New Websites Launched To Engage Florida Solar and Climate Voters

SACE is happy to announce we have launched two websites to engage Florida voters who believe we need to prioritize solar energy and climate change policy. Hot off the presses are and

The websites are intended to reach out to Floridians who care about solar or climate change and help make it easier for them to vote in this November’s election. The websites feature four main features: 1) get registered to vote; 2) sign up to vote by mail; 3) get a reminder to vote when election day approaches; and 4) resources to learn more about the voting process.

The websites are available in both English and Spanish.

We hope that Floridians who care about solar or climate change will use these websites to make it easier for themselves and their friends and family to vote. Online voter registration is new to Florida as of last fall, and it provides an easy way for you to get registered to vote and for you to encourage your friends and family to get registered to vote.

Florida has much at stake with the impacts of global warming becoming more visible each year. We still have a ways to go to live up to our name of the Sunshine State when it comes to solar energy. The elections this November are critical to securing a safe, healthy environment and a prosperous economy for generations to come.

So please take a moment to visit or to either register to vote, vote by mail, or get voting reminders, and please share these websites with your friends and families and on Facebook and on Twitter – here’s a sample post/tweet for each:

Love #solar? Ready to #vote for solar-loving candidates? Check your registration & request your mail-in-ballot! #gotv #FL #solarvoter

Concerned about #climatechange? Ready to #vote for pro-climate candidates? Check your registration & request your mail-in ballot! #gotv #FL #climatevoter

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Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – July 13

Electric Vehicles
The movie Field of Dreams gave us the phrase “if you build it, they will come.” Chevrolet realized the opposite is true too. If they come (asking for a product), you should build (enough to meet demand). This week, Chevrolet announced a commitment to increase Bolt EV production by 20% to meet demand. The Bolt EV has proven more popular than expected in North America and South Korea

VW hopes to match the needs of young tech-savvy consumers with car-sharing vs. ownership. VW Announces New All-Electric Car-Sharing Platform ‘WE’ To Launch Next Year. This trend of car-sharing is likely going to continue disrupting traditional car ownership and is one to watch.

The Union of Concerned Scientists released a fact sheet outlining 10 principles that are important to guide utility investment in electric vehicle infrastructure. The central message is that utility investment in electric vehicle charging infrastructure is important public policy and ultimately a good deal for ratepayers.

More charging infrastructure is popping up all over the South! In a partnership with Alabama Power Corp., the Birmingham Airport is adding 9 charging stations. In Athens, GA Epps Bridge Centre has just installed a Tesla 10-port charging station. It marks the eighth in Georgia and will make travel easier for drivers seeking to avoid Atlanta going from Florida to North Carolina. Read more…

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Turkey Point Reactors: Negligence, Litigation, and a “Pause”

FPL’s Turkey Point cooling canals with Biscayne Bay in the distance

There are a lot moving parts when it comes to both the existing and proposed nuclear reactors at FPL’s Turkey Point plant in south Florida. It can be hard to keep track of recent events – so here’s some helpful background and an update.

 Existing reactors: Negligence and Litigation

The existing Turkey Point reactors, Units 3 & 4, which began operation in early 70’s, use a 10 square mile unlined cooling canal system (CCS) to cool the units. It’s an antiquated technology used nowhere else in the nation – for good reason. The miles of canals are unlined, and due to the porous geology of south Florida, water from the canals has leached underground to form a plume of hyper-saline and contaminated water spreading westward in the Biscayne Aquifer towards drinking water wells and eastward into Biscayne National Park. The Biscayne Aquifer is the sole drinking water source for Miami-Dade County and the Keys.

FPL’s legacy of negligence – dating back as early as 1978 – led to the environmental damage today. FPL violated its federal discharge permit and state and local water quality standards standards. State regulators issued a Notice of Violation against FPL in 2016 and ordered it to clean up its mess.

