Arctic sea ice shrinks to third lowest area on record

Arctic sea ice shrinks to third lowest area on record

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Arctic sea ice shrinks to third lowest area on record AFP/ESA/File – An Envisat image that captures sea ice and cloud streets in the Svalbard Archipelago in April 2010. Arctic …

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Arctic sea ice melted over the summer to cover the third smallest area on record, US researchers said Wednesday, warning global warming could leave the region ice free in the month of September 2030.

Last week, at the end of the spring and summer “melt season” in the Arctic, sea ice covered 4.76 million square kilometers (1.84 million square miles), the University of Colorado’s National Snow and Ice Data Center said in an annual report.

“This is only the third time in the satellite record that ice extent has fallen below five million square kilometers (1.93 million square miles), and all those occurrences have been within the past four years,” the report said.

A separate report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) found that in August, too, Arctic sea ice coverage was down sharply, covering an average of six million square kilometers (2.3 million square miles), or 22 percent below the average extent from 1979 to 2000.

The August coverage was the second lowest for Arctic sea ice since records began in 1979. Only 2007 saw a smaller area of the northern sea covered in ice in August, NOAA said.

The record low for Arctic sea ice cover at the end of the spring and summer “melt season” in September, was also in 2007, when ice covered just 4.13 million square kilometers (1.595 million square miles).

Mark Serreze, director of the NSIDC, said climate-change skeptics might seize the fact that Arctic sea ice did not hit a record-low extent this year, but said they would be barking up the wrong tree if they claimed the shrinkage had been stopped.

“Only the third lowest? It didn’t set a new record? Well, right. It didn’t set a new record but we’re still headed down. We’re not looking at any kind of recovery here,” he told AFP.

In fact, Serreze said, Arctic sea ice cover is shrinking year-round, with more ice melting in the spring and summer months and less ice forming in the fall and winter.

“The Arctic, like the globe as a whole, is warming up and warming up quickly, and we’re starting to see the sea ice respond to that. Really, in all months, the sea ice cover is shrinking — there’s an overall downward trend,” Serreze told AFP.

“The extent of Arctic ice is dropping at something like 11 percent per decade — very quickly, in other words.

“Our thinking is that by 2030 or so, if you went out to the Arctic on the first of September, you probably won’t see any ice at all. It will look like a blue ocean, we’re losing it that quickly,” he said.

Losing sea ice cover in the Arctic would affect everything from the obvious, such as people who live in the far north and polar bears, to global weather patterns, said Serreze.

“The Arctic acts as a sort of refrigerator of the northern hemisphere. As we lose the ice cover, we start to change the nature of that refrigerator, and what happens up there affects what happens down here in the middle latitudes,” he said.

“We might have less cold outbreaks, which you might say is a good thing, but it’s not such a good thing in regions that depend on snowfall for their water supply.”

NOAA noted in its report that the first eight months of 2010 were in equal first place with the same period in 1998 for the warmest combined land and ocean surface temperatures on record worldwide, and the summer months were the second warmest on record globally, after 1998.



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Re: Enviros: 1 – Big Polluters: $514 Million

On Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 2:00 PM, Environmental Defense Action Fund <takeaction@edf.org> wrote:

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Environmental Defense Fund

Dear Scotts,

smokestack red

Big polluters and K St lobbyists are taking aim on EPA's power to curb climate emissions under the Clean Air Act—and we urgently need your help to defend it.

Tell your Senators to let EPA do its job.

Good news broke late yesterday that the Senate Appropriations Committee would cancel this week's mark up of the EPA and Interior Department spending bill, temporarily scuttling plans to vote on a big polluter-supported amendment that would restrict EPA's plans to limit America's climate pollution.

This is a short-term victory and we want to thank the tens of thousands of EDF supporters who emailed their Senators and donated to our campaign.

But, this is no time to hang a "Mission Accomplished" banner.

Polluting interests have already spent $514 million to lobby against climate legislation. And we know from recent experience that there is no dirty trick or sleazy tactic they won't use to block EPA's plan to cut America's climate pollution.

Please take this opportunity to email your Senators and make sure they know you will continue to oppose any and all efforts to limit EPA's efforts to reduce America's climate pollution or to weaken America's air pollution laws.

