I really liked this piece by Stephen Abbot of RMI.
Found it here on Aug 27, 2019
In the absence of federal action, the United States has seen a groundswell of local efforts and leadership in the fight against climate change. In addition to various states and corporations, many cities in the United States have committed to power their own operations with renewable energy. In fact, 132 U.S. cities and counties have gone even further and set 100 percent clean energy goals for their communities. While these goals are commendable, recent media articles covering this trend have raised several important questions, such as:
Setting a future target can inspire, build consensus and spur action todayCities often commit to meeting their goals 10 or more years into the future. Ambitious, long-term targets not only provide an inspiring vision for a community but also motivate action today. Specifically, setting a target allows cities to collaborate with their community to develop a plan which meets citizens’ needs and accelerate clean energy projects in the near term.
Collaborating with communities to develop plans: Renewable energy enjoys broad bipartisan support in the United States, yet many communities still struggle to prioritize renewable energy over more immediate concerns. The process of establishing a renewable energy target provides city governments with a high-visibility opportunity to engage their community, identify key issues and priorities, and generate excitement and support for a plan. As a result, city sustainability plans are evolving to encompass additional community priorities. For example, New York City’s Green New Deal includes climate action measures and also identifies priorities in areas such as public transit, health and social equity while emphasizing the importance of "expanded partnerships with community groups" to its success. Similarly, the city of Los Angeles’s Green New Deal outlines how the city’s renewable energy efforts will create local jobs and, more broadly, promote equity in the city.
Accelerating clean energy projects in the near term: Enacting a renewable energy target helps city staff to muster internal resources to complete renewable energy projects. To complete any project, champions within city government have to approach staff from various departments (legal, finance, and general services) and convince them to take on additional responsibilities. All cities struggle with a lack of internal staff capacity, so these conversations can be challenging even if the individuals involved support the project in principle. Establishing a clean energy goal simplifies these internal conversations. Setting a goal communicates that renewable energy is a city priority and changes the focus of internal conversations from "should the city buy clean energy?" to "how can the city best meet its goal?" As we’ll discuss later on, this mobilization of resources and effort is critical even if the pathway to achieve the goal is not yet clear, as without a commitment no one would start trying to find or create solutions.
Targets send powerful signalsCities in certain utility regulatory environments, including Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., are able to immediately act on ambitious targets by purchasing large amounts of renewable energy on the open market. However, other cities in states served by integrated monopoly utilities lack the ability to make these large purchases themselves and must work with their utility. If the utility does not already offer viable solutions such as a green tariff, cities can set targets to signal their intentions to their utility and/or state-level decision makers and accelerate the creation of new pathways to purchase renewable energy.
Signaling the utility: Increasingly, cities with clean energy targets have been able to form productive partnerships with their utilities. In 2016, Salt Lake City and Park City set 100 percent clean energy commitments. After a three-year collaboration, these two cities, Summit County and Rocky Mountain Power announced a groundbreaking new program through which the cities will be able to power their entire communities with net-100 percent renewable electricity. Similarly, Kansas City drafted a series of ambitious targets in 2017 and then, one year later, announced that its utility would support these targets. More recently, after seeing a number of cities set clean energy targets in North Carolina, Duke Energy worked with RMI to convene key stakeholders to explore how the group could help cities move beyond resolutions to implementation. (Note: Cities considering renewable energy commitments may want to reach out to their utility before announcing a goal and establish a collaborative partnership early in the process.)
Signaling regulators and legislators: Some utilities may prove less willing to work with cities; in these cases, setting a target sends an important signal to other cities, legislators, utilities commissioners and state representatives. As more cities set targets, they will be increasingly able to influence their state’s direction by intervening in regulatory hearings (as Ann Arbor has done), sending letters to regulatory staff (as the mayor of Madison, Wisconsin, did), or urging state lawmakers to create new pathways (as large companies such as Microsoft, Walmart, Best Buy, Ikea, Staples and Mars Inc. have done). These interventions can have a large impact. In Georgia Power’s latest planning process with state regulators, intervenors helped increase the utility’s planned renewable energy procurement from 1,000 MW to 2,260 MW. And if all else fails, cities may choose to take control of their electricity supply by allowing community choice aggregation (as San Diegohas done) or even forming a municipal utility (as Chicago, San Francisco and Boulder, Colorado, are contemplating).
