Tag Archives: Renewable Energy

FACT SHEET: The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure

The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure aims to upgrade our public schools with modern, clean, energy efficient facilities and transportation—delivering health and learning benefits to children and school communities, saving school districts money, and creating good union jobs. The action plan activates the entire federal government in leveraging investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan to advance solutions including energy efficiency retrofits, electric school buses, and resilient design. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

 
Administration Launches $500 million Grant Program from Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Program to Save Schools Money with Energy Upgrades

 
Vice President Kamala Harris announced the Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure to upgrade our public schools with modern, clean, energy efficient facilities and transportation—delivering health and learning benefits to children and school communities, saving school districts money, and creating good union jobs. The action plan activates the entire federal government in leveraging investments from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and American Rescue Plan to advance solutions including energy efficiency retrofits, electric school buses, and resilient design.
 
The science of learning and development has shown that students need school environments filled with safety, belonging, and health to learn and thrive. Yet many schools rely on outdated heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that make classrooms less comfortable and may pose health risks to students and teachers exposed to contaminants or particles in the air that can trigger allergies or asthma attacks and potentially spread infectious diseases – including COVID-19. Dirty diesel buses pose additional health risks for students on board and the neighborhoods they travel through — and exhaust from idling buses can pollute the air around schools. Studies show that poor air quality inside classrooms takes a toll on student concentration and performance, and diesel exhaust exposure is linked to increased school absences. Reducing this pollution will provide better health and educational outcomes — particularly in low-income communities and communities of color that have long faced underinvestment and the burden of high pollution.
 
The action plan will save schools and taxpayers money. Public K-12 districts spend roughly $8 billion a year on energy bills — the second largest expense after teacher salaries. Energy efficiency improvements to HVAC systems, lighting, insulation, and other energy upgrades can not only protect the health of our children, but also unlock significant savings to go toward students and learning. Off-the-shelf improvements can provide energy savings of 10 to 30 percent and broader upgrades can unlock even more savings for years to come – all while creating opportunities for good paying union jobs for electricians, carpenters, painters, sheet metal workers, plumbers and pipefitters, and more.
 
The Administration is seizing the opportunity to align classrooms with the science of learning and development to improve educational equity and environmental justice. The new actions build on President Biden signing the American Rescue Plan into law one year ago, which helped reopen more than 99% of schools with resources to put in place critical health and safety measures like ventilation improvements to make in-person learning safe and accessible for students and educators.
 
The Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure will:

  • Invest in More Efficient, Energy-Saving School Buildings: The Department of Energy (DOE) is launching a $500 million grant program through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to make public schools more energy efficient. This new program will lower energy costs, improve air quality, and prioritize schools most in need, enabling schools to focus more resources on student learning.
     
  • Improve Classroom Air Quality through the American Rescue Plan: The Administration is supporting states, school districts, and local communities in leveraging American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief resources to address school infrastructure needs—like repairing, upgrading, or replacing of ventilation systems; purchasing air filters and portable air cleaning devices; and fixing doors and windows so that schools can stay open for in-person learning. Additionally, the Department of Treasury will soon release additional information to help school districts understand how they can use State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds for a range of air quality and other school facility improvements, including energy efficiency.
     
  • Help Schools Access Resources and Best Practices: The White House is releasing a toolkit to help schools and school districts access available funding, as well as technical assistance opportunities and planning tools to help schools improve air quality, energy efficiency, and more. This new toolkit will further support school participation in the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, which the Administration recently launched to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and improve indoor air quality in buildings of all kinds, including schools. The Department of Energy is also announcing the inaugural honorees of the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign, which provides technical assistance to school districts seeking to implement high-impact indoor air quality and efficiency improvements that will reduce energy bills and improve student and teacher health.  
     
  • Expand Clean and Safe School Transportation: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with support from the Department of Energy (DOE), is releasing new online resources to help school districts and other eligible recipients prepare for the $5 billion Clean School Bus Program created by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law—with the first opportunity to fund clean and electric buses opening later this spring. The DOE is working closely with the EPA to develop targeted technical assistance programs that assist school districts in implementing clean and electric buses effectively into their fleets–starting with a technical assistance video series on electric buses. To support projects that help students safely walk and bike to school, the Department of Transportation (DOT) has provided state and local governments with new guidance to access $90 billion in available federal funding, including Bipartisan Infrastructure Law programs.  
     
  • Support for Rural, Tribal, and Puerto Rican Schools: The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is announcing its full commitment to use its array of rural development loan and grant programs to support electric school bus acquisition, charging station infrastructure, energy efficiency investments at schools, and broadband and distance learning in rural school districts – to accelerate the shift from dirty fuel sources toward school facilities and vehicles powered by clean electricity. DOE is partnering with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to improve the state of our federally-operated schools. And the Administration’s Working Group on Puerto Rico has prioritized supporting school reconstruction.

Today’s announcements build on ongoing efforts to support students, including the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan to reduce lead exposure in 400,000 schools and child care facilities and the Justice40 Initiative, which agencies are implementing to deliver 40 percent of the benefits of federal climate and clean energy investments to disadvantaged communities.

Investments to Improve School Energy Efficiency and Indoor Air Quality

The Administration is advancing a suite of investments to upgrade our K-12 public school facilities, many of which face maintenance backlogs and are long overdue for new equipment. While teachers and education leaders have long raised concerns about the level of comfort and air quality in our classrooms, the pandemic has laid bare disparities in access to healthy facilities, including modern, efficient, and clean HVAC systems. Outdated, inefficient buildings also saddle underserved school districts with higher energy bills and generate significant greenhouse gas emissions, keeping them in a cycle of underfunding operations and overpaying maintenance costs. This Action Plan will help schools make facility improvements that simultaneously deliver health protections, savings, and climate benefits.
 
Today, the Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information to launch its new $500 million grant program for energy improvements at public school facilities, funded by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The projects funded by these grants will improve the quality of the air our students and educators breathe while reducing energy costs and freeing up local funds to invest more in education. These grants can support comprehensive energy efficiency audits and building retrofits, HVAC and lighting upgrades, clean energy installation, and more—along with training to help staff maintain these improvements over the long-term. DOE will prioritize projects in rural and high-poverty schools, and support leveraging of additional private, philanthropic, and public funding to maximize the benefits of these grants. In step with the Administration’s priority to create good union jobs accessible to all workers, the DOE will work to promote high quality labor and equity standards into school improvement grants. The RFI solicits input from schools and other stakeholders on important design considerations to ensure the grant program achieves the greatest reach and impact.
 
The Administration is also leveraging the American Rescue Plan, which President Biden signed into law one year ago, to address a range of health and safety issues in schools. The American Rescue Plan’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief program has provided $122 billion to states and districts to help schools stay open and address the significant academic and mental health needs of students resulting from the pandemic. Additionally, the American Rescue Plan also includes $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to support a wide range of pandemic response and recovery efforts, including school improvements to ventilation and building energy systems that reduce energy costs and support healthy environments. And, according to independent analysis, school districts are already planning to spend $15 billion of these funds to address facilities issues impacting student and staff health and safety, such as improving indoor air quality. The Department of Treasury will soon provide additional clarity to help recipients of State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds understand how they can partner with local education agencies to use more of these funds for building upgrades and construction, including pre-project development costs, such as building assessments, energy audits, and feasibility studies. The Department of Education continues to outline how states and districts can use its funds for repairs and renovations, including improving indoor air quality through HVAC upgrades and door and window replacement, and ensuring clean drinking water in schools.
 
New Resources and Recognition to Support Schools
To help schools access funding sources and technical assistance opportunities, the White House is releasing a toolkit mapping out available resources across the federal government for school infrastructure upgrades. By compiling resources and programs from across the federal government, this toolkit will help state and local officials find the support they need for building assessments, air quality improvements, energy efficiency upgrades, lead removal, resilience planning, and more. It builds on the Administration’s priority on improving indoor air quality through the Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in buildings and to deliver better health outcomes and protection for all building occupants.
 
To support and uplift schools and districts undertaking this critical work, the Administration is announcing the first round of honorees as part of the Efficient and Healthy Schools Campaign, which provides technical assistance to school districts seeking to implement high-impact indoor air quality and efficiency improvements that will reduce energy bills and improve student and teacher health. This innovative campaign has a goal of reaching 5,000 schools by the end of 2022. To date, 26 school districts across 16 states have joined or are prepared to join the campaign—representing over 1,500,000 students in 2,600 individual schools—more than half way toward the campaign’s goal.
 
Today, the Campaign announced its first round of awards to eight school districts for their best-in-class efforts across four categories: Efficient HVAC Technologies, Inspection & maintenance, Ongoing Monitoring & Analytics, and Team Approach to Support Strategic Investments. The inaugural honorees include:

  • Adams 12 Five Star Schools, CO 
  • Boulder Valley School District, CO
  • Charleston County School District, SC
  • Columbia Public Schools, MO
  • Davis School District, UT
  • Greenville County Schools, SC
  • Mariposa County Unified School District, CA
  • Newark Board of Education, NJ

DOE is also accelerating a range of grants, technical assistance, and lending to support schools along each step of the school improvement process. These efforts include the Better Buildings Challenge and its K-12 Sector partnerships; DOE’s new tool—eProject eXpress—that can support state and local governments and K-12 schools in project management for energy saving performance contracts, and help leverage financing to maximize impact; and DOE’s Loan Programs Office Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy Solicitation that can be accessed by schools to provide up to $3 billion in loan guarantees for retrofit projects.

And to ensure that schools are supported in creating healthy, safe, sustainable, 21st century learning environments, the Department of Education is proposing a new Office of Infrastructure and Sustainability, as part of the President’s FY2023 Budget. This office would oversee a proposed National Clearinghouse on School Infrastructure and Sustainability and administer the ongoing U.S. Department of Education Green Ribbon Schools recognition award. The proposed National Clearinghouse on School Infrastructure and Sustainability would provide technical assistance and training to state and local education agencies on issues related to educational facility planning, design, financing, construction, improvement, operation, and maintenance, including green building design and operation practices consistent with the Administration’s commitment to tackling the climate crisis. The Clearinghouse would also develop resources and assemble best practices on issues related to ensuring equitable access to healthy, educationally adequate and environmentally and fiscally sustainable public-school facilities and grounds. To set the stage for this new office, the Department of Education recently named a Special Advisor for Infrastructure and Sustainability to spearhead agency-wide consideration of how existing programs might support school sustainability and infrastructure.

These actions build on the Biden-Harris Administration’s Clean Air in Buildings Challenge, which calls on all building owners and operators, schools, colleges and universities, and organizations of all kinds to adopt key strategies to improve indoor air quality in their buildings and reduce the spread of COVID-19. It serves as a call to action to assess indoor air quality and make ventilation and air filtration improvements to help keep occupants safe. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a best practices guide for improving indoor air quality and reducing the risk of spreading dangerous airborne particles.

Clean and Safe School Transportation
School buses safely transport more than 25 million children every day across America. However, diesel exhaust from buses produces particulate matter and other pollutants that can cause lung damage and aggravate asthma and other health problems in children. Through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, with support and technical assistance from the Department of Energy, are making historic investments in cleaner school buses and safer school transportation routes.

