Current Federal and State Tax Incentives for Renewable Energy in the U.S.

By Alexander Richter | Think GeoEnergy
January 19, 2018

In a regular report published by U.S. law firm Robinson+Cole, an overview on “Federal and State Tax Incentives for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency” in the U.S. is provided.

The report provides details on federal tax incentives and such on state level.

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Top U.S. Energy Regulator Will Ensure Utilities Pass on Tax Cut

By Catherine Traywick | Bloomberg
January 18, 2018

Sweeping U.S. tax cuts could pave the way for “sizable deductions” in electricity rates and the nation’s main energy regulator will make sure utility customers don’t lose out.

Rate payers stand to benefit to the tune of $80 to $90 a year from the tax bill signed into law by President Donald Trump last month, according to Robert Powelson, who sits on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Formulas used to calculate rates for natural gas and power transmission must be just and reasonable, he said at the agency’s regular monthly meeting in Washington.

The commission urged utility regulators to take action to guarantee that tax savings are passed to customers without delay and said it would do its part to ensure rate changes are approved.

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3 new tools for advancing energy affordability in low-income communities

Proud Green Building
January 11, 2018

Better Buildings’ Clean Energy for Low Income Communities Accelerator (CELICA) is breaking down barriers that low-income communities face for implementing energy efficient and renewable energy technologies.

Low-income households – both single and multifamily – carry a disproportionate energy burden – the share of annual household income used to pay annual energy bills, reports the U.S. Department of Energy.

According to the U.S. Census, the average energy burden for low-income households is 8.2 percent — three times as high as for non-low-income households. In fact, 42 percent of U.S. households, which is approximately 49 million, are low income. Many burn expensive heating fuels in older inefficient homes, leading to above-average energy expenses.

To lower energy burden and jumpstart planning for energy programs, CELICA is developing a framework and toolkit for state and local governments, utilities, and other program implementers interested in developing low-income energy efficiency and renewable energy programs.

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California Takes 5 Steps Toward Energy Equity

By Maria Stama & Isaac Sevier | NRDC
January 9, 2018

Approximately one in five California households lives at or below the federal poverty level—$32,000 for a family of two—but new energy efficiency and clean energy programs, regulatory protections, and initiatives are poised to provide safer, healthier, and more affordable homes for hundreds of thousands of residents.

Low-income renters and affordable housing owners face disproportionately high energy burdens—the percentage of income going to utility bills—and improving access to clean energy means lower bills, more housing security, and a cleaner, healthier environment for more Californians.

As a part of Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA), a collaborative effort between affordable housing, energy efficiency, clean energy, and environmental justice advocates, we are celebrating five milestones from the end of 2017. EEFA in California includes the Greenlining Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Association for Energy Affordability, Build It Green, California Housing Partnership Corporation, and National Housing Law Project, among other partners.

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America’s deep freeze is no time to be stingy about heating homes of the poor

By Mark Wolfe | CNN
January 4, 2018

Low-income families struggle to pay their home energy bills in the best of times, and these are not the best of times. Record cold temperatures are bearing down along the East Coast and across the Midwest, and, based on US Energy Information Administration estimates, the cost of home heating will likely exceed the cost of previous years.

If this isn’t bad enough, the federal government has reduced spending on the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), its primary program to help poor families pay their home energy bills. Since 2010, the budget has been incrementally reduced from $5.1 billion to $3.4 billion, reducing the number of families that can be helped by more than 1.2 million families (out of approximately 7.3 million).

President Donald Trump initially proposed eliminating funding for energy assistance this year. Fortunately, for the more than 6 million families that are expected to receive help, Trump lost interest in pursuing the elimination of LIHEAP and Congress included $3.4 billion for the program, the same level as was provided last year.

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Loans available for energy improvements from the Missouri Department of Economic Development

STL News
January 3, 2018

The Missouri Department of Economic Development is now accepting applications for low-interest energy improvement loans to public schools, public/private colleges and universities, local governments, local government/public owned airport facilities (municipal, county, regional, and international), public water and wastewater treatment facilities, and public/private not-for-profit hospitals. In total, the Department is making $5 million available for these entities to complete energy-efficiency and renewable energy projects throughout the State of Missouri.

The department’s Division of Energy is accepting loan applications from January 2, 2018 through March 30, 2018 for loans between $10,000 and $1 million. Loan applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis. If money remains after applications have been reviewed and prioritized, consideration will be given to loans in excess of $1 million.

“The ability to invest in energy efficiency should be available to all schools, hospitals, and governments throughout Missouri to increase energy affordability,” Kristy Manning, Director of the Missouri Division of Energy said. “The Energy Loan Program creates jobs in many facets of the economy and by cutting costs on energy, allows taxpayer dollars to be spent on other priorities.”

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Cold snap driving up energy costs

By John Siciliano | Washington Examiner
December 28, 2017

The U.S. cold snap is driving up natural gas and electricity prices in the Northeast, because of fuel constraints and record demand for heat across most of the country surpassing the 2014 polar vortex.

Natural gas prices in Boston jumped to nearly $35 per unit, compared to $2.40 in the shale-producing state of Pennsylvania.

The cost of supplying electricity to meet demand also is rising with the increasing fuel costs.

The rising cost comes as many in the Northeast have switched from heating oil to natural gas and much more of the electricity in the region is coming from natural gas-fired power plants.

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Addressing the Cost of Home Heating for Working Families

By Jan Lee | Triple Pundit
December 18, 2017

For more than a third of American earners, paying monthly bills is a challenge. For some – nearly a fifth of American residents – that struggle can include choosing which essential commodity to go without during peak usage periods: Food, medications or the electricity to power and heat their homes.

According to a 2016 report put out by the nonprofit Groundswell, the bottom 20 percent of the country’s earners commit almost 10 percent of their monthly earnings to paying their power bill. That can be a substantial hit to the pocketbook for struggling families or retired couples that have other costs like school, transportation and added medical expenses to factor into the monthly take-home pay.

Rising power rates also cost poor communities more than middle- or upper-income earners, Groundswell points out, because they usually can’t afford the newer homes on the market that use less power and are better insulated.

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CT’s poor find winter energy bills increasingly unaffordable

By Keith M. Phaneuf | CT Mirror
December 15, 2017

With natural gas and fuel oil prices rising, more than 320,000 poor Connecticut households faced energy bills this year that exceeded their ability to pay by a collective $450 million, a new, nonprofit study has reported.

According to Operation Fuel, the energy affordability gap facing households with incomes below 200 percent of the federal poverty level has surged from $399 million one year ago.

Advocates for the poor and state legislators acknowledged the forces making energy unaffordable only are intensifying, as new pressures grow on state and federal energy funding.

“Things are getting worse; they are not getting better,” said economist Roger Colton, who prepares the annual energy affordability analysis for Operation Fuel. “And they are getting worse in a big way.”

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Energy Affordability Gap Widens

By Christine Stuart | CT News Junkie
December 13, 2017

Energy prices have crept back up over the past year and widened the energy affordability gap in Connecticut.

The 2017 Home Energy Affordability report prepared by Roger Colton for Operation Fuel found home energy costs burden more than 320,000 low and moderate-income households. The gap, which is the unaffordable portion of the bill, amounts to $450 million this year. That’s 3 percent higher than it was in 2016.

It means the average household at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level owes about $1,404 more than they can afford to pay annually. The report defines “unaffordable” as a household paying more than six percent of their income on energy costs.

The current energy affordability gap is up $51 million from 2016.

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Opposition to Trump power push creates strange bedfellows

By Timothy Cama | The Hill
December 8, 2017

Energy lobbyists and advocates have been working furiously over the last two months on the Trump administration’s plan to prop up coal and nuclear power plants.

The surprise proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry at the end of September asks the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to require certain electric grid operators to pay more for electricity from coal and nuclear plants in an effort to improve the resilience of the grid.

The proposal set off a lobbying frenzy and has made strange bedfellows of renewable power sources, natural gas producers, conservative think tanks and environmental groups who rarely see eye-to-eye.

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Reducing strain on energy bills

By Tracie Witter | The Standard-Journal
December 6, 2017

Think of the December holiday season, and you’re likely to think of something shining brightly — often, something electric.

Using more electricity is a natural part of the holiday season. Family and friends come to stay, and we cook for them. The weather gets colder, so we turn up the heat. We decorate our homes with festive lights.

Fortunately, there are ways to get through the holiday season without feeling a strain on your energy bills. For instance, low-cost, energy-saving tips and practices can help balance out your energy use around this time of year.

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Saving Energy and Money for the Holidays

By Tracie L. Witter |
December 4, 2017

Think of the December holiday season, and you’re likely to think of something shining brightly – often, something electric.

Using more electricity is a natural part of the holiday season. Family and friends come to stay, and we cook for them. The weather gets colder, so we turn up the heat. We decorate our homes with festive lights.

Fortunately, there are ways to get through the holiday season without feeling a strain on your energy bills. For instance, low-cost, energy-saving tips and practices can help balance out your energy use around this time of year.

Switching decorations and other lighting to efficient, long-lasting LED lights is one smart step. Cooking in slow cookers or microwaves instead of the oven is another. Weatherizing your home or apartment by sealing cracks around doors or windows is a third.

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Clean And Affordable Energy Could Be Coming To Mid-South

By Mary Jo Ola |
November 30, 2017

Clean and affordable energy could be coming to Memphis and Shelby County.

MLGW and TVA are working together to gauge customer interest in “community solar,” the idea you could have the option to use solar energy without having to install and maintain your own panels.

One large solar facility could offer an entire community the benefits of solar power.

“Wince there has been a number of these solar power farms popping up all over the country, we’ve had some interest here in Shelby County,” said Gale Jones Carson, Director of Corporate Communications for MLGW.

On November 27, MLGW and TVA issued an online survey to see what the interest is in community solar. The survey will be open until Saturday December 2.

“Once the data is collected will be able to find out what our customers’ interests are, look at price points and look at structure, how the structures may be,” said Jones Carson.

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After uncertainty, Massachusetts gets heating assistance funds

By Gerry Tuoti | Milford Daily News
November 27, 2017

Despite threats that funding would be eliminated in President Donald Trump’s preliminary budget, the state’s home heating program will continue to keep low-income families warm this year, just as temperatures are beginning to drop.

Despite threats that funding would be eliminated in President Donald Trump’s preliminary budget, the state’s home heating program will continue to keep low-income families warm this year, just as temperatures are beginning to drop.

“Now that it’s getting colder, we’re getting busier, and we expect that,” said Garth Patterson, project director for the fuel assistance program at the Fall River-based Citizens for Citizens, a community action agency that serves several cities and towns in Southeastern Massachusetts.

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Distributed Disruptions in the Energy Sector

By François Austin | Brink News
November 16, 2017

The global electricity sector is being transformed by three reinforcing trends: decarbonization, digitization and decentralization. Meanwhile, empowered energy consumers are emerging with new choices in how they consume and manage their energy use.

Decentralization, marked by the increased use of distributed generation, such as electricity generated at a user’s site via solar panels, and distributed energy resources, such as storage, is having a huge impact on demand and supply dynamics.

The impact of distributed generation is examined in a new report, World Energy Trilemma 2017 Changing Dynamics—Using Distributed Energy Resources to Meet the Trilemma Challenge. The “Energy Trilemma”—the challenge of balancing energy security, energy affordability and environmental sustainability—provides a framework to understand the disruptions and opportunities of increased decentralization in the energy system.

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Stream Energy Provides a How-To for Texans Cutting Down Energy Consumption

By James Anderson | Hi-Tech Chronicle
November 13, 2017

Recently, climate scientists have communicated to the public the necessity of investing in clean, renewable, and efficient energy. As a result, homeowners are now trying to reduce their annual energy costs and carbon footprint by purchasing higher-cost homes, simply because they are more energy efficient, reducing their yearly energy bill by $1,000.

There are many ways one can updating home energy efficiency and lower one’s energy bill. Many homeowners may unknowingly be hurting themselves, and the environment, by failing to follow simple solutions to rising energy costs. For instance, traditional light bulbs, on average, cost an extra $125 per light bulb over the course of the bulb’s life. An easy solution to this hidden cost is to simply switch to an LED light bulb. LED light bulbs are able to utilize energy more efficiently by detecting where light needs to be emitted, as opposed to traditional bulbs, which emit light in all directions.

Before one begins the process of updating home energy efficiency, it is important to undergo a legitimate energy audit. Forgoing an energy audit can lead to the non-detection of chemicals in the air and malfunctioning equipment, two things that make a home unsafe and inefficient. Homeowners should be wary of companies promising large improvements who have no plan to follow through. To prevent being misled, one should select a contractor who is certified by the Building Performance Institute. Building Performance Institute-approved contractors are required to perform an audit before beginning work and after completion. The contractor will perform tests to detect any possible leakage from energy sources such as air conditioners or heaters. These leaks are a common reason homeowners may unknowingly be spending more on energy than necessary. It is paramount that these audits are not done haphazardly in order to ensure the best possible outcome for both efficiency and the safety of the occupant. Properly conducted energy audits keep homeowners safe and help them save money on energy costs in the long run.

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Trump administration is about to make solar power too expensive for Americans

By Erica Mackie | The Hill
November 3, 2017

Up to 88,000 American jobs are at risk if the Trump administration imposes tariffs on solar photovoltaic imports, a move that is increasingly likely after a recommendation issued by the International Trade Commission on Tuesday. Following contentious hearings in a trade case that has rocked the industry, the commissioners recommended tariffs of 35 percent on some imported panels.

The implications of a decision to raise the cost of foreign imports — now resting entirely with the president — will ripple through the energy industry, from installers to the utility sector and even the military, which has come to rely on solar for many of its operations. But nowhere will the impact be greater than on disadvantaged communities that are just beginning to reap the benefits of renewable energy, and the jobs that come with it.

The steady decline in residential solar prices over the last ten years, which had dropped 70 percent before the trade case began, has opened solar access to millions of Americans. Solar provides families the opportunity to take ownership of their energy, reduce their carbon footprint and save money. It has also allowed states, local governments and utilities to invest in solar as a cost-effective way to provide energy assistance to constituents who struggle to pay their energy bills.

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Ending the War on American Energy

By Caroline Camden Lewis | The Patriot Post
November 2, 2017

For decades, many American leaders have talked about energy independence. The Trump administration actually takes this commitment seriously. Last week, Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke announced his department’s proposal for the largest oil and gas lease sale in U.S. history. Known as the Proposed Lease Sale 250, the Department of the Interior will be offering leases totaling 76.9 million acres. The lease locations span the federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, the unleased areas of the Gulf of Mexico’s Outer Continental Shelf (OCS), as well as offshore locations in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. The sale will be held and livestreamed from New Orleans in March of 2018.

Proposed Lease Sale 250 will not only create jobs for Gulf Coast states, but it also enhances our national security position. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, in 2016, the U.S. net imports on petroleum accounted for about 25% of all petroleum consumption (about 10.1 million barrels per day (MMb/d)). Roughly 70 countries supply our imports, with Canada, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Mexico and Colombia being the top five.

Petroleum and petroleum products include crude oil, gasoline, diesel fuel, jet fuel, asphalt, biofuels (ethanol and biodiesel) and others. Our importing not only means that the U.S. economy supports off-shore jobs rather than American jobs, but it presents a significant strategic hurdle in our foreign policy. The U.S. dependence on foreign oil places us in a strategically vulnerable position where we must rely on another country (often those who do not share our interests) to fuel our cars, boats, planes and military equipment. Energy independence means that we gain self-sufficiency, and do not have to play political games with oil-supplying countries who use their energy supply as a way to manipulate our geopolitical position and our loyalties.

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Governor Cuomo Announces $59 Million To Help Cut Energy Costs And Improve Affordability Of More Than 9,200 Homes

Long Island News & PR
October 30, 2017

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $59 million in funding through the Weatherization Assistance Program to help cut utility costs for approximately 9,200 income-eligible families and seniors across the state. Funds will be released to a statewide network of non-profit organizations to conduct energy-efficiency work including, but not limited to air sealing, insulation, upgrading heating systems, and diagnostic testing to identify hazards such as carbon monoxide and mold. Weatherization can save an average of 20 percent on utility bills.

“This program has helped thousands of families cut utility costs, save money and build stronger, more energy efficient homes,” Governor Cuomo said. “I urge any New Yorker who qualifies for this funding to see how we can help make your house more energy efficient, less expensive to maintain, and more resilient for whatever Mother Nature decides to throw our way.”

Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York’s Weatherization Assistance Program has invested more than $738 million since 2011 to make 118,600 homes safer, more resilient, and more affordable.

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Energy Department Announces $15 million for batteries and electrification to enable extreme fast charging

By Paul Dvorak | Windpower
October 26, 2017

The Energy Department recently announced up to $15 million for research projects on batteries and vehicle electrification technologies to enable extreme fast charging. The Department’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) funds early-stage, high-risk research to generate knowledge upon which industry can develop and deploy innovative transportation energy technologies that improve efficiency, lower costs, and increase use of secure, domestic energy sources.

VTO is seeking research projects to develop plug-in electric vehicle systems that can recharge rapidly at high power levels, decreasing charge time to 15 minutes or less. Advanced battery projects will focus on early-stage research of battery cells that can enable extreme fast charging, while electrification projects will support the development and verification of electric drive systems and infrastructure for extreme fast charging (400 kW).

In a new VTO-funded report also being released today, researchers at Idaho National Laboratory teamed with Argonne National Laboratory and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to identify technical gaps to implementing an extremely fast charging network in the United States. This report highlights technical gaps at the battery, vehicle, and infrastructure levels. The full report can be found on the VTO reports and publication page.

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Energy Department Announces $4 Million for Medium/Heavy-Duty, On-Road Natural Gas Engine Research

Imperial Valley News
October 11, 2017

Today, the Energy Department announced up to $4 million for research projects on medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engine technologies. The Department’s Vehicle Technologies Office (VTO) funds early-stage, high-risk research to generate knowledge upon which industry can develop and deploy innovative transportation energy technologies that improve efficiency, lower costs for families and businesses, and increase the use of secure, domestic energy sources.

Opportunities exist to improve performance, reliability, durability, cost effectiveness, and efficiency of natural gas vehicles through research. Cost-effectively achieving diesel-like efficiency in natural gas engines while meeting current and future emissions standards will improve the viability of natural gas-fueled medium- and heavy-duty vehicles.

A public workshop on natural gas vehicles was held at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory on July 25, 2017 to identify early-stage research needs for natural gas engines. VTO is seeking projects to address barriers to the adoption of natural gas vehicles through early-stage research. Projects competitively selected through this funding opportunity will complement additional early-stage research on medium- and heavy-duty natural gas engine technologies at DOE national laboratories.

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Equitable Access to Clean Energy in New York at Climate Week

By Samantha Wilt | NRDC
October 3, 2017

As our country and others throughout the hemisphere reel from this record-breaking hurricane season, United Nations Climate Week that took place last month in New York City was never more timely or important. NRDC along with our partner groups, New Yorkers for Clean Power, Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) and the Alliance for Clean Energy New York, hosted a forum titled Clean Energy for All: Access and Equity in New York’s Clean Energy Transition, featuring speakers from the Association for Energy Affordability, BlocPower, Con Edison, Solar One, and WE ACT. There were also introductory remarks from John Rhodes, Chairman of the New York Public Service Commission and former president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), outlining many of the broad efforts the state has underway to meet our ambitious clean energy goals, such as the requirement that 50% of New York’s electric needs be met by renewable resources by 2030.

In the context of New York’s leading climate and clean energy efforts, members of the Clean Energy for All panel hammered home that access to energy efficiency and renewable energy products and services is a right, not a privilege. And for New York State to hope to reach its ambitious climate and clean energy goals it is essential that everyone in New York is able to access the benefits of energy efficiency retrofits that improve the performance, comfort and health of their buildings, along with clean, renewable electricity and heating and cooling technology for their buildings, no matter their income or address.

To show the reach of clean energy opportunities E2 also unveiled its new Mapping Clean Energy: NY page, which shows the phenomenal growth of clean energy in New York, all across the state, with opportunities for homes and businesses to access renewables and electric vehicles, save money, and create good local, jobs.

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Short-Term Spending Bill Could Hurt Clean Energy Programs

By Elizabeth Noll | NRDC
September 18, 2017

In the first week back from August recess members of Congress managed to tackle three top policy priorities: funding for Hurricane Harvey recovery, raising the debt ceiling so the government doesn’t default on its debts and funding the federal government so that the services federal employees provide will continue beyond September 30, 2017. While this is only a short reprieve and we will be right back here in December, the fact is that Congress and the president acted on important priorities and avoided a feared government shutdown.

Still though there are growing concerns that in the intervening months clean energy innovation may still be at even more risk than the current budget proposals floating around Capitol Hill would suggest. That’s why the NRDC Action Fund is asking you to tell your Senators to stand strong against Trump’s disastrous funding cuts.

Earlier this year President Trump submitted a budget proposal to Congress for Fiscal Year 2018 that dramatically cut funding for the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 70 percent. The House of Representatives then proposed and passed a bill that cut the same office by nearly 50 percent while the Senate countered with proposed cuts of only 7 percent. But any cut is too much. It is absurd to consider abandoning clean energy progress by eviscerating federal investments in core efficiency and renewable energy programs that are delivering meaningful results—driving job creation, economic growth, and increased energy affordability.

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Smart Cities Require Smart Planning, Policy to Benefit Communities

September 1, 2017

In an effort to increase awareness about smart cities and the benefits they can create for the people who live in them, the Energy Equity Alliance (EEA) and the American Association of Blacks in Energy (AABE) hosted a webinar entitled “What Makes a City Smart?” Featuring EEA Chairman, former Florida State Legislator Joe Gibbons, AABE President & CEO Paula R. Glover, and a panel of experts representing local governments and the National Association of State Utility Consumer Advocates (NASUCA), the message was clear – if next generation networks, supported by a smart and modernized electric grid, can be deployed in cities and towns across the country, those areas can experience more job growth and greater efficiencies in electricity and utility management.

“Smart cities allow consumers to engage in two-way communications with utility providers and local government,” said John R. Marks, IV, the former Mayor of Tallahassee, Florida and a former state utility regulator. Using “Digi-Tally,” a smart grid app that was implemented two years ago as an example, Marks explained how employing smart features allowed Tallahassee to offer it’s residents ‘lifestyle rates for utilities’ – a rate structures that changes based on a person’s lifestyle. “All people do not use electricity in the same way,” he said, and relying on technology to monitor service use allows for greater flexibility that helps people impact their rate payments based on their life style and use patterns. “There’s a big difference between the way college students consume services as compared to what a family of six might do.”

According to the panelists, smart cities rely on two primary inputs. Next generation, high-speed broadband that relies on fiber optic networks and a high-volume of “small cells” (micro-wireless towers often the size of a smoke detector, pizza box, or refrigerator unit) are used to transmit signals to a variety of connected devices. A robust energy grid, or several micro-grids, helps power the array of communications networks and technology involved in allowing two-way communications between consumers and companies, local governments, or utility providers.

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Utilities United Against Scams

By Sheri Givens | Fortnightly Magazine
August 2017

Annually, thousands of utility customers are reporting millions of dollars lost to scams. On any given day, it is possible that a utility’s residential and commercial customers are receiving telephone calls from criminals. These crooks are based in North America and worldwide, falsely asserting they are employees of the company.

These criminals are potentially threatening to disconnect or shut off the customers’ electricity, water, or gas service, and demanding same-day or immediate payment from the utility’s customers through a prepaid card purchased from their nearest retail store.

Frequently, these villains are targeting vulnerable populations, including senior citizens and non-native English speakers. They are also using more sophisticated tactics on the customers.

Some of these tactics include spoofing technology to display the utility company’s name on the customer’s caller identification and recordings of the utility company’s telephone menu messages, or interactive voice response.

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New study shows renewable fuel standard helps—not ‘harms’—the US economy

By Bob Dinneen | The Hill
August 18, 2017

Buried deep within the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) recent proposal for 2018 renewable fuel standard (RFS) blending requirements is a curious request for public comments on whether the proposed biofuel volumes would somehow cause “severe harm” to the economy.

Of course, suggesting that ethanol and the RFS pose any “harm” at all—“severe” or otherwise—to the economy is completely preposterous. Ethanol is the lowest-cost source of octane available on the market today and extends fuel supplies, resulting in lower retail gasoline prices. Further, while biofuels expansion has indeed added value to agricultural products, most farm commodity prices are at or near pre-RFS levels.

Meat, milk and egg production continue to rise, and consumer food price inflation rates continue to fall below historical averages. In addition, the ethanol industry has generated tens of billions in new GDP and tax revenue, and supports hundreds of thousands of jobs. Far from “harming” the economy, the RFS has been an unmitigated boon to the American consumer.

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Georgia Power to highlight impact of solar eclipse on solar generation during Facebook Live event August 21

PR Newswire
August 17, 2017

Millions of Georgians are anticipating the first significant solar eclipse to cross the state in more than 30 years and, to illustrate the real-time nature of solar generation, the company invites energy fans to tune in to a special Facebook Live event at on August 21. Beginning at 1 p.m., fans will get an unprecedented look at how the eclipse will affect solar generation from the company’s solar research and demonstration project at its Atlanta headquarters. As solar continues to grow, Georgia Power customers can expect continued reliable service thanks to the company’s diverse, flexible generation mix including solar, as well as nuclear, natural gas and other sources.