City targets are meaningfulCities are already poised to make a substantial impact both directly and by scaling renewable energy adoption within their communities.
Direct impact: Cities use a lot of energy and, as a consequence, have the potential to drive a significant amount of renewable energy development. Using data from the Department of Energy, our team estimated that the 132 U.S. cities that have signed onto Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 use more electricity than the entire country of Egypt. Meanwhile, more cities across the globe are making similar renewable energy commitments.
Scaling potential: Cities are ideally positioned to scale renewable energy adoption within their communities. Cities which run their own utilities, such as Austin, Texas, can directly provide renewable energy to their customers; Austin is on track to be over 50 percent renewably powered by 2020. Meanwhile, other cities are working with their communities to accelerate renewable energy adoption. The city of Boston set up a Green Ribbon Commission to convene local leaders to support the city’s action plan; this group then helped MIT and other local organizations sign a 60 MW solar deal (PDF). Taking another approach, the city of Chicago created a Renewable Energy Challenge Program to encourage local businesses to follow the city’s example and set their own renewable energy target.
Cities can make a difference todayBig transitions are challenging, and cities sometimes will have to fight uphill to achieve their goals. Of course, federal legislation could dramatically simplify and accelerate this transition by enabling competition, pricing carbon and supporting basic research, but that doesn’t mean that local communities have to wait.
Clearly articulated city renewable energy goals enable local action today, provide an important signal to utilities and state decision makers to drive change, and, collectively, are propelling our country toward a more prosperous, secure, low-carbon future. Large cities from Los Angeles to Atlanta are preparing to drive sweeping changes in their communities. Meanwhile, smaller cities such as Bennington, Vermont, and Greensburg, Kansas, already have achieved 100 percent clean energy, highlighting the potential our local communities have to make good on these commitments. Looking forward, as more cities adopt the strategies of these trail blazers or develop their own, achieving renewable energy targets will become easier, faster and cheaper — driving yet more adoption.
For these cities and more, this process wouldn’t have even begun without a few, pioneering cities taking a risk and setting a goal. To learn how your city can create a renewable energy plan, work with your utility, or add more clean power to your community, visit www.cityrenewables.org.
I’m behind the times on this one since this came out last year, but I just learned that utilities are doing sneaky things to support fossil duels and stop renewable energy at the local level.
In New Orleans, Entergy paid actors to go to meetings and argue they were for a new gas plant.
Any not once, but at least twice they did this!
And in Kansas, the Koch Brothers invented a group of Kansas seniors opposed to renewable portfolio standards – when no such group existed.
Sadly, we live in a world that is increasingly fake. I have always been a strong advocate of public engagement and local empowerment, but now we have to ask ourselves, "Is that person really a member of the community? Or are they fake?" We need to know our neighbors and identify these scammers before they have a chance to influence policy. Their success lies in our not scrutinizing them. It reminds me of wartime when spies were embedded in the community and you never knew who to trust.
I don’t think we should condemn every utility, but the onus should be on them to prove they are sincere. These kinds of actions lead to loss of public trust for all utilities, whether or not they are working behind the scenes and under the table to fight renewable energy.
We need to be cautious that, as we continue to push for 100% renewable energy, we are vigilant to uncover these utility and fossil fuel-sponsored charades.
We live in an age of tremendous energy abundance. What better time to shift away from fossil fuels to clean renewable energy made right here in the USA? Join us for a 50 minute film and a lively panel discussion about repowering New Hampshire with renewable energy. 7pm on Sep 12 at Keene State College’s Centennial Hall.
This looks like a fantastic position. EPFL is one of the top ten research universities in the world and their new center on energy is a highly attractive place to work.