Today, the Environmental Protection Agency is building public awareness for the new $5 billion Clean School Bus Program created by President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Throughout the next month, EPA will regularly post new online resources and webinars for the Clean School Bus Program to help school districts and other eligible recipients prepare for the first round of applications. These resources build upon EPA’s public education and outreach effort, to gather ideas and increase awareness within communities and school districts, particularly for lower-resourced schools—in support of the President’s Justice40 commitment.

The Department of Transportation is helping communities take advantage of funding to support safer routes to schools made available by the Bipartisan Infrastructure LawThe Safe Routes to School (SRTS) program at DOT helps communities plan, design, and construct infrastructure projects that increase healthy transportation choices and substantially improve the ability of students to walk and bicycle safely to school—particularly in communities underserved by safe transportation options. Since 2015, the SRTS program has supported over $1 billion in safe school route projects benefiting nearly 7 million students across more than 17,000 schools—a third of which were in disadvantaged communities and Title I schools.

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law expanded the eligibility of the SRTS program to schools through 12th grade and added eligibility for safe school route projects through the nearly $17 billion-per-year Highway Safety Improvement Program—including for use in training and education.

Support for Rural, Tribal, and Puerto Rican Schools
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced today a new commitment to support school facility and vehicle electrification, including school buses. In support of this commitment, USDA released a new guidance that informs how Rural Development programs can support rural electric cooperatives to advance electrification projects for schools and other public facilities and vehicles.

These funding and assistance programs can support rural utilities like those in a newly formed Electric Cooperative School Bus Initiative , a collaboration of more than 350 local distribution cooperatives across 32 states, providing educational and administrative support to help rural communities access funding for electric school buses and school bus infrastructure.

Additionally, DOE is partnering with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) to improve the state of our federally-operated schools. Aligning with the President’s Justice 40 Initiative, the DOE Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP) is assisting BIE to initiate a set of pilot assessments in Tribal schools for energy efficiency and indoor air quality projects.

The Administration’s Working Group on Puerto Rico has prioritized supporting school reconstruction efforts on the island. Agencies collaborated on a toolkit in both English and Spanish outlining federal resources available to help Puerto Rico recover and rebuild safe, healthy and modernized school facilities. Agencies have also provided technical assistance to Puerto Rican officials on how they can leverage multiple funding streams to rebuild, repair, and modernize their schools.

Support for Training and Workforce Development
School improvements provide critical training opportunities for building an effective workforce. Large school projects often last multiple years and draw upon a large mix of trades. This continuity of training and employment makes them ideal opportunities for pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs that lead directly to good-paying careers. And when done alongside the President’s Justice40 Initiative, these investments will prioritize under-resourced schools while also investing in communities that can benefit from long-term training and employment.

The Department of Labor’s Good Jobs Initiative is supporting federal agency partners as they embed job quality and equity policies into their infrastructure investments.  The Good Jobs Initiative is supporting federal agency partners as they work to leverage their infrastructure investments to provide meaningful opportunities for all communities to enter good paying union careers. 

The wide array of federal offerings can support initiatives such as the Carbon Free and Healthy Schools campaign–which is led by labor unions in collaboration with students, parents, and climate advocates across the country–to create safe, healthy, and cost-effective school environments through building retrofits and solarization, while supporting strong labor standards and robust worker training opportunities. The campaign is currently working with school districts representing more than five million students across Texas, California, IllinoisNew YorkConnecticutRhode Island, Michigan, Maine, and Wisconsin, with more state campaigns in formation.

DoE Seeks Input for $500 Million Grant Program for Energy Upgrades to 100,000 Public Schools

The U.S. Department of Energy released a Request for Information for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

WASHINGTON, D.C.— As part the new Biden-Harris Action Plan for Building Better School Infrastructure, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) released a Request for Information (RFI) for a $500 million grant program from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for K-12 public school energy upgrades. The program will help deliver cleaner and healthier classrooms, libraries, cafeterias, playgrounds, and gyms where over three million teachers teach and 50 million students learn, eat, and build friendships every day. Energy upgrades to America’s public schools, including leveraging renewable power sources and electric school buses, will bring the nation closer to President Biden’s goal to build a net-zero economy by 2050. 

“Children should be able to learn and grow in environments that are not plagued with poor insulation and ventilation, leaky roofs, or poor heating and cooling,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “President Biden fought for these funds to give schools and their communities the resources they need to improve student and teacher health and cut energy costs, allowing districts to focus more resources on student learning.” 

Many of America’s public schools are in desperate need of energy improvements. The American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation’s 100,000 public K-12 schools a D+ in their 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure report. Dilapidated school facilities can negatively affect student learning and health as indoor air quality problems can aggravate respiratory illnesses, reduce student and teacher attendance and performance, and increase risk of transmission of respiratory infections like COVID-19. 

Energy consumption is the second-highest operational expense schools face with a significant portion of this energy lost through leaky school walls, windows, and other inefficient equipment and systems. Districts that serve rural, high poverty, or Hispanic/Latino, African American, and Native American communities experience the greatest burden of failing or antiquated school facilities. 

Public school facilities will be eligible for energy improvements that result in a direct reduction in school energy costs, including improvements to the air conditioning and heating, ventilation, hot water heating, and lighting systems. In addition, funding would support any improvement, repair, renovation to, or installation in a school that leads to an improvement in teacher and student health.  

President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s grant funding will also support additional improvements, repairs, or renovations such as the installation of renewable energy technologies, the installation of alternative fueled vehicle infrastructure on school grounds such as school buses or the purchase or lease of alternative fueled vehicles to be used by a school. 

DOE encourages Local Education Agencies, school staff, states, local governments, energy service companies, unions, service providers, and utilities to respond to the RFI. 

The deadline to submit your response to this RFI is May 18, 2022, at 5 p.m. ET. Download the RFI to see the full list of questions and instructions on how to submit your response. 

NY Governor Hochul Announces Start of Construction of State’s First Offshore Wind Project

South Fork Wind Project to Kickstart New York’s Offshore Wind Industry, Provide Clean Energy to Long Island

Supports the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act Goal to Develop 9,000 Megawatts of Offshore Wind by 2035

Back in 2017, Long Island advocates for offshore windpower cheered the Long Island Power Authority for contracting to move forward with wind energy and begin to move away from fossil-fuel powered energy.Then the Trump Administration reversed course. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State Governor Kathy Hochul, alongside United States Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland and other elected officials, on February 11 celebrated the start of construction of South Fork Wind, New York’s first offshore wind project, jointly developed by Ørsted and Eversource off the coast of Long Island. Building on the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s (BOEM) January issuance of the Final Sale Notice for the New York Bight, the recent key offshore wind contract milestone, and the State of the State announcement of a nation-leading $500 million investment in offshore wind ports, manufacturing, and supply chain infrastructure to accompany New York’s next offshore wind solicitation, New York continues to advance the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act goal to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035.  

“The harsh impacts and costly realities of climate change are all too familiar on Long Island, but today as we break ground on New York’s first offshore wind project we are delivering on the promise of a cleaner, greener path forward that will benefit generations to come,” Governor Hochul said. “South Fork Wind will eliminate up to six million tons of carbon emissions over the next twenty-five years benefiting not only the Empire State, but our nation as a whole. This project will also create hundreds of good-paying jobs, helping spur economic growth across the region as we continue to recover from COVID-19. This is a historic day for New York, and I look forward to continue working with Secretary Haaland as we lead our nation toward a greener, brighter future for all.”  

“America’s clean energy transition is not a dream for a distant future – it is happening right here and now,” US Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said. “Offshore wind will power our communities, advance our environmental justice goals, and stimulate our economy by creating thousands of good-paying union jobs across the nation. This is one of many actions we are taking in pursuit of the President’s goal to improve both the lives of American families and the health of our planet.”

The Governor, who made today’s announcement in Wainscott, celebrated South Fork Wind kickstarting New York’s offshore wind generation when it becomes operational in late 2023. South Fork Wind will be one of the first commercial-scale offshore wind projects to commence operation in North America. Selected under a 2015 Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) request for proposals to address growing power needs on the east end of Long Island, the project will be located about 35 miles east of Montauk Point and its 12 Siemens-Gamesa 11 MW turbines will generate approximately 130 megawatts of power – enough to power over 70,000 homes. Its transmission system will deliver clean energy directly to the electric grid in the Town of East Hampton. Over a 25-year period, South Fork Wind is expected to eliminate up to six million tons of carbon emissions, or the equivalent of taking 60,000 cars off the road annually.

NYSERDA President & CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “With construction beginning on the South Fork Wind project, we are solidifying New York State’s clean energy vision and blazing a trail as we lead the nation in offshore wind development. As our state’s first offshore wind project, South Fork is helping to usher in the grid of the future as New York continues to build the most robust offshore wind project and supply chain in the nation, strengthen workforce development and partnerships with labor to provide a pipeline of talent for these critical projects, and establish the green economy that will power New York for years to come.”

Long Island Power Authority CEO Thomas Falcone said,”In 2017, the forward-thinking approach of the LIPA Board of Trustees led to the approval of the South Fork Wind project at a time when there were no other power purchase agreements for offshore wind in the country,” Long Island Power Authority CEO Thomas Falcone said. “As the first offshore wind farm in New York, South Fork Wind is the beginning of a new industry for our region that will be vital to New York meeting its goal of a zero-carbon electric grid by 2040.”

Indeed, the campaign to get offshore wind power for Long Island and New York State has been years in the making – activists had to battle back against efforts by fossil fuel industry to create NLG terminals in the very area the best in the nation for an offshore wind farm. But just as everything was in place, in 2017, Trump reversed course on promoting clean, renewable energy in favor of fossil fuel and even reignited the prospect of off-shore drilling. The Biden Administration moved swiftly to restart offshore windpower – in California and in New York, seeing the benefits of climate-action initiatives as not only protecting the environment and the economy but promoting jobs.

Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said,”New York is setting the example for the nation on tapping into the potential of offshore wind to help meet our energy needs while the state transitions to a cleaner, greener energy future. South Fork Wind is an exciting and transformative project that will help achieve our state’s ambitious goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ramp up renewable energy sources while safeguarding our natural resources and driving new economic opportunities here on Long Island and across the state.” 

“South Fork Wind’s groundbreaking is a historic milestone for New York’s offshore wind industry and for all New Yorkers in our efforts to address climate change,” Acting Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said. “The Department of State continues to work with our stakeholders and government partners to minimize potential project impacts and avoid disruptions to our coastal economy as we transition to a cleaner, greener future. Through our combined efforts, New Yorkers will continue to enjoy Long Island’s pristine beaches and the rich ocean resources off our State as we reduce the State’s carbon footprint.”

“This significant milestone solidifies New York’s global leadership in the clean economy,” New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said. “The groundwork we lay today is creating new, exciting employment opportunities for New Yorkers while also protecting our environment for future generations. As Co-chair for the Just Transition Working Group, I thank Governor Hochul for leading the charge and for her unending commitment to ensuring the inclusion of disadvantaged communities in this movement.”

