Massachusetts Invests $50 Million in Climate Resiliency Plan

by Silvio Marcacci

The impacts of rising sea levels, temperatures, and extreme weather keep adding up for America’s communities, but real action at the federal and international level keep getting pushed off to a later date – so what are local officials left to do?

If you’re Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, the answer is pretty simple: Invest $50 million into a climate resiliency plan to address current and future impacts of a warming planet on his state’s economy and residents.

Coming just six months after Maryland’s groundbreaking climate change action plan was unveiled, Massachusetts’ forward-looking action highlights a growing trend of state and local elected officials taking the climate fight into their own hands.

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Governor Deval Patrick photo via Massachusetts Office of the Governor

Governor Deval Patrick photo via Massachusetts Office of the Governor

First, Boost Grid Resiliency Against Extreme Weather

Governor Patrick’s plan focuses on strengthening the state’s power grid against the rising tide of extreme weather. $40 million of the total plan will go directly into a municipal resilience grant program administered by the state Department of Energy Resources that funds clean energy technologies to harden energy services and boost distributed generation.

In addition to adding clean power generation across the grid, Massachusetts’ Department of Public Utilities will coordinate efforts to harden the state’s electricity transmission and distribution system against extreme weather while deploying new microgrid systems.

This may all sound like it’ll cost taxpayers a pretty penny, but the grid resiliency efforts will be paid by retail electricity suppliers operating in Massachusetts who aren’t able to meet their compliance obligations under the state’s renewable portfolio standard. These Alternative Compliance Payments will fully fund the grid hardening effort and hold taxpayers harmless.

Second, Protect Coastal Communities And Public Health

But Massachusetts’ climate resiliency efforts won’t just focus on the power grid. The remaining $10 million will come from existing capital funds and be split among projects to repair dams and coastal infrastructure damaged by extreme weather in recent years, including two separate $1 million grant programs to address sea level rise along the coast and fund green infrastructure coastal resilience pilot projects.

State agencies will also work to create best practices and resources to share among local officials. The state’s Department of Public Health will work to identify additional issues local government should consider, boost training, analyze the spread of diseases resulting from warmer temperatures, and assess vulnerable water infrastructure. $2 million in additional funding proposed in the state’s fiscal year 2015 budget will cover these interagency efforts.

From Clean Energy Leader To Climate Leader

The Bay State has already become a national model for how to build a successful green economy by growing green jobs 11.8% in 2013 alone, ranking first in the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy’s national ranking of statewide energy efficiency for three consecutive years, and crushing its own solar power goals.

But with this plan, Massachusetts joins the vanguard of local governments working to protect their communities even if the federal government won’t. “We have a generational responsibility to address the multiple threats of climate change,” said Governor Patrick. “Massachusetts need to be ready, and our plan will make sure that we are.”

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This article, Massachusetts Invests $50 Million In Grid, Coastal Climate Resiliency, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

 

Silvio Marcacci
Silvio Marcacci

Silvio Marcacci Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar

by Zachary Shahan.

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Originally published on Cost of Solar.

–> See how much money solar power could save you!

There are a lot of ways to evaluate the attractiveness of a place for renewable energy or solar energy investment, and to evaluate the best solar states. Of course, it depends on what factors and assumptions you take into account, as well as what segment of the market you are actually evaluating.

One of the leading evaluators of such markets is Ernst & Young (EY). The “professional services firm” recently released its most up-to-date renewable energy attractiveness indices for the US, including a solar energy index. The report includes solar market data for 2012 as well as a well-researched ranking of states by their solar energy investment attractiveness. The overall summary is clear, as we have been writing for months here on CostofSolar.com: the US solar market is booming.

US Solar Market Booming

“In 2012 the US installed 3,313 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, with 1,300 MW coming in Q4 alone, surpassing both annual and quarterly records. Even with falling costs the dollar value of the market size of the US solar industry grew 34% in 2012,” EY writes. “The cumulative total of solar PV in the US is now at 7,221 MW, with cumulative PV installations exceeding 300,000 individual units.”

A new solar panel installation is now occurring every 4 minutes in the US, according to an analysis from GTM Research.