More Background

The EPA is scheduled to begin implementing new climate pollution limits on January 1. This stems from a 2007 Supreme Court ruling declaring that the EPA not only has the authority to regulate carbon emissions under the Clean Air Act, it has the obligation to do so.

Last year, the EPA issued an endangerment finding detailing the threat of global warming to human health. EPA later issued its plans to initiate pollution limits starting with America's biggest emitters.

When the Senate decided it was not going to vote on a comprehensive climate and energy bill this year, the full attention of the big polluters and their high-priced lobbyists shifted to EPA climate action.

Senators from both sides of the aisle offered legislative proposals to limit EPA authority, including an insidious plan to attach an amendment to must-pass appropriations bills, like the EPA-Interior bill.

This is part of a broader strategy by the big polluters to strike down a wide range of pollution limits. Corporate lobbyists are also pushing to weaken the "boiler rule," which limits emissions of toxic mercury, dioxins, and other hazardous pollutants.

And the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has pledged to spend $100 million over the next few years to promote big polluter and other corporate interests. EPA climate action and other pollution limits are among their top targets. We must remain vigilant in the fight.

Please email your Senators today to make sure they know you support EPA climate action and you support America's clean air laws.

We dodged a bullet this week. With your continued support, we'll stay on top of this threat.

Thank you for your activism and support,
Environmental Defense Action Fund

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Environmental Defense Action Fund
1875 Connecticut Ave. NW, Suite 600
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Peak oil: Not just for conspiracy theorists anymore

Information Provided by:Scotty,Scott’s Contracting GREEN BUILDER, St Louis “Renewable Energy” Missouri>http://www.stlouisrenewableenergy.com; contact scotty@stlouisrenewableenergy.com for additional information or to Schedule a “Free Green Site Evaluation”

Peak oil: Not just for conspiracy theorists anymore

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Buzz up!

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I understand why people don’t listen to wild-eyed conspiracy theorists about the coming calamity of peak oil. Instead, they go to recognized experts like Daniel Yergin (author of The Prize: The Epic Quest for Oil, Money, and Power), who tells them that everything is OK and the black gold will keep pumping for many decades to come.
But it ain’t necessarily so. And would you believe Lloyd’s of London? Lloyd’s has joined with the well-respected Royal Institute of International Affairs, also known as Chatham House, to say that Britain (and presumably the rest of the world) needs to be ready for peak oil and erratic energy supplies.
“Companies which are able to take advantage of this new energy reality will increase both their resilience and their competitiveness,” according to the report, Sustainable Energy Security: Strategic Risks and Opportunities for Business. The report, says Lloyd’s chief executive officer, Dr. Richard Ward, “should cause all risk managers to pause.” I guess so!
According to the report:

  • Businesses that prepare for the new scarcity will prosper, and failure to act could be catastrophic.
  • Access to relatively cheap, combustible, carbon-based energy is an outmoded expectation, caused by surging energy consumption in the Third World, a range of factors affecting conventional fuel production, and “international recognition that continuing to release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere will cause climate chaos.”
  • The importance of China and emerging Asian economies in energy markets will grow. Chinese oil consumption is rising rapidly, as is Chinese coal production. “Third, their energy security policies are driving investment in clean energy technologies on an unprecedented scale.”
  • We are heading towards a global oil supply crunch and price spike on international markets. Said spike would prompt “drastic national measures to cut oil dependency.”
  • Climate change will make energy infrastructure increasingly vulnerable. Global warming itself imperils oil production and delivery due to “severe weather events.” For investors, this means betting on instability makes sense.
  • Businesses have to address energy risks by reducing oil consumption. In addition to natural scarcity, companies will face regulation such as carbon pricing and cap and trade.
  • Investment in renewable energy and “intelligent infrastructure” presents “huge opportunities for new business partnerships.” The smart grid is the wave of the future, but in clean energy too there will be scarcities and higher costs. Plus vulnerabilities in a system increasingly dependent on IT. 