Public Service Commission Chair Rory M. Christian said, “The South Fork project will play a key role in developing much needed clean-energy for New York State and it will help New York achieve its nation-leading renewable energy goals while creating jobs and opportunities for individuals and industries. South Fork is a win for Long Island, and a win for all New Yorkers.”

Office of General Services (OGS) Commissioner Jeanette M. Moy said, “The start of the first off-shore wind project in New York State demonstrates Governor Hochul’s strong commitment to meeting the challenges of sustainability and ensuring New York’s future is green. OGS is proud to have a role in the South Fork Wind project and in advancing the State’s forward-looking climate and green-energy initiatives.”

“Offshore wind is crucial to fueling a green economy and promoting sustainable economic opportunities,” Empire State Development Acting Commissioner and President & CEO-designate Hope Knight said. “The start of construction at New York State’s first offshore wind project at South Fork Wind signifies at important step towards achieving clean energy goals and creating green jobs, which advances Empire State Development’s mission to prepare our economy for the future. With today’s announcement, New York State will continue to be leaders in the fight against climate change while strengthening our standing in offshore wind manufacturing.”

This milestone follows BOEM’s approval last month of the project’s Construction and Operations Plan (COP). The COP outlines the project’s one nautical mile turbine spacing, the requirements on the construction methodology for all work occurring in federal ocean waters, and mitigation measures to protect marine habitats and species. BOEM’s final approval of the COP follows the agency’s November 2021 issuance of the Record of Decision, which concluded the thorough BOEM-led environmental review of the project.

Senator Todd Kaminsky said,”Today’s announcement helps solidify New York as a leader in the green economy. The CLCPA set the most aggressive goals in the country and offshore wind on Long Island is central to meeting them. This project is a catalyst and shows that you can think big and get it done on Long Island.”

Assemblymember Steve Englebright said,”The South Fork Wind Project is a key first step to our state’s commitment to reducing greenhouse gases and meeting the challenge of climate change. I applaud Governor Hochul’s vision and determination to advance and enhance New York’s renewable wind energy portfolio.” 

Assemblymember Fred Thiele said,”I’m proud to say that Long Island is an emerging trailblazer in renewable energy and will soon lead the state and the nation in offshore wind energy production. South Fork Wind Farm opens an exciting new chapter for us here on the East End, and I look forward to soon having a greener grid powered by this historic investment. I thank Governor Hochul for her continuous leadership and support.”

“Long Island has been a leader in all things clean energy, and as we begin construction on New York’s first wind farm, we are changing how we power our homes and businesses here in Suffolk,” Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone said. ”This historic project, which puts Suffolk County at the heart of the offshore wind industry and will power roughly 70,000 homes, is a major victory for our economy, for labor, and for our environment as we remain committed to addressing the impacts of climate change on our region.”

East Hampton Town Supervisor Peter Van Scoyoc said,”In 2014 East Hampton was the first municipality in New York to adopt a 100% renewable energy goal. Today, with the beginning of the construction of New York’s first offshore wind farm we are very close to reaching that goal. We applaud Governor Hochul’s nation leading investment in offshore wind energy which puts New York at the forefront of our country’s efforts to combat climate change.”

New York League of Conservation Voters President Julie Tighe said,Today, we are moving from concept to reality with the groundbreaking of South Fork Wind Farm, New York’s first offshore wind project. Congratulations to Ørstedand Eversource! This day is the culmination of years of perseverance to launch this project and new industry that will change the way we power our economy. We have a long way to go to meet our climate goals, but major investments like this combined with the leadership and commitment of Governor Hochul, Secretary Haaland, and BOEM Director Lefton are setting us on the course for a clean energy revolution.”

“With the start of construction on New York’s first offshore wind farm, we continue to deliver on our vision of a new U.S. energy industry that will generate clean power, jobs, and economic opportunity,” Ørsted Offshore North America CEO David Hardy said. “I am grateful for the many champions who have supported South Fork Wind to get us to this critical moment, and for the Biden Administration and New York’s leadership and commitment to the offshore wind industry.”

Eversource Energy President & CEO Joe Nolan said, “Today we make history as we celebrate the start of construction on New York’s first offshore wind farm. As homegrown experts in regional energy transmission, we have led the way on countless infrastructure projects, but today, we commemorate something entirely new and different. For the very first time, we will be leveraging our expertise to harness the vast, untapped potential of offshore wind.”

Nassau Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council President Marty Aracich said, “The start of the construction phase for Offshore Wind marks a new era in reaching New York State’s goal of significantly reducing emissions. The skilled trades have a role by placing shovels in the ground as they implement the last leg of this relay race and position NYS to reign supreme along the Eastern Seaboard in combating climate change. Governor Hochul’s shared vision and commitment with NYSERDA enhances the alliance of Orsted/Eversource and North America’s Building Trades Unions. New York State remains focused on providing opportunities that will create a local workforce leading to a brighter, cleaner future for generations to come. Many thanks to Governor Hochul, Secretary of Interior Deb Harland, Amanda Lefton, Doreen Harris, and our partners in Labor for providing leadership as well as a moral compass guiding the earth on a path to heal itself.”

Long Island Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO President John R. Durso said,”This is a victory for Long Island and all New Yorkers. This is not only a crucial step forward in the fight against climate change, but it means jobs and new clean energy resources on Long Island where it is needed most. After many years of hard work in planning and development by Ørsted and Eversource, with support from labor and community allies, we are realizing the success we have all been waiting for.”

South Fork Wind will be built under industry-leading project labor agreements and specific partnerships with local union organizations, ensuring local union labor’s participation in all phases of construction on the project. Onshore construction activities for the project’s underground duct bank system and interconnection facility are the first to begin and will source construction labor from local union hiring halls. Ørsted and Eversource reached these provisions and protections working closely with a range of external organizations and experts, a commitment the companies carry to all stakeholder relationships to support coexistence.

Long Island-based contractor Haugland Energy Group LLC (an affiliate of Haugland Group LLC) was selected to install the duct bank system for the project’s underground onshore transmission line and lead the construction of the onshore interconnection facility located in East Hampton. This agreement will create more than 100 union jobs for Long Island skilled trades workers, including heavy equipment operators, electricians, lineworkers, and local delivery drivers who will support transportation of materials to the project site. Fabrication of the project’s offshore substation is already underway.

New York State has five offshore wind projects in active development, the largest portfolio in the nation. This current portfolio totals more than 4,300 megawatts and will power more than 2.4 million New York homes, and it is expected to bring a combined economic impact of $12.1 billion to the state. The projects are also expected to create more than 6,800 jobs in project development, component manufacturing, installation, and operations and maintenance. Achieving the State’s 9,000 megawatt by 2035 goal will generate enough offshore wind energy to power approximately 30 percent of New York State’s electricity needs, equivalent to nearly 6 million New York State homes, and spur approximately 10,000 jobs.

New York State’s Nation-Leading Climate Plan

New York State’s nation-leading climate agenda is the most aggressive climate and clean energy initiative in the nation, calling for an orderly and just transition to clean energy that creates jobs and continues fostering a green economy as New York State recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic. Enshrined into law through the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, New York is on a path to achieve its mandated goal of a zero-emission electricity sector by 2040, including 70 percent renewable energy generation by 2030, and to reach economy wide carbon neutrality.

It builds on New York’s unprecedented investments to ramp-up clean energy including over $33 billion in 102 large-scale renewable and transmission projects across the state, $6.8 billion to reduce buildings emissions, $1.8 billion to scale up solar, more than $1 billion for clean transportation initiatives, and over $1.6 billion in NY Green Bank commitments. Combined, these investments are supporting nearly 158,000 jobs in New York’s clean energy sector in 2020, a 2,100 percent growth in the distributed solar sector since 2011 and a commitment to develop 9,000 megawatts of offshore wind by 2035.

Under the Climate Act, New York will build on this progress and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 85 percent from 1990 levels by 2050, while ensuring that at least 35 percent with a goal of 40 percent of the benefits of clean energy investments are directed to disadvantaged communities, and advance progress towards the state’s 2025 energy efficiency target of reducing on-site energy consumption by 185 trillion BTUs of end-use energy savings.

FACT SHEET: Biden Signs Executive Order Catalyzing America’s Clean Energy Economy Through Federal Sustainability

By shifting its own systems, infrastructure, and workforce to clean energy, the federal government will help create the economic thresholds to transition society from heat-trapping fossil fuels that are contributing to the climate crisis © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

U.S. Government Will Lead by Example to Leverage Scale and Procurement Power to Drive Clean, Healthy, and Resilient Operations
 
Today, President Biden signed an executive order that demonstrates how the United States will leverage its scale and procurement power to lead by example in tackling the climate crisis. The executive order will reduce emissions across federal operations, invest in American clean energy industries and manufacturing, and create clean, healthy, and resilient communities. The President is building on his whole-of-government effort to tackle the climate crisis in a way that creates well-paying jobs, grows industries, and makes the country more economically competitive.
 
The President’s executive order directs the federal government to use its scale and procurement power to achieve five ambitious goals:

  • 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity (CFE) by 2030, at least half of which will be locally supplied clean energy to meet 24/7 demand;
  • 100 percent zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027;
  • Net-zero emissions from federal procurement no later than 2050, including a Buy Clean policy to promote use of construction materials with lower embodied emissions;
  • A net-zero emissions building portfolio by 2045, including a 50 percent emissions reduction by 2032; and
  • Net-zero emissions from overall federal operations by 2050, including a 65 percent emissions reduction by 2030.

In addition to the five new commitments that form the pillars of today’s executive action, the President also directed the federal government to orient its procurement and operations efforts in line with the following principles and goals:

  • Achieving climate resilient infrastructure and operations;
  • Building a climate- and sustainability-focused workforce;
  • Advancing environmental justice and equity;
  • Prioritizing the purchase of sustainable products, such as products without added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS); and
  • Accelerating progress through domestic and international partnerships.

Today’s executive action is a part of the President’s broader commitment to increasing investments in America’s manufacturing industries and workers to build back our country better.  By transforming how the federal government builds, buys, and manages its assets and operations, the federal government will support the growth of America’s clean energy and clean technology industries, while accelerating America’s progress toward achieving a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035.
 
President Biden’s executive order demonstrates how the United States government will lead by example to provide a strong foundation for American businesses to compete and win globally in the clean energy economy while creating well paying, union jobs at home. Today’s executive action further reinforces the President’s directive to Buy American and ensure that equity and environmental justice are key considerations in federal operations planning and decision making.
 
The White House also released a detailed description of this plan: The Federal Sustainability Plan: Catalyzing America’s Clean Energy Industries and Creating Jobs Through Federal Sustainability.
 
Together, the President’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Budget for Fiscal Year 2022, and Build Back Better Act will provide agencies with the funding necessary to achieve the goals of the executive order.
 
