Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

Nous Aimons Paris

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.


  • Weekend Video: Net Zero Energy Homes Explained
  • Weekend Video: Net Zero Energy Homes Missouri
  • Weekend Video: Net Zero Energy Homes Canada



  • THANKSGIVING THURSDAY-Fast Fun Facts About Thanksgiving
  • THANKSGIVING THURSDAY-A Lesser Known Bit Of Thanksgiving History



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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews


    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns


    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart



    Your intrepid reporter


      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.


    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Monday, November 30, 2015


    Cleaner Cars from Cradle to Grave How Electric Cars Beat Gasoline Cars on Lifetime Global Warming Emissions

    Rachael Nealer, David Reichmuth, Don Anair, November 2015 (Union of Concerned Scientists)

    Executive Summary

    Electric vehicles (EVs) are a critical part of the American transportation future given their potential to dramatically cut global warming emissions— especially when charged by a clean electricity grid.

    Together with other oil-saving approaches, such as more efficient vehicles and advanced biofuels, EVs can help cut projected U.S. oil use in half over the next 20 years. EVs will also be essential to achieving the deep emissions reductions by mid-century needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.

    This report compares battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) with similar gasoline vehicles by examining their global warming emissions over their “life cycles”—from the raw materials to make the car through manufacturing, driving, and disposal or recycling. Toward that end, we performed up-todate assessments of the carbon footprints of BEVs, taking into account the latest information about electricity generation and BEV models. The two BEVs we modeled, midsize and full-size, are not specific to any particular manufacturer but are based on the two most popular BEV models sold in the United States today: the Nissan LEAF and the Tesla Model S. Our analysis reflects the BEVs available to American consumers and comparable gasoline vehicles.

    Our analysis revealed that:

    • From cradle to grave, BEVs are cleaner. On average, BEVs representative of those sold today produce less than half the global warming emissions of comparable gasoline-powered vehicles, even when the higher emissions associated with BEV manufacturing are taken into consideration. Based on modeling of the two most popular BEVs available today and the regions where they are currently being sold, excess manufacturing emissions are offset within 6 to 16 months of average driving.

    • EVs are now driving cleaner than ever before. Driving an average EV results in lower global warming emissions than driving a gasoline car that gets 50 miles per gallon (MPG) in regions covering two-thirds of the U.S. population, up from 45 percent in our 2012 report. Based on where EVs are being sold in the United States today, the average EV produces global warming emissions equal to a gasoline vehicle with a 68 MPG fuel economy rating.

    • EVs will become even cleaner as more electricity is generated by renewable sources of energy. In a grid composed of 80 percent renewable electricity, manufacturing a BEV will result in an over 25 percent reduction in emissions from manufacturing and an 84 percent reduction in emissions from driving—for an overall reduction of more than 60 percent (compared with a BEV manufactured and driven today).

    Global Warming Emissions from Driving Electric Vehicles

    Although a BEV has no tailpipe emissions, the total global warming emissions from operating it are not insignificant; they depend on the sources of the electricity that charge the vehicle’s batteries and on the efficiency of the vehicle. We estimated the global warming emissions from electricity consumption in the 26 “grid regions” of the United States (see Figure ES-1, p. 2)—representing the group of power plants that together serve as each region’s primary source of electricity—and we rated each region based on how charging and using an EV there compares with driving a gasoline vehicle. We also estimated, based on recent sales data, the average efficiency of new EVs (battery-electric and plug-in electric vehicles combined) sold in the United States in 2015.

    We found that:

    (1) driving the average electric vehicle in any region of the country produces lower global warming emissions than the average new gasoline car achieving 29 MPG;

    (2) our ratings in 20 out of 26 regions have improved since our 2012 report; and

    (3) about 66 percent of Americans—up from 45 percent just three years ago—live in regions where powering an EV on the regional electricity grid produces lower global warming emissions than a 50 MPG gasoline car.

    Comparisons between electric vehicles and gasoline cars look even more attractive when one considers that many EVs are currently being sold and driven in areas where the electricity grid is cleaner than the U.S. mean. As a result, based on calculations that weighted where EVs were sold in 2014, driving an EV in the United States produced global warming emissions equal to a gasoline vehicle with 68 MPG during operation.

    Emissions from operating electric vehicles are likely to keep falling, as national data from 2013 to 2015 show a declining percentage of electricity generated by coal power and an increase in renewable resources such as wind and solar. Additionally, the Clean Power Plan finalized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2015 offers opportunities for even greater progress, as states must collectively cut their 2005 power-sector carbon emissions 32 percent by 2030. Meanwhile, many EV owners are pairing electric vehicle purchases with home investments in solar energy. With increasing levels of renewable electricity coming onto the grid, with carbon standards for fossil-fuel power plants beginning to be implemented, and with continued improvements in vehicle technologies, the emissions-reduction benefits of EVs will continue to grow.

    Global Warming Emissions from Manufacturing Battery-Electric Vehicles

    Global warming emissions occur when manufacturing any vehicle, regardless of its power source, but BEV production results in higher emissions than the making of gasoline cars— mostly due to the materials and fabrication of the BEV lithium-ion battery. Under the average U.S. electricity grid mix, we found that producing a midsize, midrange (84 miles per charge) BEV typically adds a little over 1 ton of emissions to the total manufacturing emissions, resulting in 15 percent greater emissions than in manufacturing a similar gasoline vehicle. However, replacing gasoline use with electricity reduces overall emissions by 51 percent over the life of the car.

    A full-size long-range (265 miles per charge) BEV, with its larger battery, adds about six tons of emissions, which increases manufacturing emissions by 68 percent over the gasoline version. But this electric vehicle results in 53 percent lower overall emissions compared with a similar gasoline vehicle (see Figure ES-2).

