How the Navajo got their day in the sun

May 28, 2020 by  
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How the Navajo got their day in the sun Danny Kennedy Thu, 05/28/2020 – 02:00 In late March, during the early hours of the COVID-19 crisis, just as New Yorkers were realizing how many might die, a small solar development company closed a $4 million financing deal. “Closing” is never easy, but getting a half-dozen high-net-worth individuals, family offices and foundations to pony up as the world’s finance markets crashed around them was a triumph.  Getting the deal done was impressive in its own right, given that private equity had all but frozen in the weeks before and most venture-backed startups were running on fumes, telling their angel investors and anyone who’d listen that they had three months’ financial runway, or less. It seems even more important now, given the terrible toll COVID-19 is having right where the solar is planned: the Navajo Nation. A young team saddled with ambition and support from their tribal government, this largely native-owned company, Navajo Power , was getting ready to build a major solar project in one of the poorest communities in America.  “We are working hard to create jobs and build resilient infrastructure for our Nation and for the greater western region,” explained Brett Isaac, founder and CEO. “Navajo has perhaps the highest unemployment in the country at 65 percent — that’s pre-COVID. It is clearly going up, due to the virus. We need to put people back to work in creating the clean energy future. Developing some of the biggest projects in the world and maximizing the benefits for our communities can provide the resources needed to fund a wave of local infrastructure and community economic development initiatives. Clean energy can be our bridge.” A company to watch, and learn from Navajo Power was co-founded by Isaac and his old friend Dan Rosen, a college dropout from New Jersey. Rosen was adopted by Navajo artist Shonto Begay in his teens and went on to start one of the U.S.’s largest solar loan business, Mosaic. These two and their partners are leading the charge for the Navajo Nation’s just transition, from coal dependence to clean energy superpower. This movement one day will be studied in colleges around the world; justice can be done. Such drama around Navajo is justified. This is the largest indigenous community in the United States, with 250,000 people and a land base the size of West Virginia. There is a sordid history of “divide and conquer,” involving everyone from Kit Carson to the Sierra Club. The wealth of energy resources on Navajo land invited exploitation throughout the 20th century. Uranium was mined there. And coal. Lots of coal. Mined and burned to provide power for Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Tucson and Phoenix.  The wealth of energy resources on Navajo land invited exploitation throughout the 20th century. Uranium was mined there. And coal. Lots of coal. Despite hosting centuries of extraction and decades of power generation, in 2020, more than 15,000 families on Navajo land lack electricity or running water. And surprise, surprise: the local community saw only a pittance for the years that King Coal ravaged its ancestral homeland. According to one local leader of the governing “chapter” responsible for running services, his entire community of 1,200 people received about $250,000 per year in royalties from the coal mining operation on their land. This community spent 50 years suffering from the toxic emissions spewing out of the coal-burning 1.2 gigawatt Navajo Generating Station nearby. This plant powered Los Angeles and points west — but not their own towns and settlements. All they got was the pollution, and almost enough money to pay for the salary of one public health worker and overhead. An utter disgrace. By contrast, Navajo Power’s solar projects will pay millions of dollars upfront and fair market value per year for the life of the project, while ensuring that the local community is compensated in addition to the central government. The solar plant will sit on the ground, leave resources in the ground, burn nothing and can be removed afterwards. The chapter can invest the revenue generated by this plant in public health, workforce development, job creation efforts such as ecotourism and high-value agriculture. Business unusual Solar is a strategy that will uplift this community. But unlike the similar promise of coal, solar power will not desecrate the Navajo’s sacred land, pollute their skies or poison their children. And the Navajo Power deal ensures this power will be owned and controlled by Navajo, not outsiders.  It was not only a coup to pull off any investment of this magnitude in the midst of the COVID crisis — there’s more business unusual in the deal. Baked into the financial structure is an expected rate of return for the investors. If and when this rate is achieved, any further returns will be distributed to the communities hosting the solar projects on their land. This financing design, with a “mission delta” built-in between the concessionary rate that investors are taking and a more market rate, will become an innovative benchmark for similarly well-intentioned companies in the future. Additional covenants include 10 percent of company ownership being held in a Turquoise Share, which funds community benefits in the event of profit distributions or sale of the company. Eighty percent of the profits must go toward solar projects or community investments. And executive compensation is capped relative to the lowest-paid employee.  Morgan Simon, CEO of the Candide Group, explained, “Navajo Power is creating a new kind of economic development model for communities through leveraging the revenues of utility-scale clean energy development. That’s what drew us to their work and why we led this investment.” This model is a stark contrast to the hundreds of years of exploitative fossil-fuel ventures that have taken place on the territories of native peoples.  Navajo Power, as you probably can tell, is not a typical company. It is a registered Public Benefit Corporation; a company with a core goal of public benefits on par with profit maximization. And for the power sector, it is innovative from woe to go. It is mostly owned by Navajo and committed, by its mission and business model, to maximize benefits for the community partners hosting the solar projects on their land. The company provides culturally appropriate technical assistance to communities as they go through the development process.  The backstory The political and historical context surrounding this momentous deal is worth understanding. During Donald Trump’s reign, U.S. coal plants have closed faster than during the Obama administration. We can thank the markets for coal’s loss of steam; wind in the Midwest and solar in the Southwest can produce cheaper electricity. This phenomenon has reached the reservation. After decades of hosting some of the nation’s largest coal mines and coal-fired power plants, including the Navajo Generating Station, San Juan, Cholla and the Four Corners Plant, these plants are finished. The first to fall, Navajo Generating Station, closed in November after a last-ditch effort by the Trump administration to “save it” with subsidies. Early this year, the San Juan plant on the New Mexico side of Navajo announced it will shutter within three years. Cholla will stop one of three units this year and the rest by 2025. And Arizona Public Service, which operates Four Corners, recently announced it is moving up the retirement of that facility to 2031. Given the increasing loss-making economics, my bet is 2031 is a longshot. The Navajo entrepreneurs saw the vacuum left by falling coal plants as an opportunity for themselves, their reservation and the broader United States. The key insight is that the coal operations built on their land give the Navajo exceptional access to regional energy markets through the high-voltage transmission lines connecting them to major electrical demand centers across the West.  