Customers take it on the chin

But it’s FPL’s customers that are on the hook for over $200 million for the remediation effort – thanks to the Florida Public Service Commission’s (PSC) 2017 approval of FPL’s request to recover clean-up costs from its customers. The PSC commissioners were appointed by Governor Rick Scott. SACE and other parties intervened in the PSC’s environmental cost recovery docket to protect customers’ interests. Almost 900 letters were received from FPL customers calling on the PSC to reject FPL’s unfair demand – but to no avail. Worse yet, several experts, including a SACE expert, have concluded that FPL’s clean-up plan won’t even achieve the intended result. Read more…

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Register Now for Tennessee Valley Solar Conference


TVA is a large, mostly untapped, solar market with great opportunity for growth. Tennesseans for Solar Choice recently illuminated the embarrassingly low progress from the first half of 2018.

As part of our ongoing efforts to remove barriers to clean, affordable solar energy for all, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy is proud to sponsor the upcoming Tennessee Valley Solar Conference. Read more…

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As expected, TVA utilities respond to the Grid Access Charge with increased fixed fees

Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) utilities (known as Local Power Companies or LPCs) are responding to TVA’s rate structure change by increasing fixed fees for residential and small commercial customers. This runs contrary to TVA’s claims that these customers would see little to no impact on their bills. Since LPCs are required to purchase all power from TVA at wholesale prices, increasing fixed fees is the simplest and least-risky way to pass TVA’s new Grid Access Charge (GAC) through to customers.

TVA is again attempting to mask the impacts of rate changes by making several small changes over a period of time, in an apparent attempt to avoid the outrage that a bigger, larger change would surely invoke. (In fact TVA’s initial proposal was twice the size it actually made, and it considered a change five times larger; fortunately, it was dissuaded after considerable public outcry from small businesses, advocates, and LPCs themselves.) TVA’s rate approval process continues to be behind the scenes. If TVA is allowed to continue, it will have substantially and covertly transformed TVA rates to the detriment of customers, particularly low-income, fixed-income, solar, and efficient customers.

What is the Grid Access Charge again, and why do I care?

In May, TVA’s Board approved a rate structure change that moves a portion of what LPCs pay TVA from variable rates (based on actual usage) to fixed charges (an annual fee based on the previous 5 years of usage). This is called the Grid Access Charge (GAC) and SACE raised questions about the substance of the rate change and the way that TVA pushed it through in our public comments and previous blogs. TVA is adjusting rates to ensure recovery on investments made under the assumption that load would continue to grow unchecked into the future. Now that load growth is flat (and declining in some areas), TVA is at risk of not recovering on those investments, and so is shifting that risk onto LPCs – and their customers – via the GAC.

The initial impacts of the GAC will not be very significant for most customers of two of the early LPCs to pass the GAC on to their customers: Cleveland Utilities and Columbus Light and Water. But there’s good evidence that while impacts start low, they will grow.  TVA has stated that it would like the GAC to be at a level 5 times what was approved. It is currently at $0.005/kWh, but SACE’s comments on the draft proposal discussed a private 2017 presentation where TVA stated that it expects the GAC to have a “trajectory” to $0.025/kWh. TVA’s response (Appendix D) did not rule out this trajectory, and stated that “additional rate changes… are reasonably foreseeable.” As LPCs phase-in implementation and TVA ratchets up the GAC, the impacts to customers, the economy, and the environment also grow. Read more…

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SACE Comments on the Path Forward for Atlantic Offshore Wind Energy

SACE submitted comments last week to the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management as part of their “Request for Feedback” on the path forward for Atlantic offshore wind development. With our comments, we sought to encourage the development of offshore wind energy off the Southeast coast, which could serve as a large economic and environmental opportunity.

We said:

We would like to voice our support for offshore wind energy off the Southeast coast. The Southeastern U.S. coast is home to some of the best offshore wind resources in the country. The relatively shallow offshore waters in our region are ideal for developing wind farms. This abundant resource represents a huge economic and environmental opportunity over the next several decades. For example, Clemson University found that developing 1 gigawatt of offshore wind energy off of South Carolina’s coast would create 3,879 in-state jobs, annually contribute $366 million in output and $61.6 million in local and state government revenue. Furthermore, analysis by our organization, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, found that offshore wind energy off the coast of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia could provide high-value power at times of peak electricity demand in summer months and mitigate the need for using expensive peaking electricity generating units.

