As part of President Trump’s resolution to cut government spending, the White House has proposed drastic budget reductions for the United States Department of Energy (DOE) – and for its clean energy office. These may affect the State Energy Program (SEP), which has yielded broad-ranging health and economic benefits.
Outside the national spotlight, at a community development financial institution (CDFI) in Chicago, a high-performance program has been financing energy efficiency since 2008. This program could become the seed of one or more vastly larger projects to fund retrofits for affordable apartment buildings nationwide – if resources are available.
Who is driving corporate sustainability forward? In this interview, David Lubin, co-founder and managing director of Constellation Research and Technology, shared his perspective on CFOs’ role in steering the wheel of these decisions. It often takes a dedicated commitment made by a CEO to make a compelling case – and an integrated sustainability plan carried out by the CFO to make it happen.
Now that the high-leverage Weatherization Assistance Program has been starved of funding for a few years, the fact that United States legislators are discussing closing its doors is not surprising. This shortsighted viewpoint reflects the proposed federal budget’s overall disinterest in poverty alleviation.
The MIT Energy Conference, which took place on March 3-4 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, explored the financial and social barriers to the major infrastructure projects that are required to support next-generation energy investments. Speakers analyzed the many changes that stakeholders face when they start expanding their use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.
What kept Governor Rick Snyder (R-Mich.) up all night in December? According to Katie Trachsel, manager of the Michigan Renewable Energy Certification System (MIRECS) program, it was the passage of two pieces of legislation that transformed the state’s renewable energy laws, encouraged energy efficiency, and reshaped utility regulation. Meanwhile, Illinois rolled out its new renewable portfolio standard (RPS). Brian Granahan, chief counsel at Illinois Power Agency, said the RPS was designed to resolve a confusing set of policies. The new goals are clearer and easier to follow than the previous ones.
Quietly, while the United States focused on its national election, a set of federal clean energy incentives phased out at the end of 2016. Now that they have vanished, states may seek to create replacements to keep these markets alive and help them grow. For example, New York State Energy Research & Development Authority (NYSERDA) is now strategically replacing the missing incentives for renewable heating and cooling.
What is the federal government doing to catalyze access to clean energy? Last year, the United States Department of Energy (DOE) launched two programs that work side by side: the Clean Energy Savings for All initiative and the Clean Energy for Low-Income Communities Accelerator. These programs attempt to identify and promote models that work for low-to-moderate-income communities in urban and rural areas in every region of the country.
Now that Energy Star’s incentive for manufactured housing has reached its sunset date at the end of 2016, who will take the lead in advancing these goals? The federal political climate is not an encouraging one for Energy Star because it is a United States Environmental Protection Agency program.
Energy technology trends move fast. The market for digital solutions to advance energy efficiency and solar power is growing. Two buzzwords at the beginning of 2017 are ‘big data’ and ‘Internet of Things (IoT).’ Data, analytics and computing today have the muscle power to revolutionize global energy systems. So do smart grid technologies, which are now becoming mainstream topics of discussion.
Growing momentum for energy efficiency financing in the United States has motivated State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network to conduct around 20 interviews with stakeholders in five states to explore what it takes to make utility-sponsored programs succeed. The research team produced a report that outlines the pitfalls and promises of a wide range of evaluation techniques.
While making strong motivational statements at the 2016 Investor Summit on Climate Risk in New York City on Jan. 27, speakers also laid forth an ambitious set of targeted goals to implement the Paris climate conference’s agenda. These goals included implementing climate disclosure requirements; advocating for stable, economically meaningful carbon pricing; ceasing investment in coal; leveraging pension funds; scaling up green banks; clarifying what constitutes a green bond; and analyzing risks on an industry-by-industry basis.
Habitat for Humanity (HFH) is leading the way in developing sustainable, high-efficiency housing for the low- and fixed-income communities. Its latest project, the River Falls Eco Village in Wisconsin, is the first development of its kind to demonstrate that net-zero homes can provide tangible economic and social benefits to low-to-middle-income (LMI) communities.
As the biggest public funder of projects related to climate change, the Global Environment Facility (GEF) has played a crucial role in removing market barriers to investment in clean energy worldwide. Policy de-risking, investment aggregation mechanisms, and capacity building for banks and governments are key areas where the GEF has worked to increase the flow of financing.
What do leaders in the banking industry think about the potential of privately financing solar power, wind energy, and energy efficiency? In this interview, Michael Eckhart, managing director and global head of finance and sustainability at Citigroup, shares his optimism about the transition to clean energy and his observations about the persistent obstacles in the market – including the need to scale up financing for energy efficiency.