    In other words, the extra emissions associated with electric vehicle production are rapidly negated by reduced emissions from driving. Comparing an average midsize midrange BEV with an average midsize gasoline-powered car, it takes just 4,900 miles of driving to “pay back”—i.e., offset—the extra global warming emissions from producing the BEV. Similarly, it takes 19,000 miles with the full-size long-range BEV compared with a similar gasoline car. Based on typical usages of these vehicles, this amounts to about six months’ driving for the midsize midrange BEV and 16 months for the full-size long-range BEV.

    Meanwhile, the global warming emissions of manufacturing BEVs are falling as automakers gain experience and improve production efficiency. With a focus on clean manufacturing, emissions could fall even more. There are many ways in which the EV industry might reduce these manufacturing-related emissions, including:

    • Advances in manufacturing efficiency and in the recycling or reuse of lithium-ion batteries;

    • The use of alternative battery chemistries that require less energy-intensive materials; and

    • The use of renewable energy to power manufacturers’ and suppliers’ facilities.


    To accelerate the U.S. transition to a low-carbon future, we recommend the following:

    • Under the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, states should develop and implement strong compliance plans that prioritize renewable energy and energy efficiency in meeting their emissions-reduction targets.

    • Policy makers at all levels of government should adopt new or strengthened policies and programs for increasing energy efficiency and the deployment of renewable energy. These options include renewable electricity standards, energy-efficiency resource standards, carbon-pricing mechanisms, tax incentives and other financial incentives, and improvements in grid operation, transmission, and resource planning.

    • Government and the private sector should support more research aimed at decreasing the global warming emissions associated with making electric vehicles’ batteries, increasing the efficiency of their operation, and improving the processes for battery recycling or reuse. By supporting this emerging sector, we can help encourage manufacturers not only to reduce manufacturing emissions but also to lower the batteries’ costs.

    • To increase the benefits of electric vehicles—especially those in regions where global warming emissions from electricity generation are higher than the U.S. average— policies should support consumers who consider investing in cleaner sources of electricity, such as by installing rooftop solar photovoltaic systems or purchasing renewable energy credits.

    • Electric vehicle makers and their suppliers should raise the percentage of renewable electricity they use to build these cars. The Union of Concerned Scientists estimates that, with a future 80 percent renewable electricity grid, manufacturing emissions alone could decrease by more than 25 percent compared with manufacturing BEVs today.

    Electric vehicles provide benefits both in carbon emissions and oil savings, with the greatest emissions benefits occurring in regions with the lowest-carbon electricity sources. To reach their full potential, EVs must account for a larger share of vehicle sales while the electricity grid shifts from coal to low-carbon renewable sources. Moving forward with both of these transitions constitutes a critical strategy for cutting projected oil use in half over the next 20 years and putting the United States on a trajectory toward net-zero climate emissions by mid-century.


    THREE NEW ENERGY IDEAS BILL GATES LIKES Three energy solutions that excite Bill Gates

    Nyshka Chandran, November 29, 2015 (CNBC)

    “Solar chemical technology, flow batteries and solar paint are three examples of promising technologies…[that the Breakthrough Energy Coalition, which includes Bill Gates, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg, Alibaba's Jack Ma, and Amazon's Jeff Bezos, will fund]…to accelerate clean energy innovation…[and bring] public and private funds into research and development (R&D) to make renewable energy cheaper and more effective…Solar chemical technology essentially uses solar energy to create hydrogen, which can be used as fuel or for commercial purposes, such as making fertilizer…[A flow battery] could redefine how we store electricity…[because it is] much more sustainable than lithium-ion batteries…The purpose behind solar paint is to make solar power easier to install [and maintain]…” click here for more

    BRINGING OCEAN ENERGY INNOVATION IN What will the University of Maine do with an indoor ocean? Simulating wind and waves will help engineers find out if their innovations can hold up to the power of the sea.

    Kelsey Warner, November 22, 2015 (Christian Science Monitor)

    “…[The University of Maine] is looking to scale down the sea and make it approachable to innovators with its new Ocean Engineering Laboratory, a $13.8-million simulator capable of creating waves that top 100 feet and winds that exceed 200 mph. The 100-foot pool, made windy and wavy with 32 fans and 16 paddles, will simulate a stormy ocean to help engineers coming up with new products find out if their innovations can hold up to the power of the sea…The W2 Ocean Engineering Laboratory will test the fortitude of seaworthy objects as varied as boats, offshore wind turbines, tidal and wave-renewable energy facilities, aquaculture initiatives, oil and gas equipment, and public infrastructure such as ports and bridges…[Funded by a combination of public and private grants, it could also] model coastal cities like Portland, Maine, and New York City to simulate the impact of sea level rise…[and] test protective measures for those places…” click here for more

    WHY CAR DEALERS SLOW PLUG-IN SALES Most Car Dealers Are Lousy At Selling Electric Cars: Here's Why

    Stephen Edelstein, November 30, 2015 (Green Car Reports)

    “…[B]uyers have grumbled about the experience at traditional dealers that sell electric cars alongside internal-combustion models…One problem is that dealers apparently don't think consumers are interested in electric cars…[One study showed] only 14 percent of buyers cited fuel efficiency as the most important factor…[but electric cars also] take longer to sell, because buyers are often unfamiliar with the technology…[and] calculating tax credits and applying other incentives also [takes extra time while salespeople] make money based on the number of cars they sell…[so] salespeople may not be taking the necessary time to educate themselves about electric cars…[Also, on average], dealers make three times as much profit from service as they do from new-car sales…[but a 2013 J.D. Power survey found that while 57 percent of gasoline-car buyers planned to take their vehicles back to the dealer for service…[only 48 percent of electric-car buyers will]...As long as dealers feel they have nothing to gain from selling more electric cars, they will likely remain a major bottleneck to greater adoption…” click here for more

    Saturday, November 28, 2015

    Net Zero Energy Homes Explained

    From ZED Group via YouTube

    Net Zero Energy Homes Missouri

    From ArchitecTube via YouTube

    Net Zero Energy Homes Canada

    From Green Energy Futures via YouTube

    Friday, November 27, 2015


    Global panic: art show Exit brings climate change to shocking life; Timed to coincide with the COP21 UN conference in Paris, this video installation is a stark reality check for Earth’s inhabitants as sea levels rise, natural disasters proliferate and forced migration multiplies