In addition to the ability for offshore wind development to promote economic development in the Southeast, it would also increase our energy security, diversify our region’s energy portfolio, reduce global warming pollution, and conserve water resources that would otherwise be used in conventional electricity generation. Moreover, offshore wind energy from the Southeast can help our region achieve the Department of Energy’s national vision of generating 20% of its electricity from wind power by the year 2030.

Due to these many factors, support for offshore wind is generally high in the Southeast. Governor Roy Cooper of North Carolina issued an executive order in support of wind energy in July 2017,3 the South Carolina Legislature passed a joint resolution in support of offshore wind development in May 2014,4 and several municipalities along the Southeast coast have adopted resolutions or proclamations supporting offshore wind development, including Carolina Beach, NC, Wrightsville Beach, NC, North Myrtle Beach, SC, Charleston, SC, North Charleston, SC and Tybee Island, GA.

Additionally, we encouraged BOEM to prioritize conservation of the North Atlantic right whale by incorporating the most up-to-date information in the upcoming South Carolina environmental assessment, and updating the North Carolina environmental assessment if need be.

Finally, we encouraged BOEM to take viewshed issues into account in the next comment period once a potential developer has proposed details about a potential wind farm, including turbine size, distance from shore, and night time lighting strategies.

Offshore wind energy presents a massive opportunity for clean energy, which could boost the economy and protect the environment. SACE looks forward to helping participate constructively in making the offshore wind future a reality here in the Southeast.

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Safety Third: TVA’s Proposed Clinch River Small Modular Reactors (SMRs)

Please note: comments to the NRC are due July 13, 2018 – you can take action here.

Honestly, my knowledge surrounding nuclear power was somewhat limited. In my Master’s program, I gained knowledge about policy issues surrounding nuclear waste storage at Yucca Mountain, a proposed federal repository; I watched, horrified, at news reports about the Fukushima meltdown in Japan; I saw documentaries on the Chernobyl accident in the former Soviet Union; and a peer’s presentation in college was the first I had heard about small modular reactors (SMRs).

Because my expertise is in other energy areas, I was hesitant to attend the June hearing on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for an early site permit (ESP) for SMRs at TVA’s Clinch River Nuclear Site. I was not sure I could clearly state why TVA should abandon its plan to invest in this new nuclear project. However, after reading through the DEIS, I realized there were clearly some alarming safety issues. Then I found my personal motivation: I realized my family would be at risk. My son’s home when they are with their father was within the ten-mile emergency evacuation zone, standard to other nuclear projects, which TVA has proposed to reduce to two miles or the site boundary for the Clinch River SMR project. At first, I was alarmed my two sons would be in harm’s way, but was even more alarmed the emergency planning zone would not even include my former spouse and sons in the planning process if there were a nuclear accident. I had the realization there were even a larger number of communities, families, businesses, infrastructure, and environmental areas that might be at risk if I did not take action.

Reading the DEIS for the Clinch River SMR site made me think about a funny saying my friends and I used to use: “Safety Third.” Why safety third? The answer is priorities. Our phrase was insinuating to put fun first under any circumstance when with friends, but I realized TVA was putting safety lower on the list of priorities by pursuing an experimental technology combined with the  proposal to reduce the industry-standard 10-mile emergency planning zone.

At the NRC meeting, TVA provided the public with free TVA swag: wallet-sized first aid kits. However, TVA providing this “nuclear first aid kit” was not as comforting as actually ensuring safety as a top priority to innovation and economic development. Why reduce the emergency planning zone, TVA? Safety should come first, not third, in terms of any nuclear power project.

A motivation behind reducing the emergency planning zone is actually related to cost. If the emergency planning zone is reduced, there are less communities, homes, businesses, infrastructure, and environmental areas to evaluate and coordinate with inside the smaller radius. Proponents claim SMRs are an attractive nuclear technology because they could be cheaper to produce and have the potential to become an export to countries and utilities that cannot afford large nuclear projects, which raises nuclear proliferation concerns. However, the costs are partly reduced at the expense of numerous safety measures such as reducing staff onsite, including security staff, altering the design of spent fuel pools, which increases fire-risk, and reducing the emergency planning zone. SACE and the Tennessee Environmental Council (TEC) legally intervened in June 2017 and more recently highlighted such concerns in newly filed contentions based on the DEIS. Read more…

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Electric Vehicle Weekly News Roundup – July 6

This has been a firecracker week in more ways than one! Electrify The South and the League of Women Voters partnered to promote the NextCar Pledge in the Safety Harbor Independence Day Parade. It was a chance to inform parade goers what EV models exist, show off the emission and noise-free benefits of EVs, and to highlight their role in achieving energy independence!

