Category Archives: Clean energy

As Earth faces climate catastrophe, US set to open nearly 200 power plants

USA TODAY, by Elizabeth Weise, Sept. 9, 2019

Industry continues to invest heavily in carbon-polluting natural gas – government regulators favor gas

A new climate report, Volume II of the National Climate Assessment, says that the effects of global warming are intensifying and getting costlier. USA TODAY

Powerful hurricanes. Record-breaking heatwaves. Droughts that bring ruin to farmers. Raging forest fires. The mass die-off of the world’s coral reefs. Food scarcity.

To avoid a climate change apocalypse, carbon dioxide emissions need to fall by as much as 45% from 2010 levels by 2030,  according to the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Instead, utilities and energy companies are continuing to invest heavily in carbon-polluting natural gas. An exclusive analysis by USA TODAY finds that across the United States there are as many as 177 natural gas power plants currently planned, under construction or announced. There are close to 2,000 now in service.

All that natural gas is “a ticking time bomb for our planet,” says Michael Brune, president of the Sierra Club. “If we are to prevent runaway climate change, these new plants can’t be built.”

It also doesn’t make financial sense, according to an analysis by the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based think tank that focuses on energy and resource efficiency. By the time most of these power plants are slated to open their doors, the electricity they’ll provide will cost more to produce than clean energy alternatives.

By 2023, the U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates the average cost of producing a megawatt hour of electricity will be $40.20 for a large-scale natural gas plants. Solar installations will be $2.60 cheaper and wind turbines will be $3.60 cheaper.

Catastrophic effects ahead unless we make changes

The world needs to reduce its carbon emissions rapidly – by 50% within the next decade – or face the prospect of a global temperature rise of more than 2.7 degrees within decades, said Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric sciences at Pennsylvania State University.

That’s enough warming to kill off the coral reefs, melt large parts of the ice sheets, inundate coastal cities and to yield what Mann calls “nearly perpetual extreme weather events.”

“By any definition, that would be catastrophic,” he said.

We’re seeing the start of it now. There’s strong data to suggest that global warming is already causing changes in the jet stream and other weather systems. That can cause hurricanes to slow down and wreak devastation in single areas for longer, said Marshall Shepherd, director of the atmospheric sciences program at the University of Georgia.

“With Dorian, we saw it stall over the Bahamas. We saw that with Harvey in Houston and Florence in the Carolinas,” he said.

More gas = more carbon dioxide

Adding dozens of new natural gas plants in the coming decades is going in the exact opposite direction of what we need, clean energy advocates say.

“If the current pipeline of gas plants were to get built, it would make decarbonizing the power sector by 2050 nearly impossible,” said Joe Daniel, a senior energy analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists, a nonprofit based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

An analysis by the Rocky Mountain Institute published Monday looked at 88 gas-fired power plants scheduled to begin operation by 2025. They would emit 100 million tons of carbon dioxide a year – equivalent to 5% of current annual emissions from the U.S. power sector.

The institute calculated the cost of producing a megawatt-hour of electricity of a clean energy portfolio in each state that would provide the same level of power reliability as a gas plant. It determined that building clean energy alternatives would cost less than 90% of the proposed 88 plants.

It would also save customers over $29 billion in their utility bills, said Mark Dyson, an electricity markets analyst who co-authored the Rocky Mountain Institute paper.

“If you look at how things pencil out, we’re at a tipping point,” he said. “Here’s evidence that the switch from gas to clean energy makes economic sense and is compatible with utility companies’ need for reliability.”

More power plants coming to a state near you

USA TODAY compiled its own list of 177 planned and proposed natural gas plants through August, using data from S&P Global Market Intelligence, which tracks power plants that have been officially announced, and the Sierra Club, which tracks proposed plants.

Of those, 152 have a scheduled opening date of between 2019 and 2033, though only 130 have specific locations chosen. An additional 25 are part of companies’ long-term planning processes and don’t have estimated opening dates yet.

The plants are a mix of large-scale installations meant to provide lots of electricity much of the day and smaller plants used for short periods when demand for energy is particularly high.