    Hannah Ellis-Peterson, 27 November 2015 (UK Guardian)

    “…The statistics around the climate change debate may make for increasingly stark reading, but they suffer from one major drawback: that we, as humans, find it difficult to relate to data – no matter how shocking the numbers… Exit, being staged at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris…[is a] vast 360-degree video installation, with viewers seated in the middle…[that brings] to life – through a number of animated maps, visuals and text – all the data that shows the extent of the human and ecological cost of climate change…[It spans the disciplines of science and art to offer] a ‘new aesthetic for how we can relate to the the destruction of our own planet’…[and brings] to life the current state of planet Earth…” click here for more


    China Again Tops for Clean Energy Investment, Study Shows

    November 22, 2015 (Bloomberg News)

    “China, the world’s biggest emitter of carbon pollution, continues to hold the top position as the best developing country in which to invest in clean energy…[It] scored highest for a second consecutive year in an analysis of 55 emerging market nations including South Africa, Uruguay and Kenya that mapped important progress in the areas of spending, capacity deployment, and policy development. Brazil and Chile followed China in the rankings, according to Climatescope scores, which were based on data from 2014…[The study showed] the clean energy center of gravity is shifting inexorably from ‘north’ to ‘south,’ [and] from developed to developing countries…In 2014, China added 35 gigawatts of new renewable power generating capacity…and attracted $89 billion in all types of new clean energy capital…Among the 54 other nations in the Climatescope study, 15.5 gigawatts of new clean energy capacity was added in 2014, up 64 percent from a year earlier. Emerging markets are now installing capacity at twice the rate as wealthier Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development nations…For the first time, more than half of all new annual investment in clean energy projects went to emerging countries…” click here for more


    Blockaded and fuel-starved, Gaza looks to solar energy

    November 25, 2015 (Daily Sabah)

    “…[T]he energy crisis that has plagued the Gaza Strip since 2006 - when Israel first imposed a crippling blockade on the territory - has forced many residents to resort to solar energy…[Six panels], which are enough to provide a single apartment with all its electricity needs, cost some $3,000…[That is expensive but the solar panels are] in high demand…[because] electricity cuts have forced Gaza residents to search for alternatives, despite the high cost…The Gaza Strip, where some 1.9 million people live within 360 square kilometers of land, has groaned under a chronic energy crisis since Israel first sealed its borders with the Palestinian enclave in 2006 (with Egypt following suit in 2007)…Nearly 80 percent of the strip's residents receive social security benefits and 40 percent of them are still languishing below the poverty line…The Gaza Strip requires 400 megawatts of electricity - of which only 200 are currently available…” click here for more


    Geothermal overtakes hydropower generation

    People Daily, November 24, 2015 (MediaMax)

    “The use of geothermal power in the national mix has risen from 30 per cent last year to 39 per cent this year, making it the leading source of power in Kenya…[T]he country is doing away with the expensive thermal power generation for the clean, cheaper and reliable geothermal power…[T]he cost of power [has dropped] by 30 per cent due to an increase in geothermal power and…[is expected to] fall further…[P]ower demand in the country is growing by between eight per cent and10 per cent annually…[S]upply currently stands at 2,150MW against a demand of 1,600MW at peak hours…[Kenya’s government is working to attract the] investment capital required in geothermal drilling and exploration…to meet its target of developing 5,000MW by 2030]…” click here for more

    Thursday, November 26, 2015

    Fast Fun Facts About Thanksgiving

    NewEnergyNews is so grateful to so many…beginning with the Marks family foundation…the inimitable Frenchie and the rambling Juliette…the enduring Randolph and the Scott clan…the amazing guys at Akbar…and the blessed cowgirls of Carousel Ranch…

    Also the remarkable Amelia and Ann, her amazing progenitor who somehow finds the patience and strength to put up with me…Suzie, Sandy, Nancy, all the Cowboy Palace dancers, and Carol, may she dance forever with the angels…the Pasadena Untersehers…Teri in Austin…and the staff at Utility Dive…

    Can’t forget the hardworking people who run utilities and grid systems and keep the lights on and the many folks who are building the infrastructure to harvest the power of this good earth’s wind, sun, deep heat, and flowing waters, for sharing themselves and stories from the front lines of the fight to build a New Energy world…

    And, of course, the especially astute readers who keep clicking on this page…

    May you always count your blessings and may a kind fate lead you.

    From HistoryChannel via YouTube

    A Lesser Known Bit Of Thanksgiving History

    This isn’t part of the official history of Thanksgiving but it probably should be. From jasonxgoodman via YouTube

    Wednesday, November 25, 2015


    New polls: Americans love solar more than any other type of energy; Two new polls show that support for renewables is on the rise across demographic divides

    Herman K. Trabish, April 15, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    Recent numbers from two nationally-recognized polling agencies offer an instructive look into how Americans view electricity generation sources.

    Findings from Gallup and Zogby Analytics concur – the public increasingly thinks the nation's future is in renewables and energy efficiency, while they are losing confidence in nuclear and coal. Natural gas, meanwhile, appears to be in good standing as well, save for apprehensions surrounding fracking.

    In late January of this year, Zogby asked 1,400 U.S. homeowners to pick the three energy sources most important to the U.S. future. 50% chose solar and 42% picked wind, according to the firm's report "U.S. Homeowners on Clean Energy: A National Survey."

    The poll was commissioned by Clean Edge, Inc. and SolarCity, two leading renewables developers.

    Natural gas was picked by 33% and energy efficiency by 25%. Nuclear came in at 14% and coal was the choice of only 8%. Solar led with nearly every demographic: Republicans, Democrats, Independents, conservatives, liberals, city and rural dwellers, youth, and the elderly.

    Equally indicative of an ongoing shift, the 11-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for solar has been 52% and, representing the broader clean energy market for consumers, the CAGR for LEED-certified projects has been 56%. This may suggest that American consumers are beginning to vote with their wallets for cleaner energy and efficiency.

