Vanessa E. Wyche Becomes First Black Woman To Serve As Director For NASA Center

Author:  Brandee Sanders           Published: 7/17/2021       NEWSONE

 

Wyche has been a fierce advocate for STEM education and sits on the boards of SpaceCom and Houston Exponential. She is also a member of JSC’s I&I Council and the University of Houston’s C. T. Bauer College of Business Advisory Panel. In her new role, she will oversee the Orion and Gateway programs, the Mission Control Center and the International Space Station. She will supervise the creation and operation of human spacecrafts as well as human spaceflight events.

Wyche is excited to take on the role. “I am incredibly humbled to take on this role at JSC,” she said in a statement, according to the news outlet. “I look forward to working with the talented employees at JSC as we work toward our mission of taking humans farther into the solar system.”

Her appointment is a step forward towards greater diversity at NASA. According to the agency, 12 percent of its workforce is Black.

Bezos makes first donations from $10 billion Earth Fund for fighting climate change

Author:  Steven Mufson         Published: 11/16/2020        Washington Post

In 21 Simple Words, Jeff Bezos Summed Up the Biggest ...

Jeff Bezos said Monday he is giving $791 million to 16 groups fighting climate change, the first grants from his Earth Fund, saying the money is “just the beginning of my $10 billion commitment to fund scientists, activists, NGOs, and others.”

More than half of the donations went to established environmental groups, with $100 million donations each going to the Environmental Defense Fund, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Nature Conservancy, the World Resources Institute and the World Wildlife Fund.

Bezos, the founder and chief executive of Amazon, also bestowed money on groups concerned with environmental justice, including Dream Corps’ Green For All, the Hive Fund for Climate and Gender Justice, and the Solutions Project.

“I’ve spent the past several months learning from a group of incredibly smart people who’ve made it their life’s work to fight climate change and its impact on communities around the world,” Bezos said in an Instagram post. “I’m inspired by what they’re doing, and excited to help them scale. … We can all protect Earth’s future by taking bold action now.”

Bezos, the world’s richest man, owns The Washington Post.

Leaders of the groups receiving funds said they met earlier this year with Bezos and his partner Lauren Sánchez to discuss what they would do with the grants. Bezos has a small team, including from his personal office, helping to figure out how to parcel out the funds, they said. He will likely hire more people to assist with the Earth Fund.

“He asked a lot of questions. It was very clear that he had already learned a lot about climate change and was very knowledgeable,” said Fred Krupp, president of the Environmental Defense Fund. “He had studied the issue, and he was very focused on having the biggest impact he could with his contribution.”

The new Earth Fund catapults Bezos into the leading ranks of nonprofit climate gifts.

“Climate change is the biggest crisis facing humanity but, despite lots of great work, has been an underfunded area of philanthropy,” said Jules Kortenhorst, head of the Rocky Mountain Institute, which received $10 million. “Mr. Bezos’s grant highlights the urgency and importance of the work being done in civil society to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions.”

Kortenhorst said the money would be used to promote the decarbonization of buildings and stop the burning of natural gas in water heaters, stoves and boilers. In recent years, natural gas has displaced coal, but it remains a fossil fuel that “enormous impact” on health, Kortenhorst said. The Bezos money will be used within two years, he said, an important part of RMI’s $75 million budget this year.

Krupp said that the $100 million grant to the Environmental Defense Fund would be spread over three years, and much of it would go toward fully funding a satellite the organization plans to put into orbit to monitor methane emissions. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas that can be 80 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

The money would give a boost to the group, which ordinarily has a budget of about $230 million a year.

“Thanks to this and other funding, we will cut methane pollution from the oil and gas industry by 45 percent by 2025, which will be the same 20-year benefit of closing a third of the world’s power plants,” Krupp said.

In 2019, less than 2 percent of $730 billion in global philanthropic giving was spent fighting climate change. But as wildfires in the West and hurricanes in the East turn climate change from an abstraction into a clear and present danger in the United States, that share is starting to rise.

“Solving the climate crisis requires investment in a wide set of solutions,” Krupp said. “The obstacle isn’t finding solutions, it is securing the funding to scale solutions quickly. Our hope is that this gift encourages other philanthropists to support climate solutions on the scale needed.”

The World Wildlife Fund said it would use its $100 million grant to “harness the power of nature” including the protection and restoration of mangroves in Colombia, Fiji, Madagascar, and Mexico; the development of new markets for seaweed as an alternative to petroleum-based products; and the restoration and protection of forests.

The World Wildlife Fund’s U.S. budget is about $300 million a year. Its worldwide budget is about $900 million a year.

“This commitment recognizes that you can’t solve climate change without nature,” WWF’s chief executive Carter Roberts said. He said that the group could use the money from Bezos to leverage an additional $850 million from other partners, including investors, foundations and governments.

The World Resources Institute, which will receive $100 million over five years, said it will use the money for two major initiatives. This first is to develop a new satellite-powered land-use and carbon-emissions monitoring system to measure the impact of conservation and restoration of forests, grasslands, wetlands and agricultural lands on reducing emissions. The other project will try to spur the electrification of school buses, with a goal of converting more than 450,000 to zero-emissions vehicles by 2030, the organization said.

One of the smallest organizations to receive money from Bezos is Green for All, which promotes local, state and federal policies that put low-income people to work retrofitting homes or in other “clean energy” occupations. Michelle Romero, Green for All’s national director, said that it will receive $10 million over three years, doubling the size of the advocacy group, which currently has six full-time employees. The group falls under an Oakland, Calif.-based umbrella group, Dream Corps, which has been active in helping released prisoners find jobs.

Green for All was founded by Van Jones in 2007, before his television career.

Romero said that the group reached out to Bezos when it heard of the grant program. “We knew it would be important to get some of that investment into low-income communities and communities of color,” she said.

Volt Energy Announces Innovative Environmental Justice Power Purchase Agreement with Microsoft

Author: Volt Energy Staff        Published 7/14/2021  CISION PR News Wire

OUR MISSION
Volt Energy is a national minority-owned solar energy development firm that develops, finances, and operates utility-scale, community solar, and distributed generation solar projects. Volt Energy is an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)  driven renewable energy company that partners with public and private sector clients to assist with the convergence of carbon goals, diversity, equity and inclusion, and other ESG goals. Our mission is to uplift communities through opportunities and benefits provided by clean energy. 
_________________________________________________________________________

WASHINGTON, July 14, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Volt Energy LLC (www.volt-energy.com), a national minority-owned solar energy development firm, today announced its first environmental justice and renewable energy initiative with Microsoft. Volt Energy will supply Microsoft with 250 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale solar energy, which supports Microsoft’s goal to have 100 percent renewable energy supply for all its operations by 2025. In addition, Volt Energy and Microsoft will invest a portion of the revenue from the Power Purchase Agreement in community impact funding initiatives, which will support programs that bring the benefits of renewable energy closer to communities that have not been significantly included in the wave of clean energy initiatives undertaken by the private and public sectors.

“It is critically important that clean energy infrastructure and economic development investments are made in underserved minority and rural communities that have been disproportionally impacted by environmental injustices and lag behind in the health and financial benefits of the thriving clean energy economy,” said Volt Energy’s co-founder and CEO, Gilbert Campbell. “It is equally important to provide access to the business and job creation benefits of the clean energy movement. We look forward to working with Microsoft to identify and invest in community initiatives to create more inclusive economic opportunities.”

“With Volt Energy, we are able to scale the impact of our renewable energy projects by working together to address environmental equity issues, ranging from renewable energy access to workforce training among underserved urban and rural communities,” said Noelle Walsh, CVP, Cloud Operations + Innovation, Microsoft.

This initiative represents Microsoft’s first utility-scale solar power purchase agreement with an African American energy solar development firm. This agreement further advances Microsoft and Volt’s mutual commitment to deliver the benefits of renewable energy to diverse and historically underserved communities.

ABOUT VOLT ENERGY

Volt Energy is a national minority-owned solar energy development firm that develops, finances, and operates utility-scale, community solar, and distributed generation solar projects. Volt Energy is an ESG driven renewable energy company that partners with public and private sector clients to assist with the convergence of carbon goals, diversity, equity and inclusion, and other ESG goals. Our mission is to uplift communities through opportunities and benefits provided by clean energy. For more information, please visit www.volt-energy.com

Media Contact:
G. Campbell
314379@email4pr.com
202-729-8150

SOURCE Volt Energy

Energea

Author: Energea       Published: 7/13/2021       Energea

https://www.energea.com/

Monitor your investment portfolio with our easy to use investor dashboard.

 

Platform Screenshots

About Us

Energea connects investors to premium renewable energy projects in order to accelerate renewable energy development in select global markets.

Traditionally, these opportunities have been reserved for institutional financiers, but there is a significant opportunity to bring renewable energy investing to the masses as the effects of global warming intensify, the cost of renewable energy declines and traditional investment classes suffer from over-participation and value instability.

While projects on the Energea platform may be originated by Energea itself or a network of qualified renewable project developers who specialize in specific countries, every project is meticulously screened and underwritten by our in-house team and a deep bench of third party experts who provide certain legal, technical and accounting analysis.

The Energea team has the international, project development, financial and IT experience to execute in this role. Energea’s team is comprised of exceptionally hard-working and experienced people who are motivated to make an impact against climate change and the challenge of rebuilding the world’s energy infrastructure. The diverse skills that form our investment committee ensure that we analyze risk from multiple perspectives while our leadership team provides nearly unmatched experience with this asset class.

Board of Managers

Energy icon

365 MW

COMBINED RENEWABLE ENERGY

Project icon

14,000

COMBINED OPERATIONAL PROJECTS
ACROSS 23 U.S. STATES AND 3 CONTINENTS

Capital raised icon

$720M

COMBINED CAPITAL RAISED

Mike Silvestrini
MIKE SILVESTRINI

Partner, Co-founder

Managed multiple renewable energy funds in the U.S. worth over $500mm in aggregate, founded and was CEO of one of the largest C&I solar firms in the industry prior to exit, has led the development of over 400 renewable energy projects across multiple technologies and continents.