Based on research, Navajo Nation has the potential for more than 10 GW of solar power — more than a one-to-one replacement for every lost megawatt of coal power — plus at least one gigawatt of wind. Their high altitude, blue skies and dry land base is ideal for hosting solar farms. It also could prove an ideal location for hosting long-duration batteries for grid services that provide reliability and resilience. Research and development on solutions such as hydrogen gas from electrolysis powered by inexpensive solar is another potential product of this endeavor. The Navajo are riding the perfect storm: better economics; natural and unnatural competitive advantages; and the disruption of energy technologies to position this previously overlooked community at the center of the U.S. energy future. A change of heart In March 2019, Navajo Power organized an Energy Roundtable that involved Navajo leadership and some big hitters in energy from the American West. These included David Hochschild, chair of the California Energy Commission, and Angelina Galiteva, a member of the Board of Governors of the California Independent System Operator, which runs the California electricity grid. California is the fifth-largest economy in the world. So, when the governor’s energy czar and manager of the grid were present at the roundtable, people listened. And they both had the same message: We won’t buy dirty power from Navajo. The previous year, California passed SB100, a law that requires the Golden State to be 100 percent powered with renewable electricity by 2045. California is a huge market, a kind of nation-state unto itself, with a distinct grid and an increasingly wealthy population of 40 million. When California adopted the 100 percent standard, other states followed suit. This included New Mexico, which has a long history with the neighboring Navajo Nation dating to colonial times. These energy players surrounded the nation — both figuratively and geographically — with 100 percent clean energy commitments. The conversation at the roundtable was focused on how none of these states wanted to buy coal-fired power for much longer. After 50 years of being forced by various means to allow coal extraction and combustion on its territory, the Navajo leadership was told that the world is going in a new direction. For the Resource Committee that was gathered, including Vice President Myron Lizer, this was news. But it was heard. It was hard to ignore Navajo’s biggest customer of coal power for last half century saying, “We won’t be allowed, by law, to buy it any longer.”  Showdown at the summit Galiteva had run procurement for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power earlier in her career, so she knew all about contracting with Navajo power producers. She was well-versed on the transmission systems that carried electricity across the high desert and Sierras into the L.A. basin. There’s an interconnect at Glendale, just east of the city, a point in the grid where high-voltage transmission cables connect and the juice from big power plants is broken up before being distributed through the massive urban sprawl that is Los Angeles. Galiteva agreed that Navajo could take advantage of that transmission capacity — a huge multibillion-dollar sunk cost — to sell solar power for the next century. The Navajo’s competitive advantage of using transmission lines paid for by the coal industry to connect clean energy generation on their land to the big cities might be fleeting. Other carrots were offered in the room for the Navajo leadership to consider shifting from coal to solar. One came in the form of an energy procurement manager from Apple; the most valuable company in history at that time that recently had committed to 100 percent clean energy. While he could not commit to a specific contract with Navajo on the company’s behalf, he did indicate Apple’s interest in new sources of clean power. In the last few years, data centers such as those run by Apple, Google and Facebook have emerged as core business for energy generators with direct electricity contracts. If the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, a group of several dozen large corporations, were a country, it would be in the top 10 in terms of energy consumption and commitment to 100 percent clean energy purchasing. The signal was clear for the folks in the room — the times were a-changing and the Navajo needed to get with the program. The Navajo’s competitive advantage of using transmission lines paid for by the coal industry to connect clean energy generation on their land to the big cities might be fleeting. Developers elsewhere across the West are proposing massive wind and solar farms with transmission. These were big decisions and directional choices proposed to the committee at the summit. None of which had an easy solution because, at the same time the summit was happening, on the Arizona side of the reservation, lobbyists in Window Rock were trying to convince the president to use sovereign wealth funds to bail out the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station. The owners and major off-takers had proposed to shut it down that summer, which would mean hundreds of jobs going off the reservation — a place with few good, consistent employment opportunities.  At the time of the Navajo Power Summit, the nation was under considerable pressure to buy out the owners of the Navajo Generating Station to keep it going — even if It meant funding a loss-making enterprise. Various excuses and initiatives were announced to justify the nation’s digging into a hard-won, rainy-day fund it maintains from fines settled by the federal government for damage caused by uranium mine tailings on their land. The new president, Jonathan Nez, elected in November 2018, was looking down the barrel of 700 jobs going away at NGS and seriously considered spending $300 million to keep the coal power plant running. The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis advised Nez that this may keep the plant going for a couple of years, but nothing could turn the tide against coal in the West with all neighboring states committing to 100 percent renewables in the foreseeable future. In other words, it would be buying a white elephant. In an act of bold political leadership, Nez decided against bailing out the coal plant. The nation broadened its vision. It saw that building large-scale solar farms with companies such as Navajo Power would tap the existing transmission lines to big cities and address the thousands of families on the reservation who do not have electricity. In a proclamation made in April 2019, called the Navajo Háyoo?káá? , the parties created “a new economic vision for the Navajo People, through healing the land, fostering clean energy development and providing leadership for the energy market.” This is “a big move for the nation,” said Nez. The plan is based on four principles:  1. A diverse energy portfolio, creating workforce development and job creation opportunities for the Navajo people.  2. Restoration of land and water after decades of uranium and coal mining.  3. Rural electrification of homes that lack access to electricity. 4. Utility-scale renewable energy development to supply Navajo Nation and the western United States.  The Navajo Sunrise Proclamation says, “Through the Diné teaching of ‘T’áá hwó’ ajít’éego’ and for the many who have called upon our Nation’s leaders to transition away from our overdependence on fossil fuels, the Navajo Nation will strive for a balanced energy portfolio and will pursue and prioritize clean renewable energy development for the long-term benefit of the Navajo People and our communities.” The benefits of such investments will go beyond jobs and revenue for the Navajo. There is a sense of pride in picking the path rather than having it foisted upon them, as coal power was 50 years ago. Self-determination is a big issue for indigenous peoples the world over. Overcoming the colonial domination that energy development has created is a major triumphsof the Navajo Sunrise Proclamation. It brings hope, not just to this sovereign nation, but to people everywhere that just transitions can be made. Pull Quote The wealth of energy resources on Navajo land invited exploitation throughout the 20th century. Uranium was mined there. And coal. Lots of coal. The Navajo’s competitive advantage of using transmission lines paid for by the coal industry to connect clean energy generation on their land to the big cities might be fleeting. Topics Renewable Energy Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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How the Navajo got their day in the sun

Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

May 26, 2020 by  
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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets Kathrin Winkler Tue, 05/26/2020 – 08:00 A few months back (and forever ago), our professional colleagues in our Sustainability Veterans group expressed their thoughts on the most important attributes for advancing a sustainability career. Our goal was to share lessons that we learned in the trenches to help those following us to build on our experiences. But we never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic. As unprecedented as these times are, and as uncertain as the near future may be, some past events offer small but important parallels that could yield tools and ideas for how to proceed. In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to: “In your career, was there a crisis (such as the Great Recession or other major disruption) in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID?” The answers are varied and disparate — and, in some cases, even contradictory. Together, they remind us that there is no one universal answer, that companies and cultures differ, and that while we may see echoes of the past in our world today, we are traversing entirely new territory, compass in hand, but without a map. About the Sustainability Veterans: We are a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in the world of corporate sustainability. We are exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. Here’s what they had to say: Observe to solve: On Sept. 11, I was in Malaysia watching events unfold from half a world away. I learned to take a step back, watch and then figure out where to have the biggest impact. We are still in crisis mode. Take time to be observant before deciding on how sustainability can be a solution.  — Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for DuPont from 1998 until 2019. Up Is down: My favorite crisis example is Apollo 13. In my experience, successful crisis management forces organizations to see externalities and ecosystems which have not always been self-evident. “Normal” isn’t “normal,” “up” is “down” and crisis unleashes untapped human capital, innovation, creativity and laser-focus on what can be done versus what cannot. — Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples. Shifting focus: During times of crisis we get a glimpse of the next emerging issue and how companies can impact for the long term. Following the financial crisis, we focused on more corporate transparency and accountability. Today, we have the opportunity to advocate for equity — in healthcare and access to resources. — Cecily Joseph is former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School. Take the long view and put people first. Recognize that we are all part of an interdependent global community. Both are vital for dealing with the immediate crisis, and for ongoing and future crises.   — Bill Weihl was Google’s Green Energy Czar, leading climate and clean energy work, then spent six years at Facebook as director of sustainability. In 2020, he founded ClimateVoice. The calm voice : With all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus, sustainability managers should strive to be the calm voice of reason for the company. Help your company understand that how they respond to people in this time of crisis must continue to balance the people, planet and profit equation of sustainability. — Paul Murray , president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries and previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller. Follow the counterintuitive : Crises remind us that systems are complex, interconnected and difficult to “fix,” and yet there are leverage points which have disproportionate ability to move the system in the right direction. Unfortunately, because they are counterintuitive we almost always push on them the wrong way . In your rush to solve whatever problems COVID-19 has created for you, investing time and effort in a systems-thinking approach will always improve the outcome. — Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change. A silver lining : For those of us working in corporate sustainability, one silver lining is that we’re comfortable with complexity and change, and our modus operandi is to plan for the long term.   — Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans. Jump in : In a crisis, I always believed that our team should jump in big-time, especially if what’s happening is related to a social/environmental predicament. For example, in the early 2000s, my McDonald’s team got very involved in the obesity problem. I never thought I’d be spending 75 percent of my time for a few years on this, which also means you don’t work on other efforts that are important. — Bob Langert is retired vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s Corporation and editor at large for GreenBiz. The rest will follow : We were in the law library at Dell, watching the horror of the World Trade Center exploding with a plane. The room was full, but stunningly silent. However, within minutes, we had all hands on deck, locating our team members and confirming their safety. People came first, above all. As they should, and do, now. Take care of your teams, your family and those you love. Help others less fortunate. The rest will follow. — Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies chief responsibility officer. Volunteer and dig in : I learned an important lesson after the anguishing loss of Alaska Flight 261. Even if it’s not part of your normal job function, look for volunteer opportunities to dig in and help. Your day job is going to be there for you when you are finished. By helping others, you will help yourself deal with grief and anxiety, and the deep (and new) relationships forged with fellow volunteers will never be forgotten. — Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program. Stop. Look. Listen. A moment (or extended period) of crisis requires a deep breath, an assessment of impact and understanding of implication across the full stakeholder spectrum. One can’t always control the initial damage, but can manage emotions, actions and the example set for others to follow in charting the course necessary for recovery. — Mark Spears retired from The Walt Disney Company after nearly 30 years, spanning a series of finance, strategic planning and sustainability roles. He serves as founder and chief strategist at common+value, a sustainability consultancy. Go overboard : In 1986, I was working for Sandoz when we had the big warehouse fire in Switzerland that contaminated the Rhine River. We responded by coming up with the most stringent warehousing guidelines in the world; previously warehousing was viewed as a low-risk activity. The lesson learned was that we went overboard with our standards because we were under strict orders to make sure we never had another such incident. — Jim Thomas has led sustainability programs at Novartis, Gerber, JCPenney and Petco. Tone down the celebration : Though the scale differs, in 2008 people were losing their jobs and afraid for their futures. One of the best tools in our toolbox had always been the celebration of success, but we learned that it was not the time for self-congratulation. Rather, we needed to focus on listening, empathy and building personal, community and business resilience. — Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC Corporation, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz. Immediate vs. restorative : The 2008 financial crisis sparked hopes of a fundamental shift from short-term profits to longer-term values. As the economic downturn persisted, financially stressed companies and consumers made decisions more on value — what they could afford — than values. There is a lesson for we who hope for a different future coming from the COVID-19 crisis. We need to address immediate needs before building consensus on a restorative future. — Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates LLC, and climate change action through Plan C Advisors. Pull Quote In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? Contributors Bob Langert Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