Catalyzing America’s Clean Energy Industries and Jobs through Federal Sustainability Executive Order
 
Through this executive order, the federal government will transform its portfolio of 300,000 buildings, fleet of 600,000 cars and trucks, and annual purchasing power of $650 billion in goods and services to:

  1. Transition federal infrastructure to zero-emission vehicles and buildings powered by carbon pollution-free electricity, which will reduce the federal government’s greenhouse gas emissions by 65 percent by 2030 and achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
     
  2. Make federal agencies more adaptive and resilient to the impacts of climate change, and increase the sustainability of federal supply chains, achieving net-zero emissions from federal procurement by 2050.  
     
  3. Mainstream sustainability within the federal workforce, advance equity and environmental justice, and leverage partnerships to accelerate progress.

Transition federal infrastructure to zero-emission vehicles and energy efficient buildings powered by carbon pollution-free electricity:

  • Achieve 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity use by 2030, including 50 percent on a 24/7 basis. The federal government will work with utilities, developers, technology firms, financiers and others to purchase electricity produced from resources that generate no carbon emissions, including solar and wind, for all its operations by 2030. Half of the federal government’s 100 percent carbon pollution-free annual electricity demand will be procured on a 24/7 basis, meaning that the federal government’s real-time demand for electricity will be met with clean energy every hour, every day, and produced within the same regional grid where the electricity is consumed. With the scope and scale of this electricity demand, the federal government expects it will catalyze the development of at least 10 gigawatts of new American clean electricity production by 2030, spurring the creation of new union jobs and moving the country closer to achieving a carbon pollution-free electricity sector by 2035.
     
  • Transition to 100 percent acquisition of zero-emission vehicles by 2035 for the federal vehicle fleet, including 100 percent light duty vehicle acquisition by 2027. The federal government will work with American vehicle, battery, and charging equipment manufacturers and installers to transform its fleet into the largest zero-emission vehicle fleet in the Nation, reaching 100 percent zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035. This will accelerate the advancement of America’s industrial capacity to supply zero-emission vehicles and electric vehicle batteries and create and sustain good union jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and skilled-trades.
     
  • Modernize the federal buildings portfolio to reach net-zero emissions by 2045, including a 50 percent reduction in building emissions by 2032. The federal government will work across existing real property and during new building construction and major renovations to increase water and energy efficiency, reduce waste, electrify systems, and promote sustainable locations for federal facilities to strengthen the vitality and livability of the communities in which federal facilities are located. Additionally, the Biden-Harris Administration will implement the first-ever Federal Building Performance Standard, and will use performance contracting to improve buildings with no up-front costs.

Make federal agencies more adaptive and resilient to the impacts of climate change, and increase the sustainability of federal supply chains, achieving net-zero emissions from federal procurement by 2050.

  • Make federal agencies more adaptive and resilient to the impacts of climate change. The intensifying impacts of climate change present physical, operational, and financial risks to federal infrastructure, agency missions, and our services to the American people. Agencies will implement the actions identified through their October 7, 2021, Climate Adaptation and Resilience Plans and modernize federal policy, programs, operations, and infrastructure to support climate resilience investment. By taking action now to better manage and mitigate climate risks, we will minimize future disruptions and destruction to federal operations, assets, and programs and ensure the federal government can continue providing critical services to the Nation.
     
  • Increase the sustainability of federal supply chains, achieving net-zero emissions from federal procurement by 2050. The companies that supply the federal government are critical partners in achieving our climate goals and growing the economy and American jobs. Cutting emissions from the federal government’s procurement also means buying materials with a lower carbon footprint. The federal government will launch a “buy clean” initiative for low-carbon materials and prioritize the purchase of sustainable products, such as products without added perfluoroalkyl or polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Through these actions, the federal government will provide a large and stable signal to the market for sustainable and low-carbon goods made in America, advancing America’s industrial capacity to supply the goods and materials of the future while growing good jobs for American workers.

Mainstream sustainability within the federal workforce, advance equity and environmental justice, and leverage partnerships to accelerate progress.

  • Mainstream sustainability within the federal workforce. The federal government’s 4.2 million employees are critical stakeholders and leaders in the shift to sustainable and resilient operations. The federal government will build capacity through engagement, education, and training so that federal workers are ready to embed sustainability, climate adaptation, and environmental stewardship analysis and action in their jobs as we work to Build Back Better.
     
  • Advance equity and environmental justice. The federal government will advance the goals of the Administration’s Justice40 Initiative by ensuring that economic equity and environmental justice are key considerations in operations planning and decision making. A federal environmental justice representative will serve on the newly established Chief Sustainability Officer Council. To incorporate equity, agencies will implement this executive order consistent with the President’s Executive Order on Advancing Racial Equity and Support for Underserved Communities Through the Federal Government, which helps ensure that government contracting and procurement opportunities are available on an equal basis.
     
  • Leverage partnerships to accelerate progress. Collaboration with leading American unions, businesses, States, Tribes, municipalities, and other countries will accelerate progress and catalyze greater climate action at home and abroad. The federal government will build upon its newly launched Greening Government Initiative, which convenes governments around the world to collaborate on greening government operations. Further, the Administration will launch a Presidential Sustainability Executives Program, placing senior leaders from the private and non-profit sectors to serve across the federal government, bringing innovative perspectives and critical expertise to achieve these ambitious, and imperative, sustainability and climate preparedness goals.

Actions Agencies are Taking to Meet the Goals of the Sustainability Executive Order

Across the federal government, agencies are moving expeditiously to meet the President’s call for action and are positioned to meet the ambitious goals of his executive order and Federal Sustainability Plan. Highlights are included below:
 
100 percent CFE by 2030, including 50 percent on a 24/7 Basis

  • In 2022, the Department of Defense’s (DOD) Edwards Air Force Base in California will add 520 megawatts (MW) of CFE to the grid by completing one of the country’s largest solar photovoltaic (PV) array projects and in the process creating more than 1,000 union and other construction jobs.
     
  • In 2022, DOD’s Pacific Missile Range Facility in Hawaii will complete construction of the nation’s largest 100 percent clean energy microgrid. By leveraging a 14-megawatt (MW) solar facility paired with a 70 megawatt-hour (MWh) battery energy storage system sited on the base, the Pacific Missile Range Facility can become self-sufficient for all its electricity needs in the event of a loss of transmission feed from the utility grid.

100 Percent ZEV Acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent Light-Duty ZEV Acquisitions by 2027

  • In 2021, the Department of the Interior (DOI) began transitioning its fleet of U.S. Park Police lightweight motorcycles and dirt bikes to 100 percent ZEVs at its Washington, D.C., New York City, and San Francisco locations, with plans to reach a 100 ZEV fleet by 2025.
     
  • In early 2022, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) will begin field testing the Ford Mustang Mach-E ZEV for use in its law enforcement fleet, which currently consists of over 30,000 vehicles.

Net-Zero Emissions Buildings by 2045, including a 50 percent reduction by 2032

  • In 2023, the Department of Transportation will complete its Volpe Transportation Center project that collapses six buildings into a low-emissions building with rooftop solar PV panels, ZEV charging stations for the federal fleet and employee vehicles, green and cool roof technologies, a rainwater reclamation and reuse system, and a climate-resilient above-grade data center.
     
  • By 2022, the Department of the Treasury will have completed the majority of its energy infrastructure improvements at an Internal Revenue Service Center outside of New York City through a 17-year, $30.9 million energy savings performance contract (ESPC). The ESPC has so far delivered nearly $14 million in capital improvements and $2.2 million in annual utility bill savings. ESPCs allow federal agencies to procure energy savings and facility improvements with no up-front capital costs or special appropriations from Congress.

Net-Zero Emissions Procurement by 2050

  • In 2021, DOD collected information from its suppliers on their efforts to measure and report greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. DOD is using this information to develop low-carbon purchasing guidelines that will become part of its standard operating procedures.
     
  • In 2022, the General Services Administration (GSA) will require contractors to disclose the embodied carbon of building materials for new building and major modernization contracts. Embodied carbon refers to the greenhouse gas emissions (mostly carbon dioxide) resulting from the mining, harvesting, processing, manufacturing, transportation, and installation of materials. 

Net-Zero Emissions from overall Federal Operations by 2050, including a 65 percent reduction by 2030

  • By January 2022, DOD’s Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany in Georgia anticipates achieving net-zero energy status.

Climate Resilient Infrastructure and Operations

  • In 2021, more than 20 major federal agencies released plans describing how they will integrate climate-readiness across missions and programs and bolster resilience of Federal assets. For example, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is collecting building-level data across HUD programs to map existing climate risks to help inform the Department on how to best address climate impacts and protect HUD-assisted assets and their occupants.
     
  • DOD is integrating climate change considerations across its strategic guidance and planning documents, including the National Defense Strategy, which will be released in 2022.

Develop a Climate- and Sustainability-Focused Workforce

  • The Department of State is assessing its climate and sustainability management staffing and training gaps to inform a longer-term plan that will prioritize areas of concern and greatest needs.
     
  • In 2022, the Department of Labor will launch a new training course for its senior leadership team on climate change management considerations and environmental justice principals. The Department will also include climate change literacy in new employee orientation material.

Advance Environmental Justice and Equity

  • In 2021, GSA launched an Environmental Justice and Equity Task Group to identify and propose effective approaches to improve environmental justice and equity in federal sustainable building processes, enhancing engagement with communities and key partners throughout the building lifecycle.
     
  • In 2021, the Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) convened Climate and Equity roundtables across the country to gather feedback to inform how NOAA provides climate services, engages with underserved and vulnerable communities, and strengthens internal processes to respond to expressed needs.
     
  • As outlined in its October 2021 Strategic Framework for Addressing Climate ChangeDHS is incorporating the need to achieve equity as guiding principle through all lines of effort described in the framework.

Accelerate Progress Through Domestic and International Partnerships

  • In 2021, the United States and Canada launched the Greening Government Initiative, a first-of-its-kind initiative that will enable countries to share lessons learned, promote innovation, and accelerate national efforts to green government operations and help meet Paris Agreement commitments. Today, the 39 GGI participating countries are beginning share key organizational features and policies and identify potential areas for collaboration.
     
  • In 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) New England’s Boston Healthcare System partnered with National Grid on a plan to transition its 70-car fleet to ZEV. Consistent with National Grid’s recommendations, VA is working with GSA to procure approximately 25 ZEVs in the 2022 acquisition cycle.

Biden Sets New 2030 Greenhouse Gas Pollution Reduction Target to Spur jobs, Innovation

Building on Past U.S. Leadership, including Efforts by States, Cities, Tribes, and Territories, the New Target Aims at 50-52 Percent Reduction in U.S. Greenhouse Gas Pollution from 2005 Levels in 2030
 

California wind farm. On Earth Day 2021, President Biden announced a new target for the United States to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030 – building on progress to-date and by positioning American workers and industry to tackle the climate crisis. © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

On Earth Day 2021, President Biden announced a new target for the United States to achieve a 50-52 percent reduction from 2005 levels in economy-wide net greenhouse gas pollution in 2030 – building on progress to-date and by positioning American workers and industry to tackle the climate crisis.   
 