Solar Leasing Is Hot

As I’ve reported a few times previously, solar leasing is hot. This is partly due to the fact that residential solar power has become quite cheap, and partly due to the fact that people are attracted to $0 down purchasing options, especially when the products (i.e., solar panels) save them money from Day 1. This makes going solar a no-brainer (even more than it already is).

EY writes: “Third-party ownership or leasing of rooftop solar PV systems in the US accounted for more than 50% of the residential and commercial market in 2012. Average residential system prices dropped nearly 20% between Q4 2011 and Q4 2012, and industry experts expect this segment of the market to surge as third-party financing options spread throughout the country.”

US Southwest Is Hot

The leading states are largely in the Southwest, thanks in part to its tremendous solar energy potential, but there are some outliers.

“The top five states for solar electric capacity installed in 2012 were California (becoming the first state to install over 1,000 MW in a single year), Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and North Carolina, while the leaders in cumulative solar capacity installed through 2012 were California, Arizona, New Jersey, Nevada and Colorado.”

The 10 most attractive states for solar energy investment, according to EY, are now:

Best Solar States For Return On Investment (ROI)

Overall, I find the EY report very useful, as it includes fairly comprehensive policy and market analyses, and even does so for the top solar states.

However, as people who have read me for awhile know, I’m a big fan of relative rankings… of which there are very few. Looking at absolute rankings such as total solar power capacity, you miss who is leading the way on a per capita or per GDP basis. And you miss which states offer the best return on investment for a single residential solar power system.

If you’re curious about the latter, you may have noticed that we’ve already shared a great ranking on that, which changed the above order a bit to come up with this top 10 ranking:

  1. Hawaii — 24% IRR
  2. DC (if you want to include it) — 20% IRR
  3. New York — 17% IRR
  4. Connecticut — 16% IRR
  5. Colorado — 15% IRR
  6. Massachusetts — 15% IRR
  7. New Mexico — 13% IRR
  8. California — 12% IRR
  9. South Carolina – 12% IRR
  10. Delaware – 12% IRR
Best Solar States Per Capita

At the end of 2012, the top solar states for installed solar power per capita ranking shuffles the top solar states around yet again:

top-solar-states-per-capita-total

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

top-solar-power-states-per-capita-total-solar

Image Credit: Zachary Shahan / CleanTechnica. Data Credit: GTM Research / SEIA.

Best Solar States… Depends On Your Aims

In the end, I think all of this data is quite interesting. And it offers useful lessons of different types. The EY ranking is certainly useful to investors and major companies who want to figure out the policies and market of one or more states in order to invest in solar projects for the best return on investment (ROI). It also helps show how large states and even countries can better promote solar power.

The solar ROI study briefly mentioned after that is actually useful for the same thing (through slightly different data and research). But it’s also useful for individual homeowners or small businesses who are considering the switch to solar.

And the per capita rankings show us who the true state leaders are, showing us which states’ solar or electricity policies would be most worth emulating.

But, really, for our main audience (the common Joe), there’s simply one thing to do: find out how much solar power could save you, get connected to the best installer for your money in your region, and go solar so that you can start savings tens of thousands of dollars off your electricity bills.

The longer you wait to make the switch, the more money you are throwing away on dirty power from a monopolistic utility company. And the fact is, you can get an estimate of how much you’d save in less time than it takes to watch another cat video or Gangnam Style.

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This article, Most Attractive States For Investing In Solar, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Zachary Shahan is the director of CleanTechnica, the most popular cleantech-focused website in the world, and Planetsave, a world-leading green and science news site. He has been covering green news of various sorts since 2008, and he has been especially focused on solar energy, electric vehicles, and wind energy for the past four years or so. Aside from his work on CleanTechnica and Planetsave, he’s the Network Manager for their parent organization – Important Media – and he’s the Owner/Founder of Solar Love, EV Obsession, and Bikocity. To connect with Zach on some of your favorite social networks, go to ZacharyShahan.com and click on the relevant buttons.

4 States Lead US In Freeing The Grid For Distributed Solar Energy

by Silvio Marcacci

Pro-solar energy state-level energy policies are arguably as strong right now as they’ve ever been across America, just in time for consumers to take advantage of affordable technologies to generate their own clean electricity.

Vote Solar and the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) concluded the policy outlook for distributed generation from solar energy is bright as ever in Freeing the Grid 2013, the 7th annual report card ranking all 50 US states on net metering and interconnection policies.