“Georgia’s energy planning process focuses on ensuring that our generation resources are balanced and optimal to keep reliability high and rates as low as possible,” said Greg Roberts, vice president of pricing and planning for Georgia Power. “While we continue to work to bring cost-effective solar energy to our state, including researching new technologies such as battery storage, this eclipse offers an exciting opportunity to observe how solar generation responds to a unique astronomical event.”

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Refusal to OK natural gas infrastructure hurts economy

By Heather Briccetti | Times Union
August 10, 2017

Some of the most pressing challenges facing New York may share a common solution. Regions across the state are in desperate need of quality, well-paying jobs. At the same time, our aging energy infrastructure is being pushed to the breaking point under the ever-increasing demands of consumers and businesses. Add to the mix that our economic advancement requires affordable and reliable energy, and it’s clear that bold action is needed.

Expanding access to affordable energy cuts to the heart of all three challenges and has the potential for a multiplier effect — strengthening the state’s economy, reducing electric bills and serving as a catalyst for sustained job growth.

To help drive attention to this critical issue, labor, business and community leaders from across New York have formed a coalition called New Yorkers for Affordable Energy. Together, we will promote the expansion of natural gas as a source of affordable, reliable energy and a key driver in helping to attract businesses and grow jobs in New York.

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Michigan developer looks to combine clean energy with affordable housing

By Andy Balaskovitz | Midwest Energy News
August 4, 2017

For West Michigan developer Jeffrey Dombrowski, tying together clean energy and affordable housing is a chance to give back to residents after 20 years in the real estate business.

Dombrowski calls it a “new affordability” model for residential and commercial developments that pieces together affordable rents, “low to no utility expenses for tenants” and selecting project sites with “robust public transportation options.”

While recovering from a serious bicycling injury in 2009, Dombrowski decided he would use real estate development and his 20 years of experience in housing finance to help others.

And while it’s yet to complete a redevelopment project since being founded in 2012, Dombrowski’s West Michigan Housing Alliance envisions renewable energy and energy efficiency components in plans for affordable housing units in downtown Grand Rapids.

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How Climate Change Is Making Americans Poorer

By Susan Stephenson | Sojourners
August 3, 2017

The impacts of climate change are as visible as they are tragic. Sea levels are rising, millions of people have been displaced, and extreme heat and drought is creating famine conditions in East Africa. If emissions are not rapidly curtailed, global warming threatens disruptive change both for the planet and human civilization. At the same time, economic inequality is reaching levels unseen since the French revolution.

Both of these forces seem to offend cherished American values like equal opportunity, unspoiled natural resources, and the ability to create a better life for our children. They also contradict strongly held religious values like stewardship of creation, social justice, and peace.

In Capital in the 21st Century, Thomas Piketty demonstrates that high levels of inequality tend to produce instability, unrest, and even revolution. He shows how access to capital and inherited wealth tend to concentrate in a smaller and smaller minority and outweigh economic growth over time.

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U.S. House Hacks Away at Renewable Energy, Efficiency Programs

By Marianne Lavelle | Inside Climate News
July 27, 2017

The U.S. House of Representatives brushed aside Democrats’ efforts to preserve federal funding for clean energy and energy efficiency as it voted to approve a large spending bill Thursday that would slash those programs by 45 percent while maintaining federal support for fossil energy research and development.

The GOP-led House tucked its $9 billion federal energy spending plan into its so-called “minibus” budget bill, a catch-all package to fund one-quarter of the federal government when the new fiscal year begins in October.

The bill, dubbed the “Making America Secure Again Act,” is a long way from final approval. The Senate still must vote on its own bills to fund the Pentagon, the Department of Energy, and Veterans Affairs, and then Congress must reach an overall budget deal.

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Reliable, Affordable Electricity Is Vital to America

By David B. McKinley | Morning Consult
July 25, 2017

Remember the last time you lost power at home. Even if you went without electricity for only for a few minutes, it was an inconvenience, right? Now, imagine it is the coldest stretch in years. What happens if the electricity goes out for days at a time during this brutal cold? Think about the impact that could have, especially on the most vulnerable living amongst us.

Most Americans take reliable electricity for granted. We turn on the switch and it’s there. But as a result of policies and technologies that have transformed the way we generate and transmit electricity, we are sacrificing reliability and putting our electric grid at risk. The good news is this problem has finally caught the eye of decision-makers in Washington.

For generations, coal has been the backbone of America’s economy, producing electricity to power our homes, schools, offices and factories. There’s a reason our country has been powered by coal for over a century — it is the cheapest, most reliable source of energy on the planet.

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Clearing the air on natural gas

By Pierce Norton | Washington Examiner
July 19, 2017

For the first time in decades, the U.S. is leading the world in both energy production and the reduction of carbon emissions. Today, the natural gas industry is providing millions of Americans with safe, affordable, and reliable energy, which is also making us less reliant on foreign fuel sources.

Unfortunately, the critical role of natural gas as a domestic energy source is not always easily understood by many Americans or our policymakers. If we are going to continue reducing emissions and fueling our economy, we need federal, state, and local policies that support the development, transportation, and use of natural gas.

The stakes are high, which is why my organization, the American Gas Association, has launched its “Your Energy” campaign to discuss the benefits of gas and clear up misconceptions. To maintain our quality of life and grow our economy in the decades ahead, America needs safe, reliable, and affordable energy, while also continuing to make environmental progress. We must not let fear or misinformation guide our decisions when it comes to America’s energy future.

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Clean energy should be state’s future

By Rebekah Warren | The Detroit News
July 18, 2017

With so much uncertainty, turmoil and dysfunction at the federal level, it is up to states to take bold action and chart their own futures. That’s why we, along with Representatives Donna Lasinski and Jon Hoadley, introduced bold clean energy legislation that would reduce electricity costs, create jobs and build upon Michigan’s landmark energy laws that took effect in April. Our state should be a leader in clean, renewable energy, which is why we are proposing a plan that would boost Michigan to 50 percent renewable energy by 2035 and double investments in energy efficiency.

Michigan has the highest electricity costs in the Midwest. Our legislation would help rein in these rising electricity costs by investing in affordable renewable power sources and energy efficiency.

Prices for clean energy are at all-time lows. According to the most recent Levelized Cost of Energy report by Lazard Investment Bank, renewable sources of energy like wind and solar are now cheaper than coal and cost-competitive with natural gas. Expanding our use of renewable sources would protect Michigan families and small businesses against the price volatility of fossil fuels, ensuring we have affordable energy for years to come.

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Speakers in Pittsburgh warn state of dangers of cutting low-income heating funds

By Kate Giammarise | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
July 13, 2017

Freezing cold homes.

Broken pipes.

Fires or carbon monoxide deaths from families using unsafe heating sources.

On Thursday morning during a public hearing in Downtown Pittsburgh convened by the state Department of Human Services, about a dozen people told state officials that planned cuts to winter heating assistance could have terrible consequences.

In response to President Donald Trump’s budget proposal to eliminate the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides utility aid to the poor, a state plan preemptively proposes reducing program funds by 25 percent for the upcoming winter.

“I use LIHEAP. I use it in crisis. If it wasn’t for LIHEAP, most of the time, I wouldn’t have [any] gas,” said Lisa Gonzalez, 50, of the North Side, who testified that the program was critical to her. She said she is on a fixed income and has a medical condition.

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Pennsylvania proposes cuts to low-income heating assistance program

By Claudia Vargas | The Inquirer
July 5, 2017

As Pennsylvania braces for whatever the federal budget may bring, the state Department of Human Services is already proposing cuts to its popular Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

The federal block-grant program helps the poor pay for heat during the winter. The funding comes from the federal government and is administered at the state level. President Trump’s proposed 2018 budget put LIHEAP on the chopping block for the coming winter.

“As a result of the president’s proposal and the uncertainty that exists around the federal budget at this time, DHS is estimating that Pennsylvania will receive $153.7 million for the 2018 federal block grant. That represents a 25 percent reduction in the fiscal 2017 allocation,” Brian Whorl, the director of the division of federal programs for DHS, said at a public hearing Wednesday in Philadelphia. “This is a precautionary measure.”

If the federal government comes through with funding consistent with previous years, Whorl said, DHS would scale back the proposed cuts, which include shortening the length of time the program is available in the winter and lowering the minimum and maximum amounts residents can receive.

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President Trump proposes eliminating heating aid for low-income Americans

By Doug Stewart | Fox 61
July 3, 2017

PORTLAND, Maine — The summer air is sizzling as the Fourth of July approaches, yet 86-year-old Richard Perkins already worries about how he’s going to stay warm this winter.

President Donald Trump has proposed eliminating heating aid for low-income Americans, claiming it’s no longer necessary and rife with fraud. People needn’t worry about being left in the cold, he says, because utilities cannot cut off customers in the dead of winter.

But he is wrong on all counts.

The heating program provides a critical lifeline for people like Perkins, and officials close to the program don’t see any widespread fraud. Guidelines for winter shutoffs by utilities vary from state to state and don’t apply to heating oil, a key energy source in the brittle New England winter.

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Congress cool to Trump’s plan to cut off heating aid for poor

By David Sharp | Associated Press
July 3, 2017

The summer air is sizzling as the Fourth of July approaches, yet 86-year-old Richard Perkins already worries about how he’s going to stay warm this winter.

President Donald Trump has proposed eliminating heating aid for low-income Americans, claiming it’s no longer necessary and rife with fraud. People needn’t worry about being left in the cold, he says, because utilities cannot cut off customers in the dead of winter.

But he appears to be wrong on all counts.

The heating program provides a critical lifeline for people like Perkins, and officials close to the program say they don’t see any widespread fraud. Guidelines for winter shut-offs by utilities vary from state to state and don’t apply to heating oil, a key energy source in the brittle New England winter.

“It’s beyond my thinking that anyone could be that cruel,” said Perkins, a retired restaurateur who relies on the program to keep warm in Ogunquit, Maine.

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Energy Week Is About America’s Energy Future

By Christopher Horner | Daily Caller
June 28, 2017

The Trump Administration has proclaimed this week as “Energy Week” – a time to focus on pro-energy initiatives that can actually boost our economy, promote a message of U.S. “energy dominance” and highlight many disastrous Obama-era energy policies that helped stall the nation’s economic recovery.

Obama’s EPA in particular foisted thousands of complex regulations on business and industry. The Clean Power Plan, regional haze mandates, various emissions standards and other burdens offered few if any tangible benefits or realistic way to gauge improvement to our lands, air, or water quality.

These onerous regulations did delay job growth and came with enormous costs to businesses and consumers. The Clean Power Plan (CPP) for example would allegedly reduce global carbon emissions by a whopping 1.8% by 2030 but would cost American businesses and consumers $39 billion.

The CPP’s projected 0.019 degree change in temperature – over the next 83 years – is not only highly speculative, given it requires accepting all ‘alarmist’ assumptions. This lack of impact also carried a ridiculous cost.

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Agency Fears Budget Cuts Will Hurt Local Low-Income Families

By Judy Monte | Noozhawk
June 22, 2017

Local services aimed at helping low-income residents and families are potentially on the chopping block under President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts.

The national Community Action agencies stands to lose about $3.4 billion nationally, which would effectively destroy its locally implemented programs, namely the Low Income Home Energy Assistance and Weatherization programs (LIHEAP).

Those programs are offered locally by the Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County (CAC).

CAC provides LIHEAP for Santa Barbara County which can provide a one-time payment up to $300 for non-emergency payment on a wood, gas, electric, oil or propane heating bill.

CAC also can help with a fast-track program that can assist in situations if a resident is in danger of utilities being shut off or have been shut off, paying up to $1,000 toward outstanding bills.

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Letter to President Donald Trump

By Cedric L. Richmond | Congressional Black Caucus
June 21, 2017

The Honorable Donald Trump
President of the United States
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20050

Dear President Trump,

As Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, I write today to acknowledge receipt of your staffs communication inviting the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) to meet with you. In written communication dating back to January 2017, we have shared the priorities of the Caucus as they relate to the Black community. We are serious about the work of advancing the interests of our people and the goals of the CBC. As a result, we took advantage of every opportunity to educate you on the needs of the Black c01mnunity and provide you with the information and solutions necessary to act on them in good faith. Through an objective assessment, we have seen no evidence that your Administration acted on our calls for action, and we have in fact witnessed steps that will affirmatively hurt Black communities. While we agreed to explore possible future discussions when we first met, it has become abundantly clear that a conversation with the entire CBC would not be entirely productive, given the actions taken by your Administration since our first meeting. While you can solicit the engagement of individual members of our caucus, the CBC as a caucus declines your invitation to meet at this time.

As you are well aware, when the leadership of the CBC met with you on March 22, 2017, we presented you with a 130-page policy document because we recognized the opportunity to educate both you and your Administration on the difficult history of Black people in this country, the history of the CBC, and solutions to advance Black families in the 21st Century. Your Administration has yet to provide a response to the policies we presented. Additionally, your Administration has not followed through on a pledge you made to us to facilitate meetings with relevant Cabinet officials.

In fact, based on the actions taken by you and your Administration since that meeting, it appears that our concerns, and your stated receptiveness to them, fell on deaf ears. Your fiscal year 2018 budget request would not only devastate the communities we represent, but also many of the communities that supported your candidacy. Three-fifths of the cuts you propose draw much-needed funds from programs that serve low- and moderate-income people, the most vulnerable Americans among us. For example, you propose a $4 billion cut to Pell Grants that help low-income college students pay their tuition. You also proposed the complete elimination of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps seniors and other helpless populations heat their homes in the winter and cool them in the summer. These are just a few of the many examples of how your budget would destroy minority communities, all while your Administration and Congressional Republicans consider proposals to provide tax cuts for the richest Americans.

Moreover, your Administration has taken actions that cause legitimate alarm among members of this caucus and the millions of Americans we represent. In a two-page document, your Attorney General issued guidance to federal prosecutors to accelerate the failed war on drugs that will continue to wreck the Black community and exacerbate our nation’s shameful scourge of mass incarceration. Attorney General Sessions has also explicitly stated his unwillingness to utilize consent decrees to protect the civil rights of Americans and has called for an agency-wide review of these agreements. These shortsighted decisions represent willful ignorance by relying on ideology instead of data and compassion. Every dollar we spend on incarceration renders our communities less safe.

Additionally, under your Education Secretary’s leadership, a number of Historically Black Colleges and Universities have lost critical funding through the TRIO programs, which specifically target resources to low-income and first generation college students. Secretary DeVos has also refused to protect children from being discriminated against, and terminated an Obama Administration program focused on improving schoql diversity and student achievement in the lowest-performing schools across this country. On top of this, you affixed a signing statement to the most recent funding bill calling into question the constitutionality of funding for certain HBCU programming, an action that we immediately objected to.

These aforementioned policies alone will devastate Black communities, not to mention your effort to dismantle our nation’s health care system. The Affordable Care Act has helped lower the uninsured rate for nonelderly African Americans by more than one-third between 2013 and 2016, from 18.9 percent to 11.7 percent. The House bill that you celebrated in the Rose Garden would strip millions of black people of their health care, reversing the gains brought on by the Affordable Care Act and endangering young and old alike. The bill that you celebrated, but subsequently called “mean,” would cut federal Medicaid funding by $834 billion, ensuring that states would cut benefits due to inability to make up the difference. Black people make up 13.3 percent of the U.S. population but 19 percent of Medicaid enrollees and would be dealt a painful blow by this mean-spirited legislation.

We have voiced all of these concerns in various forms, most of them in writing, but have heard nothing from you or your Cabinet officials. To date, you and your Administration have failed to respond to any of the following correspondence from the CBC:

  • January 19, 2017: Letter to you in response to your “New Deal for Black America,” which included dozens of viable policy solutions.
  • March 22, 2017: 130-page policy document entitled, “We have a Lot to Lose”
  • March 22, 2017: Letter to Attorney General Sessions from CBC Chairman Richmond and Judiciary Ranking Member Conyers
  • March 22, 2017: Letter to Secretary DeVos from CBC Chairman Richmond and Education and Workforce Ranking Member Scott
  • April 4, 2017: Letter to you regarding your efforts to sabotage our nation’s health care system
  • April 5, 2017: Letter to Attorney General Sessions regarding his review of Department of Justice policies, including consent decrees
  • April 25, 2017: Letter to you regarding the status of the c1isis in Flint, Michigan
  • June 7, 2017: Letter to Attorney General Sessions, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kelly, and Acting FBI Director McCabe regarding hate crimes

Given the lack of response to any of the many concerns we have raised with you and your Administration, we decline your invitation for all 49 members of the Congressional Black Caucus to meet with you. The CBC, and the millions of people we represent, have a lot to lose under your Administration. I fail to see how a social gathering would benefit the policies we advocate for. The CBC will always be willing to engage in discussion and debate about policies and programs that will make America a more perfect union for all.


Cedric L. Richmond
Chair, Congressional Black Caucus

To view letter click here


Renewables Now Powering 10% of U.S. Energy Needs

Bloomberg L.P.
June 14, 2017

Wind and solar energy accounted for more than 10 percent of U.S. power generation for the first time in March following a record year for clean energy development.

Winds farms in Texas, Oklahoma and elsewhere accounted for 8 percent of electric generation, while residential and commercial solar installations provided about 2 percent, the U.S. Energy Information Administration said in a statement Wednesday.

During 2016, wind and solar accounted for about 7 percent of power generation in the U.S. The record set in March comes after developers added a record 22.2 gigawatts of wind and solar in 2016, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

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Could the future bring subsidized air conditioning to Pa.?

By Susan Phillips | State Impact
June 9, 2017

Climate change will bring longer, hotter heat waves to Pennsylvania, according to experts. Some are worried how those living without air conditioning will survive. 2016 was the hottest year on record. It broke the heat record set in 2015, which broke the record set in 2014. Climate scientists say it’s expected to get worse. With President Trump pulling out of the global climate agreement, there’s a new push to get cities and states to pick up the slack. And they might also have to pick up the tab.

Speaking after an event in Philadelphia on Friday, hosted by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Public Utility Commissioner David Sweet said the state should look at how to bring subsidized cooling to low-income residents.

“I think that’s an area we have to look at to see if we can encourage additional government assistance in some way for the summer months as well as the winter months,” he said.

Sweet says he thinks there could be a way to do that through incentives for utilities. He says rising global temperatures put Pennsylvania’s residents at risk.

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U.S. Renewable Energy Jobs Employ 800,000+ People and Rising: in Charts

By Paul Horn | Inside Climate News
May 30, 2017

Renewable energy jobs are growing around the globe as prices fall and interest in clean power rises. Worldwide, 9.8 million people are now employed in the renewable energy industry, including 3 million in the booming photovoltaic solar sector, up 12 percent from just a year ago, a new study shows.

The United States has seen explosive growth in renewable energy jobs over the past three years, led by solar jobs (up 82 percent) and wind jobs (up 100 percent), according to new numbers released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA).

Each year, IRENA counts employment in renewable energy by technology and country, including in energy generation, related construction, manufacturing of renewable energy equipment and maintenance.

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U.S. renewable energy is 7 times higher than just a decade ago

By Cody Matz | KMSP Fox 9
May 27, 2017

Nearly 7% of the total produced electricity in the United States now comes from renewable energy, up from just 1% a decade ago, and the numbers just keep climbing. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), power generation through wind, solar, and geothermal continues to grow, and is now up to 280,656 GWh nationwide. That number is 7 times than what it was just 10 years ago when the U.S. produced 41,664 GWh of renewable energy, with the biggest gains coming in just the last couple of years.

Minnesota is helping to lead the way, coming in 4th highest for wind capacity in the nation, behind Iowa, Kansas, and Illinois. Wind generated energy will continue to grow in Minnesota with Xcel Energy planning to build at least 3 more large wind farms in the state before the end of the decade. After the CEO of Xcel Energy announced the major wind investment, he declared “We’re investing big in wind because of the tremendous economic value it brings to our customers. With wind energy at historic low prices, we can secure savings that will benefit customers now and for decades to come.”

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Michigan Regulators to Decide Fate of Energy Contract
By AP | US News
May 9, 2017

The Michigan Public Service Commission is deciding whether ending a nuclear power purchase contract would be a cost-saving decision for energy customers.

The commission held back-to-back public meetings Monday in Lawrence to focus on Consumers Energy’s plan to terminate a 15-year contract with Entergy Corp., which purchased the Palisades nuclear plant from Consumers Energy in 2007.

The original 2007 agreement committed Consumers Energy to purchase nearly all of the power generated by the Palisades plant through 2022. But citing changing market conditions, Entergy announced late last year that it intends to shut down the plant in October 2018.

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Duke Energy Aims to Cut Coal From One-Third of Power Output
By AP | US News
April 27, 2017

Any jump in coal production promised by President Donald Trump will not come from the largest U.S. electricity company, which is planning a steady move out of the fuel still key to producing power.

Duke Energy Corp. reports Thursday that about 34 percent of the electricity used by customers in the Carolinas, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana was generated by coal. An equal amount came from nuclear reactors. The company’s solar and wind farms produced less than 5 percent of its electricity. Most of that variable supply was sold to other utilities or commercial customers.

The Charlotte-based utility’s sustainability report says by 2030 it aims to cut its use of coal from 34 percent to 27 percent, increase natural gas by nearly 30 percent and roughly double power from renewables.

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Oklahoma Legislation Would End Tax Credits for Wind Energy
By Tim Talley | Associated Press
April 17, 2017

A state tax credit that helped propel Oklahoma to third in the nation in its capacity to generate electricity from wind is expected to end soon.

Gov. Mary Fallin has indicated she will sign legislation to roll back a 10-year tax credit for electricity generated by zero-emission facilities that was launched in 2003.

Under the measure, zero-emission facilities must be operating by July 1 this year to qualify for the credit, instead of Jan. 1, 2021. It is one of several revenue proposals that Oklahoma lawmakers are considering as they struggle to close an estimated $868 million budget shortfall.

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The Solar Industry Wants Me to Be Quiet. I Wonder Why.
By Julianne Malveaux | NNPA Newswire Columnist
April 17, 2017

As a journalist and political commentator, who covers issues important to the African American community and other marginalized communities, I have taken on powerful forces over the years. I have provided a voice for underrepresented communities and engaged both the private and public sector and I always strive to be accurate and respectful. After all, how can I demand civility and fairness from others if I don’t practice it myself?

Earlier this year, I wrote a commentary about the rooftop solar business, and expressed concerns that some bad actors in the industry were misleading consumers. I focused on three aspects that worried me: First, that new customers may be unaware that the panels can cost upwards of $15,000 and can generate an additional lien against their home, making it harder to sell. Second, rooftop solar salespeople often tell customers that they will save a lot of money on their utility bill, which is not always true. Third, salespeople engaging in high-pressure tactics often do so in the hope that a customer will sign a contract before they understand all of the complexities of a long-term financial agreement.

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An Apology to Dr. Julianne Malveaux

By Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA)
April 17, 2017

The Solar Energy Industries Association and its leadership is writing to apologize to the journalist Julianne Malveaux. In response to one of her op-eds, which raised concerns about some solar practices, we asked one of our consultants to reach out to her to set up what we hoped would be an informative meeting to discuss our extensive consumer protection efforts. We thought such a conversation would help provide information about the work our companies are doing to keep solar customers informed about all aspects of the solar transaction.

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Bullock vetoes federal mandate bill, net metering bill

By Bobby Caina Calvan | Associated Press
April 14, 2017

Gov. Steve Bullock vetoed two bills Friday, one that sought to bring more scrutiny to unfunded federal government mandates and another that he said would limit the growth of clean-energy industries.

The governor signed six others and suggested changes to three more as a condition for his signature.

Bullock’s veto of the federal mandates bill was no surprise. He vetoed a similar measure passed by the previous Legislature. He said the proposal by Republican Rep. Bill Harris of Winnett “creates a bureaucratic morass” because of duplicative work and new requirements on government agencies.

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Solar’s Florida future: mostly sunny

By Ron Hurtibise | Sun Sentinel
December 10, 2016

Solar industry advocates in Florida are forecasting a mostly sunny future with just a few uncertainties after voters failed to approve a constitutional amendment supported by big utilities in a bitter election battle.

A sign of the increased confidence was an announcement on Dec. 1 by SolarCity, the nation’s largest installer, of plans to expand its operations into Florida.

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Rooftop solar controversy unwinds before utility regulators

By Amy Joi O’Donoghue | KSL
December 2, 2016

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah may be experiencing wintry weather, but the rooftop solar controversy is becoming glaringly hot — with a flurry of activity happening on the regulatory front that is sure to put the state in the national spotlight.

The Public Service Commission has been wading through a bevy of public comments generated by Rocky Mountain Power’s November request to charge new fees to rooftop solar customers who buy their systems after Dec. 9.

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In New Hampshire, stakeholders debate the next NEM successor tariff

By Herman K. Trabish | UtilityDive
December 1, 2016

A familiar fight between utilities and the solar sector is shaping up in New Hampshire.

Like many states, New Hampshire regulators are trying to devise a replacement incentive for retail rate net metering as part of a proceeding directed by state lawmakers last year when they lifted the cap on distributed generation. Filings in Docket 16-576 show the state’s debate will cover many of the known successor tariff possibilities and at least one brand new one.