The announcement – made during the Leaders Summit on Climate that President Biden is holding to challenge the world on increased ambition in combating climate change – is part of the President’s focus on building back better in a way that will create millions of good-paying, union jobs, ensure economic competitiveness, advance environmental justice, and improve the health and security of communities across America.

Biden has said often that when he hears the phrase “climate action,” he thinks “jobs.”

This is a fact sheet from the White House:
 
On Day One, President Biden fulfilled his promise to rejoin the Paris Agreement and set a course for the United States to tackle the climate crisis at home and abroad, reaching net zero emissions economy-wide by no later than 2050.  As part of re-entering the Paris Agreement, he also launched a whole-of-government process, organized through his National Climate Task Force, to establish this new 2030 emissions target – known as the “nationally determined contribution” or “NDC,” a formal submission to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).  Today’s announcement is the product of this government-wide assessment of how to make the most of the opportunity combating climate change presents. 
 
PUSHING PROGRESS, CREATING JOBS, AND ACHIEVING JUSTICE
 
The United States is not waiting, the costs of delay are too great, and our nation is resolved to act now.  Climate change poses an existential threat, but responding to this threat offers an opportunity to support good-paying, union jobs, strengthen America’s working communities, protect public health, and advance environmental justice. Creating jobs and tackling climate change go hand in hand – empowering the U.S. to build more resilient infrastructure, expand access to clean air and drinking water, spur American technological innovations, and create good-paying, union jobs along the way.
 
To develop the goal, the Administration analyzed how every sector of the economy can spur innovation, unleash new opportunities, drive competitiveness, and cut pollution. The target builds on leadership from mayors, county executives, governors, tribal leaders, businesses, faith groups, cultural institutions, health care organizations, investors, and communities who have worked together tirelessly to ensure sustained progress in reducing pollution in the United States.
 
Building on and benefiting from that foundation, America’s 2030 target picks up the pace of emissions reductions in the United States, compared to historical levels, while supporting President Biden’s existing goals to create a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050. There are multiple paths to reach these goals, and the U.S. federal, state, local, and tribal governments have many tools available to work with civil society and the private sector to mobilize investment to meet these goals while supporting a strong economy. 
 
SUPPORTING AMERICAN WORKERS
 
This target prioritizes American workers. Meeting the 2030 emissions target will create millions of good-paying, middle class, union jobs – line workers who will lay thousands of miles of transmission lines for a clean, modern, resilient grid; workers capping abandoned wells and reclaiming mines and stopping methane leaks; autoworkers building modern, efficient, electric vehicles and the charging infrastructure to support them; engineers and construction workers expanding carbon capture and green hydrogen to forge cleaner steel and cement; and farmers using cutting-edge tools to make American soil the next frontier of carbon innovation.
 
The health of our communities, well-being of our workers, and competitiveness of our economy requires this quick and bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We must:

  • Invest in infrastructure and innovation. America must lead the critical industries that produce and deploy the clean technologies that we can harness today – and the ones that we will improve and invent tomorrow.
  • Fuel an economic recovery that creates jobs. We have the opportunity to fuel an equitable recovery, expand supply chains and bolster manufacturing, create millions of good-paying, union jobs, and build a more sustainable, resilient future.
  • Breathe clean air and drink clean water and advance environmental justice. We can improve the health and well-being of our families and communities – especially those places too often left out and left behind.
  • Make it in America. We can bolster our domestic supply chains and position the U.S. to ship American-made, clean energy products — like EV batteries – around the world.

 
MEETING THE MOMENT
 
The target is consistent with the President’s goal of achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by no later than 2050 and of limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius, as the science demands.  To develop the target, the Administration:

  • Used a whole-of-government approach: The NDC was developed by the National Climate Task Force using a whole-of-government approach, relying on a detailed bottom-up analysis that reviewed technology availability, current costs, and future cost reductions, as well as the role of enabling infrastructure.  Standards, incentives, programs, and support for innovation were all weighed in the analysis.  The National Climate Task Force is developing this into a national climate strategy to be issued later this year.
  • Consulted important and diverse stakeholders: From unions that collectively bargain for millions of Americans who have built our country and work to keep it running to groups representing tens of millions of advocates and young Americans, the Administration listened to Americans across the country. This also included groups representing thousands of scientists; hundreds of governmental leaders like governors, mayors, and tribal leaders; hundreds of businesses; hundreds of schools and institutions of higher education; as well as with many specialized researchers focused on questions of pollution reduction.
  • Explored multiple pathways across the economy: The target is grounded in analysis that explored multiple pathways for each economic sector of the economy that produces CO2 and non-CO2 greenhouse gases: electricity, transportation, buildings, industry, and lands. 

Each policy considered for reducing emissions is also an opportunity to support good jobs and improve equity:

  • The United States has set a goal to reach 100 percent carbon pollution-free electricity by 2035, which can be achieved through multiple cost-effective pathways each resulting in meaningful emissions reductions in this decade. That means good-paying jobs deploying carbon pollution-free electricity generating resources, transmission, and energy storage and leveraging the carbon pollution-free energy potential of power plants retrofitted with carbon capture and existing nuclear, while ensuring those facilities meet robust and rigorous standards for worker, public, environmental safety and environmental justice.
  • The United States can create good-paying jobs and cut emissions and energy costs for families by supporting efficiency upgrades and electrification in buildings through support for job-creating retrofit programs and sustainable affordable housing, wider use of heat pumps and induction stoves, and adoption of modern energy codes for new buildings. The United States will also invest in new technologies to reduce emissions associated with construction, including for high-performance electrified buildings.
  • The United States can reduce carbon pollution from the transportation sector by reducing tailpipe emissions and boosting the efficiency of cars and trucks; providing funding for charging infrastructure; and spurring research, development, demonstration, and deployment efforts that drive forward very low carbon new-generation renewable fuels for applications like aviation, and other cutting-edge transportation technologies across modes. Investment in a wider array of transportation infrastructure, including transit, rail, and biking improvements, will make more choices available to travelers.
  • The United States can reduce emissions from forests and agriculture and enhance carbon sinks through a range of programs and measures including nature-based solutions for ecosystems ranging from our forests and agricultural soils to our rivers and coasts. Ocean-based solutions can also contribute towards reducing U.S. emissions.
  • The United States can address carbon pollution from industrial processes by supporting carbon capture as well as new sources of hydrogen—produced from renewable energy, nuclear energy, or waste—to power industrial facilities.  The government can use its procurement power to support early markets for these very low- and zero-carbon industrial goods.
  • The United States will also reduce non-CO2 greenhouse gases, including methane, hydrofluorocarbons and other potent short-lived climate pollutants. Reducing these pollutants delivers fast climate benefits.
  • In addition, the United States will invest in innovation to improve and broaden the set of solutions as a critical complement to deploying the affordable, reliable, and resilient clean technologies and infrastructure available today.

America must act— and not just the federal government, but cities and states, small and big business, working communities.  Together, we can seize the opportunity to drive prosperity, create jobs, and build the clean energy economy of tomorrow.

New York State Strategy: Turn Long Island into Leader for Nascent Offshore Windpower Industry

Long Islanders advocate for offshore windpower outside of Long Island Power Authority offices. NYSERDA is investing millions of dollars to ease the way for private entities to develop a windpower industry on Long Island © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

By Karen Rubin, News & Photo Features

Governor Andrew Cuomo sees the opportunity to create a new industry centered largely on Long Island to take advantage of the offshore windpower in an area of the Atlantic Ocean, considered “the Saudi Arabia of windpower.” In this, the state is acting much like other nations which jumpstart new industries by funding critical studies, research centers, workforce development. This is all to ease the way, lessen the risk and increase likelihood of success for the private companies which are expected to vie for leases from the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

Cuomo has set a standard of the state generating 50% of its energy needs through renewable by 2030, and offshore wind, in addition to solar, hilltop windpower, hydroelectric and other sources (“all of the above”) are considered essential to meeting that goal, which Cuomo has proudly declared the most ambitious in the nation.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation just released proposed regulations to require all power plants in New York to meet new emissions limits for carbon dioxide (CO2), a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change. The regulations, a first in the nation approach to regulating carbon emissions, will achieve the Governor’s goal to end the use of coal in New York State power plants by 2020.

Environmental groups including Sierra Club have long advocated offshore wind, especially as Long Island faces a crucial transition juncture of expanding or upgrading fossil-fuel based power plants to meet its energy needs, versus investing and transitioning to renewable energy.

The state is targeting acquiring 2,400 megawatts of energy from offshore wind – the equivalent of what is generated by the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant – enough to power 1.2 million households. The associated industries that would develop to manufacture the wind turbines and platforms, construct ports and stage the equipment, install the turbines, operate and maintain the systems are expected to employ some 5,000 people in relatively high-paying jobs, and generate $6 billion for the region. What is more, over time, windpower will bring down the cost of electricity on Long Island, where high costs of energy are considered impediments to economic growth.

At the same time, the state has invested in new research programs at State Universities, including Stony Brook to address key issues such as storage batteries (for when the wind does not blow), and transmission.

The master plan, being unveiled in public hearings, has been developed over a period of years by New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA).

The strategy is to be the furthest along in order to be first in line to contract for the electricity, which could be sold to New Jersey and other regions, to reduce cost and risk to private entities which will bid for the rights to construct and operate the wind turbines. The state is not actually seeking to  be the winning bidder for the leases, but to be the customer for the power for those that do. And the state is also aware that other customers – New Jersey, as one example (though the former governor Chris Christie showed little interest, the new governor Phil Murphy is) – will also be bidding. But there is great confidence because of proximity and the sheer market size, that New York City and Long Island residents will be the beneficiary.  And there is so much energy potential from this area, there is “enough for all.” Indeed, NYSERDA is eyeing 3,200 MW of production from the sites it has targeted, of which it would contract for 2,400.

NYSERDA has conducted studies in 20 areas –literally every environmental, biologic, economic and engineering aspect – in order to  define every aspect of locating the best places to position turbines and cables, where to stage construction, where to manufacture the turbines and components, even where to invest in workforce development. All along the way, the agency has engaged stakeholders – from municipalities and environmentalists to labor unions to consumer advocates, to commercial fishing interests.

The state has allocated $15 million to spend on workforce development and infrastructure advancement (for example, building port facilities), and is allocating up to $5 million for multi-year research studies that will assist project developers with the data will be made available by NYSERDA in real time to public. For example, data on wind speeds particularly impact economics of projects and will improve the certainty of bids to state. 

“We are seeking to invest $20 million or more, kicking off in 2018, for research and development – component design, systems design, operational controls, monitoring systems, manufacturing processes,” said Doreen Harris, Director, Large Scale Renewables, NYSERDA.

To attract private investment in port infrastructure and manufacturing, the state is hoping to spotlight promising infrastructure investments (60 sites have been identified), helping jumpstart project development and “secure its status as the undisputed home for the emerging offshore wind industry in the US.”