Research Fellow in Energy Transitions and Institutions (Fixed Term) Ref 835
School of Business, Management & Economics
SPRU – Science Policy Research Unit
Full time, Fixed term for 8 months, with the possibility of extension
Salary range: starting at £31,656 per annum and rising to £37,768 per annum
Closing date for applications: 8 June 2016
Expected interview date: 23 June 2016
Expected start date: 1 September 2016
The Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU), within the School of Business, Management and Economics at the University of Sussex, is seeking a Research Fellow to work on the Smart Energy Transition (SET) project funded by the Academy of Finland, Strategic Research Council www.smartenergytransition.fi.
The SET consortium is led by Aalto University School of Business, and includes seven other universities/research institutes and four other organizations, including SPRU. SPRU’s role, led by Dr Paula Kivimaa, focuses on the analysis of institutions and industrial policy in smart energy disruption. The Research Fellow will be part of the project team carrying out a cross-country comparison of UK, Germany and Denmark to understand the relevance of institutions in technology disruption - focusing on cases of on and off shore wind and building energy use.
The Research Fellow will conduct a systematic literature review and participate in conducting document analysis and interviews in the case countries, and contribute to creating a conceptual framework of key triggering points and barriers for energy technology disruption.
The successful candidate will have a PhD (obtained or nearly completed) in energy policy studies, innovation studies or a related area, and previous experience of policy and/or institutional analysis. Previous experience of using qualitative research methods, in particular literature review, document analysis and interviews, is essential. The successful candidate will be able to begin in September or early October 2016 at latest, and be able and willing to travel. The ideal candidate would have knowledge of German and/or Danish, and specific knowledge of the energy sector in Denmark, Germany and the UK.
If you wish to discuss the projects and position, please contact Dr Paula Kivimaa firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, go to http://www.sussex.ac.uk/aboutus/jobs/835
And they are selling the partially built Bellefonte Nuclear Reactors...
From World Nuclear News: (the operant word here is "had")
TVA CEO Bill Johnson at yesterday's public meeting of the TVA board said that nuclear power had an important role to play in the federally-owned corporate agency's diversified portfolio. "We are relying on our nuclear plants for electricity that is reliable, clean, low-cost and round-the-clock," he said. However, against a background of lower energy demand and changing usage patterns, TVA's 2015 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) determined that it will not need to build any new large-scale baseload capacity for at least the next 20 years.
A group at the University of Maryland reported on results of a large survey they did of the American public's views toward energy and climate policy. They call this the "Citizen's Cabinet" because they receive briefings (via internet) before they are asked for their policy opinions. Without returning some of the tax revenues to the low and middle income groups, a carbon tax barely achieves majority support. But with some recycling to those most negatively affected, support grows to 66%. Washington State's vote on I-732 this November will be the acid test.
IST 2017: Taking the lead in real world transitions
18-21 June 2017 in Gothenburg
Hosted by Chalmers University of Technology and Chalmers Initiative for Innovation and Sustainability Transitions (CIIST)
Year 2050 is just around the corner.
From a transition perspective three decades is not a long time. Yet the United Nations sustainability goals are set for 2030, and the pace of climate change calls for rapid change of massive sociotechnical systems. The challenges are enormous. Reaching ambitious societal targets rely on collective action, but also on private and public agents daring to take the lead.
The 8th International Conference on Innovation and Sustainability Transitions (IST 2017) will devote special attention to problems and challenges for those wanting to take action and do more. What understanding and conclusions can transition scholars bring to the table and what types of new knowledge do we need to search for?
Year 2017 is definitely just around the corner.
We therefore ask all transition scholars to save the dates, and join us next year for some stimulating and important days of interaction in the harbour of Gothenburg, a real world arena in transition.