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State regulators postpone hearing on value of solar

By Rod Medvescek | Arizona Daily Star
November 30, 2016

State utility regulators have postponed until mid-December consideration of proposals on how to value rooftop solar, in a case that may determine the treatment of customers of Tucson Electric Power Co. and other utilities who install solar.

The Arizona Corporation Commission tentatively had planned to consider the matter in late November. But Commission Chairman Doug Little moved to push the hearing off, citing conflicts among several parties.

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In building grid of the future, a battle for power

By James Osborne | Houston Chronicle
November 25, 2016

If all goes according to plan, construction will begin next year on one of the longest power transmission projects in the nation’s history, a 700-mile line connecting wind farms around the Oklahoma panhandle with Atlanta and other cities in the Southeast.

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Community Solar Could Pressure Solar Installers, Tesla And SunPower

Seeking Alpha
November 23, 2016

…All of these can be connected to the grid, often even with guaranteed tariffs (the feed-in tariff). This often isn’t the main concern in residential solar as people put solar panels on their roof simply to save on their electricity bills. However, even here putting surplus generation back into the grid can be a nice extra.

Commercial solar are larger scale projects for corporate customers. Utility scale solar are basically electricity generating plants for the grid consisting of large arrays of solar panels.

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Arkansas Wades Into Net-Metering Debate

By Edward Klump | EnergyWire
November 15, 2016

The state-by-state tussle over rooftop solar has arrived in Arkansas, where the future of net metering will play out over the next 12 to 18 months.

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Report: Energy industry has $13.2 billion impact on Alabama

By Michael Tomberlin | Alabama Newscenter
November 3, 2016

The energy industry has a $13.2 billion economic impact on Alabama and generates 124,000 jobs for the state, according to a new report from Auburn University at Montgomery.

In what is believed to be the first comprehensive study of its kind on the industry in the state, the Economic Development Partnership of Alabama and the Energy Institute of Alabama commissioned the report from Keivan Deravi, professor of economics at AUM.

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Green affordable housing for seniors coming to Corona

By Bill Parry | Times Ledger
October 27, 2016

Corona’s first affordable housing site in more than three decades will rise in place of a longtime community garden. Officials broke ground Tuesday on the $35 million HANAC’s Corona Senior Residence, located at 54-17 101st St., near Chrystie Avenue, the former home of the relocated Sparrows Nest garden which was moved to a nearby corner.

When it opens in the spring of 2018, all 68 apartments will be affordable, with 21 units reserved for vulnerable seniors. Construction of the development was financed under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York: a five-borough, ten-year plan which aims to finance the creation and preservation of 200,000 affordable homes.

“HANAC’s new development will not only provide new safe homes, it will be built to passive house standards, which means our seniors will have a safe, affordable, energy-efficient and healthy place to live,” city Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been said.”

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Fighting for affordable energy could remake presidential race

By Tom Borelli | The Hill
October 24, 2016

The final sprint for the White House is on, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton concentrating their attention on massive ad buys in battleground states.

But commercials will only sway voters so much. Truly winning them over will require sound policy — particularly when it comes to energy and the economy.

For one, overzealous federal regulations are holding the middle class hostage. Three in particular are draining Americans’ pocketbooks, paralyzing economic growth, and in some cases, actually doing environmental damage. And they are hitting swing states voters especially hard.

The first is the Renewable Fuel Standard. Established in 2005, the RFS mandates, among other things, the percentage of motor fuel that must come from renewable sources, principally corn-based ethanol. The Environmental Protection Agency recently released a new RFS standard that requires even more ethanol to be blended with gasoline.

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U.S. Residential Electricity Prices Decline for the First Time in 14 Years

By Robert Fares | Scientific American
October 20, 2016

The latest data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) show that during the first six months of 2016 American residential customers paid 0.7 percent less for electricity than they did in the same period of 2015. While this decline might sound modest, it represents the first time residential electricity prices have declined at all since 2002.

What’s behind the surprising decline in retail electricity prices? It has to do with the combined forces of cheap natural gas and more renewable energy. To understand exactly how these forces are pushing down retail electricity prices, let’s dive in to how the wholesale market price of electricity is established through the scheduling of power plants.

The grid operator schedules electricity generation by sorting all available generators according to their “merit order,” or marginal production cost in dollars per megawatt-hour of electric energy. The least expensive generators are turned on first and more expensive generators are only turned on as necessary as electric demand increases. The wholesale market price of electricity is equal to the cost of producing one additional unit of electric energy at any given time. Thus, the market price is equal to the production cost in dollars per megawatt-hour of the most expensive generator currently scheduled by the grid operator, because this is the generator that still has extra capacity available to produce electricity if called upon.

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Commentary: U.S. energy revolution must continue

By Jack Gerard | The Inquirer
October 18, 2016

For the first time in years, gasoline prices aren’t a significant election year concern.

This is a major turnaround from 2012, when the average price of a gallon of gas in the United States was a record-setting $3.60, and 2008, which saw the highest-ever one-day average price of $4.11. Now, the United States leads the world in oil and natural gas production, and prices average $2.25 per gallon.

Average U.S. disposable household income was $1,337 higher in 2015 given lower home-energy costs and other savings brought about by shale-energy development, and America’s refiners produce billions of gallons of fuel that is cleaner and more efficient than ever. We have the American energy revolution to thank.

Increased production of U.S. oil and natural gas has added stability to world markets, exerting downward pressure on prices and reducing the influence of less-stable producing regions.

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You’re Going to Pay More to Heat Your Home This Winter

By Kaitlin Mulhere | Time
October 14, 2016

Winter is coming and it’s bringing with it an extra heavy hit to your wallet this year.

Thanks to higher fuel prices and a bitter winter forecast, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says average household winter heating expenses will increase this year.

The administration predicts homes that using primarily natural gas will spend an average of $116 (or 22%) more this winter compared to last year. Prices for natural gas are expected to be at the highest level since 2010-11. Homes that rely mainly on heating oil will spend an average of $378 (or 38%) more this winter than last, as retail prices for heating oil are 15% higher.

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Business and Residential Demand Strong for Affordable Community Solar in Minnesota

Business Wire
September 27, 2016

PRINCETON, N.J.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–NRG Energy, Inc. (NYSE:NRG) today announced that its renewables business has broken ground on its first five community solar projects in Minnesota and reached agreements to subscribe several national business customers to its solar farms in the state.

“Across Minnesota we are hearing the same strong message from residents and businesses alike: they want to be powered by affordable, renewable energy,” said Drew Warshaw, Vice President, Community Solar, NRG. “Community solar gives them that opportunity – a simple, cost-effective path for residents and businesses to go solar without having to put panels on their roofs.”

NRG’s commitment to developing community solar in Minnesota (the state where NRG began operations in 1989) is moving forward with 25-year Solar Subscription Agreements (SSAs) signed by more than 1,000 residents and several large businesses in the state including:

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University researchers work to make solar energy more affordable

By Emily Scott | The Daily Illini
September 15, 2016

In the ongoing search for reliable renewable energy sources, two University professors are working to make a form of solar power technology more affordable.

Mechanical science and engineering professors Kimani Toussaint and Placid Ferreira, along with researchers from the University of Michigan and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, were recently selected to receive a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. This initiative, which is comparable with President John F. Kennedy’s “Moon Shot” initiative, aims to support research that will make renewable energy more cost competitive with traditional energy sources.

Toussaint and Ferreira’s project involves developing a specific type of solar power technology called concentrating solar power collectors, which use reflective surfaces to focus light at point of absorption and convert that energy into electricity.

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Commentary: Government must stop unscrupulous solar firms

By Ron Dellums | East Bay Times
August 23, 2016

The Golden State leads the nation in the production of solar power. Like many Bay Area residents, I take great pride in California’s and Washington’s efforts to combat climate change by promoting the use of renewable energy sources through tax breaks and other incentives.

Due to the abundance of sunshine across our state and these generous government incentives, thousands of California households have made the decision to reduce their energy footprint through investment in rooftop solar panels.

Unfortunately, consumers across California and the United States have been the victims of disreputable business practices by bad actors in the rooftop solar industry.

One company, as a California news channel found a few months ago in an undercover investigation, advertised the availability of government loans to potential customers to help them finance the installation of solar panels. But the government loans referenced were actually loans from a private lender.

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Clinton makes pitch for ‘modern grid’ in Las Vegas

By Blake Sobczak | E & E Publishing
August 5, 2016

LAS VEGAS — Hillary Clinton called for a “modern grid” and billions of dollars in added infrastructure investments yesterday at an electrical workers’ union in the swing state of Nevada.

The Democratic presidential nominee laid out her plan to build roads, bridges and ports — but also power grids.

“It’s not only what you can see; it’s also under the ground, the water systems, the sewer systems, and yes, we need a new modern electric grid to be able to take and distribute all the clean renewable energy,” she told a crowd of several hundred supporters, who led cheers for “rooftop solar” earlier in the afternoon rally.

It’s unclear how far Clinton’s message will resonate outside the walls of the local chapter of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. Las Vegas was ground zero for the housing crash near the end of George W. Bush’s administration, and many union workers have yet to recover from one-two punches to their home values and pensions. Thousands of properties in the region went into foreclosure in the depths of the 2008 financial crisis.

Clinton’s perceived ties to big banks may haunt her here even as she pledges to bring renewable energy jobs to a state that has seen its unemployment rate linger above the national average in recent years.

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How green energy hurts the poor

By Michael Jensen and William Shughart | The Detroit News
August 4, 2016

The clean energy mantra is so loud that it often drowns out the feeble cry of energy poverty. Many Americans are finding it more and more difficult to pay their utility bills, yet this important issue is nearly absent from the debate about America’s energy future.

Modern progressives, who have long fancied themselves as champions of the poor, now see energy policy only through the lens of climate change. Their call to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, at any cost, drives public policy. Consequently, the sources of our most reliable and affordable electricity, existing coal power plants, are being shut down across the country as overzealous federal and state regulatory mandates force utilities to use less reliable, and more expensive sources such as wind and solar power.

For those on fixed incomes, increasing energy prices mean that the gap between what they can afford to pay and what they are paying for electricity is widening. If we continue to push aside cheap coal-generated electricity for more expensive alternatives, many more of the nation’s poor will fall into that gap as they struggle to keep their lights on and their refrigerators running.

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EPA’s Plan to Bring Clean Energy to Low-Income Households

By Khalil Shahyd | Natural Resources Defense Council
July 28, 2016

A year ago, I wrote about how the Clean Power Plan (CPP) through the proposed Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP), could increase energy efficiency investments in affordable housing. In that post (which you can find here), I discussed how the severity of the nation’s affordable housing crisis ensured that more Americans than ever are spending 30 percent or more of their income on housing costs.

But the crisis doesn’t end there. Families lucky enough to find affordable housing pay more for energy than the rest of us, further straining budgets for those who can afford it the least.

A recent study released by Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA) and the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that the median low-income household’s energy burden was more than twice as high as the average household and three times greater than higher income households.

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Miami Beach, Miramar, and Broward County Officials Select Ygrene as Affordable, Accessible Clean Energy Financing of Choice for Climate Resilient Property Upgrades

Press Release | Ygrene Energy Fund
July 27, 2016

SANTA ROSA, Calif., July 27, 2016 /PRNewswire/ — Ygrene Energy Fund announced today that Miami Beach, Miramar, and Broward County have selected the award-winning YgreneWorks™ PACE (property assessed clean energy) program to help home and business owners finance a broad range of energy efficiency, renewables and hurricane protection property upgrades. On July 19, PACE was endorsed by President Obama as a cornerstone of the Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative, which will ensure that every household has options to adopt solar and other additional measures to promote energy efficiency.

Ygrene has already been selected by 270+ cities and counties across California and Florida, making it the nation’s leading multi-state residential and commercial PACE provider. With more than $785M in committed capital, Ygrene continues its rapid expansion, paving the way with its commitment to providing property owners with a simple and easy process and service excellence.

Ygrene has now financed over 90 percent of all Florida PACE projects, totaling $77 million in residential, commercial, and multifamily property upgrades that increase energy efficiency and protect homes and businesses against hurricane impact.

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Finally some fairness for electricity ratepayers

By George Landrith | The Hillt
July 18, 2016

As an essential commodity that powers every modern household, electricity is something most of us wouldn’t know how to live without. Families at all income levels rely on it to power everything from their coffee pot in the morning to their reading lamp at night. We rely on it to heat our homes, warm our meals and charge our devices. But electricity is not getting any cheaper.

Anyone who’s monitored their utility bills over the past eight years has seen a steady increase in the amount they owe. And while rising prices squeeze every ratepayer, they have particularly dramatic consequences for the already tight budgets of America’s working poor. So as lawmakers shape energy policy, it’s critically important that they consider the needs of those among us who are struggling financially.

One idea currently under consideration by Congress is called The Ratepayer Fairness Act. It was authored by Congressman Mike Pompeo of Kansas and Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona and aims to protect working-class Americans from covering the costs of special energy technologies they could never afford to use themselves.

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Protecting Consumers: Making the Solar Industry a Safe and Fair Marketplace

By Terry Goddard | The Huffington Post
July 8, 2016

A national look at the consumer protection issues raised by the rapidly growing use of rooftop solar panels just happened, when the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) convened a Workshop on this and other solar energy related issues in Washington DC on June 21st. This event was solid evidence that, while solar energy plays an increasingly important role in meeting our Country’s energy and environmental goals, rooftop solar panel installations still present significant consumer protection problems. The FTC materials for the Workshop acknowledged that “A well-functioning marketplace requires that consumers have access to the information necessary to weigh the financial costs and benefits of the various options for installing solar PV.” I could not agree more.

In many states, consumers have expressed concern over unclear and, in some instances, dishonest sales tactics used by some companies leasing solar products. In fact, the FTC asked in their public notice for the Workshop, “Do consumers understand the payments they will make for solar PV panels and electricity, based on whether and how they finance or lease a system, or obtain a power purchase agreement? Do consumers understand whether their payments may escalate under some agreements?” Many times, the unfortunate answer has been “No”.

For example, the energy cost savings that some rooftop solar companies claim in their sales pitches are often higher than the actual savings because their assumptions used highly inflated electricity cost projections. In some cases, due to automatic escalation terms embedded in solar leases, families end up paying more for their solar energy than they would have paid traditional energy companies at the meter rate. What’s more, customers may not realize that their payments could double over the life of the lease and also don’t know what interest rate they are paying, even though these kinds of requirements are clearly on the table when leasing a car for a much shorter-term.

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Dick Batchelor: Amendment 1 will protect public from solar fraud

By Dick Batchelor | Gainesville Sun
June 21, 2016

Amendment 1 promotes solar the right way in Florida. Unfortunately, Sue Legg’s June 5 column grossly missed the mark about the purpose of Amendment 1.

She claims Amendment 1 is “simply restating current law.” But the truth is, Amendment 1 establishes a new constitutional right to own or lease solar equipment in Florida. By elevating this right into Florida’s Constitution, we can be assured that neither politicians nor special interest groups will be able to mess with it. And that’s good for solar in the Sunshine State

And while Amendment 1 guarantees consumers their right to place solar panels on their respective homes, it still allows solar consumers to sell their excess electricity back to their primary electricity provider — a fact many on the other side regularly fail to mention.

Another important aspect of Amendment 1 is consumer protections. Clearly stated in the Amendment 1 ballot language, state and local governments will retain their abilities to protect consumer rights as well as public health, safety and welfare. We encourage everyone to read the full text of Amendment 1 — you’ll find it’s clear, straightforward and unambiguous.

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Maryland PSC approves community solar pilot program

By Chris Crowell | Solar Builder
June 17, 2016

The Maryland Public Service Commission has approved final regulations to establish a community solar pilot program in Maryland, with an emphasis on providing renewable energy benefits for low and moderate income customers. The regulations are expected to be published on July 8, 2016 in the Maryland Register and will become final 10 days later (July 18).

The regulations initiated from legislation (HB 1087) passed in the 2015 Maryland General Assembly session and signed by Governor Larry Hogan, and were considered in a rule making process docketed by the Commission as RM56.

“This pilot program will implement the General Assembly’s desire to increase access to solar electricity for all Maryland ratepayers, especially low and moderate income customers,” said W. Kevin Hughes, PSC Chairman. “In addition, it will encourage private investment in Maryland’s solar industry and diversify the state’s energy resource mix to meet the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reduction Act goals.”

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Elon Musk Spends $75 Million To Prop Up Solar Company … Again

By Andrew Follett | The Daily Caller
June 13, 2016

Liberal billionaire Elon Musk is using his taxpayer-backed space company to prop up his ailing taxpayer-backed solar panel company.

Musk’s SpaceX will pump another $75 million into SolarCity, according to a Monday report by a financial news outlet.

SolarCity offered to sell $95 million in short-term bonds with a very high interest rate of up to 5.25 percent, according to SeeNews. Such a high interest rate and the short-term of the bonds could mean that the company needs cash fast. The new purchase means SpaceX will soon have a total of $330 million invested in the rooftop solar company.

SolarCity is a sizable investment for SpaceX, which was valued at $12 billion in 2015. Musk himself invested $10 million of his personal fortune into SolarCity in February, according to SEC filings.

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Community solar benefiting co-op members in North Carolina

By Rhiannon Fionn | Southeast Energy News
June 10, 2016

Despite the fact that the North Carolina General Assembly allowed renewable tax credits to expire at the end of last year, some residents of the state are finding ways to harness the sun’s energy through their rural electric cooperatives.

Community solar, where co-op members can buy a share of a project in exchange for a credit on their monthly bill, is an increasingly popular solution for people who want to support clean energy but may not be able to finance or site their own installation.

The North Carolina Electric Membership Corporation (NCEMC), the power supplier for most of the state’s electric cooperatives, developed a framework for community solar in 2014. After conducting a survey of the state’s electric cooperative membership, the NCEMC identified four co-ops whose membership was ready for their shared solar gardens.

Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative is one of the co-ops whose membership was yearning for solar, though, unlike other rural communities in the state, it was the opportunity to move toward energy independence, not lower energy bills, that drove the membership’s demand for solar energy.

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Arizona Public Service Customers Rally to Protest Proposed Rate Hike

By Miriam Wasser | Phoenix New Times
June 7, 2016

Inside the air-conditioned confines of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Phoenix earlier today, Arizona Public Service was hosting the second annual Residential Demand Charges for Utilities Summit.

Outside, about 50 protesters braved the heat to speak out against a pending proposal by the state’s largest utility to change the way it bills customers for the energy they use in their homes.

Carrying signs reading “We demand fair charges” and “APS – hands off my wallet,” demonstrators criticized the plan, calling it a scheme to make money off the backs of average people.

Under the current billing structure, customers are charged for the total amount of energy they use in a given month. The plan APS submitted last week to the Arizona Corporation Commission seeks to lower the rate it charges per kilowatt-hour used and add a “demand charge,” a fee based on a consumer’s single highest spike in energy consumption during the billing period.

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Minnesota Power announces bigger rebates for rooftop solar

By John Myers | Duluth News Tribune
June 1, 2016

Minnesota Power on Wednesday unveiled plans to triple the size of rebates available to its customers who install solar panels on their rooftops, garages or yards by adding an extra $1 million annually to the program for the next three years.

Customers could receive up to $20,000 back on the new solar panels they install, with the rebate program covering nearly one-third of the initial cost of installing solar, depending on the size of the system.

A typical residential customer installing a 5-kilowatt solar system could receive roughly $6,000 in Minnesota Power “SolarSense” rebates.

That 5kw system, about average of what has been installed locally so far, would produce about 6,416 kilowatt hours of electricity annually, nearly 70 percent of an average residential customer’s needs.

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Maryland Gov. Hogan vetoes increase to state’s renewable energy standard

By Robert Walton | UtilityDive
May 31, 2016

Earlier this month, the prospects for increasing Maryland’s renewable portfolio standard to 25% by 2020 looked good.

By emphasizing the economic benefits behind renewable energy programs, the bill’s backers built a bipartisan coalition of enviornmentalists and business interests in the state legislature.

The bill passed the House on a 92-43 vote in March and the Senate followed with a 31-14 vote in April. After Gov. Hogan signed a bill to strengthen greenhouse gas reduction goals that month, supporters told Utility Dive they figured he would approve the RPS increase as well.

But Hogan differed in his view of the bill’s economic impacts. In a letter vetoing the bill, Hogan said that while the goals were “laudable,” he couldn’t support the costs.

“This legislation is a tax increase that will be levied upon every single electricity ratepayer in Maryland and, for that reason alone, I cannot allow it to become law,” Hogan wrote. He said the measure would raise taxes between $49 million and $196 million by 2020.

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NERC assesses impact of Clean Power Plan on renewable energy, reliability services

By Alyssa Michaud | DailyEnergyInsider
May 25, 2016

A recent evaluation by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has forecasted the impact of the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) on the mix of generation resources in the U.S., showing accelerated growth in renewable energy generation, while also raising the issue of future reliability challenges.

NERC predicts significant increases to solar and wind generation over the next 15 years, alongside a decline or slow in coal and natural gas generation. While the low natural gas prices that have fostered increased natural gas-fired generation in recent years are projected to increase, resulting in an anticipated reduction of natural gas generation in the near future, coal prices are expected to flatten, and without the CPP in place, the NERC calculated that the U.S. would see a resurgence in coal-fired generation.

“NERC’s assessment shows that significant changes to the resource mix are occurring regardless of the CPP, but that the CPP accelerates some of these changes, underscoring a potential reliability challenge,” Thomas Coleman, director of Reliability Assessment at NERC, said. “Generation and transmission planners are encouraged to use this report and its findings to develop more localized studies for both generation and transmission adequacy.”

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Arizona begins hearings on co-op plan for higher fixed charges, lower net metering rates

By Herman K. Trabish | UtilityDive
May 23, 2016

Sulphur Springs, which serves about 51,000 customers in southern Arizona, is following a familiar policy playbook to deal with rising levels of distributed generation in its footprint.

To mitigate what the utility says is a $1 million annual cost shift from rooftop solar customers to the rest of the rate base, the utility is pushing to increase fixed charges, reduce volumetric rates, and lower remuneration for distributed solar systems.

Residential customers who had solar systems approved before April 15, 2015, would be “grandfathered” — allowed to keep their existing rates and net metering credits for the life of their systems. They would, however, be subject ot the four year increase in fixed charges.

The Sulphur Springs request comes after a number of its peer utilities have pushed similar policy proposals, sparking protracted regulatory debates with solar advocates in the state.

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Caps raised, New Hampshire turns attention to imminent struggle over solar value

By Herman K. Trabish | UtilityDive
May 19, 2016

Net energy metered distributed solar was fading in New Hampshire as developers neared the state policy’s cap. But in March, legislators came together and passed a new law doubling the limit.

Problem solved? Not quite.

One utility is already approaching a portion of the newly-created cap reserved for large net metered systems, and others say they might soon get there. And there’s regulatory proceeding about to kick off that is likely to dispense with the current net metering policy altogether in place of a new tariff.

But will the result be a compromise like the one just reached in New York? Or a knock-down, drag-out fight over incentives like we saw in Nevada?

At this stage, it’s tough to tell, as utilities and solar installers are still preparing their proposals. But the looming solar proceeding has already attracted some innovative ideas for valuing and compensating distributed systems.

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Michigan needs to build reliability, affordability into energy generation

By Randy Richardville | M Live
May 19, 2016

A recent op-ed by Peter Milojevic of the Midland Cogeneration Ventures and Richard Wells of The Dow Chemical Company misses the mark on why state lawmakers have been working for two years to update Michigan’s energy law. It also paints a false picture of Michigan’s energy landscape. As stated by Sen. John Proos during recent testimony: “As public policy makers, we’re trying to identify the pathway forward, to make sure that reliability is at the forefront of what we’re addressing, and addressing cost in that same factor — finding the sweet spot, if you will.””

As a member of the Senate committee that updated Michigan’€™s energy laws in 2008, and as former majority leader, I can speak firsthand. This is the central concern: We need to provide reliable and affordable energy for Michigan’s electric customers today and in the future. The Midcontinent Independent System Operator —€” an independent nonprofit tasked with overseeing the grid —€” made one thing clear when they recently testified: Michigan’s electric supply is at risk.

As coal plants across the Midwest retire, surplus generation is becoming more scarce, and the energy deficit could potentially reach 2 gigawatts across the region —€” enough to power over 1 million households. According to MISO, the excess energy that out-of-state energy marketers rely on is disappearing —” putting reliability for all of us at risk. In fact, we’re close to dropping below the Planning Reserve Margin —€” the safety net needed to ensure the lights stay on during peak demand €— by 2020.

Senate Bills 437 and 438 address this critical transformation in Michigan’s infrastructure, ensuring reliable energy while maintaining affordability for Michigan’s electric customers.

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Utility assistance falls short for those in poverty

By Dan Boyce and Jordan Wires-Brock | Post Independent
May 15, 2016

Families at low income levels pay more than they can afford for their home utility bills, and energy assistance programs designed to help make up the difference struggle to meet demand.

As Lea Anne Shellberg knows, spring can be the most difficult time. Spring is when those power bills from the winter start piling up. A broken back and a recurring battle with skin cancer ended her career as an interior designer. When we first tried setting up an interview with her in mid-March, she was in trouble.

“This is gonna be fun,” she said, “we’re literally going to be sitting in the dark.”