Think of it: Long Island used to be the center for America’s aerospace industry. Now it can be a leader in a global offshore windpower industry. What is more, off shore windpower can also bring down Long Island’s historically high utility rates which are considered an impediment to business development and economic growth.

“We’ve established technical working groups to determine best use of funds – to insure new Yorkers well prepared to serve offshore wind industry and connected to the global Industry.” Indeed, offshore wind is brand new for the US, but has been in force in Europe for 25 years.

The United States projects will have the benefit of leap-frogging over earlier technology, with more efficient, productive, and less environmentally risky structures.

The state is estimating that the near-term incremental program cost would be less than 30 cents a month for a typical homeowner – the cost of windpower is front-loaded in the initial construction, as opposed to fossil-fuel generated energy which continues to get more expensive over time because it is a finite resource that is increasingly more difficult and costly to obtain and needs to be transported from further distances to users. Electricity generated from wind is already competitive with fossil-fuel generated power, but over time, as usage thresholds and technology improvements are reached, the costs will go down. And this does not even factor in the environmental  and public health benefits of transitioning from carbon-based fuel.

The only kicker is that while New York State is being pro-active, it is BOEM that ultimately controls the leases and is undertaking similar studies, so people are concerned this can be unnecessarily time-consuming and duplicative. And while BOEM under the Obama Administration was full-speed ahead and keen to develop offshore windpower, concern was raised after Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke declared the entire continental shelf open for drilling, and this prime windpower area used instead for drilling rigs or equally horrible Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) terminals such as the Port Ambrose that had been beaten back by Governor Cuomo.

But BOEM’s Energy Program Specialist Luke Feinberg, who attended NYSERDA’s May 8 public hearing in Melville expressed enthusiasm for offshore wind in this area (not to mention the area does not seem to have much potential for oil). BOEM presented a timetable that projects out two to five years before actual construction can begin; BOEM intends to hold its next lease auction no later than 2019.

BOEM is taking comments on the proposed “New York Bight” Call Area by May 29. Submit comments and view documents at boem.gov/New-York/

The New York Public Service Commission is now considering a number of options for the state to advance solicitations once the leases are awarded; send comments or view materials at http://documents.dps.ny.gov.

To get more information on the New York State Offshore Wind Master Plan visit nyserda.ny.gov/offshorewind.

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NYS Solicitation for Large Scale Renewable Energy Projects Expected to Spur $1.5 Billion in Investment, Combat Climate Change

Long Islanders push for clean renewable energy in New York State, including offshore windpower © Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

New York State has launched the second solicitation for large-scale renewable energy projects under the state’s Clean Energy Standard. The solicitation for up to 20 projects will accelerate New York’s transition to a clean energy economy and is expected to spur up to $1.5 billion in private investment and create more than 1,000 new well-paying jobs for New Yorkers. The solicitation is expected to support 1.5 million megawatt-hours of renewable electricity per year, enough to power 200,000 homes, and advance New York’s nation-leading commitment to secure 50 percent of the state’s electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

“This administration continues to champion renewable energy projects across New York, and this is a major step forward in our efforts to create clean jobs and set an example for the rest of the nation,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said. “With this action we will continue to capitalize on our natural assets, expand economic opportunities and lay the groundwork for a cleaner, greener New York for generations to come.”

The state is issuing this solicitation as the second in a series of major procurements that are expected to result in the development of dozens of large scale renewable energy projects by 2022 under the Clean Energy Standard. Community engagement and on-the-ground support is crucial for the successful development of renewable energy projects, and the RFP released today includes new standards and requirements for effective community outreach and planning. The RFP also ensures that good-paying jobs will be created by requiring the prevailing wage for applicable positions.

Notable new provisions in this solicitation include:

  • Requiring that workers associated with the construction of any awarded facility be paid the applicable prevailing wage, a standard set by the New York State Department of Labor, ensuring that the projects will result in quality, good-paying jobs for New Yorkers;
  • Preserving and protecting New York’s valuable agricultural resources by providing bonus points for renewable energy projects that avoid overlap with land of agricultural importance to New York State;
  • Ensuring that communities that would host successfully awarded projects are fully aware of the development process, proposers will be required to demonstrate that they have engaged with those communities and have also commenced the associated permitting processes; and
  • Continuing to encourage proposals that cost-effectively pair renewable energy with advanced energy storage technologies to help meet Governor Cuomo’s commitment to deploying 1,500 MW of energy storage by 2025.

To learn more about the large scale renewable solicitation, visit NYSERDA’s website.

The announcement maintains a predictable pace of annual solicitations for renewable energy developers and will support continued development and investment in clean energy projects across New York State.

The move builds on the Governor’s announcement with Vice President Al Gore in March when the state reaffirmed its commitment to cleaner, smarter energy solutions, including the announcement of large-scale renewable energy project awards and a formal request to the federal government for an exclusion from the new five-year National Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program.

This solicitation supports NYSERDA’s 2017 solicitation through which a $1.4 billion investment dedicated to renewable energy projects was announced earlier this year. That investment included 22 utility-scale solar farms, three wind farms and one hydroelectric project. One of the wind farms features an energy storage component, marking the first time a large-scale renewable energy project has done so in New York State.

The request also builds upon a New York Power Authority solicitation announced last June in concert with NYSERDA’s first solicitation, that will procure 1 million MWh. This investment in large-scale clean energy supply will further expand NYPA’s leadership role as the state’s largest supplier of renewable electricity. NYPA received more than 130 proposals from 51 clean energy developers in response to its RFP. NYPA plans to announce selected developers and customers once contracts are signed, which is expected to be this summer.

These projects will advance the Clean Climate Careers initiative announced by Governor Cuomo in June 2017. The initiative focuses on accelerating renewable energy and energy efficiency to make New York home to 40,000 new, good-paying clean energy jobs by 2020. According to the 2017 New York Clean Energy Industry Report, 146,000 New Yorkers were employed in the clean energy sector, including 22,000 in renewable energy power generation.

Richard Kauffman, Chairman of Energy and Finance said, “Investment in clean energy has been a proven catalyst in jump-starting the economy and providing jobs throughout the State. The significant interest the state is seeing from companies to invest in New York’s clean energy agenda is testament to our resolve to ensure generations to come can enjoy the natural resources which surround us.”

Alicia Barton, President and CEO, NYSERDA said, “Making progress in the battle against climate change requires a sustained commitment to supporting clean energy projects that will make our communities stronger and more resilient. Governor Cuomo has set the stage for New York to lead this effort through his bold commitment to 50 percent renewable energy by 2030, and we expect that this solicitation being announced today will help us maintain the early momentum we witnessed in the last round, and to pick up our pace in the march towards a cleaner future.”

Gil C. Quiniones, President and CEO, NYPA said, “Renewable energy is a priority for New York State. With these latest sizeable investments in clean and green energy projects and jobs, we are making great progress toward Governor Cuomo’s Clean Energy Standard. Through large-scale renewable projects, we are changing the energy landscape in New York, and ensuring that our energy mix is viable and affordable now and into the future.”

Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee Chair Senator Joseph Griffo said, “The development of renewable resources is crucial to New York’s efforts to become more energy efficient. This announcement is a significant step forward and will support the state’s investments in a clean energy economy and job growth across the state.”

Assembly Energy Committee Chair Michael Cusick said, “While fighting climate change, the State is also investing in our economy by providing jobs for New Yorkers. With this plan, Governor Cuomo is ensuring opportunities for businesses to participate in the State’s agenda to have 50 percent renewable energy by 2030. Once again, New York is leading the nation in creating clean energy.”

Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee Chair Steve Englebright said, “I am thrilled to see New York taking more aggressive steps towards meeting our renewable energy goals, and in turn, our climate change mitigation goals. The state must rapidly move to produce clean power for homes and business and create well-paying, stable jobs for New Yorkers. Renewable projects, in concert with smart, economy-wide policies, will show that New York is a trendsetter in climate action.”

The Alliance for Clean Energy New York Executive Director Anne Reynolds said, “The renewable energy industry is committed to investing in New York to create jobs and help achieve Governor Cuomo’s ambitious clean energy goals. We applaud the Governor for his commitment to clean energy and for the release of the second solicitation for projects under the Clean Energy Standard. Our member companies look forward to competing for the opportunity to serve New Yorkers and provide pollution-free power.”

Climate Jobs NY Executive Director Ya-Ting Liu said, “New York has become a model for the rest of the country on how to tackle climate change while creating good, middle-class jobs with benefits. We applaud Governor Cuomo’s ongoing commitment to build a robust clean energy economy in New York that supports working families.”

The Nature Conservancy in New York Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer Stuart F. Gruskin said, “The Nature Conservancy applauds Governor Cuomo for continuing progress on New York’s ambitious renewable energy goals and is thrilled to see a new approach in this solicitation to begin to consider land use. We look forward to continuing to work with the Administration to proactively address siting concerns to ensure clean energy for all New Yorkers while reducing impacts to our critical natural resources.”

Independent Power Producers of New York President & CEO Gavin Donohue said, “We applaud Governor Cuomo’s leadership in moving the Clean Energy Standard forward using competitive auctions. It is important to recognize the benefits of in-state energy resource development to local economies, and a diversity of resources is essential to electric system reliability.”

Reforming the Energy Vision is Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s strategy to lead on climate change and grow New York’s economy. REV is building a cleaner, more resilient and affordable energy system for all New Yorkers by stimulating investment in clean technologies like solar, wind, and energy efficiency and requiring 50 percent of the state’s electricity needs from renewable energy by 2030. Already, REV has driven growth of more than 1,000 percent in the statewide solar market, improved energy affordability for 1.65 million low-income customers, and created thousands of jobs in manufacturing, engineering, and other clean tech sectors. REV is ensuring New York reduces statewide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and achieves the internationally recognized target of reducing emissions 80 percent by 2050. To learn more about REV, including the Governor’s $5 billion investment in clean energy technology and innovation, visit rev.ny.gov, and follow us on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.

Obama Administration Implements New Actions to Bring Clean Energy Savings to All Americans

Solar energy array, Greece. Even as President Obama works to make clean, renewable energy readily available for all Americans, the incoming Trump Administration is likely to reverse course in favor of boosting fossil fuels. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Solar energy array, Greece. Even as President Obama works to make clean, renewable energy readily available for all Americans, the incoming Trump Administration is likely to reverse course in favor of boosting fossil fuels. © 2016 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Even as President Obama works frantically in the closing days of his administration to facilitate a transition to clean, renewable energy in order to address the climate change crisis, the incoming occupier Donald Trump has called Climate Change a hoax perpetrated by China to weaken the US economy, and has promised to ease the way for domestic oil and gas production and coal mining. 

The news that the largest domestic oil & gas field in US history has just been unearthed in Texas by the US Geological Survey – 20 billion gallons ($900B worth) – means that, with Trump controlling energy policy, the US is doomed to global-warming carbon economy for the foreseeable future, or until earth is rendered uninhabitable by climate change. What do you bet Trump will cancel any incentive to clean energy?

Meanwhile, Obama has been working frantically to raise the threshold of clean, renewable energy. Here is the latest (possibly final) initiative. One wonders whether Trump will reverse it, just because he can. 