    “In 2014, over half of all new U.S. electricity generation came from wind and solar,” said Clean Edge Managing Director Ron Pernick. “Coal is on its descent. Natural gas is a significant contributor. This research shows Americans see that and are supportive of the shift that is in play.”

    Gallup found, in a broader-based poll from early March, that only 51% of Americans presently favor nuclear, down from its 62% peak in 2010.

    Support for "more emphasis" on natural gas production dropped 10 points since 2013, to 55%, and for oil dropped 5 points to 41%. But, Gallup reported, “there has been no meaningful change in support for expanding solar power or wind as part of a national energy strategy.”

    “This corresponds to other research we’ve seen on how consumers view solar,” said National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association Sr. Communications Manager Tracy Warren. “It isn’t surprising that consumers are looking at solar and asking if it can help them save money.”

    The generational shift

    Findings in the polls show a strong preference for a future based on renewable energy generation, but they also raise some doubts about the role of natural gas.

    Most of the poll participants expect the trends of rising electricity rates and falling installed solar costs to continue. Zogby found that nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents said “saving on monthly electrical bills” was the most important factor in the decision to go solar. Because solar can be expected to provide increasing savings, it can also be expected to be more homeowners' choice.

    Similarly predictive was the Zogby finding that “support for natural gas and nuclear decline significantly with younger respondents.” The demographic trend is away from traditional resources. While 43% of those over 70 support natural gas, only 27% of those from 18 to 24 support it. Nuclear was supported by 24% of those over 70 but only 8% of those between 25 and 34 and just 1% for those between 18 and 24.

    Gallup found that while only 35% of Americans want more emphasis on nuclear and 33% want less, 79% of Americans want more emphasis on solar and 70% want more emphasis on wind. A majority want more emphasis on natural gas but it is down from 2013’s support.

    “This could be indicative of the divisive nature of fracking,” Gallup suggested.

    The 11-year CAGR rates for solar and LEED-certified buildings were dwarfed, according to the Zogby report, by the 145% CAGR for LED lights from 2009 to 2013, and the 309% CAGR for electric vehicles from 2010-2013. This is more evidence of where the trends will lead.

    A more subtle predictor was in the fact that the biggest support of solar’s importance for the future came from the South, where there has not yet been much solar development and the economics are not as strong.

    “People are aware of sunshine, insolation, as a resource and they understand that it is something they can use to their benefit,” explained SolarCity Communications Vice President Jonathan Bass. “The lack of adoption is because solar is not really available to them. Three of the six states that don’t have net metering are in the Deep South. But there is a lot of support because it is a natural resource and an advantage they have over other parts of the country.”

    The implication is the South wants solar to be available and will turn to it when it is.

    The economics

    “Saving money,” Zogby found, was the primary influence in the decision of 82% of homeowners “to purchase clean energy products and services.” Only 34% chose “reducing my environmental impact.”

    While 52% of homeowners said they consider the social and environmental impacts of their investments, 74% said the investment is more attractive if there is a “higher return than other options.” Only 22% would make the environmentally-conscious investment if it has a “slightly lower return than other options.”

    “It was not surprising to see economics are ahead of environmental considerations,” Warren said. “We saw the same thing. The consumer’s first concern is how it will affect the bill. That is the consumer’s bottom line.”

    Over the coming year, the Zogby poll found, homeowners clean-energy purchases will be those that combine the economic considerations of savings and relatively low upfront costs, with 27% planning to buy LED light bulbs, 12% planning a smart thermostat purchase, and 9% planning to buy an Energy Star-rated hot water heaters.

    “One of the biggest obstacles to energy efficiency is the upfront investment it often requires,” Warren agreed. “Co-ops offer all kinds of ways to help their members save on things like smart thermostats and LED light bulbs.”

    Midwest Energy’s How$mart program, she noted, provides on-bill financing of energy efficiency improvements such as insulation, air sealing, new heating and cooling systems, and commercial lighting. It has been adopted by five co-ops in Kentucky.

    If homeowners choose an investment with social and environmental benefits, 54% want it to have a higher return than a savings or CD account, 12% want it to provide U.S. job growth, and only 11% require that it help drive solar or sustainability.

    The politics and opportunity for utilities

    Gallup found strong support for oil, natural gas, wind, and solar among Republicans and strong support for wind and solar from Democrats.

    Zogby similarly found that 74% of homeowners favor continuing federal tax incentives for solar and wind, including 82% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans, and 72% of Independents.

    “There’s a misconception that the nation is divided on its attitudes toward clean energy,” Pernick said. “There is broad support for renewables across the political spectrum.” Because federal tax incentives for wind and solar have struggled for support in the current Congress, Pernick said, “we believe there is a disconnect between Congress and these constituencies. But we don’t believe there is that disconnect in a lot the cities and in a lot of the states.”

    Zogby also found that 66% of Republicans and 59% of Democrats “oppose any utility effort to impose a rooftop solar fee for panels that are connected to the grid.” Only 24% support utility fees on solar. By 53% to 26%, homeowners see an extra utility fee for connecting rooftop systems to the grid as a tax on solar.

    “The strongest opposition is among Republicans and among rural dwellers,” Bass said.

    This difference between homeowners and political leaders suggests “there may be a difference between what constituents support and what big donors support. These shouldn’t be partisan issues but there is a lot of rhetoric and funding flowing in to support anti-renewable agendas.”

    “There are a lot of changes happening. If we get to where there is residential energy storage everything is going to be very different,” Warren said. “Utilities are looking at how to balance the needs of their members in an energy landscape that looks very different than it does now.”

    “The broad support for solar should be instructive,” Bass said. “Customers want choice. Utilities can continue to try to block individuals’ access to solar along regulatory lines.

    Or they can start to work with solar developers to incorporate solar into their business models.”