Her modular home’s power bills for the previous two months totaled more than $470. The charges were unexpectedly high and came despite Shellberg and her daughter taking extra care to keep lights off and appliances unplugged. Her budget is fixed and razor-thin and she couldn’t pay the bill.

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How Low-Income Households Can Take Advantage Of Renewable Energy And Efficiency

By Marlene Cimons | Climate Progress
May 13, 2016

Monya’ (pronounced “Monet,” like the French artist) Chapman, 53, lives with her 77-year-old mother in a house she rents in West Baltimore, a neighborhood she describes as moderate- to low-income. She earns about $30,000 a year as a pharmacy technician, which, along with her mother’s monthly social security benefits, covers rent, food, and basic necessities like soap and toilet paper.

What often breaks her budget, however, is her monthly electric bill, an amount that can be staggering, sometimes as high as $350. “We budget well, but there still is not much left over to pay a $350 bill,” she said. “I have every intention of paying it, but sometimes I can’t because we have to eat.”

Chapman is not alone. A recent review of 48 major U.S. metropolitan areas released by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) found that low-income households spent three times as much for energy as other higher income households, and that these expenditures are especially hard on African Americans and Latinos. Another analysis, conducted by Groundswell, determined that the toll for low-income families is even higher, that they spend as much as ten percent of their income on electricity, more than four times higher than the average consumer.

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NY invests $220 million in clean energy, increases affordability for homeowners

By The Associated Press | WKTV
May 13, 2016

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – New York is partnering with several private companies to invest up to $220 million in new clean energy and energy efficiency projects.

The move, announced by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday, is part of the state’s effort to generate half of its electricity from renewable sources by the year 2030.

Overall, the state plans to set aside $5 billion over 10 years to ease the transition to clean energy.

The projects announced Thursday include programs to make residential and commercial solar power more affordable for consumers, as well as a program to provide energy efficiency upgrades to as many as 400 New York state homes.

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State poised to continue leadership on clean energy

By Greg Jones and Robin Mcadam | The Sun Chronicle
May 12, 2016

Massachusetts’ longstanding legacy of leadership on clean energy continues with Gov. Charlie Baker, who recently filed legislation that would allow delivery of more low-carbon wind and hydro power into Massachusetts. The governor seeks a process where wind and hydro providers compete for the opportunity to sell affordable electricity to Massachusetts and thereby help meet the state’s environmental objectives.

Gov. Baker’s proposal to create a clean, affordable and reliable energy future for Massachusetts is part of the state’s ongoing journey to cleaner air.

In 2008, the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA) became law, establishing requirements to lower pollution levels. Natural gas made the state’s initial push for improved air quality possible by helping to displace coal and oil as the primary fuel sources used in large-scale electricity generation. The problem is, natural gas power plants emit carbon, albeit only half as much as coal plants.

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Energy Bills Take Big Chunk of Family Income for Those Living in Poverty

By Dan Boyce | Rocky Mountain PBS News
May 12, 2016

The poorest among us pay more than they can afford for their utility bills and energy assistance programs struggle to meet the demand.

As Lea Anne Shellberg knows, spring can be the most difficult time. Spring is when those power bills from the winter start piling up. A broken back and a recurring battle with skin cancer ended her career as an interior designer. When I first tried setting up an interview with her in mid-March, she was in trouble.

“This is gonna be fun,” she said, “we’re literally going to be sitting in the dark.”

Her modular home’s power bills for the previous two months totaled more than $470. The charges were unexpectedly high and came despite Shellberg and her daughter taking extra care to keep lights off and appliances unplugged. Her budget is fixed and razor-thin and she couldn’t pay the bill.

To read more click here


Allete CEO commits to renewable energy sources

By Tim Olson | Duluth News Tribune
May 10, 2016

Duluth-based Allete was a decade ahead of the curve in meeting a state mandate that requires utilities to produce 25 percent of electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025.

But Al Hodnik, the chairman, president and CEO of Minnesota Power’s parent company, said Tuesday that there is more work to be done on that front.

He laid out a vision that includes advances in wind, hydro and solar power sources to a group of about 700 shareholders gathered for the company’s annual meeting at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center.

Through its EnergyForward strategy, the company hopes to move its portfolio to one-third renewable energy, one-third natural gas and one-third coal in the coming years.

“With long-held company values still guiding us, the Allete of today is more balanced, more sustainable, and is well-positioned to help answer our nation’s call to transform its energy and water landscape, all while building Allete,” Hodnik said.

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There is a middle ground between environmentalism and affordability

By Robert Duncan | The Hill
May 9, 2016

While the Sierra Club publicly brags about removing 100,000 megawatts of electricity from America’s power grid, it says nothing about the real-world impacts felt as a result (“Anti-coal campaign reaches milestone,” May 4). In fact, not a word of sympathy is expressed about the thousands of hardworking men and women who were handed a pink slip and face the prospects of not making ends meet. Nor does the Sierra Club like to talk about what happens to people’s electric bills as affordable power is replaced by more expensive, less reliable energy sources.

The reality is, putting affordable power out of the reach of Americans is something to be condemned, not celebrated. Clean coal is generating more electricity at lower costs for consumers than any other form of power in America, and by 2019 it is expected to have invested more than $126 billion to reduce emissions. Fringe environmental activists, however, remain blind to both the facts and to the painful consequences of their elitist agendas.

America cannot afford the job losses and higher electric costs that will stunt our economic growth and prosperity. There is plenty of middle ground in finding ways to provide the power America needs while being considerate of the environment and without creating more hardship for families. Unfortunately, groups like the Sierra Club are more enamored with their own agenda rather than thoughtful solutions.

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In Illinois, real-time pricing saving utility customers millions

Solar Novus Today
May 4, 2016

As utilities consider whether to allow customers to take advantage of changing electricity prices throughout the day, an Illinois program is saving ratepayers millions.

Since 2007, ComEd customers in northern Illinois have had the choice of an hourly pricing program that charges lower rates for electricity used at times when demand is low. That program has saved 10,700 customers an average of 15 percent, or $15 million total, according to Elevate Energy, the non-profit organization that runs the program for ComEd.

Elevate Energy is a member of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News.

Smart meters, which ComEd is in the process of installing across its territory, are crucial to administering hourly pricing programs.

Under hourly pricing, customers could also pay more for using electricity when demand is high. Elevate Energy has analyzed how much customers with smart meters would have saved or lost if they were enrolled in the hourly pricing program. They found that 97 percent of all ComEd customers, 99 percent of low-income customers enrolled in the LIHEAP program, and 89 percent of low-usage customers would have saved money, an annual average of $123, $136 and $28, respectively.

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US Energy Department $25 Million Effort to Increase Solar Energy Use

Solar Novus Today
May 3, 2016

As part of the Energy Department’s ongoing efforts to modernize the nation’s grid through the Grid Modernization Initiative, the Energy Department today announced $25 million in available funding through an effort called Enabling Extreme Real-Time Grid Integration of Solar Energy (ENERGISE) to help software developers, solar companies, and utilities accelerate the integration of solar energy into the grid.

Since President Obama took office, the amount of solar power installed in the US has increased 23-fold—from 1.2 gigawatts in 2008 to an estimated 27.4 gigawatts in 2015, with one million systems now in operation. One of the key challenges to further solar deployment is the ability to integrate distributed generation sources like rooftop solar panels into the grid while balancing that generation with traditional utility generation to keep reliable and cost-effective power flowing to homes and businesses. Today’s funding opportunity announcement will help support companies working to meet that challenge.

ENERGISE specifically seeks to develop software and hardware platforms for utility distribution system planning and operations that integrate sensing, communication, and data analytics. These hardware and software solutions will help utilities manage solar and other distributed energy resources on the grid and will be data-driven, easily scaled-up from prototypes, and capable of real-time monitoring and control.

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TEP Receives Approval to Develop Two Innovative Energy Storage Facilities

Business Wire
May 3, 2016

TUCSON, Ariz.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Tucson Electric Power (TEP) will enter into long-term agreements with E.ON Climate & Renewables and NextEra Energy Resources for the construction of two large, innovative energy storage systems.

The projects, approved today by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), will be used to improve service reliability and study how such systems can support the expansion of solar power resources and other renewable energy technologies.

“We hope that innovative systems like these will help us achieve our long-term renewable energy goals without compromising the reliability or affordability of our service,” said David G. Hutchens, TEP’s President and Chief Executive Officer. TEP is working to deliver at least 30 percent of its power from renewable resources by 2030, doubling the state’s 2025 goal.

In June 2015, TEP issued a request for proposals to lease a large, 10 megawatt (MW) energy storage system. With bids submitted by more than 20 qualified vendors, TEP was able to select two competitively-priced proposals.

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Department of Energy Program Aims to Bump Solar Costs Even Lower

By David J. Unger | Inside Climate News
May 2, 2016

While the solar industry trumpets the rapidly declining costs of solar panels—which have paved the way for solar energy capacity in the U.S. to grow nearly twenty-fold since 2008—those numbers don’t account for all the costs involved in the transition to clean energy. That is why a new government initiative aims to slash the overall price tag by better managing the reams of data associated with financing, building and operating solar installations.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Orange Button, a $4 million program launched earlier this month, seeks to streamline what experts say can be a costly, complicated and time-consuming path to bringing more solar panels online. By developing an easily downloadable, standardized set of data about individual solar installations, the DOE hopes to lower the bureaucratic barriers—as well as the excessive costs—that discourage investors, utilities and consumers from embracing solar.

Orange Button is part of the DOE’s SunShot Initiative, which launched in 2011 with the goal of making solar energy cost competitive with coal, natural gas and other traditional sources of electricity such as nuclear and hydroelectric power. If SunShot reaches its goal of reducing utility solar costs to $1 per watt by 2020, it will enable solar-generated power to expand from less than 2 percent of the nation’s electricity generation portfolio to roughly 14 percent by 2030 and 27 percent by 2050, according to the program’s vision study.

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Minority families would bear brunt of Clean Power Plan

By Harry Alford | Duluth News Tribune
April 29, 2016

Higher energy bills, fewer jobs, lower incomes and more poverty: That’s what lies in store for already struggling black, Hispanic and other minority families if the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan is allowed to go into effect.

Enforced by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and unveiled last year, the plan seeks to impose unrealistically strict new limits on carbon monoxide emissions that would shutter most of our nation’s existing energy grid. In order to meet the plan’s requirements, power companies would have to build expensive new facilities and rely on more expensive energy sources than the all-of-the-above energy mix they use today. Ultimately, those costs would be passed onto consumers in the form of higher electricity bills and higher consumer prices.

Minnesota needs to keep its current all-of-the-above regional energy policy that uses a healthy balance of fossil fuels, including coal, and renewable-energy sources. That’s a sound strategy that protects our economy and provides affordable, reliable electricity for our homes and businesses.

Coal is a vital part of the equation because it provides low-cost, reliable power and thousands of jobs, and its production generates a tremendous amount of economic activity in the region. With coal as the source of 46 percent of the electricity used in Minnesota, Minnesotans’ current electricity rates are lower than the national average. However, without coal as part of the energy mix, those rates would increase, adversely affecting families, communities and manufacturing sectors.

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On Earth Day, State Officials Offer Advice on Solar Energy Promotions and Installation

From the Office of the Attorney General, George Jepsen
April 22, 2016

On Earth Day 2015, Attorney General George Jepsen, Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner Jonathan A. Harris and Connecticut Green Bank President Bryan Garcia are urging consumers to do their homework when considering whether to purchase or lease solar photovoltaic panels, also known as solar PV or solar power.

“I encourage the expanded use of clean and renewable energy sources, such as solar; however, as with any other major purchase or investment, it’s critically important that consumers follow some basic precautions in deciding to purchase or lease a solar power system for their home,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “Consumers should make sure they understand the terms of the deal and know who they dealing with. They should work with only licensed contractors and reputable companies and make very sure that they know all the facts before signing a contract.”

“The best way for consumers to protect themselves when an offer seems too good to be true is to do their homework,” Commissioner Harris said. “Visit the Department of Consumer Protection Web site for guidance on how to choose and work with contractors installing solar PV. And, remember not to rush into a decision.”

“Since 2012, more than 10,000 Connecticut households have added solar PV, with nearly half of them doing so in the 2014,” Garcia said. “With summer approaching, many other homeowners in the state may be considering solar power for their homes to lower their electricity bills, take advantage of tax benefits and provide environmental benefits. The Connecticut Green Bank manages a program that helps residents reduce the cost of purchasing solar PV systems. The average residential solar power system in Connecticut costs $32,000, and the average state and federal tax incentives are about $11,500.”

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U.S. households to save $350 this year on gas

By Ryan Randazzo | The Arizona Republic
April 13, 2016

U.S. households will save about $350 each this year compared with 2015 thanks to low gas prices, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts.

The EIA released its Short-Term Energy Outlook on Tuesday and predicts average prices for retail, regular gasoline to be $2.04 a gallon from now through September, and to average $1.94 for the entire year. In 2015, summer prices averaged $2.63 across the country.

Based on the amount of fuel U.S. families use on average, that would save them $350.

In 2015, the average household spent more than $1,500 on gas. That expense was less than $1,000 for single-person households, and more than $2,500 for households with five or more people.

The average price for a gallon of regular fuel was $2.12 in Arizona on Tuesday, according to AAA. That’s up from $1.68 a gallon a month ago, but below the $2.33 per gallon Arizonans were paying a year ago.

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$335M Released for LIHEAP

By Michael W. Kahn | Electric Co-op Today
April 7, 2016

Just as winter made an unwelcome return to some parts of the nation this spring, more LIHEAP funding has been released by the federal government.

The Department of Health and Human Services is distributing $335.5 million in a second round of funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. LIHEAP helps cover heating costs for Americans in need.

The Office of Community Services announced the release April 1. It disburses most of the $3.39 billion in LIHEAP funds available for the current fiscal year, which runs through September.

“As of today, OCS has allocated all but 1 percent of the funding available to grantees for FY 2016, pending final budget decisions within HHS,” Jeannie L. Chaffin, OCS director, wrote in a letter to LIHEAP administrators.

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US Energy Department announces participation in Clean Line transmission project

By Robin Whitlock | Renewable Energy Magazine
March 31, 2016

US Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has announced that the Department of Energy (DOE) will participate in the development of the Plains & Eastern Clean Line Project as part of its modernisation program.

The Clean Line project will tap into abundant, low-cost wind generation resources in the Oklahoma and Texas panhandle regions in order to deliver up to 4,000 MW of wind power via a 705-mile direct current transmission line. This will in turn provide enough energy to power more than 1.5 million homes in the mid-South and Southeastern United States.

The project marks the first use of Congressional authority conferred to DOE as part of Section 1222 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, aimed at promoting transmission development. Congress passed the law when it was becoming clear that the country’s transmission infrastructure needed modernisation, recognising the need for a modern and resilient grid that could accommodate increasing demands for power. It is specifically intended to address infrastructure challenges outlined in the 2015 Quadrennial Energy Review (QER), which focused on Energy Transmission, Storage and Distribution Infrastructure and acknowledged the importance of establishing transmission lines to facilitate remote generation development of renewable energy.

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Can Low-Income Housing in the US Be Energy Efficient and Affordable?

By Sophia V. Schweitzer | Global Voices
March 29, 2016

In the city of Ann Arbor in the northern US state of Michigan, the local housing commission is completing floor-by-floor renovations in the five-story Baker Commons public housing facility with the goal of reducing energy use at least 20 percent. In Pittsburgh, about 280 miles (about 450 kilometers) away, Uptown Lofts — affordable housing opened in February 2015 by the nonprofit ACTION-Housing Inc. to provide homes for young adults phasing out of foster care and low-income workers — is designed to be capable of generating enough renewable energy to meet or exceed its annual energy demand.

Both projects provide healthful living for residents, thanks to good ventilation and stable inside temperatures, while minimizing utility bills.

“The improvements have made things better,” says Baker Commons resident Carolyn Miller, a former bookkeeper who now runs a lunch program and food pantry in the building. “The apartment stays warmer due to energy-efficient windows. I have also noticed when the system is running, it isn’t as loud as it used to be.”

Improved energy efficiency has long been an option — and a money-saver — for those who can afford the up-front costs. But, the close to 5 million American households that call some form of low-income housing home, usually renters in multifamily buildings, are less likely than others to be able to afford or be empowered to make changes that in the long run would save both energy and money. So, ironically, they often pay the highest energy bills. A 2015 study by the nonprofit partnership Energy Efficiency For All suggests that implementing energy-efficiency programs across a spectrum of affordable housing types could result in cost-effective energy savings of 15 to 30 percent, which even at the low end would represent large reductions in usage and savings.

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Transforming an Energy Burden Into an Energy Opportunity

By Jayant Kairam | The Energy Collective
March 24, 2016

Economic inequality has become one of the dominant political narratives of the day. It occupies discussions on both sides of the aisle, and is shaping elections from city halls to the White House. There’s a good reason for this: the continuing trends of flattening incomes, concentrated wealth, and deepening poverty are historic.

One place this reality is really hitting home for millions of Americans is on their monthly energy bill. For nearly one in three American families, paying a monthly energy bill is a challenge.

The energy burden, as the Department of Energy defines it, is the ratio of energy costs (which includes heating, cooling, appliances, and lighting from electricity, gas, and fuel sources) to household income. Nearly 40 percent of low-income households use electricity to heat their homes (the majority in the South and West), and are suffering a more severe energy burden because of factors like wage stagnation and the quality of housing at lower economic levels. In 2014, researchers looking at the “energy affordability gap” for low income households (the difference between actual energy bills and what is considered affordable) tabulated it at almost $45 billion nationally. That is an increase of 16 percent from 2011, with nearly 60 percent of the growth accounted for by states in the mid-South, South, and east of the Mississippi. For any of those families, even a 10 percent growth in electricity costs can be destabilizing. Monthly electric bills become another factor forcing households to choose between groceries, childcare, and medical bills.

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First US Offshore Wind Energy Projects Could Deliver Jolt Of Momentum To Struggling Sector

By Maria Gallucci | International Business Times
March 24, 2016

By the time summer rolls around, five wind turbines, each rising 600 feet, could be spinning in the Atlantic Ocean near Rhode Island. Two more could spring up off the coast of Virginia by late next year. America’s first offshore wind farms will arrive after more than a decade of fits and starts, and they could deliver a jolt of much-needed momentum to the struggling industry.

Yet building the next, bigger offshore wind projects will require states stepping in to help defray the sky-high electricity costs and attract wary investors, analysts say. A handful of other East Coast wind farms are in the works, but none are likely to come online this decade without stronger clean energy policies, or better financial incentives.

Meanwhile, as the U.S. completes its two tiny projects, thousands of wind turbines are already producing clean electricity off the shores of Europe, China and Japan.

The next potential hot spot for America’s offshore wind experiment could be near New York City. The Obama administration last week said it identified an 81,100-acre “wind energy area” off the coast of Long Island where developers could propose a large-scale wind farm. The U.S. Interior Department had worked since 2011 to establish the zone, which is tucked between shipping channels and commercial fishing areas.

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US Energy Dept. announces US$9 million in funding for clean energy

By Francesca Brindle | Energy Global
March 23, 2016

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced funding for 24 American Indian and Alaska Native communities to deploy clean energy and energy efficiency projects. The DOE plans to invest over US$9 million in 16 facility and community scale energy projects in 24 communities.

As part of the Obama Administration’s commitment to partner with Tribal Nations, these projects provide Indian Tribes and Alaska Native villages with clean energy solutions that will save communities money and reduce carbon pollution. DOE’s funding will be leveraged by nearly US$16 million in cost sharing under the selected tribal energy projects, meaning the projects represent a potential total investment value exceeding US$25 million.

“The Energy Department is committed to maximising the development and deployment of energy solutions for the benefit of American Indians and Alaska Natives,” said Christopher Deschene, Director of DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programmes. “By providing tribal communities and Alaska Native villages with knowledge, skills, and resources, we hope to help tribal communities harness their local indigenous renewable energy resources, reduce their energy costs, create jobs, and help implement successful strategic energy solutions.”

According to a report by DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, CO, while Indian land represents less than 2% of the total US land base, it contains an estimated 5% of all US renewable energy resources.

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Nuclear key part of U.S. energy mix, official says

By Rob Nikolewski | The San Diego Union-Tribune
March 14, 2016

The San Onofre nuclear plant may be offline, but an Obama administration official said Monday in San Diego that nuclear power is still very much a part of the nation’s energy mix.

“We need a nuclear component,” Franklin Orr, the undersecretary for science and energy of the U.S. Department of Energy, told a group of about 15 clean-energy business leaders.

The San Onofre nuclear plant may be offline, but an Obama administration official said Monday in San Diego that nuclear power is still very much a part of the nation’s energy mix.

“We need a nuclear component,” Franklin Orr, the undersecretary for science and energy of the U.S. Department of Energy, told a group of about 15 clean-energy business leaders.

The San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, in the northwestern corner of San Diego County, is in the process of being decommissioned. The power plant closed in 2013 following the failure of replacement steam generators, which caused a small leak of radiation.

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LIHEAP Action Day Push for $4.7 Billion

By Michael W. Kahn | Electric Co-op Today
March 3, 2016

It was a blustery March day in the nation’s capital with wind chills in the 20s—fitting, in a way, for LIHEAP Action Day.

As winds gusted to more than 40 mph, supporters of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program braved the chill March 2 to fan out across Capitol Hill for the annual event.

They visited with lawmakers to urge support for LIHEAP, which helps Americans in need keep the heat on in their homes.

This year’s goal was to push for a minimum of $4.7 billion in LIHEAP funding during fiscal 2017. The program has $3.4 billion allocated for the current fiscal year, which runs through September.

NRECA interim CEO Jeffrey Connor noted that electric cooperatives serve 93 percent of America’s persistent poverty counties, making co-ops “acutely aware of LIHEAP’s importance” and the need for full funding.

“Since 1981, LIHEAP has helped millions of low-income Americans pay their energy bills, delivering critical short-term aid to our nation’s most vulnerable citizens, including senior citizens on fixed incomes and the poor,” said Connor.

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Energy program needs a boost

By John Rich | The Hill
March 2, 2016

Recent cold temperatures in many parts of the country remind us of just how critical it is to keep warm in our homes during the winter. And while many of us take the convenience of having access to heat for granted, the reality is that this is not the case for everyone. Millions of Americans struggle to pay their energy bills during the winter months when their bills go up. Thankfully, we have the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) to provide critical short-term aid to our most vulnerable neighbors. LIHEAP Action Day, taking place in Washington on March 2, is a key opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of this issue, and communicate to Congress why we must increase LIHEAP funds to protect our nation’s underserved.

Most Americans don’t think twice when they go to flip a switch or turn on the heat. But consider that an alarming 46.7 million people – or 14.8 percent of the total American population – lived in poverty in 2014 according to the United States Census Bureau. This is an overwhelming statistic that reinforces the need for heightened awareness of the energy needs for low-income energy consumers.

Since its inception nearly 35 years ago, LIHEAP has assisted low-income families, those on fixed-incomes and seniors to ease energy burdens, especially in the cold winter and hot summer months. Federal eligibility rules governing LIHEAP require that household income may not exceed 150 percent of the federal poverty level, or 60 percent of the state’s median income. To put that more clearly, a family of three would qualify if they made less than $30,000 annually. However, most LIHEAP recipients fall well under that requirement; the typical family receiving heating assistance in Fiscal Year 2014 made about $16,000.

However, LIHEAP is not an entitlement program. Congress must appropriate money each year, and unfortunately, the number of families applying for LIHEAP far exceeds the available funding for the program. This has stretched LIHEAP to its limit and, as a result, it is only able to serve about 20 percent of the eligible population.

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CADC helping low income Arkansans with high utility bills

February 22, 2016

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (CADC) – Central Arkansas Development Council (CADC) is helping low income Arkansans with high utility bills through the Crisis Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) program. The program began accepting applications February 22nd. Applications will be accepted in 12 counties until all funds are depleted.

CADC is hosting Mass Intake at the Arkansas State Fairgrounds, Arts and Crafts Building, February 22 and 23rd, 9 am until 1 pm each day. Other Mass Intake Events are scheduled throughout the week.

To qualify for Crisis LIHEAP, persons must have a disconnect notice with a disconnect date within 7 days of application date. All households receiving food stamps are potentially eligible to receive this assistance; however, the program is not limited to food stamp recipients. The program assists households with home energy and heating bills. Eligible households must meet income guidelines and furnish proof of all household income for the month prior to applying.

CADC encourages households to attend mass application assistance days to apply for assistance; however, the program will continue to accept both crisis and regular LIHEAP applications after the mass intake days, until funds have been depleted. According to state policy 6710, CADC will not accept mail-in crisis applications, unless it is from an elderly or disabled person or a person unable to appear for some extraordinary reason. Those persons may also be subject to a phone interview.

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Why heating assistance applicants are getting turned away in Spartanburg

By Diane Lee | WSPA
February 19, 2016

People needing help paying their heating bills haven’t been able to get Federal assistance.

But it’s not because they don’t qualify.

It’s because they can’t get an appointment with the new company running the program in Spartanburg and Cherokee counties.

Waiting in line for public assistance isn’t unheard of. But what about waiting outside in the dark from 5:30 to 8am just to make an appointment.

“It was really cold, it was like 20 degrees outside, especially that day, you know it’s night time.”