Listen to Mike on the SunCast Podcast with Nico Johnson

Listen to Mike on IFC’s ClimateBiz podcast with Shari Friedman and Marcene Mitchell

Chris Sattler
CHRIS SATTLER

Partner, Co-founder

Founded a leading deregulated energy supply business, North American Power, provided electricity to over 1,000,000 customers, and sold to the largest energy generation asset owner in North America. Focused on retail energy product design, a serial entrepreneur with senior executive experience driven to improve quality, price, and emissions of global energy markets.

Gray Reinhard
GRAY REINHARD

Partner, CTO

Experienced software engineer and CTO, specializing in business intelligence tools across multiple industries. Has built platforms for Fortune 500 companies and developed project management software for the country’s largest commercial solar installer.

Aaron Dirks
AARON DIRKS

Board Member

Co-founded the largest solar and energy efficiency company in the United States focused solely on solutions for low to moderate income families. To date PosiGen has installed solar power plants and energy efficiency improvements for over 14,000 families in the United States. This represents over 85 MW of clean generation, $20,000,000 in energy efficiency investments, $200 million in invested capital and most importantly, over $700,000 a month of savings back into the pockets of the families who need it most.

Greg Schneider
GREG SCHNEIDER

Board Member

Founded 3BL Media, a leading communications company specializing in the creation and delivery of purpose-driven marketing on behalf of leading global companies and NGOs to an audience of over 10+ million, connecting their clients to an unrivaled network of media, corporate leaders, investors, professionals, organizations and policy makers.

Nico Johnson
NICO JOHNSON

Board Member

Founded and Host of SunCast, a leading renewable energy podcast with 10,000+ listeners per episode. Prior to creating Suncast, Nico amassed 15 years of experience in the solar energy industry and a deep knowledge of emerging markets including roles as senior project developer for Latin America at Conergy and Business Manager for Trina Solar for the Caribbean, Mexico and Central America markets.

INVEST IN RENEWABLE ENERGY

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Professional-grade investing designed for everyone

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We’ll ask you a series of questions to help you find investments that suit you best.

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Shop our curated list of investments and purchase equity in renewable energy projects for as little as $100.

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Monitor your investment portfolio with our easy to use investor dashboard.

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At Energea, we believe “community solar” is the best policy to rapidly expand low-carbon, distributed power systems and Brazil’s community solar policy is amongst the best in the world. Strong projected returns and a thoroughly diversified offtaker risk led Energea to the Brazilian market.

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Ingenious Financial Announces Plan to Raise $200M Series A Funding

Author: Ingenious Financial Staff   Published: 2/25/2021      Ingenious Financial

Derek Taylor (l), chief operating officer, Darnell Parker  (r), founder, Ingenious Financial

Derek Taylor (l), chief operating officer, Darnell Parker (r), founder, Ingenious Financial

ARLINGTON, Va.Feb. 24, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Banking veterans and owners of Ingenious Financial today announced plans to raise $200 million Series A funding to purchase an existing bank.

Darnell Parker, founder of Ingenious Financial, and Derek Taylor, Chief Operating Officer of Ingenious Financial, are setting out to own a bank to better serve underserved and underbanked communities.

“Minority banks play an important role in the economic empowerment of minority communities and these financial institutions have long been considered as innovators in banking,” says Mr. Parker, “but in recent years, they have not always managed to keep up with technological advances.”

Parker and Taylor are launching the capital campaign to purchase a bank already insured by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), bypassing the strict regulations and other challenges that come with starting a bank from scratch. Mr. Parker says, “When larger financial institutions absorbed some of the minority deposit institutions banks, they left a tremendous void for these banks, who previously served minority communities by providing small to medium-sized business loans.”

The venture will be called Bank of Ingenious – a name, they believe provides ample flexibility in how they will serve the underserved and underbanked communities. Bank of Ingenious plans to primarily focus on supporting underserved retail and business customers who need loans, specifically targeting independent physicians, dentists, veterinarians and similar professional services providers.

The capital campaign is set to ‪end June 30, but the bank’s leaders have the option to cut it short or extend it. They are offering stock warrants to all initial investors, not just its directors – a move they say “that is not terribly common in the banking industry but will hopefully help them attract more supporters.”

Bank of Ingenious founders have spent the past several months preparing for the capital campaign and meeting with prospective acquisition targets. Their plan is to purchase a bank, take over management of that bank and grow it from there. They are looking for a bank within a metropolitan area with between $50 million and $600 million in assets and leaders looking to leave the field or partner with the Ingenious team.

Mr. Taylor adds, “Their collective experience will make them an attractive partner to potential acquisitions, as well as effective leaders of the kind of bank they feel is needed in the nation in the aftermath of recent market disruptions.”

The bank will operate with a small physical presence, starting with branches near and wherever needed by the institution they purchase at the onset. Based on current banking trends, the founders suspect many clients and customers will opt to do much of their business online.

After the end of the capital campaign, the bank’s leaders hope to close in on their first acquisition in the third quarter of this year. More acquisitions could follow in the fourth quarter of 2021 and early 2022.

“We hope that this investment will sustain African American financial institutions in the American history, foster popular, engaging workflows, and bring innovation to every client, customer and community we serve,” Parker says.

Interested investors should contact Mr. Derek Taylor at ‪571.441.2710, via cell, ‪323.632.2582, or email at dtaylor@ingenious.financial.

Media Contact:

 

Ajulo Othow Founder and CEO EnerWealth Solutions

Author: EnerWealth Solutions Staff    Published: 7/9/2021        EnerWealth Solutions

EnerWealth Solutions

 

Who We Are

Vision

Our vision is of an ecologically sustainable world, where power is held locally and decisions are made democratically, where all electricity is generated by clean distributed renewables, and where economic prosperity is shared by all, especially those who have historically been left behind by America’s success.


Mission

We believe the abundance of the sun’s energy is matched only by the power of people together.

We love the places rural Americans call home. We believe in the inner strength of rural people. We develop projects that celebrate and elevate the inner wealth of rural communities by reinvesting in those communities: our communities. We are EnerWealth, an energy solutions company.


Team

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Ajulo E. Othow, Esq

Founder and CEO

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How Our Model Works

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Solar power stored locally in batteries that can be flexibly deployed during times of peak demand to reduce electricity costs for all member-owners

SOLAR + STORAGE

+

COMMUNITY WEALTH

 

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Unique profit share model that supports small and minority landowners + funnels a portion of revenue into a local community development nonprofit controlled by member-owners

  1. Reduces energy costs for all member-owners

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Because the cost of electricity is determined by demand, it is most expensive during times of highest usage. This is known as peak energy cost.

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Peak energy costs do not necessarily correspond to when the solar array is producing the largest amount of energy.

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By storing energy during peak production time and deploying it during the time of peak cost, the array can contribute to a significant reduction in the cost of electricity overall.

…LOWER OVERALL COSTS CAN MEAN A LOT IN RURAL COUNTIES

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92% of persistently poor counties in the United States are serviced by rural electric cooperatives. (Source)

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In some of the poorer counties residents may spend up to 40% of their yearly income on energy bills alone. If a household spends more than 6% of their income on energy they are considered to be living in energy poverty. (Learn More)

That is partially due to lower average incomes in rural areas, but also due to higher energy bills stemming from higher rates in rural areas and generally older-than-average houses that lack efficient heating and cooling capabilities.

2. Supports small and minority landowners to build wealth and preserve their land

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Landowners hosting infrastructure on their land typically sign a long-term lease equal to about 7 times what they would have received had they leased their land for traditional crops. (Learn more)

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On top of lease payments, landowners also receive a profit share of revenue generated by the array. This is different from a traditional dividend as they are not held liable for any losses.

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This helps keep lands under family stewardship for generations to come.

3. Supports the entire community

A second profit share (separate from that received by landowners) is funneled into a local community development nonprofit, which is controlled by member-owners of the REC.

This nonprofit determines how to use the proceeds: grants, education programs, conservation, job training…it’s up to the community.

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Creates 10 temporary jobs in solar installation as well as 1 – 2 permanent, high paying jobs in system maintenance.

FINALLY, AS AN ADDED BONUS…

Projects also provide pollinator habitats surrounding the sites.

A properly planned pollinator habitat provides a diversity of nectar and pollen sources for insects, birds and bats who play a crucial role in the production of most fruits and vegetables.

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Travis Moe, MSW

SVP, Strategic Outreach

 

Introducing Melanin Solar and Whive IO, is an open-source blockchain protocol

Author: Staff Melanin Solar Published: 6/7/2021     Melanin Solar

+Whive IO, is an open-source blockchain protocol that extends the Bitcoin blockchain through enabling Trustless Rewards for Engineering Sustainable Solutions.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=56FgTpGP8-g

 

Melanin Solar enables communities to produce their own solar energy for consumption and sell excess energy through a peer-to-peer model to under-served neighbors.

This will enable the deployment and distribution of efficient solar micro-grid eco-systems across Africa.

We are doing this by building out Africa’s distributed solar energy infrastructure which includes a set of tools, protocols and applications.

At the same time through our Academy we intend to reduce the huge shortage of engineers; who can be leveraged to develop, deploy and maintain our solution across Africa which has a high pool of potential talent with its huge youthful population.

About

 

Whive IO, is an open-source blockchain protocol that extends the Bitcoin blockchain through enabling Trustless Rewards for Engineering Sustainable Solutions.

Building on the success of Bitcoin the World’s most secure blockchain, the Whive community has set out to build a cryptographically secure blockchain protocol and Auxiliary Chain(AuxChain) that shall allow for building applications that trustlessly reward sustainable solutions.

The Whive Protocol is built with game-theory that rewards machines operating in regions in the World with high solar reliability indices(SRIs)!

Thus, the protocol shall incentivize engineers in the developing World to contribute to developing sustainable solutions to challenges facing their community using the following Engineering disciplines:

  • Network Engineering

  • Software Engineering

  • Protocol Engineering

The Whive protocol shall be supported by a suite of software tools built to incentivize multiple third-party individuals and institutions to collaborate together to execute and achieve this vision.

