Department of Energy. This series aims to advance the 2nd Chances Initiative from the Biden Administration as we address recidivism through opportunities in the clean energy sector for Justice-Impacted communities. Policy for this program is directed by Executive Order: 14035, “Expanding Employment Opportunities for Formerly Incarcerated Individuals.”

Meeting agendas will center around building bridges with community partners, industry employers, State and Federal agencies with a clear vision to promote good jobs for justice-involved individuals. Discussions will focus on developing solutions for both energy industry leaders interested in adopting equitable, fair chance hiring practices and applicants seeking pathways to careers in energy facing unique obstacles erected by the carceral system.

Key stakeholders from community-based organizations focused on reentry, energy employers, government agencies and policy makers from the national to local level will convene to showcase best business strategies, eliminate employment barriers, demystify the hiring process for both job seekers and employers, and debunk misconceptions surrounding careers for those impacted by the justice system.

Recording