Marya Onukevych is one of the lucky ones. But anyone past the 10th place in line is turned away each morning outside of the Spartanburg center where the non-profit GLEAMNS is running the heating assistance, or LIHEAP program.

“It was horrible, because they wouldn’t see me, they turned me away, I mean, and a lady with her child, everybody got turned away just about,” said Crystal Gee who tried to get an appointment twice.

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Murphy Vows To Fight To Keep The Heat On

By Allan Appel | New Haven Independent
January 25, 2016

Jasmine Sullivan, a 30-year-old single mom, lives in public housing in the Hill. She works part-time or seasonal jobs; she doesn’t have enough adequate free day care for her three young kids. So in the winter she struggles pay a $1,300 to $1,400 seasonal heating bill.

She’s experienced threats of shut-off by the utilities and several actual shut-offs over the past five years.

When that happens she said, “It’s a horrible feeling as a mom not to be able to turn on the electricity.”

Sullivan’s struggle, which she related with barely held-back tears, was precisely the kind of tale from the front lines of poor people trying to stay warm that U.S. Senator Chris Murphy was looking to collect Monday morning when he conducted a story-and-fact-finding tour at the Community Action Agency of New Haven on Whalley Avenue near Ellsworth.

He was there to call attention to the flat funding this year of the $3.3 billion Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), the primary pot of federal money through which states like Connecticut receive funding to help clients like Sullivan through the winter.

Murphy highlighted a recent report. The report found that 313,300 Connecticut households can’t afford the heat they need to keep warm during these coldest months of winter.

Sullivan’s story was one of about 100,000, Murphy said, for that is the number of people who make use of LIHEAP in the state.

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How Years Of Welfare Politics Is Leaving Thousands To Freeze This Winter

By Alan Pyke | Think Progress
January 12, 2016

As winter sets in around the country, thousands of the nation’s poor are struggling to keep the heat on thanks to intentional underfunding of a key federal program.

Pennsylvania saw an 11 percent increase in applications for heating assistance but granted benefits to just 1 percent more households than last season. There are more than 24,000 households in the state going without normal utility service at the start of the coldest months, a 14-year high.

And in Idaho, state officials expect to assist at least 2,000 fewer households than last year after a streamlined process and more generous per-household benefits drained the state’s allotment of funds. The state “still has crisis funding available for individuals who have a crisis situation” later in the year, program administrator Kristin Matthews said in an email. But in the meantime, the state is encouraging low-income households left out in the cold to seek help from charities.

In both cases, the increase in people going without heating assistance for the winter reflects an unnecessary strain placed on the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) by Congress.

Precise eligibility rules for LIHEAP vary from state to state, but the law authorizing the program says that anyone with an income up to 150 percent of the federal poverty line is eligible as far as Congress is concerned. States may set that upper bound at 60 percent of the state median income if that amount is larger. No state can deny eligibility for benefits to households earning less than 110 percent of the federal poverty line.

But because Congress never puts enough money into LIHEAP to actually deliver on the ambitions of the program, plenty of people who are eligible for the aid go without it every year. Federal funding for the program has fallen by about a third since 2010 when it was an already-insufficient $5.1 billion, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities’ David Reich said in an interview.

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Piedmont Community Actions loses grant funding

By Trevor Anderson & Linda Conley | Go Upstate
January 9, 2016

The S.C. Attorney General’s office has upheld a decision that will strip some of the federal grant funds administered by Piedmont Community Actions.

The Spartanburg nonprofit lost grant funding for the Community Service Block Grant (CSBG), Low-Income Home Energy Assistance (LIHEAP) and Weatherization Assistance programs.

On Wednesday, Senior Assistant Attorney General T. Parkin Hunter upheld a decision to terminate the grant funding.

The ruling came several months after the South Carolina Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) recommended terminating the federal grant funding, citing “numerous deficiencies” in the agency’s financial management and other deficiencies related to the Weatherization Assistance Program.

“Spartanburg will not lose those funds,” said Susan Porter, an attorney for OEO. “The funds will be administered by another agency.”

Porter said OEO is in negotiations with another agency to administer the funds temporarily for the remaining fiscal years of each program. She also said the change should have a minimal impact on residents.

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More Pennsylvania homes without heat service

By Gerry Weiss | Erie Times-News
December 26, 2015

ERIE, Pa. — The number of people across the state heading into winter without central heat for their homes continues to rise compared with the previous two years.

More than 24,000 households in Pennsylvania are without heat-related utility service, according to a new report released by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.

The PUC’s annual Cold Weather Survey showed 24,175 homes entering the winter season without heat-related utility service, compared with 23,213 homes at this time in 2014 and 19,653 in 2013.

The survey showed there are 797 homes in the Penelec coverage area, which includes the Erie region, heading into this winter without service, up from 678 households in 2014 and 580 in 2013.

The four-year average from 2010 through 2013 was 410 homes, up from 330 households from 2009 through 2012.

An additional five homes are using potentially unsafe sources of electricity, down from 22 households in 2014 and six homes in 2013. The four-year average was 10 homes, down from 11 reported in 2014.

There are 323 homes in the National Fuel Gas Distribution Corp. coverage area, which includes the Erie region, heading into this winter without natural gas service, down slightly from 338 households in 2014, and considerably lower than the 445 homes reported in 2013.

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The Clean Energy Incentive Program: Improving Energy Efficiency Programs for Low-Income Communities

By Danielle Baussan and Ben Bovarnick | Center for American Progress
December 15, 2015

In August, the Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, finalized the Clean Power Plan to cut carbon pollution from the nation’s power plants and require states to comply with clean energy targets by 2022. As part of the final rule, the EPA included a new program called the Clean Energy Incentive Program, or CEIP, which is designed to incentivize states to begin energy efficiency and renewable energy projects before this date.

The CEIP allows states to give emissions rate credits, or ERCs, for projects and programs that generate zero carbon energy or reduce energy demand by 2020 and 2021, respectively; states need these ERCs to meet the Clean Power Plan’s pollution reduction goals. The EPA will match credits for each megawatt-hour of carbon-based energy use that is avoided, up to the equivalent of 300 million short tons of carbon dioxide. Nationwide, 300 million short tons is roughly the amount of carbon dioxide, or CO2, emitted from 71.4 power plants per year, according to the EPA’s greenhouse gas equivalencies calculator. Notably, EPA will give a two-to-one credit for eligible energy efficiency, or EE, projects in low-income communities.

Many details of the CEIP are still under consideration. This week, the EPA closed a comment period that sought input on the program’s design, including how to define low-income communities for the purpose of rewarding early action on energy efficiency programs. The Center for American Progress recommends that the EPA define these low-income communities not by their geographic location but by their household characteristics, regardless of location in a particular state. This will maximize the number of low-income residents who could benefit from the program.

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State Advises Solar Companies About Deceptive Advertising

From the Office of the Attorney General, William H. Sorrell
December 8, 2015

The Vermont Attorney General’s Office and Department of Public Service provided official guidance to solar companies doing business in Vermont to avoid making deceptive claims for certain solar projects. “The recent proliferation of new solar projects also brings the potential for a new kind of deception,” said Attorney General Sorrell. In certain solar project agreements, including most community solar or net metering credit purchase arrangements, the solar company owns the solar panels, instead of the consumer. Within some of these projects, the solar company also sells the renewable energy certificates/credits (“RECs”) attributed to the electricity generated by those solar panels in a regional market in order to help finance the project. In such cases, the energy used by the consumer is not, legally speaking, renewable or solar energy (it is simply undifferentiated power or “null electricity”). Therefore, solar companies may not state or imply that the energy consumed from such projects is “solar,” “renewable,” or “clean,” and solar companies should have clear disclosures about the RECs.

The Federal Trade Commission already has established regulations prohibiting deceptive claims about solar projects where the RECs are stripped away from the project. The Solar Guidance issued by the State today advises solar companies to follow those federal guidelines. “All solar companies must take heed of this Guidance and follow the established regulations for solar advertising,” added Attorney General Sorrell.

“Act 56 signed into law by Governor Shumlin in June of this year requires that Vermont’s utilities meet a renewable energy standard similar to those in place in other New England states. As the renewable energy requirements of this law increase over time, the sale of RECs into the regional market for projects in Vermont are expected to diminish,” said Department of Public Service Commissioner, Christopher Recchia. “Solar projects are a vital component of Vermont’s renewable energy goals, and it is incumbent on solar companies to communicate clearly with customers about the terms and benefits of their contracts.” The State’s Solar Guidance was also sent to Renewable Energy Vermont, a collective of over 30 renewable energy companies doing business in Vermont.

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Illinois House votes to release funds to LIHEAP, other state programs

By Joseph Edwards | WREX
December 2, 2015

SPRINGFIELD (WREX) – Agencies that handle the state’s program to help pay for heating bills in the winter are made a plea to the Illinois General Assembly, just before the House voted to free up funding for the program among other funds.

The Illinois Association of Community Action Agencies held a news conference in Springfield to have legislators free up state funds for the LIHEAP program.

Many of the agencies are already turning away residents who qualify for heating assistance due to the budget impasse in the state.

“We cannot imagine members of our legislature, our governor, would knowingly put vulnerable populations of people in our community and communities like ours in this kind of risk,” City of Rockford Human Services Director George Davis said.

Hours after the conference, the Illinois House voted to release funds for the program, along with other tax revenue that is owed to local governments around the state. The revenue includes gas taxes to maintain roads and cellphone taxes to support 911 dispatch services.

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Florida’s low-income communities benefit from community solar

By Joe Gibbons | South Florida Times
November 25, 2015

All across America, families, communities, and businesses are getting excited about renewable energy and the benefits that renewables can bring. Recently, the Obama Administration announced an initiative to increase solar access for all Americans with a specific focus on serving low and middle-income communities, including families living in apartments or rental properties. This is exciting news because consumers want more choice when it comes to solar energy. They want to opt for clean solar electricity without having to install a complete generating power unit in their homes. They want affordable options that community solar provide.

Community Solar, as defined by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, (NREL), is “a solar energy deployment model that allows customers to buy or lease part of an offsite shared solar system. This arrangement lets customers enjoy advantages of solar energy without having to install a system on their own residential or commercial property.” Individuals, as well as businesses, can take advantage of the many benefits that community solar provides. Some of these benefits include: the creation and sustainability of jobs, more affordable solar energy with no start-up cost to individual consumers, no maintenance required from the consumer on solar equipment, and solar communities that are more economically competitive.

Community Solar goes by many different names, but no matter what it is called- utility-scale solar, solar farms, shared solar, solar gardens, or solar centers – it helps level the playing field to allow low-income residents to benefit from solar energy. Community solar provides low-income customers access to affordable, locally generated solar power.

There are many low-income families, in Florida, as well as in many other states, living in areas that are not conducive to installing solar panels on their roofs. Further, most low-income families lack the financial ability to install solar even if they live in their own home. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, (NREL), over 75 percent of U.S. homes and businesses are unsuitable for rooftop solar. Several factors that prevent many low-income communities or businesses to “buy-in” to solar include lack of access to the roof (due to leasing or renting the building), living in an area that is blocked by trees or other buildings, roofs that will not support solar panels, sparse wealth to be invested, and low credit scores.

But Florida is working hard to make solar available to all residents and businesses, as evidenced by several community solar programs available to Floridians across the state. Below are a few descriptions of current community solar projects, taken from each of their respective websites:

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Florida’s energy efficiency programs help pay bills

By Joe Gibbons | South Florida Times
November 4, 2015

For those Floridians who struggle to pay their electric bill every month, the state has a few limited programs to help you out.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) is one of the most important efforts to address these needs. LIHEAP, a federal program administered by the states, provides much-needed funding for those who can barely afford to keep the lights on.

Florida’s LIHEAP program provides grants to local governments and non-profit agencies, which then work with low-income Florida households to figure out solutions that work best for them. These programs usually offer three categories of assistance: home energy assistance, crisis assistance and weather-related assistance.

To qualify for these programs, household income cannot exceed 150 percent of the national poverty level. The majority fall well below this cap. Preference is given to the elderly (those over 60), those with disabilities, families with children under 12 and households with a high energy burden. In 2014, according to the Campaign for Home Energy Assistance, FL LIHEAP provided 74,903 households with heating assistance and 52,000 households with cooling assistance.

There are a number of other initiatives that are designed to help residents weatherize their homes and cut their monthly utility bills. Some of these programs provide energy efficiency tips and are offered by your local utilities.

Besides your local energy companies, there are federal and state programs to help improve energy efficiency in low-income communities. Among the most popular and effective are those that help residents to weatherize their homes. Weatherization addresses anything in your home – drafty windows, cracks in the siding – that might be adding to your energy use.

The Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) distributes funds based on the size of the state’s low-income population, and climate and the energy expenditures of low-income households. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) also helps to pay for assisted housing subsidizing utility costs for residents in public housing, and creating more energy efficient subsidized housing for low-income families.

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From the Office of the Attorney General State of Mississippi, Jim Hood
October 20, 2015

Attorney General Jim Hood is offering Mississippi residents factors to consider in purchasing residential solar energy systems, including cautioning consumers to be alert for potential consumer fraud schemes.

In an effort to use alternative energy sources for cost-savings and environmental reasons, many consumers are reducing their energy usage and using more renewable energy by installing solar generating units on their homes and property. Photovoltaic systems (“PV system” or “solar system”) supply energy through nature; therefore, the energy is free and abundant.

Like many other industries, the growing popularity of solar has caused some unethical businesses to enter into the market. To lure customers into a lease, some of these unscrupulous solar companies often claim that consumers can potentially reduce costly electric bills by utilizing various federal, state and local tax credits and rebates. This can be deceptive, however, since the solar company is usually the entity which receives the tax benefits and incentives. In addition, for cash purchases, the price of PV systems can range anywhere from $10,000 to $60,000 or more.

“Before consumers make a significant investment in a solar system, they should research their options to make sure they are in fact getting cost savings and meeting their goals of environmental sustainability. While there are some exemplary companies, other solar companies are using misleading sale pitches to entice consumers into paying for overpriced PV system agreements or failing to disclose how various subsidies, government programs and rate making practices may affect the future cost of energy for the consumer,” said Attorney General Hood. “These companies’ deceptive practices often result in a higher energy price tag for consumers after installing the system than they had before.”

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Quest for Energy Equity

By Joe Gibbons | South Florida Times
October 21, 2015

2006 was an eventful year for me. I won election to the Florida Legislature, representing Hallandale Beach and parts of southern Broward County. But I really amped up my game two years later as chair of the Florida Conference of Black State Legislators when I discovered the power of clean energy policies.

I believed that it was important to build upon the Black Caucus’ traditional concerns about criminal justice, education and social services and focus on strategic economic development to improve our constituents’ overall quality of life.

So, as Black Caucus chair, I pushed to expand our platform by emphasizing public policies that included a five-point energy plank, ranging from exploring new conservation measures to developing new initiatives to benefit economically disadvantaged consumers.

Our participation in energy issues gave African American legislators a stronger voice in shaping energy policies in Florida and helped raise the public profile of the legislative black caucus, both in and outside of the state Capitol.

As a state lawmaker, I worked hard to push for conservation, and renewable energy programs. The more I became exposed to clean energy issues, particularly how they related to people of color, the more I wanted to learn. It was a trek that would take me from being a politician to taking on the role of an advocate for low income and minority energy consumers.

Affordability is just one issue that prevents many working class consumers and people on fixed income from enjoying the benefits of rooftop solar and other forms of renewable energy. The hard truth that is often lost on clean-energy enthusiasts is that being green can cost more than low-income families can afford.

I continued working to learn more about clean energy, and in 2013 I was appointed chair of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators’ Committee on Energy, Transportation and Environment. It proved to be a big stage to advocate for affordable policies.

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FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Actions to Bring Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to Households across the Country

Office of the Press Secretary | The White House
August 24, 2015

President Obama is committed to taking responsible steps to address climate change, promote clean energy and energy efficiency, drive innovation, and ensure a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations. That is why at Senator Reid’s National Clean Energy Summit later today, he is announcing a robust set of executive actions and private sector commitments to accelerate America’s transition to cleaner sources of energy and ways to cut energy waste.

These actions build on state leadership, all across America, to continue to expand opportunities to install energy saving technologies in households today, particularly those that need it most, while driving the development of innovative, low-cost clean energy technologies for tomorrow.

Last year, the United States brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy. Since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent. In fact, distributed solar prices fell 10 to 20 percent in 2014 alone and currently 44 states have pricing structures that encourage increased penetration of distributed energy resources.

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Obama Administration Takes Historic Step Toward Solar Equality, But Much Work Remains

By Sen. Catherine Pugh | The Huffington Post
July 28, 2015

For far too long, working-class families have been left out of the solar revolution in the United States. Black elected officials from across the country, including many members of the National Black Caucus of State Legislators (NBCSL), have been among the most vocal advocates for more fairness and inclusiveness in solar programs, taking every opportunity to highlight how the poorest among us are poised to benefit most immediately and profoundly from greater adoption of solar power.

Now, finally, the sun is starting to peek through the clouds that have long shrouded these households thanks to a major new solar initiative launched by President Obama. We applaud the President for these efforts and hope that he and his staff will continue working with us to achieve energy equity.

To date, the benefits of solar power have tended to accrue primarily to wealthier families, while low-income families continued to struggle with rising energy costs. Many low-income families face a “heat or eat” dilemma, rendering them “energy insecure” and facing decisions, like whether to keep the lights on or food on the table, that nobody in America should ever have to make. Moreover, while government energy policies are well intended to further the deployment of green energy they often utilize economic policies that have the unfortunate consequence of hollowing out the middle and low-income communities.

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LIHEAP Clients Address Lawmakers

By Dave Dahl | Illinois Radio Network
July 24, 2015

The strategy of weekly “committees of the whole” in the Illinois House is working, says the Speaker.

“I think we’re making progress, because the people of Illinois are getting an opportunity to fully understand what is at issue: the public in general is becoming very much aware of the governor’s advocacy of these non-budget issues which go against the core beliefs of Democrats and Republicans,” House Speaker Mike Madigan (D-Chicago) told reporters, as providers and clients told stories in the House chamber of the impact of the LIHEAP utility assistance program being suspended.

“Some of the cuts that are being made will make a difference in if my wife and I can pick up our medications,” said Jacob Copple of Standard City. “I don’t like the idea of needing assistance, but without it, we cannot even function as a small family unit.” Copple says the economy of his area, in south central Illinois, is not great to begin with.

The irony, said a social service leader, is that people who are supposed to be helping the needy are being laid off, only adding to the ranks of Illinois’ needy.

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Operation Fuel provides energy assistance

By Karen Paterno | The Ridgefield Press
July 21, 2015

Operation Fuel and its statewide network of fuel banks have started taking applications for energy assistance from households that are in danger of having their utility services shut off this summer.

Currently, there are lower-income families and individuals who face losing their electricity or gas services because they do not have the resources to keep up with the rising cost of energy in Connecticut. Some families have reported needing assistance from Operation Fuel during the summer due to high balances on their utility bills that resulted from trying to keep their homes warm this past winter. The annual winter moratorium, which prevents households from having their utilities shut off, ended on May 1 and doesn’t resume until November 1, 2015.

“A home without electricity is hazardous and puts people at risk in hot weather. When families and individuals lose their electricity, they also lose the ability to refrigerate food and medicine, cook meals and have lights and hot water,” said Operation Fuel’s Executive Director Patricia Wrice.

“Being without a fan or air conditioner in extreme heat can be very dangerous and poses severe health risks, especially for young children, the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions,” Wrice added.

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Number of those needing help with utility bills growing

July 20, 2015

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — Orange County is being flooded with calls from people who need help with their utility bills this summer.

Records show the county received $3.1 million from the federal government for an energy assistance program, but that might not be enough money to help those in need.

Shequila Roberts walked into the Florida Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program office in a panic.

Roberts is an unemployed single mother who said her electricity bill jumped this summer to $500.

“I looked at it and I was like, “I got to call LIHEAP because I’m going to need help with this,” Roberts said.

LIHEAP is a program that helps families with heating and cooling costs.

Roberts said when she initially called last Tuesday she couldn’t get through.

She said she tried again Wednesday and Thursday, when she had to wait nearly two hours before she finally got through.

“I was like, “I’m going to give up,” Roberts said.

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Governor Cuomo Announces Expanded Access to Renewable Energy For Millions Of New Yorkers

By Long Island New & PRs |
July 17, 2015

Albany, NY – July 16, 2015 – Governor Cuomo announced the approval of a bold new community initiative enabling millions of New Yorkers to access clean and affordable energy for the first time. Proposed in Governor Cuomo’s 2015 State of Opportunity Agenda, Shared Renewables provides opportunities for renters, homeowners, low-income residents, schools and businesses to join together to set up shared renewable energy projects resulting in healthier and stronger communities.

“The Shared Renewables initiative will help people and communities across the state save money on local clean energy projects,” Governor Cuomo said. “This program is about protecting the environment and ensuring that all New Yorkers, regardless of their zip code or income, have the opportunity to access clean and affordable power. Together, we will build a cleaner and greener New York.”

Renewable resources are already providing massive economic and environmental benefits across the state, with installed solar capacity having grown 300% between 2011 and 2014. Yet, many New Yorkers are still unable to participate because they rent their home, live in an apartment building, or own properties unsuitable for installing solar panels or other clean energy technologies.

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Budget crisis starting to hit Austin

By T.J. Kremer III | Austin Talks
July 14, 2015

Two weeks into the new fiscal year, the state of Illinois is still without a budget, and some Austin service providers are beginning to feel the pinch.

One program immediately impacted by the continuing budget battle: the state’s Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which helps people struggling to pay their electric and gas bills.

The program has been suspended until at least September, said South Austin Coalition Community Council Executive Director Bob Vondrasek.

The cuts to the program are critical to Austin residents because 35 to 40 percent of people in the community – the most–populated of Chicago’s 77 community areas – need some kind of assistance, Vondrasek said.

Without that assistance, there is a fear that desperate times will push some to desperate measures.

“I’m just afraid to see what will happen when people can’t get their gas turned, their lights turned,” said SACCC lead consultant Theresa Welch.

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No cooling assistance for Illinois families due to budget crisis

By Megan Noe | WQAD
July 14, 2015

As the weather heats up, many Illinois families are learning they won’t receive help to pay their cooling bills this summer.

Two weeks into the new fiscal year, Illinois lawmakers and Gov. Bruce Rauner still haven’t reached an agreement on the budget. That means funding for the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, has been suspended.

“Right now, we’re not anticipating having a cooling program due to the state budget,” said Lakisha Randle, a community service supervisor with Project NOW in Rock Island.

Last year, the agency helped nearly 1,300 people through the program.

Randle said she has received many calls again this summer, and it’s getting tough to turn them away.

“It’s sad, because people are calling here and their electricity is completely off. It’s hot outside, you know? I feel bad for people that have children, or if they have asthma or a condition that’s triggered by heat. That’s sad, very sad,” said Randle.

Project NOW organizers are encouraging people to sign a petition and contact their state legislators in hopes of restoring the cooling assistance program next year.

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Higher energy costs will put an unfair burden on Arizona families

By Dr. Charles Steele, Jr. | Inside Tucson Business
July 9, 2015

As the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, I frequently travel throughout the U.S. And in my journeys, I’m quite often struck by the fact that so many families are struggling to find financial security. I find it troubling that hardworking Americans are often eking out a living, barely making it from paycheck to paycheck.

I often wonder how these families are managing to keep food on their table? And how, during a particularly bitter winter season, did they manage to keep their homes warm?

I raise this point because I’m particularly concerned by new regulations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing. As a step toward addressing climate change, the EPA wants to greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants and wants governors across the country to close the coal-fired plants in their states.

Such a move could significantly affect Arizona residents because coal-fired power plants provide roughly 40 percent of the state’s electricity. Many other states also depend heavily on coal, which means that the affordability of electricity for millions of Americans is at stake.

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New solar energy plan will broaden its appeal, affordability, professor says

By George Diepenbrock | Phys.Org
July 8, 2015

Obama administration plan to help lower- and middle-income Americans gain access to solar energy would help introduce the renewable energy source to a segment of the population that typically can’t afford installation costs or has little incentive to do so, a University of Kansas researcher said.

Rachel Krause, assistant professor in the School of Public Affairs & Administration, said while a $500 million investment in solar power is no small thing, the initiative is most significant for targeting low-income homeowners and renters.

“These populations typically are often not able to take advantage of renewable energy technologies. Although solar power reduces monthly electricity bills and may end up saving money in the long term, it requires a large upfront investment,” Krause said. “This front-end investment is something that lower-income people often cannot do and renters often do not have any incentive to do.”

Krause, who teaches policy analysis, public policy and urban administration and a class on sustainability communities, has published research on how a city’s form of government can influence sustainability initiatives and effectiveness of EPA labels on hybrid and electric cars.

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White House to launch solar effort for low-income areas

By Eric Wolff | POLITICO Pro
July 7, 2015

The Obama administration will launch a flotilla of initiatives and announce a half-billion dollars in government and private funding commitments to promote solar power to low- and moderate-income households at an event in Baltimore Tuesday.

The new effort is designed to foster more broad-based growth for solar power, which has surged in recent years because of incentive programs that have drawn some criticism as a subsidy for the upper class.

Many low-income households are renters and therefore can’t install solar panels on their residences, and low- or moderate-income homeowners often lack the credit needed to finance the renewable energy systems.