I don’t know about you, but I’m not sensing ungrounded theorizing here. This is sober analysis, and we need to pay close attention.
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Climate Change Causing Ice Melts Unveils Ancient Tools

On Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 4:38 PM, Scott’s Contracting <scottscontracting> wrote:

Home of "Ice Giants" thaws, shows pre-Viking hunts

Reuters

Pre-Viking find in Norway mountainsPlay Video Reuters – Pre-Viking find in Norway mountains

To match Feature CLIMATE-VIKINGS/ Reuters – The Juvfonna ice field at 1,850 metres (6070 feet) above sea level is seen in the Jotunheimen mountains …

By Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent Alister Doyle, Environment Correspondent – Tue Sep 14, 6:04 am ET
JUVFONNA, Norway (Reuters) – Climate change is exposing reindeer hunting gear used by the Vikings’ ancestors faster than archaeologists can collect it from ice thawing in northern Europe’s highest mountains.

"It’s like a time machine…the ice has not been this small for many, many centuries," said Lars Piloe, a Danish scientist heading a team of "snow patch archaeologists" on newly bare ground 1,850 meters (6,070 ft) above sea level in mid-Norway.

Specialized hunting sticks, bows and arrows and even a 3,400-year-old leather shoe have been among finds since 2006 from a melt in the Jotunheimen mountains, the home of the "Ice Giants" of Norse mythology.

As water streams off the Juvfonna ice field, Piloe and two other archaeologists — working in a science opening up due to climate change

Smart Grid-News-Pilots, Accelerating

On Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 4:53 PM, Scott’s Contracting <scottscontracting> wrote:

Accelerating successful smart grid pilots

According to the World Economic Forum’s Smart Grid Steering Board and Task Force, the utility industry has seen over the past year the impact government spending can have on the transition to a low-carbon economy, as well as the central role the smart grid can play in this transition.

As a result, there has been a substantial increase in the number of smart grid pilots being implemented, with industry estimates at around 90 pilots globally.

The WEF group prepared a report in collaboration with Accenture and with the input from a steering board of project champions and a task force of experts. For this report, over 60 industry and policy/regulatory stakeholders were engaged to identify the factors that determine the success, or otherwise, of smart grid pilots.

The global analysis identified a number of issues across the pilot life cycle that are preventing pilots from reaching their full potential. Our report presents several recommendations for stakeholders: the crucial role of the regulator in incentivizing smart grid pilots by providing clarity over funding and stranded assets; the need for the utility to apply rigor to pilot scoping with a mixture of consumer-centric and grid-centric technologies and to develop compelling consumer value propositions and outreach programs while understanding operating model and business model implications of smart technologies; and the need for cross-industry collaboration to form multidisciplinary consortia and to increase international knowledge exchange.

Over the last 12 months, we have seen significant growth in the number of projects being undertaken; the prevailing industry estimate is that 90 smart grid pilots are in progress today, with at least as many in the pipeline.

The pilots have been predominantly focused in North America, Australia and Europe; however, we are now seeing considerable activity in South America, South Africa, China, India, Japan and South Korea.

The scope of these pilots shows the continued dominance of advanced meter reading (AMIsmart metering); however, we are beginning to see more smart grid projects that are focused on network optimization and dealing with the challenges of accommodating a broad spectrum of low-carbon technologies.

Over the last year, we have observed three broad trends within the smart grid industry:

• The rise of smart grid as an industrial imperative — Many governments are seeing smart grid and the broader low-carbon technology industry as critical to the evolution of their manufacturing and knowledge economy. In the East Asian economies, strategic investments are being made to develop intellectual property and manufacturing capabilities in this sector with a view to growing the export market globally.

• The broadening of the smart grid concept to intelligent cities — The debate has also notably shifted from being a discussion on pure “smart grids” and electricity infrastructure to include intelligent infrastructure, whereby the sensing and control capabilities inherent in the smart grid are applied to multiple physical infrastructure layers within the urban environment (e.g. water, waste, buildings, etc.).

• The emergence of new entrants in the utility value chain – We are beginning to see a new breed of industry participants, such as consumer products, telecoms and retail companies, explore their potential roles within the industry. We have not yet seen a significant disruption in the traditional business model; however, as the new entrants develop their understanding of the industry dynamics, we expect disruptive business models to emerge.

