Monday, September 28, 2009

$3 Billion For Energy Efficiency in California!

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$3 Billion For Energy Efficiency in California
Written by Susan Kraemer

Published on September 27th, 2009
Posted in Buildings, carbon emissions, energy efficiency

The CPUC has just approved the largest energy efficiency program in U.S. history, authorizing $3.1 billion in consumer rebates and efficiency programs over the next three years, bringing the state closer to implementing AB32, according to Lara Ettenson, director of California Energy Efficiency Policy at the NRDC.

Ettenson told me that the funding comes from the part of the budget that California’s regulated utilities may use to invest in conventional electricity. This may include “negawatts”or energy efficiency measures. This is not just cheaper than building new plants and transmission, but also easier to implement, as it is not subject to the NIMBYism and transmission issues that has impeded development of utility scale solar and wind projects that California utilities must add to meet RPS requirements of getting 20% of its energy from carbon-free sources by 2010. Currently it is at 14%.

This giant leap in funding could jump-start the new low-carbon economy in California; helping grow all the businesses that create cutting edge efficiency in cooling and heating, lighting, building materials, windows, insulation, appliances and smart grid technologies that reduce energy use.

Ettenson gave me some examples of uses for the funding in practical terms:

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1. Municipalities would get funding so they could offer low-cost financing for energy efficiency improvement projects within the city.
2. Apartment complexes would get rebates to upgrade appliances with energy efficient replacements.
3. For all new buildings, builders or homeowners would get money for incorporating 15% better energy savings than is already required by California’s stringent Title 24 Energy code. To do this they would need to incorporate cutting edge efficiency in windows, insulation, lighting and more efficient water heating and cooling systems.
4. Retailers would get funding to bring down the cost of LED and CFL lighting, and more efficient computers and TVs.
5. Homeowners would get direct rebates for highly efficient appliances like Energy Star refrigerators, washers and dryers; and rebates for recycling old appliances.

The NRDC’s Ettenson says “The total benefits to California’s economy will substantially exceed the $3.1 billion in investments.” The funding comprises the most comprehensive effort ever to retrofit 130,000 homes in the state, and it includes design and technical assistance for local governments.

If you thought that the California Solar Initiative solar rebates succeeded in creating a solar industry here, imagine what this much, much higher level of investment is going to do for the energy efficiency industry.

For comparison the total budget for the California Solar Initiative was just $2,167 million. CSI is extremely effective. It is on target to add 3,000 MW of solar to the grid just using individual rooftops.

The electric utilities in the state administer the CSI funding to homeowners and businesses that install solar arrays. The rebate amounts are based on independent calculations of the expected performance from each array installed. Each rebate is awarded based on the angle, tilt, and location for each installation.

This performance-based funding has ensured that California is getting its money’s worth of electricity from every solar array installed on every roof. Utilities and ratepayers benefit, because they don’t have to spend to install new transmission. Efficiency can get our energy needs down to where adding solar can be extremely affordable, with these CSI rebates and with the 30% off that we all get nationwide now from the Feds, under The Recovery Act.

The $3 billion is expected to reduce climate change carbon pollution by 3 million tons each year. The energy cost of that energy saved as the years go on multiply exponentially, every year into the future, as energy costs rise 6.7% a year. The more that our energy costs are reduced the more prosperous we become as a state. For example; each home that can cut its use of utility-bought energy to zero by buying a solar array instead, can save $72,000 to $300,000 over 25 years. After that they have no energy costs. Multiply that by everyone in the state and this is a huge move for California.

A key step in making solar affordable is to first greatly reduce the energy requirements of buildings with highly efficient appliances, heating and cooling, and windows and lighting. With investment on this scale, this is now a real possibility.

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Image: Vintage scan from Flikr user jassy-50

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Tags: $3.1 billion, 15% better than Title 24, AB32, appliances, California Public Utilities Commission, CFLs, efficient TVs, insulation, largest energy efficiency program in U.S. history, led, lighting, low-cost financing for energy efficiency, rebates for efficient appliances, smart grid technologies, water heating, windows


2009-09-28 02:36:22.0
CBC Urges Blacks to Go Green - Green Careers/ Green Jobs
Since the presidential campaign, ?green jobs? have been touted as the answer to a recession-scarred economy and are a major element of President Obama's ...