The Whive protocol is designed to unlock the potential of sustainable resources such as Solar Energy by enabling a distributed economy that is interoperable with the mainstream economy.

The Whive Protocol is being built, tested and deployed by a community of individuals and organizations around the World.

TELEGRAM CHAT


 

Introducing the Whive Protocol

Whive, is an open source & peer-to-peer blockchain protocol that is incentivizing the building of sustainable distributed solar energy solutions through Trustless Rewards

The Problem

The solar energy market is under developed and has a potential market capitalization of more than $10 Trillion globally

Enabling Cost Competitive Solar

The Whive protocol seeks to empower energy poor communities to actualize this potential by using Blockchain based tokenization and distributed computing to trustlessly reward Solar Energy adoption

Efficient ARM Focused CPU Mining

The Whive protocol’s mining is biased towards smaller mobile computing devices built on the ARM architecture to encourage fast & sustainable growth of the solar energy sector

20 Year PoW Mining Schedule

Mining of Whive Rewards ends in the year 2040 ensuring maximum distribution of solar micro-grid ecosystems across the World

Bitcoin Fork & Auxiliary Chain

18,500,000+ Whive Rewards can be claimed by Bitcoiners hodling 1 or more bitcoins starting February 2021, learn more at https://whive.io/claim

Rewarding Solar Energy Adoption

The protocol ensures that engineering machine-based distributed solar energy solutions using blockchain is highly rewarded algorithmically without human intervention

Transparent & Accountable

Transactions are recorded immutably on a transparent & public Blockchain accessible in real-time on the explorer linked below http://explorer.radi.network

Launched 02-02-2020

PRIMARY USECASE

MELANIN SOLAR DISTRIBUTED ENERGY SOLUTION BUILT ON WHIVE://

TRUSTLESS REWARDS FOR SUSTAINABLE ENERGY ADOPTION

Open Source Protocol (MIT License) & Bitcoin Fork

John Wainaina Karanja
Co-Founder: BitHub.Africa & Melanin.Solar
Telegram: https://t.me/BitHubAfrica
Tel: (+254) 0725 274191 Skype: @BitHubAfrica
Twitter: @qwainainaX
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/qwainaina
Free Blockchain Course: http://Melanin.Academy

 

 

What is Ethereum?

Author; Coinbase Staff:     Published: 7/5/2021         COINBASE

From how to buy it and how it works to smart contracts and ETH2, a complete beginner’s guide to the second-biggest cryptocurrency

What is Ethereum?

Ethereum is the second-biggest cryptocurrency by market cap after Bitcoin. It is also a decentralized computing platform that can run a wide variety of applications — including the entire universe of DeFi.

Ethereum, which launched in 2015, is the second-biggest cryptocurrency by market cap after Bitcoin. But unlike Bitcoin, it wasn’t created to be digital money. Instead, Ethereum’s founders set out to build a new kind of global, decentralized computing platform that takes the security and openness of blockchains and extends those attributes to a vast range of applications.

Everything from financial tools and games to complex databases are already running on the Ethereum blockchain. And its future potential is only limited by developers’ imaginations. As the nonprofit Ethereum Foundation puts it: “Ethereum can be used to codify, decentralize, secure and trade just about anything.”

  • You can check the latest prices on Coinbase’s Ethereum asset page.

  • Ethereum has become a popular investment vehicle and store of wealth (and can be used, like Bitcoin, to send or receive value without an intermediary).

  • The Ethereum blockchain allows developers to build and run a huge variety of applications: everything from games and advanced databases to complex decentralized financial instruments — meaning that they don’t require a bank or any other institution in the middle.

  • Ethereum-based apps are built using “smart contracts.” Smart contracts, like regular paper contracts, establish the terms of an arrangement between parties. But unlike an old-fashioned contract, smart contracts automatically execute when the terms are met without the need for either participating party to know who is on the other side of the deal — and without the need for any kind of intermediary.

  • Ethereum, like Bitcoin, is an open source project that is not owned or operated by a single individual. Anyone with an internet connection can run an Ethereum node or interact with the network.

  • Much like Bitcoin’s decentralized blockchain allows any two strangers, anywhere in the world, to send or receive money without a bank in the middle, smart contracts running on Ethereum’s decentralized blockchain allow developers to build complex applications that should run exactly as programmed without downtime, censorship, fraud, or third-party interference.

Popular Ethereum-based innovations include stablecoins (like DAI, which has its value pegged to the dollar by smart contract), decentralized finance apps (collectively known as DeFi), and other decentralized apps (or Dapps).

What’s the difference between Ethereum, Ether, and ETH?

Ethereum is the name of the network. “Ether” is the native cryptocurrency token used by the Ethereum network. That said, in day-to-day usage most people call the token “ETH” (or just “Ethereum”). As a way of sending, receiving, or storing value ETH works much like Bitcoin. But it also has a special role on Ethereum network. Because users pay fees in ETH to execute smart contracts, you can think of it as the fuel that keeps the whole thing running (which is why those fees are called “gas”).

 If Bitcoin is “digital gold,” ETH can be seen as “digital oil.”

ETH2 staking rewards are coming soon to Coinbase

You may be able to put your Ethereum to work and earn up to 5% APR.

Join the waitlist

Is Ethereum secure?

ETH is currently secured by the Ethereum blockchain in much the same way Bitcoin is secured by its blockchain. A huge amount of computing power — contributed by all the computers on the network — verifies and secures every transaction, making it virtually impossible for any third party to interfere.

A lock with the Ethereum symbol on it

The fundamental ideas behind cryptocurrencies help make them safe: the systems are permissionless and the core software is open-source, meaning countless computer scientists and cryptographers have been able to examine all aspects of the networks and their security.

Apps running on the Ethereum blockchain, however, are only guaranteed to be as secure as their developers have made them. For example, code can sometimes contain bugs that could result in loss of funds. While their source code is also visible to all, the user bases of each individual app are much smaller than Ethereum’s as a whole, and so fewer eyes are on them. It’s important to do research on any decentralized app you plan to use.

The Ethereum protocol is currently being updated in ways that are intended to make it faster and even more secure. See the Ethereum 2.0 section below for more.

How does Ethereum work?

You might have heard that the Bitcoin blockchain is a lot like a bank’s ledger, or even a checkbook. It’s a running tally of every transaction made on the network going back to the very beginning — and all the computers on the network contribute their computing power towards the work of ensuring that the tally is accurate and secure.

The Ethereum blockchain, on the other hand, is more like a computer: while it also does the work of documenting and securing transactions, it’s much more flexible than the Bitcoin blockchain. Developers can use the Ethereum blockchain to build a huge variety of tools — everything from logistics management software to games to the entire universe of DeFi applications (which span lending, borrowing, trading, and more).

  • Ethereum uses a ‘virtual machine’ to achieve all this, which is like a giant, global computer made up of many individual computers running the Ethereum software. Keeping all of those computers running involves investment in both hardware and electricity by participants. To cover those costs, the network uses its own Bitcoin-like cryptocurrency called Ether (or, more commonly, ETH).

  • ETH keeps the whole thing running. You interact with the Ethereum network by using ETH to pay the network to execute smart contracts. As a result, the fees paid in ETH are called “gas.”

  • Gas rates vary depending on how busy the network is. A new version of the Ethereum blockchain called Ethereum 2.0, which aims to increase efficiency, began rolling out in December 2020. (The transition to the new blockchain is scheduled to happen over the next two years.)

What is Ethereum 2.0?

Ethereum 2.0 (often referred to as ETH2) is a major upgrade to the Ethereum network. It’s designed to allow the Ethereum network to grow while increasing security, speed, and efficiency.

As of early 2021, Ethereum 2.0 and Ethereum 1.0 exist side by side — but the original blockchain will eventually merge with ETH2 blockchain. (If you’re an ETH holder you won’t have to do anything — your holdings on the ETH 1.0 blockchain will automatically migrate to the ETH2 blockchain.) The transition to ETH2 began in December of 2020, and is scheduled to take two years.

Why is Ethereum 2.0 necessary? Moving a popular cryptoasset to a new platform is a complex endeavor, but for Ethereum to scale and evolve, it needs to happen. That’s because the “Proof of Work” method used by the ETH 1.0 blockchain to verify transactions causes bottlenecks, increases fees, and consumes substantial resources (particularly electricity).

What is Proof of Work?  How do cryptocurrency networks make sure that nobody spends the same money twice without a central authority like Visa or Paypal in the middle? They use a consensus mechanism. When ETH 1.0 launched, it adopted the consensus mechanism pioneered by Bitcoin: the aptly named Proof of Work.

  • Proof of Work requires a huge amount of processing power, which is contributed by virtual “miners” around the world who compete to be the first to solve a time-consuming math puzzle.

  • The winner gets to update the blockchain with the latest verified transactions, and is rewarded with a predetermined amount of ETH.

  • This process happens every 30 seconds (compared to Bitcoin’s approximately 10-minute cadence). As traffic on the network has increased, the limitations of Proof of Work have caused bottlenecks during which fees spike unpredictably.

What is staking?

A stack of coins with a verified check mark above it

Ethereum’s founders were aware of Proof of Work’s limitations. So a very different solution was devised for Ethereum 2.0. — one that will ultimately allow the network to efficiently process thousands of Ethereum transactions a second.

Ethereum 2.0 uses a consensus mechanism called Proof of Stake, which is faster, less resource-intensive, and (at least theoretically) more secure. The end result is similar to Proof of Work’s, in that a network participant is chosen to verify the latest transactions, update the blockchain, and earn some ETH.

  • Rather than requiring a network of miners racing to solve a puzzle, Proof of Stake requires a robust network of participants who are literally invested in the success of the enterprise.

  • These stakeholders are called validators. Instead of contributing processing power as miners do, validators contribute ETH to a “staking pool.”

  • The act of contributing ETH to the pool is called staking. If you choose to stake some of your ETH, you will earn rewards in proportion to the size of your stake. For most users, staking will function much like an interest-bearing savings account.