We are starting to see the battle lines drawn between ‘Big Oil’ and ‘Utilities’ as they vie to capture the market for charging electric vehicles. Oil giants like BP and Shell continue to invest in charging infrastructure in a move seen by experts as a way to safeguard becoming obsolete. However, they plan on stalling the transition to electrification as long as possible. The oil industry has been ‘peddling misinformation’ through a series of recent articles and former New Jersey Governor, Christine Todd Whitman, calls them out in a CNBC op-ed, here.

ChargePoint is jockeying for more room in the commercial charging space. They announced the acquisition of an energy management software company that will eventually allow capacity for charging fleets of electric taxis and autonomous cars.

At the national level, Rep. Peter Welch (D-VT) has introduced a bill to eliminate the per manufacturer cap and make the $7,500 federal tax credit available to an unlimited number of EV buyers for the next ten years. The law currently sunsets the tax credit once the manufacturers produce 200,000 vehicles. Supporters feel it would allow early adopters that drove EV manufacturing like Tesla and Nissan to stay competitive with legacy manufacturers who are just now entering the EV market with commitments to production numbers in the tens of thousands.

At the local level, Leon County, Florida (which includes Tallahassee) has started an EV pilot program to help determine Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE) needs. The answer to this question is being sought by many municipal leaders. To that point, Plug In America & Sierra Club announced a new policy guide, AchiEVe: Model State & Local Policies To Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption, which details the most effective policies at the state and city level for expanding EV adoption.

How quickly electric vehicles will be adopted also relies heavily on model options offered. Many manufacturers are focusing in on crossovers and SUVs.  2019 Is The Year Of the Electric SUV takes a look at upcoming options. Will this be the push American consumers need to drive electric? If not SUVs, perhaps a beloved, iconic vehicle? Apparently, Volkswagen Is Considering Bringing Back the Beetle As An All-Electric Car. Punch buggy all-electric, no punch back! Please, VW make. this. happen.

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Wired In Newsletter – June / July 2018


As 2018 reaches its mid-year mark, we wanted to take a moment and THANK YOU for supporting our work. For over 30 years, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy has been a leading voice for energy policy that protects the quality of life and treasured places in the Southeast. We are proud of our ongoing efforts to promote clean energy and climate solutions and we THANK YOU for coming along this journey with us, no matter the challenges we face. If you haven’t supported SACE financially in the past, consider a small gift of just $5. Every little bit helps! Donate today.


1. Worst Solar Year Since 2011? TVA on Track for an Embarrassing Record Low

2. Primary Voting is Underway! Are You Supporting Clean Energy Champions?

3. Transportation Electrification Accord Launched

4. How Climate Change is Impacting Hurricanes

1. Worst Solar Year Since 2011? TVA on Track for an Embarrassing Record Low

Half way through the year, when the days are long and sunny, many power companies throughout the Southeast are taking advantage of that sunshine with ever-growing solar portfolios, as we reported in our Solar in the Southeast Report earlier this year. The Tennessee Valley Authority, however, is failing miserably. SACE, along with other members of the Tennesseans for Solar Choice coalition, hosted a press conference on June 21st, Summer Solstice 2018, to raise the alarm on TVA’s continued lack of solar progress and broken solar programs.

As TVA forges ahead on a path to the worst solar year since 2011, the poor performance seems to be a deliberate mismanagement and slowing of TVA’s own solar programs. TVA has three programs for solar: Green Power Providers (GPP) for residential and small businesses, Distributed Solar Solutions (DSS) for larger community scale solar in partnership with Local Power Companies, and large scale solar through a Request For Proposals (RFP) process.