CBC Urges Blacks to Go Green
Last Updated Sep 2009
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By Zenitha Prince

Washington Bureau Chief

In this Sept. 15 photo, Jacqueline Greene, left, and Patricia Caldwell look over a brochure before entering a job fair sponsored by the National Urban League in Louisville, Ky. (AP Photo/Ed Reinke)

(September 27, 2009) - WASHINGTON – Despite predictions, experts said African-Americans were roadkill on the information highway, missing out on most of the economic opportunities in that revolution as they did with many others.

But Black government and community leaders this week however, declared that the same will not be said of Blacks and the emerging green economy.

“This is the sleeper civil and economic issue of the 21st century,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of the Leadership Conference for Civil Rights. “And it’s the first real opportunity for the African-American community to be involved in a transformative effort that is shaping our economy and the global economy as well,”

Henderson was a panelist in a forum titled, “Black & Green: American-American Leadership in Building an Inclusive Clean-Energy Economy,” one of several green economy workshops at the 39th Annual Legislative Conference of the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, held this week.

Since the presidential campaign, “green jobs” have been touted as the answer to a recession-scarred economy and are a major element of President Obama’s economic recovery toolbox.

And the green economy could prove crucial to the survival of the Black community, panelists said.

“The issue is not green jobs; the issue is any job,” Henderson told the audience. “In times of famine, there is no bad bread. Our community is in a crisis and employment of any kind, but especially employment in an emerging economy is important.”

Sadly, a lack of green interest and foresight is evident in many communities that need it most, said consultant Dalton Roberson Jr., 36, including his hometown of Detroit, which has been crushed by the collapse of the U.S. auto industry.

“The economic conditions are so bad and people are so focused on making it from day-to-day that discussions about the green economy seem 10 years in the future or 30,000 feet above their heads,” he said. “Frankly, a lot of people are still hoping for the return of the auto industry.”

Roberson said he came to the forum looking for information and experts who could help him strategize about how Detroit could use its resources, including manufacturing plants, trained manufacturing workers and even natural resources such as the Detroit River, which could serve as a renewable energy source, to reinvent the city as a green technologies hub.

Recent government moves to stabilize the economy also include opportunities for African-American workers, businesses and communities to reinvent themselves, panelists said.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, for example, allocated $500 million for competitive grants for green jobs training, especially for women, minorities, ex-offenders and veterans, high school dropouts, the unemployed and those living in high poverty areas. Additionally, the act allocated billions for weatherization projects aimed toward creating temporary jobs for low-income families.

The American Clean Energy and Security Act, which was passed by the House of Representatives and is awaiting Senate action, takes it even further.

“I wanted to make sure that bill was more inclusive and that it would provide more opportunities for African-Americans to find employment, provide more opportunities for entrepreneurship and also other investment opportunities,” said Illinois Rep. Bobby Rush (D), a senior member of the House Energy Committee and sponsor of the forum.

Among the provisions he fought to include were the creation of clean energy innovation consortiums for predominantly Black institutions, which would allocate funds for research and development of clean energy technologies, and the Green Construction Careers Demonstration Project, which provides $860 million to provide pre-apprenticeship training in green construction jobs to low-income persons or those not traditionally employed in construction trades. It also requires that those trained workers must provide a minimum percentage of the work on green construction projects.

The latter measure was hard-fought but necessary, said Congressman Rush.

“This provision didn’t come easy,” he said. “We worked all night long…. We cussed and we cussed some more. We asked forgiveness for cussing and then we cussed some more. It was hard…but finally they relented.”

Given how Black workers and contractors were excluded from other major projects, the lawmaker said he was determined it would not happen again.

“If labor [unions] wants me and other CBC members to continue to be for labor, then labor is going to have to change its policies about apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship and allow African-Americans to get those opportunities,” he said. “Our support for labor cannot continue to be mostly a one way street.”

Melissa Bradley-Brown, of Green for All, which helped lobby for the provision, said it is important for fostering stable employment by creating “career pipelines” in Black communities.

