The many faces of energy resilience

August 17, 2020 by  
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The many faces of energy resilience Michelle Moore Mon, 08/17/2020 – 00:30 This series explores how clean energy can deliver on finance and corporate social and governance goals alongside climate and environmental benefits. “Resilience” is a powerful word in 2020. Fires, floods, pestilence, pandemic — I don’t know about you all, but I was raised in a fundamentalist Southern Baptist Church and my Revelations bingo card is just about full. Thinking about the idea of resilience as it relates to equity and energy systems merely as the ability to keep the lights on, however, is missing a powerful opportunity to right the scales of justice. Large corporate energy buyers and utilities, in particular, hold the opportunity to build better and make things right. On resilience The term “resilience” can be applied to a vast array of natural, built and social systems and refers to the ability to recover function following a significant, potentially unpredictable disruption. As it relates to energy, moving away from long transmission lines and centralized power plants burning extracted, polluting fuels and towards a distributed system that combines local energy storage with renewables improves resilience — consistent with the principles of biomimicry. That’s the vision. But how is that vision valued? Resilient energy systems combining renewables, microgrids and energy storage are being deployed by corporations and other institutions that can assign an economic value to resilience as a service, by residential customers who can afford it and by utilities that benefit from the resulting infrastructure and other cost reductions. If we define the value of resilience in such narrow economic terms, however, we will build a clean energy dystopia. But we can choose a better way. Do justice Our energy systems, like most legacy systems, are infused with racial injustices that do particular harm to Black communities, families and individuals because many of our laws and institutions were designed for that purpose. Systems produce outcomes according to the values on which they are founded, and the outcomes are clear. As the NAACP has highlighted , 68 percent of Black and African-American individuals live within 30 miles of a coal plant and are twice as likely to die from asthma than white Americans. Only 1.1 percent of those employed in the energy industry are Black, while Black households comprise more than half of those paying 10 percent or more of their entire income to keep the lights on. Moreover, Black and Latino households pay almost three times as much for energy as higher income and white households.  If we define the value of resilience in such narrow economic terms, we will build a clean energy dystopia. But we can choose a better way. Just because you didn’t write the rules that made things so broken doesn’t absolve you of accountability to fix them. As my colleague Chandra Farley, Just Energy Director with Partnership for Southern Equity, has pointedly noted, Black people, communities of color and low-income communities are resilient because they have endured hundreds of years of systemic racism and disinvestment. Recognizing this, every decision maker leading an energy storage project can choose to do justice by understanding the value of resilience as encompassing more than the money. Here are four examples of how to begin. Communities can define their own resilient energy futures , anchored by colleges and universities. In service to the Atlanta University Center Consortium , Groundswell is supporting the design and development of an innovative Resilience Hub that celebrates the leadership of Atlanta’s historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs). Partnership for Southern Equity is on the team to ensure that the voice and vision of the surrounding neighborhoods, among the most energy-burdened in the city, are the priority. Enabled through NREL’s Solar Energy Innovation Network, this project is tackling how to deploy community-led energy resilience in a regulated, utility-driven energy market. Large corporate energy buyers can share resilience as a service to the communities surrounding their facilities and installations. Doing so in a way that aligns with local community needs and values requires building relationships with local communities and listening to and meeting their needs. John Kliem, formerly the head of the U.S. Navy’s Resilient Energy Program Office, oversaw an early example of this approach in collaboration with the Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii. The resulting solar-plus-storage facility, recognized b y a 2019 U.S. Department of Energy award, improves energy security for the local Naval facility while supporting local goals. Kliem, who now leads federal energy strategy for Johnson Controls, also has identified co-location of energy storage facilities to share resilience with critical infrastructure such as hospitals and municipal water pumping stations as opportunities. Cities, municipalities and other jurisdictions can use their planning authority to embed community-driven resilience at the building level. The city of Baltimore is helping to lead the way. Funded through a Maryland Energy Administration Grant, Baltimore is working with Groundswell and energy storage innovators A.F. Mensah to identify and develop up to 20 local Resilience Hubs across the city that will host solar and energy storage installations and provide refuge for local community members in case of extreme weather or other events. Importantly, funded collaborations such as this support critical place-based R&D into optimal approaches to financing larger scale deployment while navigating local, state and regional regulations that impact siting, interconnection and access to revenue opportunities such as selling stored power back to the grid at peak.   Rural electric cooperatives are demonstrating how utilities can deploy energy storage that reduces electric costs for their member customers. Curtis Wynn, CEO of the Roanoke Electric Cooperative and president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, is studying offering energy storage as a service to industrial customers and sharing the resulting cost reductions from reducing peak demand with his residential customers, who are largely low- and moderate-income households. Using smart hot water heaters for energy storage offers similar potential benefits to lower income customers, which is just one of the innovative ideas being advanced by the Beneficial Electrification League . Towards regeneration Building energy resilience can do more than keep the lights on for those who can pay for it. Resilience can be reparative, and the resulting investments can support the regeneration of communities that have been held back by institutionalized systems of oppression. We have a corporate as well as an individual responsibility to do justice. We are called to advocate for and share what we have with others so that everyone is treated equally and with dignity, and it’s the privilege of our generation to be alive at a time when we can make things right. Pull Quote If we define the value of resilience in such narrow economic terms, we will build a clean energy dystopia. But we can choose a better way. Topics Energy & Climate Social Justice Community Resilience Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off GreenBiz photocollage, via Shutterstock

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The many faces of energy resilience

Getting from Here to the Utility of the Future — An Industry View

October 3, 2017 by  
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Senior executives from three very different U.S. utilities discuss their respective visions for the future of utilities — specifically, the energy transition issues they are dealing with locally and nationally, and what it will take for corporations and local governments to work collaboratively with utilities to advance a clean energy economy. The conversation will also include a focus on how innovations within the power sector — including technologies and business models — are spurring significant opportunities for all industry stakeholders.