The report helps policymakers, regulators, and renewable advocates understand the best approaches to these two wonky but critical influences on the growth of solar energy and small-scale renewables across the country. States are “graded” on an A to F scale depending on their policies – and America’s grades just keep getting better.

Freeing the Grid net metering rank image via Freeing the Grid
Freeing the Grid net metering rank image via Freeing the Grid

Sustaining Solar Energy’s Surge

Thanks to plummeting prices, solar power installations are surging across the US, especially among middle class families. But with many state incentive programs set to expire in coming years, progressive net metering and interconnection policies need to be in place in order to sustain the solar boom.

“Renewable resources are now at the scale and cost necessary to allow them to be a real and growing part of our energy landscape,” said Adam Browning, Vote Solar executive director.

Now that we’ve built this new energy economy, it’s critical we keep the way clear for Americans to keep going solar with strong net metering and interconnection policies.”

Net metering is the more controversial and thus better-known policy. At its most basic, net metering means homes or businesses who have installed their own solar systems are paid in full for the electricity they generate but don’t consume and put back onto the grid. Net metering threatens many existing utility business models and has led to high-visibility fights in states like Arizona, California, and Colorado.

By comparison, interconnection is the more boring of the two, often not even registering a blip on most people’s radar screens. However, it may be the more important policy for the future of solar energy. Interconnection procedures are the rules a solar system must follow in order to “plug” into the grid, meaning net metering may not even come into play until solar panels can interconnect.

Good Grades On Net Metering & Interconnection

But enough with the wonky background – let’s get to the good news. More than two-thirds of US states now receive an A or B grade on net metering, with zero states getting a worse grade in 2013 than in 2012. In order to get an A or B, customers must receive full retail value for electricity contributed to the grid, and the state must maintain several other pro-solar policies.

The results for interconnection are a bit less impressive – while half of US states received an A or B grade, the rest are in need of significant improvement. In order to get an A or B, states must maintain good interconnection rules that incorporate best practices, with few or no customers blocked from interconnecting their systems.

Many states should be commended for having good policies in place, but four in particular, aka the “head of the class” states, lead the nation. California, Massachusetts, Oregon, and Utah (surprisingly) received top grades in both net metering and interconnection policy. California, the epicenter of America’s clean tech market, and Massachusetts, home to one of the country’s fastest-growing green economies, aren’t a surprise, but Utah and Oregon seem primed for solar growth.

Freeing the Grid also recognized Washington as its “most improved” state, with a big jump from a D to a B in interconnection procedures by removing unnecessary requirements and procedures for smaller systems and expediting review of larger systems.

Best Practices Light The Way Forward

America is just now starting its transition to a clean economy. Renewables, and solar energy in particular, are becoming a real part of a distributed generation power system that moves toward grid freedom away from a traditional infrastructure of centralized fossil fuel generation and hundreds of miles of inefficient transmission lines. With nearly 20 best practices listed for states to emulate, the path forward is clear.

“Policy design on the frontiers of our fast-changing clean energy marketplace can be a challenge to get right,” said Jane Weissman, IREC president and CEO.

Freeing the Grid helps policymakers and other stakeholders make better sense of best practices and what needs to be done in their own state to clear the way for a 21st century approach to energy.”

Freeing the Grid net metering rank image via Freeing the Grid

This article, 4 States Lead US In Freeing The Grid For Distributed Solar Energy, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio Marcacci is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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IKEA Has A Solar Project Intended For Massachusetts

by Important Media Cross-Post

SolarWorld installation
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power today commissioned an 11.4-megawatt DC solar installation featuring more than 46,000 solar panels from SolarWorld. (Photo: Business Wire)

Originally published on Green Building Elements
By Nicholas Brown.

IKEA now wants to install another rooftop solar power plant in Massachusetts.

IKEA has been on a roll recently, and has been installing solar systems for many stores across the United States, China, and the United Kingdom as part of its 100% clean energy initiative. They even intend to start selling solar panels in the U.K.

IKEA partnered with Gehrlicher Solar America Corp for this new project. Construction of the project will commence next spring, and should be completed by next summer. The solar panels will be installed on the roof of the 58,575 square foot store expansion. The solar system, which consists of 1,248 solar panels requires 51,516 square feet of space.