    100% NEW ENERGY GRID CAN BE STABLE An All Wind, Water, and Solar Grid Will Be Stable Without Batteries

    Charles Q. Choi, 23 Novmber 2015 (IEEE Spectrum)

    “The U.S. electrical grid could rely completely on solar, wind, and water power, and existing low-cost methods of storing energy [rather than giant battery farms]…Previous research suggested that the U.S. and the world] could get 100 percent of its energy from [New Energy] by 2050…[S]cientists created a 3-D global weather model to predict how much electricity wind, water, and solar power could generate in [an all-electric U.S.] between 2050 and 2055…[and] modeled a variety of ways to store this energy…[They concluded all the raw energy] could come from wind, water, and solar, with no need for coal, oil, natural gas, biofuels or nuclear power…[and] existing low-cost ways of storing clean energy [like pumped hydro and consumer geothermal] could suffice, in combination with ‘demand response’ programs where consumers are given financial incentives to turn equipment down, or off, when the power supply is limited or when the grid needs balancing…” click here for more

    GLOBAL AMAZON WEB SERVICES POWERED BY WIND Amazon's Ohio Wind Energy Farm to Power AWS Worldwide

    Sejuti Banerjea, November 25, 2015 (Zacks)

    “Last year, Amazon committed to gradually switch to using 100% renewable energy for the entire Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure that powers its cloud computing services globally…[and it] recently announced its plan to construct a 100-megawatt (MW) wind farm in Ohio to power its data centers with clean energy…Expected to become operational in May 2017, this facility will supply energy to the electrical grid that powers the existing and upcoming AWS data centers…According to AWS, about 40% of the power consumed by its worldwide infrastructure will come from renewable sources by the end of the next year…[Other tech giants hae alwo been attracted to long term fixed price Neqw Energy contracts. Apple] claims that its iCloud online service is powered with 100% renewable energy…[Microsoft] signed a deal with EDF Renewable Energy…[Google’s Alphabet] currently powers about 35% of its operations with renewable energy…” click here for more

    CHURCH VS. UTILITY IN NORTH CAROLINA SOLAR DISPUTE Church Fights Duke Energy For 3rd Party Solar Energy

    Jon Camp, November 24, 2015 (Eyewitness News/Raleigh, North Carolina)

    “…[Faith Community Church is living the story of David and Goliath in] going up against Duke Energy…[The church] teamed up with the environmental advocacy group NC WARN to install solar panels on the church's roof…NC WARN paid for them and is selling back the power to the church for half of what Duke Energy was charging…[I]t may be against state law. North Carolina is one of four states that doesn't allow 'third party sales' of solar energy. Only regulated utilities can sell power and Duke has questioned whether NC WARN is breaking the law…[NC WARN says this is a test case to open the state’s rooftop solar industry. A Duke spokesperson said] the company isn't opposed to third party sales in principle but says the model doesn't always put consumers' best interests first…” click here for more

    Tuesday, November 24, 2015


    The Francis Effect How Pope Francis changed the conversation about global warming

    November 2015 (George Mason University Center for Climate Change Communication and Yale University Program on Climate Change Communication)


    In June of 2015, Pope Francis issued an encyclical titled Laudato Si’: On Care for Our Common Home. This book-length letter was intended to draw Christians into a dialogue with one another, and with all of humanity, about the implications of climate change and other forms of environmental destruction. In the encyclical, Francis presented a strong moral call to action: people and nations should come together and take the actions necessary to protect the Earth – and thereby protect the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people from climate change.

    In September, Pope Francis visited the United States for five days to meet with President Obama, address a joint session of the U.S. Congress, address the General Assembly of the United Nations, and meet, talk, pray and hold Mass with ordinary Americans. During several of these events, he urged the nations of the world to come together to address climate change. His views were covered broadly in American news media.

    Between the encyclical release and Pope's visit, the Catholic Climate Covenant and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops widely disseminated the message of Laudato Si'. They held two press conferences at the National Press Club, and five diocesan press events, which generated more than 3,000 news stories and more than 500 downloads of a free parish program.

    Given the Pope’s stature as a global religious leader, and the large number of Catholic Americans, we decided to assess whether the Pope’s teachings have had an influence on Americans’, particularly Catholics’, understanding, opinions, and dialogue about climate change.

    This report examines a large, representative cohort of American adults who were first surveyed in spring of 2015, and then again in early October – a within-subject study of changes in public responses. In the two surveys, we assessed the same respondents’ global warming beliefs, attitudes, risk perceptions, behaviors and policy preferences, and their views of Pope Francis – so that we could determine who, if anyone, had changed their opinions, and if so, in what ways.

    The report focuses on change among American adults nationally, and within the three largest groups of American Christians – Catholics, non-evangelical Protestants, and born again/Evangelical Christians. We anticipated that any effect of the Pope’s teachings on global warming would be most evident among Catholics, and were therefore primarily interested in contrasting Catholics’ responses to those of Americans overall. The report also focuses on non-evangelical Protestants and born again/Evangelicals – but does not focus on changes among people of other faiths, or non-religious Americans, due to sample size limitations. Because of their relatively large proportions in the population, we were able to reliably assess the views of Protestants and Evangelicals, but not people of other faiths, or non-religious Americans.

    In this report we conclude that, over the past six months, Americans – especially Catholic Americans – became more engaged in and concerned about global warming. Furthermore, our findings suggest that the Pope’s teachings about global warming contributed to an increase in public engagement on the issue, and influenced the conversation about global warming in America; we refer to this as The Francis Effect.

    It is important to note that The Francis Effect may fade or grow over time. Indeed, although publication of an Encyclical is a significant event in the Catholic Church, the full impact of the Pope’s teachings may continue to unfold over time, especially if the Pope continues to speak on the topic, if Bishops, Cardinals and priests amplify the teachings in their dioceses, and if Catholics talk to each other and to non-Catholic friends about the issue.