  •  The network selects a winner based on the amount of ETH each validator has in the pool and the length of time they’ve had it there — literally rewarding the most invested participants.

  • Once the winner has validated the latest block of transactions, other validators can attest that the block is accurate. When a threshold number of these attestations have been made, the network updates the blockchain.

  • All participating validators receive a reward in ETH, which is distributed by the network in proportion to each validator’s stake.

Staking is open to anyone who is interested (and coming soon to Coinbase).

Smart contracts 101

Smart contracts were first proposed in the 1990s by a computer scientist and lawyer named Nick Szabo. Szabo famously compared a smart contract to a vending machine. Imagine a machine that sells cans of soda for a quarter. If you put a dollar into the machine and select a soda, the machine is hardwired to either produce your drink and 75 cents in change, or (if your choice is sold out) to prompt you to make another selection or get your dollar back. This is an example of a simple smart contract. Just like a soda machine can automate a sale without a human intermediary, smart contracts can automate virtually any kind of exchange.

A brief history of Ethereum

2013

  • A 19-year-old computer programmer (and Bitcoin Magazine cofounder) named Vitalik Buterin releases a whitepaper proposing a highly flexible blockchain that could support virtually any kind of transaction.

Brian Armstrong, our CEO and co-founder, recently spoke with Vitalik Buterin, creator of Ethereum, about topics ranging from ETH2 to scaling the cryptoeconomy.

2014

  • The Toronto-based teenager, along with a team of cofounders including Gavin Wood, crowdfunds the development of the Ethereum protocol with the sale of $18 million in pre-launch tokens.

2015

  • The first public version of the Ethereum blockchain launches in July. Smart contract functionality begins to roll out on the Ethereum blockchain.

2016

  • Hackers steal around $50 million from a smart-contract-powered venture fund called the DAO (short for Decentralized Autonomous Organization) by exploiting a software bug.

  • In a divisive vote, Ethereum’s community chooses to revise the protocol in a way that would restore the lost funds. This results in the Ethereum blockchain branching off (via a hard fork) into two separate blockchains, each with its own active community: Ethereum and Ethereum Classic.

2017

  • The ERC-20 standard is created, making it easier for developers to build compatible applications. ERC-20 defines a way to create an asset (or token) on top of the Ethereum blockchain.

  • The first widely popular Ethereum-based app arrives in the form of a game called CryptoKitties, in which users collect and trade digital cats. It becomes a genuine craze; at the peak, rare digital cats sell for upwards of $200,000.

  • The nonprofit Ethereum Enterprise Alliance launches to develop practical applications for smart contract technology. Members include JP Morgan, Samsung, Microsoft, and Mastercard.

  • MakerDAO — the first Decentralized finance (or DeFi) protocol on the Ethereum blockchain — launches. Maker also introduces the first ETH-based stablecoin, DAI.

  • ETH breaks $100 USD for the first time.

2018

  • DeFi, which aims to transform the financial-services industry by making transactions faster, cheaper, and more secure, gains momentum with the arrival of lending protocol Compound and decentralized exchange Uniswap.

  • The USDC stablecoin is launched. Backed by the CENTRE Consortium, a partnership between Coinbase and Circle, it reaches $1 billion in issued coins in the first year.

  • ETH breaks $1,000 USD for the first time in January, before falling back under $100.

2020

  • The Ethereum 2.0 upgrade begins in December. The complete transition from Ethereum 1.0 to Ethereum 2.0 is scheduled to take around two years to complete.

  • As part of Ethereum 2.0’s first phase, Proof of Stake is introduced. ETH 1.0 continues to use Proof of Work as its consensus mechanism.

2021

How do you buy Ethereum?

However you acquire your ETH, you’ll need to understand a few basic concepts. Every address on the Ethereum network is issued a public key and a private key, and you’ll need a wallet to manage your crypto holdings.

  • Public key: Think of this as the crypto version of an email address. Your Ethereum public key is where people can send you ETH and Ethereum-based tokens like USDC and Dai. You can safely give this out to others.

  • Private key: Think of this like your password. You should generally avoid giving this out to people. A private key is a long string of letters and numbers. (It can also be in the form of a series of words called a seed phrase.) It’s crucial to keep track of your private keys. If you lose them, you lose your Ether forever.

  • Wallet: To store and secure your Ether you’ll need a wallet. If you’re just starting out, the easiest option is to make an account via the Coinbase app or coinbase.com — in which case you’ll interact with a “custodial wallet” that stores and secures your private keys for you. As you progress you might want to investigate other wallet options that are built for interacting with decentralized finance (or DeFi) protocols such as Compound (a lending and savings app) or Uniswap (a decentralized exchange that allows you to trade cryptocurrencies).

How does Ethereum have value?

There are a few ways of thinking about the answer to this question. On one level, Ethereum’s value is set by markets like any other asset. People buy it with Bitcoin, dollars, euros, yen, and other currencies 24 hours a day. Depending on demand, the price can fluctuate from day to day. (Ethereum’s value tends to be volatile compared to currencies such as the US dollar or equities like Fortune 500 stocks because it is still an emerging technology.)

But why the market prices it the way it does is a much more complicated question. To many investors Ethereum’s value is based on its flexibility as a platform for issuing stablecoins and running DeFi applications — resulting in a growing user base and growing transaction fees.

What’s next for Ethereum?

As of early 2021, Ethereum is host to the vast majority of blockchain applications and has a market cap of just under $200 billion, with over $55 billion locked into tokens on the blockchain. Popular stablecoins such as USDC and USDT mostly live on Ethereum today due to its network effects.

But a variety of new smart contract blockchains are beginning to compete in the space. So while Ethereum is the dominant market leader today, there is growing pressure for it to successfully execute the transition to Ethereum 2.0.

Further reading

Altcoin tokens
BEGINNER’S GUIDE

Guide to DeFi tokens and altcoins

PoW/PoS illo
KEY TERMS

What is “proof of work” or “proof of stake”?

Magnifying glass over a Cardano token
BEGINNER’S GUIDE

What is Cardano?

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Solar Power Purchase Agreement (Solar PPA) Explained

Author: Save On Energy Staff   Published: 7/3/2021   Save On Energy

What is a solar purchase power agreement?

A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is when a developer pays to install a solar energy system on a homeowner’s property and sells the solar energy to the homeowner at a fixed rate. The process of getting solar panels on your property is quite a task. You’re responsible for selecting the equipment, finding a builder, and organizing any associated tax documentation in order to get the federal tax incentives. It can all be a little overwhelming. But there might be a better, easier way.

A solar power purchase agreement, also referred to as an SPPA or a PPA, is an alternative path to get solar energy for your home. You still get to use clean solar energy without having the headache of setting up the solar system all on your own.

PPAs let you pass the heavy lifting to a developer while still enjoying many of the benefits that go along with solar, such as less expensive green electricity rates and using a renewable resource to offset pollution. All the details, from installation, permitting, design, and even handling filing taxes to receive federal and state incentives, are operated by a partner that you hire.

Think of it like this: Imagine you have a car you can drive anywhere you want, but you never have to fill it with gas, wash it, or take it for oil changes. You get to hop in and go for a spin whenever you want. That’s essentially what a financial PPA can do for you, except the car is the solar energy system at your home. Put another way, you pay for actual usage with a PPA, but with a lease you have consistent monthly payments.

Read more about the pros and cons of this type of arrangement in detail so you can make an informed decision about solar PPAs.

Benefits of a solar Power Purchase Agreement (PPA)

A solar PPA has many benefits, but it’s not for everyone. For example, if you desire a tax deduction for your solar energy system, then a PPA is not the path you should take. However, if you want to use green energy and become energy-independent without many upfront costs, a solar PPA might be the perfect solution. Let’s take a closer look at the benefits of a PPA.

The top two benefits of a financial PPA are that the homeowner or renter does not have to pay for a solar panel system and does not have to concern themselves with cumbersome planning details. So, if you choose to go this route, you can gain the value of a solar energy system without eating up all your free time or monetary resources.

Plus, if construction is delayed or solar panel maintenance needs to be done later, it’s the developer’s job to resolve any issues. This arrangement curtails a large amount of financial risk that would otherwise fall on the homeowner.

Get cheaper energy bills with a PPA

Another benefit of a PPA is the reduced energy costs. The developer sells the solar electricity to the homeowner at a reduced cost. This price may stay the same throughout the PPA term, or it may have an escalator clause. The escalator increases the price incrementally over time to take into account rising utility costs.

So, not only do you not have to worry about the particulars of building and maintaining the solar energy system on your property, but you also save on your monthly energy bill and are less reliant on the electricity grid. Plus, you get the good feeling that goes along with using green energy.

PPA considerations

Ok, so if it’s starting to sound like a solar PPA might be a good option for you, let’s investigate further to see what other factors might come into play. Remember, with a PPA the developer owns the byproducts of the system, whether for better or worse, so additional solar financial benefits will go to the developer, not you.

For example, the developer can claim the federal investment tax credit (ITC). Plus, profits from selling solar renewable energy credits (SRECs) to the local utility will also go to the developer.

SERCs allow the utility to claim a certain percentage of renewable energy, which has a threshold requirement in some states. Check to see the rate that SRECs are selling for in your state, as prices can vary by hundreds of dollars depending on location. For example, Texas does not explicitly have an SREC market but does allow trading of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs).

Other PPA costs

  • Upgrades to your property: While you don’t have to pay to build the solar system, a PPA may still require you to make certain upgrades to your property. Costs from site upgrades, such as trimming trees that block sunlight, can fall on the homeowner.
  • Property taxes: Having a solar energy system on your property is a commodity, so it can raise the value of your home, which in turn can increase your property taxes.
  • Financing: PPAs don’t require financing since the developer takes care of the bulk of the costs, and no down payments are needed. 

PPA contracts and early termination fees

Keep in mind that a PPA is a legally binding financial commitment that can last anywhere from 10 to 25 years. Like with any agreement, make sure to carefully review your contract with your solar development partner. And getting a second opinion is never a bad idea.