Opportunities and Challenges

Our review of the first crop of pilots suggests that, while the industry has taken a significant step forward, there are clear opportunities to extract more insight and value from these investments. We see the following as the key challenges of today’s smart grid pilots:

• The struggle to create strong smart grid business cases remains in environments where regulatory incentives have not evolved to reflect today’s policy agenda

• Future legislation is uncertain and, in some cases, disaggregation of the utility value chain is increasing complexity; making it more difficult to align and allocate risk and reward

• Challenges remain around data privacy, cybersecurity, interoperability and standards

• There are examples of conflation of objectives, whereby new technologies and pricing structures are rolled out in parallel, making it difficult to understand cause and effect when customers react poorly to the change

• Pilots are encountering consumer engagement challenges, both in communicating effectively with the consumer and in delivering high-quality implementations in unpredictable field environments

• A number of smart metering pilots have struggled to convince the regulator and the consumer over the true benefit of their smart grid value propositions

In the context of the growing number of smart grid pilots, it is critical that we use this period of industry momentum to accelerate the technology development and develop the sustainable regulatory frameworks that will enable them to transition to the mainstream. By challenging the regulatory status quo at this stage, we will avoid the risk of becoming limited by the legacy frameworks to the “lowest common denominator” of smart grid.

Finally, for consumer-centric pilots it is critical that projects seek to engage and educate consumers at this point of inflection in order to generate buy-in and stimulate the necessary market demand. For smart grid to be economically and socially sustainable, customers will need to recognize the value that these technologies can provide and be willing to pay for the products and services on offer.

Lessons Learned

Pilots serve a twofold purpose:
1. They provide a mechanism for utilities and their partners to innovate in a lowered risk environment and gather data proving the value of smart grid investments.

2. They help the utility to field-test new technologies and generate capabilities and insights that will support them in the successful full-scale roll-out of smart grids.

This year’s publication is the output of a joint research effort between the World Economic Forum and Accenture with the input from the project Steering Board and Task Force members, who represent stakeholders from the entire smart grid value chain.

It puts forward a number of recommendations to enable current and future pilots to reach their full potential. The research engaged utilities, vendors, communications companies, regulators, policy- makers and NGOs via workshops and one-on-one interviews. This study unearthed a number of “lessons learned” from the existing pilots, which we have broadly grouped into four sections:

1. Political and Regulatory Context
• The right regulatory and policy framework for innovation and investment: Regulators and policymakers need to create the right environment for private sector investment in innovation and capital assets. In liberalized markets, this is further complicated by the disaggregated nature of the value chain. Regulators should pay close attention to the allocation of risk and reward across the value chain and develop regulatory frameworks that encourage investment and align incentives.

• Drive for global standards: Standards help provide market certainty and increase interoperability. However, if they are applied too early or are deemed too proprietary in nature, they can stifle innovation. Multiple regional standards are being developed with the consequent risk that we will see competing standards bodies. There is an opportunity to increase the level of international outreach and cooperation; increase the prevalence of open standards; and apply standards from other established industries, such as the Internet protocol and security standards, to help expedite their adoption.

2. Scoping Phase
Be clear about the test parameters and understand when customers will be engaged

• Clarity and ambition in design: It is essential that pilots invest in creating and documenting clear test parameters and hypotheses that they intend to prove, or disprove, through the implementation phase. We encourage utilities to trial holistic and ambitious smart grid pilots that demonstrate the value of the technologies within a broader system context. Designers should be mindful of the risk of conflating objectives and ensure that pilots are divided into sequential, yet iterative, phases examining technology, operating models and business models.

• Grid vs consumer pilots’ capabilities: Most pilots will contain a mixture of consumer-facing and network-facing technologies. Consumer-facing pilots may confront additional challenges around consumer acceptance and behavioral change, where proactive consumer engagement programs can play a critical role in securing the long-term success of a pilot. Each interaction with the customer can be critical to the longer-term success of the pilot.

Collaborate to develop commercial capability that trials new operating and business models

• Successful commercial collaboration: The creation of successful commercial consortia will become a point of competitive differentiation in the transition towards the low-carbon economy. Utilities will benefit from using pilots as a test bed to put in place the commercial and legal frameworks to bring these different capabilities together.