This fact sheet is from the White House (and should stand as a reminder of all that we are about to lose):

FACT SHEET: OBAMA ADMINISTRATION ANNOUNCES NEW ACTIONS TO BRING CLEAN ENERGY SAVINGS TO ALL AMERICANS

Through President Obama’s Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative and beyond, we are making progress opening up opportunities for all American’s to go solar and retrofit their homes and businesses to be more energy efficient. Since President Obama took office, the amount of electricity we generate from the sun has increased more than 30 fold, we added solar jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy, and we’ve cut the price of residential solar energy systems more than 50 percent. In fact, earlier this week the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot program announced a new target to cut the cost of solar in half by 2030. At the same time, energy consumption in 2015 was 1.5 percent lower than it was in 2008, while the economy grew by 10 percent over the same period. And we have improved the energy efficiency of more than one million low and moderate income homes.

Today, in coordination with a White House Clean Energy Savings for All Summit in Baltimore, Maryland hosted by Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and Labor Secretary Tom Perez, the Obama Administration is taking the following new actions:

Launching a Challenge to Bring Solar Energy to Dozens of Low and Moderate Income Communities: The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative is launching a new Solar In Your Community challenge to expand solar access to Americans who have been left out of the growing solar market, including low- and moderate-income (LMI) households, state, local and tribal governments, and non-profit organizations. One hundred teams across the country will compete for cash prizes and technical assistance as they demonstrate innovative business and financial models that expand solar access to under-served groups. The teams with the most scalable, replicable solar business models will be eligible to win $1 million in final prizes, including a $500,000 grand prize. This challenge will reduce market barriers to solar deployment by spurring dozens of projects across the nation, with an emphasis on new and emerging solar markets. The challenge will help to achieve President Obama’s goal to bring 1 gigawatt (GW) of solar to low and moderate income families by 2020, test new business models that expand solar access, build local capacity to support community-scale solar projects, and establish resources that will aid in expanding solar access to underserved communities.

Growing the Reach And Impact of the Obama Administration’s National Community Solar Partnership: Last July, the Administration launched the National Community Solar Partnership—a collaborative effort between DOE, HUD, USDA, EPA, representatives from solar companies, NGOs, and state and community leaders —which works to unlock access to solar for the nearly 50 percent of households and businesses that are renters or do not have adequate roof space to install solar systems, in particular, for low- and moderate- income communities. Since we launched the partnership last year, more than 150 companies, organizations, and universities that represent 36 states have joined the effort to increase access to community solar, growing the number of members to 155, including the following 27 new partners joining today:

  • C2 Special Situations Group – New York
  • Center for Sustainable Communities – Georgia
  • Clean Energy States Alliance – Vermont
  • Connexus Energy – Minnesota
  • Elemental Energy, Inc. – Oregon
  • Energy Alabama – Alabama
  • Energy Outreach Colorado – Colorado
  • Energy Solidarity Cooperative – California
  • Environment Georgia – Georgia
  • Great Plains Institute – Minnesota
  • ICAST – Colorado
  • Imani Energy, Inc. – Delaware
  • Metropolitan Area Planning Council – Massachusetts
  • Minnesota Department of Commerce – Minnesota
  • MN Community Solar – Minnesota
  • Monadnock Sustainability Network – New Hampshire
  • Nebraskans for Solar – Nebraska
  • North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center – North Carolina
  • Novel Energy Solutions – Minnesota
  • Placer Consulting Services LLC – Tennessee
  • Reneu Energy – New York
  • Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources – Rhode Island
  • Rural Communities Housing Development Corporation – California
  • Solar Site Design – Tennessee
  • Sunvestment Group, LLC – New York
  • Tralee Capital Partners – Colorado
  • West Virginia Solar Systems – West Virginia

Issuing Best Practices for Promoting the Development of Smart Residential PACE Financing Programs that ProtectConsumers: Today, DOE is releasing updated Best Practice Guidelines for Residential PACE Financing Programs. The guidelines provide best practices that can help state and local governments, PACE program administrators, and their partners to plan and implement programs that effectively deliver clean energy, water efficiency, and related upgrades to consumers. The updated best practices reflect input gained from over 200 comments on draft guidelines released for public review earlier this summer. The new guidelines include additional protections for consumers who voluntarily opt into PACE programs and lenders who hold mortgages on properties with PACE assessments. DOE also provides additional guidelines and program design recommendations to help ensure PACE financing is used appropriately and at the lowest cost for low-income households that otherwise meet program eligibility criteria. DOE will continue supporting state and local governments in incorporating the guidelines into PACE statutes and regulations as they are developed and modified. Additional information about PACE financing and technical assistance available at DOE can be found at their State and Local Solution Center. The best practices build on the PACE financing guidance issued by the Federal Housing Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs this summer.

Announcing a New Partnership to Help Improve Energy Efficiency in HUD-Assisted and Public Housing: This summer, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development began partnering with EDF Climate Corps fellows to promote utility benchmarking of HUD-Assisted and Public Housing.  The fellows will be embedded with organizations across the country to offer assistance in analyzing and documenting portfolio-wide energy usage and developing strategies to improve energy performance and reduce operating costs.

Creating a Clean Energy Compact between the Department of Energy and Historically Black Colleges and Universities to Forge a Workforce and Community Investment Program: As the energy industry continues to transform, the U.S. Department of Energy is working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities to establish the Historically Black Colleges and Universities Clean Energy Coalition (HBCU-CEC).  The goal is to strategically engage the nation’s HBCUs in the adoption of energy efficiency, solar and other renewable energies on campus and within the communities where HBCUs are located, primarily populated by low and moderate income individuals and families.  Collectively, the coalition, with technical assistance from the Department of Energy, led by the Energy Jobs Strategy Council and the Office of Economic Impact and Diversity, will forge a workforce and community investment program focusing on energy education and awareness, low and moderate income solar deployment, building energy efficiency, job creation, jobs skills training, utility costs savings, and reduction in environmental impacts.  These efforts will help to position HBCUs as demonstrated leaders in deploying clean energy in low and moderate income communities while insuring the community benefits from resultant economic and social opportunities.

 

Obama: Paris Climate Agreement is ‘Turning Point for the World’

Solar farm in Greece © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Solar farm in Greece © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

by Karen Rubin/News & Photo Features

The fact that nearly 200 countries–representing nearly the entire population of Earthlings–have signed on to the Paris Climate Agreement, pledging to take climate action is, as President Obama said, “a turning point for the world.”

“Together, we’ve shown what’s possible when the world stands as one,” he said in a statement from the White House, December 12:

“Today, the American people can be proud — because this historic agreement is a tribute to American leadership.  Over the past seven years, we’ve transformed the United States into the global leader in fighting climate change.  In 2009, we helped salvage a chaotic Copenhagen Summit and established the principle that all countries had a role to play in combating climate change.  We then led by example, with historic investments in growing industries like wind and solar, creating a new and steady stream of middle-class jobs.  We’ve set the first-ever nationwide standards to limit the amount of carbon pollution power plants can dump into the air our children breathe.  From Alaska to the Gulf Coast to the Great Plains, we’ve partnered with local leaders who are working to help their communities protect themselves from some of the most immediate impacts of a changing climate.”

And doing it all while breaking all records for the longest streak of private sector job creation. “We’ve driven our economic output to all-time highs while driving our carbon pollution down to its lowest level in nearly two decades,” Obama said.

Speaking to detractors are both sides – climate activists who said the agreement does not go far enough, and climate deniers who would reject any action at all, he said, “Now, no agreement is perfect, including this one.  Negotiations that involve nearly 200 nations are always challenging.  Even if all the initial targets set in Paris are met, we’ll only be part of the way there when it comes to reducing carbon from the atmosphere.  So we cannot be complacent because of today’s agreement.  The problem is not solved because of this accord.  But make no mistake, the Paris agreement establishes the enduring framework the world needs to solve the climate crisis.  It creates the mechanism, the architecture, for us to continually tackle this problem in an effective way.

“This agreement is ambitious, with every nation setting and committing to their own specific targets, even as we take into account differences among nations.  We’ll have a strong system of transparency, including periodic reviews and independent assessments, to help hold every country accountable for meeting its commitments.  As technology advances, this agreement allows progress to pave the way for even more ambitious targets over time.  And we have secured a broader commitment to support the most vulnerable countries as they pursue cleaner economic growth.

“In short, this agreement will mean less of the carbon pollution that threatens our planet, and more of the jobs and economic growth driven by low-carbon investment.  Full implementation of this agreement will help delay or avoid some of the worst consequences of climate change, and will pave the way for even more progress, in successive stages, over the coming years.

“Moreover, this agreement sends a powerful signal that the world is firmly committed to a low-carbon future.  And that has the potential to unleash investment and innovation in clean energy at a scale we have never seen before.  The targets we’ve set are bold.  And by empowering businesses, scientists, engineers, workers, and the private sector — investors — to work together, this agreement represents the best chance we’ve had to save the one planet that we’ve got.

“So I believe this moment can be a turning point for the world.  We’ve shown that the world has both the will and the ability to take on this challenge.  It won’t be easy.  Progress won’t always come quick.  “We cannot be complacent.  While our generation will see some of the benefits of building a clean energy economy — jobs created and money saved — we may not live to see the full realization of our achievement.  But that’s okay.  What matters is that today we can be more confident that this planet is going to be in better shape for the next generation.  And that’s what I care about…..our work today prevented an alternate future that could have been grim; that our work, here and now, gave future generations cleaner air, and cleaner water, and a more sustainable planet.  And what could be more important than that?

“Today, thanks to strong, principled, American leadership, that’s the world that we’ll leave to our children — a world that is safer and more secure, more prosperous, and more free.  And that is our most important mission in our short time here on this Earth.

Significantly, the United States, whose Republican rightwingers are the smallest, tiniest minority of 7 billion souls, opted for language – “should” rather than “shall” – in order to bypass the need for Senate ratification of an actual treaty. We’ve seen how treaties, as benign as making America’s standards for disabled people, have been rejected, and the GOP Majority made it clear they would do everything possible – even shutting down the government – to make sure the United States does not do its part. It is notable that the United States represents a mere 5% of the world’s population, but is responsible for 25% of the emissions that are causing climate change. China, the second largest emitter, has four times the population but during the Paris talks, had to issue its first ever Red Alert because air quality was too dangerous due largely to emissions from coal-fired plants.

Without missing a beat, Republican Congressional leaders said they would block whatever action Obama promised, based on the idea that the President “made promises he can’t keep.”

Nesjavellir Geothermal plant in Iceland © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Nesjavellir Geothermal plant in Iceland © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But as Secretary of State John Kerry responded, 195 countries in the world have signed on to this historic agreement, bringing their own strategies and solutions to the table so they are more likely to follow through (much as the Obama Administration allowed states to develop their own Clean Power Plan solutions, and their own Affordable Care Act solutions). Essentially he is saying that the Republicans are on the wrong side of history, or just plain wrong.