The new series of executive actions includes modifying existing financing programs as well as $520 million in commitments from states, housing authorities and private companies to increase solar penetration. The administration will also announce partnerships that provide job training to low-income workers looking to take up solar work and new diversity commitments from the solar industry.

The initiative tries “to make solar power more accessible and more affordable for more Americans,” Brian Deese, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said in a conference call with reporters. “This commitment to deploying renewables is part of a larger effort to a clean, low carbon economy.”

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Weatherization approved for LIHEAP funding

By Mark Gilger |
July 3, 2015

SUNBURY – Northumberland County’s weatherization department has been approved for an additional $75,000 in LIHEAP standard funding, meaning the program will be operational for at least the next three months.

County planning director Pat Mack, who oversees the weatherization department, said he was informed Thursday the funding was approved.

“The program will now be able to continue to provide services to eligible residents until at least the end of September when the contract with LIHEAP expires,” Mack said.

The funding approval comes two days after county Commissioners Stephen Bridy and Vinny Clausi appealed federal Judge Matthew W. Brann’s June 26 order granting a preliminary injunction that revokes their vote to eliminate the weatherization department June 30.

The seven weatherization department employees are continuing to perform their normal duties while their federal lawsuit against the county and the two commissioners who voted to close their department moves forward.

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Poughkeepsie Residents Mourn Central Hudson Rate Hike

By Roger Connor | Hudson Valley News Network
July 2, 2015

The first Central Hudson rate increase in a 3-year plan of consecutive rate hikes went into effect on July 1st. The Poughkeepsie organization, Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson, is concerned that the human cost of increasing power rates will overwhelm low-income households. To illustrate those concerns, the organization staged a mock funeral march along Main Street and then delivered a coffin bearing the words “Shutoffs Kill” to Central Hudson’s main gate.

Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson says Central Hudson has not offset the rate hike with much needed low-income assistance programs. Central Hudson says it strictly follows and in some cases exceeds the Home Energy Fair Practices Act regulations. Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson says that doesn’t go far enough.

The New York Public Service Commission is currently reviewing assistance programs for low-income households and Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson plans to participate. But in the meantime, the first rate hike has gone into effect and the message the organization wants to send to Central Hudson is clear: “We’ll be back.”

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New solar energy plan will broaden its appeal, affordability, professor says

By David Hutchens | Arizona Daily Star
June 29, 2015

As a parent and a longtime employee of Tucson Electric Power, I’m always happy to see young people become engaged in our efforts to serve our community’s long-term energy needs.
Driven by a desire to protect the planet they’ll share with their own children, teens like the young author of the column “TEP solar proposal hurts working class, clean energy jobs” from June 18 are enthusiastic about renewable energy and anxious to leave fossil fuels behind.

TEP shares those same ideals, and we’re putting those ideals into action.

Our first step is making sure our rates are fair and affordable for all customers, especially those with limited incomes. Arizona’s net-metering rule increases costs for working-class families by forcing them to subsidize higher-income customers with better credit scores who can afford to buy or lease solar arrays.

Under current rules, TEP pays net-metered customers nearly twice as much for their excess energy as we pay for the output of large, community-scale solar arrays. Those overpayments increase our rates, since all TEP’s service costs are ultimately passed along to customers. By paying the same fair price for all the solar energy we purchase, we can limit the costs borne by our community’s most vulnerable residents while increasing the resources available for more cost-effective solar solutions.

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At Lower Levels, Heating Aid Bills Move on Hill

By Michael W. Kahn | Electric Co-Op Today
June 26, 2015

Meeting June 25, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the fiscal year 2016 spending bill that includes the Department of Health and Human Services, which administers the program. It pegged LIHEAP funding at $3.39 billion.

That’s the same figure that President Obama proposed, and which a Senate subcommittee approved two days earlier.

On the House side, LIHEAP funding came in slightly lower. The House Appropriations Committee on June 24 cleared a fiscal 2016 spending bill with $3.37 billion for heating assistance.

It was also the first time in six years that the panel marked up a spending bill covering HHS as well as the Labor Department, the Education Department and related agencies.

It was not immediately clear when the full Senate and House will consider the respective bills, both of which are less than the minimum $4.7 billion that NRECA and other LIHEAP supporters had been urging for months.

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Summer cooling assistance available for low-income households in area

By The Ardmoreite | The Daily Ardmoreite
June 24, 2015

The Department of Human services says s limited amount of summer cooling assistance funds will be made available across the state through the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

DHS administers LIHEAP, which is designed to help low-income households that are extremely vulnerable to summer-heat stresses. DHS will begin taking applications July 7, and will continue until all allocated funds are depleted. The agency has approximately $18 million in federal funds for this year’s Summer Cooling Program in Oklahoma.

Eligibility for LIHEAP is based on each household’s income and assets.

“If you or someone you know may be income eligible and are at risk for heat-related health problems due to the inability to afford adequate cooling, you are encouraged to apply for the Summer Cooling Program available at your local DHS County Office,” said Karol Miller, DHS Office of Communications.

Only one payment per household is allowed annually for LIHEAP summer cooling assistance. “Household” is defined as individuals living ‘under the same roof’.

Many households that receive public assistance through DHS may be automatically authorized for summer cooling assistance and will not need to make application. Pre-authorized households will be notified of their eligibility by letter prior to the beginning of the application period.

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Bennett tries to provide insight to budget situation

By Paul Westermeyer | Pontiac Daily Leader
June 20, 2015

Rep. Tom Bennett could offer few answers to the increasingly heated questions about cuts and budget talk stalls in Springfield when he appeared in the community room of Pontiac Towers Friday afternoon.

Bennett, R-Gibson City, was at Pontiac Towers Friday to address concerns and answer questions about Gov. Bruce Rauner’s proposed $26 million cuts to programs like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

If the budget is not passed by July 1, programs like LIHEAP will no longer be able to help residents under its purview pay for electric bills. Without electricity or lighting, residents face mandatory eviction from the Towers.

Bennett arrived in the community room and made rounds, shaking hands with all of the nearly 40 Pontiac Towers residents in attendance. Shortly thereafter, he gave a brief presentation and update on the budgetary situation in Springfield.

“In a nutshell, there’s a whole lot debate and argument going back and forth in Springfield about the budget,” he said. “Not every body’s thinking the same thing.

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House Panel OKs $3.4 Billion in Heating Aid

By Michael W. Kahn | Electric Co-op Today
June 19, 2015

LIHEAP funding of $3.36 billion for fiscal year 2016 was included in a bill that cleared a House panel. The amount is slightly lower than in fiscal 2015.

NRECA and other supporters of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program had urged a minimum of $4.7 billion. They cited the growing need for LIHEAP assistance, which helps with winter heating bills and summer cooling costs. President Obama proposed $3.39 in LIHEAP funding.

However, the House Appropriations Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies Subcommittee went with the $3.36 billion figure in its spending bill markup on June 17.

“The inability of four out of five eligible households to be served is putting more Americans at risk during severe winters and scorching summers,” said John Rich, president of the National Energy and Affordability Coalition.

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Higher energy costs unfair to S.C. families

By Dr. Charles Steele Jr. | The Times and Democrat
June 15, 2015

As the president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, I frequently travel throughout the United States. And in my journeys, I’m quite often struck by the fact that so many families are struggling to find financial security. I find it troubling that hardworking Americans are often eking out a living, barely making it from paycheck to paycheck.

I often wonder how these families are managing to keep food on their table? And how, during a particularly bitter winter season, did they manage to keep their homes warm?

I raise this point because I’m particularly concerned by new regulations that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing. As a step toward addressing climate change, the EPA wants to greatly reduce carbon dioxide emissions from coal-burning power plants, and wants governors across the country to close the coal-fired plants in their states.

Such a move could hit South Carolina hard since coal-fired power plants provide roughly 26 percent of the state’s electricity. Many other states also depend heavily on coal, which means that the affordability of electricity for millions of Americans is at stake.

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Tips on how to save on bills during summer months

By Hannah Ward | WHNT News 19
June 14, 2015

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT)- Temperatures are rising, and if you are staying cool indoors, that means your bills are rising with the temperatures. There are many ways that you can save money and beat the summer heat.

Ruchi Singhal is the Executive Director for Nexus Energy Center. Nexus is a non-profit organization that efforts to create a smart energy future for Alabama through education, conservation, efficiency and renewable generation.

Singhal says the most common mistake people make is leaving their windows open during the day. Keeping your windows open when your air conditioning is on makes your unit work twice as hard. It is also important to find a temperature that’s comfortable and keep it on that temperature. Changing the temperature frequently can also make your bill start to climb. Singhal says, “the temperature you set you AC on is also important find a temperature that you and your family is comfortable with and do that.” She recommends starting at 76 degrees and working your way down if that is too hot for you.

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Impact of Suspending the State LIHEAP Program

By Jessica Cook | CI News Now
June 10, 2015

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — “Without it I wouldn’t be able to survive, I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills,” said Mary Martinez, who benefits from LIHEAP.

Mary Martinez has relied on LIHEAP for seven years.

But this may be the last month the program exists.

LIHEAP works with Mid Central Community Action to pay utilities of residents who can’t afford them.

Without the program many senior citizens, persons with disabilities and families may end up without utilities.

If the budget cuts are approved, LIHEAP would be cut off from state funding July 1.

Martinez isn’t sure how she would survive.

“You don’t pay your light bill it’s immediate eviction which means we’re on the streets,” said Martinez.

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Cheap Michigan Wind Energy Set To Save Consumers $15 Million Annually

By Silvio Marcacci | CleanTechnica
June 9, 2015

Higher consumer prices are often cited by fossil fuel interests to oppose state renewable energy targets, but what about when they actually lower utility bills?

That’s the case in Michigan, where utility DTE Electricity has asked regulators to let it cut monthly residential electricity rates, citing fast-falling wind energy costs as it works to comply with the state’s 10% by 2015 renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

If the Michigan Public Service Commission (PSC) approves DTE’s filing, not only will millions of customers save $15 million per year, but state legislators will get a powerful new reason to expand the current RPS after it is reached and expires at the end of 2015.

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Support Energy Jobs Bill

By Joe Gibbons (Guest Contributor)| Black Politics on the Web
June 5, 2015

Much has been made about America’s new role as the world’s leading exporter of energy. Much less, though, has been said about the need to educate and train minorities for lucrative jobs in the nation’s energy industry. If there ever was a compelling goal for America in the 21st century, this is it.

Fortunately, there is legislation before Congress that will kickstart that effort, open the doors to jobs and careers to a larger segment of Americans and boost an important sector of this country’s economy – the 21st Century Energy Workforce Development Jobs Initiative Act of 2014, (H.R.4526).

The bill, originally sponsored by U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., focuses on increasing the number of skilled minorities and women trained to work in the energy sector and requires the secretaries of Energy, Education and Labor to set up a comprehensive education and training program to boost minority participation in energy’s employment, entrepreneurial and ownership opportunities.

The oil and gas industry has wrestled with this issue for years, but a look at industry figures show that crafting an answer has been difficult. In 2014, for example, the American Petroleum Institute released a study that showed blacks represent about 8 percent of employees in the oil, gas and petrochemical sectors – and just 6 percent of management, business and financial jobs.

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EIA Analysis Shows the EPA’s Clean Power Plan Is Affordable, Renewable Energy Makes a Key Contribution

By Steve Clemmer | Union of Concerned Scientists
June 3, 2015

A new Energy Information Administration (EIA) analysis shows that renewable energy sources make the biggest contribution to achieving the EPA’s proposed emission reduction targets for existing power plants across a wide range of scenarios, while avoiding an overreliance on natural gas. Despite using pessimistic and outdated assumptions for energy efficiency and many renewables, EIA’s analysis also shows that the EPA’s emission reduction targets can be achieved at modest costs. Updating these assumptions and accounting for the public health and environment benefits of reducing carbon and other emissions would result in net savings and support even stronger emission reduction targets.

Key Findings
1) Renewables make the biggest contribution to Clean Power Plan (CPP) compliance
After a short-term increase in natural gas use to replace retiring coal plants, EIA’s analysis shows a big shift to renewable energy—mostly wind and solar—to comply with the CPP (see Figure 4). By 2030, EIA projects non-hydro renewables will provide 19 percent of U.S. electricity generation under its base CPP policy case. That’s more than twice as high as what the EPA projected for renewables in its CPP modeling last year and more than triple today’s levels.

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Will County Families in Danger of Losing Utilities

By Scott Viau | Joliet Patch
May 29, 2015

Imagine being without heat on a frigid winter day or having no air conditioning or fan to alleviate the sweltering temperatures of summer. This is what happens when your utilities are cut off because you can’t afford to pay your bills. Thousands of Illinois families know exactly how this feels because they’ve been there. Fortunately, they haven’t experienced this situation since they received assistance from the state’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP).

Illinois’ most vulnerable residents could again be in danger of losing their utilities if LIHEAP funds are redirected to the General Revenue Fund, as proposed in the state’s FY2016 budget. The $165 million state LIHEAP fund sweep would stop thousands of LIHEAP payments that are made on behalf of low income households. Additionally, the Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP) would be eliminated entirely. This program helps low-income families budget for their expenses by ensuring that their utility payments are 6 percent of their household incomes – the percentage most families spend on utilities. The PIPP program builds on individual responsibility and helps families climb out of poverty. The proposed sweep would essentially leave low-income senior citizens, persons with disabilities and families with children under the age of 6 without vital utilities.

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Top 3 Industrial Barriers To Energy Efficiency, & How To Overcome Them

By Scott Tew (Guest Contributor)| CleanTechnica
May 26, 2015

We all think we know about energy efficiency. We make an effort to turn off the lights when we leave the room and close the refrigerator door after removing food. It has become clear that it’s important for consumers to be energy efficient but what about industrial organizations? A 10% improvement in the energy efficiency of commercial and industrial buildings would amount to $20 billion in savings and the level of greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) prevented would be equal to the emissions from about 30 million vehicles.* Given these numbers, why aren’t businesses and industries prioritizing energy efficiency?

It’s safe to say that most executives may not be experts on how much energy industrial facilities consume. As equipment manufacturers and solution providers, it is up to us to raise the level of awareness and provide reliable systems and services that can help organizations dramatically increase energy efficiency. More importantly, overcoming energy efficiency barriers in the industrial space coupled with employee engagement will help the US reach the Energy 2030 goal. So what are the top three barriers to energy efficiency in the industrial space, and how can we overcome them?

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Volunteers upgrade energy efficiency at women’s shelter

The State
May 24, 2015

A Lexington women’s and children’s shelter is a little more energy-efficient these days – and just in time for hot weather – thanks to the efforts of some SCE&G employees.

Volunteers from the company gathered at the Samaritan’s Well last week to install fans, wrap pipes, seal ducts and make other upgrades designed to reduce energy use. They also installed new energy-efficient appliances that included a washer, dryer, refrigerators and tank-free water heaters – all purchased with a $5,000 donation from SCE&G.

Shelter director Mona Henderson said SCE&G had recommended replacing the appliances during an energy audit several years ago, but the shelter couldn’t afford it.

“This is an amazing, abundant blessing,” Henderson said. “It provides me with peace of mind.”

Henderson said lowering monthly costs will leave the shelter more resources to help women find jobs and homes. Some of the shelter’s regular programs include children’s enrichment activities and financial education for the residents.

“Our goal is to help residents become self-sustaining,” she said.

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Boston was just named the top city in the country for saving energy. Here’s why

By Chelsea Harvey | The Washington Post
May 20, 2015

It’s report card season — and not just for grade-school students. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) published the 2015 edition of its biennial City Energy Efficiency Scorecard today, ranking U.S. cities based on their local energy policies and initiatives. And for the second time in a row, Boston is top of the class.

“All aspects of city life, from the buildings people work and live in to the ways they travel to the services they enjoy, can be improved by increasing energy efficiency,” said David Ribeiro, lead author of the report, during a Wednesday press conference. Being energy efficient means using less energy to provide the same service, such as heating and lighting a building or getting from one place to another. And it comes with many advantages. Using less energy can save communities money and help conserve resources such as oil and natural gas. And cutting energy use is critical in the fight against global climate change.

“Many cities see energy efficiency as central to their expanding initiatives to improve the sustainability and resilience of their communities,” the ACEEE report’s authors write. “These efforts aim to improve economic, social, and environmental well-being while developing the city’s and residents’ capacity to respond to change.”

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Bringing energy efficiency to the middle class

By Jahi Wise | Green Biz
May 19, 2015

The single-family middle-income market for energy-efficiency retrofits has proven difficult to crack. One well-known obstacle is access to financing. Middle-income families often earn too much to qualify for state and federal weatherization programs but lack the credit characteristics to receive financing for energy-efficiency retrofits.

The benefits of energy-efficiency retrofits for middle-income households earning between $32,500 and $72,500 per year are well-documented. A 2011 Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report (PDF) estimated that retrofitting one-third of the 32 million single family middle-income homes in the United States could save as much energy each year as is used by every home in Houston, Phoenix and San Francisco combined.

In addition, undertaking these retrofits would stimulate $100 billion in localized economic investments and create thousands of living-wage jobs. Some even have argued that expanding energy-efficiency retrofits in the middle-income market is the key to building broad-based political support for federal climate-change legislation.

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DOE Funds Projects to Increase Energy Efficiency of Offices, Schools, Stores

May 14, 2015

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced nearly $6 million in funding to accelerate energy efficiency in offices, schools, stores, and other buildings to help businesses and communities save money, create jobs, and reduce pollution.

“The Energy Department is committed to partnering with market leaders who demonstrate cutting edge energy-efficient technologies and practices in new and existing commercial buildings,” said Dr. David Danielson, assistant secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. “These low-energy building solutions will reduce air pollution and help building owners and operators save money on their operating costs through best practices that can be replicated by others.”

In total, the eight competitively-selected projects will receive $6 million and with private sector cost sharing reach a total investment of $12.5 million.

The projects will demonstrate one or more approaches for improving building energy use by up to 50 percent that can then be replicated across the country. Each project is aimed at increasing the widespread use of high priority tools and technologies supported by DOE.

To read more click here


PUC looks to establish energy-efficiency standard

By Allie Morris | Concord Monitor
May 12, 2015

New Hampshire energy regulators are taking steps to establish a statewide energy-efficiency standard, a policy that advocates have said is long overdue and will help the state reduce energy use and rates.

“It’s an important step to take because it shows the state is committed to energy efficiency in the long term,” said consumer advocate Susan Chamberlin. “Energy efficiency is the least costly way of lowering rates and bills for residential customers.”

The state Public Utilities Commission announced it is beginning the process to establish an Energy Efficiency Resource Standard, which would set specific energy-saving targets that New Hampshire gas and electric utilities must meet.

As officials and lawmakers grapple with ways to reduce the region’s high electric rates, many advocates point to energy efficiency as a cheap, clean solution that can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep energy dollars in the local economy.

The biggest hurdle in developing a standard, many say, is finding the funding to make the necessary investments.

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Shaheen introduces energy efficiency bill

May 10, 2015

CONCORD, N.H. — New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen has introduced a bill she says would reduce operating costs for places like hospitals, universities and manufacturing plants by helping them make efficient use of energy.

The bill addresses regulatory barriers that hamper the use of heat recovery technologies, known as combined heat and power and waste heat to power.

Combined heat and power allows a facility to generate its own electricity and thermal energy from a single fuel source. Waste heat to power captures heat from an industrial process and uses it to generate power.

The bill is called the HEAT Act, which stands for Heat Efficiency Through Applied Technology.

“Deploying these efficient energy production technologies will save money, create jobs and reduce pollution,” Shaheen said. “It’s important that rules regarding energy generation keep pace with new advancements in efficient technology.”

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State pulls energy aid program from CAECI

By Bill Engle | Pal-Item
May 10, 2015

As of May 31, Community Action of East Central Indiana no longer will offer an energy assistance program to area residents in need.

That means the agency that once handled several assistance programs in Wayne, Fayette and Union counties now has only Head Start and Early Head Start in Wayne County.

The agency stopped accepting applications for assistance last week after the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority informed local officials it no longer would allow CAECI to handle its low-income heating energy program (LIHEAP).

Interlocal Community Action Program, which is based in New Castle, Ind., has been selected to handle the program in Wayne and Fayette counties and Southeastern Economic Opportunity of Aurora, Ind., will provide services for Union County, said IHCDA spokesman Brad Meadows.

The action comes on the heels of Community Action losing a $245,000 Community Services Block Grant from the IHCDA in October 2014. That money was used mainly for staffing for the energy assistance program.

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Wolf’s pick to head PUC will promote energy-saving policies, green groups say

By John Hurdle | State Impact
May 7, 2015

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf’s pick as the new head of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission is a sign that the new administration is serious about choosing key officials who can make a difference on energy efficiency and climate change, environmental campaigners said on Thursday.

The Democratic governor named Gladys Brown, a current member of the utilities regulator, as its new chair, replacing Robert Powelson, who remains on the panel as a commissioner.

Brown’s record as an advocate for energy efficiency, especially among low-income populations, indicates that she will steer the panel toward policies such as efficient appliances and renewable fuels to reduce carbon emissions, said Jackson Morris, director of eastern energy for the Natural Resources Defense Council.

“We are very excited about the announcement, and see it as an indication that Governor Wolf really wants to put his stamp on clean-energy policy,” Morris said. “Gladys Brown will be a great chair of the PUC to push through policies that are supportive of clean energy and energy efficiency.”

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Utility energy-efficiency bill signed into Indiana law

Associated Press | Indianapolis Business Journal
May 6, 2015

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence has signed a new law to reduce state oversight of the energy-efficiency programs of major utilities.

Pence approved a measure Wednesday to allow major utility companies to develop their own efficiency programs and charge customers to implement them. The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission will have final approval over the programs.

Supporters say companies should have the flexibility to choose their own programs, which help decrease electricity use and save ratepayers money.

But some experts say the bill is missing key elements for such programs to be effective and won’t save consumers as much as supporters have advertised.

Environmentalists also argue that Indiana will have a harder time meeting federal requirements for reducing carbon dioxide emissions under the new law, which takes effect immediately.

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DOE Invests $6M to Increase Energy Efficiency in Commercial Buildings

By Karen Henry | Energy Manager Today
May 6, 2015

The US Department of Energy (DOE) has announced nearly $6 million in funding to accelerate energy efficiency in offices, shops, schools and other buildings.

The following eight competitively selected projects will demonstrate one or more approaches for improving commercial building energy use by up to 50 percent:

  • The City of Milwaukee and 11 partners will receive $750,000 to demonstrate retrofit approaches in up to 200 commercial buildings across Wisconsin. Milwaukee will also develop an efficient lighting design pattern book and pilot the DOE’s Standard Energy Efficiency Data Platform (SEED), an open source software application that manages energy performance data of large groups of buildings.
  • DNV GL Energy will receive $185,000 to implement and demonstrate a systems management approach for quality maintenance and high efficiency replacements of rooftop air conditioning units (RTUs) across more than 100 public elementary, middle and high schools in New York.
  • The Energy Center of Wisconsin and its project partners will receive $1 million to demonstrate new approaches for procuring new high efficiency buildings through its Accelerate Performance project.
  • Envision Charlotte will receive $500,000 to expand its energy management approaches to more than triple the number of participating buildings across the community.

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Obama signs energy efficiency bill into law

By Timothy Cama | The Hill
April 30, 2015

President Obama on Thursday signed into law a measure that is intended to improve energy efficiency in buildings and stop efficiency rules for certain water heaters.

The measure had strong bipartisan support and easily passed the Senate in March and the House in April.

It creates new voluntary building efficiency standards and exempts certain grid-enabled water heaters from efficiency regulations.
Obama brought to the White House energy efficiency advocates and the leading congressional backers of the legislation, including Sens. Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), for the signing ceremony, along with Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz.

“What we’ve seen is a coming together of Republicans and Democrats who are going to facilitate us being much smarter in terms of building buildings, how we use energy and, as a consequence, we’re going to save money for consumers, we’re going to save money for businesses, and we’re going to deal with issues like climate change that have an enormous economic and health impact on Americans as a whole,” Obama said before signing the bill, according to the White House.

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Energy Efficiency in Bloom

By Cliff Majersik | Huffington Post
April 28, 2015

Each Spring, our environment transforms as bare tree branches sprout new buds that blossom into a refreshing palette of color that replaces the muted tones of winter. While this year’s peak bloom has come and gone in many cities, a different blossoming occurred this past week that befits business owners, building operators, and city leaders across the country.

Transformation is underway in our built environment–and last week there were three developments of note.

First, last Monday, Atlanta became the first major Southeast city to adopt an energy efficiency policy that focuses on tackling building energy use and waste through measures such as benchmarking, transparency, and energy audits.

Second, the unanimous City Council approval of Atlanta’s Commercial Buildings Energy Efficiency Ordinance was followed by Portland, Oregon’s City Council unanimously approving an Energy Performance Reporting Policy for buildings over 20,000 square feet.

This is not a situation where two events are just a coincidence. What we are seeing is energy efficiency blooming across the country. The passage of Atlanta and Portland’s policies make them the 12th and 13th city, respectively, to adopt benchmarking as a way to drive energy efficiency investment and improvements, joining the ranks of leading U.S. cities such as Austin, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C., in passing this type of legislation.