Be clear on terms and conditions, especially costs, length of the contract, and early termination fees (ETFs). Most power purchase agreements will have an option to end the contract early, but it can be pricey, so make sure to review earth termination costs ahead of time.

You also want to consider, “what happens with my solar system once my PPA term expires?” You can:

  • have the solar energy system removed.
  • renew the solar power purchase agreement for another term.
  • purchase the system from the developer.

If you move before the PPA is up, you can also explore possibilities to transfer the agreement to the new homeowner or move the system to your new residence. Both of these options are more complicated and could incur more costs.

Pros and cons of a solar PPA

PROS CONS
Less financial risk Not qualified for tax incentives
Little to no upfront money needed Obligated into a long-term contract
No need to take out a loan Cannot earn income from SRECs
Reduce monthly energy bill Fees may increase over time
Less time commitment for planning and design May still need to pay for site upgrades
Increase home value May have a higher property tax
Gain energy independence May be responsible for early termination fees

Solar PPA vs. Solar lease

It should be pointed out that the main decision for a homeowner or renter when it comes to deciding how to pay for their solar system is primarily between owning or not. Owning will typically give you the best financial incentives, such as the federal solar tax credit.

Of course, owning is not an option for everyone. So, for those consumers, the solar industry has other options for those who still want the benefit of solar energy. Broadly, the other two options can be broken down into either leasing or getting a power purchase agreement.

However, within both of these buckets, there are various ways that costs are broken down. For example, there may be third-party fees, down-payments, monthly payments, lease-to-own, and net-metering advantages. Long story short, read all the details of any agreement and make sure that you understand all costs and benefits of your solar plan before signing on the dotted line.

Think of it this way, leasing or using a PPA brings another party into the mix. To compare this to a situation most of us have been in, let’s say you were to purchase a car. Consider these four scenarios:

  • You pay for it outright, and then you pay to purchase your gas and any future maintenance costs. That’s like owning your solar system.
  • But you could also buy your car, but you get a loan and pay it back in installments. That’s similar to financing your system.
  • Or perhaps you pay monthly payments for your car, with the understanding that you will return it after a few years to upgrade to a newer model. That’s like leasing your solar system.
  • Finally, maybe someone buys the car for you, but you can use it whenever you want as long as you pay for the gas during the time you drive it. That’s most similar to a financial PPA.

Solar Power Purchase Agreement FAQs

What is a PPA?

A PPA, or power purchase agreement, is a type of plan in which one party is in charge of all aspects of a solar energy system, including building, designing, maintenance, and tax incentives. The other party, typically the homeowner or renter, purchases their solar energy from them at a reduced cost.

Why does the house still need to be connected to the power grid?

A home solar energy system still needs to be connected to the power grid to get power in times of low solar energy production. Batteries can help retain solar energy for off-peak times.

Can you net-meter with a PPA? 

Yes. If net-metering is available in your state, you are able to take advantage of this benefit, whether you own, lease, or have a solar PPA.

Is it better to own, lease or have a PPA? 

The best option for setting up a solar system at your home is the one that meets your individual needs. If you prefer to collect tax incentives and don’t mind a down payment, owning is the way to go. If you prefer to get started with solar with little upfront costs, leasing or a PPA might be best.

What’s the difference between a financial PPA and leasing my solar system?

When you lease your solar panels, you pay a monthly fee to lease the system. With a PPA, you are paying per kilowatt-hour for the energy you use. The other main difference is that in a PPA, the developer retains the SRECs; however in a lease agreement, you may be able to negotiate to keep the SRECs (and the profit from them) in your control.

Is solar energy right for me? 

Green, renewable solar energy benefits both the world and your wallet. Find out what other incentives might be available in our state guide to solar panel costs for CaliforniaFloridaNorth CarolinaTexas, or Virginia.

CALL YOUR SENATORS

Author: Sam Ricketts           Published: 7/3/2021        Evergreen Action

 

Evergreen

Ronald,

A few senators and the White House have struck a “bipartisan” infrastructure deal, and it completely fails to meet the moment on climate. In fact, it is not a climate bill at all. But here’s the good news: Congressional leadership has now committed to a reconciliation bill that could very well have strong climate provisions.

Click here to call your senators and demand they include bold climate investments in the next budget reconciliation bill—and read on to learn how the bipartisan infrastructure deal falls short.

CALL YOUR SENATORS

Here are five ways the bipartisan infrastructure deal doesn’t live up to the climate agenda Biden campaigned and won on:

  1. The bipartisan deal makes zero investments in the transition to 100% clean electricity. Biden’s American Jobs Plan would have invested $359 billion in it.
  2. The deal’s investment in electric vehicles and EV infrastructure is a measly 9% of what was included in the American Jobs Plan.
  3. The deal does not deliver for frontline environmental justice communities, even though President Biden committed to directing at least 40% of the benefits from climate investments directly to them.
  4. The bipartisan deal also fails to invest in clean buildings, including nothing for electrifying homes and commercial buildings.
  5. The bipartisan deal leaves the Civilian Climate Corps off the table entirely, even though it’s one of the most popular pieces of the American Jobs Plan.

We’re keeping our eyes on the prize and the pressure on. Congress has one more shot at passing bold climate investments with a budget reconciliation bill this summer, and more and more members of Congress are saying “no climate, no deal.” So let’s raise our voices right now!

Call your senators to demand they support major climate investments in the next reconciliation bill. (The script is as easy as that.) Click here to find their phone number and take one minute to make the call! (You can also call the Capitol switchboard at (202) 224-3121, and they’ll connect you directly to your senator.)

Thanks,

Sam Ricketts
Co-Founder, Evergreen Action

 

CALL YOUR SENATORS

LISC’s Black Economic Development Fund hits $250 million goal, makes first catalytic investments in Black-led banks, real estate developers

Author: Local Initiatives Support Corporation 5/26/2021         LISC

NEW YORKMay 26, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — The Black Economic Development Fund (BEDF), managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), has reached its $250 million goal for capital to invest in Black-led banks, anchor institutions, businesses, and real estate developers, and is now rolling out its first investments.

The BEDF, launched last summer, is part of LISC’s Project 10X, a $1 billion strategy to address racial gaps in health, wealth, and opportunity. The private investment fund has raised capital from 11 public and private corporations, with McKinsey and Company recently coming in with $15 million.

“We’re excited about the outpouring of interest from impact investors because it speaks not only to the quality of the fund but to a deepening recognition that access to capital is what facilitates access to opportunity,” noted George Ashton, managing director of LISC Strategic Investments, the fund management arm of Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), one of the country’s largest community finance organizations.

“Impact investors are aligning their treasury strategies with their missions in order to fuel a stronger economic base for their businesses and economic justice for their customers,” he added.

With the BEDF now fully subscribed, LISC also announced the fund’s first five investments this week, with as many as 20 additional fund investments expected by year end. These initial transactions include deposits in two Black-owned banks to help build their capacity, as well as diverse loans to three Black-owned real estate development companies that are building and expanding economic opportunity and jobs in the communities where they operate.

The common thread is that these firms—like so many minority-led enterprises—have not generally had access to the flexible capital they need to grow. LISC’s goal is to provide financing that helps them expand their businesses, while also helping lay the groundwork for other investors to follow.

  • Optus Bank, Columbia, S.C.The BEDF made a $4 million deposit in this century-old bank that makes 90 percent of its loans in under-invested communities and to minority and/or women-owned businesses and homeowners. Optus Bank is a community development financial institution (CDFI) and has a strategy to build $100 million in local Black wealth over the next 10 years.
  • Unity National Bank, Houston: Unity is the only Black-owned bank in Texas (it also operates in Atlanta). The BEDF made a $3 million deposit to help the bank grow its investments in small businesses, especially in minority population centers, and pursue partnerships to finance affordable housing development.
  • Dantes Partners, Washington, D.C.: This privately held firm develops and preserves affordable and workforce housing in Washington, D.C. and the New York City area, delivering more than 2,300 units to date. The BEDF structured a $5 million predevelopment credit facility to help Dantes Partners preserve and build 3,000 additional units of affordable housing in the next few years.
  • Bridging the Gap (BTG), PittsburghBTG is a private real estate development firm focused on advancing healthy, sustainable developments. The BEDF made a short-term $1.5 million predevelopment loan to support a new project called Fifth and Dinwiddie, which when completed will bring 171 mixed-income apartments to Pittsburgh’s Uptown district. The predevelopment financing was the missing piece of the capital stack for this project, which is one of the largest housing development sites in the city and part of Pittsburgh’s “EcoInnovation” plan for the community.
  • Phoenix Adams Rising, Jacksonville, Fla.The BEDF’s $5.3 million bridge loan is helping the project’s sponsor, Eugene Profit, stabilize a six-story apartment building for students at Florida State College of Jacksonville, where approximately one-third of the population identifies as Black American. The project is located in downtown Jacksonville, near to campus, and is part of broader revitalization efforts in the city’s core.

“The Black Economic Development Fund allows us to make an impact by investing in Black and Brown talent who want to be in this industry and ensure they prosper,” noted Buwa Binitie, with Dantes Partners. “The investment represents freedom for us to be who we want to be and own our projects. It allows us to scale in ways that we never quite imagined. In very short order you are going to start seeing ribbon cuttings for the transactions for which this fund is activating.”

“All five of these transactions illustrate the power of inclusive investing,” noted Lisa Glover, LISC president and CEO. “They fuel Black-led businesses and benefit communities of color, and they also contribute to the broader landscape of regional economic opportunity by catalyzing jobs, local income, commercial activity and quality-of-life gains. They are helping build a broadly shared prosperity, well beyond the individual activities supported by each investment.”

Investors in the fund include: Netflix, which helped launch the fund, Paypal, Costco, Square, Inc., Aflac, Wayfair, DuPont, McKinsey and Co., ThermoFisher, HubSpot, and Dicks Sporting Goods.

“Fueling social mobility and opportunity like this was our vision for kicking off the Black Economic Development Fund last summer,” said Aaron Mitchell, director of HR, and Shannon Alwyn, director of treasury, with Netflix. “More and more companies recognize that redirecting capital to Black-led institutions improves equity at the grassroots level, and we invite other corporations to do the same.”