May 26, 2020 by  
Filed under Business, Eco, Green

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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets Kathrin Winkler Tue, 05/26/2020 – 08:00 A few months back (and forever ago), our professional colleagues in our Sustainability Veterans group expressed their thoughts on the most important attributes for advancing a sustainability career. Our goal was to share lessons that we learned in the trenches to help those following us to build on our experiences. But we never experienced anything like the coronavirus pandemic. As unprecedented as these times are, and as uncertain as the near future may be, some past events offer small but important parallels that could yield tools and ideas for how to proceed. In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? To that end, we asked our vets to offer a succinct response to: “In your career, was there a crisis (such as the Great Recession or other major disruption) in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID?” The answers are varied and disparate — and, in some cases, even contradictory. Together, they remind us that there is no one universal answer, that companies and cultures differ, and that while we may see echoes of the past in our world today, we are traversing entirely new territory, compass in hand, but without a map. About the Sustainability Veterans: We are a group of professionals who have had leadership roles in the world of corporate sustainability. We are exploring new ways to further engage and make a difference by bringing together our collective intellectual, experiential, emotional and social capital — independent from any individual company — to help the next generation of sustainability leaders achieve success. Here’s what they had to say: Observe to solve: On Sept. 11, I was in Malaysia watching events unfold from half a world away. I learned to take a step back, watch and then figure out where to have the biggest impact. We are still in crisis mode. Take time to be observant before deciding on how sustainability can be a solution.  — Dawn Rittenhouse was director of sustainable development for DuPont from 1998 until 2019. Up Is down: My favorite crisis example is Apollo 13. In my experience, successful crisis management forces organizations to see externalities and ecosystems which have not always been self-evident. “Normal” isn’t “normal,” “up” is “down” and crisis unleashes untapped human capital, innovation, creativity and laser-focus on what can be done versus what cannot. — Mark Buckley is founder of One Boat Collaborative and former vice president of sustainability at Staples. Shifting focus: During times of crisis we get a glimpse of the next emerging issue and how companies can impact for the long term. Following the financial crisis, we focused on more corporate transparency and accountability. Today, we have the opportunity to advocate for equity — in healthcare and access to resources. — Cecily Joseph is former vice president of corporate responsibility at Symantec. She serves as chair of the Net Impact board of directors and expert in residence at the Presidio Graduate School. Take the long view and put people first. Recognize that we are all part of an interdependent global community. Both are vital for dealing with the immediate crisis, and for ongoing and future crises.   — Bill Weihl was Google’s Green Energy Czar, leading climate and clean energy work, then spent six years at Facebook as director of sustainability. In 2020, he founded ClimateVoice. The calm voice : With all the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 virus, sustainability managers should strive to be the calm voice of reason for the company. Help your company understand that how they respond to people in this time of crisis must continue to balance the people, planet and profit equation of sustainability. — Paul Murray , president of Integrated Sustainable Strategies, is retired vice president of sustainability at Shaw Industries and previously director of sustainability at Herman Miller. Follow the counterintuitive : Crises remind us that systems are complex, interconnected and difficult to “fix,” and yet there are leverage points which have disproportionate ability to move the system in the right direction. Unfortunately, because they are counterintuitive we almost always push on them the wrong way . In your rush to solve whatever problems COVID-19 has created for you, investing time and effort in a systems-thinking approach will always improve the outcome. — Sarah Severn is principal of Severn Consulting. She spent over two decades in senior sustainability roles at Nike, leading strategy, stakeholder engagement and championing systems thinking and collaborative change. A silver lining : For those of us working in corporate sustainability, one silver lining is that we’re comfortable with complexity and change, and our modus operandi is to plan for the long term.   — Ellen Weinreb is a sustainability and ESG recruiter, founder of Weinreb Group and co-founder Sustainability Veterans. Jump in : In a crisis, I always believed that our team should jump in big-time, especially if what’s happening is related to a social/environmental predicament. For example, in the early 2000s, my McDonald’s team got very involved in the obesity problem. I never thought I’d be spending 75 percent of my time for a few years on this, which also means you don’t work on other efforts that are important. — Bob Langert is retired vice president of sustainability, McDonald’s Corporation and editor at large for GreenBiz. The rest will follow : We were in the law library at Dell, watching the horror of the World Trade Center exploding with a plane. The room was full, but stunningly silent. However, within minutes, we had all hands on deck, locating our team members and confirming their safety. People came first, above all. As they should, and do, now. Take care of your teams, your family and those you love. Help others less fortunate. The rest will follow. — Trisa Thompson is a lawyer and former Dell Technologies chief responsibility officer. Volunteer and dig in : I learned an important lesson after the anguishing loss of Alaska Flight 261. Even if it’s not part of your normal job function, look for volunteer opportunities to dig in and help. Your day job is going to be there for you when you are finished. By helping others, you will help yourself deal with grief and anxiety, and the deep (and new) relationships forged with fellow volunteers will never be forgotten. — Jacqueline Drumheller evolved her career in corporate environmental compliance to a role launching and spearheading Alaska Airlines’ formal sustainability program. Stop. Look. Listen. A moment (or extended period) of crisis requires a deep breath, an assessment of impact and understanding of implication across the full stakeholder spectrum. One can’t always control the initial damage, but can manage emotions, actions and the example set for others to follow in charting the course necessary for recovery. — Mark Spears retired from The Walt Disney Company after nearly 30 years, spanning a series of finance, strategic planning and sustainability roles. He serves as founder and chief strategist at common+value, a sustainability consultancy. Go overboard : In 1986, I was working for Sandoz when we had the big warehouse fire in Switzerland that contaminated the Rhine River. We responded by coming up with the most stringent warehousing guidelines in the world; previously warehousing was viewed as a low-risk activity. The lesson learned was that we went overboard with our standards because we were under strict orders to make sure we never had another such incident. — Jim Thomas has led sustainability programs at Novartis, Gerber, JCPenney and Petco. Tone down the celebration : Though the scale differs, in 2008 people were losing their jobs and afraid for their futures. One of the best tools in our toolbox had always been the celebration of success, but we learned that it was not the time for self-congratulation. Rather, we needed to focus on listening, empathy and building personal, community and business resilience. — Kathrin Winkler is former chief sustainability officer for EMC Corporation, co-founder of Sustainability Veterans and editor at large for GreenBiz. Immediate vs. restorative : The 2008 financial crisis sparked hopes of a fundamental shift from short-term profits to longer-term values. As the economic downturn persisted, financially stressed companies and consumers made decisions more on value — what they could afford — than values. There is a lesson for we who hope for a different future coming from the COVID-19 crisis. We need to address immediate needs before building consensus on a restorative future. — Bart Alexander is former chief corporate responsibility officer at Molson Coors. He consults on leading sustainable change through Alexander & Associates LLC, and climate change action through Plan C Advisors. Pull Quote In your career, was there a crisis in which you learned something useful to pass on to those dealing with the current and unfolding situation created by COVID? Contributors Bob Langert Topics Leadership State of the Profession Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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Advice for thriving amid crisis, from 14 sustainability vets