• Experiment with new operating and business models: Once technology is robust and interoperability is proven, there is an opportunity for pilots to help utilities understand what changes they will need to make to their operating and business models to maximize the value of new technologies.

Develop consumer insight
• Segment consumers by behavior: In the planning stages we recommend that pilots undertake behavioral segmentation analysis, looking carefully at the three major groups: residential; small and medium enterprises; and commercial and industrial. By segmenting these customer groups, utilities and their partners can develop product and service offerings that meet the customer needs and create “pull” for smart grid offerings.

• Target business customers: Business customers are often more sensitive to price and open to innovative product and service offerings that help increase profitability. Furthermore, early adopters in the residential sector often take their cue from technologies that they are made aware of in the work environment.

3. Execution
• Engage and educate consumers: Consumer outreach programs and ongoing product/service support are critical during pilots that directly impact the customer. Within these outreach programs, utilities need to communicate messages in clear, common language; adopting new techniques, channels and incentive schemes to build trust and to explain the value proposition to consumers in their everyday lives.

• Re-engineer in the field: The most successful pilots encourage collective problem solving in the field, eliciting and responding to consumer feedback and ensuring the skills and flexibility are in place to successfully re-engineer improvements in technology and the business process. This is particularly important in consumer-facing pilots, where any lapse in performance has the potential for a long-term, detrimental impact on the consumer’s perception of smart grid and their relationship with their energy provider.

4. Dissemination of the Lessons Learned
• Share lessons from the field: Today’s knowledge exchange remains limited. The recent launch of the Department of Energy’s beta version Smart Grid Information Clearinghouse demonstrates the way forward; however, it remains focused on the US market. A larger, international data set with contextual data, such as customer demographics and network topology, may enable utilities to benchmark themselves more effectively and make stronger value cases.

• Inform the regulatory/policy environment: An opportunity exists for utilities to make the case for change in their own regulatory frameworks. Data and knowledge gleaned from the pilot programmes will provide empirical data that can be used to create policy and regulatory frameworks that align incentives and encourage private-sector investment.

Key Takeaways for All Stakeholders across Three Key Timescales

1. Short term: Lay the foundations for success

a. Policy-makers and Regulators — Create the right conditions for innovation and certainty over funding and regulatory treatment while driving alignment on standards

b. Utilities and Partners — Develop broad-based consortia, focus on creating a stable technology platform and engage consumers where they are likely to be personally affected

2. Medium term: Reshape the agenda and roll-out proven technologies

c. Policy-makers and Regulators — Review the regulatory framework to align incentives and encourage private-sector investment

d. Utilities and Partners — Use initial data to help shape the regulatory agenda; pilot changes to the operating model and processes; share data and use simulation to make the value case for roll-out of “proven” technologies

3. Longer term: Change the model

e. Policy-makers and Regulators — Reward utility innovation and encourage participation of new entrants that may offer new business models

f. Utilities and Partners — Position the value case for full-scale roll-out of technologies as the economics improve; and innovate around the business model to offer customers greater value and behavioral segmentation data to target a greater proportion of customers with differentiated product and service offerings

FREE Green Apps for Your Phone

On Tue, Sep 14, 2010 at 5:51 PM, Scott’s Contracting <scottscontracting> wrote:

While Browsing for Green and Eco friendly info I stumbled upon this site for Green Aps for your Smart Phone.

If you are one of the 59% of Americans who has moved away from the concept of a phone just being able to place calls, you have entered the app world, a time wasting world where that transforms your phone into an all purpose life saver.* But with so many apps to choose from now, it is sometimes hard to weed out the truly useful apps from the junk. So, if any of you ever wanted an app to help you save energy and go green here are a list of great apps for the iPhone and the Android. Oh, and they are all free!

Article Continues: http://www.myenergysolution.com/energy-savings-blog/energy-basics/how-we-consume-energy/best-free-green-apps-for-your-phone#comment-181

Urge the Senate+Clean Energy Creates Jobs

Small Businesses Urge US Senate To Let Clean Energy Create Jobs

A new report released today by four American small business associations claims that 1.9 million jobs have been lost in the U.S. due to the Senate’s inability to pass clean energy legislation.

by Jennifer Runyon, Managing Editor
Published: September 14, 2010

New Hampshire, USA— Today four small business associations came together to release a report that shows an enormous number of U.S. jobs were lost when the Senate failed to pass clean energy legislation in July.