Ashton noted that even though the BEDF is fully subscribed, LISC continues to work with funders and investors on multiple ways to fuel social and economic justice as part of Project 10X. That includes individual grants and loans through LISC’s 37 local program offices and national Rural LISC investment program, as well as vehicles like the Entrepreneurs of Color Fund, local housing and economic development funds, impact-focused Opportunity Zones partnerships, and community investment accelerators that respond to local needs.

“We are using all the tools at our disposal to drive progress for people and communities—especially as we begin to emerge from COVID-19,” Ashton said. “We are being intentional about how and with whom we invest to make sure our capital helps break down barriers to success, supports the financial and impact goals of our investment partners, and helps our economy work better for everyone.”

About LISC
With residents and partners, LISC forges resilient and inclusive communities of opportunity across America – great places to live, work, visit, do business and raise families. Since 1979, LISC has invested $24 billion to build or rehab more than 463,320 affordable homes and apartments and develop 74.4 million square feet of retail, community and educational space. For more, visit www.lisc.org.

About the Black Economic Development Fund
The Black Economic Development Fund (BEDF) is an impact investment fund built to address economic challenges in Black communities and to help close the racial wealth gap. The fund targets Black-led financial institutions, businesses, real estate developers and anchor institutions with the goal of growing these organizations and strengthening their contributions to Black communities. The fund deploys capital across a diverse set of industries, borrowers and geographies in the United States. The BEDF is managed by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) Strategic Investments team and LISC Fund Management, LLC, a LISC affiliate. For more information on the BEDF, please visit https://www.liscstrategicinvestments.org//black-economic-development-fund

Media contact:
Catherine Carlstedt, LISC Strategic Investments
608.217.5008 or ccarlstedt@lisc.org

SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC)

Related Links

https://www.lisc.org

ChargerHelp Two Young Black Women Positioned To Become A Player In The EV Charger Industry

Author;Chargerhelp Staff        Published: 6/25/2021        CHARGERHELP.COM

 

20210428-3N1A9025 copy.jpg
Good business. Good service. Good people. 
Kameale C. Terry

Co-Founder & Chief Executive Officer

Listen in from yourfavorite podcast spots or read the full transcript here.Grey LinkedIn Icon

OUR SPONSOR FOR THIS EPISODE:  BLCK VCa focused community built for and by black investors
Founders Unfound listeners: If you ever thought about getting into Venture, you definitely want to connect up at  blackvc.com  or follow @BLCKVC for more about their exceptional programs and events.

 

SUSTAINABILITY MEETS

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT

 

It’s rare when a startup can impact one market challenge successfully. And even rarer…two at once. Well, that’s just exactly what Kameale Terry and ChargerHelp! are doing. Kameale’s company is tackling a major pain point in electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure – repair and maintenance. At the same time, she’s committed to workforce development and economic mobility. ChargerHelp! is creating an entirely new career role – part technician, part electrician, part IT support. And she wants to prioritize training those from her own community.

Kameale has the energy, passion, and drive you just want to get behind. The company story is compelling and she’s pretty good at pitching it. So much so that she’s earned hundreds of thousands in grants and pitch competition wins. Now that’s a way to fund a startup! The journey that landed Kameale as a startup CEO is unique and fascinating.

Listen in to hear the story.

 

“…I am a native to Southcentral Los Angeles.
~ Kameale Terry

In this episode Kameale and Dan discussed:

  • Her persistent desire to make an impact
  • How the need to return home made her career flourish
  • How in 2 years at another startup, she went from customer service rep to leader
  • Why she keeps ending up surrounded by smart black women
  • What attracted her to sustainability and EV

 

Episode Shout Outs:

Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI)
Grid110 South LA
Startup Grind LA
EV Connect

 

“Oh, I want to find the best people for these positions. And it just all just so happened to be black women.
~ Kameale Terry

MORE ON KAMEALE AND CHARGERHELP!

KAMEALE:
@KamealeC
linkedin.com/in/kamealecterry

CHARGERHELP!:
chargerhelp.com
@ChargerHelp
linkedin.com/company/chargerhelp

 

Evette%25252520Ellis%25252520Photo_edite

Evette Ellis
Co-Founder & Chief Workforce Off

Workforce Development is weaved into the fabric of our company.  One way any workforce is developed is through the creation of jobs. Another is through enhancing current skills, knowledge and duties resulting in higher pay. We collaborate with our local Workforce Centers and create partnerships with organizations to train and hire from our local communities. In this competitive climate, to attract the best and brightest to our team, we’ve implemented practices and a training curriculum that is designed to ensure all applicants have a fair opportunity to join our team. ChargerHelp! Is overcoming the skills gap and recruiting quality, underutilized, reliable, high performing professionals. Our rapid evolution due to our technology, customer needs, and changing demographics has heightened the demand for a skilled and developed workforce.

 

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Biden Reaches Historic Bipartisan Agreement with Senators for Infrastructure Package: ‘We Have a Deal’

Author: Georgina Tzanetos     Published: 6/24/2021       AOL.com

Mandatory Credit: Photo by SARAH SILBIGER/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12168186b)US President Joe Biden walks out of the West Wing of the White House following a meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators where they reached a deal on an infrastructure plan in Washington, DC, USA, 24 June 2021.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by SARAH SILBIGER/POOL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock (12168186b)

US President Joe Biden walks out of the West Wing of the White House following a meeting with a bipartisan group of Senators where they reached a deal on an infrastructure plan in Washington, DC, USA.

President Joe Biden and a group of both Republican and Democratic senators reached a compromise Thursday morning on the president’s roughly $1 trillion infrastructure spending bill.

See: Biden Trims Infrastructure Package — What Does That Mean for Jobs and Small Businesses?
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One of the largest proposals in recent history, the plan calls for a restructuring of the nation’s roads, transportation systems, railways, ports and ethernet networks, to name a few items on the agenda.

Speaking outside the White House flanked by Sens. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Mark Warner (D-Va) Biden stated, “They have my word. I’ll stick with what we’ve proposed and they’ve given me their word as well,” he said, according to CNBC.

“None of us got all that we wanted. I didn’t get all that I wanted. But this reminds me of the days we used to get an awful lot done up in the United States Congress.”

While details of the compromise have not yet been released, the next hurdle before the plan gets signed into law is deciding how to fund it. One of the plan’s biggest challenges, senators have not yet finalized how the proposal would raise revenue. Republicans promised not to touch the tax cuts enacted in 2017 and Biden claimed he will not raise gas taxes or electric vehicle user fees, CNBC noted.

The pushback from Republicans to maintain tax cuts could also potentially see a retreat on Biden’s plans to raise the corporate tax rate.

See: How To Go Back To Work And Still Keep Unemployment Benefits
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With the support of 11 Republican senators and 10 moderate Democrat senators, the bill would surpass the 60 votes needed to overcome a potential filibuster if all Senate Democrats were to vote in favor. If the deal goes through final approval in the Senate, it will then move over to Congress for approval before it can be signed into law. With a Democrat-controlled House, the bill is expected to have an easy passage through Congress.

The current plan is a trimmed-down version of the original 2.3 trillion dollar infrastructure plan the president brought to the table earlier this year. Corporate tax hikes and other taxes on the wealthy, like the tax Biden proposed on those making more than $400,000 a year, are expected to be in the Democrats’ reconciliation bill instead, USA Today reports. The Biden administration has also stated it will not repurpose or re-allocate funds already promised to states and counties as part of the COVID-19 relief package.

 

FERC gives SEEM utilities opportunity to put the “M” in SEEM

Author: Maggie Sober      Published: 6/7/2021       CleanEnergy.org

A contingency of large electric utilities across the Southeast has proposed to form the Southeast Energy Exchange Market or SEEM. While the title suggests the creation of a competitive energy market, the proposal is anything but. FERC responded by noting deficiencies in the proposal and required the utilities to submit updates. If utilities want to really put the “M” in SEEM, they should go back to the drawing board and propose a Southeast Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). Absent this option, FERC could use the update process to at least make sure that SEEM will meet its limited goals in the near term and be a tool to speed the adoption of a regional competitive market over the long term.

BACKGROUND AND TIMELINE

Before the SEEM “market” can be set up it first needs to be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). On May 4, 2021, FERC issued 10 pages of “deficiency letter” questions for utilities to answer in order to flesh out missing or unclear information. Robust utility responses would provide much-needed transparency into SEEM. Intervenors in the FERC case (of which SACE is one with a group of public interest organizations from across the region) will then have the opportunity to further comment.

Timeline of SEEM review at FERC as expected as of June 2021.

WHAT DID FERC ASK FOR IN ITS DEFICIENCY LETTER?

FERC’s deficiency letter questions are summarized below. SEEM utilities must respond by June 18, 2021, and that response will constitute an updated SEEM proposal in front of FERC.  FERC asks: 

  • How will SEEM interact with Southern Company’s Market-Based Rate (MBR) Tariff?
  • How transactions between buyers and sellers of power in SEEM will interact with or replace transactions that would occur under other bilateral agreements, and how SEEM will interact with neighboring markets
  • How will SEEM prevent market manipulation, including how will existing auditing and monitoring tools remain sufficient and how will the treatment of unconsummated SEEM transactions help identify market manipulation?
  • Clarify of membership requirements and the standard of review for changes to SEEM
  • Explain SEEM’s use of transmission, such as clarifying contradicting claims about the use of excess transmission, how SEEM transmission use could impact other transmission rates, and how a proposed Network Map of transmission from all SEEM participants will be developed and used.
  • Clarify the roles and authorities of the SEEM Administrator and SEEM Auditor
  • Clarify what information will be provided and who has access, including what will be in business practice manuals, who will have access to the manuals, and data available on the SEEM website

HOW COULD THE SEEM UTILITIES RESPOND?

SEEM as proposed is unlikely to deliver on its own promise: small incremental cost savings and marginally reduced renewable energy curtailments. Instead, ratepayers in the Southeast need actual competition, under a neutral administration, with broad participation, market transparency, and accountable governance. SEEM does not even attempt to promise these market essentials. The deficiency response is an opportunity for the SEEM utilities to introduce them so that SEEM is the first step toward a true competitive electric market in the Southeast.