Texas has the most proposed plants, with 26. Next is Pennsylvania with 24, North Carolina with 12, Florida with 10, California with nine and Montana with eight.

Not all will be built. Power companies are required to estimate future needs and plan as much as 15 years out, and this list includes plants which the companies may eventually decide they don’t need.

But the numbers show that greenhouse gas-producing natural gas is still on the table for many power producers, despite warnings that the energy sector needs to be quickly moving away from carbon-producing power sources.

Another concern raised by clean energy advocates is that once built, natural gas plants typically have a 30-year lifespan. Many of these plants will end up as “stranded assets,” unused because they’re too expensive to run, while consumers will still be on the hook for the cost of the construction, said Daniel.

It’s also true that power companies are building out solar and wind generation. Over the next two years, clean energy is expected to be the fastest-growing source of U.S. electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Even so, that will only bring the share of wind and solar in the United States electricity market to slightly under 11%.

By 2020, EIA expects natural gas will make up about 36% of U.S. electricity generation. In comparison, coal is at 23%, nuclear at 20% and hydroelectric at 7%.

Why are we still building natural gas plants?

If natural gas plants contribute to global warming and most of them are going to be more expensive, why are so many still on the drawing board? The reasons are varied.

Energy companies say gas is more reliable than renewables and cheaper and less carbon polluting than the coal it often replaces.

But renewable energy advocates say the incentives for utilities and energy producers aren’t always in line with those of consumers.

For regulated utilities, one of the easiest ways to make money is to invest capital in large building projects, such as natural gas plants. Regulators allow utilities to set rates so that they get a return on invested capital of about 10%, Dyson said. That gives energy companies an incentive to build as much as possible.

In contrast, utilities that procure wind and solar power via commonly available purchase contracts earn no returns for these projects.

“There’s a perverse incentive for some utilities to build as big as they can, rather than to build as smart as they can,” said Ben Inskeep, an analyst with EQ Research, a clean energy policy consulting firm in Cary, North Carolina.

Companies also focus on reliability. Duke Energy, a power company based in Charlotte, North Carolina, has more than 7 million customers. As it transitions away from coal, it has embraced natural gas, announcing last week that it was considering as many as five new gas plants.

Today 5% of Duke Energy Carolinas’ electricity comes from solar, a percentage it plans to increase to between 8% and 13% by 2034, according to its most recent filing with state regulators. The state has almost no wind energy because of laws restricting the placement of wind turbines.

“We know our customers and communities want cleaner energy, and we’re doing our part to deliver that,” said spokeswoman Erin Culbert.

But she emphasized that Duke doesn’t believe solar and wind can be cost-effective and reliable enough to meet all its customers’ energy needs.

“Continued use of natural gas is key to our ability to speed up coal retirements, and its flexibility helps complement and balance the growing renewables on our system,” she said.

Government regulators favor gas

Another hurdle for renewable energy, some supporters say, is a combination of state-level rate-setting requirements and regional market rules that have led to a compensation structure for companies that favors coal and natural gas.

Who sets those rules depends on where the plant is.

In states where retail utilities own their own power generation facilities, the rates are approved by public utility commissions. Commissioners are typically appointed by state governors.

The process is less clear in the Midwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, California, and Texas, where utilities buy and sell their power through organized markets run by regional transmission organizations.

These are run by boards that by law must be independent. They are typically composed of people from the business and energy world and are chosen by complex systems. In some cases they are voted on by existing board members.

The boards set the rules, which are then approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Ultimately these commissions and boards are supposed to decide what’s cost-effective for both the companies and ratepayers, said Scott Hempling, an adviser to regulators, law professor at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., and author of two books on public utility law and regulation.

“A utility’s preference for profit is neither surprising nor wrong. But it’s not the utility’s job to balance its self-interest against the customers’ interest. It’s the job of regulators to constrain the private profit impulse with public interest principles,” he said.

It’s not news that there is bias towards profit, which can disadvantage customers. “The question is why it’s allowed to persist,” he said.