Small Business Majority, Main Street Alliance, American Businesses for Clean Energy and We Can Lead said in their report “A Costly Climate Of Inaction: 1.9 Million Jobs Lost Due To The U.S. Senate’s Failure To Advance Clean Energy/Climate Legislation” that China and other leading nations have gained more than $11 billion in job-creating clean-energy investments – with the U.S. losing an estimated $208 million every day – since the U.S. Senate abandoned comprehensive clean energy legislation in late July.

Essentially the report looks at private investment in clean energy and jobs that private investment would create. Since the Senate didn’t pass an RES (renewable electricity standard) or any kind of carbon legislation, it sent a message to investors that the country isn’t ready to get serious about clean energy.

The business associations point out that in the time that passed between the Senate recess and now, China overtook the U.S. to lead a quarterly index of the most attractive countries for renewable energy projects for the first time, according to Ernst & Young. Additionally, the U.S. has fallen more than $11 billion behind China and other leading nations in clean energy investments.

Their analysis is based on calculations performed in two reports. The first, from The Pew Charitable Trust, states, “it can be calculated based on existing investment trends that in the 54 days between July 22, 2010 (when the U.S. Senate abandoned the climate bill) and its return to Washington (September 13, 2010), the United States fell $11,269,800,000 ($208 million a day) behind other G20 nations in clean energy investments. And during that same time the U.S. has fallen $21,215,342,466 behind the rest of the world in clean energy investments.

The second set of calculations used in the report came out of the University of California, Berkley. The UCal Berkley analysis states, “the consequences of depriving the U.S. of tens of billions of dollars in private sector investments in clean energy jobs are huge. An analysis of the American Power Act – the last comprehensive climate legislation before the U.S. Senates – showed that it would have created 1.9 million jobs. When the Senate failed to act, those jobs were lost.”

Other key findings include the following:

  • Nearly 600,000 of the unrealized jobs were lost where they are now needed most — the 10 states with unemployment rates over 10 percent: Nevada (17,000 jobs); California (226,000); Rhode Island (8,000); Florida (78,000); South Carolina (36,000); Mississippi (19,000); Oregon (26,000); Indiana (45,000); Ohio (61,000); and Illinois (68,000).
  • Even states with lower unemployment levels lost hundreds of thousands of urgently needed new jobs, including more than 300,000 jobs in the following states: Arkansas (25,000); Maine (12,000); Massachusetts (40,000); Minnesota (38,000); Missouri (29,000); Montana (13,000); New Hampshire (7,000); New Jersey (11,000); Pennsylvania (78,000); and Virginia (50,000).
  • The lost jobs forfeited by the U.S. Senate include major categories of employment that could have put Americans to work immediately with little or no additional training or education – since a large portion of clean energy jobs require widely-held skills that millions of Americans already have.
  • The Senate’s failure to take action will have even wider negative economic consequences on American families, including Americans missing out on an increase to annual household income of up to $1,175 per year, and a boost to America’s gross domestic product (GDP) of up to $111 billion – with these huge economic benefits flowing across all 50 states.

With mid-term congressional elections looming, most experts agree that Senate action on clean energy is unlikely. On a conference call with representatives of these small business associations, however, the group was quick to point out that this is a bipartisan issue and small business owners of all political ilk support clean energy legislation because it will help them compete on a global scale.

Bad Faith Move from Fannie and Freddie Highlights the Need for Congressional Action

On Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 9:13 AM, Scott’s Contracting <scottscontracting> wrote:

PACE Update: Latest Bad Faith Move from Fannie & Freddie Highlights the Need for Congressional Action

by Rosalind Jackson, Vote Solar
Published: September 13, 2010

Summer may be slow for most, but the attack from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the FHFA on PACE green retrofit programs has not eased up one bit. Just last week these municipal programs for solar and efficiency upgrades on private property were dealt yet another blow when Fannie and Freddie issued guidance letters that threaten existing PACE participants.