The environmental activist said they are also fighting for Black entrepreneurs like J.T. Stinnette of Chicago-based Stinnette & Brown LLC to get a piece of the “green” pie.

Stinnette said when the economy began to cave in two years ago, her company, then an affordable housing developer, “lost its footing.”

“As a strategy to reposition ourselves we had to brand ourselves ‘green’ and diversify,” she said. The company branched out to provide green jobs training—training 98 high school students in green media, green housing development, consulting and construction.

But the company could not access stimulus dollars nor could they secure a bank loan.It’s because of situations like this that Green for All is working with the private sector through its Capital Access Program, Bradley-Brown said.

“We recognize that while it’s truly important to have legislation to create the infrastructure to create jobs, at the end of the day, it’s the private sector, the business community including for-profit and not-for-profit that will be responsible for creating these jobs,” she said.

Panelists said this is only one of many fronts that will require the attention and advocacy of the Black community if it is to prosper in the new “green” age.

Recently, the Obama administration allocated $12 billion to reform America’s community colleges, money the Black community must channel into curricula that train African Americans for green-collar jobs, said Naomi Davis of Blacks in Green (BIG), a “green village builder.”

“Go to your local community college, see if they have any green jobs offerings and if they don’t, let your voice be heard,” she said.

Davis and others agree the first step is to raise awareness of the issue within the Black community and then present a unified front.

“We must collaborate,” Davis said. “Everyone working independently isn’t going to work.”

Congressman Rush said with President Obama in the White House, the Black community has a rare opportunity to move closer to economic parity, an opportunity they cannot afford to have slip away.

“We have to be very vigilant on this, we can’t let this energy bill and this whole new economy come and go,” he said. “We have a new opportunity now. We’re in the Obama era, but it’s going to end in the next eight years. And, as we look back, shame on us if under the administration and presidency of the first and only African-American president our community is not better off than it was at the beginning.”

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“Although residential energy efficiency in itself is not enough to cure the problem, it starts developing jobs and new businesses in the Green Impact Zone. ...Kansas City’s Green Impact Zone – A Vision for 21st Century Urban Renewal
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kc-green-zoneBy Andrea Buffa, The Apollo Alliance

U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-Mo.) had a vision for how the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) could benefit the urban core of Kansas City, Missouri, where he served as mayor from 1991 – 1999. The city would create a 150-block “Green Impact Zone,” where federal dollars could spur the renewal of a poor and dilapidated area by creating a program to put residents to work weatherizing thousands of neighborhood homes.

“The key is we are investing federal money wisely and building an inclusive green economy strong enough to create jobs for residents,” Cleaver told the Kansas City Star in April.

Cleaver’s vision was quickly embraced by the City Council of Kansas City and by many neighborhood groups. It has now evolved into a green community revitalization effort that touches not only on green jobs and home weatherization, but also on transit, community safety and other services that are vital to a healthy neighborhood. In April, the City Council formally committed itself to focusing its ARRA funds on the Green Impact Zone, and soon thereafter the city dedicated $1.5 million of its Public Improvements Advisory Committee funds to get the program started. By Sept. 1, Obama administration officials were touring the zone and proclaiming the project a model for the rest of the country.

The Green Impact Zone plan is still in an early phase, but it is notable for the comprehensiveness of its approach and the depth of its community involvement. Such an approach will be necessary to address severe unemployment in the area, which is estimated to range from 13 percent to 53 percent, depending on the neighborhood. The Green Impact Zone also suffers from what can only be called abandonment. Some 25 percent of the area’s properties are vacant lots. One area that was included in the Green Impact Zone is called the “murder zone.”

“I grew up here in Kansas City,” said Anita Maltbia, director of the Green Impact Zone, which is being sponsored by the Mid-America Regional Council, a nonprofit regional planning organization, and will be housed in a building located in the zone. “I was aware of what this community was like 30 to 40 years ago. It’s been in constant demise for the last 30 to 40 years—environmentally, economically and socially, it used to be stronger than it is today.”
Maltbia coordinates the various organizations and individuals that will be working together to develop the Green Impact Zone. These include neighborhood associations, utility companies, employment training centers, educational institutions, and government agencies, among others.