The Tennesseans for Solar Choice coalition is questioning TVA’s commitment to their own programs. Despite being halfway through the year, recent data from GTM Research show less than 2 megawatts (MW) of solar were installed in the first quarter, and year-to-date applications for residential and small business solar are down 73 percent from where they were a year ago. RFP contracts were expected to be awarded in the first quarter 2018, but this has not yet happened. Despite some hopeful hints at progress, such as the recent announcement that TVA is working with Facebook in Huntsville, AL, it appears that TVA has been using their monopoly power to choke off the pipeline for future solar projects, with one of the most dramatic examples being that, halfway through the year, the Distributed Solar Solutions program for 2018 has yet to be announced.

Tennesseans for Solar Choice shared frustrations over the current, lagging status of solar throughout TVA’s territory, emphasizing that it is time for other solar options. As TVA continues to reduce the rate they pay for self-generation, going below the amount that customers pay on their electric bill for the first time since TVA started their solar program in 2003, opportunities exist for residents and businesses to design their solar generation “behind the meter” to ensure they capture the full retail value. However, new fees and in-cohesive policies are slowing down this process as well. Moreover, the coalition called for TVA to provide “contract flexibility” allowing Local Power Companies to offer solar programs that align with their customers’ preferences.

While hesitant to share publicly out of fear of retaliation from TVA, many solar contractors throughout the region have experienced the frustrations of their customers who want to go solar but are confronted with red-tape, inconsistent policies and fees, and incredible delays in application approval. Some customers have even been contacted by TVA employees directly, who worked to dissuade them from going solar. As TVA continues to actively discourage people from going solar, local solar companies are forced into uncertainty as their business models based on TVA’s own solar programs fall short.

Dr. Stephen A. Smith, Executive Director of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy stated: “We are disappointed by TVA’s dysfunctional solar programs that result in missed opportunities for the regional economy, job growth, and environment. Neighboring states are becoming national leaders in solar development and reaping these benefits while Tennessee is falling behind. TVA’s failure to embrace technology innovation and what customers clearly want more of threatens to undermine its future in the 21st century.”

You can read more about Tennesseans for Solar Choice and join their email list to stay informed HERE. It is clear that this will be an ongoing struggle to ensure that families and small businesses throughout the Valley will have access to clean, affordable solar energy.


2.  Primary Voting is Underway! Are You Supporting Clean Energy Champions?

What’s the connection between elections and a climate-resilient, clean energy economy? To have climate-friendly and clean-energy policies we need climate-friendly and clean-energy supporting leaders.

Many in the Southeast already voted in their state’s primary, while those in Tennessee (August 2nd) and Florida (August 28th) prepare to cast their votes for local, state, and federal races as well as constitutional amendments and ballot measures, so the time to support clean-energy champions  is now!

Are you registered to vote in the primary or in the general election at your current address?Check the list and the links below:

  • Alabama (check voter registration records here)
  • Florida (check voter registration records here and you can register to vote online and request a vote-by-mail ballot here)
  • Georgia (check voter registration records here)
  • North Carolina (check voter registration records here)
  • South Carolina (check voter registration records here)
  • Tennessee (check voter registration records hereand you can register to vote online here, too!)

Once you’ve confirmed your registration status, there are hundreds of online and in-print resources and scorecards you can consult to help you determine whether a candidate shares your positions and opinions on a given issue – including the resources listed below that focus on environmental and clean energy policies and programs:


3. Transportation Electrification Accord Launched

On June 19, the Transportation Electrification Accord, a set of guiding principles for promoting transportation electrification, was officially launched at the annual EV Roadmap 11 conference.

Why is it needed?

The transportation sector is now the #1 source of carbon emissions in the United States, and transportation electrification offers an immediate opportunity to cut those emissions and to support the electricity grid.  The principles outlined in the Accord provide guidance for utilities, utility regulators, and local and state decision makers about how transportation electrification can be advanced to benefit all utility customers and users.

Electric transportation can support job growth, new income for states, grid services, and reduce air pollution.

The Accord is endorsed by diverse stakeholders including non-profits, automakers, utilities and consumer advocates. Signatories include: Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, Plug In America, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Clean Cities-GA, Sierra Club, Honda, BYD, Illinois Citizen Utility Board, Forth, and many others. See website for more.

So, what’s in the Transportation Electrification Accord?