AB InBev VP: Our quest for ‘agile’ sustainable development continues

May 19, 2020 by  
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AB InBev VP: Our quest for ‘agile’ sustainable development continues Heather Clancy Tue, 05/19/2020 – 02:37 Like most big companies with a complex multinational footprint, Anheuser-Busch InBev’s sales slipped in the first quarter and the beer maker is embracing new financial discipline amid the coronavirus pandemic. But the company also has  acted quickly to prop up key members of its value chain — from small liquor stores to farmers to  restaurants  — and the situation has galvanized its long-term corporate sustainability plans, according to Ezgi Barcenas, vice president of global sustainability for AB InBev. “We really cannot lose these learnings and agility, and I think that’s been a great learning and contribution of the pandemic — helping us to be more agile and to be more collaborative,” she told GreenBiz during an interview in early May. The beermaker’s 2025 goals pledge bold advances in water strategy, returnable or recyclable packaging, renewable energy procurement (its U.S. division in 2019 signed the  beer industry’s largest power purchase agreement  to date) and support for farmers adopting regenerative agriculture practices. Barcenas, the executive responsible for managing that plan and part of the GreenBiz 2020 Badass Women in Sustainability list , joined the company seven years ago. She’s also in charge of the 100+ Sustainability Accelerator, dedicated to startups that can bring technology-enabled innovation to AB InBev’s operations. Below is a transcript of our interview about how the company’s sustainability team is focusing amid the pandemic. The Q&A was lightly edited for length and clarity. Heather Clancy: How has the pandemic changed the immediate focus of the AB InBev sustainability team? Ezgi Barcenas : I really feel like this global situation is a stress test for sustainable development, compelling all of us to think about it more holistically, more collaboratively, and to be more flexible and continue to work together to create value for our entire value chain.  So, I would say when we think about the changes on the immediate focus of our team, I think it’s important to remember that beer is an actual product, and for centuries we’ve really relied on healthy environments and thriving communities. And most of our operations are local, so our sustainability strategy is really deeply connected to the communities and the business … What it’s doing is, it’s, in fact, galvanizing us and our partners to continue to work together and make really impact where it matters the most.  Clancy: What happens to long-term plans? Are they still going on alongside that? Barcenas: As you can imagine, we had to pivot some of our focus towards short-term mitigation plans but continue to power through towards our mid-to-longer-term plans as well. And our commitment in sustainability, our 2025 goals, they remain the same.  I think what I’m really seeing now is the agility and the sense of community that our teams are bringing around the world. And not just sustainability, right? So, sustainability at AB InBev is housed under procurement, so we have a great relationship with our procurement colleagues who are really delivering that impact and executing against those long-term commitments of our supply chain.  But also, our operations teams, logistic teams, our corporate affairs teams, we’re really working hard in creating that local impact today from the donation of masks and emergency relief water to providing hand sanitizers. We’ve figured out how to make them and donate them to our supply chain partners — to launching digital platforms to support bars and restaurants. Those are some of the immediate efforts that the teams have taken on. But at the same time, we’re really full speed ahead on those long-term commitments.  Our commitment in sustainability, our 2025 goals, they remain the same.   As we’re seeing signs of recovery around the world, our team is energized about continuing to work towards those longer-term commitments, towards the [United Nations Sustainable Development Goals]. One thing for sure: We really cannot lose these learnings and agility, and I think that’s been a great learning and contribution of the pandemic — helping us to be more agile and to be more collaborative. Clancy: You already referenced supply chains. This situation has made the vulnerability of certain types of supply chains very visible to the world. How have you worked to ensure the safety and sustainability of your partners within the supply chain?  Barcenas : Supply chain resilience is being tested with this — all the COVID-19 disruptions around the world, forcing countries and companies like ours to rethink our sourcing strategy, refocus our efforts. I would say we’re fortunate in that our operations — with operations in nearly 50 countries around the world our supply chain is much shorter and less complex than you’d think. We have historically invested heavily: We have been investing heavily in local sourcing and creating those local supply chains wherever possible. In fact, we always like to give this number out: We buy, make and sell over 90 percent of our products locally. So, you can think of us as a global company, but our local footprint is really deeply rooted in our operations. That connection hasn’t really changed.  Maybe one example. If you think about agriculture, right? Beer is made of natural materials. Raw material sourcing is really fundamental to the quality of our products. We take great pride in the quality of our raw materials that in turn can help us create some of the most admired brands in the world. And in doing that, in working closely with the farmers, we help contribute towards their livelihoods. And we work with tens of thousands of smallholder farmers around the world.  During the pandemic, one example I can give is how our agronomists are continuing to support our farmers remotely, even if they cannot do field visits, which usually that’s their way of working. They will go out onto the field and visit them in person, talk through their challenges, provide better management and technology tools for them. Right now, they’re doing all of that remotely.  We’re also working to ensure that there is proper sanitation and safety measures, for example, at buying centers. So, keeping those buying centers open — like barley buying centers and other raw materials — and up and running is really huge for farmer cash flow, if you think about it. So, we’re really working to maintain these wherever possible. That’s short-term efforts. In terms of mid-term, long-term, how are we helping our supply chain, especially on the ag front: We’re doing scenario planning with partners like TechnoServe to better understand the impacts on smallholder supply chains, so that it can better inform our ag support services moving forward, as well as our sourcing. Clancy: How has the situation affected your packaging commitments and recycling strategy, if at all? Barcenas : I want to highlight how our packaging sustainability journey has really accelerated — in 2012, when we came out with a commitment to remove 100,000 metric tons of packaging materials globally to when you fast forward to 2018, when we came out with our new public commitments to protect and promote a circular economy.  Today, as part of our 2025 goal, our focus is to make sure all of our products are in packaging that is returnable or made from a majority of recycled content. So, that’s our vision and our commitment.  You can think of us as a global company, but our local footprint is really deeply rooted in our operations.   