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LIHEAP is in desperate need of adequate funding

By Joe Gibbons | Tallahassee Democrat
April 26, 2015

Imagine if nine out of every 10 seniors, people with disabilities and the poor in Boston were eligible for federal assistance to pay their heating bills during that city’s recent frigid winter — but couldn’t get it.

Now think of Florida, where high temperatures often force those people who might qualify for the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) here to choose between food and air conditioning. Unfortunately, only seven percent of eligible Floridians actually get LIHEAP benefits.

That statistic, from the National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC), puts the Sunshine State among the nation’s worst when it comes to energy assistance. In fact, Florida’s LIHEAP funding dropped from $110 million in 2010 to $68 million for the upcoming budget year.

It’s bad enough that there isn’t enough money coming out of Washington to adequately pay for energy assistance. Since 2010, the funding for LIHEAP fell from $5.1 billion to $3.4 billion. During that time, the number of households receiving LIHEAP support fell from 8.1 million nationally to 6.7 million, according to the National Energy Assistance Directors Association. Clearly, this is not a good trend.

We call on Congress to restore the $5.1 billion to the program in the upcoming 2015-2016 budget, a step that will move the needle toward more households receiving the assistance they need in paying their energy bills. We also want the Obama administration to pump up future LIHEAP allocations, as the slide in federal funding to this program is both counterproductive and potentially destructive.

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Obama Spends Earth Day In The Everglades, Taunting Republicans On Climate Change

By Kate Sheppard | The Huffington Post
April 22, 2015

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama is making an Earth Day visit to Florida’s Everglades on Wednesday, where he’ll talk about environmental issues. It’s of course a huge coincidence that the visit is in the backyard of two Republican presidential hopefuls who have been squishy on the subject of climate change.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters on a call ahead of the trip that Obama “will use the occasion of Earth Day to highlight his commitment to fighting to protect public health and to fighting the carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.” And the president picked Florida, Earnest said, because it’s a place “where these kinds of issues have traditionally been bipartisan.”

The Everglades, part of the National Park System, is flat, close to sea level and particularly vulnerable to climate change.

Earnest was coy about the fact that Florida also happens to be the home of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and Sen. Marco Rubio, two likely Republican presidential contenders who haven’t been as enthusiastic about climate action. Bush has said he’s a “skeptic” when it comes to climate change, while Rubio says he doesn’t believe human activity is causing the planet to heat up.

The president, Earnest said on the call, hopes the visit “will prompt an elevated political debate about making climate change a priority.” However, he added, the trip is “not an effort to go to anyone’s home state, but to raise the debate.”

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Florida activist honored for technology and social justice work

April 17, 2015

WASHINGTON, D.C. – David Honig, a longtime civil rights activist and media advocate with deep ties to Florida, was honored for his dedication to ensuring that communities of color have equal opportunity to participate in and benefit from critical new media and telecom services.

Honig, the co-founder and immediate past president of the Multicultural Media, Telecom, and Internet Council (MMTC), received the National Urban League’s Civil Rights Partner Organization Champion Award last month. The award was for his “untiring work as a champion in fighting for justice and social change.”

“Thirty-five years ago, (National Urban League President) Marc Morial and I were at Georgetown’s law school together, and we co-chaired the Anti-Apartheid Committee. The common wisdom is that as you get older, you get more conservative and become less of an activist. Obviously that theory didn’t apply to Marc or me,” Honig said.

Decades of activism
Honig founded MMTC nearly 30 years ago in order to provide African-Americans, Latinos, and other historically marginalized communities with a strong voice on media and telecommunications issues.

MMTC achieved many victories, including FCC approval of the rule against racial discrimination in the placement of advertising. He also founded the nation’s only media and telecom brokerage focused on increasing non-White ownership of media properties, participating in nearly $2 billion in transactions.

Though Honig no longer manages the day-to-day affairs of MMTC, he remains the group’s senior legal counsel.

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75,000 Solar Workers to Be Trained under New Federal Program

By Bobby Magill and Climate Central | Scientific American
April 3, 2015

As part of President Obama’s plans to combat climate change, the White House announced a program on Friday for the U.S. Department of Energy to train 75,000 people to work in the solar power industry by 2020, many of whom will be part of a military veterans jobs initiative called Solar Ready Vets.

The announcement comes as the solar industry in the U.S. booms, adding more than 30,000 people to its workforce between 2013 and 2014. Another 36,000 solar jobs are expected to be added this year. Solar power project prices are falling and investments are streaming toward solar as one of the most promising low-carbon electricity generating technologies used to help reduce the greenhouse gas emissions that are driving up global temperatures.

The Obama administration this week announced a target to cut greenhouse gas emissions nationwide by up to 28 percent below 2005 levels within a decade, and boosting the solar power industry’s workforce is part of achieving those emissions reductions, according to the White House announcement.

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What happens when redistricting fails to recognize blacks’ green interests?

By Brentin Mock | Grist
March 27, 2015

Grist’s David Roberts has written quite a bit about America’s intensifying political polarization and how it remains a firewall for Congress’s chances of passing climate legislation. Roberts illuminated the myth behind one of Obama’s most popular proclamations, writing, “There’s red America, a sparsely populated but vast landscape of rural and suburban areas, and there’s blue America, the ‘urban archipelago‘ upon which the left’s constituencies — single women, minorities, cosmopolitans — cluster.”

Obama has since come around to this reality. More importantly, though, the two dominant political parties understand this reality, especially now. In fact, they both indulge a process that basically crystallizes this polarization, and even promotes it. It’s called redistricting. Both parties have been guilty of it, though lately it’s been one certain party more than the other.

This is the process where every 10 years, electoral district lines are redrawn to account for population changes, usually based on new Census figures. Whatever party controls the majority of districts is in charge of the redistricting process (though some places create “independent” commissions) and, unsurprisingly, its members usually draw new lines with the intention of either preserving their majority or increasing it — and this is legal.

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Pilot Program Takes Energy-Efficient Homes to a New Level

By NEEA | PRNewswire
March 23, 2015

An innovative home performance pilot program is increasing insight into the most cost-effective ways to maximize energy savings in residential new construction. A partnership of builders and utilities across the Northwest is participating in the pilot, which aims to shape future energy efficiency standards for newly constructed homes throughout the region.

Since its inception in late 2012, the home performance pilot continues to grow with more than 40 participating homes and builders across Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington. Once a home is built and occupied, the program monitors it for 13 months to track its performance and to ensure it meets desired efficiency goals. Homes in the program are at least 30 percent more energy-efficient than a home built to state-specific energy codes, with many exceeding that number. The monitoring provides a trove of data that will push future building energy codes in the Northwest.

“It is important to PSE to create awareness among our customers about the benefits of energy- efficient homes,” said Bob Stolarski, director of Customer Energy Management for Puget Sound Energy, one of the utilities involved in the program. “We can help our community and builders enter a new stage in home energy performance, leading to lower energy use and, therefore, lower energy costs for our customers.”

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Platform Brings Energy Efficiency to Affordable Housing

By Andrew Burger | Triple Pundit
March 16, 2015

Residential and commercial buildings account for nearly 41 percent of U.S. energy consumption and 40 percent of national carbon dioxide emissions, according to the Department of Energy’s 2011 Buildings Energy Data Book.

The environmental and social impacts of residential and commercial buildings extend much further, the report goes on to say. When looking at an office or apartment tower, think about all the water that’s needed to keep it functional, the energy required to cycle that water through its plumbing, and the streams of waste and trash produced by people living and working in it.

The environmental and socioeconomic stakes are being raised as the urbanization process intensifies and what were once “undeveloped” lands and free-flowing waterways are leveled, paved over and built upon. It should be clear that the need for a more sustainable approach to residential and commercial building design is increasingly urgent.

A Boston-based startup is harnessing the power of the Internet and high-powered, data-driven analytics to move us closer to this goal. WegoWise‘s software platform uses open-source tools to give building owners and managers the means to reduce their impact, as well as their operations and maintenance expenses, by tracking and taking steps to enhance energy and water efficiency.

To read more click here


Local Heroes: Meet Whitney & Vicki at CVOEO

By Lauren Maloney | My Champlain Valley
March 11, 2015

During the winter, Whitney and Vicki’s office is the busiest spot at CVOEO, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity.

“How many times a day do we hear without you I would be freezing, and I would not be eating, my kids would be cold,” Whitney Cassell said.

Whitney and Vicki’s specialty is crisis fuel, getting people what they need.

“These 2 women are able to advocate for people that they see because they know their situation, it’s not a cry-wolf scenario at all,” Executive Director Jan Demers said.

Demers can’t stop singing their praises. Whitney Cassell has worked here 17 years, Vicki Fletcher for 15.

“They’re incredible people – they are very humble, they have a difficult job,” Demers said.

Whitney and Vicki help give out LIHEAP money as well as Warmth funding.

Warmth is given out in emergency situations, when families have no fuel left, or they could be disconnected.

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EPA recognizes top performing Energy Star certified manufacturing plants in Idaho, Washington

EPA | News Release
March 10, 2015

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today that 70 manufacturing plants have achieved Energy Star certification for their superior energy performance in 2014. The list includes a newly certified ConAgra Foods potato processing plant in American Falls, Idaho. In addition, six facilities in Washington owned by Foods Quincy, ConAgra Foods, JR Simplot and Phillips 66 Company made the list.

Nationally, the 70 manufacturing plants saved a record amount of energy, cut their energy bills by $725 million, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions by more than 8 million metric tons –equivalent to the annual total energy use of more than 650,000 households. From implementing corporate energy management programs to implementing energy efficiency projects, there are many ways plants can save energy with EPA’s Energy Star program.

“Energy Star certified manufacturing plants are leading their industries by advancing energy efficiency and making cost-saving improvements while combating climate change,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. “Through their work with EPA, the 2014 Energy Star manufacturing plants are demonstrating that making sustainability and energy efficiency improvements is a smart business decision.”

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Utility Crisis Assistance Available for Low-Income Households

Editorial | The Daily Ardmoreite
March 4, 2015


A limited amount of funds will be made available across the state through the federal Energy Crisis Assistance Program (ECAP) which is administered through the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS).

The DHS will begin taking applications Tuesday, March 24, and will continue until all allocated funds are depleted. Approximately $5 million in federal funds are available for this year’s ECAP in Oklahoma.

ECAP is part of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and eligibility is based on each household’s income and assets. If you or someone you know may be income eligible, you are encouraged to apply at your local DHS County Office.

Low-income households receiving public assistance and those not receiving public assistance may be eligible for ECAP. It is important that persons requesting assistance provide verification of service termination or that service will be terminated within 72 hours. Household requesting crisis assistance for propane must provide verification of cost for a minimum delivery as defined by their supplier.

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Harsh winter a clear sell for added fuel assistance

Editorial | Daily Hampshire Gazette
March 4, 2015

Of all the responsibilities lawmakers carry, protecting the most vulnerable should be near the top. That’s why, as the region began another harsh winter month, the state’s two Democratic U.S. senators did the right thing in making a case for the release of home-heating assistance.

It’s sad they have to lobby at all, but in recent years this additional set-aside money — $34 million in the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance program, or LIHEAP — has been raided for other purposes.

It should be used as intended: divided into small increments for individual households that can’t afford to heat their homes on their own.

In a letter to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, which distributes the LIHEAP aid, U.S. Sens. Edward Markey and Elizabeth Warren said that families in our state are facing a dangerous heating crisis in which home heating bills are piling up as fast as the snow.

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Sen. Brown alerts Ohioans to heating assistance resources

By Sherrod Brown| Richland Source
March 2, 2015

Following weeks of bitterly-cold temperatures and extreme winter weather conditions, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) is alerting Ohioans to funding that has helped 5292 Ohioans in Richland County heat their homes and cover their energy costs.

Brown released a county-by-county report on the number of Ohio households – particularly seniors and low-income families – that received home heating assistance through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in 2014. More than 314,000 Ohioans have already received funding this winter.

“No Ohioan should have to choose between filling a prescription, putting dinner on the table, or keeping warm,” Brown said. “Last year, more than 420,000 Ohio households relied on LIHEAP funds to keep the heat on. This home heating assistance is critical every winter, but especially with this year’s frigid temperatures. That’s why I’ll continue working to ensure that Ohio has adequate funding to protect our most vulnerable neighbors and family members during the coldest months.”

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NORWESCAP awarded $337,000 contract to provide weather-proofing services to New Jersey residents

By Sarah Peters | The Express-Times
February 26, 2015

Northwest New Jersey residents who meet income requirements can get help saving on their energy bills through a regional nonprofit organization.

The state through an open competition awarded NORWESCAP a $337,863 contract to provide households with weather-proofing services, according to a news release from the organization. The services are available to residents of Warren, Hunterdon and Sussex counties who meet income guidelines.

John Korp, NORWESCAP associate director for housing and energy services, said the organization has provided the assistance since 1976 and served more than 7,000 homes.

“Weatherization helps eligible households save money and significantly reduce their energy consumption,” Korp said in the news release. “The agreement will permit us to meet the demand for energy conservation services in our tri-county area.”

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LIHEAP Heating Help Running Low for Some

By Kristina Papa | WNEP
February 25, 2015

With all this cold weather we’re having, it seems more people than ever need government help to pay their heating bills. The state says there is only so much money to hand out to each person and no additional help is available at this point.

Home after home, Justin Reighard is out all day delivering heating oil for Hollick’s Coal Yard and Oil Service in Jersey Shore.

“We get calls every day. I get phone calls for people who need oil as I’m out on the road. We do emergency stops or adding more on. It’s just go, go, go. It’s always go, go, go,” said Reighard.

Hollick says by this time of the season some of his customers have a hard time paying for their heating oil. Luckily for them there are programs willing to help.

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Community groups seek more heating aid

By Jack Newsham | The Boston Globe
February 24, 2015

Community service agencies in Massachusetts are pleading for more heating assistance dollars after they say a month of crippling storms has left the state’s poorest residents struggling to pay their bills.

Last week, Action for Boston Community Development, a leading social service agency, reiterated its call for the state allocate $20 million for emergency heating assistance. That request comes at a bad time, however, with the state Legislature and governor trying to cut spending to close a $768 million hole in the budget.

“The problem has escalated to what I’d call a disaster,” said John Drew, the group’s president. “We’ve had a fairly good winter campaign, but it’s been eaten up already. The size of the problem won’t be taken care of by the donor community.”

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Bitter Cold Temperatures Push Some Americans Toward Poverty Line

By NewsHour | PBS
February 22, 2015

A woman crosses a street as snow falls in Charlotte, North Carolina on Feb. 12. Funding cuts for the federal government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program have meant that private nonprofits in North Carolina have been left to fill in the gaps.

On this Sunday’s PBS NewsHour Weekend, we took a closer look at the difficulties some low-income Americans face during winter months, when higher-than-usual energy bills put an enormous strain on family finances.

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Millions of low-income households burdened by fuel insecurity

By NewsHour | PBS
February 22, 2015

During this time of year, millions of people across the country struggle to pay their heating bills. But how widespread is the issue of fuel insecurity, and what assistance is available? Mark Wolfe, Executive Director of the National Energy Assistance Directors Association, joins Hari Sreenivasan from Washington.

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Resources available to those in need during arctic blast

By Mark Gilger, Jr. | Standard Speaker
February 21, 2015

As Schuylkill County residents continue to try to stay warm during this bitter cold spell, state and county officials are asking them to check on their elderly family, friends and neighbors.

“The most important thing is to check on your family members and neighbors through this cold spell to make sure they have what they need and are warm,” Georgene Fedoriska, executive director at Schuylkill County Office of Senior Services, said Tuesday. “If anyone is without heat, contact our office and we will work on the options.”

The state Department of Health advises residents to stay as warm as possible. Those who must venture outdoors are advised to make trips brief and dress warmly, covering ears, head, mouth and face to prevent frostbite.

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Cold Weather Drains Assistance Funds and Strains Fuel Deliveries

By Steve Zind | Vermont Public Radio
February 19, 2015

Many families who qualify for help with their fuel bills have exhausted their benefits as a result of the cold weather.

The state’s home heating assistance program helps more than 25,000 Vermont households stay warm in the winter.

“Folks are struggling to stay warm. Many folks have gone through their seasonal fuel benefit,” says Fuel Assistance Program Chief Richard Moffi.

Moffi says those who haven’t applied for seasonal heating assistance have until the end of February. He states that all who qualify will receive assistance, although the available money is running low.

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2 Investigates: Home energy program leaves some of Bay Area’s neediest out in the cold

By Eric Rasmussen | Fox 2
February 17, 2015

Declining funding, limited outreach, and government red tape are sometimes causing a federal program to fall short on its mission to help California’s neediest people pay critical utility bills, according to advocates and clients who spoke to KTVU.

2 Investigates found California’s share of funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) dropped by 31 percent between 2011 and 2013. Funding for each state is based on climate, the low income population and the cost of energy.

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Despite Bitter Cold, Heating Assistance Funds Remain Strong

By John Bender | Rhode Island Public Radio
February 16, 2015

Despite the recent stream of bitterly cold temperatures, Rhode Island’s Low Income Heating Assistance Program still has plenty of money for the cold months to come. Rhode Island received about $27 million dollars in federal assistance to support the program this year. LIHEAP, as it’s known, helps some 34 thousand households pay for heating costs throughout the winter.

State Department of Human Services spokesman Fred Sneesby said there looks to be enough money for two reasons. “This cold snap is balanced by the very mild weather in December, and the other thing going in our favor, in terms of stretching the funds is that oil fuel prices have fallen as well.”

Sneesby adds that residents in need of heating assistance can still apply for the program. The program operates through April.

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3 On Your Side: LIHEAP Assistance

By Jim Donovan | CBS Philly
February 15, 2015

While temperatures continue to hover in single digits, this is the time when heating your home is top of mind and gas and electric bills begin to rise. If you think you’ll have problems paying your home heating bills, help may be only an application away. 3 On Your Side Consumer Reporter Jim Donovan explains.

If you think that you may not be able to pay your energy bills this winter the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program may be able to help. Commonly known as LIHEAP, the federal program funds money to each of the 50 states. In Pennsylvania $66 million dollars was allocated, but Ben Armstrong of PECO says, “LIHEAP is a first come first served program, so even though there is $66 million dollars available across the state, that is for all low income heating customers.”

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Budget proposal would reduce heating help

By April Burbank | Burlington Free Press
February 12, 2015

As one piece of a challenging budget, Gov. Peter Shumlin has proposed cutting the state’s $6 million contribution to the low-income fuel assistance program. His plan depends on federal funds instead.

The cut would mean a lower average amount of assistance to help Vermonters through next winter. But officials say they’re devising a budget patch to ensure that eligibility requirements for the program remain unchanged.

About 25,000 Vermont households depend on seasonal fuel assistance this year, and about 6,000 receive benefits when facing a crisis fuel shortage, according to the state.

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6 Ways To Expand Solar Into Lower Income Communities

By Jake Richardson | CleanTechnica
February 11, 2015

The George Washington University Solar Institute has launched a new paper called Bridging the Solar Income Gap. The gap refers to the fact that most low-income Americans have not acquired solar power, because they simply don’t have the money to do so. Many don’t own their homes, so they can’t have solar power systems installed on roofs they don’t control. According to the paper, about 49 million Americans live on “low incomes.” The solar power growth occurring in America has mostly not touched their lives.

This segment of the population could benefit very much from solar power, because they would pay less for electricity. In fact, solar power systems in community gardens could provide free electricity for some small neighborhoods. If one megawatt of solar power can provide electricity for about 164 homes when there is adequate sunlight, investing in such a system could provide energy for 25 years or even longer. Government support would be necessary for the construction, but solar power has never been more affordable, so the payback time for it is now very reasonable.

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NRECA Pushes for More LIHEAP Funds

By Michael W. Kahn | ECT
February 10, 2015

With the White House once again coming up short of what LIHEAP supporters say is needed, an all-out push is underway to increase funding.

In his fiscal 2016 budget, President Obama proposed $3.39 billion for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. That’s far short of the $4.7 billion that supporters were seeking. Those backers include NRECA, as well as 43 senators and 128 House members who signed letters to the president in December.

“We’re asking Congress for full LIHEAP funding of $4.7 billion,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson, who is urging Co-op Nation to rally around the cause.

To read more click here


Committee Releases Framework to Build the Architecture of Abundance

Press Release | Energy & Commerce Committee
February 9, 2015

WASHINGTON, DC – The House Energy and Commerce Committee today released a framework for a comprehensive energy package to advance its Architecture of Abundance agenda this Congress. The committee is preparing a series of discussion drafts to address four key policy areas: modernizing infrastructure, a 21st century energy workforce, energy diplomacy, and efficiency and accountability. The committee plans to advance the discussion drafts through the committee’s legislative process in the coming months with the goal of bringing a solutions-focused energy package to the House floor later this year.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) and Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield (R-KY) said, “Our energy realities have changed dramatically – we’ve gone from bust to boom practically overnight. Today’s energy policies are lagging far behind, and are better suited for the gas lines in the 1970s than this new era of abundance. We need policies that meet today’s needs and are focused on the future, and that starts with building the Architecture of Abundance. By modernizing our infrastructure, empowering a 21st Century energy workforce, strengthening our energy diplomacy, and promoting more efficiency and accountability, we can lay the foundation for a forward-looking national energy strategy that truly embraces our energy abundance and its boundless benefits. Most importantly, saying yes to energy will create jobs, keep costs down for all Americans, and boost our energy security.”

To read more click here


NH Residents, Funds Assist Those in Need of Heat in the North Country

By John Koziol | Union Leader
February 8, 2015

WA federal program, with some occasional aid from Good Samaritans, is helping to keep the heat on for needy North Country residents.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and administered by the New Hampshire Office of Energy and Planning, the benefits of the low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) are disbursed through the state’s Community Action Programs.

Up North, Tri-County CAP, which serves Coos, Carroll and Grafton counties, as of two weeks ago had accepted 6,670 applications for heating assistance — be it to pay for oil, electricity, kerosene, propane, firewood or wood pellets — and by the end of the season expects to receive 9,000 applications, according to Andrea Gagne, director of the TCCAP’s energy program.

To read more click here


LIHEAP Clearinghouse Releases Non-Federal Energy Assistance Report

By LIHEAP Clearinghouse
February 6, 2015

With the need for energy assistance consistently outstripping federal funding, low-income households benefit from non-federal supplemental funding from various sources such as ratepayer-funded programs; appropriations by state, local and tribal governments; and fuel funds. The use of these funds, often referred to as leveraging, can be a beneficial way for LIHEAPs to supplement funds used to provide assistance to low-income customers who might otherwise miss out on the opportunity for aid. The Clearinghouse’s most recent report, Leveraging and LIHEAP: Providing Non-Federal Funds for Energy Assistance, examines the various sources of this supplemental funding and also looks at the federal leveraging incentive program.

For LIHEAPs that are interested in trying to identify non-federal sources of energy assistance, either for participation in the federal incentive program or as a way to provide more coverage to low-income households, there are numerous places to look. This report examines the most common forms of non-federal resources for energy assistance, especially those programs focused on providing bill assistance. The report also explores ratepayer-funded programs, state and tribal government funds, community funds, miscellaneous sources of funds, and their impact on LIHEAP.

To read more click here


NEUAC Asks Congress to Fund LIHEAP at $4.7 Billion

By National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition (NEUAC)
February 5, 2015

WASHINGTON, Feb. 5, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — National Energy and Utility Affordability Coalition Chairman John Rich urges Congress to build upon President Obama’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program budget request by providing $4.7 billion in funding for LIHEAP in FY 2016. Rich notes:

“The President’s LIHEAP budget request is insufficient, leaving vulnerable households cold in the winter and dangerously overheated in the summer. Many of the vulnerable include our veterans, one in five eligible recipient households include active duty military, dependents or veterans.”

“LIHEAP funding is now just 2/3rds of its 2010 level of $5.1 billion. The President’s $3.39 billion FY 2016 request further reduces LIHEAP’s ability to help Americans in need. To serve more eligible households, funding should be restored to at least $4.7 billion,” adds Rich.

“At the $4.7 billion level, states can plan better, leverage other funding and pro-actively help even when there are weather extremes,” says Monique Lovato, Executive Director of NEUAC.

To read more click here


PSE&G offers programs to help low-, moderate-income customers pay bills

By The Jersey Journal
February 4, 2015

With temperatures in the teens and 20s much of this week, PSE&G officials issued a reminder that there are a number of programs available to provide assistance to moderate-income customers, senior citizens, people on disability, as well as programs that assist people with low incomes.

“Every year, millions of dollars available to assist customers in paying their gas and electric bills goes unused,” Greg Dunlap, PSE&G’s vice president of customer operations said in a statement. “Many customers who qualify assume they don’t meet the criteria. Others may think that the application process is difficult – and it is not. There are resources dedicated to helping eligible customers apply.”

To read more click here


NECAC to pay energy bills for low-income families

By Herald-WHIG
February 3, 2015

BOWLING GREEN, Mo. — North East Community Action Corporation announced it will receive $284,505 in additional funding to assist qualifying families and individuals with winter energy assistance throughout its 12-county service area.
Gov. Jay Nixon made more than $4.5 million in additional federal funds available through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) in the state. NECAC and other community action agencies administer the program through contracts with the Missouri Department of Social Services.