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Getting from Here to the Utility of the Future — An Industry View

VERGE Accelerate Pitch: Autocase, Nicholas Austin

October 3, 2017 by  
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A pitch competition that provides entrepreneurs in energy, buildings, transportation, supply chains, water, food, and cities the opportunity to present to the diverse VERGE community: executives from the world’s largest companies, public officials from progressive cities, venture capitalists, and others.

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VERGE Accelerate Pitch: Autocase, Nicholas Austin

The Role of Art in Solving Climate Change ft. DJ Spooky

October 3, 2017 by  
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Art and science intrinsically intersect as DJ Spooky discusses his journeys to Antartica, climate change and demonstrates his “remix” of data and sound taken from the continent.

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The Role of Art in Solving Climate Change ft. DJ Spooky

A postcard from Hawaii to the nation’s capital

June 30, 2017 by  
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The mood at the second annual VERGE conference in Honolulu last week was upbeat about the future of clean energy, despite pushback on the U.S. mainland. Apparently, those committed to a clean energy agenda, including the private sector, are more motivated than ever to push forward with aggressive programs to bring renewables resources online.

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A postcard from Hawaii to the nation’s capital

Episode 57: Bill Gates bankrolls clean energy; Racial diversity in sustainability

December 16, 2016 by  
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On this week’s podcast: The sustainability perks of city living. Also, the shifting ground of jobs in the transition to a clean energy economy.

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Episode 57: Bill Gates bankrolls clean energy; Racial diversity in sustainability

How millions of Africans could lose access to electricity under Trump

November 11, 2016 by  
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As climate change denier Donald Trump prepares to enter the White House, many wonder what repercussions his climate change policies will have for Africans. Although the continent contributes only 3.8 percent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions , its inhabitants could be among those people hit hardest by climate change. President Barack Obama tackled the challenge in Africa through a variety of projects, but many people think Trump’s insular comments about climate change and energy might lead to policies that could undo his hard work. Obama has attempted to mitigate the effects of climate change through a series of initiatives across Africa: he launched the $7 billion Power Africa project that aims to provide electricity from renewable energy to six nations , which would bring electricity to 230 million people who currently go without. He also launched the $34 million Climate Services for Resilient Development project to help African communities analyze climate data and plan for climate change risks. He also set aside millions of dollars for the U.S. Agency for International Development to help Africans prepare for climate change through funding agricultural systems, urban planning, and water and health services. Related: Africa Renewable Energy Initiative works towards 10,000 MW of clean power by 2020 Meanwhile Donald Trump has tweeted global warming is an “expensive hoax” and appears to have turned his focus inward to America, saying he’ll promote energy from coal and fracking to create jobs in the United States. Experts warn if he reverses Obama’s policies programs, Trump could leave millions of people in Africa without power and generally more vulnerable to climate change. In 2015 remarks to African leaders, President Obama said, “I believe Africa’s rise is not just important for Africa, it’s important to the entire world. We will not be able to meet the challenges of our time – from ensuring a strong global economy to facing down violent extremism, to combating climate change, to ending hunger and extreme poverty – without the voices and contributions of one billion Africans.” Let’s hope Donald Trump considers the rest of the world and not just America when he sets climate policies. Via Quartz Africa Images via M-KOPA Solar and DFID – UK Department for International Development on Flickr

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How millions of Africans could lose access to electricity under Trump

How to support clean energy, cosmetics reform and food labeling

March 30, 2016 by  
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103 members of Congress co-sponsored a clean energy bill that would boost non-carbon sources of power. The American Sustainable Business Council wants businesses to back it.

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How to support clean energy, cosmetics reform and food labeling

Citibank: Clean energy will save $1.8 trillion

October 8, 2015 by  
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A new report released by the banking behemoth gives us the hard numbers to prove that transitioning to a clean energy economy is a financial boon.

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Citibank: Clean energy will save $1.8 trillion

Is Bernie Sanders our best defense against climate change?

July 29, 2015 by  
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Could Bernie Sanders be our best hope to save the planet from catastrophic climate change by leading a clean energy revolution in the United States? The 2016 Democratic presidential candidate, whose populist message has been drawing big crowds across the country, is gaining on Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton. On Sunday, the Clinton campaign announced her plan to combat climate change. The following day, in an email to supporters, Sanders laid out the problem and solution. Sanders put the climate crisis in stark terms: “The scientific community is virtually unanimous in telling us that climate change is real, is caused by human activity, and is already bringing catastrophic damage to our planet. Yet, the Republican Party is prepared to reject science in order to gain campaign contributions from the Koch brothers , Big Energy companies and others who make billions on fossil fuels. If we do not act boldly on climate change, the planet we leave to our grandchildren may be uninhabitable.” Read the rest of Is Bernie Sanders our best defense against climate change?

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Is Bernie Sanders our best defense against climate change?

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