To do that, the following elements should be included in the utilities’ response to promote basic access and transparency:

  1. SEEM needs an independent Market Monitor for the SEEM, similar to the setup in integrated markets and Energy Imbalance Markets (EIM) across the country, to guard against market manipulation.
  2. SEEM needs to remove unnecessary roadblocks to participation. This could be done by having a single pro forma enabling agreement and not allowing existing SEEM members and participants to arbitrarily refuse to enter into enabling agreements.
  3. SEEM’s provisions allowing participants to block energy exchanges with other participants should be removed, or at least very limited criteria should be set for blocks, requiring pre-approval from the market monitor if a participant is not allowed to exchange with another participant.
  4. SEEM data on trades and unconsummated transactions should be publicly reported after an appropriate, short time lag.
  5. SEEM participants should have voting participation in its governance.
  6. SEEM should empower stakeholders to review its effectiveness every two years, with an explicit goal of enabling enhanced competition across the region. Particularly, SEEM should:
    1. Moving away from a “split the difference” price settlement to one based on or similar to locational marginal pricing.
    2. Add a day-ahead hourly market with a resource-sharing construct that removes the inefficiency of each individual utility maintaining its own reserve margin regardless of the availability of resources available within SEEM.
  7. SEEM utilities should pay for an independent, regularly updated study to show that SEEM, with these changes made, provides benefits that outweigh the costs. This includes looking at the impact of SEEM on energy burdens across the region, and the impact of SEEM on carbon emissions. This study should be fully available to the public.
  8. SEEM utilities should join SACE and other intervenors in calling for FERC to hold a technical conference on electric market reforms across the Southeast.

HOW UTILITIES COULD PUT THE M IN SEEM

The SEEM utilities use the term “market” in the name of SEEM but claim in their original filing that SEEM is not an EIM. Fun fact: documents obtained by SACE showed that many of the utility staff involved in the development of the SEEM proposal actually started by calling it an EIM.

So while the suggestions listed above would certainly improve on the current SEEM proposal, the utilities should skip the charade and put the “M” in SEEM by making it a true EIM.

Source: VCE and Energy Innovation report

Competitive electric markets are one tool to speed the clean energy transition in a way that saves customers on their electric bills. For example, right now there are countless utilities across the region that have proposed new gas plants in their queues, far more than regions of the country where markets are in place. One key reason for this is that each utility is doing resource planning largely as an island. We’ve shown before that Southeast utilities do not tend to peak at the same time, and a platform for sharing resources across these utilities (i.e. a market) would reduce the need for all that new gas and would make it more economically efficient for complementary clean energy resources to flow across the region.

Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

 

Stay tuned – SACE will continue to follow the SEEM proposal and other potential market reforms across the Southeast.

Morgan State University Awarded $6.25M in Grants from Leading Tech Giants, Google and Apple, Capping Historic Day of Investment

Author: Morgan University Staff     Published: 6/22/2021       US Dep. of Edu.

Morgan State University

BALTIMORE — Morgan State University, Maryland’s Preeminent Public Urban Research University, today announced two significant grants totaling $6.25 million from leading big tech companies, Apple and Google. Aiming to foster equity in computing education and tech proficiencies at historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and meet the high demands to diversify the STEM talent pipeline, Google by way of its Pathways to Tech initiative awarded a one-time unrestricted financial $5 million grant, and Apple by way of its Racial Equity and Justice Initiative presented Maryland’s largest HBCU with a three-year $1.25 million grant.

Read more about each of the individual grant awards below:

Morgan State University Receives $1.25 Million Apple Innovation Grant To Expand Silicon and Hardware Technologies 

Google Awards Morgan State University $5 Million Grant to Help Create Pathways and Opportunities for Black Students in STEM Fields 

Ossoff introduces solar energy tax credit legislation

Author: Zack Budryk        Published: 6/22/2021  11:53 AM EDT  THE HILL

Ossoff introduces solar energy tax credit legislation

Sen. Jon Ossoff (D-Ga.) introduced legislation that would grant tax credits for solar energy manufacturers at all stages of the supply chain, which the Georgia Democrat called essential to making the U.S. internationally competitive on renewable energy.

In a video press conference Tuesday morning, Ossoff noted that Dalton, Ga., is already the location of the western hemisphere’s biggest solar panel manufacturing plant, the Q Cells facility.

“This legislation will bring more clean energy Jobs to Georgia while creating tens of thousands of clean energy jobs across the country,” Ossoff said on a press call Tuesday morning. “It will help make America energy independent and allow American manufacturers to compete with Chinese solar manufacturers, and it will accelerate our transition to clean and renewable energy sources.”

“My ambition is to make Georgia the national leader in clean energy technology and manufacturing,” he added. “We don’t want to rely on Chinese monopolies to produce this technology.”

On the call, Ossoff said he would strive to ensure the bill was included in the broader Senate infrastructure plan but said he would introduce a standalone bill if necessary.

According to a statement provided exclusively to The Hill by Ossoff’s office, 15 solar industry executives and groups backed the measure.

“It’s critically important for us as a nation to move toward clean energy solutions to protect our environment and create good-paying jobs, and Georgia is perfectly positioned to take advantage of solar as an energy source,” Stan Allen, CEO of Atlanta-based consultant SolAmerica Energy, said in a statement. “We look forward to working with Senator Ossoff to pass this bill and help install solar energy across Georgia and the entire country.”

TAGS JON OSSOFF

To truly build back better, we need a Justice 100 solution

Author:  Denise Fairchild   Published:

To truly build back better, we need a Justice 100 solution

The Biden administration has ushered in a new progressive era. Its “build back better” playbook of policies and initiatives address the serious challenges of our generation: climate change, economic recovery, racial justice and a safety net for struggling families. The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) represented a historic $1.9 trillion down payment on the administration’s promise to the American people, and an American Jobs Act (AJA) of equal or larger size may follow.

This is historic. The administration’s agenda has been likened to former President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal in its sweeping investment in rebuilding the American economy, with one notable distinction. Unlike Roosevelt, President Biden has made racial and environmental justice a priority. The Justice40 initiative carves out 40 percent of federal appropriations specifically supporting communities most impacted by environmental and climate racism.

While naturally fraught with issues of definitions, measurements and implementation, Justice40 is unprecedented. Still, it raises a crucial question: What about the other 60 percent?

But can Justice40 deliver on its promises?

First, there are practical concerns around the perceived capacity of long-neglected and under-resourced communities to compete for and manage these investments. This lack of trust opens the door for large national nonprofits or consulting firms to move in and act as  intermediaries — program managers, fiscal sponsors and equity experts — at the expense of local groups with roots in the community.

There is also a growing debate regarding whether the commitment is for 40 percent of “investments” to go into low-income communities or merely that communities will receive 40 percent of the “benefits.” These are substantially different. Regional shopping malls, aquariums and convention centers have all been considered “benefits” worthy of public investment, though their impact on the wellbeing of marginalized communities is negligible — especially when compared to investments in affordable housing, community-serving retail and local business development. But local governments are skilled at stretching the definition of “public benefits.”

The stakes are high, so these are important and worthy challenges to sort out. The hope is that there is authentic community engagement to deliver the solutions, that investments meet community needs, that the predators stay away and that new, frontline and Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) institutions are formed to support this work and build capacity to carry out the long-term agenda of rebuilding  community resilience for on-going and escalating climate challenges. The good news is that the White House Environmental Justice Advisory Council (WHEJAC) and staff are hard at work driving accountability for these outcomes.

Large-scale contractors, business enterprises, labor unions and research and development firms will remain primary beneficiaries of the new climate federalism and infrastructure investments. Investment tax credits for renewable energy, for example, will serve large investors with no commitment to growing community-initiated and owned renewables. But this is the moment to disrupt those energy hegemonies and build community wealth.

Energy Democracy Project, which my organization is affiliated with, and its advocates propose to do that by scaling community-owned renewable energy. We could start by converting the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit to a cash grant for projects under three megawatts and for projects owned by nonprofit, cooperative, public, tribal, or publicly accountable entities (e.g., community development corporations). We could allow virtual net metering of community-shared renewables and implement additive feed-in-tariffs for community-shared renewable projects that reach low-income households. These are system-level game changers.

Prioritizing unionized labor on infrastructure investments is important for rebuilding the middle class. But, without serious attention to labor’s real and perceived legacy of racial exclusion, we will only exacerbate Black income and wealth gaps. Now is the time to rebuild unionized labor by growing its ranks with BIPOC and women. But that requires proactive and authentic labor-community dialogues and agreements at the local levels to fix historic communication barriers and to build win-win solutions to strengthen careers and business opportunities in the construction sector, particularly for the most underrepresented groups (Blacks and women).

Federal investments in infrastructure projects may include a requirement to utilize small, minority, women, veteran and disadvantaged businesses, but it is meaningless without serious attention to project delivery methods — like Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) – which make it near impossible for them to compete. We must untangle the barriers to inclusive public procurement and contracting, including legacy challenges of capital, bonding and insurance, as well as 21st century barriers to advanced technologies, equipment, materials and project delivery methods.

These are just some of the structural barriers hidden in the infrastructure agenda. Under every rock can be found layer upon layer of toxic soil — public and private policies and practices that reinforce the inequitable status quo. So, while Justice40 may repair the harms of past inequities, we will perpetuate the same institutional structures that created those inequities without careful attention to the other 60 percent of federal spending. To truly build back better, we need a Justice 100 solution.

Denise G. Fairchild is president and CEO of Emerald Cities Collaborative, a national nonprofit organization of business, labor and community groups dedicated to climate-resilience strategies that produce environmental, economic and equity outcomes.

National Black Farmers Association calls for Graham to apologize over ‘racist’ comments

Author: Aris Folley        Published: 3/5/2021         National Association of Black Farmers

John Boyd Jr., the president of the National Black Farmers Association, called on Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to apologize for comments he made recently taking aim at a provision in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief bill that seeks to help socially disadvantaged Black farmers and farmers of color.