Eligibility for energy assistance is based on income, the number of people per household and the type of heating source. LIHEAP assists with paying part of the energy bills for those who qualify. Eligible households could receive a minimum of $45 up to a maximum of $450, depending upon the type of heating source.

To read more click here


Mid-Missouri energy assistance program gets replenished

By Jessica Quick | KMIZ
February 2, 2015

A program designed to help individuals and families with low income stay warm now has some extra funds.

ABC 17 News reported last month the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program already used 80% of its funds.

On Monday, ABC 17 learned officials have issued more spending from the winter crisis assistance funds to help replenish money for the program.

To read more click here


Outfitting low-income homes for energy efficiency

By Sandy Bauers | The Inquirer
January 29, 2015

Joan Young’s roof was leaking.

The furnace wasn’t in great shape, either.

But the 70-year-old retiree had few options. “When you’re working, it’s different. You find the money,” she said. On Social Security, “you just deal with what you can, and you try to keep the bills from being expensive, so you turn down the heat and you put on more clothes.”

Then Young learned of a pilot program in Philadelphia that is seen as a way to conserve energy, aid the poor, make homes healthier to live in, and perhaps even act as a hedge against homelessness, bolstering the supply of low-income housing in the city.

To read more click here


What LIHEAP Means to Families

By Ben Manning |
January 27, 2015

BELLWOOD, BLAIR COUNTY – Pennsylvania is going to get some extra funding for families that need some help with their heating bills.

Senator Bob Casey says an additional 18 million dollars will be coming to Pennsylvania, and that means more families might qualify for help.

Stephanie Esgro is getting LIHEAP benefits for the first time this year. She applied last year but just missed the income cutoff for a family of three.

He husband does seasonal work and she’s going back to school. She wants to get a better job so eventually she won’t need financial help.

Pennsylvania is going to get about $204 million dollars for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, for 2015.

To read more click here


Massachusetts gets another $13 million in home heating assistance

By Jack Newsham | The Boston Globe
January 26, 2015

Low-income Massachusetts residents have another $13 million in home heating help coming their way.

The federal Department of Health and Human Services said last week that it would be providing a second allotment of funding to states of $300 million, on top of the $3 billion it awarded in October. Massachusetts received $131 million in October.

“We appreciate that many of you have contacted our office to alert us to the strain on your LIHEAP resources caused by the weather conditions,” the federal agency said, using the acronym for Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

John Drew, the president of Action for Boston Community Development, said his group was expecting the additional funds because of the piecemeal way the government has been funded in recent years, and could use them to help people who heat with pricey electricity. Still, he said, his group was soliciting donations for its winter emergency campaign to make up for less support from the state government.

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Senators: NY to receive additional $33 million in LIHEAP funds

By Times Staff Reports | Little Falls Times
January 23, 2015

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand announced Friday New York will receive an additional $33,337,670 in heating assistance funds.

The funds were allocated through the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services’ Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

The senators said this additional $33 million will bring New’s total federal assistance for fiscal year 2015 to $377,245,102.

“Hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers each year, many of whom are seniors on a fixed income, rely on LIHEAP funding to help pay for the home heating costs that have become a larger and larger share of their budget. This additional funding will help people cover costs during this very cold winter and will mean fewer people will have to choose between paying for heat and the rent, heat and prescription drugs or heat and putting food on the table,” said Schumer, D-NY. “Having these funds available now, in January, when winter is still rearing its ugly head across the northeast, is critical. This boost in home energy assistance could not come at a better time.”

To read more click here


Fund Opens For Low-Income Duke Customers To Receive Energy Efficiency Upgrades

By Ben Bradford | WFAE
January 20, 2015

Lower-income customers of Duke Energy in North Carolina can now apply for energy-saving upgrades to their homes. A $20 million program funded by Duke Energy opened this week, the result of a deal Duke agreed to when it last raised rates.

In 2013, state regulators agreed Duke Energy could raise its North Carolina utility rates, to increase annual revenue by about $400 million combined. In return, the two utilities each put $10 million, from profits, into a fund to help low-income customers who could struggle with the increase. It’s now active, and run by the non-profit North Carolina Community Action Association.

“We want to reduce the energy burden and give low-income families more disposable income. That’s what it’s about,” says NCCAA executive director Sharon Goodson.


LIHEAP heating assistance signup starts Monday

By Rebecca Smith | WKYT
January 9, 2015

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT)– If you need help with your heating bills, there’s help available.

With access to more than $1 million in assistance, the Community Action Council is prepared to open its doors Monday, January 12th to the thousands of folks who need help keeping their heat up and running.

Malcolm Ratchford, with the CAC, says they’re soon to enter into what’s known as the crisis phase of the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP.

Some Kentuckians already receive help through the subsidy program.

Sign-up for that ended in December.

“What we do know is that based on the cold temperatures this week, we’ll have lots of folks from the community we’ll need to help with their heating bills,” said Ratchford. “Low income families pay a high percentage of their incomes toward their electric bills and heating bills.”

To read more click here


Energy Adviser: Charity run to warm low-income families

By Clark Public Utilities| The Columbian
December 25, 2014

It’s the season of giving and a time for warm, festive, family fun. In the spirit of the holidays, mark your calendars for the first Clark Public Utilities Race for Warmth to benefit Operation Warm Heart.

The race will be Feb. 8, just as your New Year’s resolutions are put to the test. Registration is open now at The proceeds will help local families in financial crisis pay winter heating bills.

Utility customers and employees are the consistent source of tax-deductible donations for funding Operation Warm Heart. Over several decades, the program has provided $2.4 million to about 11,000 in-crisis customers who didn’t qualify for other government programs that might help pay their winter bills. As other government resources declined, increasing numbers of low-income families with emergency need turn to Operation Warm Heart for assistance.

“We’ve been looking for ideas to highlight Operation Warm Heart,” said Heather Allmain, communications services manager for the utility. “A race looked like a fun way to create more awareness and involve community members, too.”

Similar runs are popular with other utilities. The utility has investigated the possibility of a race event since spring. With board approval, the work began whole-heartedly in the summer, and all plans are in place to race on Feb. 8 starting and finishing at the Clark Public Utilities downtown Vancouver location.

“For a lot of fans of fun runs and walks, these events become an annual tradition,” said Maxie Lofton, race coordinator. “Our employees have a lot of love for Operation Warm Heart because we see the impact it has on families first hand. We are looking forward to getting the community out in support of the program. Plus it will be a great time for the whole family.”

To read more click here


Community Solar Projects Expand Access to Clean, Affordable Energy in the Tennessee Valley and Across the Southeast

By Taylor Allred | Southern Alliance for Clean Energy
December 16, 2014

Solar fever is sweeping the nation, and the Southeast is no exception. Every year, more and more people are taking advantage of the most abundant energy resource on Earth by installing solar photovoltaic panels on their roofs. The price of solar panels has dropped dramatically in recent years, and now is a great time to lock in low (or even negative) utility bills and avoid future rate increases.

However, not everyone has the opportunity to take advantage of this solar gold rush. According the the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, about 75% of residential rooftops in the U.S. are not suitable for solar panels due to structural, shading, and other constraints. And that doesn’t even account for ownership status (e.g., renters) or financial considerations.

The most promising solution to these obstacles is the rise of community solar projects, which allow individuals to purchase a portion of a larger-scale solar installation that is typically managed by their utility. Fortunately for those of us in the Tennessee Valley, TVA recently announced two exciting new opportunities to help local power companies (LPCs) develop community solar projects.

In addition to overcoming obstacles to residential solar installations, community solar projects offer several other benefits. First, larger-scale installations are more cost-effective thanks to significant economies of scale. The economic benefits extend beyond those who participate, as the projects can drive local development and create jobs. In addition, LPCs can optimize the siting of projects to maximize grid benefits and public outreach goals while increasing their understanding of solar technologies and grid integration of distributed generation.

To read more click here


New Solar Loan from Astrum Solar and Hudson Clean Energy

By Brian Vieweger | PV Solar Report
December 12, 2014

Residential solar loans are on the rise, and solar companies are taking note. While some companies focus exclusively on financing solar, many vertically integrated solar companies are now offering financing options as part of one big package.

This is what Astrum Solar, previously acquired by Direct Energy, and Hudson Clean Energy plan to do with their jointly developed Simple Solar Loan Program, a zero-down, long-term financing option for residential solar energy systems. Backed by financing from Hudson, the program is expanding across the nation following months of extensive consumer piloting and overwhelmingly positive consumer feedback.

The loan program is similar to loans launched by SolarCity and Sungage Financial in that it allows homeowners to go solar with no upfront costs. Additionally, the application process has been simplified as much as possible to create a headache-free experience and let customers know quickly if they have been approved or not.

“When it comes to solar financing, simplicity is key. Unlike other options, this program doesn’t involve any complex power price calculations, hidden clauses, or complicated financial engineering. Instead, homeowners can count on one fixed, affordable payment each month,” said Jose Ramos, Astrum’s Chief Marketing Officer. “Adding the Simple Solar Loan Program to our portfolio of financing options empowers our customers to invest in solar while investing in their homes.”

To read more click here

Nonprofit: CT has $784M energy affordability gap

Hartford Business
December 11, 2014

There are more than 305,000 low-and-moderate-income Connecticut households that collectively will be unable to afford $784 million in home energy costs this year, according to a report released Wednesday by Operation Fuel.

That’s up from 295,000 households and $700 million a year ago, the nonprofit said. The financial gap has more than tripled since 2006, driven by rising electricity bills and other factors.

Those costs have burdened private and public heating assistance programs, the report said.

Operation Fuel said it disbursed $3 million to nearly 7,000 households in fiscal year 2014.

The biggest source of fuel aid for Connecticut resident, the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, faces a $5.5 million reduction this winter, the report said.

To read more click here


Philadelphia’s incredible potential to become the East Coast energy hub

By Stan Silverman | Philadelphia Business Journal
December 8, 2014

Much has been written about Philadelphia’s economy being driven by “eds and meds,” shorthand for education and health services, as well as entrepreneurship. There is another leg to the Philadelphia regional economy that is only starting to receive significant press – energy, which has the potential of even a more significant impact on employment and economic growth.

I attended the “Greater Philadelphia: The Next Energy Hub Summit” at Drexel University Dec. 5. I heard industry, labor, government, education and investment leaders speak about the incredible potential of Philadelphia’s close proximity to Marcellus shale natural gas production and the region’s unique infrastructure – oil refineries, pipeline systems, world-class ports, an extensive freight rail network and highly skilled workforce.

The benefits of economical Marcellus shale natural gas are already being felt in the Philadelphia region. Over the last decade the cost to heat one’s home with natural gas has significantly declined. Many homeowners over the past few years have converted from oil to less expensive natural gas to heat their homes, this writer included, realizing significant savings and a rapid payback on the investment to convert.

To read more click here


Duke Energy plans to invest $500 million in solar

The Associated Press | The State
December 8, 2014

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A North Carolina agency has approved Duke Energy’s plans to invest $500 million in solar power to meet the state’s requirement that more of its electricity come from renewable energy.

The Charlotte-based utility will build three solar-generating facilities and purchase power from five more built by investors. The new solar arrays will produce 278 megawatts of electricity.

Duke said Monday that the plans were approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission, and will help the nation’s largest electric company meet its 2015 requirement that renewables produce 6 percent of its 2015 retail sales.

“These projects will help provide significant amounts of cost-effective renewable energy to benefit our customers, comply with our state obligations and provide meaningful investments in the communities we serve,” said Rob Caldwell, the company’s senior vice president for distributed energy resources.

To read more click here


LIHEAP subsidy program to help low-income households

December 3, 2014

Harlan County Community Action Agency began the “subsidy” portion of the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) that provides heating assistance to eligible households on Nov. 3. The significant cost of energy to heat homes leaves many households unable to fully meet heating bills or purchase sufficient bulk fuel to keep their families safe and warm. Your local Community Action Partnership (CAP) stands ready to help.

A household shall be considered to be eligible for LIHEAP subsidy when the household meets the basic eligibility criteria:

  • Makes and completes an application;
  • Provide a metered utility bill to verify address;
  • Be responsible for home energy costs, directly or as an undesignated portion of their rent;
  • Have a combined household income, for the calendar month prior to the month of application, not in excess of 130 percent of the federal poverty level as listed in the Income Eligibility Guidelines;
  • Live in Kentucky when the application is made and apply in the county of residence;
  • Not have liquid resources in excess of $2,000 or $3,000 if at least one person in the household is 60 years old or disabled, ($4,000 if resources are being used for living expenses due to catastrophic illness); and
  • Provide a social security number or permanent resident card for each member of the household.

To read more click here


Low income energy assistance programs provide winter relief

James Fenton | The Daily Times
December 2, 2014

AZTEC — With colder weather in store, programs designed to help the region’s low-income residents pay their utility bills could offer some relief.

A federal program called the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, is one of two energy assistance programs Aztec residents can access for help paying their heating bills this winter.

Delain George, director of the Aztec utility office, said the income-based program, which is administered by the New Mexico Human Services Department, helped 136 of the city’s 3,200 utility customers in the past fiscal year, which just ended. The new federal fiscal year began on Oct. 1.

“We always offer (LIHEAP) if they’re being shut off for non payment,” George said. “Anytime they are having a financial crisis or something happened, they can access up to $250 for the year, as long as they qualify. … Once they qualify they can designate that (assistance money) go to their electric or gas bill. Twenty-one residents have signed up (this fiscal year) already.”

Residents struggling to pay for utility bills can apply online through the Human Services Department.

To read more click here


ComEd Donates $300,000 for Special Holiday Assistance to Help Senior Citizens Pay Their Electric Bill

December 2, 2014

Financial assistance helps customers in need this holiday season

CHICAGO, Dec 02, 2014 (BUSINESS WIRE) — This holiday season, ComEd is giving the gift of energy by dedicating more than $300,000 through a special “Senior Giving” hardship fund created to help senior citizens who have fallen behind on paying their electric bill. Now through Dec. 25, or while funds are available, ComEd will pay up to $1,500 towards eligible customer’s past due balance.

The “Senior Giving” hardship fund is part of ComEd’s CARE program, which offers a range of financial assistance to help qualifying customers pay their electric bills.

“We understand customers sometimes struggle to make ends meet and we want to do all we can to help, especially during the holiday season,” said Val Jensen, senior vice president of Customer Operations, ComEd. “By providing this special financial assistance fund, we are able to help customers who are experiencing a hardship, such as a recent illness or job loss, but may not qualify for other federal or state-sponsored assistance programs.”

To qualify for the “Senior Giving” hardship fund, customers must be over the age of 60 with a past due balance, have not received a Residential Special hardship within the last two years, have no unpaid tampering charges, and are not on a Percentage of Income Payment Plan (PIPP).

To read more click here


LIHEAP helps lower winter heating bills

By Brittany Nauta
November 13, 2014

HAZARD, Ky. (WYMT) – People are bundling up as an extended period of winter-like temperatures begin in Eastern Kentucky. While some can crank up the heat, high heating bills make it harder for others to stay warm.

Folks at the LKLP Community Action Agency are trying to help people make ends meet this winter.

“This morning we had about thirty clients in already,” said LIHEAP office manager supervisor Judy Keen.

When the heat kicks on, the bills go up and people across the region struggle to pay.

“We have done a lot of new clients this year, actually this morning I assisted three clients that we had never assisted before,” said Keen.

LIHEAP helps subsidize heating bills in the winter for people who qualify.

“Without LKLP I’d be in a lot of trouble, I’d be without heat, I’d be without electric if it wasn’t for this program,” said LIHEAP user Bobby Leesteele.

Something Keen says she does not want to see happen.

“We’re really going to need it we’re going to have a worse winter than we did last year or at least as bad so they’re really needing the assistance,” said Keen.

To read more click here


LIHEAP Applications Now Being Accepted

By Rick Dayton
November 12, 2014

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Natural gas prices are 20 percent lower now than they were 20 years ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone to heat their homes during winter.

Some local families really struggle to pay that utility, but that is where LIHEAP comes in.

Once again, a familiar face is helping to spread the word about the assistance program.

“It’s really to get you over that immediate crisis, get you back on your feet. It’s a one-time grant that we are looking at from LIHEAP, the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, just to get you back on your feet, get you back into the mode where you are not always struggling to stay afloat,” Columbia Gas’ Mark Kempic said.

This year’s LIHEAP kick-off had the support of the county executive and city mayor.

“Programs like LIHEAP can help veterans pay their heating bills through the winter months is very important, and I think people want to be part of that and I think it’s what makes western Pennsylvania so special that we are always willing to help those in need, but especially our veterans,” Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald said.

“We need to be able to help them with shelter, clothing, opportunity to be able heat their homes in the winter. It helps to take a lot of the concern off of other things so that they can then be retrained and be ready to become part of a civilian corps just like they were part of the military corps,” Mayor Bill Peduto said.

To read more click here


$3.05 Billion Released for LIHEAP

By Michael W. Khan
October 21, 2014

LIHEAP money is heading to the states, as the federal government releases $3.05 billion in funding.

The first distribution of fiscal year 2015 money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program was announced Oct. 15 by the Department of Health and Human Services. The funding is authorized under the continuing resolution that is keeping the federal government running through Dec. 11.

In a letter to LIHEAP administrators nationwide, HHS officials noted that while the calendar still reads “autumn,” in some parts of the United States it looks and feels more like winter.

“We are … aware that the winter weather has already begun in parts of the country,” wrote Jeannie L. Chaffin, director of HHS’s Office of Community Service, and Lauren Christopher, director of the Division of Energy Assistance.

LIHEAP supporters were grateful, but some cautioned that $3 billion doesn’t stretch as far as it needs to when temperatures plummet.

To read more click here


Saying Yes to Affordable Energy

By Bobby Jindal | The Times and Democrat
October 15, 2014

Just think about what we could achieve. Millions more new jobs — high-quality, good-paying careers, ones that can vault Americans on a pathway to affluence and greater prosperity. Lower prices for struggling families, beaten down by six years of economic stagnation under this president, trying hard to make ends meet. Federal and state coffers flush with new cash — hundreds of billions of dollars that can support important priorities, or get returned to taxpayers’ pockets.

What mighty act would it take for our nation to accomplish such a transformation? Simple. All we need is a president who will say yes — yes to affordable energy.

Right now we have a president insistent on saying no to affordable energy. President Barack Obama and the left seem focused on making energy scarce and more expensive as a way to achieve their own liberal ends. Even as hydraulic fracturing has led to an explosion of oil and gas exploration on private and state-owned lands, production has fallen over the last four years on federal lands. By saying no to more energy exploration on lands the American public — all of us, you and me included — own, the Obama administration is keeping energy prices higher than they need to be.

Sadly, Obama doesn’t just want to say no to affordable energy now — he wants to ensure we say no to affordable energy for years to come. The administration’s proposed EPA carbon regulations would make energy prohibitively expensive, raising prices and killing jobs. Our nation has the world’s largest combined resources of coal, oil, and natural gas by far — few countries even come close. Yet President Obama would have us fritter away the benefits of that energy abundance for generations to come, so he can bask in the approval of Hollywood movie stars and other liberal elites.

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White House rolls out executive actions to promote solar, efficiency

By Robin Bravender, E&E Reporter
September 18, 2014

Top Obama administration officials touted a new program to install solar power in low-income Washington, D.C., homes today as the White House announced a new suite of executive actions to advance solar deployment and boost energy efficiency.

U.S. EPA chief Gina McCarthy joined Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Council on Environmental Quality acting Chairman Mike Boots, and White House energy and climate adviser Dan Utech in the Ivy City neighborhood of northeast D.C. this morning to view new solar installations by the nonprofit GRID Alternatives on affordable homes developed by Habitat for Humanity.

The officials were flanked by workers in hard hats as they applauded the project and tied it to the administration’s climate change policies.

“The challenge of climate change requires work like this,” McCarthy said. “It requires creative thinking, it requires joining what is essentially all of us in our efforts to fight climate change, which is not only one of the greatest public health challenges of our time, but it also is one of the greatest economic challenges of our time.”

She lauded the project’s efforts to extend renewable energy across the population.

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Here’s the history of environmental justice, summed up in less than 4 minutes

By Brentin Mock
August 5, 2014

I’ve done a bunch of writing here about environmental justice, the movement demanding equal environmental protection under the law, and fairness in the distribution of environmental benefits for all people. To learn more about how it began and how it has developed over the past few decades, I recommend this video:

Yes, the video was created by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its YouTube page, and, yeah, the only thing cheesier than government cheese is government social media. But this three-and-a-half minute flick has authenticity.

To read more click here


Sierra Club honors environmental justice. Who’s next?

By Brentin Mock
August 1, 2014

The Sierra Club announced this week that it has created a new award named after Dr. Robert Bullard, widely considered to be a “father” of the environmental justice movement. Starting November 21, the club will begin issuing the award each year to a person or group that has done outstanding work to help the people and communities most impacted by environmental degradation — people who have historically been overlooked and excluded by mainstream environmental groups.

“The Sierra Club has long recognized the rightness and necessity of environmental justice work, and we couldn’t be more proud of having Dr. Bullard’s name on our new award honoring those who have followed in his footsteps,” Sierra Club President David Scott said in a press statement.

Bullard has written thousands of articles, studies, and speeches on environmental justice, and has written or contributed to 18 books on the matter. But he was “speechless” when he found out about this latest honor, he said.

Last year, the Sierra Club gave Bullard its highest honor for natural conservation, the prestigious John Muir award. He was the first African American to win the Muir award, which has been handed out since 1961 to such dignitaries as Al Gore and Jacques Cousteau.

To read more click here


Are there two different versions of environmentalism, one “white,” one “black”?

By Brentin Mock
July 31, 2014


Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers
The mountains and the endless plain –
All, all the stretch of these great green states –
And make America again!
– Langston Hughes, 1938


I really didn’t want to have to address this. While reading through University of Michigan professor Dorceta Taylor’s latest report, “The State of Diversity in Environmental Organizations,” and thinking about what I would write about it, I had hoped to focus on the solutions. Those solutions — confronting unconscious and subconscious bias and other subtle forms of discrimination — are the parts I had hoped environmentalists would be eager to unpack.

I thought they’d read about the “green ceiling,” where mainstream green NGOs have failed to create a workforce where even two out of 10 of their staffers are people of color, and ask themselves what could they do differently. I thought, naively, that this vast report, complete with reams of data and information on the diversity problem, would actually stir some environmentalists to challenge some of their own assumptions about their black and brown fellow citizens.

I was wrong.

Maybe I’m being too harsh. Some green leaders have taken this issue to heart.

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President Obama Discusses New Power Plant Carbon Pollution Standards

May 31, 2014

President Obama discussed new actions by the Environmental Protection Agency to cut dangerous carbon pollution, a plan that builds on the efforts already taken by many states, cities and companies.


Power Auction Foreshadows Possible Increase in Electricity Bills

By Timothy Puko
May 26, 2014

The price of power set at a key regional auction doubled for many states, foreshadowing a potential increase in electricity bills in the coming years… read more at The Wall Street Journal


Keeping Cool in a Hotter United Statess

By Daniel J. Weiss | Center for American Progress
May 21, 2014

Climate change, once considered an issue for a distant future, has moved firmly into the present … Summers are longer and hotter, and extended periods of unusual heat last longer than any living American has ever experienced.

— National Climate Assessment

The National Climate Assessment concluded that the United States will experience a significant increase in hot summer days due to climate change compared to recent years. Scorching temperatures threaten the most vulnerable members of our communities—young children, the elderly, ill people, and low-income households—with dehydration, heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and even death. We must address the public threat posed by this hotter weather due to climate change.

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DOE Unveils Ambitious Plan for Long-Term Hydroelectric Power Development

By Michael Harris
April 29, 2014

The U.S. Department of Energy today unveiled a plan ultimately designed to dramatically increase American hydroelectric capacity in the coming decades… read more at


It Takes Green to Go Green

By Kristal High
April 26, 2014

Energy efficiency, affordability and environmental friendliness should go hand in hand, but they don’t always, especially when considering the affordability of certain types of energy production… read more at


CGEP: Solar Power, Net Metering and the Challenges to the Traditional Utility Model

April 10, 2014

As the solar industry has grown in recent years, net metering has rapidly become one of the most important energy policy issues addressed at the state level. This event examines the current regulatory framework and consider the impact of increased solar deployment on the electric utility business model, with a particular focus on state net metering policies and politics. Inaugural Fellow David Sandalow moderates the discussion.


ComEd Offers Financial Assistance to Customers

March 4, 2014

$10 million in assistance funds available for customers in 2014

CHICAGO, Mar 04, 2014 (BUSINESS WIRE) — ComEd announces it has dedicated $10 million in assistance funds for 2014 to help customers facing financial hardship pay their electric bill. In addition, the company is offering flexible budget billing and deferred payment options to assist customers receiving higher than normal bills in light of the severe cold weather blanketing northern Illinois.

“Customers are using more energy than usual to stay warm during this exceptionally brutal winter weather, and we realize they may need additional assistance to help them manage their higher electric bills,” said Val Jensen, senior vice president of Customer Operations, ComEd. “We want to make sure that customers facing financial hardship and higher bills know there is support available from ComEd to help them get through these times.”

This January was one of the coldest in ComEd’s service territory in more than 50 years, and, as a result, electric service usage for the average residential customer increased an estimated 6 percent or more compared to a typical January. ComEd offers several options to aid customers facing the higher energy costs associated with this extreme winter weather.

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