On behalf of the organising committee,
Björn Sandén, Professor of Innovation and Sustainability, Chalmers University of Technology
Hans Hellsmark, Coordinator of Chalmers Initiative for Innovation and Sustainability Transitions and IST2017
Last year, I wrote about the challenges of finding current data on greenhouse gas emissions. Lately, I've been looking into the numbers on the global carbon budget. My conclusion: while there are many good pieces written, most of the graphics are poor, and, while most generally agree on the numbers (+/- 30%), there is a lot of confusion because people don't use consistent units. Some people use GtC (giga tonnes of carbon) or a million, million metric tonnes of carbon. Others use GtCO2. Sometimes people will use GtCO2eq. And there is the not-so-occasional use of simply Gt (presumably we're supposed to just know whether its carbon or carbon dioxide).
Here is my graphic, depicting what I understand to be a fairly widely held view of the numbers.
The next picture gets into a little more detail. In the IPCC's 2014 AR5 report, they used 2011 data and, assuming a 66% chance of staying under 2 degrees Celsius, noted we had a remaining carbon budget of about 1000 GtCO2. As of 2014 we've used about 150 GtCO2 of this, the remainder is 850 GtCO2 or about 230 GtC.
Another well-known writing on this topic is Bill McKibben's piece in Rolling Stone from 2012. He also used 2011 numbers, but took the numbers from Carbon Tracker, which used an 80% confidence level of staying under 2 degrees Celsius. His number was 565 GtCO2 or 155 GtC. Again, since 2011 we've used about 25% of this remaining budget, leaving only about 440 GtCO2 or 120GtC.
There are other numbers in other places. Rob Jackson and colleagues in The Bridge came up with a remaining budget of 900 GtCO2 or 245 GtC with a 66% certainty level of staying below 2 degrees Celsius.
Of course all these numbers depend on our understanding of the climate system, what policies we come up with to mitigate land-use drivers, and the accuracy of the emissions data.
But the general story told is that, if we think about the Earth's fossil fuels, we've used about 40% of what we know to be recoverable, and we can use perhaps one-sixth to one-third of of what remains, depending on how much we are willing to risk going over two degrees Celsius. Of course, two degree Celsius is not a magic number. There's no way to know if there are tipping points below two degrees Celsius.
Applications for the
2016 Linda Latham Scholarships Now Open
"I felt like I was truly part of a fantastic group of people wanting to make a real difference...one of the most amazing experiences of my graduate school experience."
-- 2014 Latham Scholar from UC Berkeley
DEADLINE: MARCH 18, 2016
ACEEE is proud to announce that we are now accepting applications for Linda Latham Scholarships to be used for attendance at the 2016 Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings. Scholarships are sponsored by the Linda Latham Scholarship Fund which was established in memory of Linda Latham who served as ACEEE's Chief Operating Officer until her untimely death in September 2011. Linda believed that students bring talent and creativity to the field of energy efficiency especially if we provide a venue to inspire and educate them.
To be eligible, the applicant must be an undergraduate or graduate student in an accredited college or university whose course work is related to energy/energy efficiency, climate change, environmental science, or a related field of study, and who is considering a career in energy/energy efficiency.
For the 2016 Summer Study, Linda Latham Scholarships will be awarded to students at three different scholarship levels. Level 1 awardees will receive a full conference registration, housing and meals, and up to $500 of their transportation costs. Level II scholars will receive a full conference registration and housing and meals. Level III winners will receive a full registration to the conference. We have more Level III scholarships available than we do for Level II and more Level II scholarships than Level I; therefore, chances of selection will be highest at Level III and lowest at Level I. Find more information here.
Applicants are encouraged to complete the online application, or use the application form on our website and email it to email@example.com. Applications must be submitted with required attachments including a copy of the applicant's student ID and proof of student status.
No applications will be accepted after the submission deadline on March 18, 2016.
Scholarship winners will be notified by April 8, 2016.
For more information visit Linda Latham Scholarship Fund.
Questions may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about past programs at the Summer Study on Energy Efficiency in Buildings, visit http://www.aceee.org/conferences/ssb/past.
directs research at the Energy Trans Lab