    Assignment to Religion Category

    Assignment to the religion categories used in this report is based on responses to two survey questions: (1) What is your religion? (2) Would you describe yourself as “born again” or evangelical? All respondents who identified as Catholic in the first question were coded as “Catholic” for this report (n=222). Respondents who identified as Protestant or Baptist in item 1 but did not identify as born again or evangelical in the second question were coded as “Protestant (Non-Evangelical)” (n=171). Respondents who identified as Protestant, Baptist, Pentecostal, or Other Christian in the first question and also did identify as born again or evangelical in the second question were coded as “Evangelical” (n=225).

    The total sample size (n=905) is too small to provide reliable estimates of the opinions of a number of other, smaller, religious groups in the U.S., including Mormons, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Unitarian Universalists, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, and Buddhists, as well as others with no religious affiliation. For this reason, they are not analyzed in the report.

    Key Fndings

    From Spring to Fall of 2015 (before the Pope’s encyclical to after his visit to the U.S.)…

    Americans Developed a More Positive View of the Pope

    • More Americans (+7 percentage points), especially Catholics (+13 points), have a very positive opinion of the Pope.

    • Trust in the Pope as a source of information about global warming increased by among Americans overall (+11 points), and among Catholics (+6 points).

    Global Warming Became a More Salient Issue

    • More Americans (+4 points) and more Catholics (+10 points) say they now hear about global warming in the media at least once a month or more frequently.

    • Almost half (45%) of all Americans, and over half of Catholics (56%) say they have seen, read or heard media coverage about the Pope’s views on global warming in the past few months.

    • Awareness of the Pope’s encyclical increased among all Americans (+14 points) and among Catholics (+16 points).

    • Nearly 1 in 10 Americans (9%) and nearly 2 in 10 Catholics (18%) said that the Pope’s views on global warming were discussed in their place of worship.

    • Americans overall (+6 points), and Catholics (+5 points), become more likely to discuss global warming with their friends and family often or occasionally.

    Many Americans Say the Pope’s Views on Global Warming Influenced Their Own Views

    • Many Americans (17%) and Catholics (35%) say the Pope’s position on global warming has influenced their views about the issue.

    • Of those Americans who say they've been influenced, half (50%) say the Pope’s position on global warming made them more concerned about global warming, while fewer than 1 in 10 (8%) say they became less concerned. Among Catholics, the proportions are 53 percent, and 8 percent, respectively.

    Americans Became More Concerned About Global Warming

    • More Americans overall (+4 points), and more Catholics (+8 points), had thought a lot or some about global warming.

    • More Americans overall (+6 points), and more Catholics (+13 points), became very or extremely sure that global warming is happening. There was no change, however, in the number of Americans who believe human activity is causing global warming.

    • More Americans overall and American Catholics think that people in developing countries (+15 and +17 points, respectively) and the world’s poor (+12 and +20 points, respectively) will be harmed by global warming a great deal or a moderate amount.

    • More Americans (+9 points), and more Catholics (+13 points), think global warming will harm people in the United States a great deal or a moderate amount.

    • More Americans overall, and more Catholics, have come to believe that Americans will be harmed by global warming sooner rather than later.

    • More Americans (+8 points) and more Catholics (+11 points) have become worried about global warming.

    • More Americans (+7 points) and more Catholics (+8 points) say that the issue of global warming has become very or extremely important to them personally.

    • More Americans (+5 points) and more Catholics (+7 points) say they have personally experienced the effects of global warming.

    More Americans Came to See Global Warming as a Moral Issue

    • More Americans and more Catholics came to see global warming as a moral issue (+6 and +8 points, respectively) or a religious issue (+4 and +7 points, respectively).

    • More Americans overall also came to see global warming as a social justice/fairness issue (+8 points), and a poverty issue (+5 points).

    Support for an American Response to Global Warming May Have Increased, But Only Slightly

    • More Americans (+7 points) feel that America should reduce its greenhouse gas emissions regardless of what other countries do.

    • Slightly more Americans (+ 2 points) support funding research into renewable energy sources, such as solar and wind power, although fewer Americans (-3 points) support setting strict carbon dioxide emission limits on coal-fired power plants.


    • Between spring and fall of 2015, Americans – especially Catholic Americans – have become modestly more engaged in and concerned about global warming. Our panel survey findings suggest that the Pope’s teachings about global warming contributed to greater public engagement in the issue.


    THE ‘ECOSYSTEM’ THAT FUNDS DENIAL Why are so many Americans skeptical about climate change? A study offers a surprising answer.

    Joby Warrick, Novdmber 23, 2015 (Washington Post)

    “Climate change has long been a highly polarizing topic in the United States, with Americans lining up on opposite sides depending on their politics and worldview. Now a scientific study sheds new light on the role played by corporate money in creating that divide…The report, a systematic review of 20 years’ worth of data, highlights the connection between corporate funding and messages that raise doubts about the science of climate change and whether humans are responsible for the warming of the planet. The analysis suggests that corporations have used their wealth to amplify contrarian views and create [an ‘ecosystem of influence’ to give] an impression of greater scientific uncertainty than actually exists…” click here for more

    GE MAKES MAJOR MOVES IN WIND 3 Ways General Electric Just Got Serious About Wind Energy; General Electric Company wants to win the wind war.

    Justin Loiseau, November 23, 2015 (Motley Fool)

    "General Electric Company is taking its wind energy growth strategy to the next level…After folding in recently acquired Alstom's power and grid business, General Electric Company just announced that it's officially creating its own renewable energy business unit…The move makes sense. Alstom brings with it a suite of complementary renewable resources, expanding both the scope and quality of General Electric's current offerings. Globally, Alstom laid claim to the world's largest installed renewable energy base (370,000 MW)…While ‘growth by acquisition’ of a $10.6 billion company and a business unit restructuring may not seem like major signals that General Electric Company is getting serious about wind energy, there are three reasons that this is actually a big deal. Click through the slideshow below for three ways these recent developments signal GE's seriousness…” click here for more

    THE MANY WAYS OF SOLAR Solar energy is for everyone

    Sean Gallagher, November 24, 2015 (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

    “…[S]olar benefits all Americans, of all income levels…As with any new technology, early adopters of solar tended to have higher incomes…But as solar prices have plummeted by more than 50 percent over the last decade, multiple reports outline how rooftop solar systems are overwhelmingly adopted in middle-class neighborhoods with median incomes ranging from $40,000 to $90,000…Though sometimes mischaracterized as a ‘subsidy,’ the net metering policies under which most rooftop solar customers are billed is simply a compensation mechanism that recognizes that clean energy — produced near the site where it’s consumed and primarily during expensive peak hours — is more valuable than generic ‘brown’ power…[For] customers who haven’t been able to go solar themselves, statewide low-income solar initiatives, solar leasing programs and community solar projects broaden access to solar…” click here for more

    Monday, November 23, 2015


    The 50 States Of Solar; A Quarterly Look At America’s Fast-Evolving Distributed Solar Policy Conversation

    Q3 2015 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)


    Distributed solar continues to thrive in many U.S. markets.