There are signs that what clean energy advocates have called an automatic rubber stamp for natural gas is beginning to change.

In April, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission denied a permit for a southern Indiana utility named Vectren South to build a $780 million natural gas plant. The regulators weren’t convinced the utility had chosen the best option to ensure its customers weren’t in danger of being “saddled with an uneconomic investment” in the future, it said.

In Michigan last year, local utility DTE won a bruising battle to build a 1,100 megawatt natural gas plant that will open in 2022 and cost nearly $1 billion. Critics complained the projections DTE used to make its case to regulators made wind and solar look less attractive.

The three members of the Michigan Public Service Commission, who are appointed by the governor, ended up approving the project. But the board’s 136-page opinion was not complimentary toward the utility, noting it was “concerned” about the constraints DTE built into the models it used to estimate whether renewable energy would be a viable alternative.

Some utilities choose clean energy

Not every utility company is ignoring warnings about the planet’s health, or customers’ pocketbooks.

Michigan utility Consumers Energy decided last year not to build new natural gas plants and instead focus on a combination of energy efficiency, renewable energy and batteries, which it says will be cheaper for customers.

The company, which has more than 4 million customers, plans to use 90% clean energy by 2040, said Brandon Hofmeister, senior vice president for governmental, regulatory and public affairs.

When the utility was putting together its existing energy plan, it took a new approach, balancing the cost to consumers and to the Earth.

“Honestly, there was some pushback. There were several pretty tense meetings,” Hofmeister said. “You’d hear someone ask in a meeting, ‘Is that really the right thing to do for Michigan and the planet?’”

A similar story played out in Indiana, one of the nation’s top 10 coal-producing states. A few years ago, Northern Indiana Public Service Company, based in Merrillville, Indiana, was getting ready to retire its old, expensive coal-fired power plants. An analysis in 2016 said they should be replaced with natural gas plants.

To be on the safe side, Joe Hamrock, president and CEO, checked again last year.

“We knew this is moving pretty fast and we needed to take a new look. A 30-year bet on a gas plant is a long time,” he said.

When his team sat down to look at the 90 project proposals that had come in, the answer came as a shock – natural gas wasn’t even in the picture anymore.

“The surprise was how dramatically the renewables and storage proposals beat natural gas,” Hamrock said. “I couldn’t have predicted this five years ago.”

The company is now set to retire all its coal-fired power plants, which produce 65% of its electricity today, and replace them all with renewables. In nine years, it expects to get 65% of its electricity from renewables and 25% from natural gas.

What will U.S. energy look like in the future?

Electricity generators counter that it’s impossible to get entirely away from natural gas because solar and wind are intermittent. When it comes time to turn on the lights, consumers can’t wait for the sun to come up or the wind to blow.

“We believe that natural gas has a role in a clean future because we believe it will be needed to balance out renewables,” said Emily Fisher, general counsel for the Edison Electric Institute in Washington, D.C. EEI is the trade association that represents investor-owned electric utilities in the United States.

“But we’ve also got to make sure the power supply stays affordable and reliable,” she said.

Electricity generators have a point, say energy analysts who aren’t necessarily in the pro-renewable camp. But those same analysts suggest a lot less natural gas is needed than we’re using today.

“The cheapest way to reduce carbon is to replace coal with a combination of renewables and as little natural gas as you can get by with to keep the lights on,” said Arne Olson, a senior partner with Energy and Environmental Economics, a San Francisco-based energy consulting firm that works with multiple states to craft energy plans.

That makes getting to the goals of the Paris Agreement on climate change – cutting greenhouse gas emissions at least 26% below 2005 levels by 2025 – not quite so daunting. The United States initially pledged to join the agreement but President Donald Trumpsaid in 2017 that the nation would not uphold the deal.

In fact, the electric industry is already undergoing a major restructuring. Largely because of the rapid rise of cheap natural gas, coal went from producing almost 45% of U.S. electricity in 2010 to a predicted 23% next year, according to EIA data.