It is a sad reality that around the world we’re seeing waste management services and recycling programs being impacted. In some markets, they’re deemed essential and in others they’re not. And yes, we are seeing impacts of this, too. What we do in those cases is continue to partner with the recycling cooperatives to mitigate the impact and to ensure the livelihoods of our partners, as well. And to achieve that circular packaging vision, there are a number of things we do. Reuse, reduce, recycle, rethink is how we think about that, and we try to identify gaps in our current ways of working, or technological gaps so that we can identify scalable solutions.  One pilot that is actually currently underway that we kicked off about a month and a half ago is with this startup called Nomo Waste  [Spanish]. It’s a startup in Colombia that is part of 100+ Sustainability Accelerator. We are working with them now on collecting the bottles that get lost in the supply chain, “lost” in the supply chain … to bring them back to the breweries or back to the suppliers, so that bottles can be reused to continue to reduce waste in the supply chain.  We’re also working with another accelerator startup from our first cohort called BanQu … It’s this blockchain technology that we used in our smallholder farm supply chain. Now we’re implementing the same technology with our recycling supply chain — trying to improve the traceability of that bottle and therefore improve the financial inclusion of our recyclers or the waste pickers in the city of Bogota.  Clancy: I wanted to ask about the 100+ program. So, can you offer a status report? Barcenas : We had our first cohort applications back in 2018. We received over 600 applications in our first year, and we were really proud of it. It was born because when we set our 2025 sustainability goals, if you look at it, the language is 100 percent of direct farmers, 100 percent of communities in high-risk watersheds, et cetera.  When we were going through the strategy-setting or the goal-setting process we asked ourselves — we had a candid conversation in the company and with our partners: How sure are we that we’re going to hit these goals by 2025 based on existing solutions and ways of working, partnerships out there? We noticed that there was a clear gap in ensuring, for example, that 100 percent of our farmers will be financially empowered.  The 100+ Accelerator was born out of that to try and identify solutions for problems that we can’t solve today alone. It’s an open platform. We’re hoping any company can come and join us. In its first year, we had [21] startups in our cohort, and they’ve been hugely successful. Some of them we’ve extended them into multiyear commercial contracts. We’ve taken them to different markets. After the initial success of the pilots, we’re scaling them up. We just had our second round of applications wrap up late last year and had our kickoff meetings earlier in February in New York. We received over 1,200 applications from 30-plus countries, and we narrowed it down to 17 companies. Clancy: Can you give me some examples?  Barcenas : I glazed over BanQu , just a quick plug there. BanQu is a non-crypto blockchain technology that uses an SMS service to record purchasing and sales data. We’re using this now with farmers across Uganda, Zambia and India. We were able to scale this partnership to offer farmers a digital financial aid entity.  What used to happen is that these farmers did not really formally exist in our supply chain. They couldn’t go and open a bank account. They couldn’t get crop insurance. They couldn’t get a loan. By giving them a digital record of the transaction, they are able to prove that they are part of our supply chain. And we’re helping them with the digital capabilities as well. We’re offering digital payments, which in turn reduces their cash transactions and therefore lowers their risk for themselves and their families. So, we’re really proud of this. And now, this BanQu technology that we piloted in the ag supply chain we’re bringing to our recycling supply chains as well in Colombia, for example.  Another one, maybe just a quick one: EWTech  [Spanish] is another startup that we piloted in Colombia as part of our first cohort, a great example of how innovation can continue to drive efficiencies in our operational processes. What EWTech does is they offer a green replacement for caustic soda, which we use in the industrial cleaning process. In the pilot test in Bucaramanga, we found out that EWTech’s more sustainable solution, the green solution that they offered, actually showed a 70 percent reduction in water usage versus traditional disinfecting chemicals, 60 percent reduction in cleaning cycle time, which resulted in savings on energy, in freeing up time on bottling lines. So, this was a huge success for us, both from a financial and from an environmental point of view. We are now in the process of figuring out how we can roll this out across many more breweries in the middle Americas — so, Colombia, Peru, Mexico, Honduras and El Salvador. Of course, with the pandemic things are getting a little bit delayed, but it is our mission to, again, scale this innovation that we identified that is delivering great results for the business and also for the world. Media Authorship Anheuser-Busch Close Authorship Clancy: Can you offer a progress report on the fleet electrification strategy?  Barcenas : Transportation is about 9 percent of our global carbon emissions, and our ambition is to reduce our global emissions by 25 percent across the whole value chain by 2025. Most of this lies in Scope 3, and logistics is a piece of that. We are currently piloting a range of different solutions around the world, looking specifically to fleet electrification but also other things — routing efficiencies, other ways to reduce carbon emissions in our logistics operations. We currently have a pilot in each one of our six operating zones around the world … As you can imagine, COVID-19 has caused some delays to the delivery of additional fleet, and that’s slowing down somewhat the pilots. But we are very ambitious in this area and very keen to identify new solutions and confident that we’ll be able to identify and champion these new innovations and continue to electrify our fleet. Clancy: What do you feel is your most important priority as a chief sustainability officer and strategist right now? Barcenas : We always say sustainability is our business, and I think the biggest learning out of this is that we must not lose the momentum, the learnings and the agility that we’ve built up over the last couple of months to really tackle these problems. We’re a global company. We’re learning a lot along the way as the pandemic has spread around the world. We’re becoming more prepared. And we can’t pause now. Right? So, I think that’s another big learning. In fact, we’re working really hard to ensure and restore the resilience of the communities and the supply chains. That’s our No. 1 priority. And not just supply chain, our entire value chain. As I mentioned, we’re working with our key accounts — bars, restaurants, et cetera — to make sure that they can return to their businesses as well as recovery happens. And we’re really thinking, we’re really spending a lot of time thinking about — not just about how to recover or bounce back but also how to come back even stronger than before, how to retain that agility and focus to continue to create that local impact.  Today’s and tomorrow’s toughest challenges, I think, will require us to continue to be agile and learn new ways of working and continue to innovate. At AB InBev, we’re committed to just that: continuously innovating to future-proof our business and our communities, and inspiring our people in the meantime, right? Inspiring our consumers through our brands as well. Pull Quote Our commitment in sustainability, our 2025 goals, they remain the same. You can think of us as a global company, but our local footprint is really deeply rooted in our operations. Topics COVID-19 Food & Agriculture Corporate Strategy Beer Sustainable Development Goals / SDGs Regenerative Agriculture Collective Insight The GreenBiz Interview Featured in featured block (1 article with image touted on the front page or elsewhere) Off Duration 0 Sponsored Article Off