This latest bad faith move makes it clearer than ever that Congressional action is needed to protect PACE.

Specifically, the letters now require PACE early adopters in places like Sonoma, California and Babylon, New York to pay off their PACE liens before allowing them to refinance or sell their homes. Fannie and Freddie are leaving upstanding homeowners with two unsavory options: fork over the full cost of their PACE energy upgrades or put any refinancing plans on hold for the 20 year period of their PACE terms. At best, the new policy unfairly punishes dutiful mortgage payers – and at worst it forces them to make financial decisions that actually put their mortgage status at greater risk.

The latest guidance letters directly reverse Fannie and Freddie’s earlier assurances that they would not jeopardize existing participants. They are just the latest in a series of dubious moves from the lending giants.

Through several months of discussion, PACE advocates and government officials have worked to find points of compromise with Fannie, Freddie and the FHFA. All parties agree that PACE programs should be designed to mitigate risk to lenders. But over the course of those deliberations, it’s also become painfully clear that positive resolution is not likely without an act of Congress. Both the House and Senate are currently considering bills that would cut through the quagmire to effectively restore PACE programs nationwide.

In attacking municipal PACE programs, the FHFA and its wards are also taking square aim at a century-old local government authority. PACE makes innovative use of a well-proven, low-risk finance mechanism called a “special assessment district.” For over 100 years, municipalities and states have used special assessments to fund improvements that benefit the public good. Today there are 37,000 such special districts in the U.S. helping build everything from sewage systems to streetlights across public and private property alike. Cities and counties in 23 states are now enabled to use that same authority to combat the dual challenges of economic and climate crisis by financing green retrofits. By derailing PACE, the quasi-federal lending entities are standing in the way of local governments’ ability to do their jobs and support their communities. We need Congress to defend against this undue power grab.

Ultimately, we have yet to see a comparable model that offers the same scope and scale of green job benefits and greenhouse gas reduction as PACE. This is an economic recovery issue. This is an environmental issue. This is a states’ rights issue. And this is a bipartisan issue. When our lawmakers return to DC this fall, we hope to see Congress to make PACE-protective legislation a priority and help get this country back on track.

Here is a good resource for more information about efforts to protect PACE.

Rosalind Jackson is director of communications & development at Vote Solar. Rosalind manages media, member and donor relations for Vote Solar. Previously Rosalind spent five years directing and implementing PR campaigns for all manner of clean energy and sustainable business innovators. She has a degree in Environmental Science and Mass Communications from UC Berkeley.

Vote Solar is a non-profit organization working to combat climate change and foster economic opportunity by bringing solar energy into the U.S. mainstream.

The information and views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on its Web site and other publications.

Electricity Needs To Go Smart

On Wed, Sep 15, 2010 at 9:18 AM, Scott’s Contracting <scottscontracting> wrote:

Ambitious smart grid pilot projects must get underway to test new technologies and business models that will pave the way for more clean energy.

by Roberto Bocca, World Economic Forum
Published: September 10, 2010

Geneva, Switzerland — We use electricity every day, but what we might not know is that most of the world’s electricity today is still running on the networks similar to what we used more than 50 years ago. How does this impact us? Purely in terms of costs, the U.S. wastes US$ 80 billion a year in power cuts, not to mention the energy waste – all due to an antiquated electricity system. In a world where we are shifting from old to new in every possible way, it isn’t very smart for us to ignore a vital part of our everyday lives – electricity.

It’s no surprise that today’s world is facing a true energy dilemma: how do we deliver secure, affordable, low-carbon energy to everyone? It is widely agreed that energy conservation and renewable energy are critical to securing our energy future, but smarter electricity systems – smart grids – are imperative if we want to tap the full potential of modernenergy solutions.

A smart grid is an intelligent, digitized electricity system that provides an energy network that delivers electricity in an optimal way from source to consumption, enabling better energy management, minimizing power disruptions and transporting only the required amount of power.

Just as the current grid facilitated the industrial innovationsof the 20th century, smart grids could substantially support clean energy growth and innovation in the 21st century.