The energy sector has shown it can move quickly when the prices are right, said Dyson of the Rocky Mountain Institute. And, he said, it’s imperative that a similar shift happen now with natural gas – and fast.

“Constructing these gas plants is incompatible with a low carbon future,” he said.

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    In Hawaii: Clean Energy At 1 Cent Per Kilowatt-Hour

    From CleanTechnica.com by Scott Cooney, August 18th, 2019 

    The geothermal plant on the big island in Hawaii produces very inexpensive baseload renewable energy … but it still ain’t 1¢ per kilowatt hour. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii State Energy Office.

    We need clean energy, and we need it ASAP. There are barriers to getting it done, including permitting, price, land-use issues, energy-water nexus issues, lobbying efforts by the fossil industries and the puppets they install in our government, and more. Capital projects can take years to develop as a result of these obstacles. On any given project, one of these barriers may be the biggest impediment or no impediment at all … it’s very case by case in renewable energy development.

    Price is perhaps not the biggest challenge very often, as solar, wind, batteries, and even electric vehicles have all dropped enough in price that they can overcome polluting competitors in terms of cost per kilowatt-hour in most cases. But have you ever seen anything like 1 cent per kilowatt-hour?

    The answer, of course, is efficiency. The cheapest kilowatt-hour is the one you don’t use, after all. But what does that mean, exactly, that there’s a price on something that doesn’t exist?

    In Hawaii, we have a Public Benefit Fund (PBF), a small line-item surcharge placed on our electric bills. It might be a dime or a nickel on any given bill, but add it up across a state with more than a million residents and a whole lot of tourists on any given day, and the result is a pool of money big enough to do some serious good.

    Hawaii Energy, the ratepayer-funded efficiency and conservation program funded by the BPF, conducts everything energy efficiency, from rebates to direct install programs to education. Having a program like this with educated and motivated energy professionals has proven to be a tremendous step forward for Hawaii’s goals of 100% clean energy by 2045. Here’s a look at the challenge facing Hawaii, an island economy largely powered (currently) by fossils.

    Hawaii’s energy mix is largely fossil powered, making the change to clean energy imperative to save the state money, as those fuel sources inevitably get pricier. Photo courtesy of the Hawaii State Energy Office.

    Moving to 100% Clean Energy

    According to the Hawaii State Energy Office:

    “From July 1, 2017 to March 31, 2018, the program invested over $22 million to deliver more than 1.8 billion kWh in estimated lifetime customer-level energy savings at a rough cost of one cent per kWh. This is equivalent to building a 92 MW solar farm, enough to power 288,000 homes for a year. In addition, this will reduce greenhouse gas [pollution] by nearly 1.5 million tons.” (emphasis mine)

    The state is moving the needle on energy in a big way, and efficiency has a huge part to play in that. The primary beneficiaries are, of course, the people of Hawaii. 1.8 billion kWh at our regular electricity rates would cost us $612 million. Investing $22 million seems like a reasonably good idea, no?

    Through a combination of Energy Performance Contracts (EPC), direct install efficiency programs, education, and incentives for things like Energy Star refrigerators, Hawaii Energy has helped the residents of Hawaii drop their household energy consumption from an average of 584 kWh per month in 2011 to 482 kWh per month in 2017, roughly a 17.5% drop. This has contributed to a drop in the average residential electric bill from $202 in 2011 to $145 in 2017, a 28% drop, and amounting to a savings of about $700 per year per household.

    Saving residents that money means that less money leaves the state to make oil tycoons in Saudi Arabia richer, and more money can circulate (and re-circulate) inside the state’s economy, boosting overall quality of life and economic conditions.

    Hawaii spent $22 million to save $612 million for its residents. So … why isn’t every municipality doing this?

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      Candidate Jay Inslee – 100% Clean Energy for America plan

      An email from JayInslee.com
      [Editor: this is much more than a campaign solicitation for money.  Check out Inslee’s 100% Clean Energy for America plan.  – R.S.]
      Governor Jay Inslee, candidate for President

      Dear ____________,

      I recently announced my first policy proposal of this presidential campaign — a landmark proposal to move the country forward by leaps and bounds toward a 100% clean energy future.