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AB InBev VP: Our quest for ‘agile’ sustainable development continues

Tips for reducing food waste amid coronavirus

May 14, 2020 by  
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In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are panic-buying groceries that may or may not be used before they expire, leading to unprecedented amounts of food waste. Meanwhile, restaurants and farms are having to throw out unsold and unused food and dairy products. To help lessen the impact, follow these tips to reduce your household’s food waste during the pandemic and beyond. Food waste represents around 8% of greenhouse gas emissions. Studies have shown that humans waste one of every three food calories produced — enough to feed 3 billion mouths, about 10 times the population of the U.S. or 25% of the world’s 815 million undernourished people. Financially, food waste presents an additional burden; the average American family wastes $1,866 worth of food annually. But the pandemic could make these circumstances worse. Related: How to make a meal out of leftover veggies According to the The New York Times , farmers and ranchers have been forced to dump tens of millions of pounds of food that they are unable to sell due to the closures of schools, restaurants and hotels. Amid these difficult times, they simply do not have the financial means to ship and distribute their produce. Dairy Farmers of America estimated that farmers are dumping upward of 3.7 million gallons of milk every day, and some chicken processors are smashing 750,000 eggs each week. Exporting excess food is difficult because the pandemic is affecting the entire world. The cost of crop harvesting and processing without the promise of profit is causing portions of the agriculture industry to face financial strains that they have never seen before. Yet, Americans are continuing to see empty shelves at grocery stores, and, according to Feeding America , 98% of food banks in the United States reported an increased demand for food assistance since the beginning of March, and 59% of food banks have less food available. COVID-19 has disrupted nearly every aspect of the food supply chain. The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has updated its food waste initiative to reflect additional issues presented by the novel coronavirus. WWF is also helping to bring people together from different food-related industries and schools to find new approaches to reducing food waste with Further With Food . The organization is also providing opportunities to teach and learn about sustainability, water conservation and the connections between food and the environment with Wild Classroom Daily Activity Plans . April 29 was Stop Food Waste Day , a movement introduced in 2017 to help the world reach the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals to halve food waste by 2030. Although a vast number of people around the world are experiencing difficult times, the coronavirus pandemic has also presented many with the opportunity to rethink their habits — including those involving food . Plan ahead Plan your meals ahead of time to ensure that no food goes to waste. Even better, start food prepping so you have time to accomplish other things during the week. Something as simple as making a list or taking inventory of the food you already have in the kitchen before heading to the grocery store can save time, money and food. Related: How to stock a vegan pandemic pantry Try new recipes If there was ever a time to try out those recipes from Pinterest, it is now. Browse social media, ask your friends, scour the internet for creative recipes; you may discover a new way to use those food items you stocked up on a while ago. Preserve and freeze Have some wilting beets in the vegetable crisper you won’t get to before the end of the week or leftover red onion you have no room for in future recipes? Do a quick-pickle to extend the life of your produce (don’t forget to follow correct pickling and canning procedures to avoid getting sick). Consider whether or not you can freeze something before throwing it out, too. For example, before your bananas have the chance to go bad, peel them and store them in the freezer to use for smoothies. Related: Your guide to preserving, storing and canning food Use every bit of food Store unused mushroom stems, onion ends, herbs, carrot stubs and celery leaves in the freezer to use for broth. Save the carcass if you roast a whole chicken, too. Though it takes several hours to complete, making bone broth is super simple and a great way to get those added nutrients without having to purchase store-bought stock. Start with these recipes for simple bone broth and vegan vegetable broth by Minimalist Baker. Learn a trick or two If you notice that some of your produce is starting to shrivel in the refrigerator, revitalize them. Some vegetables, such as lettuce, are reinvigorated with an ice water bath. Asparagus will last longer if you keep the stalks moist by wrapping them with a damp paper towel or storing them upright in a glass of water in the fridge. Check out this infographic on how to make fresh food last longer . Educate yourself on food labeling Food labels can be intimidating for some shoppers, and sometimes consumers tend to err on the side of caution by tossing out food before it has truly gone bad. Don’t confuse the “best by,” “sell by” and “best before” labels. Check out the USDA website for some amazing resources for proper food storage and handling , including information on the FoodKeeper App for the best tips on food freshness and answers to common questions about food product dating . Sharing is caring During times of uncertainty, frustration and fear, humans are always stronger together. Though most of us are unable to see friends, family and neighbors in person for now, dropping off some extra food — if you can spare it — certainly goes a long way for those in need. Remember to only purchase what you need so that other members of your community have enough resources available to get by. Share recipes, donate extra food to your local food bank and remember — we’re all in this together! Images via Jasmin Sessler , Ella Olsson , Hans , Tatiana Byzova

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Tips for reducing food waste amid coronavirus