What a smart grid does better than our older grid is maximize the contribution of clean energy and new energy solutions such as wind, solar power and electric cars. Today’s grid was not built to handle large and increasing amounts of renewable energy production and send it from remote places to where electricity is consumed. Without a smart grid system, it would be virtually impossible for electric vehicles to work on a large scale. A smart and modernized grid is therefore the missing link for the use of clean energy to be within everyone’s grasp.

A smart grid can also serve as a platform for innovation in energy services, which gives customers more information about their energy footprint and ways to manage their electricity consumption. There is a carbon emission reduction potential, directly through more optimal production and transmission of electricity, and indirectly through influencing consumer behaviour.

We are witnessing a trend of government stimulation and industry focus on smart grids and low-carbon technologies as a cornerstone for future industrial strategy. Last year, China alone spent over US$ 7 billion on smart grid developments focused on transmission and distribution – with a vision of building a "strong smart grid” by 2020.

The U.S. has directed US$ 4.5 billion of its fiscal stimulus package to smart grid activities. In Europe, Japan and South Korea, significant initiatives are currently underway. Recent studies, such as the European Climate Foundation 2050 Roadmap, highlight the importance of upgrading the electricity systems to achieve a low-carbon Europe. Innovative cities are spearheading “intelligent city” concepts, whereby some smart grid capabilities are applied. Major industry players from across the electric utility, ICT and energy technology sectors are also developing smart grid strategies.

With all this, what are the chances that smart grids will succeed? A World Economic Forum report, Accelerating Successful Smart Grid Pilots, launching today at the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2010 in Tianjin, outlines the conditions for success and numerous challenges that we currently face.

The report explains the survey responses of more than 50 industry stakeholders and experts who are engaged in identifying the factors that will determine the success, or failure, of smart grid pilots. The report emphasizes the importance of getting a larger number of ambitious pilot projects underway to test new technology and business models.

The investment and time required to deploy smart grids is significant and cannot be underestimated. For them to succeed, government, regulators and industry players must work together to create the conditions for success by supporting pilot projects and revisiting regulation to ensure alignment with policy priorities.

Most of the regulatory frameworks that currently exist were created during the period preceding the emergence of the low-carbon agenda, with the focus on a low-cost and reliable service. Although many aspects of the regulatory frameworks are still valid, some actively discourage the changes that are needed to transition the electricity systems towards a smart grid. To make a smart grid a sound investment for electric utilities and other companies, the business case in many countries must be strengthened – regulation will be the key.

In addition, there are important issues around setting standards for technology and tackling data security that must be addressed and will determine whether or not smart grids will be a success. Globally, we are at a critical point where clean energy will play a prominent role. Electricity systems will need to be flexible to allow for the incorporation of new low-carbon technologies and to give customers more visibility and control of their energy consumption.

Smart grids will play an important role in making electricity go smart, but the journey will be long and challenging. By acting now, decision-makers can increase the chances of success and avoid having the electricity infrastructure become a bottleneck to delivering a low-carbon, efficient and secure energy future.

[Editor's note: Keep your eyes out for an in-dept look at World Economic Forum's Accelerating Successful Smart Grip Pilots in the next issue of Renewable Energy World magazine.]

Roberto Bocca is Senior Director and Head of Energy Industries at the World Economic Forum and can be reached at rboc.

To hear an interview with Espen Mehlum, Associate Director, Head of Electricity Industry at the World Economic Forum about the ‘Accelerating Successful Smart Grid Pilots’ report, please play the video below.

The information and views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of RenewableEnergyWorld.com or the companies that advertise on its Web site and other publications.

Re: Welcome to the UCS online community



Build Green
Scotty, Scotts Contracting
www.stlouisrenewableenergy.com
www.stlouisrenewableenergy.blogspot.com

— On Wed, 9/15/10, Union of Concerned Scientists <action@ucsusa.org> wrote:

From: Union of Concerned Scientists <action@ucsusa.org>
Subject: Welcome to the UCS online community
To: buzscott@yahoo.com
Date: Wednesday, September 15, 2010, 9:00 AM

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Welcome to UCS.
Dear Buz,

Thank you for signing up for alerts from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) through our promotion on Care2′s Petition Site. I want to personally extend a warm welcome, and tell you a little more about all that is available to you on our website and via e-mail.
 
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Kevin Knobloch
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