Maltbia is also responsible for monitoring which ARRA funds Green Impact Zone partners have applied for and which have been approved. Funds that are already secured include part of the $9 million Weatherization Assistance Program grant that was awarded to Kansas City and a $1.6 million EPA grant to clean up brownfields in the Green Impact Zone and train 80 zone residents in handling hazardous waste associated with cleaning up contaminated sites. The program has applied for funding from the Department of Justice for community policing; HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program for redeveloping abandoned and foreclosed homes; a Department of Labor Pathways out of Poverty grant for green jobs training; and several other ARRA programs.

The project has also attracted private funding. In early September, KCP&L (Kansas City Power and Light) announced that the company and its corporate partners planned to spend $24 million in private money in the Green Impact Zone to improve the distribution grid and a midtown substation, install smart technologies and more advanced appliances in some homes and businesses, and install advanced meters. However, the private funding is contingent on an ARRA matching grant from the Department of Energy.

The weatherization component of the Green Impact Zone program has received the vast majority of media attention for the program, which makes sense to Bob Housh, executive director of the Metropolitan Energy Center, one of the Green Impact Zone training partners.

“Almost half of the people in the Green Impact Zone are unemployed,” Housh said. “Although residential energy efficiency in itself is not enough to cure the problem, it starts developing jobs and new businesses in the Green Impact Zone. And with the other things the federal government is doing around residential energy efficiency—tax rebates, incentives, and so on—it’s going to help create a market for this.”

Housh’s organization is partnering with the Full Employment Council of Kansas City and the University of Central Missouri to train Green Impact Zone residents to be certified energy auditors. The organizations have completed two trainings so far and are planning to develop a crew chief training course so that trainees will have career advancement opportunities.

Another benefit of the weatherization program is the impact it will have on residents’ energy bills. “A lot of the people who live in this neighborhood in the wintertime have $600 to $800 heating bills, because they have windows without storm windows, very old heaters, and little insulation,” said Margaret May, executive director of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council. The Ivanhoe neighborhood is one of five neighborhoods in the Green Impact Zone.

But plans for the Green Impact Zone go way beyond home weatherization and the green jobs associated with it. Other components of the program include a rapid-transit bus route; a smart grid energy project; a green sewer demonstration project; a botanical garden; and a citizen engagement center that will serve as a one-stop shop for residents’ public safety issues. “What we’re hoping is that we come up with processes and procedures and a model that can be replicated,” Maltbia said. “I’m just so pleased for the citizens of the Green Impact Zone and then for citizens beyond that, because through our successes we’ll be able to duplicate this model. It’s a boon for Kansas City in general and the whole entire region if we’re able to pull an area out of the statistics we have.”

One of the unique aspects of the Green Impact Zone is its focus on community participation. “One thing about the Green Impact Zone that may be really different than a lot of other projects is the level of input and control by the local community,” Housh said. “It was decided early on that rather than just do the usual thing with the usual organizations and agencies that they would try to do this from the community up.”

May of the Ivanhoe Neighborhood Council said she’s been involved from the very beginning of the process, when Congressman Cleaver came up with the Green Impact Zone concept. There are regular community meetings on topics like public safety, infrastructure and energy. May also mentioned that neighborhood residents joined political leaders on a Green Impact Zone outing to visit the town of Greensburg, Kansas, which rebuilt green after it was destroyed by a tornado in 2007.

May says that Green Impact Zone residents are excited about the project and its prospects for improving their community, despite some obstacles that have come up during the planning process. For example, Green Impact Zone organizers have discovered that there is a federal regulation that prevents households that have had any federally funded weatherization work done since 1994 from receiving ARRA weatherization assistance. This regulation may prevent some Green Impact Zone homes from participating in the energy efficiency part of the program, even though technologies to improve home and appliance energy efficiency have improved dramatically since 1994.

Such obstacles don’t intimidate May, who has dealt with far more menacing neighborhood problems than an inconvenient federal regulation. “We are very grateful for this opportunity,” she said. “We believe we’re going to do this and exceed the goals that we have, and that we’re going to be so successful that across the nation this concept is going to spread, and within our city it will go into an area that’s even larger than what’s currently planned for.”


Andrea Buffa is a senior write and policy associate at the Apollo Alliance,

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