    Through the end of 2014, more than 600,000 homes and businesses had installed on-site solar.1 The residential market grew by more than 50% annually in 2012, 2013, and 20142—a trend that some experts predict will continue for 2015 and 2016.3 These systems generate approximately one-third of the total U.S. solar electricity production.4 Although other states have rapidly expanding distributed solar markets, California accounts for approximately half of all residential solar installations. Seventy-two percent of residential solar systems installed in 2014 were financed through a third-party ownership model (i.e., solar leasing or a third-party power purchase agreement (PPA)), although solar loan products are rising in popularity. 5

    Community solar programs are expanding into new states and utility service areas, yet this option is not yet available to most U.S. residential customers.

    Community solar has sparked strong interest among many electric utilities.6 As of August 2014, there were 57 active or proposed utility-offered community solar programs in 22 states. 7 These utility programs range significantly in design and size. For example, Xcel Energy’s community solar program in Colorado, stemming from Colorado’s landmark 2010 community solar legislation, is currently capped at 30 megawatts annually, whereas Xcel Energy’s community solar program in Minnesota does not have an aggregate cap, but limits the size of each community solar garden to 5 megawatts.

    Despite strong near-term growth projections for distributed solar, mid- to long-term policy uncertainties pose a challenge for the industry.

    • At the federal level, an important solar policy, the 30% investment tax credit, is set to expire after December 31, 2016, for residential PV owners and drop to 10% for commercial PV owners. 8

    • At the state level, the general trends are that solar rebate incentives are decreasing, solar tax incentives are expiring, renewable portfolio standards are nearing their targets, net metering caps are being reached, and net metering and rate design are undergoing regulatory and legislative review.

    Rate design, net metering, and distributed solar ownership are among the most contentious ongoing renewable energy policy issues. Some states have initiated studies or opened dockets to address these issues, and others have already approved some changes.

    Many utilities have proposed or advocated for changes to net metering rules or residential customer rate design. Many utilities claim that net-metered customers are unfairly subsidized under existing net metering rules. The utility industry’s chief concern is the recovery of its fixed costs to avoid both stranded assets and cost shifts; they argue that non-solar customers pay a larger share of the fixed costs than solar customers who continue to use the grid.9 Consequently, many utilities have proposed net metering changes, such as reducing compensation rates for the electricity customers put onto the grid, or rate design changes imposing higher costs on solar customers. Solar advocates, on the other hand, point to a number of benefits that solar provides to both the grid and society more broadly. Thus far, no consensus on the presence or absence of a cost shift has been reached, based on empirical evidence. Many (but not all—e.g., Louisiana) studies conducted by state governments on these issues show that existing net-metered customers produce net benefits to all customers (e.g., Mississippi) and that solar electricity production results in substantial value, comparable to or in excess of the retail rate (e.g., Maine)…

    In Brief: Top Five Solar Policy Developments of Q3 2015


    Utilities are exploring new business models by owning and operating distributed PV assets. Programs developed across the country over the last quarter include in Arizona, Georgia and Texas. In New York, Con Edison proposed a residential solar and storage program as one of its demonstration projects as part of the REV proceeding, where systems will be owned and financed by the utility’s unregulated subsidiary.


    California received proposals from its IOUs and other stakeholders on future net metering tariffs in Q3 2015. Proposals included buy-all, sell-all options for customers, new charges and fees, and reduced compensation for net excess generation.


    Utilities across the country continue to propose substantial increases in residential fixed customer charges. Fixed charge increases remain the most frequent proposed policy change impacting the residential solar value proposition in Q3.


    In response to growing interest in distributed generation, a number of utilities have proposed new rate structures which would subject residential customers with solar to demand charges, which are based on peak energy usage over a billing period. These charges have traditionally been included only for some non-residential customers. States with pending utility proposals in Q3 for new residential demand charges include Arizona, California, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas.


    In August 2015, Nevada reached its 235 MW net metering cap. Revised net metering tariffs were to take effect after the cap was reached. Until the Public Utilities Commission approves revised tariffs, new systems are being net metered under existing policies. NV Energy’s proposed successor tariffs feature a new rate class for net metering customers with both time-of-use (TOU) and demand charges…


    Several states took action in Q3 2015 to enable community solar policies or programs, with particularly noteworthy developments in New York and Hawaii, where utilities have been directed to file tariffs that would enable community solar projects for the first time in both states. California has also made steady progress in developing its Green Tariff Shared Renewables program, and Oregon has also opened a proceeding to develop a proposed community solar program design. In Minnesota, state regulators issued a ruling that clarifies size limits of community solar projects and establishes time limits for community solar interconnection requests. Notably, many utilities have separately proposed implementing community solar programs for their customers outside of these types of policy changes; these individual utility programs are not tracked here…