This was the genius of Obama’s strategy, going back to forging a historic joint announcement with China last year that “showed it was possible to bridge the old divides between developed and developing nations that had stymied global progress for so long,” the President said. “That accomplishment encouraged dozens and dozens of other nations to set their own ambitious climate targets.  And that was the foundation for success in Paris.  Because no nation, not even one as powerful as ours, can solve this challenge alone.  And no country, no matter how small, can sit on the sidelines.  All of us had to solve it together.”

He also has managed to bring along many of the world’s most influential companies (not Koch Industries, of course), and billionaires (not the Koch Brothers, of course, who are spending their billions buying sycophant politicians), who are pledged to invest in climate action strategies including developing clean, renewable energy technologies that will shift our economy from its dependence on burning dirty fossil fuels (that’s what has the Koch brothers really worried).

Solar panels on farm buildings in Germany © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Solar panels on farm buildings in Germany © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

But now, it is key that the vast majority of us who want climate action push for Congress (that means getting the GOP to stop blocking) to reauthorize the tax credits for renewable energy industries – solar and wind, in particular – to get a foothold. Solar industry is the fastest growing in the US. This is jobs creation. This is giving households more disposable income by bringing down the cost being extorted for fossil fuels (is anyone giving Obama credit for the fact that gas prices are likely to fall below $2 a gallon for the first time since 2007, as they blamed him when gas prices rose to nearly $5?). This is making communities more energy independent.

You would think that Republicans, whose singular economic policy consists of cutting taxes, especially corporate taxes and taxes that go to the wealthy, would be in favor of tax credits to spur a fledgling industry. But this is clean, renewable energy that threatens the profits and the power of the Old Fossils.

Current legislation could extend the renewable energy production tax credit for wind energy that expired a year ago. Environmentalists are also pushing for the extension of the solar investment tax credit which is set to be significantly reduced next year. And for those GOPers who suggest that the federal government “shouldn’t pick winners and losers” – they refuse to rescind the billions of dollars in subsidies that still flow to fossil fuels (or for that matter, the legislative advantages that are given, in terms of licensing and liability), despite the fact these are some of the most profitable companies in the history of humankind. Here’s a compromise: they should condition those subsidies to Exxon-Mobil, etc. on only what they spend to develop and implement clean, renewable fuels (and not natural gas, which is their big new product).

Wind power in Rhode Island © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com
Wind power in Rhode Island © 2015 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Subsidies to fossil fuels do not expire. Neither should incentives for clean energy. Clean energy is one of America’s fastest growing industries, creating homegrown, well-paying jobs across the country—but failure to extend these tax credits could seriously set back that progress,” stated Heather Shelby Action Network Manager for Environmental Defense Fund Action.

EDF is urging people to contact Congress and urge they support for:

* An extension of the renewable energy production tax credit for wind and other renewable energy technologies, which expired at the end of 2014.

* An extension of the tax incentives for residential and commercial energy-efficient construction, which expired at the end of 2014.

* An extension of the solar investment tax credit for  residential and commercial properties, which will be greatly reduced in 2017.

So what’s in the Paris Agreement? The White House produced a Fact Sheet, breaking it down

FACT SHEET: U.S. Leadership and the Historic Paris Agreement to Combat Climate Change

Today, more than 190 countries came together to adopt the most ambitious climate change agreement in history. The Paris Agreement establishes a long term, durable global framework to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions. For the first time, all countries commit to putting forward successive and ambitious, nationally determined climate targets and reporting on their progress towards them using a rigorous, standardized process of review.

The Agreement provides strong assurance to developing countries that they will be supported as they pursue clean and climate resilient growth.  The deal builds on the unprecedented participation of 187 countries that submitted post-2020 climate action targets in advance of the meeting, and establishes a framework to ratchet up ambition by driving down global emissions in the decades to come.

This new global framework lays the foundation for countries to work together to put the world on a path to keeping global temperature rise well below 2 degrees Celsius and sets an ambitious vision to go even farther than that. This Agreement sends a strong signal to the private sector that the global economy is moving towards clean energy, and that through innovation and ingenuity, we can achieve our climate objectives while creating new jobs, raising standards of living and lifting millions out of poverty.

The Paris Agreement is also the culmination of a broader effort by nations, businesses, cities, and citizens to reorient the global economy to a path of low-carbon growth – progress that will accelerate as a result of the Agreement’s provisions on mitigation ambition, transparency, and climate finance.

An Ambitious Agreement

The Paris Agreement sets forward an ambitious vision for tackling climate change globally. This includes:

  • Strengthening long-term ambition:The Agreement sets a goal of keeping warming well below 2 degrees Celsius and for the first time agrees to pursue efforts to limit the increase in temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius. It also acknowledges that in order to meet that target, countries should aim to peak greenhouse gas emissions as soon as possible.
  • Establishing a universal approach for all countries:The Agreement moves beyond dividing the world into outdated categories of developed and developing countries and instead directs all parties to prepare, communicate and maintain successive and ambitious nationally determined climate targets. This approach – where countries set non-binding targets for themselves – paved the way for 187 mitigation contributions this year and will form the basis for a long-term, durable system to ratchet down emissions.
  • Locking in five year target cycles:Under the Agreement, all countries will communicate their climate targets every five years, starting in 2020. Targets must be submitted 9-12 months before they are finalized, creating time for other countries and civil society to seek clarity about the targets submitted.
  • Ratcheting up ambition over time:Each target should reflect progress from the prior one, reflecting the highest possible ambition that each country can achieve. This durable, long term framework will drive greater climate ambition as technologies improve and circumstances change.
  • Rigorous assessment of global climate action:To help inform further domestic and global efforts, the Agreement puts in place a mechanism to assess collective progress on global mitigation action using the best available science. This process will begin in 2018 and occur every five years to help inform countries’ future targets and strategies.
  • Sending a market signal on innovation and technology:The mitigation components of the Agreement, combined with a broad push on innovation and technology, will help significantly scale up energy investments over the coming years – investments that will accelerate cost reductions for renewable energy and other low-carbon solutions.  This set of actions will create a mutually reinforcing cycle in which enhanced mitigation increases investment and enhanced investment allows additional mitigation by driving down costs.

A Transparent and Accountable Agreement

The Paris Agreement establishes a robust transparency system to help make sure that all countries are living up to their commitments. This will send a market signal to the private sector and investors that countries are serious about meeting the targets they have set.  These steps include:

  • Putting in place an enhanced transparency system for all countries:A critical component of the Agreement, the transparency framework agreed to by parties ensures that all countries are on a level playing field with the United States with flexibility for those developing countries with less capacity.
  • Requiring countries to report on greenhouse gas inventories: For the first time, the Agreement requires all countries to report on national inventories of emissions by source. This breakthrough will give unprecedented clarity to the public’s understanding of emissions and pollution in countries throughout the world.
  • Requiring countries to report on mitigation progress:Also for the first time, countries are required to report on information necessary to track progress made in implementing and achieving the targets and strategies countries have put forward.
  • Establishing a technical review process with agreed upon standards:To help ensure countries are meeting transparency requirements, countries are subject to a comprehensive technical expert review process that analyzes whether reporting is in line with the standards adopted. Countries will also engage in a multilateral review with their peers to share their experiences and lessons learned.

An Agreement for a Low-Carbon Future

Tackling climate change will require shifting global investment flows towards clean energy, forest protection, and climate-resilient infrastructure.  Developing countries, particularly the most vulnerable, will need support from the global community as they pursue clean and resilient growth. The Paris Agreement makes real progress on this front by:

  • Providing a strong, long-term market signal that the world is locking in a low-carbon future:The submission of ambitious national targets in five-year cycles gives investors and technology innovators a clear signal that the world will demand clean power plants, energy efficient factories and buildings, and low-carbon transportation not just in the short-term but in the decades to come.  This will make it far easier to draw in the largest pools of capital that need long-term certainty in order to invest in clean technologies.
  • Giving confidence that existing financial commitments will be met:Many developing countries, particularly the poorest and most vulnerable, came to Paris seeking reassurance that a global climate deal is not just about the big emitters but also supports their transition to a low-carbon growth path.  In this regard, we are already making strong progress towards meeting the existing goal to mobilize $100 billion from a wide variety of sources, including both public and private, by 2020. The Paris outcome provides further confidence that this goal will be met and that climate finance will continue to flow.  For the first time, the Agreement recognizes the reality that countries like China are already joining the base of donor countries contributing to climate finance and encourages developing countries to contribute to climate finance, while reaffirming that the United States and other developed economies should continue to take the lead.

These components of the Agreement build on steps the United States took in Paris to demonstrate its commitment to mobilizing finance from public and private sources for both mitigation and adaptation activities in developing countries. These steps include:

  • Launching Mission Innovation:On the first day of the conference, President Obama joined other world leaders to launch Mission Innovation, a landmark commitment to accelerate public and private global clean energy innovation, and dramatically expand the new technologies that will define a clean, affordable, and reliable global power mix.  Twenty countries representing around 80% of global clean energy research and development (R&D) funding base committed to double their R&D investments over five years.  In addition, a coalition of 28 global investors led by Bill Gates committed to support early-stage breakthrough energy technologies in countries that have joined Mission Innovation.
  • Doubling U.S. grant-based public finance for adaptation by 2020: Secretary of State John Kerry announced that the United States will double its grant-based, public climate finance for adaptation by 2020. As of 2014, the United States invested more than $400 million per year of grant-based resources for climate adaptation in developing countries. These investments provide vulnerable countries with support – through both bilateral and multilateral channels – to reduce climate risks in key areas, including infrastructure, agriculture, health and water services.

An Agreement Complemented by Subnational, Private Sector and Citizen Action

Because the Agreement should serve as a floor for future ambitious climate action, complementary actions outside of the Agreement by sub-national governments, enterprising businesses, investors and entrepreneurs, and an enlightened global public are important complements to the Paris Agreement. As part of these global efforts, Americans have demonstrated their dedication to climate action through a wide variety of commitments.

  • Compact of Mayors:117 United States mayors have signed onto the Compact of Mayors pledge. The Compact establishes a common platform to capture the impact of cities’ collective actions through standardized measurement of emissions and climate risk, and consistent, public reporting of their efforts.
  • Under-2 MOU:States including California, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and New York have signed onto the Under-2 MOU.   The MOU commits signatories to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80-95% below 1990 levels, share technology and scientific research, expand zero-emission vehicles, improve air quality by reducing short-lived climate pollutants and assess projected impacts of climate change on communities.
  • American Business Act on Climate Pledge:154 companies have signed the White House’s American Business Act on Climate Pledge.  These companies have operations in all 50 states, employ nearly 11 million people, represent more than $4.2 trillion in annual revenue and have a combined market capitalization of over $7 trillion. As part of this initiative, each company expressed support for an ambitious Paris Agreement and announced significant pledges to reduce their emissions, increase low-carbon investments, deploy more clean energy and take other actions to build more sustainable businesses and tackle climate change.
  • American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge:311 colleges and universities representing over 4 million students have demonstrated their commitment to climate action by joining the American Campuses Act on Climate Pledge.

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