      My comprehensive 100% Clean Energy for America plan will achieve 100% clean electricity, eliminate the sale of new oil-powered vehicles by 2030 and require all new buildings to have 100% zero-carbon emissions. This is about ensuring a clean, safe, and prosperous future for each and every American.

      Don’t just take my word for it: I put my entire proposal, word for word, right below this message. I encourage you to read it, all 2,840 words.

      Read it right now, and if it describes the kind of future you want for our country, please add your name to support a 100% clean energy future.

      This builds off the significant progress we’ve made here in Washington state — progress that is already showing results. I’m the only candidate in this race who has actually run a government that has made climate change policy central to its administration, and we have made real progress as a result. I know firsthand how much economic and entrepreneurial opportunity there is in saving the planet. There’s incredible economic upside and job creation in investing to save our planet — and there’s no time to waste.

      And that’s why I’m showing you the whole thing, right here, because we all have a huge stake in getting this right.

      Very truly yours,

      Jay


      100% Clean Energy for America Plan

      Governor Jay Inslee’s plan for 100% clean electricity, vehicles and buildings

      Climate change is the defining challenge of our time — and it demands a bold and aggressive national policy for America. The next president must enact the most ambitious clean energy policy in American history, building on the success of states to create a 100% clean energy economy.

      Governor Jay Inslee’s 100% Clean Energy for America Plan will achieve 100% clean electricity, 100% zero-emission new vehicles and 100% zero-carbon new buildings. This plan will empower America to make the entire electrical grid and every new car and building climate pollution-free, at the speed that science and public health demand.

      The 100% Clean Energy for America Plan is the first major policy announcement in Governor Inslee’s Climate Mission agenda — a bold 10-year mobilization to defeat climate change and create millions of good-paying jobs building a just, innovative and inclusive clean energy future, with meaningful targets and plans for execution based on his experience as a governor. Governor Inslee will announce additional major planks of his detailed climate plan in the coming weeks.

      The climate crisis is urgent. Americans are already feeling its accelerating impacts — with front-line, low-income and communities of color being impacted first and worst. Since launching his climate-focused campaign, Governor Inslee has seen these impacts up close, from touring wildfire damage in California to flood damage in Iowa. He knows we cannot afford to wait any longer for action.

      In a 2018 report, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) made our challenge very clear: To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the global community must cut climate pollution in half by 2030, and achieve global net-zero pollution by mid-century. Governor Inslee’s plans will ensure that America meets these IPCC targets and leads the world in defeating climate change. As the world’s largest historical emitter of climate pollution and the global leader in technology innovation, America will be among the first to achieve that net-zero target, as fast as possible, and by no later than 2045.

      Governor Inslee’s 100% Clean Energy for America Plan is a 10-year action plan that starts with immediate executive action on day one. By 2030, his plan will:

      • Reach 100% zero emissions in new light- and medium-duty vehicles and all buses;
      • Achieve 100% zero-carbon pollution from all new commercial and residential buildings; and
      • Set a national 100% Clean Electricity Standard, requiring 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030, putting America on a path to having all clean, renewable and zero-emission energy in electricity generation by 2035.

      We cannot tackle the existential threat of climate change by merely addressing climate pollution from one sector of our economy. We must reduce it everywhere.

      Collectively, the transportation, electricity and buildings sectors contribute nearly 70% of America’s climate pollution. It’s time to build our grid, modernize our auto industry, and invest in clean buildings to rise to the climate challenge and succeed in the coming global clean energy economy.

      We know we can achieve this plan because it’s already happening in states, and in cities, tribal nations, and local communities. States have set aggressive renewable portfolio standards and passed 100% clean energy plans, all while Donald Trump has tried to undermine America’s climate progress. Governor Inslee led Washington state to pass the strongest policy for 100% clean electricity in the country, with the largest labor and environmental groups united in support. Now he will take that model national with the creation of his 100% Clean Energy for America Plan.