The electricity generation capacity of the project is to be 312 kW, with a projected annual generation of 383,200 kWh, bringing the combined clean energy capacity of that store branch to 1,078,200 kWh annually.

That is the equivalent of removing 761 tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere. That is comparable to the emissions of 158 cars, or the emissions associated with 105 homes.

Source: Today’s Energy Solutions

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This article, IKEA Has A Solar Project Intended For Massachusetts, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Important Media Cross-PostCleanTechnica is one of 18 blogs in the Important Media blog network. With a bit of overlap in coverage, we sometimes repost some of the great content published by our sister sites.

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Wicked Green: Massachusetts Clean Economy Grows 11.8% To 80,000 Jobs

by Silvio Marcacci – Special to JBS News
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With the way Massachusetts’ clean energy economy is growing these days, state residents may need to start celebrating a different kind of green than Boston Celtics jerseys.

The Bay State’s clean energy industry kept booming this year, increasing green jobs by 11.8% from 2012 to 2013, according to the 2013 Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report.

Green growth has been fast, strong, and diverse across the state, benefitting from smart government policy and a combination of access to finance and cutting-edge research. Add it all up, and you get an economic success story with a sustainable twist.

2013 Massachusetts green economy
2013 Massachusetts green economy image via MassCEC

24% Green Job Growth In Two Years

The Massachusetts Clean Energy Industry Report is compiled by the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center (MassCEC), and 2013 is the third year it’s been published. The report tracks the size and growth of green jobs and businesses across the state through direct business surveys and interviews, and defines a clean energy firm or clean energy worker as one engaged in whole or part with clean energy technology.

And make no mistake – Massachusetts’ green economy is growing fast. Since the first report, the state’s clean energy economy has grown 24% and added 15,500 jobs. That’s more than eight times faster than an overall 3% economic growth rate for all industries state-wide.

Massachusetts green job growth
Massachusetts green job growth chart via MassCEC

Massachusetts now boasts 79,994 green jobs across 5,557 businesses – 1.9% of all jobs state-wide, spread across every corner of the state and nearly every aspect of the clean energy economy. More than half of these firms are small businesses, meaning five or fewer full-time employees, but the majority of job creation came from new businesses and startups.

But even more promising, 27% of employers say they have current openings they expect to fill in the next three months. 83% of green jobs added since 2012 were new positions, and MassCEC forecasts the state will add 8,800 new green jobs over the next year for an 11.1% growth rate and total of 88,874 green jobs state-wide.

“We pursue our clean energy agenda because we cannot leave our future to chance,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Our clean energy industry is putting thousands of our residents to work in every corner of the Commonwealth, catalyzing economic growth and creating a healthier Massachusetts.”

A Diverse Green Economy Grows Across Massachusetts

Indeed, while green growth has happened quickly, it’s also developed across a diverse economic pattern meaning the state isn’t reliant on one single industry and is more likely to weather short-term market swings.

Massachusetts green economy
Massachusetts green economy chart via MassCEC

Energy efficiency remained Massachusetts’ top clean energy employer, with 46,613 total jobs across 3,002 firms and a 15.9% growth rate. No shocker here, considering the state routinely places first in national energy efficiency rankings, and a big reason why it saw 157% growth in electric energy savings between 2007-2013.

Renewable energy came in a close second to efficiency, employing 30,537 workers at 2,312 companies with a 2.6% growth rate. This area of the clean energy economy definitely cooled off compared to 2011-2012, when it grew 26%, and is surprising considering installed solar capacity grew from 16 megawatts (MW) in 2009 to over 250MW in 2012, and now represents 8,400 workers for 59.7% of all renewable energy jobs.

But the rising star of MassCEC’s 2013 report may be carbon management. This sector ranked third overall with 11,807 green jobs across 489 firms, but grew 19.7% between 2012-2013, bolstered by millions in auction revenue from the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. This year’s growth is also a big rebound from 2011-2012, when the sector actually shrunk 14%.

This article, Wicked Green: Massachusetts Clean Economy Grows 11.8% To 80,000 Jobs, is syndicated from Clean Technica and is posted here with permission.

About the Author

Silvio is Principal at Marcacci Communications, a full-service clean energy and climate-focused public relations company based in Washington, D.C.

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