    The trend of utilities proposing fixed charge increases for all residential customers continued in Q3 2015. These fixed charge increases (which are sometimes accompanied by a corresponding decrease in perkilowatt-hour (kWh) rates) impact the financial value of solar to residents by limiting the portion of their electric bill that can be reduced through self-generation and reducing the value of any net metering credits that residential solar systems generate. Furthermore, rate structures that increase fixed charges and decrease variable energy charges have the effect of decreasing utility bills for large energy consumers while increasing utility bills for customers who consume less energy (including distributed solar owners).12 Figure 6 showsstates where utility proposals for monthly fixed charge increases were pending or decided in Q3 2015. Twenty-six rate increases were under consideration across 18 states. The largest pending increases were proposed in Missouri, Kansas, Arizona, and Wisconsin, where utilities proposed increases of $10 per month or more…


    An increasing number of utilities are proposing extra charges that apply only to solar or distributed generation customers. In Q3 2015, state regulators approved or were considering solar or DG charge increases for 19 utilities in 12 states (see Figure 6 and Table 7). The structure of proposed charges vary significantly, including flat monthly charges, charges based on the capacity of the installed solar system, charges based on measured monthly peak generation, and increases to variable per-kWh charges that would apply only to net metering. The vast majority of these increases are still pending regulatory decision as of the end of Q3…


    State third-party solar ownership laws—or the lack thereof—can be a financing barrier for distributed solar. Florida, Kentucky, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and South Carolina currently disallow third-party solar PPAs, and the legality is unclear in about 20 other states.14 While no additional states enabled third-party ownership in Q3 2015, there are pending decisions in Delaware, North Carolina, and New Hampshire to clarify the regulatory treatment of third-party entities seeking to offer solar PPAs. In Florida, an ongoing ballot initiative would create a constitutional amendment legalizing third-party PPAs…


    Utility-led residential rooftop solar programs are an emerging trend. In these programs, utility-owned solar systems are installed on customer roofs. These programs provide an opportunity for utilities to participate directly in the distributed solar market, though they have been met with controversy in some states.16 The financial value to customers varies widely across programs. In Arizona, for example, Tucson Electric Power offers to convert the electric accounts of solar customers to a fixed charge account, where customers pay a flat monthly fee based on their existing energy consumption. The monthly fee will be fixed for 25 years, insulating the customer against future rate increases. In Georgia, conversely, the state’s largest utility has begun selling customer-sited solar systems through its unregulated business arm, offering a customer value very similar to that of third-party ownership options…


    Q4 2015 will include significant action on key pending distributed solar policies, perhaps most critically on the future of net metering policies in a number of states.

    • In October, the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission issued a decision, making it the first state in the nation to end its net metering policy (see the forthcoming Q4 edition of The 50 States of Solar for more details).

    • Final decisions on net metering successor tariffs are expected in California and Nevada.

    • Arizona regulators will be examining the cost-of-service and value of solar for distributed generation customers in a generic docket.

    • Massachusetts is poised to enact a new solar policy this legislative term, with possible changes including an increase in net metering caps and changes to net metering and virtual net metering compensation rates.

    • The Vermont Public Service Board is required to propose new net metering rules by January that would apply once net metering at a utility reaches 15% of peak load.18

    • Current commissioners on the Mississippi Public Service Commission have until December 31, if they want to adopt net metering rules during their term. A number of utility proposals for monthly fixed charge increases or additional charges for solar customers are scheduled for a final decision in Q4. If recent trends continue, utilities will increasingly look to recover more of their costs from fixed monthly charges rather than variable charges and propose changes to net metering or distributed generation customer tariffs that ensure cost recovery from solar customers.


    ACT NOW ON CLIMATE OR PAY BIGGER BILL LATER Delaying action on climate change will hurt growth: Global CEOs

    23 November 2015 (The Economic Times)

    “Advocating the need for meaningful ‘global action’ to deal with climate change…[an open letter from 78 corporate leaders] said delaying action would damage growth prospects in the years to come…Ahead of the crucial global climate change talks beginning later this month in Paris, [the letter, signed by] a cross-sectoral coalition facilitated by the World Economic Forum (WEF)…[representing] USD 2.13 trillion in revenue, said] that an economically sustainable shift to a low-carbon future will create 'jobs and growth' across the world…[but delaying] action is not an option, it will be costly and will damage growth prospects in the years to come…[It called] on government leaders and policy makers to align on global measures, to be consistent in policy-making and to develop helpful innovation frameworks…” click here for more

    THE EMERGING OCEAN WIND PLAY First US offshore wind farm hits the waves

    November 22, 2015 (News 24)

    “…[W]hile the US East Coast has what one study called a ‘Saudi Arabia’ of untapped wind resources just off its shores…[Europe] has built more than 80 offshore wind farms since 1991 [but] there had not been a single wind farm constructed in US waters…[but] Deepwater Wind's five-turbine Block Island project is expected to go online in late 2016 with an overall capacity of 30 MW…[The project] is a ‘demonstration project’, despite its hefty price tag of $290m, raised entirely from private investors…Deepwater and two other companies, including Dong Energy of Denmark, have leased tracts from the federal government farther off Rhode Island and Massachusetts for even larger farms, with up to a combined 500 turbines. Other developers are eyeing Maryland and New Jersey…A recent report by Oceana, an ocean conservation advocacy group, found that the wind resources off the 13 US states along the East Coast could generate 127 GW…[and] supplant 70% of the East Coast's fossil-fuel based electricity…” click here for more

    SOLAR INDUSTRY SPLIT SolarCity cutting ties with rooftop solar advocacy group

    Kyle Roerink, November 20, 2015 (Las Vegas Sun)

    “The Alliance for Solar Choice, an advocacy group representing rooftop solar companies, is losing one of its anchor members…SolarCity will leave the alliance in December, after a pivotal battle with NV Energy over a policy called net metering, which pays rooftop solar customers for providing energy to the grid…Since 2013, the alliance has advocated and lobbied for rooftop solar in Nevada and is working with regulators to devise a long-term price structure for net metering in the state…Sunrun, the nation’s second largest rooftop solar company and a fellow member of the alliance, has been SolarCity’s top ally…SolarCity’s split from the alliance highlights an apparent rift with its competitor…The two have differed on tactics for addressing the state’s solar policies and disagreed on how to work with lawmakers and regulators…” click here for more