      Mimicking actions taken in Washington state, this plan includes closing America’s coal-fired power plants and making major investments to ensure a just transition, including good-paying jobs for workers and support for vulnerable communities. Every region will begin its path to 100% clean energy from a different starting point, and this plan will meet each of them where they are — ensuring opportunity and participation for all in the clean energy economy.

      The 100% Clean Energy for America Plan will require a massive, full-scale mobilization of our federal government that will spur major innovation and deployment of clean energy. Just as President Kennedy’s clarion call for a “moonshot” spurred major technological breakthroughs, these aggressive clean energy targets will provoke a clean energy revolution.

      Instead of investing our tax dollars in fossil fuel companies, we will invest in deploying renewable energy, advancing battery technology, manufacturing the next generation of electric cars, and creating more energy-efficient buildings. In doing so, we will create demand for new manufactured products and skilled construction jobs, and spur major innovation in everything from building materials to advanced energy technologies. We can put millions of Americans to work building new energy solutions, sustainable infrastructure, and pollution-free communities. Furthermore, this plan will lead to massive savings over the long-term, as Americans pay less to heat their homes, fuel their cars and rebuild their communities hit by climate change.

      Americans are already paying the price for climate change. Climate change cost the U.S. economy at least $240 billion per year during the past decade, and that figure is projected to rise to $360 billion per year in the coming 10 years. We cannot afford the cost of inaction. We can choose between two roads: guaranteed economic decline from extreme weather, or increasing prosperity from a clean energy economy and low-cost, electrified transportation. Transitioning to 100% clean vehicles, buildings and electricity will free Americans from the stranglehold of rising gas prices and provide permanent savings on heating their homes.

      Through a national Climate Mission agenda, we will mobilize America to confront climate change, end reliance on fossil fuels and build our clean energy future. The 100% Clean Energy for America Plan is a critical starting point: We must establish smart rules and clear goals if we are going to unleash a new generation of innovation. Implementation of this plan will begin on the Inslee Administration’s first day. And much of this plan can be accomplished using authorities and programs Congress has already established for the executive branch, including the federal Clean Air Act, while other elements will require new legislation.

      During the coming weeks, Governor Inslee will introduce additional major policies as part of a national Climate Mission — including: increasing strategies to slash climate pollution from the transportation sector and from existing buildings; making major investments in clean energy jobs, infrastructure and innovation; supporting clean and competitive manufacturing and sustainable and thriving agriculture; advancing environmental justice and economic inclusion; and bringing an end to fossil fuel giveaways.

      100% Clean Electricity
      Through the 100% Clean Energy for America Plan, America will move swiftly to achieve 100% clean, renewable and zero-emission energy in electricity generation, using the strength of federal investment and policy to accelerate the transition that is under way thanks to state and local leadership. This clean electricity will be the backbone of our economy, powering our homes, vehicles, and industry.

      The plan sets ambitious yet technologically achievable goals that respond to the reality of climate science, while unlocking a massive new wave of productive and job-creating investment. This plan includes:

      • Setting a bold national 100% Clean Electricity Standard, requiring utilities to achieve 100% carbon-neutral power by 2030, and all-clean, renewable and zero-emission energy in electricity generation by 2035. This builds upon and accelerates momentum toward 100% clean electricity — policy that has been adopted in Washington state, California, Hawaii, New Mexico, D.C., and Puerto Rico, and a target to which more than 100 American cities and counties are committed, from Concord, N.H., to Columbia, S.C.
      • Guaranteeing support for workers and community transition — following Washington state’s model to ensure that the creation of clean energy projects results in many good, family-wage jobs, and that all communities benefit in the transition to a carbon-free power future. Includes promoting projects with businesses owned by women and people of color; apprenticeship utilization; prevailing wages determined through collective bargaining; and community workforce and project-labor agreements.
      • Establishing refundable tax incentives to speed the development and deployment of clean technologies — including renewable electricity, energy storage, smart grid and advanced transmission and distribution, as well as other zero-emission technologies.
      • Ensuring broad and equitable participation by working with utilities to increase on-bill investment in energy efficiency and distributed energy solutions, and making greater federal investment available to front-line and low-income communities — with priority placed upon comprehensive community-developed projects with multiple benefits.
      • Retiring the increasingly uneconomic U.S. coal fleet by 2030 to eliminate dangerous pollution and repower our economy with job-creating clean energy. Governor Inslee’s 100% clean electricity plan in Washington state includes a ban on coal power starting in 2025. And, as in Washington state, the 100% Clean Energy for America Plan includes support for workers and communities that are moving beyond coal power.
      • Using federal lands, offshore waters and facilities to deploy more renewable energy and transmission. The federal government can accelerate renewable energy deployment on public lands that contain enormous resources — especially in the West. For example, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Dry Lake Solar Energy Zone in Clark County, Nev. now hosts 179 MW of solar power in job-creating clean energy projects that were developed more than twice as fast as traditional projects on public lands. Meanwhile, harnessing just 1% of our nation’s technical offshore wind energy resource potential could power more than 6 million American homes.
      • Activating existing federal energy financing programs (e.g. the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service and the U.S. Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program) to catalyze new investments that further speed this transition. And providing direct grants for clean energy projects developed by non-profit and community organizations, local governments, and academic institutions.
      • Expanding long-distance interstate and interregional transmission of clean electricity through expedited planning, broad cost allocation, and negotiated siting with state authorities, Regional Transmission Organizations (RTOs), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the Department of Energy. And providing federal financing for anticipatory construction of transmission capacity to areas with significant queues of clean-energy generation capacity awaiting transmission.
      • Enhancing utilization of existing transmission and distribution assets through Dynamic Line Ratings, demand-response, new sensors and controls, battery storage, and resilient distributed energy resources.
      • Accelerating the evolution toward performance-based utility regulation that rewards utilities for delivering affordable, reliable, and zero-emission electricity.

      By achieving 100% clean electricity we will enable our nation to meet more of its energy needs without burning fossil fuels, including for transportation and buildings — two of the other leading sources for the carbon pollution that is driving climate change.

      100% Clean New Vehicles
      The 100% Clean Energy for America Plan will achieve by 2030 zero emissions in all new light-duty passenger vehicles, medium-duty trucks, and buses. These are crucial strategies for decarbonizing the transportation sector and eliminating tailpipe pollution that contaminates our air — and that especially harms front-line and low-income communities.

      They are also essential for ensuring that U.S. industries stay at the leading edge of global automotive manufacturing, as our economic competitors in China, India and Europe are setting clear targets to move to 100% electric and zero-emission vehicles (ZEVs).

      This plan will ensure ZEVs are made in the U.S.A., by union workers, and that they are affordable for working families. ZEVs are already cheaper for American commuters to drive, with fuel costs averaging just $1.13 per “gallon,” compared with the $2.62 national average. Also, while vehicles represent a significant portion of U.S. transportation-sector climate pollution (light-duty vehicles account for approximately 60%), this plan will be followed by the release of additional proposals targeting pollution reductions in other modes of transportation. To reach 100% zero-emission new vehicles, this plan includes:

      • Implementing a new standard for clean cars — requiring robust annual improvements in vehicle emissions for light, medium — and heavy-duty vehicles to help break America’s oil addiction. This standard will accelerate the deployment of ZEVs, reaching 100% ZEVs in light- and medium-duty new vehicle sales by 2030.
      • Establishing a Clean Fuels Standard that promotes electric and other low-carbon alternative fuels for vehicles.
      • Dedicating significant new federal investments to support a diverse and robust American ZEV manufacturing base, including a critical materials strategy, as well as the creation and recycling of advanced batteries and component parts.
      • Expanding business and consumer tax credits to ensure availability and affordability of ZEVs and increase their adoption — including an extended and expanded consumer Electric Vehicle Tax Credit — and working with states to establish feebates to increase the value of ZEVs for new buyers.
      • Creating a new “Clean Cars for Clunkers” program to offer fuel-economy based trade-in rebates for consumers to exchange their fuel-inefficient cars or trucks for new ZEVs. Like the 2009 “Cash for Clunkers” program, this initiative will drive increased American auto manufacturing and sales, this time for ZEVs.
      • Requiring rapid electrification of the federal government vehicle fleet and working in partnership with state, local and tribal governments to accelerate electrification of their fleets. Federal procurement can dramatically increase market demand.
      • Partnering with states, tribal nations, local governments and utilities in a massive investment to deploy electric vehicle charging infrastructure. In Washington state, Governor Inslee created an Electric Vehicle (EV) Infrastructure Bank to deploy investment in charging stations.
      • Providing federal financing to support state and local governments transitioning to zero-emission bus fleets for transit and school buses, and allowing transit agencies to retire diesel buses early without penalty. In addition to cutting climate pollution, zero-emission buses help eliminate harmful diesel pollution. States and cities throughout the U.S. are moving rapidly toward zero-emission buses; California, for example, has committed to all zero-emission new buses by 2029.

      Together, these efforts will begin the transition of all new cars and buses in the U.S. to clean vehicles. In addition to clean cars and buses, the Climate Mission that Governor Inslee has called for will include a wide range of transportation-sector pollution-reduction strategies, including in large trucks and heavy-duty vehicles, aviation, marine, transit, rail, and other multi-modal solutions, as well as affordable housing, urban density, and smart growth.

      100% Clean New Buildings
      Finally, the 100% Clean Energy for America Plan includes immediate federal action to achieve before 2030 zero-carbon pollution from all new commercial and residential buildings.

      Climate pollution from buildings increased a full 10% in the U.S. in 2018 — driven by natural gas used in space and water heating and cooling. This plan will reverse that trend, and improve indoor air quality, by increasing energy efficiency and taking advantage of clean electricity in building electrification. This includes:

      • Creating a national Zero-Carbon Building Standard by 2023, and partnering with states and cities to integrate this standard into new and stronger state and local building codes. This plan will include stronger federal incentives for local governments to enforce standards to adopt “stretch-codes,” and for building owners to more rapidly adopt advanced sustainability in new buildings. Here, too, states and cities are already leading the way: The city of Los Angeles has announced its plan for all zero-carbon new buildings by 2030.
      • Accelerating implementation of the federal Fossil Fuel-Generated Energy Consumption Reduction rule to eliminate by 2023 fossil-fuel use — including coal, fuel oil and natural gas — in all new and renovated federal buildings.
      • Directing federal agencies in 2021 to accelerate proven appliance energy efficiency standards and to promote zero-emission appliances — including water heaters and dryers. This will help make American-manufactured appliances both cleaner and more competitive in global markets, all while saving consumers money.
      • Providing federal funding to train builders, inspectors, energy managers, equipment technicians, and janitors in proven strategies that cut down on wasted energy in buildings.
      • Establishing tax incentives for energy efficiency and electrification in new construction of residential and commercial buildings, including targeted incentives for homeowners and building owners to install highly efficient heat pumps for space and water heating.
      • Dramatically increasing access to federal financing to fund both retrofits and new construction to upgrade schools and public building stock for federal, state, local and tribal governments.
      • Driving new private capital investment into clean energy projects by providing clear policy guidance for Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) and support for expansion of Energy Saving Performance Contracts (ESPCs) that promote both portfolio-scale green building retrofits and new net-zero energy construction.
      • Linking energy and climate pollution standards to expanded federal support for new construction projects, including through U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) and Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) investments, and federal housing tax credits, as well as through green mortgage products offered by federal housing finance agencies.
      • Renewing federal funding for the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant (EECBG) Program to assist states and cities in expanding local investment in zero carbon construction projects.

      This plan to reach zero carbon in all new buildings will be accompanied by additional proposals to address climate pollution from millions of existing buildings.

      This is our moment to defeat climate change and to build our clean energy future.

      Let’s get to work.

      You can read the plan online anytime right here. 

      No fossil fuel money. No corporate PACs. Just you. Join our movement to elect a president who will defeat climate change.

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