30,000 recycled water bottles make up this 3D-printed pavilion

December 16, 2019 by  
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Dubai-based design studio MEAN Design has unveiled an eye-catching pavilion in the front esplanade of the Dubai International Financial Center. Not only is the bulbous structure with multicolored “teeth” visibly stunning, but the unique pavilion, called Deciduous, was constructed entirely with 3D printing technology that turned 30,000 discarded water bottles into a plastic polymer to use as the base material. The Deciduous pavilion is a stunning example of how 3D printing is not only a viable and affordable construction method of the future but also a revolutionary system that can help reduce plastic waste . According to MEAN Design, the structure was printed using a polymer filament that was made from 30,000 recycled water bottles. The bottles were recycled into the filament and then used to print interlocking parts. The base is also made from 3D-printed concrete, hybridized with the polymer parts. Related: Croatia Pavilion’s Cloud Pergola is one of the world’s largest 3D-printed structures Unveiled at this year’s ‘Art Nights’ event at the Dubai International Financial Center, the pavilion ‘s concept was inspired by autumn. Its name, Deciduous, refers to trees that seasonally shed leaves in the autumn months. The innovative, 3D printing system, which was conceived using computer modeling, allowed the parts to be easily prefabricated off-site and then assembled onsite with little construction materials. In fact, all of the parts of the pavilion were mechanically joined without the need for heavy machinery. As for the design itself, the unique pavilion is a labyrinth-like, white volume with multicolored spokes rising out of the base, resulting in a bulbous, organic figure. The designers invite visitors to enter into the pavilion’s “abstracted botanical form” to explore their relationship with nature . + MEAN Design Photography by NAARO via MEAN Design

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30,000 recycled water bottles make up this 3D-printed pavilion

Eco-Friendly Digital Currencies: the Future of Our Planet

September 11, 2019 by  
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Cryptocurrency is a hot buzzword in our financial landscape today. … The post Eco-Friendly Digital Currencies: the Future of Our Planet appeared first on Earth911.com.

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Eco-Friendly Digital Currencies: the Future of Our Planet

Young couple build their own tiny home to avoid sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area

May 29, 2019 by  
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The San Francisco Bay Area is notoriously expensive for both renters and buyers. But one enterprising young couple has found a way to live in the beautiful city on their own terms by building their very own tiny home . Nicolette and Michael spent just seven months constructing their dream home. Although it is only 300 square feet, it comes complete with a sleeping loft, a full kitchen and a little reading nook for the studious couple. The young couple was inspired to build their own home for a number of reasons. With Michael being a full-time student at CAL, they had to stay in the Bay Area; however, after realizing how expensive the area is, they decided to enjoy the financial freedom that comes with building their own tiny home. Additionally, they were inspired to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle where they could reduce their footprint on the planet. Related: This tiny home allows a family of 3 to go off the grid in Maui As they set out on their tiny home journey, the amateur — but ambitious — builders decided to do most of the work themselves, accepting help from family and friends along they way. Built on a 28-foot long trailer, the home is clad in metal and wood siding with plenty of windows that flood the interior with natural light . According to Nicolette, the interior design was inspired by an industrial farmhouse aesthetic. The home is bright and airy with white walls and high ceilings. To the left, the living room is compact but comfortable with a loveseat that pulls out into a futon. A beautiful silicon-gel fireplace keeps the space warm and cozy during the winter months. The main wall is clad in floor-to-ceiling bookshelves that provide plenty of storage space. At the heart of the couple’s tiny home design is a sweet little reading nook that was built onto the end of the structure, past the main living area. With two large windows that open, this space is perfect for snuggling up with a good book or creating artwork. Between the living space and the kitchen, the couple installed a work/dining space consisting of two desks under a wall of windows. On the other side of the space is a compact metal kitchen area along with an oven with a four-burner stove and even a full-size refrigerator. A barn-yard door separates the living space from the bathroom, which has a full shower and vanity along with a composting toilet . Above the kitchen space is the sleeping loft accessible by a metal ladder. White shiplap walls along with two horizontal windows turn the tiny space into a soothing oasis. + Nicolette Notes Via Apartment Therapy Images via Nicolette and Michael

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Young couple build their own tiny home to avoid sky-high housing prices in the Bay Area

Closed Loop Partners’ Ron Gonen on investing in circularity

March 26, 2019 by  
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Communicating the opportunity to other financial players and disrupting tradition — all in a day’s work.

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Closed Loop Partners’ Ron Gonen on investing in circularity

Utility giant aims to build America’s biggest wind farm paid for by customers

March 30, 2018 by  
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One of the United States’ biggest electric utilities, American Electric Power (AEP) is planning to build a two-gigawatt wind farm – and they want consumers to pay for it. Bloomberg reports that the $4.5 billion Wind Catcher Energy Connection project could serve people in four states. People in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana could get power from AEP’s massive wind farm sprawling over 300,000 acres in the Oklahoma Panhandle. But Bloomberg said there’s a battle mounting over the project: AEP hopes to obtain up-front guarantees from regulators that consumers will foot the bill. Utilities have used the financial model of putting costs and a profit into customers’ bills to construct coal, nuclear, or natural gas power plants. But according to Bloomberg, AEP is pushing the limits by requesting permission to employ the strategy from regulators in four states. Related: Conservative billionaire to build America’s largest wind farm Critics say consumers could be saddled with the bill should the project fall apart. An Oklahoma administrative law judge advised regulators in February to reject the request. Bloomberg New Energy Finance wind power analyst Alex Morgan said that the industry — hoping to grow with the model — could take a hit if AEP fails. If they are unsuccessful, she said the next step might be smaller projects. The Wind Catcher website states that farm “is expected to bring approximately $300 million to local communities in property taxes over the life of the project and provide a cost savings of $7 billion over 25 years for customers. The project will support approximately 4,000 direct and 4,400 indirect jobs annually during construction and 80 permanent jobs once operational.” Warren Buffet’s MidAmerican Energy scored approval in 2016 to recover costs on a $3.6 billion wind project, according to Bloomberg. It could be as large as two gigawatts, making it around the size of Wind Catcher. The difference is that a group of small wind farms on several sites comprises the MidAmerican Energy project, whereas AEP’s project is one huge wind farm. + Wind Catcher Energy Connection Via Bloomberg Images via Depositphotos ( 1 , 2 )

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