The Accord highlights the need for both investor and publicly- owned utilities to participate in and facilitate the deployment of EV charging infrastructure and/or supporting infrastructure for residential and commercial applications. Utilities are uniquely “positioned to ensure that installed charging infrastructure, whether owned by utilities or other parties, maximizes the public benefits of these innovations, through appropriate integration of these technologies in order to maximize electrical system benefits for all classes of customers.”

The Accord also highlights that charging infrastructure should “optimize charging patterns to improve system load shape, reduce local load pockets, facilitate the integration of renewable energy resources, and maximize grid value. Using a combination of time-based rates, smart charging and rate design, load management practices, demand response, and other innovative applications, EV loads should be managed in the interest of all electricity customers.”

Open charging standards or protocols must also be adopted for both front-end and back-end interoperability and consumers must also be protected. Charging infrastructure should have transparent pricing and open access policies, as well as clear mapping locations and signage of the stations.

These principles provide a starting point for all stakeholders in the transportation electrification sector to work together to effectively improve our transportation and utilities systems, as well as provide cleaner air for all. For more on the Accord, go to


4. How Climate Change is Impacting Hurricanes

Hurricane season officially began on June 1 and runs through November, marking a good time to reflect on the connections between hurricanes and climate change. It also makes sense to prepare our families and communities for when individual hurricanes strike, as well as prepare for the long-term future of stronger hurricanes.

To this end, SACE collaborated with partner groups in Florida in June to host a webinar and in-person forum in Miami, featuring NASA Senior Scientist Timothy Hall, to explain how climate change is making hurricanes stronger.

According to Dr. Hall, the top three effects of global warming on hurricanes, ranked from most certain to less certain, are: 1) higher seas from sea level rise means greater storm surge during a hurricane, and thus more flooding; 2) warmer air means more rainfall, thus more flooding; and 3) warmer oceans increase intensity of hurricanes. You can read more in detail on our recent blog post here.

At the Miami hurricane forum, Dr. Hall’s presentation was followed by an opportunity for South Florida residents to discuss tangible resiliency solutions with a panel of experts. Social impact accelerator Radical Partners also announced its latest 100 Great Ideas campaign, which will focus on climate resilience and sustainability and offer a way for the community to crowdsource solutions that will be synthesized into a widely shared report. Read more and watch the event video here.

Ask anyone who lives along the coast, and they’ll tell you that just one hurricane is bad enough. With global warming increasing the destructive potential of hurricanes, it is time that–just as we prepare our households for disasters to avoid the worst impacts–we also prepare our communities to avert worst-case scenarios by doing our part to stop global warming by reducing our reliance on fossil fuels that emit carbon pollution.

Energy independence

Image: Library of Congress

This blog post, by , editor of PV Magazine, was written on Wednesday, July 4 and originally published on the PV Magazine website here

This July 4, it is more important – and possible – than ever to gain our independence from the conventional power industry, and to a degree, the utilities.

For many of us, it is fireworks, barbecue and beer. But on July 4, we also celebrate the ratification of the Declaration of Independence of the United States as a critical step in breaking away from British rule.

This day has me thinking about independence – a word that is often used in connection with solar power. Because we are also in the middle of a revolution: A global revolution in the electric power sector (and eventually transportation and heating) away from fossil and nuclear power and towards a future of renewable energy, electric vehicles and batteries.

But it is not only a revolution against the conventional power industries, but also against the utilities, particularly the monopoly utilities.

This is a technology revolution, but politics also play a central role here. And it is slower and in some ways less dramatic than a military conflict, but it is a revolution nonetheless, and one that we cannot afford to lose or even delay.

Across the world and across the United States, this revolution is happening. One part of this revolution is wind and solar – particularly rooftop solar. Another is battery storage, which serves as the great enabler of solar and wind on the grid. And a third is a renegotiation of the role that utilities play on the grid – through processes like New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision, Power Sector Transformation in Rhode Island, and the more piecemeal actions of California regulators.

The next phases will come with a shift away from the internal combustion engine, through both electric vehicles and better urban planning to reduce single-occupancy vehicles, and the decarbonization of heat.

The masses of America are on our side. A recent poll found that a significant majority of Americans, across the political spectrum and demographics, support a California-style mandate for solar to be installed on all new homes. Read more…