During an appearance on MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton” on Sunday, Boyd, who has long been an advocate in Washington for Black farmers, criticized Graham for comments balking at the provision’s inclusion in the coronavirus relief bill despite, in Boyd’s words, having “never once used his megaphone to speak out against the discrimination” Black farmers have long faced.

“I lobbied Sen. Lindsey Graham as a congressman. I lobbied him as a senator. I’ve been by his office and asked him to help me fix the problems at the United States Department of Agriculture that caused Black farmers to lose millions of acres of land and address the lack of loans and subsidies, and he’s never once used his megaphone to speak out against the discrimination,” he said.

“But as soon as we get justice here, some 30 years later, his very first words — he said he found it troubling, and in his last part of his statement, he said that we need to check them,” he said.

The Hill has reached out to Graham’s office for comment.

Boyd was referring to comments Graham made in an appearance on Fox News last week about the provision, which seeks to establish a $5 billion fund for debt repayment aimed at helping disadvantaged farmers.

Graham said during the appearance that he was “really” bothered by the provision’s inclusion in the coronavirus bill, blasting it as part of a Democratic “wish list.”

“Let me give you an example of something that really bothers me. In this bill, if you’re a farmer, your loan will be forgiven up to 120 percent of your loan … if you’re socially disadvantaged, if you’re African American, some other minority. But if you’re [a] white person, if you’re a white woman, no forgiveness. That’s reparations. What does that have to do with COVID?” he said.

Due to years of racial discrimination, Black farmers are more likely to have more debt, less land and less access to credit. According to estimates from the Farm Bureau, Black farmers account for roughly a fourth disadvantaged farms that would be eligible for loan relief under the fund program.

However, the provision does not include language that bars white farmers from applying for the benefits.

In his appearance on MSNBC on Sunday, Boyd said the measure “rectifies a wrong for Black and other farmers of color” who have been “shut out of the U.S. farm subsidy program, U.S. farm lending at the United States Department of Agriculture,” among other programs.

He went on to label Graham’s comments as “racist” and said his organization is calling for the senator to issue an apology.

“The National Black Farmers Association is calling for him to apologize. … He needs to apologize not only to our Black farmers but to Black people in this country who struggled for so very, very long, and now we get a chance for a little bit of justice, and he uses his megaphone to play this race type thing when he knows that firsthand that Black farmers have suffered,” he said.

“He has 6,000 Black farmers in his state, and he won’t help us, but he uses his megaphone to try to deny payments from Black farmers,” he added.

During the interview, Boyd also put pressure on Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to “immediately” get debt relief out to “the thousands of Black farmers that desperately need it right now.”

“I spoke to Secretary Vilsack yesterday and urged him to hurry up and put in place the commission and to get the debt relief to not just Black farmers but farmers of color, Native American farmers, Hispanic farmers and other socially disadvantaged farmers. He can’t be the same Secretary Vilsack he was under the Obama years. He’s going to have to take a more aggressive approach to help fix the discriminating culture,” he added.

https://thehill.com/homenews/senate/543282-national-black-farmers-association-calls-for-graham-to-apologize-over-racist#bottom-story-socials.

Black Farmers May Finally Get the Help They Deserve

JWB Jeremy Lange. New York Times 03042021.jpg

A debt-relief program would be a step in repairing more than a century of discrimination by the Department of Agriculture.

By Mark Bittman Mr. Bittman, a former food columnist for The Times, is the author, most recently, of “Animal, Vegetable, Junk.”

March 4, 2021, 5:00 a.m. ET

Many white people have become aware in the last year of the discrimination that Black Americans face in policing, voting, health care and more. Few, however, may recognize that systemic racism led to another grave injustice, one that underpins many other forms of exploitation: More than a century of land theft and the exclusion of Black people from government agricultural programs have denied many descendants of enslaved people livelihoods as independent, landowning farmers.

African-American labor built much of this country’s agriculture, a prime source of the nation’s early wealth. In the years since the end of slavery, Black Americans have been largely left out of federal land giveaways, loans and farm improvement programs. They have been driven off their farms through a combination of terror and mistreatment by the federal government, resulting in debt, foreclosures and impoverishment.

So a program that would pay off United States Department of Agriculture-guaranteed and direct farm loans and associated tax liabilities of Black, Indigenous, Hispanic and other farmers of color would not only be surprising, it would be historic. And yet it looks as though that may happen: Such a measure is included in the pandemic relief package wending its way through Congress.

The story of Black farmers is tragic. The Homestead Act of 1862 initiated the biggest land giveaway in U.S. history, and the beneficiaries were almost exclusively white men. Paired with slavery, the act formed a foundation for wealth-building that overwhelmingly benefited white farmers — and still does.

In the last 100 years, the number of Black-run farms has plummeted by a calamitous 96 percent, from close to a million (one in seven) of all American farms to around 35,000 (or about one in 50). The beneficiaries of that Black land loss? White farmers. By 1999, 98 percent of all agricultural land was owned by white people.

This trend has been spurred by exclusion from the federal programs that help make farming profitable and by well-documented racism at the U.S.D.A. The department’s discrimination has reached down to local loan officers, who often determine access to credit and therefore survival. Black farmers understandably have called the U.S.D.A “the last plantation.”

The actual scope of the discrimination may be unknown. So many injustices have been hidden that few in the field trust the U.S.D.A.’s version of the story. We do know, according to the most recent agriculture census, that Black farmers receive about $59 million in government payments; white farmers receive about $9 billion. Per capita, that’s $1,208 for Black farmers and $2,707 for white farmers.

As early as the 1940s, U.S.D.A. economists documented “deplorable economic conditions facing African-Americans in the rural South,” but Southern congressmen (including the namesake of a U.S.D.A. building, Jamie Whitten) blocked efforts to help Black farmers. By 1965, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights found that the U.S.D.A. discriminated against Black farmers. In 1999 and 2010, the government announced settlement agreements for billions of dollars in cash and debt relief and tax payments to Black farmers.

Yet the payments fell far short, the department continued to discriminate, and the erosion in the number of Black farms — and the near impossibility for Black, Indigenous people and other people of color to get into farming — endured.

This historical pattern explains the collective moan when Tom Vilsack — a disappointment to Black (and many other) farmers and their supporters during his tenure as secretary of agriculture in the Obama administration — was nominated for the cabinet post again. But he seems to be responding positively to the shifting political climate and the general tone of the Biden administration, as the imperative for redressing insults and injuries to Black farmers is driving developments quickly.

It started in the run-up to the election, when an informal working group of leaders of the Black farming community helped presidential candidates develop policy.

After the election, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey introduced the wide-ranging Justice for Black Farmers Act. The bill, which was reintroduced in February, would have paid off the U.S.D.A. debt of some Black farmers, and extends to Black farmers more of the benefits of the Homestead and Land-Grant College Acts of 1862. Those acts distributed land and funded public colleges focusing on agriculture, but by default they were programs for whites only, who were understood to be the “farmers” of the time.

Now a confluence of events — the newly Democratic Senate, perhaps even a newly responsive Mr. Vilsack, whose detractors wasted little time scorching his feet — is bringing about the much-needed change.

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/opinion/black-farmers-covid-relief.htmlhttps://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/04/opinion/black-farmers-covid-relief.html

 

 

U.S. Department of Energy Announces Prize to Accelerate More Equitable Solar Deployment and a New Matchmaking Tool for Clean Tech Innovators

Author: SETO Office Staff     Published: 6/14/2021               SETO

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

Tool Connects Makers with Resources to Help Them Address Challenges to Solar Deployment

Washington, D.C. — Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced $5 million for the American-Made Solar Prize Round 5, a competition designed to accelerate the commercialization of products needed for widespread, equitable solar energy deployment and domestic manufacturing. DOE also announced a new tool that connects innovators with support from DOE’s national labs, business incubators, and other entrepreneurial resources in the American-Made Network to advance their technologies.

“By fueling connections between the nation’s most creative and forward-thinking entrepreneurs, the 17 national labs and the broader DOE ecosystem, universities, and the private sector, we are catalyzing the best of American ingenuity and creating an innovation engine for America,” said Acting Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Kelly Speakes-Backman. “This is how America will decarbonize the energy sector and lead the $23 trillion global clean energy market.”

The new tool uses artificial intelligence to expand and develop the American-Made Network’s capabilities, helping fast-track development cycles. This tool will lower barriers to market entry for entrepreneurs by matching innovators to the exact resources they need, right when they need them.

American-Made Solar Prize Round 5

For the first time, the American-Made Solar Prize will have two tracks—one for hardware innovations and one for software innovations—a recognition that both are needed to advance the solar industry. The software track will have a particular focus on enabling underserved communities to overcome systemic barriers to solar energy. To further incentivize this focus, competitors can win $300,000 in additional funds through a Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (JEDI) Contest. The two tracks of the competition will focus on hardware and software components separately, with the goal of enabling more entrepreneurs to compete in the solar space.

The hardware track builds on the previous four rounds of the Solar Prize by soliciting ideas for hardware products that can be manufactured in America. Over the course of the previous four rounds, the Solar Prize supported 80 teams with $11 million in cash prizes and $3.4 million in technical support. The Solar Prize Round 5 hardware track will support as many as 20 new teams, who will compete for up to $3 million in prizes as they advance their technologies with the support of the American-Made Network.

In the software track, DOE seeks software concepts that will help address the non-hardware costs of solar, like customer acquisition, financing, and grid integration. Software track competitors can receive up to $2 million in prizes, using advances in communications and information technologies to rethink how to solve solar deployment challenges.

To augment Round 5 and the JEDI Contest, NREL is launching a Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Advisory Committee to help attract, recruit, and support a broader, more diverse group of Solar Prize applicants.

To compete in the Solar Prize, apply by October 5.

The prize program and the American-Made Network are funded by DOE’s Solar Energy Technologies Office (SETO) in the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and are administered by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

For details about the Solar Prize Round 5, register here for an informational webinar on July 13 at 3 p.m. ET.